[b]Thou Shalt Not Suffer[/b] Editors Requested

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[b]Thou Shalt Not Suffer[/b] Editors Requested

Postby Eicys » Wed Nov 12, 2008 7:43 pm

So, once upon a time, I was sick of never finishing anything I've started. After kicking my butt into gear, I got my brain to complete a short (esque) story. I would like to submit it for publication but suffer from the 'everything I write is GREAT' syndrome. Could a few of you fine folk please point out where I've gone wrong? I won't post the whole thing at once--prolly a chunk every other day or so. (Sort of caught up in nanowrimo this month)

Thou Shalt Not Suffer

Garret’s scowl deepened as he trudged once again towards the makeshift jail. Until yesterday, the place had been just another outbuilding of the church; a storehouse and root cellar, filled with tubers, wheat and dried fish. Today, it had become the one thing Cana Village never thought it would need—a prison.

This was Garret’s fourth time passing the church in as many hours. The roars of terrified debate still rang from the main chapel, drifting away on the chilly sea breeze. He could hear the villagers, angry and scared, screaming for what each of them thought to be justice.

“Burn her!”

“The Demon Wolves obey her! A monster leading monsters!”

“Death’s too good a punishment!”

“You promised God would keep us safe, Father!”

“Forget witnesses! Shoot her now!”

Garret made sure to duck as he passed the leaded windows. Although the thick, wavy glass would mostly obscure him, he could not risk his bright red hair being spotted. His coat did have a hood, but he had left the bloodstained garment behind. Garret would freeze to death before donning that coat again. He rubbed his arms a few times, glaring ahead. A few dozen feet behind the church the storehouse loomed ominously despite it’s simple, squat structure.

The church cast a huge shadow; Garret paused when he reached the edge. The darkness had shrunk considerably since his first attempt to approach the jail—half the day had passed. The boy clenched his fists a little tighter, bracing himself before stepping into the weak sunlight. He knew what was coming; the same phenomena had forced him back thrice already. Garret was resolute in his decision, but he knew that would mean nothing once he left the safety of the shadows.

Despite his burning determination, an odd sensation overcame him each time he had walked towards the storehouse. With every step closer, his apprehension would intensify into fear and from fear to terror, a terror so intense he nearly vomited. The hideous feeling had driven him home over and over. However, the gaping hole scarring his house and the spatters of gore yet to be cleaned up from his yard sent Garret back the five miles to the church again. He had to know the truth. This try, he would do it.
One step forward. Another. A third. The moment he left the shade, he felt it—a buzzing warning raising the hair on his neck. As he continued, the palms of his hands began to sweat. Garret walked unsteadily forward, his steps convulsive and small as if his body was fighting against him. The dusty churchyard clearly displayed his cowardice; ahead, four sets of tracks, each progressively nearer his goal, each leading back towards the road. Above him as always, the sun shone without warmth.

Cana was far enough north to be chilly all year round and the coming winter crisped the air. Still, he felt the sweat spread all over his body. The pale sun glared at him, daring him to go against Father Arthur’s warning. He passed the final set of his footprints. Garret panted hard as he struggled onward. The last dozen footsteps came and passed. He had made it.
Swallowing back bile, Garret peered through the open door. He hung back slightly, careful not to let his shadow fall into the room. Lights began to dance before his eyes—his body was so clenched with fear he could barely breathe. There was only one guard standing over the trapdoor gleaming with new chains and his back was to the entrance. After all, Father Arthur didn’t expect anyone would be insane enough to approach; the guard was there simply to watch the prisoner. There was a reason the chains were new, a reason the whole village was consumed by panic.

The prisoner was a witch.

The boy’s knees sagged under the effort of standing upright; he reached out to the doorway to steady himself. All right…what was he going to do now he had made it here?

“I don’t know why you’re so scared.” The guard drawled. Garret jerked in surprise. There was no chance he had noticed! Before he could open his mouth to stammer out a pathetic excuse, a soft answer muffled by the thick stone sounded from the floor.

“I’m not scared, Raoul.” The moment the witch spoke, turning around was no longer optional; her voice rooted Garret to the ground. “I am not afraid of dying.”

“You’d like me to think that.” Raoul laughed, looking down at his feet. “I saw your face when we came for you.”

“Anybody would be frightened if your face was the first thing they saw upon waking up in the morning.”

“Aw, shut up!” The guard barked, banging the butt of his musket against the trap door. The chains clattered noisily, making the following silence all the more uncomfortable. “But really…they can’t execute you. They need three witnesses and right now there’s only one.” More silence. “And the one witness is that Gin fellow, and everyone knows you can’t trust him anyway. Skulking git.”

“There will be enough witnesses, Raoul, you can count on that.” Her reply was fierce, bitter, and a little sad.

“Are you kidding? I’m sure your brother will pay mounds to anyone—“

“I would have thought you worked for us long enough to realize that person—“

“He’s your BROTHER!”

Terrene wouldn’t lift a finger to—"

“They’ve found a second witness!” Garret suddenly blurted out, taking the final step into the jail. Upon entering the room, every trace of the strange horror evaporated. The absolute shock of the instant release nearly made him gasp. The panic that had threatened to overwhelm him vanished instantly…like magic. Being so surprised by his newfound relief, it took Garret a few seconds to realize the guard’s musket was now pointed at his head.

“What are you doing in here?” Raoul growled. Garret could only stare down the barrel of the gun aiming towards him. “I asked you a question!”


“You said there’s a second witness come up. Who is it?” Raoul shifted the gun slightly, threateningly. Garret found his voice again.


“The tinker? When did he come back to town?”

“Last night. He was on the witness stand a few hours ago.” Garret jerked a thumb towards the church. “Said he was passing on the cliff road at the time of the…well, last night.”

“They’re taking testament from Crazy Amos?”

“Apparently.” Garret tried to shrug nonchalantly--his shoulders just twitched. Raoul glared at him for a few more seconds before putting the gun down.

“You’re one of the Kubo children, aren’t you?” He grinned in sympathy. “Sorry about your house.”

“Yeah.” Garret glared at the older boy. Raoul was only seventeen, just two years his senior. ‘Child’ was insulting. “You’re one of the Canaren House servants, aren’t you? Sorry about your life.” Raoul’s smile disappeared.

“What do you want?” He demanded. Garret took a deep breath. He hadn’t been entirely sure until Raoul asked him. Now, he knew. And he wanted it more then anything in the world.

“I want to talk to her.”

“Beg pardon?” Raoul’s hands tightened on his musket, but the gun stayed down.

“I want to talk to her.” It didn’t surprise him when Raoul started laughing.

“I know Father Arthur told us to pity you in your time of trial, but if you think I’m going to listen to a request like that—"

“Raoul.” Both of the boys froze as the witch’s voice interrupted. “Raoul, let me talk to him.”

“As if I’d just leave you alone with the—"

“Raoul, please.” She took in a deep breath. “I swear I will ask nothing else of you for the rest of--” Raoul cursed loudly, drowning out her last words as he kicked the chains covering the door.

“Alright!” He glared at Garret, who returned the glower with twice the venom. Raoul stormed towards the door. “You only have until Lord Canaren arrives, then get out. That’s when Father Arthur will announce the final decision.” Garret stared after him, watching closely as the Canaren’s servant stepped past the threshold. Raoul didn’t show any sign of fear—not a stumble, or a pause. Instead, he only stomped his boots a few times and pulled up the collar of his thick coat. Interesting.

Turning his back on Raoul, Garret slowly walked to the center of the room. Rings fastened into the ground around the trap door were crisscrossed with the thick chains that Chad the Blacksmith usually sold to logging expeditions. The man had refused to outfit the jail, and of course Father Arthur had not pressed him. On his last trip to the church, Garret had stopped by Chad’s forge, curious about the loaded wagon waiting outside. As he hitched up his two large draft horses, Chad explained to Garret that young Lord Terrene Canaren, head of the family, had purchased the chains himself and paid three men the wages of fifteen to secure the door. The smith was so disgusted, he packed all his belongings, readying to move away from Cana village forever.

“Well, boy?” The witch demanded after a few moments of silence. “You wish to speak to me. What is it you want to say?”
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