The Burning Field, Part 3

The Burning Field, Part 3

There was forest fire, choking smoke, and wind-blown embers everywhere. Wind whipped the barks of trees red hot, too hot to touch and the forest glowed red in the dark. It was night. The burned trunks looked like an apocalyptic cityscape with embers glowing as lights in windows and shops.

Along a burned ridge, a woman stepped through the blowing red cinders as she descended the slope, holding to burned tress and surveying the destruction through smoke-filled watery eyes. The cinders flew danced around her feet and around her legs as she walked through what used to be the brush of a forest. She wore the unlikely combination of tan slacks and black patent leather high heeled shoes. The bottom hem of her pant legs was black from the soot and her stockings melted to her legs. Where she stepped, ash plumes curled around her feet.

Black ash and burning cinders covered the ground where there should have been grass and green. A forest fire had swept through here not long ago and it was still red hot. Smoke rolled up from a hundred black trunks of burned trees. She exhaled smoke through her expensive sculpted nose.

And yet her teeth chattered from the cold. She shivered and wrapped her arms around herself.

Hannah was big – six feet tall, curvy in chest and hips, with flowing chestnut hair. She held to a hot tree as she descended the steep last few feet to the valley below. Her face was the face of a goddess, suitable for any fashion magazine. Her beauty and style was polished and pampered, paid by her family’s wealth and her own. She was a self-made millionaire. She dressed for business every day wearing either a suit and tie, or a pantsuit. Smiling, she breathed in the searing-hot air – she welcomed it. She rubbed her large chest over her suitcoat feeling the fire come into her lungs. It was warm!

This out-of-place, tall woman picked up a trot in her heels down into the flat valley. There was still some flames here. Up the next ridge to the north the forest fire still raged. The smoke here was as thick as London fog.

She had dreamed of this fire, tormented by this dream for weeks. Every night she rolled in bed, freezing inside, longing to immerse herself into this fire. She kept the thermostat up, way up. Her house staff complained. She did not care. When she awoke from these dreams, she remembered this place as a burning place, a place she must remember. She was desperate to melt the maddening cold.

And she found it! It was in Kentucky across the river and miles due south from River Bend.

She looked at her surroundings. She smiled. She knew this was the place of her dreams. The stream ran below the north ridge, the large, flat, burning meadow, all of it was the way she dreamed it. She put a fist on her hip and snorted smoke out her nose. She had arrived.

Hannah bit her lip and shivered form cold. She was so tired of being cold. She laid down onto the red cinders and it was warm. She gathered the cinders of the burn over her in piles. She piled cinders onto her belly and it was warm! It burned and stung her skin. It singed away her hair and it stank. But, she did not care, she rolled in the red cinders and her clothes caught fire. The fire consumed her shoes.

Oh! Delicious fire! She burned!

She slept like death for hours as the fire burned. It was nearly dawn when she awoke.

The fire had burned away all her clothes and she was naked in it. Fire roared over her, in her, through her. She laughed as her skin and muscle peeled away. Her muscle and bone boiled and grew back and repeated. Her bones popped from the heat and grew back together, her limbs melted, cracked and snapped, and grew back stronger. Hannah became thinner, gaunt, and stronger – sinewy, and her clothes returned but they were not the same clothes.

She rolled and got on her hands and knees, and stood on wobbly legs. The flames died away. She wore a perfectly clean, solid white robe with hood. She looked down at herself and new chestnut hair fell across her bosom. She was barefoot and she floated off the red cinders a foot above the ground.

Hannah’s eyes were emerald green.

“The fire in this place will never end, never be quenched,” she said. She waved her hand and fire followed her arm. Hovering for a moment, she turned and faced east. Settling to the ground she walked barefoot toward a burned-out stand of trees. Her bare feet stepped onto red cinders and sent up plumes of black smoke. She reached the burnt trees and raised her arms. Burned limbs from all round the charred forest floated to her and affixed themselves across trees forming walls.

“I will construct my fortress here,” she said. She wheeled around and hissed! “Who watches me!”

***

The two Elves, Kaitee and Meann, sat upright in their new bed, out of breath from the nightmare, panting.

“A witch!” they said in unison. In their dream, the white-robed and long-eared female Ancestors took them to a place of fire. And they watched her take form in the fire and embers! They saw the fire make her. The worst of it was, the green-eyed horror looked to the sky and saw them looking at her!

***

Hannah waved her hand and spoke in an unknown tongue. The Elves sight into the Witch’s domain closed. There would be no more spies, no more peepers into her realm. The spell was a ward of privacy, and a very powerful one. At the same time, it warded against prying human eyes, ones she did not want. Daylight broke over the east ridge and she needed to get busy.

As her fortress grew around the burned trees, Hannah caught one of the charred limbs flying to her walls and stepped into the meadow with it in hand. She put the end of the stick to the ground and scraped a large circle in the red embers and drew a strange symbol in the center resembling an inverted triangle with the eye of Horus in the center. Her white robe glowed bright as she held the stick over her head. She spun round. She screamed out in a language never heard in these parts. It was Eastern European.

“Moja moc sa zhromaždí ku mne!” She held the stave high in the air. “Privediem svoj hnev na svojich nepriateľov!”

She twirled in place, her long chestnut hair flying and she held the stave high. “Nebesa si na moju kúzlu zaplatí moju záchranu!”

Fire streamed forth from the ground and danced across the stick. She threw her head back and laughed. Lightning cracked, thunder boomed and she roared laughing. It blasted the stick in a shower of sparks and light. The witch’s green eyes glowed. Lightning struck down, fire spewed up, and bathed her staff. Thunder boomed and rolled.

At the height of nature’s upheaval, she slammed the stick into the burned earth and it began to change form. A ring of green glowing light at the ground circled the stick and traveled up the length of it changing it. It became a white ivory staff with a big, green, glowing emerald in a three-pronged setting on the top. Once the ring of green ended, the sky cleared and the fire retreated. It was complete.

She stepped from her circle and it dissipated and blew away. She marveled at her staff, looking it over, every inch. She pointed it at the newly forming walls of her fortress and they became stone. As the forest provided her with burned branches and debris, her magic turned those dead burned branches into stone walls and floors.

Hannah entered her creation through the arched door – a fortress in the char. She smiled deviously and gathered burned limbs and created a beautiful chair. She sat as the building built itself around her. Leaning back and closing her eyes she sent out a call. Ohers were out there feeling the pull of this place, she could feel them feeling it. She would guide them here. But, there was one she would call to first – a man. She felt him the strongest. She felt him in her loins.

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New Story, The Rule

Anonymous wrote this about The Rule. There are some spoilers:

Hi Tom,

Your title grabbed me. It told too little to guess anything about the story, and it was too intriguing to ignore. It’s a good title. You could say the rule is what gets Kelly killed.

(…) skipping spoilers

Your writing is to-the-point, and you don’t shy away from difficult topics or scenes. It’s something I appreciate… The story is sad indeed, in the “this needs to be written about” kind of sad. What I mean is that this story could have happened, and maybe did (though I hope not).

Kelly’s character is described in precise strokes, in how he speaks, what he wears, the feelings he has for Devin. I think the name “Kelly” is feminine too, is it not? At any rate, his characterisation is excellent, and there is just too much to it for me to quote all bits that make me imagine him so clearly. I feel bad for him, that his life ended the way it did. He may have been a transgender, but we’ll never know.

You addressed the issue of guilt, of who has the fault. I’m glad you did, because it’s a question with no answer, but the story would have felt incomplete without it. It gets the reader to think, as well. We still have discrimination nowadays, although in most countries it has gotten much better.

Your story is not only sad, but revolting. The contrast between the peace and love attitude, and Kelly having to abide by the rule of not showing his feelings, not following his heart, is striking. I enjoyed reading it for the way you handle the words and craft the story, but the thematic left a lump in my throat.

Well done.

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