HORROR: Burning by Riley J. Froud
You know that high-pitched squeal you hear when you burn wood? You might think that it’s air escaping but you’re wrong. It’s the screams of dying wood faeries. Those pops and crackles? That’s their skin blistering and their bones breaking. That sweet smell? It’s not the wood – yuck! Wood smells of nothing when it burns. No, it’s the smell of faery souls being charred and shattered.
I didn’t mean to kill her, I just wanted her to listen. But now, I can’t get the wailing sound of her screams from my ears, or her soul-stench from my nose. I wanted to teach her a lesson, because she was picking on me, making fun of my wings. Lack-lustre, she had called them.
I trapped her inside the wood and left her there. I just wanted her to panic. How was I to know that the humans would take it for the fire? Mother says: of course I knew, we all knew. That’s why the humans leave it there. Mother says I did it on purpose, she says I murdered her because I was jealous. Maybe mother’s right.
I never thought I’d kill somebody. In all my long years, it was never on my list of things to do. I never meant to do it, but now I can’t live with the guilt.
I’ve made all the necessary preparations. I’ve tidied the house and made the bed. I’ve given my pet worms to a neighbour. I even wrote a letter to my loved ones, explaining my crime and asking them not to forgive me. Forgiveness is not for the likes of me. Mother’s right.
When I noticed that the wood was gone, that the humans had taken it, I fluttered and flittered in panic. I shouted for help but nobody came so I did what we’ve always been warned against. I flew to the humans, and found them laughing and joking as they started a fire. Singing happy songs, as though her life had meant nothing. It’s not their fault, they don’t know. Their ignorance leaves them blissful. If only they knew how many lives they had extinguished, they wouldn’t be so cheerful any more.
I could her shuffling and shifting as the wood began to burn. The stench came first – that sickly sweet smell of death. Then came her screams. Her pitiful, wailing screams. All I could do was sit and watch as the wood burned, as she burned. I couldn’t even cry. A fate reserved for the criminals of our kind, the rapists and the murdered, the evil ones among us, was now a fate for her, the girl who was once my friend for life. A life too short.
It’s all over now though, as I sit inside the crack of my own block of wood, waiting patiently for the humans to take me. I will die in the same was as she did, my screams piercing the air as the humans sing happy camp-fire songs. Kumbaya.
The wood warms around me. I know it won’t be long. I can see the dancing flames in the
distance. They’re approaching me. Have I made a mistake?
I think I have.
In my panic, I try to force my way out of the wood. I can escape this, I know I can. It’s not too late!
But I can’t. I’m trapped. There is some force that holds me inside the wood and I can’t get out. I can hear the death cries of those trapped in other cracks. The criminals and scumbags, the ones who deserve this end. But not me, I don’t deserve it do I? It was an accident, just an accident. I didn’t mean to kill her.
I use all my might to push through, as the heat gets almost too much to bear. I don’t have long, I know, but no matter how hard I try, I cannot win. I’m stuck.
It’s then I hear her cackle, her laughter as she cries:
“Now dear sister, endure what I did and suffer through the pain. Perhaps, once it’s all over, we’ll be great friends again.”
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