A short story for school. It doesn't overly make sense or comply to the accepted narrative arc (not really a resolution). Think of it more as the constricted version of the start of a novel. It's set in the 17th Century around the time of the witch hunts.

Cussing, he once again lost his footing on the slicked cobblestones and slid into the sandstone gutter. Habitually flicking the grit from the weeping abrasions on his knees and hands, he absquatulated into the reeking shadows of the alley beside the old inn. But even here the distant chanting, that pulsed in time with the pounding of his feet as they drew him further away, could be heard.  Up ahead a street lamp flickered. A suppressed memory; flickering flames, the screaming that follows. He bit down on his lip, coughing on the blood. He swiped at his mouth, the coarse woollen material scraping the blood and memories away. He sped up, racing across the narrow stone bridge leading from the contrived confines of the town to the bordering forest. Underneath, the river water reflected the tendrils of cursed black smoke that rose towards the moon.

The pungent, black smoke writhed against the wind that flurried across the township, almost sniffing at the scents it carried. Then the blackness of it seemed to become more viscous, reforming and trailing into the forest.

The familiar branches of the ancient oak stood as a place of quick respite.  He fell against its truck and wheezed fresh woody air into his burning lungs.  A fetid smell infiltrated his respite. His eyes flashed open.  He scrambled backwards, desperately trying to escape the reaching tendrils. His foot caught on a gnarled root, and he stumbled to the rotting forest floor. He shrieked as the black smoke wrapped around him, the hot talons burning his skin. The bitter cloud scraped through his clenched lips leaving a bilious slime coating his mouth; leaching down his throat.

A stultifying darkness encroached on his vision, dulling the piercing throbs that assaulted his head. The name Clementine slithered through what remained of his lucid consciousness. He smiled to himself before finally succumbing to the nothingness.


The End

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