It’s time for another story! Here is my latest dark tale for your enjoyment.
From Beyond the Wall
“No mother, don’t!” I screamed. That was the last time I saw her. Her painted blue body disappeared over the stone wall to an abyss no one returned from. Ten moons have passed since she left.
The wall, rough stones that were placed by giants, stood as the last imposing feature of the land. Beyond that lay monsters and such horrors that we were forbidden to cross over. Ever since I was a little boy running around the village, tales of the undead and worse frightened all us children from thinking about passing over the wall.
Of course there were brave men and women, usually more women, that thought the tales were false and scaled the immense wall only to never be seen again. I imagined misty woods filled with demons and gouls and creatures we’d never dreamed of ravaging any trespassers. That was enough to frighten me and keep me far away from the wall. My older brother wasn’t as thoughtful.
About three years ago he and his friends scaled the wall in defiance of our parents. My father was so angry at him and mother cried for him to return. There were four of them in all, his friend Tillnook and the two twin girls Sarai and Fillina whose father the blacksmith howled at them to come down. Sarai lost her balance and started tipping, threatening to fall to her death on our side of the wall. Tillnook caught her but in his attempt to rescue her he lost his balance and fell screaming to his death. His body crunched into an unnatural shape and blood soon stoked the ground around his broken and mangled body.
The gathered villagers screamed in horror. My brother turned from the body and before anyone noticed, he and the twins vanished. It’s presumed they fled to the unknown wilderness beyond the wall. My parents were devastated as were the twin’s parents and that’s nothing compared to the grief of Tillnook’s parents. It was an upsetting time for all of us then.
Why my mother chose to follow that same path baffled me.
My father died in a hunting accident about a year ago leaving my mother and I to take care of the small farm by ourselves. We’d done the best we could but it was starting to fall apart. Mother forgot to milk the cows or collect the eggs on more than one occasion and she never realized her carelessness. At least not that she spoke of to me. I was almost a man’s age when my father died. Now that I was fourteen years old, I was a grown man and was expected to handle the chores of the farm. I might be able to run it but my heart wasn’t in it. I preferred to play in the forest pretending to be a knight, one of the kinds from the far away lands. With their exotic headdress and bold figures on their shields I wanted nothing more than to join their ranks.
Mother scolded me, telling me our family was low born and could never hope to attain paige status let alone a full fledged knight. I ignored her jabs at me and continued to train in the forest far away from peering eyes.
When father died my training quickly faded as I had to take on more duties around the homestead. We didn’t have much land. As a young boy I always wanted more land for our family but as I found myself in charge of it’s upkeep I was glad we had so little. Now I guess it’s all mine with my mother leaving like she did.
Mother used to tell stories of the great beyond as if she’d been there. She told stories with such conviction that I could see the one-eyed miniature men come storming from their caves as if they were going to attack me. Her descriptions were so real I had many sleepless nights wary they were going to breach the wall.
And that’s a dumb thing to worry about anyway. The wall is taller than any tree I’ve ever seen. Nothing in our village comes close to its size. There’s supposed to be a deep valley on the other side that goes so far down you can’t see the bottom when standing on top of the wall. The Crimson Steps go up to the top and they take a long winding way on purpose to prevent quick access to the village in case something actually could scale the other side and make it to the top. Many villagers have fallen to their death from slipping on those treacherous stairs.
When I was told my mother was scaling the Crimson Steps I ran as fast as I could to stop her. When I saw she had on her blue paint, I almost resigned myself to her fate. Yet still I yelled trying to coax her back to the farm.
“Mother, please don’t go!” I pleaded. She turned to look at me and paused. I thought tears streaked down her face but she was so far up I couldn’t be sure. She waved then continued her climb. I yelled and yelled but nothing stopped her. I assume she was going after my brother. Or maybe she wanted adventure. But what about me? Did she ever stop to think of me? I cried out to her until my voice grew hoarse. When with my last breath I called out “No mother, don’t” she stepped forward and out of my life.
With the help of a few friends, I’ve been working the farm since she left. So far we’ve been able to keep up with everything but I know I can’t continue like this. My dreams of being a knight have faded with each egg I collect.
One night as I lay in my quiet home, the fire dying down, I heard a sound outside. None of the animals stirred. It was a quiet night but for the sounds outside my home. I rose from the lice infested bed on the floor and crept along the dirt floor until I reached the wooden door. I peered through the cracks between the slats looking for the source of my disturbance. In the dark of night I could hardly make out anything. I heard another sound like sticks snapping off to my left and almost jumped. My heart raced. I grabbed a wooden rod which I normally used to beat back wolves trying to steal our fowl as protection from the source of the sound.
A noise like feet dragging in the grass caught my attention. I grasped the rod tight, both hands ready to swing at whatever intruder dared stalk me that night. The sound grew closer as if the feet were dragging towards my door. My breathing quickened. The dragging sound was closer still. I could see nothing through the door. Then the dragging sound stopped. I prepared myself, ready to attack whatever stood outside.
My door flung open with a crash. I jumped back and swung my rod missing it. I stumbled backwards and landed on the hard dirt floor.
“Stay back!” I yelled. It lumbered forward. I scrambled back further until I struck the table, bumping my head. I winced but wouldn’t take my gaze off the intruder. Slowly it hobbled my way. It was human shaped and held something swinging in its hand. It took another step and fear swept over me.
Before me stood a blue skinned woman, my mother, or what used to be my mother, with a glazed look across her eyes as though grey storm clouds covered them. She raised a hand and tossed her prize towards me. It rolled and hit my bare foot. By the fire light I saw what it was and shrieked in horror.
It was my brother’s head. His eyes were closed and his mouth twisted in a gruesome scream. Flesh hung from the neck as did a small bone.
“Never cross the wall. NEVER” my mother said. “I warned you.” Then she exploded in thousands of pieces like dust. I screamed as my brother’s eyes opened and he shrieked a loud unintelligible sound.
When I woke curled on the floor the next morning, nothing remained of my experience the night before. No head, no body. Nothing. I rose and as I went to clear my head, I noticed marks on the floor as if a foot was dragged along the dirt. I howled and fled my home sure that I’d never have the fortitude to be a knight.
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