The Thorn in Your Paw

Henry was cursed seventeen years ago and until now, the curse has lain domant. Just when everyone had begun to relax, a serious of murders occur on and around town, forcing the town to call a Witch Hunt and soon Henry will figure out why he was never liked in town and what the big secret his mother has been keeping from him is.

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1. Cursed

Francine's screams filled the house.  Frank's hand shook each time she howeled in pain, spilling cheap whiskey that the doctor had brought all over the floor.  He was alone in their kitchen with a single, half-burnt candle lighting the darkness that filled the whole house and outside. 

 

He had known that Francine was having a difficult pregnacy but he had put it down to it being her first child that had come to full term and the stress of it.  And the hunger.  The nawing, endless hunger.  All the food they had farmed this year had been used to pay the tax that Lord Manning had emposed upon them.  What else could they do? 

 

Frank tipped the last of his drink down his throat but his hand shook as Francine screamed again, the loudest so far.  When the scream had subsided, through the silence he could hear the town-doctor ordering Francine to push while she sobbed and wailed hopelessly.  Frank's whole body was shaking.  It was his fault.  It was his fault.  It was his fault.  He ran his hands through his hair and rubbed his stinging eyes with the base of his palms.  He had to get away from this.

 

He slammed his cup onto the cracked and chipped wooden table and flung open the front door.  He stormed out and kept walking until the only screams he could hear were in his head.  His house was on the very edge of town, at most ten yards from the forest and just a little bit farther than that from the fields he worked in the summer.  The summer.  It seemed so far away this far into winter when frost and snow touched everything in sight. 

 

He collapsed suddenly onto his knees and screamed.  It was so unfair.  It was all his fault.  He was a terrible husband, a worse farmer and most likely a useless father too.  He stared down at his scarred hands, they were hard and calloused from years of work.  Would his son be here in twenty, thirty years?  Staring the rest of his misarble existance in the face while his family slowly starved?  Lifetimes of misery, one after another? 

 

He rose unsteadily to his feet; maybe that whiskey hadn't been as watered down as he had thought.  A small glowly light shone from within the depths of the forest.  The witch's hut.  A cursed place.  Her garden was always full of blossoming food all year round, never harvested and completely untouched.  Starving men had stolen from her before and had simply disappeared. 

 

Frank found himself wandering closer and closer, licking his dry and cracked lips.  One or two potatoes, maybe some carrots; just enough to make a simple stew.  He reached the cottage quickly enough.  Her garden was protected by only a simple wooden fence that Frank slipped through easily.  He picked an armful of vegtables and then slipped back through the fence.  He paused for a minute, his ears pricked listening.  Nothing; he sighed with relief and then took off like a jack-rabbit back home.  It was eerily silent back inside his house. 

 

Frank could hear the doctor moving around in the bedroom and quickly hid the vegetables just in time.  The doctor opened the door and tip-toed out of the room silently.  Frank's face must have shown the fear he felt deep within.  The doctor tried to half-smile but it turned out more like a grimance. 

   "Mother and child are fine, Frank," spoke the doctor quietly.  "But exhausted." 

Frank thanked the doctor and offered to cut a small blanket that Francine had knitted as payment but the doctor simply shook his head and left with his bag and half-empty bottle of whiskey.  Frank looked at the stove once the doctor had shut the door and smiled; they would not be hungry tonight.  

 

 

 

 

 

When he had finished the stew, Frank brought it into his wife.  He found her lying in bed, her head propped up by one of her arms, while the other arm was stroking their baby softly.  Frank lay the bowel of the ground and helped his wife sit up before handing her the food.  She stared at it questioningly. 

   "Where did you get this food, Frank?" she asked uncertainly.

   "The doctor," answered Frank automatically.  His wife pursed her lips but did not question him. 

 

Frank held his child in his arms as she stirred the soup thoughtfully.  Their own beautiful child.  They'd been trying for so long that it had seemed nigh on impossible.  Finally though they had achieved it and it couldn't be more beautiful with the small tuft of hair, still slightly damp, and the small button nose.  The moment was perfect. 

 

That was until the widow-shutters suddenly blew open.  A figure shrouded in darkness stood outside nearly a foot away.  It had its hood pulled around it's face but wind swept at it's skirts, lifting them to reveal twisted shoes.  The sign of a witch. 

 

The dark figure rasied one knarled and brown-spotted hand.  It snapped it's forefinger and thumb and the candle lighting the bedroom went out suddenly, sending them into darkness.  The silent darkness lasted a few seconds, and suddenly the candle lit again and the window shutters were shut and the figure was inside the room.  Frank yelped and Francine jumped so high that her stew spillt all over her. 

  "You stole from my garden," spat the witch, her face still hidden.  "Your wife's and your life is my forfeiture."

  "No!" whispered Francine.  Frank sat in silence, his whole body limp.  He had dropped his child in the midst of the darkness and yet, it had not cried out.  That was the only thought that entered his head.  Why hadn't it cried out?  Francine grabbed his hand which shook Frank from his stupour.  "How could you?!" she accused him.

  Frank turned wide-eyed to the crone.  "You musn't!  We are a cursed family but spare us, I beg thee!"

  The witch's lips curled.  "Cursed?" she repeated.  "I shall show thee cursed."

  Frank winced as Francine squeezed his hand tighter.  The witch flicked her fingers again and the candle blew out again. 

 

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