Fiction

Bring Out Your Dead

There is no pain, sleep evades me, I live amongst the dead, yet to be set free. Feeding off the souls of the fresh and still warm. Or who have tried to pass, but have been halted. By me, by us. Our bodies feed the earth, our souls feed upon the dead, at one with the forest. Arms clumsy, feet misshapen, be careful how you tread, if we feel you coming we will reach out to you, tease you, take you, like I was taken, no-one can hear you.

Mary, 1965

As the hound disappeared into the snarling gorse Mary let out a silent scream, her voice buried deep within her terror. With his chain still held tight in her hand, her feet refused to obey her commands, as the forest alive in the darkness, watched, waiting, calling her name.

Still clutching the chain Mary moved forward, one short step after the other. Running wasn’t an option, running caused too many vibrations, rumblings underground calling to her enemies. Just small steps for now, small cautious steps. The forest, awakening again, trees stretching and swaying, leaves dancing dizzily along the ground, the wind whistled and whispered,

“Mary, Mary quite contrary how does your garden grow?”

She whispered in reply “With silver bells and cockle shells and pretty maids all in a row”.

The forest sighed deeply  “wrong answer”.

The ground gave way beneath Mary’s feet, she scrambled in vain to prevent herself from falling down the vast black hole,  branches stretching, knitting themselves together above her head. Tree roots grabbing ,whipping. Panting and sobbing she clawed at the crumbling earth to the sides of her, there was no way out.

“Ring-a-ring o’ roses, a pocketful of posies, a-tishoo a-tishoo WE ALL FALL DOWN”

The forest calmed, the leaves resumed their stillness, fluttering gently  to the ground. The branches and trees recoiled, taking back control, resting, on guard, ready.

Blythe, 1665

This was how it started. The fever. Blythe was sweating now. Not a good sign. The sweat didn’t come from the toil of nursing her companions. Every breath could be her last. She wouldn’t be able to hide it much longer. Soon, none of them would be able to leave the house. Better she left now, and found what food she could, and anything else to ease the suffering of the household. Wrapped in a cloak of darkness, the relief of the cold night air on her face, she made her way through the  cobbled streets of Whitechapel.

Leman Street was deserted, few dared venture out, shops and houses boarded up or marked with the bloody red crosses that signalled the end to yet more lives. Blythe shuddered and scuttled along Buckle Street, feeling weak now, but their only hope for food tonight would come from the homes of the wealthy. This carried its own risks. At this time of the evening she might be able to grab something before the dark rats of the night.

“Bring out your dead”

Blythe lurked in the shadows, watchful, hopeful, hungry and tired, searching for something to quieten the ever growing rumblings from inside. Her throat tightened as the darkness thickened, the shadowy figure of the beaked man moving in, heart racing, slumping to the ground gulping desperately at the cold, night, air to fill her lungs. A different kind of darkness now descended as she felt the coarseness of the cloak that engulfed her, retching at the pungent odour, her fear gave way as she melted out of consciousness.

“… and the bell tolls on”

Waking up in a deep pit, filled with the stench of death and suffering, Blythe for the first time was able to fill her lungs as she let out a scream. She had been taken. Taken and disposed of, left with those already dead, dead from the fever. No-one would ever hear her, they would choose not to.

“Lord give me wings that I may fly to you when this body ceases to serve me, please take my soul close in your arms and offer me the comfort that I have been delivered to my rightful place”.

There is no pain, sleep evades me, I live amongst the dead, yet to be set free. Feeding off the souls of the fresh and still warm. Or who have tried to pass, but have been halted. By me, by us. Our bodies feed the earth, our souls feed upon the dead, at one with the forest. Arms clumsy, feet misshapen, be careful how you tread, if we feel you coming we will reach out to you, tease you, take you, like I was taken, no-one can hear you.

“Mary Mary quite contrary how does your garden grow?”