Chapter 1 - A Brother's
My chest heaved, trying to
catch breath, as I ran uphill at full pelt, willing
my legs to move ever faster, while the rain poured
down my face stinging my red cheeks. My body needed
rest, just a few moments would have done, but my
sheer will repressed the ache within my muscles as I
forced myself to run. The smooth cobblestones beneath
my feet were slippery causing my worn leather boots
to slide against the ground and I knew it wouldn't be
too long before I took a tumble.
The smell of salty sea air
wafted up my nose indicating that I was nearing my
destination with the stockade alongside the docks,
along with the so-called courts of justice and the
hanging yard. Originally created to put the fear of
death into potential smugglers, the hanging yard had
been put to other uses in recent years, with innocent
people used as scapegoats for society's problems.
As the surface of the
cobblestones beneath my feet turned to gravel and the
view ahead of me was filled with ships I quickly
turned left trying to locate the stockade entrance.
It wasn't a location I had visited before and
certainly not one I would want to visit again. I
darted my eyes behind me then forward once more
trying to make out what could possibly be a prison
complex, but with so many warehouses and official
buildings it was difficult to tell. In the distance
ahead of me was a large building made of brown bricks,
looking somewhat newly built. There was also a human
shaped statue in front of it but from my location I
couldn't tell what it depicted. It may have been Lady
Justice in front of the courts which was likely
adjoined to the stockade. It was just an educated
guess, I had no real idea.
After a few deep breaths I
hurried, while my boots clomped against the gravel
road beneath my feet, trying my best to control my
panic. With each step the loose gravel moved, in
effect aiding my haste increasing my stride, so long
as I kept balance. Maybe God was on my side after all.
There were sailors around as
well as tradesmen looking at me bewildered as to why
a young boy was running along the docks in the rain.
"Hold your horses!"
I gruff voice said to my right.
A sailor leaning on a mooring
post smiled at me while resting his hand against the
top of his head keeping his hat firmly secured in
place. On the ground next to his feet were the
remains of a smoker's clay pipe. I couldn't tell if
he had discarded it after use or simply was unaware
that he had dropped it.
"I'm looking for the
courthouse," I quickly said in a fast tone of
panic, "Is that it over there?"
I pointed in the direction of
the new looking building I suspected housed the
courts then wiggled my hand as if to dismiss my own
"I don't mean the
courthouse," I said shaking my head frantically,
"I'm looking for the stockade, I need to visit
someone. They need my help. I need to see them,
please. I can't just leave them..."
The sailor let out a rough
laugh before heaving himself up from the mooring post.
"So your daddy's been up
to no good has he?" He said while continuing to
"Not exactly," I
The sailor approached.
Something about his appearance along with his general
manner exuded a sense of kindness about him, but he
appeared more than a little tipsy especially as he
wobbled on his feet.
"You're right that is
the courthouse but it's closed on Sundays," he
said while pointing at the building ahead, "The
prison cells run alongside. I'm sure if you ask
nicely they'll let you in, just give them a sob story
and they'll let you visit your daddy or whoever he is."
The rain appeared to lessen
its fall as the sailor spoke those words. I wiped the
remaining moisture from my face using my sleeve only
to smudge it further.
"Thank you," I said
to the sailor before quickly running ahead.
The brief respite gave my
legs enough time to restore their energy and I found
I was able to run fast without too much difficulty.
It wasn't more than a minute that I made it to the
far end of the docks and to the large, bricked
building. I stopped momentarily then glanced back
toward the sailor in the distance who had sat himself
down on the mooring post once more. He was watching
me as if making sure I had reached my destination but
I had yet to find the exact location of the stockade
The statue was indeed of Lady
Justice and was tall, way over ten feet in fact,
standing atop of a pedestal that was stained by green
moisture and black mould. Clearly the bright marble
statue was new but placed on top of an old base. I
just hoped it represented a modern version of justice
replacing the old with something far more
compassionate, yet I knew deep down it was just a
I walked at a fast pace
closer to the courthouse then towards the dark
alleyway than ran alongside. The stench oozing from
the barred windows of the building opposite revealed
to me I had reached my destination. There were large
puddles lining the potholed muddy ground with only a
scarce amount of gravel left to protect its surface
which I had to avoid as I tentatively approached the
two thick oak doors of the stockade. Something about
those doors filled my body with trepidation as though
the wood itself had soaked up the poor unfortunate
souls who had been executed inside only to then live
for eternity within its walls. For a moment I thought
I heard their screams within my head but it was
likely just my imagination.
There were two cracked stone
steps in front of the doors which I ascended very
slowly, taking care to hold back my emotions for my
sister needed me to remain strong if I had any chance
of setting her free. As for a plan of escape however,
I had none.
Very timidly I knocked onto
the door causing no sound whatsoever against the bulk
of its thick oak panelling. I then took are large
intake of breath and hit the door three times with
"Anyone?!" I called
out as my own bad breath reflected back at me, "Please,
I need to talk to someone."
I listened intensely and
while there were the faint sounds of voices inside it
was difficult to distinguish if it was in response to
my knocking. I knocked again, this time using the
base of my fist, hitting against the door three more
"Anyone there?!" I
called out again.
There was then the sound of
footsteps treading against the wet muddy gravel
behind me as the kind, yet partially drunk, sailor
from earlier approached with an air of urgency about
him. I stepped to one side as he climbed the two
"Open up!" He
yelled while repeatedly banging his fist hard against
the door, "Open up. There's a child here who
demands to see his imprisoned father!"
I let out a sigh of relief as
I heard the jangle of keys as someone on the other
side began to unlock the door. It then squeaked
loudly as the jailer inside heaved it open, taking
quite some effort, before cautiously poking his head
around the side. He glanced at us both in turn.
"Visiting is by
appointment only," he quickly told the sailor
while eying him up and down, "Besides it's
"This poor innocent
child needs to see his condemned father as is his
right," the sailor told the jailer in no
uncertain terms, "Are you going to let him in or
do I take this up with the magistrate?"
The jailer still partly
hiding behind the door very slowly shook his head.
"This place is full of
drunkards, he'll see his father once he's sobered up,"
the jailer said.
I quickly moved closer to the
door letting the guard get a clearer look at me from
his obscured view.
"It's not my father I'm
here to see," I told him with a haste while
practically trying to pry my way inside, "It's
my sister. Her name's Cordelia, she was put on trial
yesterday, but never returned home. Our mother is
elderly she can't make it here, so I've come alone to..."
The jailer was taken aback.
"Oh, you're here to see
the witch are you?" He said in a hushed tone,
"It's a good thing that you came when you did.
She's due to hang on the morrow."
Chapter 2 - Pleading
The jailer granted my request
due to the kind help of the sailor who I could not
thank enough. I was allowed to enter the dank
confines of the stockade leaving the sailor to wait
for me outside. The thick oak door was securely
closed by the jailer who then began to lock the huge
iron bolt into position.
"Give me a minute to
note this down," the jailer said as he calmly
headed over to his desk opposite the entrance licking
the tip of his quill before writing.
I gazed my eyes around the
stockade and the long dark corridor ahead of me eager
to get to see my sister once more. The thought of her
being hanged for a crime she did not commit incensed
me, but I was sure it was just a mistake and she
would be freed once the judge reassessed the case.
"And you are?"
Asked the jailer, quill in hand, standing beside his
I took a step closer before
responding. The feathers on his quill tickled against
his face stubble but he didn't appear to notice. His
upturned nose gave the appearance of being someone of
noble breeding but his rough accent was one of
someone of the lower classes. I wondered if he was
the type of person who felt he was noble in his
choice of career while at the same time fooling
himself as to his importance.
"I'm Timothy," I
replied with a timid tone.
"And you're this
Cordelia girl's brother, yea?" He asked for the
sake of getting me to confirm it.
I nodded but remained silent
while he wrote down my details for his records.
"Right well sign here,"
he said holding out the quill pen for me which I
retrieved before looking down at the written notes
upon the desk.
The dim flicker of
candlelight, which emitted from a very small candle
stuck to a blob of melted wax on the corner of the
desk, was totally inappropriate for a room so large.
Even if I could read I wasn't sure I could clearly
make out the words.
"Just there," the
jailer said pointing at the bottom of the sheet of
I signed with a cross then
handed the pen back to him.
"Right," he said
while giving the sheet of paper a quick glance,
"Now you're not to make physical contact with
the prisoner, no handing over any personal items,
food, drink or keepsakes, and no discussions of the
like of plans to escape. You got that? You're just
here to say your goodbyes and nothing more. And I
will be listening so if you break these rules you'll
be required to leave. Do you understand?"
"Yes," I responded
"And if by any chance
you or any member of your family wish to witness her
execution on the morrow that is your right, but you'll
have to be here by eight o'clock sharp," he said
I closed my eyes holding back
"I've no desire to
witness that," I whispered.
The jailer walked over to his
desk and started rummaging through the scattered
items on top before remembering where he had placed
the item he was looking for. He then walked over to a
wooden shelf attached to the wall and retrieved a
small rusted key.
"Your witchy sister
couldn't be trusted so she's been placed in the most
secure cell we have, behind an iron door, this key'll
open the flap," he said.
He picked up the tiny candle
from the corner of the desk using his bare hands,
prising it away from the blob of wax, and carried it
down the dark corridor.
"This way!" He
called back at me.
I followed him down the
narrow unlit corridor that was lined either side by
wooden doors some of which revealed light from around
their frames. Those cells must have contained barred
windows giving their occupants at least some sense of
humanity. But it was clear the iron door at the far
end hid a fully darkened cell, without even leaking a
spec of light from around its small viewing hatch, as
the jailer unlocked it whilst holding up his small
candle. A ghastly smell of urine wafted up my nose
that overpowered the stale smells that already filled
the stockade. The jailer wiped his nose as if to
acknowledge the smell but took it all in his stride,
it was just a normal day for him.
"Oi!" He yelled
into the small open flap in the middle of the door,
"You've got a visitor!"
He waved the candle from side
to side to get my sister's attention. There was a
slight incomprehensible mumble in response as well as
the sound of her shuffling to her feet.
"I'll be at my desk and
I can hear everything so don't break no rules or
nothing, or you're out," the jailer said to me.
I ignored his words and stood
on tiptoe trying to peer inside the small flap,
however all I could see was darkness.
called out with a loud whisper, "It's me. Are
you well? I needed to see you. I didn't know you were
tried until yesterday. I came as soon as I heard. Mum
gives her love and is praying night and day for you..."
I felt Cordelia's clammy hand
hold onto mine which had the effect of realising the
floodgates that held back my tears. I could no longer
speak nor catch my breath.
responded in a broken voice, "I need you to do
something for me most urgent. I need you to trust me
and do exactly as I ask."
I nodded but she couldn't see
me in the darkness. It had taken me all my effort to
remain silent as I knew all too well I would bawl
loudly the moment I opened my mouth, but it was
essential to respond verbally to her request.
"Yes," I said as my
I couldn't hold back my
repressed emotions any further and burst into tears,
crying loudly, while constantly squeezing Cordelia's
cold sweaty hand. I knew it was the wrong thing to do
for I needed to remain strong for her sake more so
than my own.
"Whatever you want,"
I added as my voice wavered.
There was silence and I
guessed my emotional outburst had caused Cordelia to
start shedding tears. I cursed myself within my mind,
forcing all my will to remain strong, while caressing
her hand. She then sniffed before letting out a loud
said before clearing her throat, "I need you to
return home quickly and fetch my diary. It's in the
bottom of my trunk at the base of my bed. When you
find it, destroy it immediately, throw it into the
fire, but on no account must you open it. Just get
rid of it. Promise me you will do this."
I was confused and wondered
why she deemed that as important for there was a far
more pressing matters to attend.
"Yes, yes," I
quickly replied, "But we need to get you out of
here. The jailer told me that tomorrow you're to be...
so we need to contact the judge and plead for a
reprieve. Mum will write a letter, she's good with
words, and I'll deliver it, then we'll get a delay
and possibly a retrial."
replied in a loud whisper.
"I can't think of any
other way to get you out of here," I said in a
tone of panic, "We don't have money for bribes,
we don't have any friends of high class or authority,
there's a kind sailor but I don't see how he can help..."
Cordelia held my hand even
more firmly than before causing me to grit my teeth
at the pressure of her grip. Any tighter I would have
likely broken a finger.
"You don't understand,"
she said tearfully, "I'm guilty. I'm a witch and
I deserve my punishment. Now promise me you will
destroy my diary before the rest of our family is
cursed by my evil deeds."
I closed my eyes tightly
while her words span inside my head. She had clearly
pled guilty to avoid torture and to receive a swift
execution but she wasn't genuinely guilty. There were
no such things as witches and she was being used as a
scapegoat for something far more sinister.
"Don't say that!" I
cried as warm tears flooded down my cheeks once more,
"You know it's not true, you've done nothing
wrong. You need to fight and plead for clemency. Don't
give up, please don't."
Using her fingers Cordelia
gently stroked my hand before parting our touch. My
bare hand felt cold as it remained solitary waiting
for her grasp once more, however it was clear she had
no intention of doing so.
"Promise me!" She
said firmly in a crackly voice, "Please do as I
request, I beg of you."
I nodded vigorously as tears
flew from my cheeks. I took my hand back then leant
my face closer, looking through the small hatch
within the door, trying to catch even the slightest
glimpse of her within the pitch darkness.
"I promise," I said
softly, "I'll do it right away."
Chapter 3 - My Demise
It wasn't more than a few
minutes later that I left the stockade with the
intention of keeping my promise to my sister. I also
intended to ask our mother to write a note pleading
for clemency which I could bring back with me to
present to the jailer. Even if it just delayed
matters a little we could at least put together some
kind of appeal, not that I had any real knowledge of
how the law worked.
The rain was light, the kind
of hazy rain that was easy to cope with yet would
eventually soak through all clothing with prolonged
exposure. I decided it would be best to walk home
rather than hurry, to avoid slipping over, but that
in itself was causing me mental anguish.
Once I left the muddy
alleyway next to the stockade I turned right, heading
past the court building, towards the dockyard
entrance. The sailor was nowhere in sight.
The sky was grey but there
was still plenty of daylight left and I guessed it
must have been early afternoon. I just hoped I could
carryout my promise as well as return with a letter
from our mother on time. If not the only other
opportunity would be the following morning and I wasn't
relishing the idea of witnessing the alternative if I
My heavy boots trod heavy
against the gravel path of the docks as I headed at a
steady pace taking one firm step at a time making
sure not to lose my grip. My feet already felt wet as
my worn leather shoes soaked up the rain like a
The moment I reached the dock's
entrance I turned right, heading down the hill of
which I had ran up with so much force earlier. The
journey down felt so much easier on my feet but my
mind could not relax and enjoy the moment due to the
task in hand. I also had to concentrate as to not
slip against the smooth surface of the cobblestones
or trip over one that rested unevenly.
To my pleasant surprise I saw
the sailor waiting at the bottom of the hill along
with a group of other men as if waiting for someone.
I was sure they weren't waiting for me so I intended
to simply greet them while passing on my journey home.
"That's him there!"
The sailor told the others as I made my approach.
"It's good to see you
again," I said nodding my head in a customary
gesture not being able to tilt my hat due to not
wearing one, "I'm busy with a most urgent errand
so unfortunately have no time spare."
The group of men spread out
and two of them made their way past me as if heading
for the docks. I glanced at them momentarily before
the sailor started talking again.
"So who was that again
you went to see at the cells?" He said while
stroking his rough unshaven chin.
I began to feel uneasy,
something about his mannerisms seemed different than
before and it was clear by the expression on his face
that he didn't want me to carryout my task. He must
have guessed that I intended to do all I could to set
my sister free.
"It was my sister,"
I replied softly.
There were footsteps behind
me and it was clear the other two men hadn't headed
for the docks after all. My heart began to beat with
The sailor waved his hand at
me with a rolling gesture wanting me to continue
while nodding his head. I couldn't believe how such a
kind man could change so quickly.
"And..." he said,
"Tell us her name."
I was sure he already knew
but just wanted me to confirm for the sake of letting
his sailor chums hear. As I glanced to his right I
noticed one of the men was dressed in a smart suit
and wore a large rimmed hat. If he was a fellow
sailor I guessed he was someone of high rank,
possibly even a captain.
"Say that again!"
The sailor said.
responded a little louder.
The man in the black suit
casually walked over to me with both his hands
resting behind his back, but I was sure his calm
manner hid something far more sinister. He gave me a
false smile as he made his approach.
"And what is your name
boy?" He asked in an upper class accent.
replied with my voice trembling as I looked up at him.
The man took a large intake
of breath and turned his gaze toward the others
before looking back at me. I felt so small in his
presence both physically and emotionally.
"Well Timothy, do you
have any idea what your, dare I say, loving, caring,
big sister has done?" He asked while his eyes
bored into me as though reaching into my mind.
I shook my head not wishing
to know, yet knew he was intending to tell me anyway.
"She gave worship to
Satan," he said matter-of-factly as though he
was saying something he was certain of, "Offering
her soul to him, allowing him to cast evil upon this
I was beginning to think he
wasn't a sailor after all and may have in fact been a
preacher, for other than accusing her of spiritual
crime he had yet to tell me what she specifically did.
I was starting to have doubts if she had in fact been
accused of any criminal act defined by law.
"How..." I said
while my body shook with nerves, "I mean what...
"She was witnessed,"
the man casually responded guessing at my repressed
question, "Then after the witness told others of
her impropriety, that said witness expired in a
manner most gruesome."
I continued to stare up at
the man in black before glancing my eyes toward the
sailor who had once been so kind, then toward the
other men standing at his side. I was still aware of
the other two men behind me sensing their presence.
"So what is this errand
that's most pressing you need to attend?" The
man in black asked.
I was sure he could tell if
lied to him, so instead only intended to tell him a
partial truth to see if that would satisfy his
"I was hoping I could
get my mother to write a note of leniency on my
sister's behalf to be presented to the jailer or
judge," I said trying my best to remain calm.
"My dear boy I would
accept no letter," the man said while shaking
his head, "Your sister is to be publicly hanged
tomorrow and that's final. If I had the power to
change anything I would make it sooner."
It only then dawned on me as
to who he really was. I should have known due to his
attire and tone of voice.
"Then I should be on my
way," I said holding back my tears, "My
mother needs me, more so than ever now, and I need to
tell her the news."
As I attempted to take a step
ahead he quickly stood in my way blocking my path
knowing that I hadn't told him the complete truth.
"What did your sister
tell you?" He asked.
I quickly shook my head with
"She didn't tell me
anything," I said in an excited tone of panic,
"You can ask the jailer, he listened to the
whole thing, we just exchanged goodbyes and we cried,
but we said nothing else."
The man in black knelt down
in front of me engaging eye contact on an even level
resting his hand on my shoulder. His deception of
pretending to act caring didn't fool me for one
moment, and there was no way that I was willing to
betray my sister's wishes.
"I will speak to the
jailer but I'd prefer to hear the truth from you,"
he said in the same calm tone as before, "Is
there anything she mentioned, evidence for example,
that she spoke of that may be beneficial to this case?"
I vigorously shook my head
causing him to rest both hands upon each of my
"Bear in mind that any
new evidence could even prove her innocence, so if
there is anything pray tell," he said.
The memory of the urgency
Cordelia stated of needing to destroy the diary came
to my mind. Whatever it contained it was clearly
something she wanted hidden and couldn't be anything
that could prove her innocence.
I said as my tears overflowed down my cheeks, "I
need to get home to my mum, she's lame, and she needs
me more than ever now."
The man in black slowly shook
his head then clambered to his feet while letting out
a loud breath.
"At this very moment
your mother's burning in Hell," he said calmly,
"And you're soon to join her."
He glanced behind me where
upon I immediately felt someone grab at my neck. A
pool of bright red blood pooled at my feet as I
tumbled to the ground. My throat had been sliced so
cleanly that I didn't feel any pain but I was well
aware of what was happening as my life faded away.
Chapter 4 - Four
Hundred Years Later
The warm glow from a bright
light shone down on me as I stared up at it from the
surrounding tunnel of darkness. It reminded me of the
experience I felt just after death, on my way to the
afterlife, but this time I was returning. It may have
been many a year since I made my promise to Cordelia
but I still intended to keep it and I sensed her
diary had been discovered.
A deep intake of fresh air
filled the lungs of my soul as I sat up sharply in
the very same location as where I perished. Part of
me imagined that I would awake in the same puddle of
blood in which I fell, but not only was the puddle
long gone but the cobblestones had too, replaced with
a thick black coating of compressed tar.
The light from above
illuminated the area with a yellow glow that
reflected against the leaves of the tress causing
them to look grey rather than green. It was an odd
way to light a street at night and I was sure to
discover a lot more oddities in the world which I
once called home.
Heaving myself up from the
ground I looked in both directions trying to get my
sense of direction. Something about the incline of
the street appeared different than before and I was
sure it appeared steeper, but it could have been my
imagination caused by the smoothness of its surface
or even an illusion created by the artificial yellow
While far larger than what I
was used to seeing, there were the unmistakable
outlines of cranes silhouetted against the night's
sky in the distance atop of the hill, so tall they
appeared to be attempting to pierce the moon as it
shone above. Clearly the docks still existed and part
of me felt pleased that in so many years it hadn't
At the bottom of the hill,
where the road had once adjoined the main road of the
village, there was nothing but a narrow lane running
alongside a scarce wood. This lane too was lit with
the strange yellow lamps giving off an eerie glow
that gave me a chill of fear as I stared at the
entwining shadows of the tree branches. The irony of
a ghost being afraid wasn't lost on me and I forced
myself to remain brave as I headed down the hill and
into the lane.
It was only after a few
moments of traversing into the direction I thought
was home that I realised I wasn't in a lane as I had
first envisaged. In fact it was an alleyway between
rows of houses. It was clear I had gone the wrong way
and there must have been another street nearby but it
was imperative that I reach the location of what
remained of our cottage as quickly as possible.
I quickly stopped startled by
the unmistakable noise of a fox in the distance.
Reminding myself what I now was and remaining
confident I continued ahead as I saw the fox carrying
the remains of discarded food within its mouth. It
didn't notice me as it scampered in my direction
without a care in the world simply passing by with no
I continued ahead down the
alleyway hoping to get a clue as to indicate my sense
of direction. I just hoped our cottage still stood
but I knew after so many years it would be unlikely.
As I reached the end of the
alleyway, heading out into the main road, my face lit
up and I smiled brightly once I spotted the church
spiral indicating the location of the village square.
Chapter 5 - My Home
Traversing at night wasn't a
good idea and I only wished I had waited before my
return, but alas in the afterlife day and night never
existed so it didn't cross my mind upon making my
return. The village square had been built upon, with
only the church and its surrounding land remaining,
the location of my cottage was hidden deep within the
woods and was going to take me quite some time to
find even though the sun was already rising.
The shrubbery and twigs felt
strange underfoot as I traversed my way hoping that I
would soon find something familiar. The ground didn't
react to the heaviness of my thick leather boots
leaving no imprint of my presence yet within my mind
I still imagined the sound of breaking twigs and
rustling grass. It took me a few minutes before I
realised not all of the sounds were within my
imagination as there was movement ahead.
"Over here!" I
heard someone call out in the distance.
There was also the sound of
gentle hammering and manual labour among a hum of
overlapped voices. Instinctively I slowed my pace,
then almost as quickly as I slowed I sped up, heading
towards the commotion. At a small clearing in the
trees were around twenty people, digging inside a
series of shallow trenches, as though searching for
something buried inside. The foundations of a stone
wall, coated with thick black ash, were visible
protruding from the ground while a woman wearing next
to nothing scraped a metal implement across its
surface. She then took out a clear bag and placed the
"Do you think anyone was
inside when the place was torched?" A very tall
man with a scruffy unkempt face asked as he
approached behind the woman.
"Without remains there's
no way to tell," she responded calmly without
The man was wearing short
trousers revealing his bare legs just as the woman
was, however her legs were smooth and shiny whereas
his were entangled with hair. I couldn't tell if it
was due to modern fashion or whether the man was just
scruffy, either way it was something that would take
me a long time to get used to.
"Where's that barrow got
to?" Another male voice from behind me called
There were continued
overlapped voices as I stared at the remains of the
outer wall of the building. It was clearly the shape
of my home but a lot of the cottages in the area
where built with similar design, and the surrounding
woodland made it impossible to tell. What was once
the village main road was buried under hundreds of
years worth of soil.
"Is that you Mick?"
The woman examining the wall said.
"I'm just fetching the
barrow!" He called back to her as he had already
wandered off without her noticing.
"Okay!" She replied.
I took a few steps closer
trying to picture our cottage and its position within
the confines of the trench. With part of it still
buried along with a huge fallen tree laying along one
side it was difficult to imagine. I couldn't even
figure out which was the front or back. As to the
burnt ash coating the wall I wondered when it had
been set alight. Luckily my mother had been awaiting
me in the afterlife on the day of my death, with my
sister joining us later, so they hadn't suffered a
burning. But I still didn't relish the notion of our
beautiful home being burnt down due to the misguided
notion of us being a family of witches. With all the
years that passed however it may have been burnt as a
simple method of demolishment, decades or possibly
hundreds of years, after it was abandoned.
"Is someone there?"
The woman asked before quickly turning to face me.
Her eyes stared right through
my body to the trees beyond as she turned her gaze
from one side to the other. I wondered if she sensed
me on another level. She blinked a few times then
continued examining the wall.
"You alright Lizzy?"
A female voice asked.
"Yes I'm fine," she
I took a step back as an
older woman with frizzy hair and a very bright orange
coloured blouse approached. There was kindness about
her facial appearance yet appeared to dress far
younger than her actual age.
"Not spooked are you?"
She asked the woman known as Lizzy causing her to
smile in response.
"I don't believe in all
that nonsense," she replied with a slight giggle,
"Whatever went on here back then was no more
supernatural than nature itself. Just primitive
backward people trying to control their lives by
believing in the occult and harming others in the
What was she saying? I
thought to myself. We were totally innocent, we did
nothing to hurt anyone. How dare she suggest such a
"I'm sorry!" Lizzy
quickly said placing the back of her hand against her
mouth and taking a step back from the wall.
"Are you sure you're
okay?" The older woman asked her.
She nodded in response and
sniffed away a tear.
"Maybe I am spooked,
just a little," she said as she took a large
intake of breath, "It's just the thought of
people in those days believing in such nonsense that
has me on edge."
The older woman placed her
hand on Lizzy's arm.
"You should take the
rest of the day off," she said softly while
giving her arm a gentle squeeze, "Get some rest,
a nap if necessary..."
"Oh, I can't we've got
so much to do," Lizzy quickly responded while
shaking her head, "We've got a lot of loose soil
to sift through yet."
"It'll still be here
tomorrow," the older woman said.
My eyes widened and I let out
a yelp as the scruffy man from before literally
walked through my body pushing a wheelbarrow in front
of him. I jumped to one side taking a tumble to the
yelled out resting her hand in the centre of her
chest, "You scared the living daylights out of
The man gave her a look of
confusion as I clambered to my feet.
"Seriously, go home and
get some rest, I mean it," said the older woman.
"But um, oh, right, if
you think it's best," Lizzy agreed.
The man with the barrow
looked on for a few moments, shaking is head while
repressing a smirk, then continued pushing it along
the rough ground. Its front wheel appeared damaged in
some way, with the black rubber rim flattened against
the ground causing it to wobble from side to side. I
was sure it wasn't designed to work that way but who
could tell in the modern world in which I found
From what I could gather, as
I made my way round the dig, all that had been found
were the foundations and part of the outer wall of a
cottage with no sign of any possessions, yet it was
the disturbance of Cordelia's diary that forced my
return. I wondered if it was still partially buried,
possibly being brought back to the surface at that
very moment. I then began to think about the trunk
where Cordelia had hidden it.
"What about the trunk?"
Lizzy said behind me.
I quickly darted my head
around to face her knowing full well she must have
read my thoughts.
"I could return to the
museum and go through the trunk we found," Lizzy
continued while addressing everyone, "I think
its contents may be important, especially that book."
"It's my sister's diary,"
I said out loud.
"That diary," Lizzy
I smiled brightly, it
appeared I had a living assistant albeit without her
being fully aware that I existed. My task was going
to be a lot easier with her help.
"Well just as long as
you feel up to it," the older woman responded.
Lizzy clenched her fists with
excitement before making her way towards the far side
of the dig to a dirt pathway. I followed her only to
have to quickly dodge the man pushing the wheelbarrow
again as he headed in our direction wobbling it from
side to side.
Chapter 6 - The Trunk's
The journey back to the
museum was the most unusual experience I had ever had
in all the years of my existence. We traversed in
what I could only describe as a tin box on wheels
that moved at an almighty speed, faster than any
horse in full gallop, until we arrived at a church-like
building used as the museum.
Lizzy was overexcited,
rushing inside the building, causing me to
momentarily lose sight of her until I eventually
found her in a large hall that resembled a library.
There were all kinds of books lining the walls on row
after row of shelves as well as some odd looking
artefacts including animal skulls.
Lizzy was leaning over a desk
at the far side of the room writing something down. I
calmly walked over to her.
"Is this what you wanted?"
A man asked wearing a brown jacket with patches on
Lizzy nodded, her face
brimming with enthusiasm, as the man dragged in the
wooden trunk that rested upon a small table on
casters. The once smooth shiny varnished outer of the
trunk was totally black with ash that peeled away
from the blistered wood. Even the top had twisted out
of position bending the otherwise impenetrable lock.
"Its contents have been
categorised but nothing's yet been fully examined,"
the man said, "The sheets are very delicate so
don't even attempt to unfold them, and two of the
herb jars are cracked."
"Don't remind me,"
Lizzy said in a light hearted tone while letting out
a smile, "I was sneezing non-stop when we first
"What about the diary?"
I asked standing at Lizzy's side as though part of
"And what of the diary?"
She asked the man.
He hesitated before
responding as though he didn't realise at first what
she was referring to.
fragile," he replied, "The leather cover's
intact but the pages will likely crumble if you open
I felt relief upon hearing
his words but I still wasn't willing to return to the
afterlife until I had seen its condition for myself.
It was imperative that no one should set eyes upon
To my surprise two more
people entered carrying piles of small brown boxes
resting them upon the floor next to the trunk. Each
box contained a brief description of their contents
written on their fronts making me realise the trunk
had already been emptied some time ago.
"These artefacts where
essentially baked when the cottage was set aflame so
take extra care or they'll crumble in your hands,"
one of the people carrying the boxes said confirming
what the man in the brown jacket had already
"I'll be careful,"
Lizzy responded with a slight agitated tone as though
they were questioning her professionalism.
She then retrieved a pair of
very odd looking gloves from the desk and put them
onto her hands while the other three people left the
room. I was sure she was annoyed and had
intentionally put on the gloves in front of them to
show how professional she truly was.
Without any thought or spoken
gesture on my part she immediately sought out the box
that contained the diary and rested it on top of the
desk. I leant in for a closer look as she removed the
lid of the box. There was layer after layer of soft
padding material that she removed before the dairy
was revealed. The heart of my soul tingled as I saw
the dairy resting at the bottom of the box looking
like nothing more than a rectangular lump of stained
"You're curious aren't
you?" Lizzy whispered softly as she gently
lifted the book out of the box.
I couldn't tell if she was
talking to me on a subconscious level or herself so I
remained silent, but I would have been lying if I
said I wasn't tempted to peek inside.
She then held up the book
toward the light as if trying to make out the pattern
on the front but it was indistinguishable from the
staining of so many years of decomposition. It may
have survived far longer if it hadn't been bound in
such a manner so I pleased that it had been.
As Lizzy rested the diary
flat upon the desk and carefully attempted to open
the cover it was clear that the entire book had
clumped together in one solid state and would only
crumble if forced apart. Cordelia's secret was safe.
My work was done and it was
time for me to return to the afterlife. I headed over
to the middle of the hall, closed my eyes and crossed
arms resting each hand upon my shoulders. After a few
deep intake of breaths I began to fade away looking
forward to my eternal happiness once more.
"So they were witches
after all!" Lizzy blurted out with excitement as
she jumped to her feet.
Chapter 7 - Surprise!
It took no more than a brief
second for me to reappear in the middle of the hall
once more and to hurry over to Lizzy in an attempt to
see what she had discovered. I had no intention of
viewing the contents of Cordelia's diary, for it was
personal and I always suspected contained details
relating to a romantic encounter, but for Lizzy to
conclude we were witches then there must have been
something far more sinister inside. If Cordelia hadn't
been convicted of witchcraft due to the act of
unmatrimonial sex then what had she done? Before my
own demise the judge informed me that she was
witnessed offering her body and soul to Satan,
leading me to make assumptions as to her real actions,
had I been wrong all along?
Lizzy left the open diary on
top of the desk as she hurried out of the room with
excitement eager to tell someone what she discovered.
Very slowly I looked down at
its contents trying to glance rather than read what
was inside. The once silky white paper of the
luxurious diary was in a dilapidated state and the
page was torn in two due to the forceful opening by
Lizzy, but some of the words were visible along with
a diagram of a pentangle.
I couldn't look any further
and darted my eyes away not believing my own eyes. In
the hundreds of years spent in the afterlife I
wondered why my dear sister had never mentioned it.
My mind span as I tried to think clearly while I
reminded myself that where were no such thing as
witches and that my sister was innocent, even if on
occasion she had dabbled in the occult.
"It's a spell book not a
diary," Lizzy said with excitement as she came
rushing back in while the man in the brown jacket
I stepped to one side as
Lizzy momentarily looked in my direction. For a
moment she appeared to stare as though sensing my
presence then dismissed it.
"I believe this belonged
to the girl who was hanged for witchcraft,"
Lizzy told the man as she held the book in her gloved
"Her name's Cordelia!"
I quickly said firmly not wishing my dear sister to
be referred to as the girl.
"Her name was Cordelia,"
Lizzy continued while still speaking to the man in
the brown jacket, "She believed she could
communicate with the dead, specifically angels, by
mixing certain herbs together. Obviously it's all
nonsense but at the time people felt it was
Lizzy started to read out the
readable words on the open page of the diary while I
closed my eyes feeling at peace that no one in the
modern world would believe in its contents anyway.
The diary would be viewed as the ramblings of a crazy
woman and nothing more, for it wasn't possible to
communicate with the dead.