12. ‘Oh, you’ve arrived none too soon’, and
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry! I just wanted them to stop! I thought that,”
“You wanted who to stop? Jessica, you’re not making any sense.”
“The talkers! The ones who spread the lies!”
Savannah looked at Jessica’s hands. They were black with what looked like ash.
“Jessica, what have you done?”
“I was trying to scare them – the doctor and his wife – into leaving you alone. Leaving us all alone, but I think it’s made it come true.”
“What? What come true?”
“The dream that I had about you.” Jessica’s eyes teemed. “They’re going to come for you now, and it’s all my fault.”
“No, hush. Nothing’s your fault. We can do this.” She pulled a hand through her damnably red hair, the strands that Eric loved. “We’re going to run away.”
She knew she was too late when she saw the glow coming from the west. The mob was coming for her, baying for her blood. Jessica held her hand tightly. Sarah and Thomas awoke.
“Where are you going, Savannah?” Thomas shouted.
“They’re coming for me, Mother, Father!” Savannah cried. “They think that I’m a witch, and they’re coming for me!”
“Nonsense! You’ve been listening to too much talk!”
“No, that talk is coming for me! Listen!”
In their silence they could hear the shouts.
“Oh, Thomas!” Sarah cried.
“You’re not going anywhere,” he declared. “I’ll talk some sense into them and we’ll all be back sleep before it’s begun.”
“No, Father! Let me go!” Savannah broke for the door but Thomas barred the way.
“They. Will. Not.”
“Father!” Savannah sobbed, fear coursing through her as she felt the mob close in.
“Oh, Savannah, tell me it isn’t true!” Sarah cried, her hands over her face.
“What!” Savannah shouted in a panicked voice.
“Tell me that you aren’t a witch! Please tell me that you never touched Gloria!”
Savannah looked at her mother incredulously, as if she’d been stabbed.
“Why didn’t you ever tell me that you’re not my mother? Sarah! Why!”
“I don’t know! I don’t know! I didn’t think that you would,”
“Sarah, listen to what you are saying!” Thomas shouted at her.
“I just don’t know, Thomas!” She collapsed in a chair.
A heavy fist or object landed on the door.
“Thomas! Give up the girl!” Someone called. Savannah trembled but kept her hand firm in Jessica’s.
Thomas opened the door.
“Listen, I think this has all gotten carried away. Why don’t we talk about this,”
“Shove it! Give her up!” Several people called. Savannah was numb as Jessica sobbed into her skirts.
“Now, listen to me!” Thomas growled, but was shoved out of the way as the mob poured in.
Jessica screamed as a thousand hands grabbed Savannah and she was too weak to hold on. Sarah stood in the corner, crying and Thomas was held down by two men. Savannah struggled against them but their hands were crushing and unforgiving. She knew then that they meant to kill her.
“I didn’t do it! I didn’t!” She screamed. They mocked her.
“What lies it spews forth! How cunning! What trickery!”
Kenneth caught his breath and looked around the maddened square. The looks on the villager’s faces were the same – savage delight, only some confused. Eric’s was one of them. Then the mob came through, all torches and blind ignorance. And atop them, oh God, was the girl. Savannah. Kenneth felt a burning on his cheek and as he looked over he saw that Eric was glaring at him, full of hatred.
“Eric!” Savannah screamed as they began to tie her down. She had seen him, hadn’t she? He was there for her, wasn’t he? When there was no one else to save her? When everyone looked at her with such hate and fear and there was Suzanne grinning and Phillip wouldn’t even look at her oh God where was her father where was Jessica she hoped she was safe where was her mother why why why where was Eric where was he? “Eric!”
“Savannah!” Eric’s blood was pounding in his ears. His skin felt hot, too hot. He saw Kenneth standing over there, apart. It was all his fault, everything was. Now his love, his heart – “Savannah! Let me through!” He threw people down by the neck, not caring if they were hurt or dead. What he cared about was being tied to the stake. He was halfway through the mob before they realized that he was throwing men twice his size out of the way. They flew back ten feet as he crashed into them, trying to get to Savannah.
Look at that! He is a beast!
She calls him! He is one of them!
Kill him! Get them both!
Kill them! Kill them! Kill them!
Fur erupted along his arms and his teeth were too big for his jaw but he was trying to keep it together until he got to her. The men began to beat him with shovels and torches but they were nothing. Someone was helping him fight, trying to get Savannah free. Bishop. Bishop was there, throwing men back, taking punches and giving more. Eric met his eye and thanked him silently. Bishop nodded his head and cracked another man in the skull.
Savannah pulled against the ropes but they were tied securely. She tore her skin trying to loosen herself. Someone lit the hay beneath her and she screamed. A howl mixed with her scream and she saw her Eric, her lovely Eric, change into a wolf. He was the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen, and the last.
Eric felt his heart explode the moment Savannah caught fire. Her pain was his pain. He leapt over the mob, even as they cut him, beat him. Savannah writhed as her skin burned. Her hair curled up in the flames.
He leapt upon the two who had brought this on Savannah and himself. Suzanne screamed as the wolf ripped Phillip’s head clear of his body. She stumbled backwards but Eric caught her by the legs and shook her to death. He howled in grief as he tackled the stake that held his love bound. Bishop was there beside him, using his bare hands to pull away the still-lit rope. Savannah was beyond hope, beyond repair. Bishop hung his head and his tears sizzled as they fell on Savannah’s face.
Eric could feel the strength bleeding from him. He would die soon, as well. But he gathered his strength to turn to the mob. The men ran in every direction, save one who stood still. Kenneth. Eric launched himself at him, snapping jaws and clawing paws. Kenneth fell under the attack but held the werewolf off. Eric’s eyes were full of hate and blame as they stilled. Savannah drew her last breath, and her spirit called his to accompany her. The wolf fell limp against him, and Kenneth rolled it off. The men tried to lift the wolf.
“Wait,” he started, but bit off his warning. The wolf burst into blue flame and the men caught fire. They ran, screaming.
Kenneth looked at the aftermath of it all. Waste, such waste. Savannah was burned to death, Eric followed her into the afterlife. George and Mary were stoned, maybe to death, for suspicion of being werewolves. Phillip and Suzanne were torn to pieces. Bishop had been run through and hanged for his involvement. Half of the villagers were wounded or dead.
We waged a battle and won!
That’s something to pass on to our children!
Where is my husband? Where is my son?
It was good. We did the right thing!
We defeated the evil!
There will be no more werewolves!
So much blood!
Sacrifices for the greater good!
All this death because of some witch and her werewolf!
Lament the righteous dead!
Curse the guilty souls! Pray not for them!