Ichabode Crane was observing the dim forest when he noticed the bald head buried beneath the tree of death. Each morning it was Ichabode’s job to discover what the headless horseman had left behind from his nights decapitating helpless citizens.
Today he found two headless corpses half-buried. He shivered thinking of the literal trail of blood that often followed the horseman.
Though Ichabod was a medical doctor, he’d never found any heads attached to the bodies the horseman discarded. His heart pounded and he began to sweat as he clawed the head from the ground with his fingers.
The hair felt dirty and greasy. The waxen skin was warm and he was sure the head had soulless eyes beneath its lids. While he stared, Ichabod’s hands shook. The blood running from the head’s eyes, suddenly, caught his attention as they began to open of their own accord.
Coal eyes with pupils as red as poppies, alerted Ichabod this head belonged to the horseman. Ichabod drank from his trusty flask, whiskey and opium to numb him.
But perhaps he drank too much. When he awoke, the head lay on his lap and Ichabod rested against the horrid tree. The moon exposed him and his opium veil faded. He felt too alert. The head’s mouth fell open revealing carnivorous teeth.
Soon, the thundering footsteps of the black horse and the armed body of the headless horseman could be heard. He screeched as the horseman took one slice at his neck, but then, Ichabod offered the horseman the head.
The horseman dropped his sword and went to his knees on the ground. He took the head in his gnarled hands and placed it on his neck. The horseman growled, a sound of rage in a demonic tongue.
He gazed at Ichabod, “Run, go now. I will spare you for returning my head. Everyone else in Sleepy Hollow will join me in death.”
Ichabod had never considered himself a coward but he ran anyways, never peering behind him as screams filled the night.
Thanks to Dylan of MindLoveMisery’s Menagerie‘a First Line Friday Prompt. The first line from last Friday was: “I’m going to tell you how I lost my inheritance.” For NaPoWriMo the prompt is to write a nocturne which is a poem/song about the night. For A to Z Challenge, today’s letter is O for a GoodRead’s quote.
“You don’t have to be dead to leave a legacy. — Onyi Anyado”
I’m going to tell how I lost my inheritance, how my legacy rides in tides as the full moon rises,
How the night stole my humanity and hammered my soul a blow.
The dusk covered the light, liquid tar blanket bestowed,
The sun hid himself away, way down in western wilds of woe.
A sinking feeling settled in and a certain chorus began to ring,
A range of notes, a rising crescendo of riveting lyrical prose.
A poet’s words possessing her, when she knows full well,
The powerful pull of the midnight hour.
And the pressing provocative lure as the moon glows,
A white orb that won’t warble, a strong luminious light,
Residing over all as every full moon does.
To be host over the howling wolves, the healthy youths as they prowl,
The dark delights of the night distend into the dimest parts of every soul.
A choir of banshees brazenly taking souls salaciously, the maids from their beds,
The hour of the demons drawing back to their victims with wet bloody lips;
The incubus raging and awaking the wild within their prey.
And all is a lure, an image not clear, all this is imagined,
All this is frightening, foretold in nightmares.
The affected awake in the morning from the pleasure and pain,
From satisfied appetites, appalling in the dank aptitudes of night.
Night swells and swallows herprey wholly, partaking and doping with her starry glow,
Inviting the worst from the wise, even ill from the innocent.
Yet a moral being cannot mean to say, night has had her way and ‘I’ had no say;
It’s easy to give in with ease, to isolate one’s self to enthralling entertainments, inscribed darkly now on souls.
And what’s done in the night when the moon is full and fat, cannot be told for it stays hidden on those nights, when the wildest ones escape.
The vampires and the wolves, the creatures we know not of, and humans do not stay humble ether — they choose to fly with the fallen.
A nocturne of night will tell you what power presumes to hide beneath an inky black veil,
It’s not pure evil, it’s the usual kind, who chooses to dance with the devil, and forget their choices their choosing for charm and wine.
For tequila and vodka, for him and her, and whisky burning down your throat as the howls of the night combine with a loss of memory;
And we all awake mid-afternoon, no one knowing the peculiarities of such a night, a full out frightening moon.
Only a feeling, a shiver, a prayer, as the moon fades from brilliance, she is trapped, unwillingingly held as she wanes us back into morality.
The light of the sun salutes from the east and all is forgiven in harmony and health, angelic nebulas, skys of blue birds, and Bambi deers galloping.
Woe is the wicked night on the full moon, but how much greater is the morn after malevolence is perpetually destroyed,
Yet oh, how we miss the fun of bliss in the dark — no thoughts, no reason, just acceptance to absorb the pleasures of night’s nocturnal nightmares.
(Hello! Just noting this piece had a mind of its own and is somewhat longer than the usual 200 words. Cheers!)
“Closing time / One last call for alcohol so finish your whiskey or beer.” The mellow lines Semisonic floated into Tyrelle’s ears.
It was 2:00 a.m. and his friends, Jordan and Simone, were trying to shut their house party down, arranging places for closest friends to sleep and for others to catch a cab home. Tyrelle nursed his last drink for the night. As per usual, he was upset these days.
His beautiful Cleo should’ve been with him here tonight, ensuring he didn’t feel like such a recluse at his friends’ party. He hadn’t been in the mood for a party but since Cleo had ended things three-months ago, he knew he needed to move on.
More Semisonic lyrics played through from an IPad:”Closing time / Every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end.”
Tyrelle watched as Simone finally locked the front door. She peered at at him and moved to give him a short friendly back rub. “You still miss Cleo, huh?”
“Yeah, everyday. Does it get easier?” Tyrelle asked her.
Simone sighed, “Before Jordan, I was with Blake and I thought he was it. Then he broke my heart and for months after, I didn’t function well.”
“After a while I stopped thinking about Blake as much. I realized I resented the hold he had had on me. Then I chose to become involved in life. I volunteered and I saw more friends and family. Not long after, I met Jordan,” Simone said smiling.
Tyrelle smirked. As if what Simone said could ever be possible for him. Then he remembered the last line in the Semisonic song. About how other things had to end for better and new things to begin. So that’s what he decided to do — to begin anew.
He picked up his phone and blocked Cleo’s number. Tyrelle unfriended and blocked her on every social media. Tomorrow he would start going to a different gym location then Cleo to workout and he would go to a different grocery store by his condo to shop as well. Finally, he grinned, he would get a new haircut.
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).