Walker: Chapter Six
Location: Somewhere Outside of London
As they make their way back to the caravan, all the other patrons are awake and waiting. They all have the look of terror on their faces as they see Jeffery, Father Henry, and Allen carrying a body exit the forest. Allen sets the body of the woman onto the back of one of the wagons. Looking over the faces of the crowd, he searches for the family of the witch he had just slain.
“There was a witch among you,” he shouts, “I have slaughtered her with extreme prejudice. That bitch stole the life of both this woman,” motioning toward the corpse, “and her baby! If there are any more among you, pray that I don’t find you or you better kill me where I stand.”
Not a single patron moved, even an inch. Of course, Allen doesn’t expect an answer. He began to wrap the woman in white cloth, provided by the caravan driver. Thankfully there’s plenty. You never truly know what can happen on the road. After finishing his business, Father Henry goes about blessing the body.
Allen rushes to find a place to be alone in the caravan, which isn’t hard, most of the patrons are over looking at the corpse or talking to the priest for peace of mind. Finding a place of solitude, Allen pulls a flask from his travel bag. Taking a massive swig, he looks down at his hands. They’re shaking.
‘Were they shaking whilst I shouted to the crowd, I’ll never know, I guess.’
He takes another swig from the flask.
“So, this is how you deal with it,” The Father says, sneaking up on Allen.
“Aye, it’s the only thing that quells the memories,” Allen replies, taking the stake from his pocket and holding it out to the priest.
“No, you keep it. It appears to be much more effective in your hands.”
“All right, thank you.” Allen says as he places the stake on his belt.
“You’re welcome, Dr.”
“May I ask a favor of you Father?”
“I wish to confess.”
“All right, my son, come with me to my tent.”
As Allen follows the priest to his tent, he could feel the eyes of the others on him. Most of them look thankful, others look frightened of him. He can’t blame them.
Father Henry and Allen make it to his tent and that’s when a smell, so foul that it could burn your nose hairs, presented itself. Allen has smelled this before; rotten flesh. He stops the Father.
“Do you smell that” Allen asks, slightly worried.
“Yes, I do,” he replies, “Another witch?”
“Maybe. Let’s go.”
They follow their noses to the origin of the scent. It comes from one of the wagons. Allen pulls out the silver-cross stake. In hopes of surprising whomever may be inside, Allen pulls back on the wagon curtain with a sudden jerk. There are several people inside the wagon, all dead. They were the “family” of the witch that he had killed a short while ago. No wonder they weren’t with the rest of the caravan when they exited the forest. Based on the looks of the bodies they have been dead for at least five days.
“They’ve been dead for quite a while,” Allen says to the Father.
“They certainly smell like it,” he retorts, “I’m going to take a guess and assume that they were kept animated and fresh by the witch.”
“Aye, that’d be my guess as well,” Allen says, “We can’t leave them here. Might as well go about burying them, can’t afford the risk of disease.”
The Father, nodding his head in agreement, starts getting the bodies out of the wagon. The caravan driver sees what is happening and starts to walk toward them, grabbing a few shovels on his way over. By the time he makes it, they have managed to get only one body out of the wagon. They are extremely rigid.
‘Got to love rigor mortis,’ Allen thought.
“Looks like the two o’ ya could use some help,” the driver says.
“It’d be much appreciated.” Henry replies.
With the three of them, they manage to get the bodies out of the wagon, four in total. The corpses show signs of poisoning from what Allen could tell. Looking back into the wagon, what appears to be a large quantity of Nightshade, is sitting there.
‘Not the best poison in the world,’ Allen thought, ‘but I guess she had to use what she could get.’
They take the bodies through the forest to the clearing where the witch was killed. They set about digging a single mass grave for the four of them. The rain was still coming down rather heavily and started to come down at an angle. The smell of death all around them, the sounds of the rain dulling their hearing to the point of deafness from the downpour, they continued to dig. The rain starts to fill the hole as quickly as they make it.
“There’s no use to this,” Allen shouts, “If we put them into the hole now the rain will do the filling for us.”
As Father Henry is about to deny the action, Allen instantly pushes the bodies into the hole.
“Why did you do that,” Henry asks, “The lord demands they have a proper burial!”
“If we take our time doing a proper burial, the wagons back at camp will be so far in the mud we’ll be lucky to make it to Plymouth before Christmas!”
“He’s right,” The caravan driver chiming in, “If we don’t hurry back and move, we’ll be fucked.”
“Fine,” Henry says, showing his disgust with the situation.
“HA HA HA HA HAAAA!” a profoundly deep voice chuckles, “Oh, Uriel!”
Allen looks around, there’s no sign of anyone or anything. Looking to Father Henry and the caravan driver, they don’t seem to have heard it.
‘What the fuck was that?’
The three of them dump the bodies and head back to the camp where they arrive just in time to prevent the wagons from sinking. Unable to determine if the sun had risen, they gather up the patrons and press on.
“Father,” Allen says.
“Yes, Dr.” The Father replies.
“I still wish to confess.”
“Alright. However, I do believe that this is the most private that we will be able to be, especially after the events from yesterday.”
“That is fine with me. I am not ashamed of my past. Only wish to attain forgiveness for it.”
“Very well, my son. You may begin whenever you are ready.”
“Forgive me Father, for I have sinned,” Allen begins, “It has been fourteen years, one month, and twelve days since my last confession.”
“That’s pretty close for one who hasn’t confessed in over a decade,” Farther Henry replies.
“For you to understand my past I will have to go back farther than ten years even. For it to be comprehensible anyway,” Allen says before recalling the terrors of the civil wars.
–K. E. Oskold