The Witch's Snare
The children cried, sobbed, and called out to the wind. Their ankles, from which they were hanging, were twisted and raw. Their heads ached with the blood that rushed to their faces as they hung, helpless, from the branches of gnarled trees.
From the treetops they hung, a witch looked on. Soon, she told herself, soon. Her stomach grumbled in agitation. Her impatience would soon grow.
And soon it was. Rustling through the forest: Men’s voices. The clang of metal bumping metal and feet snapping branches. A sneeze, a whisper, the sounds of anxious, desperate men.
Yes, the search party had come.
Into her cleaning cam forty armed, angry men. She grinned. Her bait had done its job. The children made noises of relief and called their parents’ names, thinking they were saved. None knew to warn them of the waiting witch hiding from view.
She leaped from her hiding place and filled the air with acrid smoke. They cried out in shock and stumbled into one another. She heard many fall, and saw many drop their weapons. Her vision, unimpeded by her own magic, danced at the prospect of so many victims. She ran through the crowd with glee, not making a sound. She sliced ankles and necks, sowing alarm and fear into the dwindling survivors.
As the smoke lifted only four men remained. They sobbed and gasped when they saw her. Filthy, with odd, disproportionate limbs. Skin so devoid of color she could have been a corpse. She, this phantom of nightmares, was smiling as they stood amidst their dead friends and family.
Her mouth was crooked, and her nose was not like those you hear about in stories. It was half melded with her face, one nostril barely there. This was a creature of hell, ready to take more souls down with her.
“Go on now. Tell them what you’ve seen,” she commanded flippantly. They ran.
I shoot up in bed, shivering as I remember the twisted gaze of the foul witch.