Three pictures to provide horror inspiration this week, and you have two weeks to get your pieces of short fiction in for submission on the blog – no word count this week, so let your imaginations run wild! If you submit a tale, post it as a comment to this thread making a clear indication as to which picture your work is based on.
The next Stitched Saturday blog in which your stories will be posted will be on the 16th of September.
And, as a bonus, we have the fourth part of Nick Paschall’s Born of a Witch. Enjoy, and I’ll see you all back here in a fortnight – bring snacks and #StayStitched!
Born Of A Witch Part 4 – Nick Paschall
Running a finger along the spines of worn books, Esther read off the titles of books she’d practically memorized during her time as a clerk at this bookstore. The varied selection were brief introductions into witchcraft, voodoo, and other dark arts that were best left unnamed; this, of course, Esther at all as she was hoping to find something that may have a clue in how to work with Sin.
“Maybe find out what his limitations are?” She muttered, eyes looking up to the highest shelf. The books up there were in a glass case, locked by old man Giger due to their supposed value.
“Now, if anything has information those have information…”
“Sin!” Esther called out, turning to almost elbow the pale boy in the jaw. He caught her swinging arm gently, his strength firm and resolute, “whoa, you are fast!”
“I live to serve,” he replied as if it were obvious.
“Okay, well I need the books up in the locked shelf. Can you retrieve them without damaging the locks or cabinets?” Esther asked.
“Simplicity given form,” Sin replied, bending low to reach into the shadow of the bookshelf, his arm disappearing as sinking into water, only to come up and out of the shade with four books gripped in his white knuckled hand. “There are three more, should I retrieve them all?”
“Yes,” Esther said. Taking the offered volumes from his hand. She accepted the final three without a word and checked her phone to see what time it was, “go ahead and go back to sorting for me, I’ll just be reading.”
“Yes mistress,” Sin said, sinking into the floor until his own spool of a shadow vanished.
Esther walked around the occult section and towards the reading corner, where several chintz chairs were located. Settling in between the trio of over-stuffed chairs, Esther laid down the seven tomes on a low table in front of her before picking up the first from the top of the stack.
Reading the Latin title, Esther chuckled. “‘In Lightness, the Dark Resides’? A tad gothic, but I suppose it could be said this was written before the emo phase had been invented. Guess I’ll give whoever wrote it a pass…”
Looking down at the faded green cover of the book, Esther flipped it over to look for any sign of a publishing house. Opening the cover revealed yellowed pages, but no publishers press or authors signature.
“Faye always says to never trust an anonymous book,” Esther said, closing the tome with a thought. She hesitated though… part of her felt as if this was a book that could hold something of value, especially to Esther’s current predicament. “Hmmm… it may not be a book of spells, but maybe it has something insightful?”
Flipping open to the first page, Esther began reading, finding herself engrossed in the personal essays of Melice Lokinelli, a self-proclaimed prophet of her day during the late eighteenth century in Versailles, where she plied her trade as a fortune teller to friar and nobleman alike. A self-portrait of the woman left Esther chuckling.
The woman had obviously been full of herself, but not in her beauty. Whereas she could have accentuated her hips or breasts, she drew a slender frame and large eyes hidden behind thick spectacles, several scarves wrapped around her neck and head with numerous bead chains dangling from her neck and wrists. Beneath her self-portrait, the woman had scrawled out a note.
Esther read it out, “it is with a heavy heart that I have gleaned from the spirit world the time of my own passing. My marked funeral date will be one of fire and agony, when the stars are aligned in such a fashion as to allow for a blood moon during a waning crescent. My death will happen on a warm summer’s eave, when I will be ripped from my home and strapped to a wooden spit, whereupon I will be roasted for practicing witchcraft. Despite my claims that divination is but a tool of the Lord, I will die three minutes past the hour on my property, staring into the eyes of my children, who will thankfully be spared.”
Esther relaxed back into her seat, not realizing she’d been pushed to the edge of it. “I wonder if this is true… would make what I read in this volume that much more valuable.”
Esther stood up and walked over behind the counter, punching up the Google search engine for Melice Lokinelli, sifting through a few images of her that were indeed similar to the self-portrait in the book. When Esther came upon a website dedicated to her, she raised an eyebrow.
“The woman doesn’t have a Wikipedia entry, but she has a website?” Esther said, wincing as some of the textbooks close by began taking off, spinning like frisbees to land in the stacks after being labeled correctly by scratchy sounding label maker.
Clicking on the website, Esther sighed. “I have to enter my age? God, I hate this kind of bullshit…”
After entering a fake birth date, Esther hit enter and waited for the page to load. Surprisingly, the page loaded into another request for her birthday, this time with a portrait of Melice resting in the center of the screen.
“We of the Fifth Palm don’t take kindly to witches considering our affairs and then lying to us. Give us your correct age and do not lie to us again, or you will not be able to look upon any of our guarded sites ever again.” Esther read aloud.
Sucking in a breath through her teeth, she typed in her real birth date, disturbed that some group called the Fifth Palm knew she was a witch and that she had lied.
The next screen brought her to a set of forums, the page a stark white with black text and blue hyperlink. No decoration was present save for small circles holding palms holding four fingers straight and the thumb horizontal across the palm. Looking over the selection of forum posts,
Esther shook her head.
“Soul searching… aura readings? What am I supposed to do with this kind of insanity?” Esther asked. “I just wanted to know when exactly this bitch died and if her prediction was accurate!”
Scrolling down, Esther came across a forum post labeled “Lokinelli Prophecies”. Smiling, she muttered to herself as she clicked on the forum. “Finally!”
The forum opened into over seven hundred mini-threads, each bearing a title citing a date and place. Seeing as all of the dates were from the late seventeen hundred, and they were all centered around Versailles, Esther assumed that these were prophecies that Melice had given. Lifting the green book to the self-portrait, she scoured the page for a date.
Flipping a page, Esther smiled in victory when she read Melice’s ancient script detailing her plans to stay home for Christmas despite what her sister-in-law suggested she do. Going back to the forums, she scrolled through the pages looking for anything close to Christmas, until she located the exact prophecy that she was looking for.
December 22nd 1789 – Versailles,
Woken beneath a bleeding smile,
Judged before the Lord’s eye faulty,
Who will bring forth the flames to purify the witch of her sins?
The story to be said is that the true witch to be burned is the one hearing these words with her eyes, from a new world in a new age. My death will be but a new beginning as the palm will close, opening for the fifth and final time. Aided by the curse of seven, an ally who is more enemy than friend, the palm will be cut and the five will become three, marking for new life in those that seek to twist fate rather than view it.
Reply – Davis1903
She was burned at her manor during the waning crescent blood moon of the summer of 1799. She had two daughters and two sons, one of which died in a struggle with the mob that sought his mother. The other children were too young to be killed, it was decided and, after the manor was looted, a concerned friend of the family contacted her brother in Paris to bring them somewhere safe.
Esther closed the google browser, shivering at the wording of the prophecy spoken. She’d never taken to divination before, as most witches didn’t. Diviners were witches that spurned their given talents to merely observe the world as it passed. To think that there might be a gathering of Diviners like witches had covens was a little funny, but Esther did have to concede that it made sense in an odd manner.
“Why they would gather is beyond me,” Esther mumbled, turning to regard the dwindled pile of textbooks as they continued to fly past her. “I mean, what’s the point in having this power if you’re not going to do anything with it?”