The Bluebottle Boys — Chapter 13, Part 12: In the Clutches of the Witch [section 7 of 7]

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The gallows had disappeared, and in its place now stood the warped and wretched ghostly remains of a sailing ship – Captain O’s slaving ship.

From within its hull came the wails, moans and supplications of ten score or more souls.

The Captain stood and faced it wild eyed. He tried to run away, but only found himself circling back to the very multitude from which he’d sought to escape. What was going on? Had I injured him worse than I thought, was he suffering a belated attack of conscience, or had the “angel” somehow empowered Captain O’s former victims.

“No! No! Zhin! Luddn’m! Sum’um! Pleeeeezhe!” he wailed back.

“Sorry,” the angel softly, but disdainfully replied. “This time you’ll face your accusers without ‘chloroform.’”

The chorus from within the hull had swelled and grown exponentially. A line of people in manacles and chains filed out from the hull, their chorus undiminished as they slowly walked toward the Captain.

There were men, women and children in the throng – all looking at Captain O accusingly. He fell to his knees, clapping his hands over his ears. A loud, ghastly moan rose from his throat, as well, but it was more than drowned out by the chorus of ghostly slaves – for that’s clearly what they were – who were now chanting as they encircled him – now nearly 1,000 strong, and growing.

As their numbers grew, they encircled him more and more tightly. The Captain screamed and howled, but not loudly enough to drown out their chanting.

 Suddenly, they converged upon him.

His screaming took on the dimension of an animal being torn to shreds. At length, a deathly silence reigned. The angel parted the throng and walked to where the Captain – or what was left of him – lay. And, what was left was scarcely recognizable as human.

The witch’s cry this time was much of angst as it was of fury, as the angel collected the Captain’s pathetic remains. He held them aloft as he crushed them together in the light. Another smoky-red whirlwind arose from the crushed remains, and the ground parted once more, the smell of brimstone filling the air as the angel hurled the whirlwind back into the abyss.

The slaves grew more ethereal, and then faded away. The Captain’s slave ship turned to vapors and vanished.

The air grew colder. I put my overcoat back on. The grass disappeared and the snow returned.

We were all clearly back in Warstone Lane Cemetery. The “angel” walked over to Ian, touching him on the forehead. Ian still trembled, but he was no longer paralyzed with fear.

“Be free once more,” the angel said kindly



© 2017, 2016, 2015 G. H. McCallum and Duvanian Press, all rights reserved.

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