Sophie had never thought about being alone, truly solitary, until Landers came one morning and said, “My time is done little girl. I can teach you nothing more in this world. I will soon go off to find Tandel. This will be my last visit, but before I go listen to my final words.
Upon this coming full moon, the dark things lurking in the grave yard will rise and it is now that you warn these people that they are coming for their spirits, to steal them away into the dark places where dark things dwell.”
“But who are they?” asked Sophie.
Landers said as he went away, “Maybe the real question is, who were they?”
Sophie replied thoughtfully and simply, “Of course.”
She never saw Landers again, and the whispers that once spoke of him in the forest fell silent and all the creatures there lamented his passing. Yet within that lament lived a new song waiting for Sophia to hear it. And in time she did.
Somethings we cannot see or hear are still there.
If one but allows the spirit to watch those things can be sensed and felt and at times when the balance is equal those things that are not seen can be seen. But it takes that balance to bring on such manifestations.
Yet not all things unseen that are there are good. Somethings are dark things, hiding in dark places waiting to devour the light, the spirit the balance.
Hope is the only weapon against the darkness and those or that which dwell within it, and hope manifested in the village of Miller Junction took on the physical form and drifted at last from one spirit to another, from Tandel to Sophia, as it had drifted across many generation, watching, waiting, preparing for the dark things to break out and ravage the light and living things of this world.
Sophie sat in the chair at the tea table where her benefactor had sat contemplating for many decades before. It is where Sophie would carry on for many decades ahead. It is where she would sit every night of the full moon rising and succumb to the madness and go running along Miller Way crying out the warning which she had inherited. “They are coming, they are coming, run for your lives. The dark things are coming to steal all our souls and feed the demons.”
And no one listened.
And Sophie returned to her chair by the tea table in the cottage at the edge of the village on the threshold of the grave yard.
And the full moons of a year came and went, and the dark things came from their dark places and danced the dance of demons and stormed the threshold of the grave yard.
Back now to the day Tandel Lois departed her body, for something extraordinary happened then.
The doctor, the constable and the editor stood gazing at the still, quiet from of Tandel Lois, cold, and dead and looking more like the moon hag than ever before. It was just coincidental of course. that she should have had a bent spine and wizened face, but her mad excursions every full moon left the people of Miller Junction wondering if she truly was a witch, a moon hag, whimsically of course since no one truly believed in such things, at least they had not believed in such things for many generations. Not since witch craft had been proven to be naught but slight of hand, with some knowledge of herbs and spices and poisons that any student of chemistry could learn and of course there was the charlatan aspect.
But the witch, with real magic did not and had never existed and those who had suffered the tortures of witch hunters were exonerated of their crimes, at least by the folks of Miller Junction.
Said Doctor Felmar as he examined the body, “It was inevitable. Her madness has put too much stress on her heart this time. She did, if you did not know, have a troubled heart because of her twisted spine. It happens with scoliosis you know.
I will of course make a closer examination as the local coroner, but I am certain the cause of death will not vary. She simply succumbed to a heart attack.”
But even as he spoke the air rippled and something misted into the air. And Constable Little replied, “Then it is your opinion that there will be no need for an investigation?!”
“No need what so ever Constable,” the doctor answered.
“But there is a story here to be told, I think. A story of madness, of schizophrenic delusion and how it can be as deadly as any murderous act can be. And I dare say she was, at least in her own mind, tormented by dark things that dwell in dark places in the grave yard.” Cried out Editor Lonick as he scribbled in his note book.”
“Indeed, this will bring exciting reading to your paper though I dare say more of a tabloid nature than pure news of the event.” The constable scolded.
“My readers want sensation in their dull, uneventful lives and there has been precious little save Tandel’s full moon frolics, which I must say has become stale and I have run out of ways to make the event exciting,” Mr. Lonick spouted defensively.
It was the anniversary of Tandel Lois’s passing. It was the day Sophie was obliged to carry her predecessor’s ashes deep into the forest and spread them among the trees. It was on that day that Sophie went far into the forest and found and old shack, old but well made.
And when she went into the shack, she found it lonely and forsaken and knew that it had been Landers home, but of course there was no sign of him, yet all that was his in life remained wrapped in the squalor of neglect.
Sophie spread Tandel’s ashes nearby, neath an ancient oak, said a simply farewell then returned to the shack and shed out the loneliness and the squalor. And from that day on she kept it ready for he that would one day be her Landers.
Once back at the cottage, sitting at the tea table Sophie wondered in a whisper, “Who will you be? Do I know you yet or are we yet strangers and how long before you come to take your place in the forest?” She wondered this with whimsical anticipation. Then Sophie went to her daily studies lurking through her benefactor’s diaries, journals and herb recipe books then spending a little time leafing curiously through the book of Magic Words.
Then for the first time since her inheritance Sophie ventured into the secret room, the room where the real magic potions were brewed and was ever so amazed that it was kept to immaculate tidiness. And when she saw the tiny creature nestled unafraid in a quiet corner she was only mildly surprised, surprised that Mistifal truly existed even though the creature had been named in the diaries of Tandel Lois.
“Welcome Hag Sophie. Are you ready to transcend into your natural form?” asked the Sprite.
“Is this not my natural form?” asked Sophie.
“It is the form to be seen by mortals, but you are a moon hag, and your true form should reflect this.” Answered Mistifal.
“Will mortals see my true nature?” Sophie queried.
“Yes, but only once in many moons. Only on those years of thirteen moons and only on that moon called the Blue Moon.” Mistifal explained.
“What of the madness?” Sophie asked anxiously.
“It is not madness dearie. You, as was Tandel and all those before her, back to those terrible days of mayhem, the messenger that the dark things living in the dark places of the grave yard are. waiting for their time of vengeance. You have all made certain that Miller Junction never forgets for if they do all will be lost.” Answered the sprite.
“When will these dark things break down the threshold that yet holds them in, at bay.” Sophie asked.
Mistifal did not answer. Instead she asked, “Have you come to brew a true potion?”
“I came to look see, but now that I am here, I will brew a potion.” Sophie replied.
And she did, but only a simple thing that would bring light to a shadow where there should not be a shadow. On the edge of the village before the threshold of the grave yard, a shadow in the shape of rotting wood. The potion would revitalize the wood and re-strengthen the threshold.
Every morning there after Sophie would examine herself in the mirror on the wall over hanging the wash basin in the bathroom. She marveled at the vison of her own youth seen through the eyes of her wizened moon hag which manifested faintly behind the girl. It was the moon hag from which she now had all the knowledge written in the book of Magic Words, the book of magical potions and the Book Of Dark Things That Dwell in the Dark Places of the grave yard. And through the moon hag she knew all their names, the victims of an ancient rapt of misinformation that declared witch craft a black art. And that witchcraft was neither good or evil, it simply is and defined by the wielder who is good or evil. And there is evil, great evil, powerful evil in the world and dark malicious spirits who value power over all other things, power over the spirit of the weak.
And a living darkness masked in kindness came to Miller Junction on the wings of deceit, a shadow of past, possessed by the past, obsessed with the past.
His name was Garrison, Janard Garrison, a name long in the past of the village but thought extinguished in that past and though some what removed, a relative of Wex Lonick, a cousin of sorts.
“I would never have known of Miller Junction or anything about you cousin Wex, had it not been for a marriage, some generations ago between a Randell Janard Garrison and Manny Lonick.” Janard explained.
“Hmm. I have a recollection of a great, great, maybe even greater aunt, but I never knew she married. Of course, I am not up on those off shoot members of the family.” Replied Wex Lonick.
“Well, the truth is, according to my research into family histories and the family tree Manny came visiting after she married but never returned to her city life. It is said she simply vanished and there were rumours that she was accused and condemned as a witch and thus executed. I have come to see if she was given a grave.”
Wex Lonick grinned and said, “If she was buried here it would have been in the old grave yard at the edge of the village. You can search the grave stones, but you must remember that many of those who died in the 1890 pandemic then called the Russian Flu are buried there. It might be suggested that this aunt, many generations removed maybe have died then.”
“Unlikely since she disappeared in the mid- 1800s and during a resurgence of the old witch hunts.” Janard shot back aggressively.
“I think in that case you may want to speak with our local authority on that subject. We have our own resident apothecary, a witch who studies those old histories and is well respected here abouts, though, like her predecessor she goes a little mad every now and then, mostly on the full moon rising. She lives in the cottage at the edge of the village on the threshold of the grave yard.” Wex advised.
“Then I will pay her a visit.” Replied Janard.
After Janard departed Wex Lonick was on the phone to Doc Felmar and then Constable Little. He said to each, “Call it a gut feeling but this distant relative of mine feels off, dark. He is going to upset an apple cart or two if he goes digging around for unwanted memories. I sent him to Sophia. She will know what to do.”