Sinister Countdown- Witch Daughter’s Flight

Bells tolled in the twilight their cracked and aged mounting protesting with shrieks unheard above the clamoring din.

“Hurry child they won’t be long! You’ve got to flee from this home!” Aunt Harriett’s face was flushed with panic as she pulled Cher’s from the icebox and wrapped a warm loaf into Meredith’s bag.

“But Aunt, why must I go, what do I have to fear from the bells?” The young girl almost stomped her foot, as only a child would, but she knew better. Meredith’s auburn hair spilled from under her white bonnet. She was approaching sixteen, but didn’t feel any older than ten.

“Child!” Exclaimed her Aunt, a look of fear twisting her face, “Do you not understand what is coming? They’ve taken your Mother, and found out her sin. And you are her only child.”

Meredith cocked her head to one side, feeling her own unease at the older woman’s fear. She spoke slowly, trying to remain calm. “But Mamma has always been a good and kind Christian, why would they take her?”

“There’s no time to explain you fool! Get you up and go!” With these words Aunt Harriett hoisted up the maiden and all but threw her from the back steps of her home.

In the coming darkness a baying of hounds could be heard drawing close.

“You have been marked, Meredith, Daughter of a Witch. And they will stop at nothing until they’ve found you and killed you.”

Meredith watches her aunts face at these words, hearing the truth and feeling her body shake with dread.

She pulled tight the bag upon her back, leather thongs biting into her shoulders.

“What must I do? Where must I go?” She said, voice quavering in the evening air.

Aunt Harriett pointed beyond whet they stood, East if the village. “You must head into the Wood. To its very depths, there they will never find you.”

“But how will I survive?” She asked, choking back a sob.

“We are Penegrines, dear one,” Harriett said with a sad smile, her hand reaching out to a niece she would never see again, “It is not black, the magic that runs through our veins. But I have it, my sister has it, and so do you. Follow your heart and listen to what the earth tells you, it will protect you to the end.”

Meredith stood in shocked silence, such a statement from one who seemed so devoted to her deeply formed piety was so unbelievable.

Beyond the house came a glow of torch light and barking dogs.

“Now go! Go!” Harriett waved her away and shut the door. Men’s voices now called out her Aunt’s name, harsh and clear.

Meredith ran across the clearing out toward the fields. She held herself low, passing into rows of cornstalks that waved in the wind. Darkness drew in around her and she felt a torrent of fear push at her body.

By the time she reached the edge of the Wood, her Aunt’s home was aflame.

More dogs sounded in the night, raising small hairs on the back of Meredith’s neck. Her tear streaked face turned from the horrendous scene and she stood for a moment outside the Wood.

Wind whipped about her and the trees all around her bent their limbs, beckoning her inwards.

She looked one last time at the glowing frame of her Aunts collapsing house, her mother was somewhere beyond, most likely hanging from a noose.

“I will avenge you,” she whispered in the night air, “and they will pay. Dearly.”

And with that she turned and fled into the forest. Each foot step felt as if a page was turning closed her life. This was the end. But little did she know, it was only the beginning.

-M.E. InkOwl 

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