Witch of Apple Hill
By Jennifer McMurrain
***Note from the author***
What you are about to read is a rough draft. Anna’s Legacy supporters are getting a sneak peek at my writing process and they are the first ones to get to read these novellas. Knowing that it is a rough draft, please be aware that it hasn’t gone through my rigorous quality control and there will be mistakes, typos, and before the final product is published, it might even have a plot change. This is all part of the process. So I hope you enjoy this sneak peek of Witch of Apple Hill.
Halloween Eve, 1937
The witch glided through the dirty streets of Apple Hill. There was no pretending this eve. She was on a mission of fright and flying would underline her message. It was time for the miners of Apple Hill to leave.
She had watched them dig into her ground, kill her animals, and make sacrifices to the gods of lust on her sacred ground. There were no morals to the men who plagued her home. Their greed gave them the right to any woman who dare crossed their paths. She knew that all too well.
Tonight would be different.
Tonight they would know true terror.
Tonight they would leave.
She heard men laughing as a tinny piano played a jubilant jig. She knew the whiskey would be running thick through their veins by this time and doubted there would be a sober man in the saloon.
Summoning the wind she glided faster toward the bar. It was time to make them pay. It was time to make them see the errors of soiling a place as beautiful as Apple Hill. Distorting her face into a gruesome impossibility of the mortal world, she slammed through the batwing doors gaining satisfying gasps from grown hardened men as well as the sound of shot glasses breaking against the wooden floor.
She whipped around the room screeching like a banshee, knocking men to the ground who tried to flee. Flipping both wrists toward the center of the room all of the candles blew out, leaving the men in complete darkness.
Creating an eerie orange glow around her face she stared down the miners. “Get out! Leave my valley or every generation of your families that stay will endure my wrath. You think that it is I that is evil, but the evil lies in your hearts and it will soil my land no longer. Leave by the week’s end or pay the consequences.”
Dousing her light she let out a series of cackles as she bounded around the saloon again causing every glass of liquor to break in horrifying crashes. Then as quickly as she had slammed through the swinging doors, she slammed back through them, leaving the bar in complete darkness as her haunting laughs still hung in the air.
The next morning she was pleased to see wagon after wagon on the road leading out of the valley. By the end of the first day only five men remained. The witch went to work reclaiming her land, knowing they, too, would be gone by the end of the week.
The end of the week came and went, but the five men stayed.
“Roark,” called the witch, “Roark, where are you?”
Her friend glided down from the rafters and sat on her shoulder. She smiled at the large, black spider that raised a leg affectionately toward her cheek. “Roark, dear, I need you to go into town and listen to the townsfolk. Don’t get caught, mind you. They’d squish you before they even introduced themselves. That’s the typed we’re dealing with as you very well know.”
The spider nodded.
“I just need to know that they are leaving and when,” she explained. “I hate cursing anyone, but these men are asking for it by staying. I gave them plenty of time to move along.”
The spider let out a little chirp before crawling down her body and out the door. The witch stood on her hill, among the apple trees, and glared at the sleepy little town. Those men would leave or they would pay dearly.
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