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Oct 25

The Crooked Inn

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The sun was sinking low and just beginning to turn the sky a bright burnt yellow as Isaiah Miller pushed his horse down the path away from the only home he ever knew. Changing what happened was impossible, and he saw no other option than to run. He had been riding for two days now and had not had a proper rest or a decent meal in that same amount of time. Sleep was sounding very good at the moment, sleeping on the ground however was never Isaiah's first choice. He knew though that having to rest was not something he could just wave away, and neither was the rumbling in his gut. He had given the idea of stopping a quick thought, but decided to push on for a while longer, perhaps his luck would change, perhaps he would find somewhere to bed down for the night.

 

After an hour more of riding Isaiah was nearly ready to give up hope of finding any civilized life. Night was soon to fall, as the sky had taken on the gray pink tone of dusk. A sudden fog had also begun to roll in thickening and chilling the air around him. He was close to breaking down, giving up, and starting a fire to warm his shivering bones when out of the fog came a light. Picking up speed, a shape appeared, clearer and clearer the closer he got. The light was from a lantern hanging beside the door of a large dark building. A wooden sign beneath the lantern read 'Fairchild Inn' and Isaiah sent up a prayer thanking God for guiding him to this place. Curtains were pulled over the many windows on the structure, a balcony wrapping all the way around, and a small set of stairs leading up to the front porch. He jumped down off of his horse and pulled her over to the front railing, tying her to it so she would not be wondering off "Good girl." he said, patting her on her neck as he did. His boots clomped against the wood as he ascended the front steps, turned the door knob, and stepped inside. The interior was dimly lit with red carpets and dark almost black walls "Hello?" Isaiah asked as he closed the door behind him.

 

"How may I help you?" came a gravely voice from Isaiah's left.

 

He turned and found an elderly man standing behind a desk. The man had a long wiry beard, deep set eyes with dark circles beneath them, and his back was twisted into a slight hump, "I need a room and some food." Isaiah told the man, and approached the desk. His eyes trailed over the man's hands, his nails were dirty and cracked, and his fingers themselves bent and broken looking.

 

The man's breath was putrid and Isaiah nearly gagged when he said "A room is a dollar a night, meals are a dollar extra."

 

"Alright then." Isaiah said fishing his wallet out of his pocket, puling two dollars from it "Here you go." he told the man as he sat the money on the counter between them.

 

Nodding the man told him "Very good." He eyed Isaiah suspiciously and asked "Where you headed young fella?"

 

"West," Isaiah said "as far west as possible."

 

"You do not look older than seventeen." The man said scratching his head.

 

Isaiah cleared his throat, these questions and assumptions were making him uncomfortable "I am nineteen, twenty in three months." he hated it when people assumed he was younger, his twin brother Jonas had never had that problem, his features had been mature and chiseled, his personality more serious. Quickly Isaiah shook away the thoughts of his brother "I have a horse out front, can you be sure she's taken care of?" he took out another dollar and handed it to the man.

 

"Why yes sir." the old man pocketed the bill, turned, and grabbed the key for room thirteen "Here you go." he handed the key to Isaiah "I'll have your dinner sent up shortly."

 

With a sharp nod Isaiah said "Thanks for that." then turned and headed for the stairs, ready to make way to his room.

 

"Young Fella." The old man's voice made him pause and turn around.

 

"Yes?" Isaiah asked.

 

"Best not to wander into the halls after dark." his words caused a chill to run down Isaiah's spine "Some of our permanent guests don't appreciate it much." The way he said, permanent guests, made Isaiah's stomach turn, or perhaps it was the fact that he hadn't eaten in days. Either way Isaiah knew in that moment all he really wanted to do was get to his room, relax, and wait for his meal to come. He gave the elderly man an appreciative nod, then started up the stairs.

 

The hallway at the top of the staircase was lined with low burning lanterns, the carpet the same deep red as that in the room below. Isaiah had the strangest feeling that he was being watched even though the hall was empty. He shuffled forward, checking the brass numbers on each of the doors until he found room number thirteen. Pulling the key out of his pocket Isaiah slid it into the lock with a quiet clunking sound, and it clicked as he turned it. He opened the door, the room was barely lit by the last dying light of day coming in through the window. Throwing his bag down beside the door, he removed the key, stepped inside and closed the door behind him. Making his way over to the bedside table Isaiah lit the lantern that sat there casting the room in orange. He walked over to the window and closed the curtain, while the area around the Inn was rather deserted Isaiah was still concerned about the possibility of prying eyes.

 

The boy walked over to his bed, and sat down. He closed his eyes, trying to clear his mind, but a sudden noise filled his ears. The sound of voices whispering, low, inaudible "Hello?" Isaiah asked with no response. The voices stopped suddenly when a knock sounded on the door. He walked over cautiously, and opened it, finding the hallway empty save for a tray of food covered by a white cloth. "Thank you." Isaiah said to the silence, then grabbed the tray and carried it inside, shoving the door closed again with the heel of his boot. He walked over to a desk which was sitting on the left side of the room and placed the tray upon it. Stomach rumbling once again in hunger, Isaiah took a seat in the chair in front of the desk, and removed the cloth from the tray revealing a large portion of pot roast, with boiled carrots, potatoes, and a large biscuit with a patting of butter on top. Folding his hands together he whispered a blessing over his food, and asked for forgiveness for the sins he had committed. After, he picked up his knife and fork, then began to stuff himself. In just a few minutes the plate was completely clean, and Isaiah was on the verge of falling asleep in his chair, but rather than doing that he quickly stood and walked over to the bed. Removing his boots only, crawled under the covers and in nearly an instant he was snoring.

 

In his sleep Isaiah saw the face of his brother, smiling widely while casting his fishing rod into the pond on their family's farm, saw him mount up on his horse while their father took them out for a ride. Jonas's voice rang out in Isaiah's ears, his laugh echoing through his mind. He tossed and turned while memories of his brother flashed before his eyes. Suddenly he shot straight up in bed, glistening with sweat, shivering, panting heavily "Isaiah!" he heard his brother's voice whisper from somewhere in the shadows. Isaiah scanned the room, then rubbed his eyes and scanned it again. He found nothing but emptiness and knew that was all he would find, Jonas was not here, Jonas was gone and never coming back.

 

He calmed himself down as much as possible and leaned over to blow out the candle so he could try to return to sleep, that was when he heard it. Someone was crying, loudly. He listened closer, it sounded as if it was coming from right outside his door. Creeping across the room, Isaiah pressed his ear to the door. The sobbing turned to whispering "Help me." said a woman's voice "Help me please?" she begged, and then screamed "Help!" causing Isaiah to jump back.

 

The crying began again, accompanied by a sudden pounding from the hall. Isaiah approached the door with caution and reached out to open it. With a faint creak it swung inward revealing the empty hall "Hello?" Isaiah asked as he peeked out, the light from the lanterns flickered "Is anyone there?" He stepped out into the hall, and as he crossed the threshold the door slammed shut behind him, and he was plunged into darkness as the lanterns all went out at once. A blazing white light flooded the hall, blinding Isaiah, and a sudden screeching noise drew his attention to the end of the hall. As his eyes adjusted to the unnatural light a twisted, backwards shape came into focus. The creature was human in shape, but had no eyes and a wide mouth full of sharp teeth. It suddenly began to twist around, multiple cracking noises rang out as its bones popped back into place, and it straightened up standing at nearly seven feet tall. Crouching down the creature screeched as it's jaw unhinged and mouth widened about a foot. It was now leaning forward onto its hands which ended in three long clawed finger like appendages. In a flash the thing charged towards Isaiah who up until that point was silent in shock. He let out a blood curdling scream and turned to run down the hall, but when he did, he found himself face to face with a second creature. Another scream tore itself out of Isaiah's throat, the first creature was suddenly on top of him, and then the second. His door flew open, and the creatures dragged him into it, their razor sharp teeth and claws tearing into his flesh, ripping pieces off of him and devouring them.

 

"Isaiah!" Someone shook his by his shoulders "Isaiah wake up!" He jumped up at the sound grabbing the nearest object and swinging it outward with a sickening crunch as it collided with something in the dark. A loud thud could be heard as whatever or whoever it was hit the floor.

 

Isaiah turned and lit the candle on his bedside table and as the light filled the room he realized it was his room, the one back in his family home. He turned around feeling a sudden twist in his gut, he knew what was coming next. Looking down at the floor Isaiah saw his brother lying in a pool of his own blood, originating from his head "Jonas!" he dropped down beside him, trying to wake his brother, but he knew Jonas would not be waking up "I am so sorry." he cried as he stood and then began packing his bag. When he finished he spared one more quick glance at his brother, then ran out of his room, down the stairs and out the front door.

 

As he stepped past the doorway Isaiah found himself back in the hall of the Inn. He looked up and down the hall finding it completely empty. One thought filled his mind, it was time to leave. Snatching his bag from the floor Isaiah did not bother even closing the door, he just ran and kept running until he reached the entry of the Inn. As he opened the door he spotted the old man standing behind the desk shaking his head when Isaiah stepped outside. When his foot landed outside he felt as if his stomach was being ripped from his body, and he was suddenly behind the desk, looking at himself standing in the front doorway of the inn. Isaiah looked down at his hands and found the broken twisted fingers of the old man who had checked him in. He looked back up at himself, his mouth moving, his own voice calling out to him "I did warn ya not to wander the halls at night." a wicked smile broke out across the face that no longer belonged to him "Have yerself a pleasant stay," the man paused "young fella." then he let out a dark cackle stepping outside with Isaiah's bag in hand and let door slam shut behind him, the sound reminding Isaiah of the clang of jail bars.

 

Thanks! There are definitely more coming!

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  • The village of Leesburg was a large yet close knit community whose citizens had supported each other throughout recent rough times. Most of the villagers' livestock had perished thanks to an unknown outbreak that had spread like wildfire, and predators from the surrounding forest sneaking their way in and picking off half of what was left. Crops had also been scarce that harvest, but there was enough to get by. With meat being as hard to come by as it was and winter soon to set in, George Collins and his close friend and neighbor Corbin Matthews had decided that it would be best for both of their families if they were to go on a hunt. Not only could they both use the meat, but the hides might be able to fetch a fair price insuring they had money to purchase necessary supplies for the next planting season. The two men were to be gone for three days, and had entrusted George's son, George junior a boy of fourteen to look after their wives. Sarah, Corbin's wife, and their newly born daughter Henrietta, would be staying with the boy and George's wife Mary while her husband was away. With the assurance that both of their families would be safe during the hunt, the two men packed up their things, saddled up their horses and headed out. The trees grew tightly together, barely letting any sun through to the forest floor, their branches reached out towards the men as if trying to catch them in their grasp. A few times George or Corbin would be struck by one of them as a chilling wind began to whip through woods. They wanted to get as far into the forest as possible in the first day seeing as the further out from town you got the larger and more concentrated the game was. They had scared up a few birds, even a rabbit or two while riding, but had seen no signs of deer or any other large animal for hours. The sun began to set and the two men knew it would be best to stop and set up camp, for with the trees so densely packed, when night fell they would be plunged into near blackness. They found a place that seemed rather dry and hitched their horses to a nearby tree, then turned their attention to gathering enough wood for a fire that would last throughout the night. Once that had been accomplished they built the fire rather quickly. Huddling over the flames for warmth, the two thought about unpacking the horses before heading to sleep, but had decided it would be easier if they just left them for now seeing as they would be heading further out at first light. The men found places to sleep near the fire, George reclining against a fallen tree, Corbin leaning back against the trunk of one still standing, and soon the both of them were snoring. A series of loud noises woke George from his slumber, his gaze falling on the horses, who shifted nervously in the shadows. "Corbin." George said as he kicked his friend with his boot "Corbin, wake up, something is wrong." Corbin woke up with a startled look on his face "What is going on?" he asked, rubbing his eyes to wake himself. "Something spooked the horses." George told Corbin as he stared into the darkness that surrounded them. Suddenly a howl rang out, echoing through the trees, followed by another and a series of low growls from behind them "Wolves." he said, and both of them shot to their feet. They kept their backs to the fire, and their eyes trained on the forest surrounding them. Corbin turned and grabbed a flaming log from the fire, and slowly four large wolves crept into sight. They snapped their jaws at the men as they circled around, and Corbin swung his torch at them. The horses rose up on their hind legs and let out a loud huffing neigh signaling their terror, drawing the attention of the predators. They slammed their hooves on the ground and tore their necks to the side, snapping the branches they had been tied to, and fled into the night, the wolves taking off after their prey. "Shit!" said George as he moved to take off after the horses. "Stop George!" Corbin called after him rushing behind him and grabbing his arm "Those wolves will kill you!" George shifted and grabbed Corbin's shirt collar "We will die either way if we do not have the food and guns that were packed on those damn animals!" his breath came out in a ragged sigh "I am sorry." his anger instantly dissipated and he released Corbin "I just do not know what in the hell we are going to do now." he walked over and sat down on the fallen tree which he had been sleeping against earlier. "We find shelter." Corbin said and George looked up at him, his expression asking if his friend had lost his mind, but Corbin reassured him "If I remember correctly there should be some caves near here. We make camp in one over night, then head out on foot in the morning. If we can by some miracle find the horses, if they survived, then we can continue on, If not then at least we did not freeze to death." He explained. Nodding George said "Sounds like a good plan." he stood up, pulled his coat tight around him against the biting wind which he now noticed had seemed to drop in temperature rather quickly "We should get going." Corbin nodded and held his torch up against the night. They had nothing to take with them; everything had been on those horses except for their hunting knives, which remained strapped to their sides. Marching into the darkness they began their search, trying to remain hopeful. They wandered for what felt like an hour, unsure of where they were headed, but George had faith in his friend, Corbin knew this area better than he did, and he trusted him to get them out of their current situation. As they walked Corbin periodically shifted his torch from side to side, hoping to ward off any predators that may have been lurking in the dark. He knew where he was going, had been there many times with his father in his youth, and it would not be much longer until they arrived. The air grew even colder as they continued on, and each could see his warm breath against the light of the torch, along with a few white flakes falling upon occasion "Snow," Corbin said "that is just great." he squinted peering around, then moved forward "Come on George, it's just up ahead." Another minute or two passed and the snow began to come down harder in larger flakes, making their already dimmed vision all the more worse. However a moment later George felt his spirits lift, as they came upon the mouth of a small cave "Thank you my friend." George told Corbin as they approached it. Corbin nodded and said "We need to find some dry wood quickly before the snow sets in too much. We'll have to build a fire at the mouth of the cave to ward away any animals." George nodded and they got to work, starting the fire with Corbin's now dimming torch "Very good," Corbin said "now I think we should get some rest. If we cannot find those horses tomorrow, it is going to be a long hard walk back to town." "Right." said George, and once again the two men drifted off to sleep. When they woke the next morning the fire was completely snuffed out by the snow, and it seemed as if a blizzard had whipped itself up out of no where. They tried to see beyond the mouth of the cave, there was nothing but white, they knew they were not going to be leaving anytime soon. Days passed, and save for a few short time periods, the snow did quit coming. George and Corbin had moved to the back of the cave hoping to shield themselves from the icy cold, and it had only helped slightly. They remained huddled together, trying to keep warm. They had little access to water, and no chance of finding food, their stomachs had been empty for far too long and they both feared that they would not make it. For one of the men that fear became a reality. On the sixth day, George woke, lips cracked, hands and feet numb from the cold, his stomach aching in hunger. He turned to his best friend, and shook his shoulder trying to wake him. It did not work "Corbin." he said and shook him again, but nothing happened "Corbin!" George shouted, but still the man did not move, and he was not breathing. His skin was ice cold to the touch, and George knew there was nothing he could do for his friend. He began weeping, what would he tell Sarah? Their new baby girl would now be growing up without a father. He had lost his friend. Pain filled George, his stomach felt as if he had been kicked in it. If he could not somehow find food, it would be his wife without a husband and his child without a father. But there was no way, even if by some chance he could find an animal in this God forsaken weather, how could he kill it? He had no gun, only his hunting knife. It was then that a dark thought passed through George's mind. His gaze falling back on Corbin's body, Corbin's empty lifeless body. No one would have to know, his friend was no longer in there, his soul had departed this body. George could say they had been attacked by wolves, which would not be an outright lie. There was no other choice, it was either eat or die, and George chose to eat. He unsheathed his knife, pressed it against Corbin's arm, and sliced. He was just so hungry. Three days, Mary thought, they were only supposed to be gone three days, then the snow storm hit. The two women and their children sat and waited, for any sign that George and Corbin had returned. Sarah believed they would make it back, but after a week Mary was not so sure. She and Sarah decided it was time to look for help. They went into town and found Samson Whitefeather, a member of the Cree tribe and tracker for hire. The next morning after being paid by the two women he headed out into the forest in search of their husbands. Two nights later, when Samson returned, they knew something was wrong. There was body flung over the back of his horse, only one body. Whoever it was, was wailing, and barely moving. Sarah and Mary rushed outside to meet Samson as he climbed down off of his horse "There was only one." he told them and began helping whoever it was down from the horse. Samson had to hold George upright or else he would have collapsed to the ground "George!" Mary exclaimed as she rushed forward and embraced her husband. "Mary." he said his voice raspy and barely audible. Sarah began to cry "Where, where is Corbin?" she ran up to George and shook him "Where is Corbin?" she asked. "Wolves." was all George said before he passed out. Sarah fell to the ground, weeping, and George junior rushed out of the house to her side. Mary turned to her son "Take her inside." she told him and he did as asked. Then she turned to Samson "There was no sign of the other man?" she asked. Samson shook his head "No." He looked at George and said, "Best get him inside." Mary nodded and once they were inside showed Samson the way to she and George's bedroom. "You can lay him down there on the bed." She told him "Thank you." Suddenly George began to scream "No! No! I'm sorry! Hungry, so hungry!" he had broken out in a sweat, and Samson kept his eyes trained on the man "It burns!" George yelled "My skin is on fire!" Mary dampened a cloth in the wash basin that sat on the bedside table and patted George's face down "Shhh, it is okay, you are going to be fine. You are home love." George grew silent once again but his body trembled as if something was moving under his skin which had become a pale sickly gray. "The fever has taken him." Samson said as if the word fever carried a different meaning "This is not right. He is not right." he watched the man "I have heard stories ma'am. Of men in the wilderness, who do unspeakable things, they become twisted, hungry." Mary looked into Samson's eyes and saw only fear "Always hungry." he backed away "I will not stay here any longer. He is cursed, he is Wendigo." The tracker turned out of the door, and moved swiftly, not sparing a moment to glance back and fled the house. Mary shook off any fear Samson had caused in her, she never had been a superstitious woman, and she needed to take care of her husband. She knew he had to be hungry, so first thing she did was grab a bowl of the stew she had made earlier that evening. Propping George up on pillows so he could eat, Mary began to feed him spoonfuls of the stew. However after only a few bites he suddenly began retching and vomited all over the bed. Mary quickly removed the soiled blankets and wiped Georges face with a cool  damp cloth. It was then that she noticed the whites of his eyes had become a dull faded yellow, and the eyes themselves had sunken into their sockets. His body suddenly began to convulse, Mary screamed and jumped back. Her husbands skin rippled and his neck snapped back as his teeth grew long and rotten. "It burns!" he yelled again as his fingers began tearing at his own flesh. Suddenly his face snapped toward Mary and he sniffed the air "Hungry." he said his voice growling. His body convulsed again and a screech ripped from his mouth, he bit at his own lips, bloodying them, he clawed at his face ripping the remains of his lips with his nails, which had like his teeth had grown in length and taken on a brown yellowish color, and ate the tiny chunks of flesh. He kept peeling pieces of his own skin off and stuffing them into his mouth. This thing, whatever it was, was no longer her husband. She ran out of the room, finding herself face to face with George junior "Take Sarah, and the baby, and run!" Mary screamed at her son "Do not stop running until you get to her house! Lock all of the doors and windows!" she grabbed him by the shoulders "Do you understand?"she asked, and the boy nodded. Mary followed him down the stairs and found Sarah weeping still with Henrietta cradled in her arms, Mary pulled her to her feet "Take the baby and go with Georgie. Now!" Sarah numb to everything simply did as she was told, running out the door into the night after the boy. A loud thumping noise came from above Mary, followed by something shattering and several more crashing sounds. There was a blur of shadow on the stairs, and suddenly the creature dropped down from the ceiling at the foot of them, it screeched and took a step towards Mary, its head cocking to the side almost bird like. Its skin, which was a nasty mix of muddy gray and the bright red of freshly peeled under flesh, was pulled tightly over its skeleton, its hair, Georges hair, had been torn out in places leaving only bloody bald patches. The thing watched Mary, sniffing the air once again, it's face distorting into a twisted half smile half sneer and it licked its teeth. Mary knew she probably would not make it, but she saw no other choice, and so she decided to run. Her feet carried her to the back door, and she did not stop. She could hear the creature behind her as she ran across the grass, towards the shelter of the trees. Perhaps somehow once she got into the forest he would find a place to hide. Her hopes however were dashed as the creature jumped into the trees using it's long sharp nails to cling to them, and suddenly slammed to the ground in front of Mary. Its hand wrapped around her throat and pulled her to him. The scent of the beasts rotten breath enveloped her as it sniffed her neck. Rearing back the Wendigo, as Samson had called it, screeched once more, and then struck, lunging forward and tearing its teeth into Mary's neck. She tried to scream but no sound came, there was only the pain and sharp copper taste of blood, as the thing that used to be her husband began feasting on her flesh.
  • Dela Shaw had lived a harsh life. Many of her formative years had been spent watching her father swat her mother around as if she were a fly that would not stop buzzing in his ear. Dela had been spared his cruel hand thanks to the intervention of her elder brother William. He had served as her protector and confidant, turning to William alone when she was in need of counsel. Things changed however when word of war with the South had begun to spread. William had said it was his duty, and Dela understood, knowing that the North needed strong able men. When he left however, there was nothing standing between Dela and their father. She wrote to her brother as often as possible, never mentioning the bruises that now lay hidden beneath her clothing. It would be nearly a year before Dela would see her brother again, and she was thrilled with the idea of his visit no matter how short it was to be. William however did not return alone, bringing along with him a gentleman by the name of Nathaniel Roberts. While Dela cherished the time she was able to spend with her bother there was something about Nathaniel that drew her to him, whether it was his conversation, his dazzling green eyes, or perhaps the rippling muscles Dela had seen while spying on him in the river, she could not be sure. But she knew one thing, Nathaniel had cast a spell on her, and she him. When the two men left she began writing to Nathaniel just as much if not more than she wrote William. Each time they returned Dela and Nathaniel would hide away for a quick and breathless reunion. On one such occasion while lying in a bed of hay, a blanket thrown across the two of them, Nathaniel told her "I have spoken with William." he reached over and swept a lock of her long dark hair out of her eyes, "And now I have a question for you. The next time I return will you do me the honor of becoming my bride and running away with me?" a smile broke out across her face. "Yes." she said as she kissed him deeply, nothing thrilled her more than the thought of being Mrs. Nathaniel Roberts. Dela knew her father could not be told this news, however she found it impossible to keep it from her mother. A mother knows after all, and she could tell something was going on with her daughter, she poked and prodded so much that eventually Dela spilled the beans. At first her mother was upset that she would keep such a joyous occasion from her, but in the end it didn't matter, her baby girl was going to be married. Dela swore her mother to secrecy, "You cannot tell anyone, especially not father. Promise me please." She took her daughter's hands firmly in her grasp and said "I swear to you, I will not tell a soul." The two spoke in hushed whispers whenever the subject of the wedding to be came up, and never while Dela's father was home, she knew he would not approve. For months Dela saved so she could afford the material she needed to sew her wedding gown, working in the barn at night while her father slept, and hiding her work under the hay wrapped in burlap. Her mother helped whenever she could while Dela's father went into town for supplies giving them limited windows of time, but they eventually were able to make the dress fit Dela just right. Everyday she waited for a letter telling her that Nathaniel was making his way back to her, months had come and gone since his proposal, and nearly half a year later she finally received word. "In two months time I will return to you my darling, and I will take you far away and make you my wife. No longer will you have to be a servant to that man who calls himself your father, no longer will you feel the cruel sting of his hand. I love you now and always, never forget that." she clutched the letter to her chest, tears falling, blotting the ink that was scratched in her beloveds handwriting. Soon she would be free. Two weeks after Nathaniel's letter came, one from William arrived, in the letter he explained that he would not be accompanying Nathaniel when he came home, but that he wished to give her his blessing "I wish you all the love in the world my dearest sister, I will find you after this war is over. Be happy." Those words meant the world to her, she may never have the support of her father, but her mother and brother gave theirs and that would be enough. While her father was cruel it still pained her to keep such a happy occasion from him, she loved her father, but he did not deserve it. Dela knew he would never change, and if she told him he would find a way to poison the happiness she had found. She would not give him the chance. Time dragged on for the bride to be, she had began making preparations for her departure three days before Nathaniel was due to return. She knew she could not take much because her father would surely grow suspicious if too many of her things went missing. Two small bags, and the burlap wrapped wedding gown were all she would bring with her. Tucking her things away in the hay where the dress was hidden, she sent up a prayer that all would go as planned, and hoped it did not fall on deaf ears. The night Nathaniel was to return Dela said goodbye to her mother, upon whose face there was a fresh deep purple bruise, and waited for her father to fall asleep. Once the sound of his snoring began to echo from her parents room, Dela crept down the stairs, and snuck out of the back door. She stepped inside the barn and lit the lantern that hung by the door, the light dancing eerily on the walls. From behind her there was a creaking noise, and she spun around quickly. Nathaniel stood in the doorway, she ran up to him and jumped into his arms kissing him. "I have missed you so much." he told Dela. "And I you. " she said in a hushed tone. Nathaniel placed her back on the ground "We need to hurry." Dela nodded "Just let me grab my things." spinning around she climbed the ladder to the hay loft, and swept aside the large mound in the corner. There was nothing there, she threw the golden strands into the air, digging ferociously. Suddenly an icy cold chill ran down her spine as a voice called up to her from the ground "Looking for these dear?" Dela stepped over to the edge, and saw her father, his scythe wrapped around Nathaniel's neck "Join us down here Dela." her bags and wedding gown sat beside the feet of the two men. She did as told and approached her father "Please, don't hurt him." her hands were grasped together, begging him "Father I love him, please let him go. I will stay, I will stay here with you and mother, just let Nathaniel go." tears welled in Dela's eyes, and hate glinted in her father's. "You love him?" he spat on the ground "You think tumbling in the hay with a deserter equates to love?" her father shook his head "I thought you had more respect for yourself than that." Nathaniel thrust his hands upward grabbing the arm that held the scythe "Dela run!" he yelled, but it was too late, her father fought his grasp and pulled the blade up and around, carving a deep gash into Nathaniel's throat. Blood poured out as Nathaniel collapsed to his knees, a gurgling sound choking out from his mouth as he fell forward into the dirt. Dela dove beside him, pulling him into her lap "No." she said "No, no, no." she pressed the fabric of her dress against the wound, but it was futile. A dark puddle of blood formed between them, and his eyes fluttered closed "I love you." she whispered to him one last time, tears poured from her face and dripped down mingling with the blood and dirt. Her father slammed the back of his hand across her cheek, and yanked her from the ground, his hand clutching her wrist "Take your things inside and get to bed." he barked out "You can take care of this mess in the morning." he threw her towards the door, she looked back at Nathaniel, laying on the ground, surrounded by blood "Keep moving!" her father shouted, and she choked out a sob as he shoved her sharply. There was nothing she could do now, no one she could turn to. As she stepped through the front door she noticed her mother standing just outside, looking down at the ground in shame, refusing to make eye contact with her daughter. It was then that Dela knew, her mother had betrayed her. The man she loved was dead, and she had never felt more alone. A white hot rage came over her, they took him, her mother and her father, and they would pay for what they had done. The next day Dela buried Nathaniel, and fashioned a cross out of branches to mark the grave. She wept for her lost love, and for herself, but knew there was not much time for mourning. Mother called her in for dinner as the sun was beginning to fade on the horizon. The floor boards creaked under her feet has she headed into her fate. There would be pain, but there would also be vengeance, and it made the pain worth it. Dela stepped into the dining room, now changed into the beautiful white gown she had sewn herself for she and Nathaniel's wedding day, her eyes trained on her father sitting at the head of the table. She and her mother sat opposite each other. Her eyes watched the glow of the lantern that sat in the middle of the table until her father spoke "What in the hell are you wearing?" her father asked then shook his head "Never mind that," he told her dismissively "Dela, your mother and I believe you should say the blessing tonight, seeing you have so much to ask God to forgive." Dela's eyes shot to her father piercing him like daggers. She stood in a flash "God is not here tonight father, only the Reaper," she snatched up the lantern "and the cleansing flames of your reckoning." a smile spread across Dela's face as she threw the lantern into her father's lap, glass bursting, sending oil and flames spreading across his torso and quickly engulfing his face. He screamed, the sound like a lullaby to Dela's ears, and she turned to her mother who stood in shock. Dela swept around the table, grabbed her mother's rose patterned vase, and slammed it over her head sending her crashing to the ground. Her eyes glistened in the light as she watched the flames engulf her parents bodies, and once they had been consumed she bowed her head, and swept her train through, the red and orange blaze snaking up her gown. She turned heading out of the room, and through the front door. Skin cracking and peeling, Dela made her way to Nathaniel's grave site and the noose she had hung from a branch that reached out just above it. She stepped up on the stool, pulled the rope tight around her neck, and kicked. Her death was instant. That morning as Dela began to put her plan into action she sent a letter to William in the morning post. He would know the whole story, he would find Dela and bury her. However Dela would never again rest, forever searching for her lost love and watching over his grave site. Many have seen her since, The White Lady, her dress smoldering as she stands beneath a large sycamore tree, crying his name, and dragging any who come too close into the very flames that consumed her parents.
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