First draft of short story in Horror.
| FD: Competition Entry 01: "The Wicker Woman." 100215.1411
The fire roared, stretching high into the black night sky. Around them trees that were twisted and gnarled by time encased them. The group were alone, with only their fire, their small amount of food, and their tattered tents.
"What should we do?" Hayley asked, hugging her thick jacket to close to her body.
The other's thought about it, their faces a picture of contemplation, until Jacob lunged from the rotting log he was using as a seat. His face twisted into a sinister grin, smeared from his curled up lips to his shimmering eyes.
"We could tell ghost stories."
Hayley clutched harder at her jacket, already unnerved by being so deep into the woods, she didn't want anymore fears rattling around her head.
But, the rest of the group had become ecstatic by the idea, their voices buzzed in the otherwise silent night.
"OK, OK, settle down, I will tell you one." Jacob announced as he stood proud in the middle of the half-moon shaped audience. The fire flickered, casting shadows on his youthful complexion.
"Which one Jac?" Elisabeth giggled, her childish excitement getting the better of her.
Mockingly, Jacob placed his hand on his jaw, pretending to think. After a moment his wicked smile deepened.
"What about the 'Wicker Woman'?" Jacob suggested, gleefully.
Hayley wanted to shrink away, but she didn't know what scared her more; the story, or being alone.
"The 'Wicker Woman' sounds freaky!" Elisabeth shrieked with joy.
"You have no idea." Jacob replied, his eyes widening as he spoke. "Now, the Wicker Woman lived nearly one hundred years ago, in a few villages over from here. But back then everyone was superstitious, and fearful of evil." Jacob began sauntering around the fire as he spoke. "They say her real name was Jessica, but no-one called her that. Oh, no, everyone in her village called her 'The Wicker Woman'."
"Why?" Andrew prompted, timed perfectly, as if rehearsed. He looked over to Hayley who had wrapped her arms completely around herself, as if in a protective embrace.
"Why?" Jacob parroted, "Well, that is because she lived in a wooden shack, deep in the woods, and she would make these weird little charms out of twigs, she would hang them throughout the woods. Our Wicker Woman was also partial to making dolls. Out of whatever she could find; wood, moss, animals, and then she would use them as sacrifice."
Jacob's voice became more and more animated as he delved deeper into his twisted tale.
"It is told that she would steel goats and slaughter them, bath in their blood and mount their heads on wooden statues of her creation, all to appease her devious 'God'."
Hayley let out an involuntary whimper, drawing her companion's attention.
"You alright?" Andrew asked, seizing the opportunity to ease his arm around Hayley's shoulders. Hayley was too nervy to notice.
"So," Jacob continued an amused glimmer in his eyes. "One night the Wicker Woman was visited by a stranger, her first thought was to kill the man that looked fresh faced and glowed of good health, something of a rarity back then. But what stopped the Wicker Woman were the man's red eyes."
The group let out a gasp, making Jacob warm with pride.
"The stranger said he was a messenger, sent to tell her of her task. The Wicker Woman listened gleefully as the messenger explained what she had to do. He also told her that if she completed it she would be rewarded."
Jacob surveyed his audience, collectively hanging on his every word.
"The next full moon came and the Wicker Woman set about her task, joy searing through her veins, she made her way into the village and began setting up her traps. By the time morning came there was no way out of the village without meeting a dreadful death."
Jacob moved closer to the fire, warming his hands.
"In the centre of the village she had padded the burning stakes, ready for her intended victims. When the village awoke that morning they found the unconscious, tortured and branded members of their Elders tied to the stakes. The Wicker Woman stood in front of them with a burning torch."
"But why?" Elisabeth gasped.
"Insanity, she believed in the Devil, she couldn't have been that stable." Jacob replied, shrugging, "In any-case, she burnt the Elders and watched as the rest of the village fell prey to her traps."
"You are sick Jac!" Hayley spat.
"Her reward was to live forever, torturing those who enter the woods!"
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Louisa Mullerworth Word Count;