The fear was overwhelming and gripped her almost as strongly as the two pairs of hands that gripped her arms, yet she forced herself to be calm. It had all started out so innocently. Marnie was a candle maker and the demand for her craft was high, as the people from the scattered villages that littered the English countryside did not have the funds to pay for enough oil lamps to light their little cottages. So Marnie travelled as her mother travelled and was always welcomed at every town. How much that has changed, Marnie thought as she looked around her and saw the two strong men clutching her arms hard enough to bruise while smiling maliciously.
The two men led her through the crowd of villagers that had gathered to watch her. Still she remained silent. The normally happy and welcoming townsfolk had twisted into snarls and angry glares that flickered in the torchlight that waned in the wind. The kind words and gifts had turned to curses as the rotten vegetables splattered and slimed their way down her face, her hair and down the rough lice ridden sack that was given to her by Sarah the Weaver. "Why bother wasting good cloth on her when she’s to be cleansed tomorrow?" Sarah had said to Father Jacob before she had burst into a hideous crackling laughter that within seconds created a hacking cough.
Marnie snapped out of the past and back into the present as the mountain of wooden blocks and logs towered before her, soaked in the town’s meagre supply of oil so it burn fast and hot. The angry mob ceased their allegations and catcalls and fell into an eerie silence as the Christian priest, Father Jacob, raised his arms to welcome what he had previously called his flock of God’s Children. Still she remained silent.
"Welcome my children to witness the testing and purification of the young woman, named Marnie the Candle Maker, who has embraced the way of the Devil and rejected the Word of God…" Father Jacob’s speech was interrupted by Marnie’s snigger and received a sharp slap to the back of her head that made her vision go fuzzy and a tightened grip on her arms as a result. The fear that had plagued her since her arrest had mysteriously disappeared. The time she was imprisoned had taken its toll on her and she found she no longer cared, her life was in the hands of the Christian God and it would not be released. The implications of the priest’s words were not missed by Marnie who refused to be cowed by the priest or any of his pathetic followers.
While the priest droned on blessing the wooden pyre with holy water Marnie hung, suspended between the two burly men. If this was how she was to leave this world then she would make it as hard as she could for them. She was jerked from her resolution was the faceless men either side of her jerked, pushed and taunted her while maintaining as silent as the crowd. They bound her to a wooden post that stood erect at the centre of the pyre the rope cutting deep into her wrists and ankles. She stood there proudly, her fears banished as the peasants shimmered in the semi-dark glow that emitted from the torches that were being lowered and finally connected to the bark on the logs. The fire began to grow as it smoked and spluttered over the holy water advancing its territory. For the first time since her arrest Marnie spoke, her eyes flashing in the gloom of the night, the fire flaring in them her hair wildly twisted began to move in the draft the fire was making.
"I curse you!" she cried to the town as their eyes widened and they shrank back in fear at her sudden outburst. "I curse you all for eternity. I bind you to the deepest depths of hell!" still her curse continued, only the priest remained standing the others had been unconsciously taking steps backwards, and his strength was waning.
Marnie spoke the next of her curse quietly so the villagers had to listen hard to hear what was to come. "I curse your families! Your children! And your children’s children! I curse your descendants! I curse them all!" The fire had gathered its strength and was searching for more fuel. It was eagerly eating away at her toes, her feet, her shins. Marnie pushed away the pain and sucked in another smoke and ash filled breath to complete her curse. "I curse them all for what you have done this night!" Marnie screamed as lightning flashed across the sky breaking it in half and lighting the meadow for a few seconds before plunging it back into darkness.
Father Jacob failed as he stumbled, over come with fear he wet himself the liquid ammonia spreading, seeping down through the tight white weave of his sacred vestments, defiling them before dripping to the ground, dampening the dust.
Marnie threw back her head and laughed and laughed and laughed as the fire consumed her body and purged it of all things good and evil, the lightning flickering overhead all the while. "I am the first," Marnie thought, "I’m the first to be caught during all of the years of the burning. At last they’ve finally caught a witch." And with that final thought Marnie fell into the dark abyss of death the smoke wafting through the forest clinging to all it touched, her laughter forever echoing out into the night until the final villager was dead, until at last the curse was complete.