entry for Chapter One contest - November 2022 - W/C 628
A blazing sun shone down the deserted streets of Jackson City. Not one person was around. Not one dog or cat wandered the alleys.
All attention this day was in the Holy Mother of God and His Saints Church. This day was the day of the big wedding.
Mister Jake Michaels and Miss Julie Hasher were getting married today. All the town was ensconced in the large white church at the end of Main Street. Every pew was filled.
Julie and Jake were just about ready to say “I do!” when suddenly the preacher raised his hand and said, “Stop! Oh no! You cannot!”
That preacher then ran down the aisle and out into the dusty streets of Jackson City. He kept running until all you could see was a puff of kicked-up dirt on the trail leading to the mountains.
The crowd of amazed wedding guests rose to their feet, unsure of what to do next. Jake and Julie hung about the altar, still holding hands. Julie started crying softly until Jake stomped off to find someone to help.
“What is happening? The preacher ran off, my bride-to-be is in tears.” Jake pleaded with a church elder.
Moses Eldredige gazed toward the mountains. He frowned just for a second, then turned back to Jake.
“All is well, Jake. Pastor couldn’t handle his responsibility is all. You see, he won’t be back. I can handle the wedding, if you wish.”
A dusty wind blew through the church. It blew the veil off Julie’s face, blew away her innocence, blew away the stink of the unwashed crowd.
“Very well, my bride awaits. You will have to perform the ceremony.” Jake marched to Julie, back up the aisle. Moses the elder followed.
“Is the pastor coming back? What is happening?” Julie questioned Jake as he returned.
He took her hand, “Never mind. This elder is now the pastor. We’ll soon be husband and wife.”
Moses Eldredige stood before the gathered guests, his back to the couple.
“My esteemed friends, we are gathered here today to join this couple in holy matrimony. I now pronounce this couple man and wife. Jake, you may kiss your bride.” The couple happily kissed each other.
Then Moses explained, “For centuries the blessed union of man and woman has been celebrated by the rite of 'prima nocta’. After they celebrate their marriage at a party in the town square, I will take Julie home. Jake will spend the night in the town jail and meet Julie at my home tomorrow.”
As Jake started to shout his protests, two men shackled him. Julie stood in shock, afraid to say a word.
Guests filed out, then the newlyweds, followed by the guards and then Moses. All gathered at the town square for a celebration of the wedding.
The townsfolk wished the couple a long happy life together, gave gifts, ate cake, drank wine. But soon the festivities were over. Moses led Julie away while Jake was taken to the jail to spend his wedding night.
In that night, when the moon was full, Jake sat on his cot in a cell. He plotted revenge. Revenge on the pastor, on Moses, on the people that did nothing but watch. He wanted his rightful bride.
Julie sat on the edge of a bed in the home of Moses Eldredige. She cried bitter tears and longed for the sweet love of Jake. She felt cheated, cheated out of her long-awaited wedding night.
All over the town of Jackson City, an eerie calm settled. Folk stayed in their houses, afraid to go out. Afraid of saying a word, afraid of straying too far from what was expected. They spent an anxious night listening to the cries and howls of lonely lovers.