By Tony DeLorger © 2011
Bound tightly with coarse hemp ropes and standing on a rickety platform, I look upward; the spiralling grey smoke taken flight in the updraft, swirling, dissipating into rich blue infinity. Waves of heat now sting the souls of my feet, growling beneath me, getting louder, more intense.
I begin to cough, the air sucked out of me as the flames rise overwhelming the crisp dry tinder. My body is shuddering, the pain rising as my feet begin to bubble like grease in a pan. The pain is excruciating, each nerve like shooting sharp barbs through my flesh, creating a rampant chain-reaction.
I’m trying to scream but each breath is filled with toxic smoke and I am heaving, gasping. The flames are now licking at my legs, I can hear them sizzling, bubbling, the skin pealing off and melting, the muscle beneath swelling and strand by strand disconnecting.
As each part of me is consumed the pain ceases and new flesh is screaming with pain. Why am I still conscious, my mind clear and absorbing each second of horror? I plead in my mind for God to end it, to take me. I beg for death, but the flames, slow and malevolent, are torturing me, my passage to death as cruel and as drawn out as possible.
Through the rising flames and smoke I can see the priest speaking some gibberish, waving his hand around so piously, invoking a God so callous. Town folk are gathered around him, and through the smoke I can see their smiling faces, the hate in their hearts.
I slump forward, my legs no longer a support, and my hair is alight, the crackling and smell of it putrid. Closing my eyes I notice I can no longer feel the pain. I have become the pain, overwhelmed, still. Where is death, when I am all but gone, smothered by the devil’s tongue? Where is my sleep eternal?
My mind is now wavering in and out. If I were witch, would I let this happen? I would have burned them all with my eyes, wiped them clean from the earth for their ignorance. But here I rest like a Sunday roast, a shell of human refuse, discarded evil.
There in the distance is a pinpoint of light and it beckons me to move toward it. I look down and see that I am above my resting place, my funeral pyre. With a crash the platform gives way and my body along with it falls into a huge ball of flame, tiny embers released into the air, swirling. Yet I am here, floating above my end, baring witness to my snuffed earthy life.
I am now floating effortlessly toward this light, and as I draw nearer the light grows bigger and intensifies. Around me I see others floating as I, moving toward this light. I notice I am whole, my skin as it was, pink and alive. The faces that pass me are all smiling and I feel warmth envelop my body, a feeling of elation and security. Perhaps there is reward for my suffering, my innocence.
At the end of this tunnel I am now on my feet, surrounded by this soft white light, beside me others who are as equally entranced. We are waiting, silent, still, basking in this warm and inviting luminescent light.
Suddenly I am taken by the arm and firmly pulled to the side. I cannot make out a face but the figure is strong and their grip overwhelming I feel my body floating again and I close my eyes, feeling my motion faster and faster.
I open my eyes and I am filled with panic; before me a raging fire, flames over a hundred feet tall. The heat is singeing my clothes. I turn in disbelief to my captor, my eyes wide. He smiles. “We’ve only just begun, witch.”
I sit bolt upright, my brow wet and my body trembling with fear. My thoughts swirling around my head slowly find rest and I realise am in my bed, alone in the darkness of night.