After fixing my computer I have been on something of a roll with my writing. Between writing an honest to goodness ghost story and working on Fall From Grace, I haven’t been short of ideas.The question I have for you all though, is will Grace stoutly stand against those that would do her harm.
Without further ado, I give you Fall From Grace – Chapter 7.
Cold, wet stone dug into Grace’s back as she let out a nauseous moan. Her stomach churned as the scent of stale urine and rank feces permeated her nose. Every muscle screamed in stiff agony as her senses slowly returned. She tried to raise a cold hand to her face only to find that her hands were restrained next to her head. Her butt was numb and water came halfway up her hips as she languished in the dark puddle on the ground. She squinted as she tried to look up, only to find that her head could not rise more than half an inch. On one side of her Grace felt the rough stone cutting into cold skin; and the other a warm presence.
“Careful Miss Grace. The priest didn’t like what you told them and had you locked in the pillory,” Tituba thickly whispered. The swelling Grace had last seen was gone, though she was still covered with fading bruises.
“To be punished for avowing innocence is a crime frowned upon by God,” Grace whispered hoarsely through cracked lips.
“I fear our captors have little belief in innocence; and I don’t think they have the respect for God they should,” Tituba replied.
“Where are the others?”
“Mrs. Good and Mrs. Osbourne have been taken to the interrogators over at Ingersoll’s Tavern. That was early this morning, Miss. It’s nearing supper time now, I’ve not heard a souls whisper in hours so I’m not thinking supper’s gonna be arriving anytime soon.
“More have been accused since they questioned you,” Tituba fearfully blurted out.
“At least half a dozen in the last four days, Miss Grace. The affliction’s spreading and they say other children are doing the accusing now.”
“None in the community would dare turn their backs to God,” Grace insisted from her bowed position. The silence of the empty cell echoed around her voice.
“That’s not the rumors that are going around Miss Grace. People are saying it’s been awfully cold of late and that God was sending the cold as a way to punish sinners; rumor has it even the pastor thinks God is punishing him,” Tituba plaintively whispered.
“Hush now Tituba. There are always those who wish to call trouble upon others. As for our current situation we can only hope that mortal man can see what God clearly knows,” Grace tiredly informed as her chin hit the board.
“What if that’s not enough,” Tituba worried.
The only answer that Tituba received were the watery breaths that escaped Grace’s now bruised and sleeping form.
Grace jumped awake as a sharp sting struck her foot and thunder rumbled outside. The pillory didn’t allow her to raise her head as another sting raced through her foot. The sturdy leather shoes on her feet were not enough to numb yet another sting.
A flash of lightning silhouetted the narrow legs of a man in dark breeches his white stockings gave the man a supernatural appearance in the eery light. This time the sharp snap of a whip accompanied the sting on her feet. A quick glance around told Grace she was alone in the cell.
“Ow,” Grace whimpered as another lash struck her feet.
“Who else signed the Devil’s Book,” the male voice harshly snarled.
Though she could not raise her head Grace refused to sit there in shame. She may have been forced into the pillory, but the reason behind it was no fault of hers. She squared her shoulders as best she could before answering with a bowed head, “I, nor anyone else, have signed NO book.”
The darkened figure seemed to erupt in rage as he swung the whip once more. This time the leather cut into the soles of her sturdy shoes. Grace flinched in her seat and knocked her head against the pillory as fresh pain racked her foot.
A rolling crack of thunder covered Grace’s whimpers of pain.
“Name your conspirators,” he commanded.
A tear fell down Grace’s mud caked face as she gasped for air. As she was about to respond her mud encrusted face turned as pale as the moon. With no other warning, she spewed the bile in her stomach all over her urine soaked skirt.
As the bile was dripping from her mouth Grace spat, “The only crime being committed here is the disgrace that you are showing to women.”
“You lost any protections that your sex demands when you signed the Devil’s Book,” the man coldly informed.
“I signed no such book,” Grace stubbornly insisted.
Even though it was dark in the cell Grace could tell the man was shaking in rage. “Your protestations of innocence will do you no good. The children have seen you,” the man snarled as he cracked his whip once more.
This time, the man didn’t give Grace a chance to claim innocence. He continued to snap his whip delivering lancing sting after cutting lash to the bottom of her feet. Grace’s wails of pain were drowned in the downpour of rain outside her cell.