Rosemary, for Rememberance

Autumn leaves tumble through the air, their bright colors dulled by the fading evening light. The leaves land on the surface of the lake. They drift aimlessly across the surface of the water, like lost souls on the River Styx. Something stirs in the depths of the lake. Putrid bubbles rise to the top, popping with the sound of a light sigh and the smell of mildew. Something else rises, following the bubbles out of the lake. A hand emerges from the water, a sword held high. The sword is rusted and covered with the green tendrils characteristics of plants that dwell beneath the water. A body follows the hand. It looks the way you’d expect a body to look after being submerged in a lake for countless years. Foul water drips from festering gashes. Weeds tangle themselves around limbs and weave themselves through hair. Bloated limbs move sluggishly though the water as the figure shambles to the shore.

As the figure emerges from the water, tarnished jewelry, long hair, and a tattered dress suggest a possible gender for the figure, if such a thing can even be said to have a gender. She stands there for a moment at the edge of lake. Perhaps getting her bearings, perhaps resting after her struggle to reach the shore. She starts walking into the forest. She holds the sword loosely in one hand, so that the tip drags across the ground. She walks for hours, never getting any drier despite the uncharacteristic warmness of this particular autumn night.

The forest is completely silent, save for the rustling of the dry autumn leaves. Even those seem muted tonight. No animals cry out. No insects hum, buzz, or chirp. Then, there is a sound. A sound not found naturally in any forest. The sound of a passing car. The source of the sound is clear. Whether by accident or design, the lady has trudged all the way to one of the few roads that cut through the forest. She steps out onto the street. The ruined sword makes a harsh grating noise as scrapes over the asphalt. In the distance, artificial light creeps into the sky. It emanates from just beyond the edge of the forest, from a small town called Albion. Like a moth, she appears to be drawn to that light.

It is midnight when she arrives in Albion. She creeps through the town, entering houses and killing their inhabitants. The mayor, Art, and his wife, Gwen, are first to die. Art’s eyes flash in recognition as the sword pierces his chest.  Across town, an old man called Merle sits on his porch and laughs to himself. He will be last. But first, Lance, the local sheriff, and his deputy Percy. First, many others. Some of them are innocents. Some of them aren’t. It doesn’t matter either way, not to the lady. Finally, she approaches Merle. He grins, revealing a mouth full of ill-maintained teeth, almost as rotted away as the lady herself.

“Hey there, lady.” He wheezes and coughs, all that laughter having tired him out. She stares at him with dead, milky eyes. “Or do ya’ not answer to lady anymore? Tha’s right, ya’ call yurself ‘Ophelia’ now, don’tcha? Make believe tha’ ya’ drowned yurself?” He laughs again, then spits out his last word. “Witch.”  She swings her arm with surprising speed. His head hits the ground with a dull thump. His body does the same a second later. The lady walks slowly down the street, towards the edge of town. She doesn’t look back.