Again, inspired by a song, this time Burn The Witch by Queens of the Stone Age. Listen here. The video/song in itself is interesting, but unrelated to the story in any way except the title.
Also inspired by Charlie from The Firestarter, one of the first Stephen King novels I read and whose little protagonist I loved immensely.
“Burn the Witch!” they screamed. Their eyes as large as monsters’ and their mouths hardened to cruel steel. They dragged the scruffy little ten-year-old girl up to the stage. She stood there, her head down and her unwashed brown hair hanging over her face.
Not a few hearts in the crowd softened at the sight of the motherless child standing alone as the angry mob roared and raged around her. But the fever was too high to stop them. And something had to explain the strange disappearances of cattle and poultry that had been occurring of late.
“They say she killed her parents too. Burnt them up one day when they went against her. She’s a witch! Burn her!” The last five words roared out loud by the angry crowd.
Only one man opposed them. The girl’s uncle was on the edge of the horde, fighting and kicking with the men that held him. Sweat ran down his face and his eyes were bulging with franticness.
“No, no, don’t do it, you don’t understand…” he yelled, uselessly, as his voice was drowned in the crowd’s anger.
The wood was doused with oil. The flames licked the wood delicately at first, then began to consume it hungrily, breeding and growing until they became a towering bonfire. The vicar climbed onto the stage. He held up the girl in front of the crowd and screamed his denouncement. The crowd roared its angry approval back at him. And still the girl hung her head.
The girl’s uncle heard the denouncement and moaned. Suddenly, he reversed his struggling, trying to run away from the stage. His captors held him tightly enough for this to be pointless, and soon he sunk to the ground in a dead faint.
The vicar placed the girl on the stage again. Still holding her arms he cruelly shook her fragile frame “Does ye hear me?” he said, speaking to the unperturbed mass of brown hair that hung obscuring the child’s face. “Child of Satan, bride of the Devil, in God’s name acknowledge your sentence!”
There was no response. Then the girl lifted a small hand and pushed back her hair. She raised her beautiful face up to look at the vicar, and there was a smile playing about the pretty coral lips that chilled the man of God to the bone. Cold, sudden knowledge gripped him. He let go of the child and began backing away. Where the stage ended he turned and jumped into the crowd.
The girl’s smile stayed the same. In the split seconds before it happened, the crowd closest to the stage felt the flames suddenly increasing in temperature.
Then the fire wave emanated from her in perfect, silent glory. It swept out from the tiny figure like a whip, describing a widening, swirling circle. It ate the crowd like a flame licks up the thinnest scrap of paper, leaving nothing but the slightest bit of ash. As it circled around and around the stage in a cataclysmic frenzy, it seemed to escalate in intensity, threatening to grow to a tornado of fire.
But then as suddenly as it occurred it ceased, and folded back onto the girl, as though sucked in.
In the silence, that followed, the crackling of the flames were loud. Only the stage stood, and the fire burning behind the little girl. Nothing else remained. After a while, the little girl sighed and climbed carefully off the stage. Humming to herself, she skipped away among the ash-piles back to her cottage at the edge of the town.