Unholy Trinity: Devils’ Work by Jameson Grey
Our church worships at the altar of the Unholy Trinity. Its gospels are delivered as a trio of dark drabbles, linked so that Three become One. All hail the power of the Three.
Devils’ Work draws its inspiration from the European folk horror cinema of the late 60’s and early 70’s, especially films such as Witchfinder General and Mark of the Devil.
The drabbles in this triptych offer three versions of the same event.
The crowd always came in numbers to see God’s work fulfilled, braying enthusiastically as the heathen was transported to the market square. Laughing and joking, thrilling with anticipation on this fine summer morning.
The executioner was preparing the kindling.
“My child,” the preacher began. “Seize this final opportunity to redeem your soul before you are borne to the flames of hell. Come back to God.”
The prisoner, wild-eyed, shook her head.
“See how she refuses,” the executioner crowed. “She is unrepentant.” He loosened the tethers and the crowd cheered as another innocent victim was sacrificed to the fires of humanity.
“We’re doing more than God’s work, turnkey,” the inquisitor had said.
“More than God, sire?”
The inquisitor had slapped him down for such insolence.
He stood, watching the execution, remembering the uncommon pleasure he’d taken from extracting the witch’s confession, her squirming against the heretic’s fork. He did wish he’d also taken out her tongue, so she’d not be able to use this last chance to deny the false charges he’d laid against her – revenge for scorning his advances.
The inquisitor recalled the burning of her flesh from the hot irons. It was a scent he would soon relish again.
“This is not God’s work!” I cried, breaking petrified silence.
The bonds bit into my wrists as I was lowered. “I have been falsely accused. The inquisitor lies!” The crowd’s cackles mingled with the crackle of the inferno below.
My throat burned. “‘If there is a God, there will be a reckoning for this day. You’ll all pay – for this – in…humanity!” I choked, stifled by fire.
As the flames began to lick the skin from my flesh, I rued the cruel injustice – that my denying the inquisitor the heat of his monstrous passion should bring me to this fiery death!
Jameson Grey is originally from England but now lives with his family in western Canada. He also spent time in Asia as a child, which he understands makes him a fully-fledged third culture kid (TCK).
His fiction and poetry have been published by Ghost Orchid Press, Black Hare Press and Hellbound Books.
He can be found online at jameson-grey.com and (occasionally) on Twitter @thejamesongrey.
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Stephanie Ellis writes dark speculative prose and poetry and has been published in a variety of magazines and anthologies. Her longer work includes the folk horror novels, The Five Turns of the Wheel, Reborn, and The Woodcutter, and the novellas, Bottled and Paused (all via Brigids Gate Press). Her dark poetry has been published in her collections Lilith Rising (co-authored with Shane Douglas Keene), Foundlings (co-authored with Cindy O’Quinn) and Metallurgy, as well as the HWA Poetry Showcase Volumes VI, VII, VIII, and IX and Black Spot Books Under Her Skin. She can be found supporting indie authors at HorrorTree.com via the weekly Indie Bookshelf Releases. She is an active member of the HWA and can be found at https://stephanieellis.org and on Blue Sky as stephellis.bsky.social.