Flash Fiction #6 – The Hammer’s Coming Down
So, this week, someone picked a Nickelback song. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t me. I was having a lot of trouble with this piece, because the The Hammer’s Coming Down wasn’t speaking to me. But, as it turns out, Kayleigh Jones is my muse. While I was bitching about having no ideas, she said something that sparked the story. Just like she did during the last flash fiction. So, thank you Kayleigh! 😀
It was dangerous to venture into open sea when the sky bled through the all the way down to the horizon into the water. But what choice did I have? There were few ways to rid the world of a witch. Everyone thought burning them was enough. Or beheading. Or even hanging. But it wasn’t.
Even in death, even without their bodies, they still had unimaginable power—so long as their words survived. I glanced down at the pile of books gathered in the iron cook pot, still crusted with the remnants of last night’s stew.
The wind picked up, and the waves tossed my small wooden boat, jostling me against the oarlock. I felt my side. The skin wasn’t broken, but it would likely ache for weeks. Thunder crashed in the distance, and as I glanced up, lightning streaked the sky, brightening the sky with the eerie glow that dripped like blood through the clouds.
At the next crack of thunder, the boat rocked violently to the side. Well, my side would ache for weeks if I lived that long.
I glanced at the shore behind me. I wasn’t sure I was far enough out to perform the ritual properly, but it was almost too far to swim if the waves capsized the boat. And if that happened my chance to complete the spell would vanish.
Putting the oars back in the boat, I grabbed the top book from the pile in the kettle. It was warm to the touch as if it was made of human flesh, and my skin crawled at the thought. A large embossed “A” took up most of the front cover as it did on the covers of all the tomes. The intermittent flickering of the lightening made the letter look as thought it was winking at me.
I swallowed back a surge of bile and opening the book, quickly flipped to the spell I needed. Cold drops began to spatter my face and the pages. Scanning the words written in tiny, tight cursive letters, I pulled the ground betony and burdock from my pouch and sprinkled it over the books in the cook pot, and some more on the open volume I held.
I couldn’t tell if it was the wind or if the pages were reacting to the banishing herbs, but the paper seemed to shudder at the touch of the dried plants. Lighting the kindling I’d placed in the pot as quickly as I was able, I pushed the smoldering pine needles and twigs closer to the spell books.
The tome on my lap jerked, almost as if it was trying to get away from me. I held it tighter as the contents of the iron pot caught flame. Quickly chanting the spell, I forced the now struggling book into the flames with the rest. I hadn’t been imagining things before. It was alive. The witch’s words were alive. I sprinkled yarrow, the last of the banishing herbs over the whole writhing mess, and the flames turned from a sickly yellow to an unearthly green.
The books cried out and the “A” on the cover of the top volume stretched its long spindly legs at me like a spider reaching out of a web. I stood, my balance shaky in the growing waves and lifted the heavy pot out of the bottom of the boat. Avoiding the grasping legs, I swung the entire thing over the side and let it drop into the unforgiving depths of the sea. The fire continued to burn brightly until the darkness of the water swallowed the light. Trapped by her own spell. Destroyed by her own words. The witch was no more.
And here are links to the other bloggers flash fiction pieces. I can’t wait to see what everyone did!