“She screamed her innocence, but none would listen.” The old woman broke off speaking and stared into the flames as though she could see something that no one else could.
The ticking of the clock on the mantle grew louder in William’s ears as he waited for her to continue. To him, she seemed lost in her own thoughts far too long. Tick, tick, tick, filled his head till he could stand it no longer. He reached forward to tap the old girl on the knee. Lilly grasped his arm.
“Don’t! This is our chance to escape,” she whispered. Her breath hot on his cheek.
William swung around to face her. She hardly recognise the man she loved. His features had grown hard. His brow was furrowed and his eyes narrowed to thin slits.
“Woman,” he growled, “Shut up.”
He reached out and grabbed the old girl’s shoulder. “Well, what did they do?”
She turned her head slowly towards them both. Lilly noticed a strangeness in her eyes, a flickering of sorts from light to dark. Her jet pupils shone like crystals. Her tongue flicked across her shrivelled lips. Panic crept through Lilly’s body, burning her flesh from the inside out.
“They hung her from a tree branch, doused her in a liquid and set a torch to her clothing.” The old woman pushed herself out of the rocking chair and stood before the fire.
“Her screams spread far and wide and in her last breath she cursed those who had done this to her.”
“That must have been something to see.” William’s eyes remained fixed on the old woman’s.
“Indeed, it was. Is it something you would like to see?” She pointed a bony finger in his direction.
William pressed his lips together in a smile barely noticeable, but one the old girl didn’t miss. She continued with the story.
“The next day Jonah Syrett and one other returned to her cottage to see if there was anything of worth to them. They passed her charred bones that swung in the breeze and laughed as they did.”
“Help us please…” The voices called to Lilly and she found herself pulled towards the wall by some invisible thread. As she moved closer to the wall, she glanced back at William and the woman. William was now standing and in his right hand he held a heavy stick. At its end a rag burned, yellow and red flames leaping into the air. The old woman had transformed into a younger one, She seemed to be dangling from a branch that protruded through the roof. The fire in the hearth was raging as flames leapt out and around the wooden frame. The woman was laughing and her laughter filled every corner of the room.
Lilly placed her hands on her ears to shut it out. She was now inches from the wall and the voices mingled with the laughter, resounded in her head. For a moment she felt dizzy and placed a hand on the wall for support. Out of the corner of her eye she saw William about to set the torch to the woman’s dress.
She turned to run to his side but as she did something clasped itself around her wrist. Her eyes focused on what held her and terrified she opened her mouth to scream, but no sound came out.
To be continued....
To be continued....