The Witch of Sederbury by J.A. Crook


Hundreds of strings of animal tendons hung over thin rafters like loom thread, each with one end connected to the dried scrotums of dead pigs filled with rattling teeth and the other end attached to the crook of her wooden cane. When she moved the tendons tightened and the rafters rolled and the vile rattles rattled away as broken teeth tethered within black leather gnashed and ground. The sound was an orchestral trouncing of peace and her heart fluttered in its rhythm on the brink of treason.

Veins ran through her hands and arms like fetid fields of bonnets sewn by a lunatic. Spots of black and purple sunburst littered her skin in bacterial cultures. She was naked and misshapen with a barreled body on unmuscular legs and was an embodiment of some unfit and forgotten bird. The ends of her twisted toes were cracked and within the worn chasms of calloused flesh were thin larvae writhing and weathering to fractured bones. Her body trembled in a perpetual sine as she chanted blasphemous incantations and curses and she pulled her cane against the resistance of her death machine until she reached an illfitting cage. She kicked the door and displaced worlds inside of herself. The cage door fell flat to the dirt floor and a black goat was ripped from it by the horns in a violent birth from the metal maw. She dragged the creature as it dug in its hooves and coughed arrogant sounds of futile resistance.

The witch fell into a cedar bench stained rose and splintered with four thin legs of differing lengths. The resulting axis lurched her toward a pedaldriven grindstone and she swayed as she pumped the wheel into motion and splinters dug and receded from her loose flesh, stabbing her a thousand times at once in a murderous hivemind. A cringing mouth wrought rotten teeth tearing into porous and purple lips and inarticulate sounds hissed in bubbles at grimed commissures. The goat bayed. The tip of its horn was jammed against the spinning wheel and alchemical sparks issued across the witch’s old face. She lapped at them like a dog would water and ashen sediment fell to her tongue acrid. The goat bayed and leapt with its hind legs. Its snout was pressed into the wheel and blood garnished the hut in a single second and turned everything crimson as if some late sunset window was parted. The broken creature gurgled against the wet earth as its dismayed body sought any channel for breath. It found none and became silent and lifeless. The witch rose from the bench and stood with a foot planted on each side of the split animal and she dripped of it. She shook her cane and the room rattled around her and rotting sacks rose in places and sunk in others.

Ego sum de sanguine matrem, she croaked. Qui occisus est fides tua.

She repeated the cursed words until the shattered corpse beneath her stiffened and bloated foully.

J. A. Crook is a horror and literary fiction author from Lubbock, TX. His inspirations include the modernist writers Ernest Hemingway and Carson McCullers. Contemporary inspirations include Stephen King, Cormac McCarthy, Raymond Carver, and Flannery O’Connor.