Our challenge this week was inspired by tales of the Headless Horseman. I don’t want to tell you anything else, but this is not sunshine happy smiles reading.
Head into the Woods
By Melissa Davis
Miranda sat at the picnic table with her friends. Each was wearing a long black sheet around them to make it look like they were wearing robes. They had brought Jane’s candles and incense with them to the park. They were hoping to scare away any kids with their appearance. It was just for kicks today. Life was carefree. They had just finished watching the newest cult classic on witchcraft and now thought they were the next best thing.
Miranda was oblivious mostly. She was just happy to be out of the house and didn’t mind the eccentricity of her two friends. She had actually been studying Wicca while she was away at college and it wasn’t because of some stupid movie that had been released this summer. She tried not to roll her eyes every time Jane and Stacy repeated lines from the movie. They seemed to think they knew everything about the craft. Miranda couldn’t help but cough aloud when they started talking about casting a circle and sat listening to their attempts as they lit candles for each direction. She loved even more hearing about how powerful Stacy and Jane thought they were since they had started “practicing.” It clearly demonstrated a lack of knowledge or true learning on their parts. Wicca was not something you just one day started and suddenly poof you have instant powers. It wasn’t about powers at all. It was about understanding the world around you.
Miranda tried not to feel like a hypocrite for being here at this table while the group did their make believe witch ceremony. When Jane picked up a sharp steak knife and raised it up to their throats before they could enter the so-called circle, it was all Miranda could do to keep herself from busting a gut. Really it was not better to rush upon a blade than to enter some rudimentary circle with fear. Miranda had actually been in a real circle before. She never had to do some silly knife ritual to get into it.
After they had finished piddling around with the circle, they decided to take their chances on the trails of the forest. Stacy was always talking about the supposed witch burial ground in the middle of the trails. The folklore said that it was always hot on the witch’s grave that even in the cold of winter heat would rise from the ground. Miranda loved walking through any woods, so she followed behind them.
While they were walking she felt an energy near the creek a few yards from where the witch was buried. She told them to go ahead without her for she wanted to check out the creek. She felt a presence that was sad and delicate. She waited to see if she would get more of an impression. She did. There was the soul of a child in these woods one that had died here. She saw in her head how the little girl had loved playing near the stream when she came home from school. It was a long time ago where all the kids walked to the school house and people lived much further away from each other, perhaps early 1900s. The child wore a long dress and a simple bonnet on her head. She had loved being here in these woods. These were the first impressions Miranda felt. The second flash of pictures in her hear weren’t nearly as pleasant. Lauralie was her name. She had cut across the woods to get home on the last day of her life. She had been brutally murdered on that last walk across this path and while the blood no longer stained the creek, Miranda could still see it there. She didn’t know how she knew, but she did. Lauralie’s imprint on these woods mixed melancholy within the serenity of the forest. Miranda was contemplating this when she heard two horrible screams come from up ahead.
Miranda normally would not head to the sound of anyone screaming, but they had to be from her friends. She would do anything to help them. She ran to the tiny clearing where the witch was supposed to be buried. She hoped to find them there, perhaps just frightened from their own imagination. There were rocks around the clearing that were arranged in a way that made Miranda think the circle within the clearing could actually have been an altar at some point. There was a mysteriously odd feeling near the circle. Miranda felt every part of her soul telling her not to cross this path. Something told her this was a sacred place, not for the faint of heart. Jane and Stacy weren’t there and as she heard a second scream up the path she knew there must be something terribly wrong. So Miranda continued along the path her breath coming so hard in her chest it made her throat hurt.
She found Stacy crouching over Jane. She was shaking and crying so hysterically that Miranda knew there must be something wrong. She couldn’t see over her, but the blood pooling on the ground under Stacy’s feet made it clear something was more than just wrong. She pushed around Stacy and the sight in front her curdled the food in her stomach. Her head was gone! The stump of her neck was jaggedly cut as it someone had used a jagged knife to saw it off and her head was rolling down the path to the right each roll making a disgusting thud.
A large black shape was dodging the light of the trees near them as it cackled. “How dare you enter my circle with fear in your heart! Be gone from my woods!”