Witch! – Short Story
By: May Livere
She ran on, wild-eyed, terrified. Her breath came in quick, short gasps.
“Witch! Witch! Witch!” their angry chants filled the midnight air.
She ran faster, getting her strength from the very essence of the words and the murderous passion behind them. The angry monotony was broken every once in a while by unsynchronized barking… they had brought their dogs along too, for the round up and final kill.
Her chances were dim and she knew it. She had witnessed it happen to the others before her; needless to say, none of them had made it. But she ran on anyway, panting up the steep slope. Wild thorns from the thick underbrush grabbed her bare arms and legs, mercilessly tearing into her flesh. After a while, she got used to the stinging pain and the warmness that oozed from her wounds and trickled down her skin.
The barks drew closer. The dogs would get her before they did. A jutting tree root tripped her, breaking her momentum. She stumbled to the ground and rolled down the thorn-infested slope. When she tried to get up, a burning sensation coursed through her left hip, leaving her in excruciating pain. Biting back pain and tears, she was reduced to clambering up the slope on all fours, dragging her injured leg along.
She looked over her shoulder and saw their torches, a dozen fireflies against an inky backdrop, lighting up the darkness, heading towards her. Her hands and knees had lost their feeling to bloodthirsty thorns and jagged rocks. Equally bloodthirsty dogs became wilder at the smell of her blood on the trail and barked louder, instinctively knowing their prey was injured… the hunt was drawing to an end.
“Witch! Witch! Witch!” the crazed sing-song jarred into her consciousness.
She could feel the dogs closing in, their excited breathing, but still she did not stop… she crawled on defiantly. She felt the hot canine breath against her foot and the powerful jaws locking around it with razor-sharp precision, tearing into her flesh… that was the first one, the winner. Soon the others were all over her, eager canine breath all over her, each dog anticipating the praise its master would bestow on it. The warm, metallic smell of her own blood filled her nostrils, blocking out the earthy scent of the forest all around her.
She knew that by the time they got to her she would be half dead, their dogs having gotten the best out of her. She had seen it all happen before, never imagining it would happen to her. She looked up at the starlit sky and the full moon, it was a beautiful night.
The pain became unreal. They pulled their dogs away from her battered body. She smiled faintly trying to be relieved and knowing it was futile because what the dogs had began their masters would finish.
She was innocent. She remembered the others before her, they had been true witches, they had deserved to die… or had they?
“I’m innocent,” she whispered, just like the others before her all had.
They surrounded her body.