The Wild One

Pine and Fir trees conceal numerous stories that become myth. A light flickering through the treetops, people speak of witches and spirits lingering from history passed. Sometimes, hushed whispers and bone-chilling winds come up from the depths and scare the livestock and the people in town. Many travelers do not dare come this way. They stay along the main road and avert their gaze to the sign reading: Corpse Cove.

The name of the town itself should be daunting enough, but it’s people tend to keep away from the affairs of outsiders. Those who have read the newspapers coming from this lonely town flock in interest. And those who live in Corpse Cove happily oblige their deepest fantasies for a fee. Murder mysteries derived from true events and horseback tours of the recent fire that wiped out a third of the homes, the townspeople thrive on death. Perhaps they are obsessed with it, as it is all they know.

A quaint Inn sits nearest to the forest with the windows strategically built to view as much of the treeline as possible. The most expensive room sits atop a tower, up a winding staircase, and perched high enough to see for miles. Claims of mysterious glowing orbs dancing over the horizon just before nightfall and sounds of drums and singing are carried with the wind. All of these and so much more make Corpse Cove ripe for spirit activity.

But it wasn’t always named this way. When the town was first inhabited twenty years ago, a settler and his wife named the land Harristown. Maude and Earl Harris, along with a few of their close friends and relatives, began to build. When the town was christened, so were the Harris’. Maude was pregnant.

However, it wasn’t a joyous time for everyone in Harristown. Earl’s mother, an eccentric by the town’s standards, never cared much for Maude and believed that her grandchild would deface the ‘good Harris name’. So, she devised a plan. Late one night, a raven came to her windowsill, sat upon it, and beckoned for her. She followed it deep into the forest, black as pitch. Suddenly, she spotted a fire. No one was around except her and the raven, that, when she turned to look back at it, had transformed into a grey fox with a woman standing beside it. Both had silver eyes glinting against the flames.

“I know what it is you request of the spirits of the forest,” she said in a low, melodic voice. “We require sacrifice as payment.”

The old lady swallowed the lump in her throat, but the first person to come to mind was Maude. No, that would be too obvious. “If I decide to sacrifice the child?”

“She will become us,” the spirit explained, though her mouth did not move. Her voice came and went with the wind. “If she has done no wrong, this will be the end of Harristown as you know it. Heed my warning or do not, that is your choice.”

But the old woman choose her own path. Clouded by hate for Maude, she allowed her son to raise the child for three years to keep suspicions at bay. On the evening of the child’s third birthday, the Spirit’s wolf awaited the old lady and the toddler at the forest’s edge. No tears were shed until dawn when Maude and Earl found that their daughter went missing. They believed that a thief stole her in the night, and they weren’t entirely wrong.

For months they searched surrounding lands, always returning to Harristown for comfort. On their final search destination, Earl’s mother decided to go alone.

“Perhaps she is in Ashville,” she offered. Still, only she knew where their precious daughter had disappeared that night. Earl begged to accompany her, but she refused.

Two days passed when the old lady returned down the dirt road to the wooden sign stamped with her last name. Something was different as she turned off the main road and began the mile ride to the town. It was the smell. She remembered it as fresh maple and wildflowers, but not this time. This time, it smelled like smoke.

“Help,” it was Maude’s voice coming from the bottom of the hill. “Please help us. Earl… the others.”

“If she has done no wrong, this will be the end of Harristown as you know it. Heed my warning or do not, that is your choice.” It echoed in the old woman’s mind.

The moment her carriage turned towards the hill, her eyes widened. Smoldering remains of over half the town came into view. Maude was slumped over next to the horses, crying hysterically. Her legs were badly burned.

“I’m so sorry, ma,” she wept. “I tried to save him, but he wouldn’t leave the house. He said he saw her, ma. He said he saw our daughter.”

“What?” The old woman’s heart started racing and her palms became sweaty. “That can’t be possible. It’s been months. She’s gone.”

Suddenly, the widow screamed and pointed to the forest. Her hands were shaking violently. “No.”

“That’s impossible,” the old woman said. But again, the Spirits warning repeated in the back of her mind.

The two women stood there, flabbergasted as a very young girl with fiery red hair wrapped in messy braids stood at the threshhold. Perched on her shoulder was a raven and just beside her was the fox. All three of them had bright silver eyes. But it was what the girl said that terrified them.

“I’m sorry mommy. I had to tell you, but you wouldn’t listen. She left me here to die and now I must take you all with me.”

***

Although the town changed it’s name since that day, the stories did not die with Maude and Earl. Years have passed and it is still a bustling town with a dark past. But that is the charm. None of the spirits in the fire were laid to rest and their remains still haunt the town. Maude and Earl can be heard weeping in various places around town and seen on the full moon nights. Their specters glide through the streets, calling out to their lost child. Other townspeople can be heard screaming in pain from time to time. But the most noted ghost is that of Earl’s mother. They claim she is the most active because she was banished from the afterlife. Everyone who comes to Corpse Cove has seen her in one way or another. Mirrors reflecting her likeness, a shadow of a shuffling hunched woman through hallways and the streets. But on the anniversary of her grandchild’s birthday, she can be followed.

Her path? The very same she took all those years ago. From the home of her son to the treeline. Those brave enough to follow can find her weaving around trees that have since fallen over to a small clearing – a perfect circle. Some claim that the remnants of a fire still burns, but only the coals. The old woman’s spirit sways back and forth for an hour, dwelling on her choice and leaving to her home. Only to return with her grandchild and disappears again.

Tales say that the child still lives within the trees, raised by wolves and the Spirit who spoke to the old woman. Her red hair – a reminder of the havoc she caused her family and the town she should have grown up in. Even still, you can see her glowing persona just beyond the treeline, watching over Corpse Cove.

But those are just stories right?

Thank you all for reading! I hope you enjoyed and I would love to read your take on the 3 prompts above. 🙂

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