SCREAMS!!! Entry 8/13/20
|SCREAMS!!! Entry 8/13/20
Prompt: A mysterious bite
I didn't know what had formed it, I could only suspect. But I knew it was there from the moment I awoke. Flinging off the covers, I lowered my hand along the outside of my leg until I felt a bump in my flesh. Scratching at its puffy, itching surface, only to feel a flare of agony, my eyes shot open, and I leaned over to get a better look.
It was hideous.
A ring like a pair of lips rose half an inch above the surrounding skin. Inflamed veins ringed the wound like spokes radiating outward. In the center was a deep, dark hole in my skin. I couldn't see what was inside, however, because the swollen ring that seemed to close it off. Not that I particularly wanted to examine the deepest remnants of my nighttime visitor's nasty calling card. Which manner of beast had left such a mark, I couldn't imagine, thought I had an idea.
Breath quickening, I leapt out of bed, dropped the hem of my nightgown over my leg, adjusted my bonnet, grabbed the lamp at the side of my bed and headed downstairs. I found my father there, reading the morning paper by lamp light in the murky shadows of autumn's early morning.
"Good morning, father."
He responded without removing his eyes from the article he was reading--some tripe about a gruesome murder. "Good morning, Sarah."
The bite on my leg pained me, and each time I stepped, it was with a wince. My father took note of my halting procession, finally turning his head to face me. "Are you quite alright, dear?"
"Fine, father. Just awoke to a bit of a foul surprise this morning."
"Foul surprise? What happened, girl?" I had his full attention now. He lowered the paper to the table.
I sat down on the chair by the bay window and pulled up my nightgown to show him. "It's a bite, sir."
"A bite, you say? How did that happen?"
"I know not, father. I felt nothing 'fore retiring to bed last night. This morning, however, I perceived its vile sting from the moment I was roused from my slumber."
"Mayhap it came from an insect of some sort?"
"It looks to be a touch large for such a modest creature. The culprit have to have been of considerable size to leave such a mark as this, don't you think?"
"Yes, quite," my father mumbled as he continued to stare at the bite. He rose from his chair to examine it. As he ran his index finger over it, he suddenly pulled back his hand as if jolted by a bolt of lightning.
As he inspected his finger, I could see a black mark in its center. All around it, the skin was bubbling up. A mark just like mine was forming! Was there some manner of evil still inside me? Something that had reared its tiny head to attack my innocent father?
His eyes went wide, and he stumbled backward, knocking over his chair in his hasty retreat. “Clara! CLARA!!!”
Mother rushed into the room, tying the sash of her satin robe as she hustled into the room. Father revealed to her his wounded finger, and her hand flew to her lips. He took her other hand and guided her to me, showing her my bite. At observing my mark, she showed no surprise. Her eyes met mine, the light of sudden knowledge igniting behind them.
Upon meeting her shrewd gaze, I closed my eyes and steeled my shaken nerves, knowing instantly what I must do. I gave my father a pleading look.
“It’s her, father! See how she manifests no surprise? No dismay?”
He looked at my mother, eyes growing wider still as he realized the meaning within my words.
“She’s a witch, father! Can you not see it?”
I let my words register, twitching the corners of his mouth, before I continued. I abandoned my tone of urgency for one much quieter, resigned. “And I can prove it.”
Flicking my eyes toward mother, I watched her mouth twist into a horrified frown. Her eyes were confused but full of dread, the lines in her brow expressing disbelief that I could betray her in such a manner.
I felt the prickle of emotion warm my cheeks and form an iron lump inside my throat. I felt guilty for my actions, but this had to be done. The mark on my leg was proof of its necessity.
Breaking the wordless connection of our eyes, I hurried to the room’s corner and reached down to fling the heavy corner of our Persian rug from the hardwood floor, even as it creaked from my hasty movement.
Father’s eyes widened as he bore witness to my horrifying evidence. Peaking out from under the rug was the sharp, jutting corner of a pentacle, painted in the deep, sticky crimson of wickedness.
The room was silent for a moment as the weighty revelation sank in.
Eyes turning from the abomination before him, father’s hand rose to clasp mother’s upper arm. “My wife, a witch! My dutiful wife! I can scarcely believe it!”
She was too stunned at my perfidy to protest, and he hauled her out of the room. “It’s to the priest with you. He’ll know the proper way to purge the evil from your tainted soul. ‘Twill surely be fire or water…”
As the door closed, the bite on my leg began to recede, though its black heart remained. I smiled sadly, heart heavy, then peeled back the rest of the rug from the dark flooring to reveal the entire pattern of a portal of demons.
“Sorry, mother,” I said to no one but myself. “It simply couldn’t be helped. You knew my secret. I could see it in your lovely eyes.”
I lit the first of five candles, placing it on the blood-red point on the floor, and shivered in anticipation of the dark delights to come. The faded bite told me that I had already paid the price—delivering the twin souls of priest and father, put on hell’s path under the ghastly ballast of an innocent’s unwarranted murder.