Haunted Moon

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Hi folks! I haven’t posted in a while so I thought I would give you something new for Halloween – or All Hallow’s Eve, depending on where you live.

Before I give you the haunted short you might want to read Bloody Maples first. It would explain the first few lines of this short. Otherwise it can be understood as it.

One other thing before I bid you Happy Reading, By tomorrow I should have a brand new book for you to read – the year long project,  Fall From Grace.

Without further ado I give you Haunted Moon, as always Happy Reading and feel free to leave me your reviews!

As the other ghosts flew this way and that, the male ghost that spoke to Milady bowed deeply through rotting flesh and translucent skin, before disappearing in a wink. His dark hat and pants were nothing more than a shadow upon the wind.

 
As the moon rose ever higher in the sky, the man settled in front of a simple wooden door. Brimstone eyes glowed with malice as the specter of Father George misted through the flimsy barrier. Inside lay the modern incarnation of his torment. As his brimstone gaze scorched the door Father George ran a foggy hand over the cross that was embedded upon it.

 
Father Georges’ eyes burned brighter than the salt lamp next to the bed. The figure in the bed shivered under the thick, down comforter. “Awake from thy sinful rest,” Father George commanded in a whisper.

 
The figure in the bed rolled on its back to reveal the scruffy features of an lanky, unshaven man. “Who are you,” he quivered at the spectre.

 
“Do thine eyes not recognize the damnation your kin bestowed,” Father George asked quaintly.

 
“Your sins are well known,” whispered the man in the bed.

 
Father George chuckled as the wooden walls behind the bed turned into a wooden stage with nooses blowing in the wind. “I died sinless,” he whispered sinisterly.

 
As Father George’s words faded the man in the bed rose limply into the air. “What’s happening,” he whispered shakily.

 
“Perhaps you should pray,” Father George whispered vengefully as he began to move his rotten flesh covered jaw soundlessly.

 
As Father George’s jaw moved, the floating man shakily uttered, “ Our father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done even in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever. Amen.”

 
As the last word uttered from the floating man’s mouth, his head managed to get lodged in the noose on the wall. “Have Mercy,” the floating man pleaded as water brimmed his eyelids.

 
“Mercy,” Father George chuckled, “Your own ancestors condemned me to death without mercy though I had more faith than they. Why should I show you any,” Father George sneered as the noose began to tighten around the man’s neck.

 
“The state cleared you,” the now sweaty, white faced man puffed out as the pressure began to cut into his air supply.

 
“To white wash their own history, but never true penitence did they have,” Father George cackled.

 
As the noose dug into the soft flesh of his neck and his face began to turn red, the man gasped, “Don’t let vengeance ruin the only chance you have for God’s redemption!”

 
Father George’s pale, tattered clothes glowed sharply before he bellowed, “God! Let me tell you about God. He doesn’t care. Not in your world or mine. When you die there are only spirits that await you,” Father George finished cruelly.

 
“I don’t believe that,” the man gasped as sweat rolled down his bright red face.

 
“Believe what you will, but me and mine are the fate that await you when you die,” Father George nonchalantly informed.

 
“No,” the man denied as horror crossed his face.

 
Father nodded with a toothy, skeletal smile; all the while he was slowly tightening the noose around the man’s neck.

 
“Leave, you vile worshiper of Satan,” the man commanded as his eyes bulged.

 
Father George cackled at the audacity of the man before commenting, “He doesn’t care either.”

 
As the man’s panting became shallower and the iris’ of his eyes cloudy and blood shot, a bone white figure appeared next to Father George. The man’s eyes darted to the newcomer and begged, “What devil has come to save me?”

 
“I am no devil sir, though the men of your era would label me as such. My name is Vlad Dracul and my only duty here is to remind Father George that he can’t have your soul just yet.”

 
The man gasped as his hands reached up to his neck trying to loosen the noose.

 
Father George turned to Vlad and mournfully sighed, “You are right Milord, though that doesn’t mean I can’t leave him with a little reminder of this visit,” Father George sneered as he snapped his fingers; with nothing more than a leer Father George and Vlad disappeared into the night.

 
With that snap the man fell to his bed gasping for air; his hands around his throat and the shrill cackle of Father George’s warning in his ears. Shaking the man fell out of bed tangled in his covers. Once he managed to rise, he stumbled to his bathroom and turned the lights on. Gazing into the mirror he saw bright red rope marks burned into his skin.

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Fall From Grace – Chapter 14

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Here is the next installment of Fall From Grace. As Always feel free to tell me what you think and Happy Reading!

The blazing midday sun turned the Dungeon and Jail into a humid oasis of pain and displeasure baking in a cramped beehive. Grace and Tituba sat in the shadows of the window bars with their backs to the stone wall.

Grace’s bloodshot eyes glowed as brightly as hot embers in the dim lighting of the cell as they overlooked the roaming prisoners, her throat and jaw were a mottled mass of bruises resembling the garish makeup worn by the royal court.
Just after dawn the two guards came and whisked Mrs. Nurse away to her trial, leaving Tituba and Grace alone in the confines of the cell. Tituba quietly sat up with Grace after the sheriff departed from the communal cell last night, whispering prayers that no one could hear; every so often she would wake Grace to make sure that the young woman didn’t leave the cell in the company of the grim reaper – the king of terrors frightened all who resided on earth. After the sheriff stormed out in a rage the other prisoners settled down to rest as best they could in these hellish conditions.
The heat of the sun signified that it was almost time for the afternoon meal. The accused in the large, communal cell took turns walking in the walled off courtyard, while Grace watched them as her head rested on Tituba’s bony shoulder.
The bruising on her neck resembled the vibrant hues of autumn leaves with some patches being as dark as freshly tilled soil. The dim lighting of the cell may have hidden her bruises, but it couldn’t hide the ominous glow of bloodshot eyes leaking murky tears.

Those same eyes widened when the door separating the cells from the sheriff’s office opened with a thud. Four men rushed into the midst of the prisoners. Grace could hear metal clanking as the shackles that hung at the deputies waists moved about. Their hands were filled with rough, heavy rope.
Each of the deputies had full beards and enough scars on them to frighten the devil himself. They wore no hats, leaving their shaved scalps, glistening with sweat, for all the world to see. As the grit built up in her eyes and her vision continued to burn and blur Grace watched the deputies roughly seize the prisoners and bind them together with shackles.
Shrieks and cries resounded in the Dungeon and Jail as multiple people were crammed into the remaining solitary cells – four at a time. The prisoners rained curses down upon the jailers as though it would make them see reason. They tripped over each other as their bindings caught and landed in piles of arms and legs. Apparently, the sheriff had not taken the prisoners show of solidarity lightly.
The cacophony of terror that the prisoners were shouting resembled horses stampeding down a dusty road in a deluge of rain. The only thing clearly heard over the noise was the foul insanity that the deputies were growling. Once the last of the restricted cells were slammed shut, the deputies stomped out to the courtyard and rounded up those that were still free.
Those outside were pulled into the communal cell in pairs of two, bound by rope. More than one of the prisoners had fresh cuts that stung as sweat and dirt mixed into them. Of all the prisoners only one was escorted in by herself.
Her proud head was bent while her steel grey hair was streaked bright with blood, but the strength in her shoulders was not to be denied. As the guards drug the middle-aged woman between them, her head flopped from one shoulder to the next. When Grace caught a look at the limp face on the rough body that the guards were dragging towards her cell, she paled allowing her blood shot eyes to glow in horror at the sight of an abused human being.
Bruises formed on Mrs. Bishop’s blood soaked body. Two deputies roughly pulled the unconscious form of Mrs. Bishop in front of the cell Grace and Tituba inhabited.
One deputy roughly held the still body of the tavern owner and the other unlocked the cell. Mrs. Bishop was roughly thrown to the floor in a limp heap as the cell door slammed shut.
Grace looked upon Mrs. Bishop with pity and took a deep breath while glancing at Tituba before gruffly asking, “Why are we the ones accused of witchcraft, when they are the people that go against God’s Law?”
Even though prisoners were still wailing and groaning about their fate, Grace’s gravelly voice carried. Tituba looked at her friend as though Grace had lost her wits. The other prisoners were muttering in agreement with Grace’s statement and the guard that had thrown Mrs. Bishop around like a rag doll had the decency to blush apple red in shame.

The other deputy on the other hand, sneered at Grace and spat, “Were you Godly citizens we wouldn’t have to be teaching you your place.” The grey eyes of this deputy were colder than a sunless day in the dead of winter, showing Grace all she needed to know about this so-called creature of God.
“Were the Reverend Parris not so greedy, we wouldn’t be here. He wanted more firewood and stricter laws to curtail our small earthly pleasures away from the Town and thus reigned this evil down upon us. Now he and the judge believe the mouths of babes who have naught enough to do during the day,” Grace boldly stated.
The deputy with the cold grey eyes turned an angry shade of purple. Rather than open the cell to rain down another punishment on Grace for her stubbornness , the deputy stood as close to the cell door as he could and spat on Grace.
The man’s spittle landed on Grace’s chin and was a mix of slimy mucus and day old tobacco. Grace angrily bestowed a glowering glare on the guard as his spittle dripped onto her already tattered and filthy dress adding another stain to the mix; she refused to give him the satisfaction of seeing her clean his filth from her face. Pride may be a high offense to God, but Grace would not give this soulless creature the pleasure of seeing her break.
“We shall see how prideful you are the day you swing lifelessly from Gallow’s Hill as God condemns your soul,” the deputy sneered as he turned from the cell in a cloud of dust.
“Should that day arrive I will meet God with a heart full of devotion. Can you say the same,” Grace retorted. This bold statement caused only one of the guards to hang their heads in front of the prisoners; though none of them could face the accusation honestly.

Rather than face the truth, the deputies did the only thing left to them. They strode from the communal prison leaving only a mouse to scurry around looking for crumbs of a meal not yet served.

Fall From Grace – Chapter 12

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Hi folks!

Aside from the deplorable review that had nothing to do with Chapter 1 of Fall From Grace, nothing much has happened in my own little world. On the other hand I have been diligently working on Fall From Grace. I’m currently at almost 34,000 words and I’ve got to say, my characters have a mind of their own! lol

At any rate, in honor of All Hallow’s Eve, I  thought I would share the rough draft of Chapter 12 with you. So without further ado, here is the next installment of Fall From Grace!

Happy Reading, and as always feel free to tell me what you think!

As Grace sat taking in the news that her father believed her, Abraham turned to Tituba and asked, “Tituba, I have no right to ask this of you, but will you continue to care for Grace until the day you are both released from the suburbs of hell?”

“You don’t have to ask that of the likes of me Mr. Bacon. Were I not a slave I would still care for thy sister. Though my state be lonely, Miss Bacon is one of the few that have always shown me kindness and mercy. It would be a disgrace to me and God were I not to help in any way I can. Specially with all the trouble I’ve caused,” Tituba answered sincerely.

“You’ve caused no grief, Tituba,” Grace gently rebuked.

“Miss Grace if I hadn’t asked for thee, you wouldn’t be sitting here with an open wound on your foot,” Tituba insisted.

“Tituba, you didn’t force them to use a whip, you weren’t even in the cell, when it happened. You did nothing except to call a witness to your character,” Grace reasoned.

“Had I left you out of my pleas, you wouldn’t be suffering in the suburbs of hell,” Tituba countered.

“Man has a choice as well, in the acts that he partakes of. The way of God does not include the atrocities that are being committed in his name,” Grace reasoned.

“We’ll not agree on this, Miss Grace,” Tituba stated with a grim smile.

Abraham snorted before interjecting, “Grace is as stubborn as the sun is hot, Tituba.”

Grace chuckled at the description that her brother had given. “The warmth of the sun feels like heaven on my skin. Especially in comparison to the hellishly frozen caverns of the dungeon,” Grace whispered.

“Truthfully it is,” Tituba quietly intoned.

Grace looked up from her seat and tentatively asked, “Has the Millson family said naught of this whole fiasco?”

Abraham shook his head, creased his brow and solemnly replied, “I would not hold thy breath for fear of turning blue when this ordeal is at an end. It seems they are as believing of these trumped up charges as God was in creating the earth in six days.”

Already tired shoulders sagged even further as moisture gathered in Graces’ eyes. Tituba reached over and pulled Grace tightly to her. “Twill be all right, Miss Grace. You’ll see. Let’s enjoy the sunshine that God has provided,” Tituba comforted.

The two women sat close for several minutes while Abraham shook his head at the quiet pleasure that the ladies took in breathing clean air. A man clearing his throat broke the quiet serenity in the exercise yard, “Time’s up. Back into your cell.”

“Sheriff, I see you’ve returned from your duties. Perhaps you could find it in your soul to allow the ladies to sit here for a bit longer,” Abraham dourly asked.

“That I have and with one less witch to feed. Those same duties also state that prisoners are only allowed a short stint in the courtyard at a time,” the sheriff retorted.

Abraham bit his lips while his face turned tomato red, a vein at his temple pulsed. Grace reached a hand up to rest on his forehead as she shook her head. “God will see us through,” she insisted.

“You shouldn’t have to rely solely on God. Man should know when they are crossing the line into hysteria and nonsense,” Abraham growled.

Grace sighed as she struggled to her feet, “Trust in God, Abraham. He is the only surety we have in this life and the next.”

The sheriff stood in front of Grace and Tituba and tied a heavy hemp rope to each of their waists, there were no shackles to bind their ankles. He then grabbed the rope between the two and pulled them forward, leaving Abraham to bring up the rear of the party with a scowl on his tan face.

The sheriff led the small party out of the afternoon sunshine into the dark, humid Dungeon and Jail. The air was thick enough that Grace could reach out and almost grab the air. The stones that made up the walls were warm enough to blister a carelessly placed hand. Grace slowly limped onto the wooden floor with Tituba’s support. The sheriff escorted both women to the tiny cell they occupied. Once the door was locked and the sheriff gone, Abraham promised, “I shall see you in the future, Grace.”

 

Fall From Grace – Chapter 11

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Hi all!

Sorry it’s been so long since my last update, but things have been a bit hectic. The more that I read and learn about the Puritans and the form of Christianity they practised the more I understand them. I also find that I can empathize with them.

I encourage you to study them more. You would honestly be amazed by how much you can relate to their struggles and fears.

I promise that I have multiple chapters written in this upcoming novel. Without further ado, I give you Chapter 10 of Fall From Grace.

As always feel free to tell me what you think of Grace Bacon’s journey so far!

Happy Reading!

 

The humidity in the prison gave the mirage of life to Mrs. Osbourne’s body. Grace and Tituba sat huddled in a corner, as far from the rancid scent of decay as their shackles would allow.

Mrs. Osbourne lay peacefully while Grace whispered a final prayer, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation or anguish, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

“As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter:

“Nevertheless, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor Angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

“Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

“Amen,” a male voice answered when the prayer was over.

“Abraham,” Grace gasped as she looked up.

“Offering holy guidance to your fellow accused, Grace,” Abraham asked with a smile.

“Were the priest to do his duty I wouldn’t attempt to take a place that God reserved for man. Either way last rites had to be given,” Grace tiredly stated.

A grey storm cloud passed over Abraham’s features as he darkly rumbled, “Truthfully?!”

“Barely a soul has crossed this threshold since the day of my interrogation,” Grace confirmed.

“The doctor for your foot was here then?”

“Nay. Tis the handiwork of Tituba that you see.”

“Then who called upon you after the interrogation?”

“Mother’s father.”

Abraham shook his head in denial. “The accused should not be held in such deplorable conditions. This is not our way.

“I’ll see you shortly,” Abraham coldly stated as he turned on his heel and stomped away.

“He didn’t sound too happy, Miss Grace,” Tituba mumbled.

Grace smiled grimly when she replied, “Abraham takes God very seriously. A more devout person you’d be hard pressed to find. He knows that God would frown upon this.”

As Grace finished she heard quick and heavy footsteps coming through the communal cell. Being accused of witchcraft saw the privilege of that cell denied to Grace; the walled off courtyard was another luxury that had been denied. All because people listened to the word of children rather than reason.

When Abraham returned the sheriff was with him. Both of their faces resembled the ripe apples used to make pints of apple jack; although the sheriffs skin resembled that of a shriveled apple. “What have you Godless creatures done to one of your own,” the sheriff growled.

“That is not the way one speaks to a lady,” Abraham warned.

“These creatures lost the protection that God gave them when they signed the Devil’s Book.”

From inside of her cell Grace snapped, “We signed no such book!”

The sheriff’s eyes blazed in anger as he glared at Grace with all the power of a storm.

Before the sheriff could say another word, Abraham warned, “Sheriff unless you want to be held accountable for plague spreading in our village, you had best remove Mrs. Osbourne’s body, before decay sets loose a pandemic.

“Were I to write to the governor about your treatment of a lady, you might find yourself at the receiving end of His Excellency’s pleasure,” Abraham ended with enough derision to curdle milk.

The sheriff’s face turned pale as he demanded, “I’ll need your guarantee that the prisoners won’t leave the jail.”

“Neither myself or the ladies will stray from the prison. We shall stray no further than the bench in the courtyard,” Abraham assured.

On that assurance the sheriff unlocked the cells and demanded, “Stay next to Mr. Bacon he’s better than either of you deserve.”

Once the shackles were off Grace leaned on Tituba as the two women hobbled out of the cell; Grace had her bible clutched tightly in her arms as her foot throbbed with each step. By the time they were out of the cell salty tears streaked clear streams down Grace’s cheeks.

Abraham wasted no time in helping Tituba to hold Grace up so that her weeping foot would touch the ground as little as possible. Once they were in the sunshine, Abraham directed both women to the bench that sat along the outer wall. When he had them seated, Abraham asked, “How long were the two of you shackled to her body?”

“Barely quarter of an hour, though it seemed forever,” Grace answered truthfully.

“Spring planting has begun and the shop is busier than one would think, otherwise I’d have been here sooner, “Abraham apologized.

“There is no need for an apology when the land calls, Abraham. I know mother is taking my place at the counter. I pray that you and Hope have had luck with a child?”

“God has not blessed us yet, though thanks to you, Hope is helping mother more and more,” Abraham stated grimly.

“Prithee, why am I the reason?”

“Dearest sister, you’re the one that noticed the stew. Father had been furious thinking you would turn your back to God, until reason lit the problem as bright as day. Father has been over at Stamford for the last couple of weeks,” Abraham explained.

Grace sagged in the bench as though someone had removed a waterwheel from her shoulders.

Fall From Grace – Chapter 9

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I have been working slowly but surely on Fall From Grace. The amount of research that I have already put into this is staggering – and to think, I’m still not done. One thing I have found is a new sympathy for the Puritans.

Other things I have noticed are the severe inaccuracies that we are taught in school. There are quite a few of those. A fascinating fact is that  the colonies were known as the land that spawned grandparents. Less industry in the so-called new world meant people could live longer and for the first time, parents were seeing their grandchildren being born.

Another fact is that contrary to popular belief, Puritans married for love. The median male age for marriage was 26, while the females tended to marry at 23.

Before I continue on the amazing and wondrous facts that I have learned, I give you Chapter 9 in Fall From Grace.

As always feel free to share your thoughts and Happy Reading!

The three prisoners stayed up well into the night as there was no way for them to get comfortable. The full moon lit up the little cell illuminating the haggard looking prisoners.

Though thunder rolled through the sky promising to let loose a downpour that could flood the crops – and their cell, there wasn’t a cloud in sight.

“What happened to Mrs. Good,” Grace whispered.

“She was sent to Ipswich Jail on account of her being with child. They’ll probably try to charge her newborn with witchcraft as well. Lord above knows that they charged her four-year-old with it,” Mrs. Osbourne bitterly informed.

Grace sighed and managed to look angry rather humiliated. With her neck bent, the moonlight made the lice in her hair sparkle and crawl at the same time. “They’re charging children,” Grace exclaimed in horror.

“That has been our way since the beginning. You know well how children are expected to act, Grace,” Mrs. Osbourne sternly reminded.

“I realize they are held to adult standards but, at four a child’s mind is filled with whimsy and imagination. Young Dorothy Good wouldn’t be able to speak intelligently enough to answer the interrogators,” Grace confirmed with muffled tones.

“What they’re doing’s not right, Miss Grace. They even sent Miss Dorothy to Ipswich with her mother,” Tituba whispered.

“Why do they have the right to hold a child in shackles,” Grace asked plaintively.

“Those are the rules. Besides, she claimed that a snake spoke to her,” Mrs. Osbourne insisted.

“Rules or not, they aren’t right. A talking snake is nothing more than her own imagination. There aren’t many ways for a girl to occupy her time. It’s not like we could go out and learn a trade,” Grace insisted with her bent head.

“We shouldn’t be here accused of crimes that weren’t committed, Grace,” Mrs. Osbourne stated to a flash of lightning and roll of thunder.

Rain poured from the sky in bucket loads obscuring the once bright moon. The fire in the hearth across on the other side of the jail did nothing to warm the cell as rain leaked through the window above them.

***

The mid-day sun was turning the cell into a sauna. Bodily waste baked in the scorching heat of the sun. Water from last night’s down pour had long since evaporated. An incessant clanking of metal on metal reverberated around the room.

It wasn’t long before long the clanking stopped and the women gave a sigh of relief as their shoulders sagged. Their semi-relaxed air was not to last as stomping feet made their way closer to the cell.

The women gazed at the cell bars from the floor. Tattered and stained clothes only enhanced the bruises and lacerations that adorned their faces. A short, thin man stopped in front of the cell. The thick blue haze of tobacco smoke that surrounded the man smelt vaguely nutty.

His leather boots were worn in such a way to blend in with the drab wooden floor. He was bald except for a white ring of hair around the base of his skull. He looked upon the prisoners with enough disgust to wither a crop field. He shook his head and sharply stated,

“I hadn’t thought to believe that the daughter of a baker would stoop so low as to sell her soul to the devil’s fiery furnace.”

Grace tried to look up to glare at the man only to find herself staring at her soiled skirt. “I will tell you like I have told the interrogators, Grandfather. I am no witch; nor would God allow me to sign the Devil’s Book,” Grace snapped.

“I told your mother she was marrying the wrong man. She was of age and wouldn’t listen to me though. She could have had a wealthier suitor and more comfortable life, but she chose your father. Now look what she has to deal with. A daughter that would dare go against all that is holy,” Grandfather spat.

“At least she has love. Unlike you she didn’t dishonor herself and God,” Grace venomously spat back.

“Instead, she gets a daughter whose neck won’t bend from stubborn pride,” he shot back.

“I am not guilty of turning my back to God. If my faith costs me my life, than so be it; but I’ll not confess to something that I didn’t do,” Grace forcefully stated.

“And break your mother’s heart while your at it, no doubt,” Grandfather sneered.

“Man breaks my mother’s heart for bearing false witness,” Grace snapped from her bound position.

“You are naught to my family. The next time I will see you is the day you swing on Gallows Hill for your treachery,” Grandfather fumed as he stormed away from the cell.
Grace took a calming breath as her grandfather arrogantly strode away from the cell and implored, “Pardon the disgraceful scene, ladies; unfortunately, grandfather has always been a bitter man.”

“I’m no lady Miss Grace, but to me that sounds like ones dirty laundry blowing in the breeze – and were always taught that God frowns on that,” Tituba said dismissing Grace’s apology.

“Bah, child. No need to apologize for someone else,” Mrs. Osbourne firmly informed as she began to cough.

Tituba tried to reach around Grace to comfort Mrs. Osbourne as hacking coughs racked her body. The only comfort that she could give was to hold the older woman’s hand.

Fall From Grace – Chapter 8

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As many of you know I am in the midst on writing a novel that takes place against the bloody backdrop of the Salem Witch Trials. Previously I have given you the first seven rough chapters. Without further ado I give you the eigth chapter. As always feel free to tell me what you think of the story thus far.

Happy Reading!

The days dried out as Grace sat with her back to a wall and her wrists and neck locked in a pillory. Her wrists and neck were chafed and her hair looked as though it were crawling of its own free will.

The frail Mrs. Osbourne sat on one side of her and Tituba on the other. All three women were shackled at the ankles. Mrs. Good hadn’t been seen in the jail for more than a day.
It had taken a couple of days for Grace to sit upright, rather than lay hunched over in her own waste; now, though, she gingerly sat with her back to the harsh stone wall. Mrs. Osbourne and Tituba had managed to move her away from the far wall and closer to the middle of the cell. All three of them may have been covered in their own filth, but none of them wanted to sit closer to the five gallon buckets that their waste was supposed to go in, than they had to.

The tiny cell reeked of human waste and stale, coppery blood that turned black as it dried. There hadn’t been a single soul to visit the jail in the last day. The jailer himself served their dinner – and that was naught but a bowl of stew with stale, crusty bread.
The women sat in silent, miserable camaraderie as the morning sun dimly illuminated the cell. Tituba looked over at Grace and gasped, “Miss Grace, your hair is crawling!”

“I had hoped that the itching was merely my mind trying to escape from this brutal prison,” Grace whispered tearily as the room descended into encompassing silence.
The deafening silence was broken by the steady clank of metal on metal. The hardened voice of the sheriff derisively called out, “Supper time you foul creatures.”

As the sheriff arrogantly strode into view the ladies could see that he was accompanied by a woman who was carrying a loaf a bread and tray with three bowls of steaming stew on it.
The woman that accompanied the sheriff was of moderate height. She had a round oval face. “If you’ll unlock the door, sheriff, I will leave this bountiful meal for them to eat. These bowls won’t be missed overnight,” she serenely stated.

Grace gasped as she heard that familiar, jovial voice. Abraham’s wife, Hope, had delivered dinner this evening!

The sheriff bowed his head at the woman as he replied, “As you wish Mrs. Bacon. Are sure you husbands mother won’t run short of food for her Godly household,” the sheriff inquired.

“She’s the one who sent the food to them all,” Mrs. Bacon informed.

“How does only one of her children turn to the devil’s charms?”

“Abraham is a saint sheriff,” Mrs. Bacon agreed, “So is Nathaniel.”

The sheriff chuckled and complimented, “Hope Bacon, you are indeed a saint to always find the good in even the worst of people.

“Alright, I’ll open the cell for you, after which we’ll tally up what these pathetic creatures owe you.”

“Nonsense, sheriff! Mrs. Bacon wouldn’t dream of charging for such a simple meal. She believes, as all of us do, that even the smallest kindness can cause a person to consider repenting their sins.”

“These creatures deserve no kindness from you,” the sheriff coolly informed as he opened the door to the cell.

Once Hope darted into the tiny cell to lay the bowls of stew at the feet of the prisoners. The sheriff brusquely informed, “I’ll be waiting out front for you Mrs. Bacon.”

“Thank you sheriff, and may God bless you,” Hope answered as she knelt to place the still warm bowls of stew at the feet of the prisoners.

The sheriff shrugged dismissively as he walked back to the front of the jail. The heavy wooden door slammed shut after the sheriff.

“Grace what happened,” Hope exclaimed with eyes the size of dinner plates.

Grace couldn’t look at her sister-in-law, but she could hear the horror in her voice.
“Tis been a long few days, Hope. I refuse to confess to something that I haven’t done,” Grace hoarsely replied.

“This is inhumane! To be lashed for refusing to confess is abominable! As for the pillory there is no reason to shame you.

“As for the cell bars no jail in the colony has those. None would dare to escape,” Hope declared.

Grace snorted inelegantly at Hope’s indignation before answering, “Methinks that our jailors don’t have a worry for our well being; the jailers don’t trust us to meet our fate,” Grace finished grimly.

“Your brother will be extremely upset.”

“Pray that he does nothing rash,” Grace implored.

Hope shook her head and gave all three ladies in the cell a warm bowl of stew. Tituba and Mrs. Osbourne reached for the bowl as Hope attempted to feed Grace as though she were a newborn.

The women ate in silence, relishing the warm stew that was coating their hungry stomachs. Grace was eating with her eyes closed; trying to forget her misery for a moment.

After a few bites Grace asked, “How are mother and father?”

“Your father is stubborn in the fact that if you are accused than you must be guilty. He doesn’t show it, but this is breaking him.

“Your mother refuses to believe that you are capable of such a thing. Nazareth has heard them viciously arguing over the matter. He doesn’t believe these charges other.

“You already know Abraham doesn’t believe them,” Hope quietly informed.

Tears flared behind Graces’ eyelids forcing her to open them and look into the spoon that

Hope held in her hand. Grace gasped sharply causing Hope to question, “What?”

“It’s the stew. It’s black and purple,” Grace exclaimed. Tituba’s face turned ashy and Mrs. Osbourne set her bowl down with a thud.

“I don’t understand what you’re saying Grace,” Hope softly stated.

“St. Anthony’s fire. It’s the reason the children are acting up. The grain crops are rotting with St. Anthony’s fire,” Grace insisted.

“Grace, I’ve never been out of Salem. I literally don’t know what you’re saying,” Hope informed.

Grace took a breath and whispered, “Father and I went to Stamford a while back and there was talk of the grain crops being tainted. They had symptoms just like the girls. They called it St. Anthony’s fire,” she finished desperately as thunder rolled across the darkening sky.

Bloody Maples

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Recently I have been working on my first ghost story/horror story. A few people have read it and they encouraged me to share it with you. This is far beyond what I normally write so I would be really appreciative of your comments on it.

The current title for this piece is Bloody Maples and it ponders what the malevolent spirits that were persecuted could want after all this time.

Happy Reading!

Tall sugar maples shaded a lifeless tree that clung to a sheer cliff bluff. Below the cliff a shallow ravine trickled with red tinged water. Frayed ropes swayed on the lower branches of the dead tree.

No birds flew overhead; even the calls of the animals died this crisp autumn night.

Clouds rolled in as the earth began to shake. Red water crested the bank as the earth shook allowing the ravine to rise and rest at the base of the maples. Lightening flashed as forms emerged from the water and stood with bowed heads at the base of the dead tree.
One figure, then another, knelt next to the tree as the water receded. It was a somber affair as nineteen figures prayed over lives long lost.

Tonight though, they weren’t here to mourn the past; they were here to celebrate the future.

Lightening cracked across the sky as another figure stepped out of the tree.
She wore an elaborately antiquated dress whose colors were as faded and luminescent as the moonlight. The only bright color that adorned her was the sparkling sapphire that shone from her eyes.

As wind howled through the trees, the woman chillingly whispered, “My children, for far too long this mortal realm has rested on our innocent souls! They shed our pure blood for the comfort of their minds. Tonight these vile mortals will lose the solace they purchased in vain!

“Tonight they shall suffer the tortures they rained upon our heads as we walk through their homes and into the dreams they hold true,” she rasped as the wind howled into the night.

A man in tattered breeches and a wide brimmed hat gracefully rose and grovelled, “For that milady, on this treacherously bright All Hallow’s Eve.”

Milady looked upon the humbled man and cooed, “Father George, you need not thank me for what The Impaler has declared a treat for his most faithful.”

Excitement fluttered through the translucent ghosts faster than a humming bird could flap its wings. The tittering exclamations of, “He remember us,” flickered faster than a candle in the wind amongst the pale group.

Milady smiled benevolently as she assured, “Most fondly does the Prince remember those that floated with him during the Mafiosi Uprising.”

The pallid ghosts gleamed like a dim light bulb under their Lady’s praise. “Now my children, let us fly while the veil weak and the moon high. Show these mortals that they have rested easy for the last time on our memories and blood. Bestow on them visions of the despairing world that they will rise to in the morning,” Milady eerily commanded.
The ghosts howled around the dead tree as their spirits rose to the highest branches and flew apart in what any observer would call a shooting star.

Clouds began to cover the pale moon and wind began to blow leaves from trees as the ghosts approached the nearest town. A final clap of thunder turned what little moonlight there was the color of blood.

One by one ghosts entered the houses of the sleeping inhabitants who were snugly in their toasty beds.

In the first house a woman wearing a tattered skirt and bonnet cruelly smiled as she entered the mind of her target. The man had the same sneer in his sleep as the judge who had condemned her, and she was delighted to stand here and show him the future that awaited him.

Slowly the form of the woman sank in to the sleeping man and his body turned blue for a moment as his mouth opened in silent horror.

Inside his mind the woman cackled, “Young Sewall, the time has come for you to taste the payment due for the crimes of your ancestors. Once you cross our realm, not even God will save you!”

“I don’t know who you are,” he whimpered.

Her ghostly face smiled in rage, revealing rotten teeth as she whispered, “The judges son doesn’t know a Good? How cruelly then, will it be as flood drowns you at the stake?”

The cracked and cackling voice of Good sent goose bumps up young Sewall’s spine as he was flung towards a stake that popped up from the fertile ground strewn with grain.

Quickly ropes bound him as a stone sprung up from the earth. Stacks of kindling and firewood surrounded his feet as blood fell from the sky.

Young Sewall’s eyes widened as the fertile ground turned to blood and slowly began to rise. “Dear God,” he horrifically uttered.

“He’s not here to save you! As in life we make our own choices after death. He may hear your screams, but he’ll not answer them, young Sewall. Thanks to the laws of the After Life, God has a strictly hands off policy.

“How does it feel to be alone and bereft of help through no cause of your own? How does it feel to be one of us,” Good snarled.

“Please, I never wronged you,” young Sewall pleaded.

“Do you not recognize a witch? While alive, I never wronged anyone either. My soul refuses to accept the fake apologies of your ancestors,” Good sneered.

“That was centuries ago,” young Sewall panicked as the blood crept up the rock he was confined to.

“Vengeance takes eternity to serve,” Good spat.

“Why haven’t you taken your rest after the courts declared you innocent? The judge professed his guilt in those dark times,” he whispered as the bloody water inched ever closer.

“They wouldn’t believe me when I was alive, why should I believe them when I am dead. Their mortal words mean nothing to one who has eternity to watch,” Good coldly explained.

“Taking my life won’t help you now,” young Sewall pleaded.

“True, but an oath I have sworn and keep it I shall. They took my life and you shall drink blood for it,” Good viciously informed as the bloody water lapped at young Sewall’s feet.

Young Sewall gazed at Good with horrified bewilderment. “Good, you’re making no sense. What happened was a tragedy!”

“As a God fearing man surely you can understand that an oath has to be kept,” she icily soothed.

“It’s not too late for your soul Good! God will forgive you for this,” young Sewall pleaded as the blood encompassed his ankles.

Good cackled as a silky male voice smoothly intoned, “Weren’t you listening? Your God has a strictly hands off policy when it comes to the living and the dead.

“I, on the other hand, reward my faithful; and they have decided the fates of those that wronged them.”

Young Sewall looked around frantically, his eyes darting in directions that his head could not swivel. “Who are you? Stop this madness,” he demanded from his bound stake.

A dark chuckle filled the air before an answer was forthcoming, “I am Vlad Tepes. Vovoid of Wallachia. In my time I was a great man, known for rewarding my faithful.

“Tell me, why should I deny Mistress Good her just reward, after such faithful service,” Vlad queried condescendingly.

“Because I’m innocent,” young Sewall screamed from his post.

“So was she, and not a single mortal care,” Vlad sneered as young Sewall slumped against his post allowing the bloody water further up his calves.

Such a pathetic sight cause Good’s cackles to turn from cruelty to delight.

Vlad sneered and responded, “Have they changed so much that the innocent still suffer?” The cold sneer of Vlad’s face was such that the metallic smell of blood mingled with feces, causing Good to cackle once more.

Vlad looked to Good as midnight skies began to lighten and bloody water faded to pure. With a light sneer on his face he commanded, “Mistress Good, our time on this plane is nearing an end this solstice eve. I would suggest you warn this modern man of that which awaits him upon crossing over to us,” he finished in a cool whisper as he faded from thought.

As the lightening flashed once more Good watched the blood drain from young Sewall’s face and assured, “Worry not young Sewall, you shall greet the sun once more. But when your time in the mortal world is through, your soul belongs to the Salem 19. We will see you again,” she promised as her shade faded with the calming waters.