THE TESTIMONY OF CHRISTIAN TARN PRESTWOOD. They hung the mother, who died silently without protest or struggle, and then they strung up the brother. The mother I felt quite inclined for, as she had a shapely swell of bosom and a generous bundle of hair. She neither resembled a so-called witch in appearance or manner, and I found it sad that she be extinguished in the prime of her life, without so much as a coat to keep her warm during her final hour upon the chilly balcony.
The brother not only displayed a similar calm, but was also relaxed to the point of banter with the gallows master and members of the crowd. In fact, I would go so far to say that he was having a whale of a time up there, moments before his own very execution, smiling and laughing at the jaunts and teases.
The story goes that the brother prevented the local tax man trying to seduce the mother, and, enraged, the tax man pushed her only little child into the river. The mother and brother were later found practising unholy rites on the recovered body before burial and were therefore sentenced to hang. They hail from a long family line of Wiccan merchants.
So the brother swings and dies almost instantly. Exactly then, the huge crowd parts in the middle, as if a fight has broken out. People gasp and rush away. I see, with my own eyes, a young child of about nine years emerge from the soil, as if from a shallow grave. She moves like an old animation on a cinema reel missing some of its frames, juddering jerkily like something in a strobe light, hitting the ground with her fists as she rises. Her hair is matted with muck and her mouth is upturned with a hate beyond her years. Her small ribcage rises and falls rapidly as her meagre frame is silhouetted by the rapidly sinking sun.
Some of the villagers and other members of the crowd stopped dead-still in their tracks. Some of them hardened to stone, some of them collapsed to dust, and some of them imploded like watermelons. As the girl looked in my direction I was quick enough to turn away and escape the same fate.
Shielding myself from her gaze, I heard all manner of screams and cries. I also heard something very uncomfortable in the middle of my head. It was like a raucous tinny clang in the base of my subconscious, which made my ears bleed. I believe everyone present heard it; the sound of one world grating against another.
I opened my eyes because I didn’t want to drown in the visions and sights that the unearthly noise provoked. On the gallows, both bodies were now kicking, and the mother’s eyes were firing out a long beam of flames, burning up dozens of the crowd with every laser-like swipe this way and that. I tried to stand, because the ground was suddenly tilting as if in earthquake and sucking me and all others in, like quicksand.
All manner of dead ghostly figures from weeks and centuries past grappled to claim me with their rotten limbs; I was half-tipped into their lairs and squalors beneath the sodden earth and they wanted whoever they could clutch to remain with them, alive or dying, whole or broken. The day had vanished from the sky; it was now deep dusk, with crows a-fly, and the hunger-slurps of creatures not known to this dimension, brought in on a free ticket by this young, murdered girl, risen like a new moon to cast our afternoon in a sinister light... END OF TESTIMONY
[Discuss alternative words for 'strobe' and 'laser' the author could have used in relation to the times]
A.Michael only writes when he is in a serious mood. He thinks his ability to dredge up a serving of horror at any given time is compensation for being hopelessly crap at some other elements of life. “The last thing my first girlfriend said to me before she split is that I was emotionally retarded. To give credit where credit is due, I can be quite lacking in certain relationships. My inability to fix this flaw just makes me want to invent something real nasty which shouldn’t exist. Some say this is a talent, but I say it’s just another flaw.”