Unholy Trinity: Witch Hunt by Deborah Tapper
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.
One, Two, Buckle My Shoe
They dragged Tolly away and tortured him for days, crushing his feet until bones shattered and the relentless boot-like vise drooled scarlet. He was chosen because I made the poppet, adding a thread stolen from the witchfinder’s cloak and mud scraped from his footprints. I named it, sewed those watchful eyes shut and buried it under the blackthorn.
Tolly crawls from the shadows again tonight, sobbing and clutching with desperate hands, his lower legs a bloody ruin. If he knew about me, he’d turn me in. But he doesn’t.
He’ll hang soon. Or burn.
Then he’ll leave me in peace.
Three, Four, Knock At The Door
The witchfinder’s men are pressing Adelise with her own door.
She’s already stretched out on the muddy ground, ropes pinning her wrists and ankles. She screams and begs as the heavy door covers her, incoherent with terror. She’s a good woman who works charms for childbirth and sickness, but that doesn’t matter.
Now they’re piling stones on top. I cover my ears. Still feel every thud, every airless wail. She’ll come tonight, writhing into my nightmares. Shapeless, smashed, eyes flopping in her wrecked skull, her broken mouth demanding justice while condemning me with that one last, suffocating word.
Five, Six, Pick Up Sticks
They’re building my pyre.
They half-drowned me. Beat me. Stabbed me with long iron nails, searching for witchmarks. Crushed my hands and feet. Tightened ropes around my head until my eyes bled. Signed the confession that I’d spat on and left me alone in darkness and filth.
Waiting to burn.
They have to carry me to the stake. Rope me up like a child’s toy, kindling piled around my legs. Spectators jostle and jeer, eager faces squeezing closer, hungry for entertainment.
So I let the fire build and build before I turn it on them.
Give them what they deserve.
Deborah Tapper is fascinated by folklore and the supernatural, lives in the middle of nowhere with her understanding partner and writes at an old desk surrounded by five hundred pet bugs.
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Originally from New Orleans, Shalini grew up with a love for the hauntingly beautiful stories, ideas and folklore that were enmeshed with the city. She also developed a deep love for words and a well-told story. Anytime those two can marry, she’s there for it. She loves stories that lure, that haunt, that pull at heartstrings or that wrap one up in fear, anxious to know what’s going to happen next.