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W Richard St James

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A Witch's Tale
by W Richard St James   

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Category: 

Fantasy

Publisher:  Club Lighthouse Publishing ISBN-10:  1926839412 Type: 
Pages: 

143

Copyright:  Oct 2, 2010 ISBN-13:  9781926839417
Fiction

A young witch's journey of discovery

Club Lighthouse Publishing

  “I am not sure that you can hear me.  I am not sure if you are still near to me, somewhere in the dark.  I am not even sure that you are still alive.  Last night, I heard you sobbing.  The night before, I heard you scream when they came for you.  Perhaps it was your screams, later on, that were punctuated by my own.  Perhaps you cannot hear me, perhaps you will not comprehend the words that I am using.  Perhaps you are not there at all.  Still, I will continue to shout out my confession, to you and to the One God, as long as my voice persists.  Would that I could write, but there is no vellum, no ink, no light.  My arms are chained to the prison wall, spread above me.  It is futile, futile.  But, perhaps, if you can hear me, perhaps, if you can comprehend, my memory will live on for another year, another day, another hour.  My time grows shorter now.  I can hear the drums beating, the drunken peasants cheering.  Even in this dungeon there is the sickening smell of burning flesh.  They have already begun their festival day.  Soon, perhaps, I may be served up for their amusement.

“What they did to my mother was unspeakable, and yet, if we do not speak of it, how will we ever know, ever learn, ever stop that horror?  So I will speak of things that should not be spoken, tell of things that should not be told, reveal the mysteries that must remain forever hidden.  And you, hanging in the cell next to me, my unseen, unknown companion, you cannot run away from me, you cannot cover your ears.  You can, perhaps, scream loudly enough to drown out my exposition.  But, I pray you, do not be too hasty to condemn, too quick to turn away, too eager to avert your sensibilities from what I am about to say.”

Hanging in a dungeon cell, waiting for the bonfire, Fiona screams out her confession.  And what a tale it is.  Her sins are numerous and exotic.  There is hardly a taboo she has not broken, a forbidden pleasure she has not sampled.   She tells it all with intense longing and regret.  Her last few months have been full of danger and adventure, loss and discovery, lust and horror, love and loathing, revelation and betrayal.  She has learned the dark secrets of the ancients.  She has tasted their power, their knowledge, their utter depravity.  She has yielded to utter degradation.  What has she become – monster, goddess, slave, assassin, whore, something of all of these?  Will her life be a blessing, or a curse, or will it simply end here, futilely, burned at the stake?  Brace yourself for A Witch’s Tale.


Excerpt

I AM NOT SURE that you can hear me. I am not sure if you are still near to me, somewhere in the dark. I am not even sure that you are still alive. Last night, I heard you sobbing. The night before, I heard you scream when they came for you. Perhaps it was your screams, later on, that were punctuated by my own. Perhaps you cannot hear me, perhaps you will not comprehend the words that I am using. Perhaps you are not there at all.

Still, I will continue to shout out my confession, to you and to the One God, as long as my voice persists. Would that I could write, but there is no vellum, no ink, no light. My arms are chained to the prison wall, spread above me. It is futile, futile. But, perhaps, if you can hear me, perhaps, if you can comprehend, my memory will live on for another year, another day, another hour. My time grows shorter now. I can hear the drums beating, the drunken peasants cheering. Even in this dungeon there is the sickening smell of burning flesh. They have already begun their festival day. Soon, perhaps, I may be served up for their amusement.

Are you astonished at how I address you? Are you amazed that a simple peasant girl should use such flowery language? Ah, but then, my mother was a very learned lady. She instructed me in reading, writing, Greek, Latin, the proper usage of our own crude tongue, and all the arts: mathematics, philosophy, medicine and rhetoric.

She had a library, oh, such a library, of ancient, secret texts: Plato, Aristotle, Sophocles, Virgil, Ovid, all those worthy men and more, and Sappho, lovely Sappho, the sweet voice of the Goddess. All those lovely books, waiting to be read some day. They used them for kindling, when they burned her.

What they did to my mother was unspeakable, and yet, if we do not speak of it, how will we ever know, ever learn, ever stop that horror? So I will speak of things that should not be spoken, tell of things that should not be told, reveal the mysteries that must remain forever hidden. And you, hanging in the cell next to me, my unseen, unknown companion, you cannot run away from me, you cannot cover your ears. You can, perhaps, scream loudly enough to drown out my exposition. But, I pray you, do not be too hasty to condemn, too quick to turn away, too eager to avert your sensibilities from what I am about to say.

Let me begin, then, with my mother, for is that not how all of us begin? Well, I know, before that, before my birth, there must have been some dark deed, some act of love or passion, rape or seduction, or perhaps a ritual coupling. I never knew who my father was. Oh, there were men who came to my mother’s bed, not the rude peasants from the village, not the crude swordsmen from the castle, but huge men, terrifying in dark hooded robes, terrifying even more when they shed those robes to reveal gaunt, pale bodies. They were tall, almost skeletally thin, with gigantic hands with nails like claws, and enormous phalli. Does it shock you that I should speak of them thus? What could shock either of us, after what has been done to us? Has not every crevice of your body been probed with flesh and iron, strained to the breaking point? Have they not poured their semen, their urine, their bile, into every cavity, have they not attempted to burst you with their passion and disdain? Can there be any secrets of our bodies that remain any source of pain or pleasure that has not been exposed? We have been rendered up as an entertainment to stoke or sate their dark desires. Soon, our broken bodies will be consumed in the pyre of their hypocritical self righteousness.
But I digress. They would send a messenger, these tall pale men, a crow, perhaps a raven, which descended with a black ribbon attached to its foot. My mother would detach the ribbon, replace it with a white one, and prepare herself for them. When they departed, there would be gold coins upon my mother’s bed, coins with strange patterns, pentagons and cosmic eyes and inscriptions in a language that was neither Greek nor Latin. She would laugh bitterly at those coins, for she could not spend them in the village. So she secreted them away, in a jar kept hidden in the floor beneath her bed. I did not understand, if she could not spend the coins, why she continued her dark commerce.

Sometimes, when it had not rained for weeks, the elders from the village would come to visit us. She would summon a dove, calling in a special way, and tie a white ribbon around its leg. The next night, one of those gaunt, pale men would come, perhaps two or three of them, and the next morning my mother would be sobbing just as we now sob,. But then the rains would come.




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