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Hag.
#1
Hag.

"Do yer' think 'ah could have yon milk now...?" she asked and stepping away from the hearth, Wicked Hetty
adjusted the remains of her dress and watched the wide-eyed young man brandishing the kitchen knife.
In a dream, that youngster would be of a braver stock and look towards vanquishing this wretched Witch
that had invaded my home. But this is reality and that panting boy is me.

"...Midnight always finds me thirsty" she cooed and beguilingly stroked my late-mother's crocheted quilt
lying over the back of the rocking chair.

The clock on the mantlepiece ticked on past the witching hour and in the golden light of the blazing
fire, I could see the terrible skinny frame of the intruder before me. Adjusting my grip on the wooden
handle of the only weapon that can save me from the thing that lived in the well, I waited for the woman
to pounce.

"Yer' a good-lookin' lad, has anyone ever telled yer' that?" the creature whispered as she slowly moved
around the room. The smell of long-forgotten vegetables floated in the air between us and with every
step of her filthy bare-feet, my stomach churned with the stink.

The milk that Hetty had commented on, sat on the table with my late-night supper of a slice of buttered
bread and a chunk of homemade cheese. The drink and cheese was from the only cow we had left and
since my Father was still in Underhill, it could be said that the single livestock was mine.
I was the guard tonight.

My Mother had died during the snowstorm of last winter and since then, my Pa had let the farm go.
I had tried to do the repairs on the barn and even though his treks to the tavern in the village became
more-and-more frequent, I could see that I was failing to fix the real problem in the only home I had
ever known, my Pater's heart.

"Did yer' know Judas liked to eat cheese...?" the harridan said candidly. "It's true, the betrayer always
had a weakness fur' a slice of rat" Nearing the wooden table, the toothless mouth stretched into the
nearest feature she could muster to a smile.
I wanted to ask who this Judas-fellow was, but the terror stayed my hand.

"Leave the meal alone" I warned, moving the blade with faux-menace and I could swear Hetty heard
the weakness in my growl. The wind stirred the flames in the fire again and the ghostly moan from up
the chimney only underlined how lonely the whole scene had become.

The witch placed her long taloned-hands behind her back and sighed as she eyed the fare-denied,
it was what the young Lord up on the moors would call a stalemate. The clock tapped it's foot as the
quietness prowled the room.

"If yer' let me eat yer' supper, 'ah'll pay yer' with counsel..." the swamp-voice slid from under the lank
strands of black hair. "...There are things in the world that can be a boon to a lad like yer'self" Hetty
added and tossed in a giggle that sounded like a heron swallowing a fat toad.
"Egg in yer' beer -so to speak" and the wolf-grin came again.

I breathed in deeply through my nose and prayed that my Father would return tonight. The woman
from Hell was beginning to gain ground and even though I was of twelve years, a man I was not.
I would cede, it was only a matter of time.

"Aye, time... it's a bugger" Wicked Hetty hissed and my all-at-sea stomach rolled again as I realised
the charmer was reading my thoughts. "...But fur' a nibble of yer' matzah, this lady will tell yer' trues
that can make yer' a future that the bonny lasses will water to" she announced and took a single step
closer.
"A veritable feast, nay?" she offered and because I am just a weak child, I nodded.


The fire called to my dreams as I sat in the rocking chair that my Mother had favoured. The wind
was still lurking around outside as the night blundered towards the dawn and probably, as I gazed
into the flames, my downfall.

The hopes of daylight seemed a hundred acres away and the wish to hear the sparrows waking
in the eaves was a longing that only children hold to, when the bogeyman would leave the darkness
of under the bed and the warm breath of your mother would alight on your brow.

Hetty sucked on her bread and watched me from beneath her matted mane. "Yer' miss yer Ma?"
she asked flatly and waving a grimy-finger towards the earthen jug, I nodded to her in agreement
of my woe and for her to refill her cup.
She drank and sighed her contentment.

"What are you going to do to me?" I asked into the fire and steeled myself for the terrible answer.
The knife lay on the stone hearth and near enough for me to snatch if called upon, but my heart had
already told me that I was the lesser in the room now.

With a belch to underscore of her filling, the Witch from the watering hole leaned forward and placed
her broomstick arms on each side of the empty plate. My eyes ached to seek comfort of the knife at
my feet and yet, I watched for the interloper called Wicked Hetty.

"Yer'll be thinkin' that 'ah'll be wantin' to chew on yer' soul or that little-thing between yer' legs, divn't yer?"
Hetty rasped and suddenly fell into a fit of choking laughter. I could have killed her then... I could have.
The cemetary that was her mouth proved that two gravestones of ivory still existed there as she shrieked
at her filfthy-thoughts and her depraved musings.
The knife was still there.

The mirth was short-lived as the coughing took her body and threw it onto the wooden floorboards
with a verve that whiffed of demon possesion or the Saint Vitus' dance that I'd heard of from the
priest in the village. As her wretched gown rode up over her legs, I was forced to witness her dirt
-smeared form buck and shudder in her prone torment.
My heart waved goodbye to my childhood.

It seemed like a minute -or a month later, when the convulsion eased and Hetty caught her breath
and rose from the floor. "Eeeh, yer a bugger" she tutted and I wasn't sure she was talking to me.
The time, the precious time of my life moved with the pace of the snails that slept in the lea of the
thatched roof as Hetty gathered herself at the table.

"The swallows are gatherin' on the wire and me-bones aren't what they used to be..." the thick tones
eeled their way to where I was sitting. "...And the bill is always to be paid"
Dragging a stale breath down her scrawny throat, Wicked Hetty began.

"Hear this lad, fur' what 'ah'm tellin' thee are secrets that will fill yer' decendants pockets and empty
yer' young body of lust.

The heavens are filled with glue that has no substance and doesn't twinkle with light.
Old Scratch will come and seduce the land with coins of whispered trivia.
Candlelight will burn on the moon and the sea will become hungry fur' land.
The doorways into other realms will be opened by breaking the small.
Ghosts will talk in boxes and their falsehoods will taste of sugar.

The skies will fill with shining birds and deadly arrows, Man will war in the name of yer' Gods and
kill with eyes that are not his own.
Honour will become somethin' vanished and the weak will be mocked on vines of deceit.
The cart will be ousted fur' a dragon that bellows it's venom into the clouds and noble currency of
sweat will be replaced by the doubloon of covetness.
For Mankind, love will fall into the abyss of the deviant and the wolves of lechery will scramble and
snack at each other within the walls of the castle.

Heed my words, for they have the veracity of the saints and swim in the tears of rectitude"

Throughout the entire speech, the witch had her eyes closed and a green glow seemed to emanate
from her whip-thin body. The smell of decay had been replaced with the scent of something I would
only appreciate in my later life. The smell of an aroused woman.

It was only when the glimpse of a breakfast-foraging mouse skittering along the window-sill caught
my eye, did I return from the spell Hetty had created during her parlance. The words dripped with
wonderment and unsettling.

"But old-Hetty knows that yer'll be needin' to prime the pump..." she growled and sucking another
gob of air over her quivering lips, she forced herself to her feet. "...Me-final part of the payment will
set yer' on yer' path"

The welcoming air of the dawn outside seeped into the room and began it's scrimmage with the fire's
embers and the bouquet of ruin from the woman in the rags that had allowed it in.
The open door tickled my mind with hints of escape and skedaddle, a waking land of dew-soaked
undergrowth and yawning deer.

The sun dance on the tips of the corn sheaves that stood near the broken fence that I'd promised
myself I would repair before Autumn and the smells of the day talked to the wild-thing that awaits
inside all boys. Fishing with a pole and the feel of a girl's hair.

"Aye, yer' can run to the woods and sit with the rabbits..." Hetty consoled "...but would yer' Ma be
proud of yer' hotfoot?" The sight of her skin-stretched hips hiding under the sunlight-allowing robe
made me turn away from her silhouette at the doorway and deftly plucking the knife from the hearth,
I stepped towards the entrance and stood beside the devil's daughter.

A Blackbird began it's boastful chorus in a nearby elderberry bush as we left the stale atmosphere
of my home and soaked in the vista of our dusty farmyard. The Witch and the boy... in formation.
The earth turned and the cow would need milking. More trues.

"When you see fourteen summers, you will travel past the meadows on the other side of Underhill
and reach a place called 'Auld Cloots 'O The Green'" Hetty said softly.
The daylight seemed to take away any of the menace that I had imagined during the night and
now, I felt I was just standing in the morning with a foolish, smelly vagrant.
But a deal is a deal.

"Oh it is" the crone agreed and I would swear she wanted to pat my shoulder. But she didn't.
"The hamlet is known for it's making of ale and the twisted spire of it's church." the scruffy Witch
supplemented and for a second, the flight of the passing swallows seemed more interesting.

"Heed me, boy or 'ah'll take yer across me knee..." Hetty growled "...'Ah'm puttin' thee on yer'
path to great destiny" and without a glance, wandered away to where the remaining three hens
pecked among the dirt near the well.

"People are like the seeds these buggers search fur' and what 'ah'm tellin' yer will make yer'
the cock of the rock, son... yon revelations will come in handy to a man that ploughs a wake in
history" she said off-handedly as she suddenly reached for the brown chicken near the wooden
horse trough.
"She's a beauty, is she not?" Hetty asked as she stroked the frightened bird under her arm and
pondered the sunlight on the surface of the contained water.

I realised that the nightmare-that-was-now-a-daymare, was not going to go away until she had
delivered her prattle and so I nodded and walked to where she waited.
"Smart boy" she whispered and dared to nudge me with her dirty elbow.

"The village is also known for a strange rock that resides in the centre of it's well-kept green
and protruding from the stone is a sword... your sword" Hetty imparted during her poultry-petting.

"On the day you take that falchion, you will place your feet on the terrace to kingship" she said
and released the hen back to it's feathery kin. The half-assed fluttering dowsed the drama of her
action and she knew it.

Wicked Hetty -the Woman of The Well, went home then, the soft shuffling of her bare feet in the
yard's dust sounded like the final breaths of a man who had awoke inside his own coffin.
Without any fanfare, the skeleton-that-cackled slid over the stone edge and was gone.

Vowing I would never pull water from that cistern again, I began my chores and attempted to shrug
off the strangeness of the previous darkness.

"Psst..." the female staring over the smooth-stoned rampart of the well -hissed. "...What is your name,
me-lad?"

I could have hurled the knife right then and purged my soul of the words she'd imparted to me last night,
I could have had her body hauled up out of that well and in the ground before my Father came home at
noon. I could have.

"Arthur..." I said cautiously "...My name is Arthur" and that awful smile came again.
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#2
Poor, Poor Arthur,,,,,,,,,  minusculeclap
Once A Rogue, Always A Rogue!
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#3
Nicely done sir!
Nicely done.
G




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#4
YOU FOUND HER!   tinywhat   I've been wondering what happened to cousin Hetty for years! 


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#5
AWESOME!!!

minusculeclap
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