“Stenham house was an ancient locked thing and nothing returned there except for crows.”
Lost in the forest Marybeth was charmed by the crumbling facade of the ancient mansion. She wondered what the house looked like on the inside as she slipped through the rungs of a creaky black gate.
“What’r you doin’ here, Marybeth?” her older brother Winston cried, grabbing her by the shoulders and shaking her.
“Mom’s worried. Said you’d been out so long she was ‘fraid you were lost in the woods for good. You know you’re too young to be out here alone.”
“What’s in there?” Marybeth asked Winston pointing to Stenham house.
” You don’t want ta go there, ” Winston said matter-of-factly. “Tommy Johnson went in there and never came out the same. He’s a touched now.”
“Well he still lives in the neighborhood,” Marybeth argued. “I see him at school. He doesn’t play with the other kids much but sits in a corner and reads. There’s nothing wrong with that. What happened in that house?”
Winston shook his head, “You’ll have nightmares Marybeth, I can’t tell you. Mom’ll kill me.”
“S’okay I’m a big girl now. I’m seven. I can handle it.”
Winston sighed,”They say a family was murdered there. An axe murder came in and hacked them all to pieces. Grandma, Grandpa, the parents, and worst of all the children. There were four of them and the oldest was eleven.”
Marybeth gasped, “That’s bad. I saw the curtains moving I think someone still lives there.”
“There was a fifth child, he was a tot. The nanny hid him but was butchered herself. Even though the little guy was adopted, he always woke up with nightmares about the murder, even as an adult,” Winston whispered.
” He lives there now, I think.”
“He decide to live there when he ‘came an adult. It was the only way he could face his demons. That’s what Aunt Sally told me.”
“Does Aunt Sally know him?”
“Yeah, they were in the same grade.”
Suddenly the front door to the delapitated house flew upon. Winston and Marybeth saw a gaunt middle aged man standing at the entrance. He motioned them over but then the crows began to fly and circle around the children, diving at them and pecking them when they tried to reach out to the man.
Marybeth screamed batting at crows as she ran all the way back home to the safety of her mother’s arms. Winston followed his sister, his screams even more terrified.
He swore to his sister, later, he saw the man at the door to Stenham mansion disappear into thin air. Marybeth believed him and decided to stay away from Stenhem house until she was older and wiser.
It’s the lushest rainforest I’ve ever seen. If one could say Mother Nature had a life force it would be here, hidden within this vibrant foliage. For me green is the color of life and I think of the exotic creatures found here and I understand why environmentalists are vehemently protecting a forest full of wild animals and their habitats.
To imagine this brilliant life force gone would be painful. There is an ache in my heart picturing the dustlands of a destroyed forest, where nothing can regrow because of how horibly the soil has eroded, stripped of trees. Seeing this century old car buried randomly makes me curious of how the car ended up here; I imagine it’s a fabulous tale. But there’s no one here to tell that story, only me, and miles of greenery. Here in the womb of Mother Nature, one could disappear.
Thanks to MindLoveMisery’s Menagerie for hosting this month’s fairy Tale prompt. The prompt is: “imagine an evil force be it witch or some other dark force has cast a spell on you. What form does the spell take, are you frozen in time as in the above image? Are you cursed in a different way?”
Berjlot was a pretty girl with her father’s white-blond hair and her mother’s curls. She also had her mother’s mysterious green-eyes and delighted the entire viking village with her presence.
Asta, Berljot’s mother, had been in labour for hours the night Berjlot was born. The baby wouldn’t come out so Astab finally told her husband Bjarke that he must allow the midwife to cut her belly open and save their babe.
Bjarke felt great pain in his heart when his wife asked him to do allow the midwife to cut the baby out. But he knew he could not lose both Asta and the baby and survive himself.
Cutting the baby out (a much worse version of a c-section) was newer concept which the village midwife had suggested hesitantly. There wasn’t anything to help Asta from the pain but some whiskey. She drank all she could and screamed in pain as her baby Berjlot was born.
Asta named her child Berjlot or “Light will save,” and soft light was exactly what Asta saw as she entered Valhalla. She bled out before the midwife could attempt to stitch her up. Chances were Asta would have died from infection anyways.
Bjarke held his little girl Berjlot proudly. She was his and Asta’s last child, her four-older brother’s were nearly men. But the baby girl was a light to her father and helped him survive the loss of his wife Asta (“divine beauty”).
Bjarke whose name meant “bear” was indeed, built like a bear and so were his four sons. They helped their father fell logs. Bjarke was now considered an older man and he would need the help of his son’s to survive.
He had a been a great ship builder but was now arthritic and in pain. He spent most of his time keeping his eye on little Berjlot who spent her days enchanting those around her, a light to the entire community.
Some of the other women taught Berjlot the necessities of life as a viking woman. Berljot seemed to easily learn how to sew and cooked delicious meals. She also helped with the shearing of sheep and weaving clothe.
Berjlot’s mother Asta, had also been an accomplished artisan so Berjlot learned the craft of jewelry making from an old women in the village named Ragna (“giving advice”).
As well as crafting fine jewelry, Ragna was a medicine women and a pagan witch. Most people were afraid to be near her but Berjlot had no choice as she was the only other women who knew her mother Asta’s craft of jewelry making.
She was a talented girl and Ragna, seeing her youth, beauty, and the skill with which Berjlot seemed to accomplish every task, became seethingly jealous of the girl. Even at her young age and artisan skill level, Berljot’s jewelry was sought after.
She was only ten-summers but Ragna was envious of the girl she knew would grow up to be a beautiful woman and likely out rank her being from a powerful family.
The witch had always despised the girl’s mother Asta for her goddess-like beauty and her gift of creating beautiful jewelry of better quality than Ragna’s designs.
One day when Berjlot had a cough, Ragna, playing the kindly old woman she always played around Berjlot said to her:
“Poor dear, I will make you a potion which will rid of you of your awful cough. We can’t have it get into your lungs. Bjarke would be devastated if he lost his only daughter.”
Berjlot accepted the purplish potion Ragna wanted her to drink. It smelled awful and smoke whirled from the earthen cup but the girl drank the potion trusting Ragna as her Oma.
Suddenly, Berjlot hiccuped. She felt a strange sensation as her body changed from that of girl into a stunning light-haired wolf. She knew her father and brothers would never recognize her in this form and so did Ragna.
Berjlot cried the tears of a wolf and old Ragna laughed at her. She made it appear as if a wolf had eaten Berjlot.
“Bjarke,” Ragna cried. “A light-haired wolf ate your daughter. See? I have her bloodied and torn dress here. There was nothing I could do.” Ragna wept and made it appear as if she was broken-hearted at losing Berjlot.
Bjarke was devastated. Berjlot was the light of his life and his health failed rapidly after losing his daughter. He was soon set out down the nearby river in his funeral pier set aflame to join his wife Asta.
Bjarke’s oldest son Dag took over the boat building business with his three brothers and his best friend Asmund (“Divine Protection”). After they had spent time in mourning for their father they and the other men from their settlement, went into the woods and destroyed all the wolves they could find –even the pups. They never forgot about their little sister Berjlot who had brought such joy wherever she went.
Eight-years passed. Dag, his three brothers, and Asmund were prosperous men in their viking community building ships and amassing a great amount of land and wealth. Asmund, in particular, was considered a fine catch for marriage but had not found a wife to his liking; Dag and his brothers had already married well.
Asmund was out walking in the forest one night when he saw the most striking female wolf beneath a tree in the moonlight. She had mossy green-eyes which were extremely unusual for a wild animal such as a wolf.
He was surprised when the wolf jumped on him when he wasn’t paying attention. He was set to bring his small ax down on the wolf when she lay down on top of him gently and peered at him with sad eyes. She talked as wolves did, pawing at him, trying to get Asmund to understand something through her barks. He laughed and petted the beautiful wolf as she slept on him.
The next morning Asmund awoke and the wolf was gone. He thought he’d only dreamed of her. When he went for a walk in the forest several nights later, he again saw the same beautiful wolf.
She playfully tackled him to the ground and barked at him, trying to make him understand her wolf song. When that failed, she lay her head beneath his chin, and slept on top of him as before.
The light-haired and green-eyed wolf barked and slept with Asmund every night he came out into the woods, always burying her nose under his chin.
One night, Ragna the old witch noticed Asmund asleep with the wolf she knew was Berjlot, snuggled half on top of him. The witch plotted to kill Berjlot once and for all and told Berjlot’s oldest brother Dag about the strange looking wolf she’d seen around the forest.
Dag and his younger brothers went to find and kill Berjlot the following night with Asmund. But when they found the wolf with the light-fur and moss green- eyes, Asmund begged them not to kill her.
He told Dag the light-haired wolf had become his pet and was docile. Berjlot approached her brother Dag and bowed, she did any trick her brother or his bestfriend Asmund told her to do.
When wicked Ragna saw the brothers had not killed Berjlot in wolf form (and instead, were going to adopt her as a kind of pet) she ran out to kill Berjlot with her sharpest knife. Ragna poisoned the tip of the knife so even if it nicked Berjlot the wolf, it would kill her.
Dag, his three brothers, and Asmund were shocked to see the old witch after the wolf they had befriended. They caught and disarmed Ragna before she harmed the wolf. When Ragna was disarmed she turned to run back to her cottage but Berjlot jumped on her, tearing out the witches throat.
Immediately, the light-haired green-eyed wolf turned into a young woman of about eighteen. She was beautiful with her long wavy-blond hair, exotic green eyes, and white skin. Dag’s three younger brothers immediately recognized their sister from her moss green-eyes.
“Berjlot is that you?” They asked, overjoyed to see their sister alive.
“Yes it’s me,”Berjlot said crying. She hugged her brothers, including Dag. They were a bit sensitive about her being naked with Asmund around. He generously gave Berjlot his cloak to cover herself with.
“The witch Ragna pretended to be my Oma,” she told the men gathered. “Ragna was jealous that I was prettier than her, and that our mother Asta was prettier than her too. She hated that I did all my tasks well, especially jewelry making. When I had a cough, she gave me a steaming purple potion. I trusted her and drank the potion and she turned me into a wolf.”
“That’s terrible,” Dag shouted, angry for his sister. “Your death is the reason our father became ill and died. I’m sure the gods are pleased you ripped out the witch’s throat.”
Berjlot sobbed upon hearing about her father’s death. When Asmund comforted her with a hand on her shoulder, she looked up at him with adoration in her eyes.
“I was almost killed when the men from the village wiped out all the wolves but somehow I thrived, even as a wolf. I thought I would always be a wolf until I saw Asmund one night.” Berjlot blushed when she said Asmund’s name.
“Each night Asmund came out to the forest, I pounced on him and tried to tell him what happened to me, but my words only came out as barks or noises as a dog would make. But he kept coming back almost every night and I slept with my nose snuggled beneath his chin.”
“Is this true?” Dag asked his best friend whose face reddened when he gazed at Berjlot in his cloak.
“Yes, it’s true,” Asmund admitted. “I fell for Berjlot. Somehow the gods made me see how noble and beautiful she was even as a wolf. She’s an even more beautiful woman then she was a wolf.”
“I would be honored if you would allow your best friend and partner in business, to be a husband to your beloved sister,” Asmund asked. To him Berjlot was a light he could not live without in his life. He loved her as a wolf and more so as a woman.
Dag and his brother’s huddled together talking while Berjlot stared anxiously at Asmund. She came up to him and snuggled her head beneath his chin, showing her affection and gaining Asmund’s comfort.
“At last, I get to see you in my human form,” Berjlot told Asmund. Both lovers were overcome and wanted to do much more than stand not touching but for Berjlot’s hair cushioning Asmund’s chin.
Dag and his three other brother’s broke from their meeting with happiness. They agreed Asmund would be the perfect husband for their sister because he loved her and watched out for her, even when she was only a beautiful wolf. Thus, they set the betrothal date to that moment and day.
Asmund offered up sheep for wool and jewels as a dowry for Berjlot and they married in a magnificent ceremony in the village. The gods had allowed Berjlot to return from the dead and for two powerful families to be joined in marriage with days of feasting and celebration for the whole community.
Both Asmund and Berjlot lived happily ever after (as best as you could in that time and place).
Today’s prompt for Writing 101 is finding inspiration through a photograph. Lol. A familiar writing past time via flash fiction.
The woods are still. The stillness makes me not want to enter them. I’ve been lost out here for days, walking through brush and fields of grass and flowers. But now the forest bids me welcome with its unnatural quietness.
It isn’t right a forest shouldn’t be so silent. “Hello?” I whisper and then scream again loudly, “Is anyone out there?” My words echo and the forest muffles the sound of my words until my screams are the same as my quiet ‘Hello.’ It’s been a week since I’ve been wandering alone.
My friend Danny was a pilot and he knew what he was doing when he flew; he had been a pilot since he was sixteen. But we crashed in the countryside and Danny died instantly. Escaping the plane, I ran for cover grabbing what supplies I could manage, before the plane exploded into fire and smoke.
I thought the burning plane would be a smoke signal and someone would see it and come searching for Danny and I. He had touched base with someone right before the plane crashed on his radio. Someone had to be wandering why Danny’s plane disappeared a week ago.
Infront of me the forest beckons, and to be truthful, I need to find food to eat. I don’t think I can last another day on rationed granola bars, peanuts, and chewing gum. Thankfully, I was able to put a package of water bottles from the plane into my backpack, before the plane exploded. I had been carrying the heavy load of bottled water for days, each day having two bottles. The water was heavy at first but getting lighter for me to carry as time passed.
I stare at the entrance to this silent forest and I can hear my feet crunching and crackling the dead leaves and pine needles on the forest floor.I keep hiking through the woods, hoping to find some nuts or edible berries. But I’m not lucky enough to find any food sources, not even small animals. I was feareful of coming upon a mountain lion or a grizzly bear. But I would have heard a large predator in the silence of this forest.
Darkness came, and I lay out on a tarp in a sleeping bag, but the night was cold despite the fact it was summer. I slept little, as I had everynight since the plane crash. Danny’s slack dead face haunting my dreams. “Danny,” I said screeching his name and waking up under a starlit sky before falling back into a restless sleep. I’m bruised and scraped all over from the crash. The ground feels painful to sleep on.
The morning sun is brilliant. The sky a painting of rich pink and orange hues fading into a bright blue sky with cotton clouds. I can glimpse the dark forest ending. I wonder where I will end up next? My food is long gone and I have had to switch to drinking only one bottle of water a day. I feel dizzy and my head aches from a lack of food. Only the promise that this disturbing silence in the forest will end soon, makes me continue walking.
Finally, I come to a clearing and looking up at a clear blue sky, I thank God the forest part of the journey has ended. Ahead of me lay fields of a plant I vaguely recognize. Workers are busy in the field picking the plants. I can smell the acrid yet tantalizing scent of marajauna in the air from someone smoking it. I day dream of brownies with marajauna baked inside.
The workers stare at me curiously as I walk towards a magnificent old southern mansion, past the marajauna fields in the distance. I must have appeared frightening to the workers. I haven’t showered or changed my clothes for two-weeks. There has been no river to clean up in and no clean clothes to change into. The workers did their best to ignore my presence, but I’m not sure why they did.
I approached the mansion frustrated. But the front door swung open upon my arrival. A man greeted me cheerfully. I could tell he was staff. “Where am I?” I asked my voice raspy from not having used it for so long.
“Mr. Eric Dale’s house. He runs the fields and the workers, using marajauna for medicinal purposes and hemp products,” I’m assured. The staff member introduces himself, as Gregory, Mr Dales PA. I try to listen to Gregory’s words but having had nothing to eat for the better part of a week is catching up to me. I feel faint and sick, my head spinning.
I manage to rasp, “My friend crashed his plane here. I walked through fields and forest and now I’m here. I need something to eat. I need sleep and a bath. I need to get home. My friend Danny is dead.”
Breaking into tears, I feel miserable and finally able to grieve for Danny if only for a few moments. Collapsing on the floor I hear a deep male voice ask, “Is she okay? She’s been out in the wild two-weeks. They’re people searching for her in helicopters. They found the plane crash.”
Through a haze of fog and desperate hunger clawing at my gut, I hear Gregory calling for help from other staff. I can fight to survive no more. Fading into blackness, into dreams, I see Danny smiling, animated, and joking right before the plane crashed.