Chapter 1

01Nov12

It’s NaNoWriMo. I’d better get started.

Chapter 1

“Witch!” Howled the mob in the darkness. “Burn the witch!”

They both turned, panting and wide-eyed. Her face was streaked with soot and rain. The torches glittered in the puddles and mud.

The end of the alley was suddenly thick with bodies. Black cloaked figures, sticks silhouetted above their heads.

“Run,” he said. “Run, now.”

“I can’t,” she gasped, “ I can’t go any further.”

She rested her hands across her belly and looked up at him. Her eyes filling with tears.

“Come on,” he grabbed her arm and dragged her into a low, stone doorway.

In the torchlight someone saw movement. “There they are! There!”

There was a stampede of feet slapping through the water and the filth.

He pushed on the heavy wooden door and lifted the latch. Together they stumbled down a step into darkness. He spun quickly, pushed the door shut behind, feeling for a bolt. His hand scraped across rusty metal. The bar scraped down across the wood as he wedged it into the latch.

A moment later there was a muffled thump on the thick oak. Then a clank of iron on the metal studs followed by a sudden pounding and shouting.

“Burn them… Burn them,” was all they could make out.

The cellar was pitch dark. They could smell damp, hemp and tar. He could hear her gasping and sobbing. He stepped forward and caught his shin painfully on a wooden edge. He turned and reached out blindly. He touched her sleeve, ran his hand up her arm and leant across to embrace her.

She whimpered and softened in his arms. Her wet hair brushing his chin and her stomach pressed against him.

“We can’t get out,” she murmured. “I know this place, the other way is closed. It’s always closed.”

Behind them the thuds on the door stopped. There was a scratching sound and he saw a flicker of light at the base of the door. A wisp of smoke curled up

“I’ll have to talk to them.” He paused. “I’ve got to talk to them. They don’t understand.”

“No. Don’t. They won’t listen. They think it’s witchcraft.” The light under the door flickered more brightly. He could smell the smoke, pungent with tar.

She pulled him closer. “It is witchcraft” she moaned. “They will tear us apart.”

He took a deep breath, slid his hands up to her shoulders, kissed the top of her head and stepped back.

“I’ll talk to them.”

He turned in the dark, reached out, lifted the bar and pulled open the door.



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