The Witch’s Tombstone Revisited

I hope you’ll be happy to hear I’ve destroyed the writer’s block demon and am moving forward with substantive revision on The Dark Menace and proceeding at a decent clip with The Witch’s Tombstone, my latest work in progress. It didn’t hurt that I took three days off over the weekend and had the opportunity to clear my mind by spending time on my awe-inspiring beachfront property. The beautiful scenery never ceases to invoke a sense of peace and inspiration.

It might have also helped that I had a terrible nightmare the other night in which, armed with a chainsaw, I found myself attacking and indeed slicing and dicing demons with it. It was deeply disturbing but I believe the nightmare acted as a cleansing mechanism of sorts, my mind’s way of taking out the trash.

The Witch’s Tombstone will be a supernatural thriller combining researched elements of the myth of the Prince Edward Island witch Paddy McGuinness, the real life tragedy of Minnie McGee and the legend of the witch of Port LaJoie. It has been reported on social media that Paddy McGuinness supposedly poisoned children in the late 1800s or early 1900s and was publicly hanged for her crimes. I’ve found zero evidence to support these claims, let alone the existence of a female witch called Paddy McGuinness.

The tragedy of Minnie McGee, on the other hand, is a true story of a troubled and abused woman who poisoned many of her children to death in in 1912 by soaking phosphorous matches in tea and giving it to them. She was originally sentenced to hang but the community rallied around her and her sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. There is a lot of evidence to support the story and even a book or two on the subject.

Still in the research stages with respect to the witch of Port LaJoie, I’m hoping to find some dark and mysterious facts to add credibility and menace to The Witch’s Tombstone. When I have a clearer idea of where I’m going with it, I’ll post an update. In the meantime, to whet your appetite, here is the prologue. Enjoy.

 

The Witch’s Tombstone Prologue.

The executioner slipped the rope around her neck and grinned through an improvised black balaclava. “You’re going to burn in hell.” He lifted the potato sack from her head and tightened the rope, just enough to pinch skin.

She felt a stinging rope-burn pain. She winced. Her heart rate accelerated. Beads of sweat sprouted on her forehead in the stifling heat. She blinked several times, adjusting to bright sunshine. One sweat ball dripped into her green eye and she squirmed. But she couldn’t wipe it away. Her hands and feet were tightly bound to the gallows with thick rope. She blinked twice more, trying to clear the salty bead of perspiration away. Slowly her vision cleared.

The hangman stepped back and ceremoniously bowed.

Hundreds of onlookers, gathered to witness the public hanging, erupted in applause and then began chanting, “Burn in hell, witch. Burn in hell.”

Minnie McGuinness surveyed the anxious eyes and smiling faces of men, women and children alike. Her quivering lips tightened. She waited until a hushed silence fell over the crowd before speaking. “I’m innocent. I didn’t kill anybody.”

“Burn in hell, witch. Burn in hell.”

“It’s all a big mistake,” she pleaded. “I wouldn’t kill my own children. I’ve been framed. Please… please. Let me go.”

As the crowd of death-hungry people began to erupt again, the executioner turned to them and raised a darkly cloaked arm. “Silence, please.”

He waited until order and calm was restored before continuing. “You, Minnie McGuinness, have been found guilty of starting a cult of heretics. You have also been found guilty of poisoning your own children and poisoning many children of this community—several of whom are now dead as a result of your efforts…”

A cackling-voiced woman interrupted the executioner. “You killed my little Joshua. For that you’ll die.” She flung an egg into the air. It struck Minnie in the head and shattered. Yellow yolk and clear egg-white began oozing down her long black and gray streaked hair and onto her forehead.

“Enough,” the executioner demanded. The cat calls were reduced to a hushed murmur before silence prevailed.

He continued. “As well as heresy and murder, you have also been found guilty of witchcraft. For all of these crimes you have shown no remorse. For all of these crimes you will be publicly executed at the gallows. Death by hanging, after which your evil corpse will be burned at a stake so we might rid the world forever of the evil which you possess. Now is your chance, Minnie, to show remorse and make your peace with God. Do you have any last words?”

She felt egg yolk snake down her forehead, onto her nose and into her left eye. She blinked several times but her left eye vision grew cloudy, elongating the audience into a garish band of circus side show freaks.

She cleared her throat. Might just as well give them a piece of my mind. There’s no hope now. They’ll never believe me. “First of all, I didn’t kill anybody, least of all my own children. My herbal remedies cure the sick. They perform miracles but have nothing to do with witchcraft. For all of my accusers and all the people who framed me, may you all burn in hell. Bunch of religious hypocrite liars. Burn in hell… all of you!”

More jeers, shouts and screams. More flying eggs. More flying rocks. All of them missed the intended mark. Then a hushed silence fell over the crowd as the executioner waved the hand of death.

Minnie heard a sharp metallic clunk, felt the trap door beneath her swing open, and instantly the noose tightened powerfully around her throat. She heard a bone-rattling snapping sound and felt excruciating pain as her last breaths were slowly suffocated out of her.

As her life ebbed away, she watched the crowd, who were now jeering, chanting and clapping. Several eggs and a half a dozen rocks were again flung at her. As if by divine intervention, all of them missed her. However, one egg did splatter the darkly masked face of the executioner, sending him leaping around the gallows and waving his arms in a fit of rage.

As the black curtain of death closed in around Minnie, she imagined herself in a much younger body, in a much better time, living a much better life.

Then she smiled and died.

Thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave comments below. Have a terrific day.

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