The wind let out a mournful sigh as Annabelle walked the streets. Otherwise there was no sound, not even the cry of a bird or the bark of a hound. No villagers rushed out to accuse her.
It felt odd walking so brazenly through the center of town in plain sight. How many times had she longed to do this without fear? How many of her sisters had made the fatal mistake of showing their faces like this?
There was no one here now. The scourge had seen to that. Two of her own had succumbed to it. The others had fallen victim to the judgement of the populace.
She made her way to the prison out on the edge of town. There were no sentries to stop her. It was deserted as well.
She brazenly strolled through the open gate without fear. There was no one in sight who could give her a death warrant. No one tried to halt her, much less cry out a warning of the witch in their midst.
She wore her large hat, one she would have dared not don had the scourge not decimated the population. On top of it a raven cawed into the breeze. She smiled as she looked up and told her familiar, “There is no need to fear, Horace. There is no one to lay an accusing hand on me now.”
She felt melancholy. It surprised her to realize how lonely she was. The villagers would have attacked her for sure, marching her here to the prison to be condemned in front of a judge. But there was no judge now, no group of elders who could charge her for being a witch.
She wandered through the barracks. The breeze ruffled her skirt as it made her hat flutter. Horace cawed again as he fluttered his wings and shuffled about, causing Annabelle to let out a sad smile.
She made her way out to the courtyard. That’s where she set her eyes upon it once again. She’d seen it several times before. But this time it did not frighten her. There was only sadness at the memory of the members of her order it had claimed.
Horace cawed; the raven had seen it too. “There’ll be no hangings today, my friend,” she told the fowl reassuringly. “There is no one to carry out the command to hang me. The scourge has claimed the majority. The rest have fled to the north in hopes of escape. But there will be no mercy for them up there as the scourge will be awaiting their arrival.”
She walked up to the gallows without fear. It was an odd sensation staring at the structure that had claimed several of her kind. A lone noose still dangled, the wind setting it to swinging as though longing for one more neck.
She slowly climbed the steps, the wood creaking each time she brought her foot down. Her eyes focused on the noose before her. The breeze picked up, setting it to swinging back and forth.
“Do you want one more?” she asked with a smile as she reached the platform. “One more neck for old time’s sake? There is no one here to give the order, no one to pull the lever for you to claim me.”
A gust set the noose to swaying a little more. Horace cawed at the rope. Annabelle simply smiled with amusement.
“Eager to feel one more neck, are you? My, but you’re hungry. Do you want to claim one more life? Perhaps you’d like to take mine?”
She paused as she inspected the gallows. Images returned of the previous hangings of three of her kind. She’d witnessed them from afar, but perhaps not far enough to be able to blot out the painful memory of seeing them kick and suffer.
She walked up and grabbed the noose with a knowing smile. “I ought to throttle you in response to those you have throttled, my friend. But what would that accomplish? You are immune to such things.” Horace cawed again, the raven fluttering on her hat before readjusting his position.
Annabelle felt the melancholy return. It was not because of the loss of those she knew. It was because she was so alone. There was no one to talk to but Horace, not even a stray villager.
She stood there grasping onto the noose. The breeze diminished considerably. It was as though the wind was holding its breath.
She smiled inwardly. ‘Not today,’ she thought as though speaking in reply to the faint gust that fluttered her hat. Horace cawed before readjusting his position yet again.
A thought came to mind from out of her loneliness… ‘Why not today?’ Horace cawed as though he’d heard the thought. Annabelle looked upward at her hat.
“Why not indeed, Horace? There is nothing left for me here but ‘justice’, foul and undeserved though it may be. Surely they would hang me if they could.”
Horace cawed once more. Annabelle shook her head. “You know you shouldn’t do that, old friend. The more you try to discourage me, the more I set my mind on something.” Then she reached up and grabbed the large brim of her hat.
Horace fluttered his wings before flying off. He landed on the platform a short distance away. Annabelle set her hat down upon the platform, wondering if she had need of it anymore.
Horace cawed up at her. She looked down at the raven and smiled. “What’s the matter, old friend? I’m perfectly dressed for the occasion. There’s no one to see me like this. Why is it I now long for the eyes of some villagers to gaze upon me in my garb during my final moments?”
The raven cawed again. She scowled in reply. “Of course I’m perfectly capable! I haven’t lost my touch, you know.”
She closed her eyes as though concentrating. Annabelle deliberately brought her arms behind her back. There was a flash of sunlight behind her before she felt cords of hemp magically appear to wrap tightly around her wrists.
Horace cawed again. Annabelle scolded her familiar. “Oh be quiet. I’ll do what I please, thank you very much.” There was another anxious caw.
“My necklace? Of course I haven’t forgotten about my necklace!” Then she closed her eyes and concentrated again.
The noose moved as though guided by the breeze. It carefully looped itself over her head. Then it rested tenderly upon Annabelle’s neck.
She felt an erotic shiver. A part of her tried to ask what she thought she was doing. But she did not listen to her inner voice. Horace was putting up enough of a protest for both.
The raven cawed again. Annabelle smiled at her familiar. “How do I look?”
Caaw – caaw!
“So who asked you?”
The raven tilted his head as he looked at her. Annabelle looked at her familiar with amusement. “What; you think I can’t do it? You think I haven’t got the power? Or do you question my nerve?”
She was so lonely. There was nothing left but hours… days… weeks of isolation and solitude ahead. Friends and enemies alike – all had been taken by way of the noose or the scourge.
“You’ve been a good friend, Horace. Thus, I set you free. Go forth, unshackled by this mortal coil.”
“Not this time. I’ve made up my mind. This is my penance for watching the others hang one by one. I am tired. Perhaps it is time to join them.”
“Goodbye, old friend. Now let’s see if I can do this.”
She closed her eyes, appearing deep in concentration. Nearby the lever started to move. There was another caw as though Horace was trying to distract her from her focus.
Annabelle winced as she concentrated. She was capable of doing this one last thing, wasn’t she? Then she felt the platform give way beneath her.
She dropped only a little. She let out a cry as the noose pulled her up short. It was just as she had surmised.
The pain around her neck was more than she expected. Her legs kicked involuntarily. Instinctively she fought against the noose.
She felt a perverse thrill settle in her loins. Her womanhood winked at the ground below as she kicked and struggled. She rasped for breath, amazed how much it hurt… and how much the noose seemed to be wringing such a strange, sexual pleasure out of her.
Her sheer skirt fluttered. The breeze had picked up and was now caressing her. She could feel it tickling her swollen nub like a teasing lover…
She grimaced indignantly as she struggled to send her thoughts to her familiar. ‘Not now, Horace! Can’t you see I’m dancing for them??’
The raven craned its neck and looked all around, seeing no one. Then it cawed again. ‘You bloody bird; I’m perfectly sane!’
The pain was unlike any she had previously experienced. Her throat wanted to close off. She was reaching the point where she would not be able to concentrate much longer. That meant she would soon lose her ability to free herself if she so desired.
But did she so desire?
Horace cawed again. Annabelle nodded as she kicked extra special for her familiar. Horace deserved one last spectacle.
This platform had borne witness to so many “dancers“. Horace had witnessed many as well. One more performance for him would not make much difference.
Horace cawed again. Annabelle felt pleasure blossom between her legs. Was this what others of her kind had experienced before they’d shed their mortal coils? She could only hope there had been some small benefit for them in the midst of such excruciating pain.
Her jig became less animated as she grew weary. She did not have much energy left to put into her dance. She sensed she was reaching the point of no return.
She longed to return to her kind. But they were no longer of this world. That was easily rectified. She would simply join them wherever they happened to be.
She heard faint caws from Horace. It puzzled her brain. Was something missing?
She smiled inwardly. Then she concentrated as best she could. If only she had enough energy left.
The breeze blew against her. She gently swayed back and forth. Then she felt a coolness all over.
Ahh, success! Her nipples hardened almost immediately. The wind caressed her like a lover now that she’d shed her sheer material.
She contacted him with her last ounce of strength. ‘No, my friend. It’s better this way. Go in peace. Find others of your kind to spend the rest of your days with. Now I go to find mine. Don’t worry, it’s not so bad up here. It actually feels kind of niiiiiiiiii……….’
Annabelle went into seizures as internal organs started shutting down. She couldn’t feel her legs anymore. Horace was wailing his grief, but she could no longer hear him.
Her bladder emptied, which felt like a welcome relief. Then she gently swung back and forth as the breeze caressed her all over. Her tongue protruded as she stared with unseeing eyes. The last thing she thought she saw was the open arms of Ariel, the last witch they’d hanged from this very gallows….
Horace began to caw and caw. His wings fluttered as he took flight. He circled around her cooling corpse as she gently swung back and forth. Then with a caw of sorrow and regret he headed off.
The villagers, what few had remained, had gone north. Thus, he would go south. Something inside told him there was life waiting for him if only he would fly south…
2020 (written Mar 14 ’20 by riwa)
(Inspired by renders created by Noosegirl which I used for illustration purposes.)