It took me four days to fix my computer that decided it wanted to crash. The frustration was of epic proportions! I do hope you will forgive me for not getting this next chapter of Fall From Grace up sooner.
Without further ado, I give you Chapter 6 in Fall From Grace.
Happy reading and feel free to tell me what you think!
Thunder shook the sky as lightning illuminated the Salem Dungeon and Jail. As wind howled through the stone walls and iron bars, Grace shivered in her sleep. The four women were huddled next to each other for warmth.
As goose bumps formed on their chilled flesh, ice crystals formed on their stringy hair. While Grace stirred in her sleep the stones of the cell wall began to weep with the late winters rain that ushered spring into the world. Grace turned her head and gasped as she woke. With one hand on her racing heart and the other in her lap, Grace urged, “We need to be up ladies. Else wise we’ll be frozen in a bath before our due is collected.”
The others grumbled from where they slumbered and Grace tried again, “Hurry ladies! Standing is better than sitting at the moment. Even the rats have bailed ship,” she insistently whispered.
That seemed to do the trick as the other three rubbed their eyes and looked around them. Once they had time to adjust their eyes Mrs. Good snarked, “Even God doth try to make our stay more miserable.”
“Hush now Mrs. Good. Your bitter words of reality won’t help us much now,” Grace admonished. “Help Tituba to stand whilst I assist Mrs. Osbourne.”
Mrs. Good raised a white eyebrow as she spat, “Tis not my place to be helping a slave.”
“We’re in this together at the moment Mrs. Good. You are no better than Tituba, nor is she any better than you. If we are to survive this than we must stand together or surely the devil himself will feast on our souls,” Grace asserted stubbornly.
Mrs. Good narrowed her old eyes but decided to say nothing as she reached a hand down to help Tituba to her feet.
At the other end of the short chain gang Grace did her best to support Mrs. Osbourne only to find herself leaning heavily against the cold, weeping wall. “Thank you dear, for helping to make an old woman more comfortable. With God’s grace we shall be out of this devilish nightmare before the day is up,” Mrs. Osbourne hoped.
Mrs. Good frowned deeply as Tituba whispered, “We should do better to hope that common sense rules out a child’s imaginary word.”
Leaning on each other the women began to raggedly pace the tiny cell. No more than four half steps were taken before they were forced to turn the other way. Slowly loose threads became heavy and ankles turned numb. The sloshing of water could be heard with every step.
Lightning flashed, illuminating the women; two were covered in purple and blue bruises, one was bitter, and the last held the pale pallor of the ill. Frozen facades concentrated on the weeping stone walls while numb and shackled feet forced the women to stumble into an ever increasing puddle of muddy blood. The women moaned as they landed one on top of another like a pile of freezing logs forgotten in the night.
As the women tried to pull themselves upright once more they could hear the heavy clang of metal against metal. The slow steady clanging reminded them of a hammer hitting iron ore at the smithy. The clanging was accompanied by the soft scuff of leather boots against the stone floor.
When the loud clanking stopped a hoarse voice commanded, “Grace Bacon.”
The four women finally pulled themselves up and Grace meekly acknowledged as her eyes landed on an elderly woman dressed in black, “Yes.” Her mud encrusted head looked out the cell, showcasing the black eye that covered half her face.
“You’re to come with me for examination on charges of witchcraft and heresy,” the craggy faced woman brusquely informed.
As the guards with the nun opened the cell Grace stood her ground, “Holy Sister, I am not guilty of this crime.”
The nun sneered coldly at the ragged women in the cell. The moment her shackles released Grace took a step backwards and one of the guards reached forwards and derisively snorted, “None of that now, girlie. Come and let the sister have a look at you.”
“No,” Grace shouted as her legs crumbled beneath her. A loud splash greeted her landing as she doused the others in the cell with icy water.
The wrinkled nun shook her head as the guards gripped Grace’s upper arms and drug her to her feet. “Ow! You vile doormen are hurting me,” Grace vehemently exclaimed.
“Were you a better child of God your treatment would reflect that,” the nun coldly stated.
“I may not wear the cloth of God, but the devil has never found a place in my hands or heart,” Grace grunted as she was being forced from her cell.
The nun snorted, “Lies will not best serve you on this day.”
Grace continued to struggle against her captors as she was drug down the frost covered stones of the hallway outside of the communal cell. As Grace’s leather clad feet drug across icy stones a tear fell down her bruised and swollen cheek.
With little warning the guards released Grace as she looked up to find herself under the wrinkled and disapproving glare of the Holy Sister. As wood splintered across the stone floor, Grace glared back with the ferocity of a tiger and warned, “The same God that judges you, watches over me.”
The Holy Sister gazed upon Grace with enough condescension that she could have fermented rye on a cold winters night. “God heavily frowns upon those who signs the Devil’s book,” she sneered.
Grace’s eyes barely had time to widen at this accusation before her jailers roughly grabbed her arms once more. After this short trek through the passageways that Grace was beginning to think of as hell, she straightened her spine and asserted, “He also frowns upon those who bear false witness.”
With this assurance Grace walked through the door that the guards had opened. With what pride she could muster Grace walked through the doors into a dimly lit room. The sun hadn’t yet risen allowing no natural light to illuminate the room; only a couple of simple torches on the back wall lit the room. A small door was centered between the torches.
The stone walls were damp while puddles formed on the wooden floor under the windows. The guards shoved Grace to the center of the room. The guards each took a place on either side of the door, leaving Grace to the mercy of the mercurial and wrinkled nun.
Bruised and hungry, Grace stood in front of the Holy Sister. Where her ankles had been chained, her skin was now scratched allowing fresh blood to spill onto already formed scabs. Her dress was torn and stained. Grace refused to bow her head revealing hair that was matted to her head.
While she did not bow her head, Grace did drop her shoulders under the heavy scrutiny of the wrinkled nun. The squeaking of hinges broke the deafening silence. Grace whipped her head around to see a priest and two brothers enter the room from the hidden door.
The priest sneered at Grace while nodding towards the guards and greeting, “Thank you Sister for waiting. I would have been here sooner had I not been asking for guidance when it comes to these sour creatures that would go against His way,” the priest informed.
The priest motioned for the two brothers to stand next to the guards as he circled Grace with a sneer. “What do you have to say for yourself,” the priest asked derisively as he came to a stop in front of her; blocking any view of the nun.
Grace let out a deep breath as she met her accusers gaze head on, “As God as my witness I am no witch.”
This declaration turned the priests face the shade of a ripe apple, “You are no more than the harlot of Satan,” he snapped.
“God would not allow such a thing,” Grace stubbornly asserted.
The priests eyes narrowed as he crossed himself. As Grace stood there trembling the priest cocked his head and viciously grabbed her by the shoulder.
Narrow, cold fingers pulled Grace forward before flinging her towards the rear wall. For a terrifying moment Grace’s arms and legs flailed through the air only to be stopped with a sickening crunch. A moan escaped Grace’s lips as she landed in a broken pile next to a puddle of icy water.
“Listen you vile Bride of Satan, you and yours will not leave this mortal prison until you name those that signed the Devil’s Book,” the priest thundered as lightning flashed outside.
Grace moaned weakly as she muttered, “My soul belongs to G0d.”
“Stubbornness will not stand against God’s judgement. Perhaps the pillory will break your pride, sinful child of Satan,” the priest threatened.
“Do what you will. Just remember, God will judge you for your crimes against a woman,” Grace whispered from the floor.
“I am not guilty of selling my soul to the devil, and you are nothing more than a bedamned, soulless creature who knows nothing of God’s plan,” the priest coldly informed Grace.
After finishing his condemnation the priest turned to face the guards and ordered, “Take this pathetic creature back to her cell and lock her in the pillory. Her protestations of innocence are but the devils handiwork.”