“Oh, how you’ve been tricked, my boy. Oh, what damage you’ve caused, my poor, poor boy. You think your story’s over, but it’s hardly even started. No idea. You’ve no idea what’s ahead of you. Poor boy. Poor, poor boy.”
The next thing Philippe knew were these words being whispered over and over in his ear. A soft voice, close to his head spoke gently and carefully, full of compassion and strength. For a long time he slept, not sure whether he was alive or dead, with this voice and these words his only connection to the world. When eventually he opened his eyes, it was to a strange place indeed. A tiny cottage hidden deep in the woods with warm red rugs draped over every surface and a flickering light from a dozen candles glittering and sparkling through the glass flowers and bright silver charms which hung and swayed on long lengths of string from the ceiling above him. He was lying on a bed in the corner of this room. By his side was a small, old woman who was gently washing his forehead with a cool flannel soaked in lavender water. Her eyes were sharp and wide and a great smile spread across her face when she saw Philippe was waking at last.
“He lives!” she said, a chuckle of gleeful satisfaction rattling through her as she turned to collect a glass of water with which to wet his lips. While she turned, Philippe saw that she wore around her neck a silver talisman of a bird’s skull which, in these parts, indicated the wearer to be a witch of some great power. He did not find this alarming, though. There was something so gentle and tender about the old woman’s demeanour and so comforting about the place she lived that he felt nothing but safe in her presence.
“You’ve been asleep a long time, my boy. And a good thing too, because you’ll need all the strength you can muster if you are to come through the test you have ahead of you. Here, drink this and eat and when you are finished I will tell you all about it.”
(This is a short extract taken from a longer story. To read the full version for free, please visit us here. Thanks for reading.)
‘The Shorecliff Horror and other stories’ is Chapbook number three of four volumes forthcoming from the Olgada Press during 2015.