#15.  The Morning After

#15. The Morning After

The morning mist be a shroud

for the shadows, clear and dying

But underneath the morning mist

you’ll find them dead and lying

-from “The Morning After The Night of The Dead”, by Fjorn, the bard of Augusta, Georgia

No one spoke. They stood on the street and stared in, some holding their noses. Poor Eddol was on his hands and knees in the alley, retching up the once delicious hotcakes that he had broken fast with earlier in the morning. He was wet with crimson gore, and steaming in the cold. Tears streamed down his face as he spit and coughed. Blood dripped from his iron cap onto his face as he coughed and spat, and he snatched the cap from his head and tossed it aside in the alley.

The warmth of the low burning fire inside the small row house pushed the smell of the place out into the cold morning air. It hung everywhere in ribbons, and sat everywhere in lumps. It. Him. What was once him. A man named Ferren. The old man who lived next door had told the irons that. The young woman who lived across the street had told the irons that he was a kind young man, this Ferren, hard working and honest.

The thing was done, and there was no need to send for an Inquisitor. It was plain enough, the thing that had happened. It was there for everyone to see and see well, and when the old man from next door had finished telling what he had heard and saw, no one questioned. There were no questions. None with answers.

The woman was sprawled near the door to the small row house. Ferren’s house. Her head was knocked in, and the iron shod club that Eddol had used to knock it in was still lying beside her. As well as having her head knocked in, she was missing her ears, most of her nose, her lips, and her hair. Along with her hair, patches of her scalp were gone as well. Her dress, once a modest but pretty green, was thoroughly soaked in her blood, and had turned an unappealing, wet brown. Her fingers were stripped of the flesh, and the ragged, sharp ends of her finger bones were protruding like talons. From these gnarled talons of bone hung dark strips of flesh and innards. Rank, glistening organs, and lumps of flesh and sinew and bloody hair and bones were flung everywhere. It was as if this young man Ferren had been chewed and spewed by a dragon in his own home. The only recognizable part of the mess was the man’s head, stripped of all flesh but still attached to the spinal column. This arrangement was hanging from the support beams overhead in the small row house, inverted, the skull swinging slowly and subtly at the end of the hanging spinal column, the gaping red holes staring just as well as any horrified eyes. The spinal column was anchored into the support beam with a slender cooking knife.

They had found the bits of flesh on the street leading to Ferren’s house, and the trail of blood. The early morning ravens were already making off with the tasty little morsels. No one kept the birds from their feast.

Eddol had been the first to arrive. He had shouldered his way into the house, and the maimed, bloody horror of a woman inside had flown at him, screeching and clawing like a hellcat with heat madness. It was over quickly.

The two irons and the old man stood on the street and looked through the open door into the small row house. No one spoke. No one had spoken since the old man had told the irons what he saw and heard the night before. The night of Samhain, the Night of the Dead.

“She came stumbling down the street, cutting at herself and mumbling. I could see her cutting and pulling, and bleeding something terrible. She moaned. She stopped at young Ferren’s door, and…and began…carving the ends of her fingers with the knife. I walked over to try to help her, foolish old man that I am, and she growled at me as a beast. I backed away, but she swiped at me with the knife, and spat blood onto the street. The blood steamed in the cold, and in the rising steam I saw it, cold and ugly, the shining dark thing that had coiled inside of her. As I stumbled backward, Ferren opened his door, and she fell on him instantly. The door shut behind the two of them. I heard her screaming, roaring that she loved him. She kept screaming that she loved him in the most chilling voice. It sounded as ice when it shifts and creaks and hisses and pops in the late winter, but it was hateful, so hateful. Ferren began to scream, and the sound of him screaming drove me into my house. I barred the door and burned a candle in my jack-o-lantern until dawn. I still could hear her ripping and tearing over there, tossing the wet chunks about. At first light I ventured out to find a watchman, and your man Eddol is the first one I found. Oh, but the night of Samhain brings such ghastliness…”

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