Welcome to Story Time Saturday!
These are flash fiction stories. My word count goal is no more than 1,000 words each story. I’ll show you the prompt, the story, and a teaser graphic.
Here is this week’s:
“Salem Mortal Trials”
In my world, magic has always existed. Witches and warlocks live side by side with necromancers, shapeshifters, and other magical beings. I’d never heard of people who didn’t possess some form of magic, that is, until the day Jeremiah Cuthbert entered my life. I never questioned what powers he had, and then, someone said there were mortals amongst us. So, began the Salem Mortal Trials…
The Danvers family sailed across the ocean with other members of the Mather Coven to start a new life in America. My parents, John and Rebecca Alden Danvers, established our home in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the settlement of Salem. We left England when rumors of my mother practicing dark magic grew rampant. It was all petty jealousy by her arch rival, Priscilla Good, and was without merit.
The infernal banging on our front door awakened me from my slumber. It was our neighbor, William Osbourne. I knelt beside the staircase railing and listened to the conversation between the portly man and my father.
“It’s the middle of the night, William. What is so important?”
“Have ye not heard? There are mortals amongst us.”
“Are ye certain?”
“Aye. I just came from Giles’ home. He wants to round up the men now.”
My father’s footsteps echoed across the planks. “What proof does he have?”
“Our newest neighbors, the Cuthberts, are a strange lot. They do not dress as we do. Deliverance said that Mistress Cuthbert developed an odd sickness a fortnight ago which she has not recovered from.”
It was true that Jeremiah and his family dressed in plain, black clothes. His father taught him and his siblings that fancy clothing was decadent. But what was wrong with colorful silks and cottons? My family was quite proud of the wealth we had amassed living in the New World.
“What type of sickness?”
“She coughs frequently and sneezes. I even heard that a fire burns beneath her skin.”
My younger sibling, Prudence, joined me in the hall. “What’s wrong, Abigail?”
I pulled her close to me. “Ye should be in bed.”
“So should ye.”
I didn’t want Father to catch us spying so, I led Prudence back to our shared room. “Do ye know the young Cuthbert girl?”
“Is she like us?”
“How do ye mean? She’s a girl.”
Prudence was only ten, too young to worry herself with such nonsense. “Never ye mind. Go back to sleep.”
After tucking Prudence beneath the covers, I stepped back into the hall, but Goodman Osbourne was gone. My father blocked my path.
“What are ye doing awake?”
“I heard the banging on the door. Why was Goodman Osbourne here?”
Father grasped my arm and led me to the bedroom he shared with Mother. She was awake, pacing the floor.
“John, what was William doing here?”
“Possible trouble brewing.”
“What type of trouble, Father?”
“The Cuthbert family. Osbourne thinks they might be mortals.”
Mother gasped before staggering to her rocker in front of the hearth. “How? Is there proof?”
“Deliverance said the wife has a strange sickness.”
No one in the coven stayed sick for long. There was always a quick remedy the Lady Tituba, our healer, could conjure up.
“Did she not see Tituba? Maybe she doesn’t know about her. Perhaps I should pay her a visit. Bring Tituba along.”
“We need to be careful. If there are mortals amongst us, they will bring others. Mortals do not know magic. They are inclined to think the worst.”
“Father, if the Cuthberts are mortals, what will happen to them?”
My father sighed. “As Chief Magistrate I will have to arrest them. They will stand trial and be allowed to prove themselves.”
“And if they are found guilty?” My stomach rolled.
“They will be executed. Mortals cannot live here.”
My mind was heavy as I dragged myself back to my room. Was Jeremiah in danger? I had heard rumor about Mortal trials in Salem Town. A group of them were arrested and brought before Deputy Governor Edward Nurse. Some said they were tortured before their execution. Others said the mortals had weapons to strip us of our magic. If it were true, I needed to warn Jeremiah.
There was no time to fuss with petticoats and a proper gown. I slipped a cotton gown over my shift and picked up my shoes. I eased the door open and stepped into the hall. Once I descended the stairs, I put on my shoes, grabbed my cloak, and exited our home.
Father must have influenced Goodman Osbourne to wait till the morrow. The village square, lit by moonlight, was empty. I crossed the dusty yard and ducked behind the Cuthberts dark clapboard house. A candle burned in Jeremiah’s room. I closed my eyes and whispered his name. He appeared in the window. Jeremiah, it’s me Abigail. Meet me at the edge of the woods. We must talk.
I stepped into the shadows and headed to the woods.
“Abigail?” Jeremiah stepped from between a clump of trees.
I wished it were a full moon so that I could gaze into his beautiful dark eyes. His family only lived in the village a few short months, but this handsome man already owned my heart. He couldn’t possibly be mortal. Could he?
Other than not possessing magic, how did you tell the difference between a mortal and say, a witch? Goodman Osbourne failed to realize that even a witch wasn’t immortal. We could die just like anyone else. Why did someone without powers intimidate or frighten us?
Jeremiah stopped in front of me. “Ye shouldn’t be out here.”
“I had no choice. Goodman Osbourne came to my father’s house.”
“What did he want?”
“He accused your family of being mortals. Is it true?”
He looked away from me.
I touched his forearm. “Jeremiah, is it true? Please, I can help ye.”
“Aye, it is,” he said, glancing at the ground.
My heart sunk out of fear. Fear of what might happen to him.