Exile Or Stake

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: The Imaginarium

Submitted: December 05, 2017

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Submitted: December 05, 2017

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Exile Or Stake

 

I can hear them making their approach, the rabble. Not even bothering to try to cover up their intent, are they. Quite happy to intimidate me – a woman alone. A woman who has just become the target of their rage.

 

I see him in the lead. The ‘man of God’! More like the power-hungry manipulator. I know what he keeps in his chapel, exactly what he gets up to and with whom. He knows that I know and has decided I must go.

 

I’d love to have heard the words he said. The lies he’s made up to turn them all against me, the woman they used to trust to help in times of need. No doubt I’m in league with the Devil, cavorting with demons while I mix up my spells. Whatever he’s said, they have believed. I can see that they are out for blood....my blood. I have no possessions to gather, so I’ll pull on my cloak and go out to meet them. I don’t want them breaking down the door.

 

I open the door and stand in front of it. I’m not going to make it easy for them, for him. Whatever evil deed he is laying at my feet does not belong there but it would be an act of absolute futility to proclaim my innocence.

 

They are chanting as they approach, "Witch! Witch! Witch!" They can’t be surprised at that, I never pretended otherwise. But they have turned it in to some kind of insult, some slur; they have been happy to make use of me when it was to their benefit. Hypocrites! They deserve every bit of my scorn.

 

Father. What can I do for you, this night?” He is surprised by the strength of my voice, the tone of it steady. I show no fear because I have none. I know exactly how things are about to play out, and he, for all his preaching, knows nothing.

 

Witch!” He hurls it as an insult, spits in my face. I won’t even give him the satisfaction of wiping it away. “You are nothing but a servant of Satan, the eyes of the devil. We want you gone and have decided to give you the choice. Stake or exile? Which is it to be?”

 

I’m just wondering what it is that gives a man of your.....standing.....the right to put a lone woman from her home. To threaten her with that burning stake, no less. I have done nothing wrong.”

 

He turns to them, satisfaction evident in his face. “Denial! What did I tell you? The Devil deals in lies and deception. We need none of her kind here. She cannot even confess to her sins, for the murder of an innocent lad is one of the gravest.”

 

The crowd opens out and Daniel moves through them. In his arms he carries the body of Joseph, his son, hanging limply, obviously dead. I know what happened, as clearly as if I was there. For he is one of Father’s favourites, and the wrong-doing, I know, is his. But he is clever, crafty, and has them all feeding from his hand.

 

As Daniel stands before me, I hear the chant resume, picking up in volume. “Witch! Witch! Witch!”

 

What a choice you have given me, Father! An agonizing death as the flames engulf me or to leave this splendid village and all my precious friends.” Can they hear the scorn? I hope so, fools and puppets, one and all.

 

Decide quickly, Witch. Or I will do the choosing for you. The stake is ready and waiting.” He licks his lips, giving himself away. He wants to watch me burn! Such a shame that I’m going to deprive him of that pleasure.

 

I’ll take exile, I do believe. But hear me now and hear me well. Your accusations are unfounded and unjust. You are using me to cover yourself. I curse you!”

 

He does not react much, but I see that nervous swallow. “Get your things and go before we seize you and take you to the stake.”

 

I have no possessions. Have no need of your ‘worldly goods.’ I lift up my hood in readiness, preparing to walk away.

 

What about your spell books? Don’t you want to take them?”

 

Fool! I have no need of books. Unlike you, who does not practice what he preaches. My knowledge is inside my head, safe, secure from scum such as you.”

 

I start walking towards the crowd. My so-called friends and neighbours, parting in front of me, closing behind. And they push, shove, start hurling stones and rocks. Those that hit I ignore. Already I am undergoing a change that they cannot yet see. A bit more distance and I’ll repay their trickery, their deception, their treachery.

 

I turn back towards them. I can see from their faces that my transformation is almost complete. Good; it will give my final words more power.

 

I curse you all! This village will fall in to ruin and your livelihoods will fail. I spit on your scorn! Fools who are too blind to see the real demon in their midst.”

 

And with that I dissolve into one hundred crows that swoop and dive, in a flurry of feathers and talons, scattering the mob and making them flee; before taking to the air en mass and heading to pastures new.


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