The Last Witch

The Last Witch

A Story by AngelicDemons
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This is a working progress using Matthew Hopkins as the protagonist. It set during the English Civil War in 1640's and takes place in the last few months of his life.

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The smell of piss and s**t carried in the wind as Matthew rode past the swinging bodies. He could hear the creak of wood and rope as they rubbed together. It had been a good few days’ work, but it was time to move on and now Matthew could allow himself to relax. Ahead, his partner of two years rode confidently. John Sterne had been his faithful companion throughout, and in that time they had both cleansed their home country of the devils scourge.

The flat marsh lands were spread out in front of them eager for the riders to disturb the silence. Windmills littered the landscape. The show of how much of this land worked for its riches. People worked the land and occasionally some would look up at the riders curiously, but Matthew could see fear in their eyes. They knew who was beneath the wide brimmed hat and not one wanted to be noticed, by him. His reputation preceded him and he knew full well his fame. He was sure that even Cromwell himself had heard of his efforts, but there had been no word from the parliamentary leader. Surely he would be grateful to Matthew and all he was trying to do. They were all on the same side. The side that wanted England to be a god fearing land.

He had been four years old when he had first come across those touched by the devil. He had heard the word many times in church, but had never understood the power of the dark prince. His father had been dead only months before and now his mother took council from two family friends Thomas and John. Both Gents with a lot of influence in their small village. He and his brothers learnt very quickly to pay heed to what these men said, for if they didn’t the punishment was often severe.

It had been a usually dry spell the day that changed everything for Matthew. He and his brothers were playing in the pre-harvested fields. The game always the same. Each would take a side and fight the other using sticks or other implements that would make convincing weaponry. It was during a particular gruelling battle, which Matthew, for once was winning, that a commotion could be heard. The boys stopped and tried to peek over the length of corn, but could see nothing. The voices were familiar and as they walked towards the noise it became apparent that one was their uncle Thomas.

Laid upon the floor in quivering state was Mary-Anne. The sight confused Matthew. Mary was one of the girls from the village. He actually quite liked her. She would often give him something sweet to chew on and talk to him about his day. She was a good girl. So why was Thomas whipping her? The birch in his hand whistled as it swung in the air and with blood curdling crack it came down onto Mary’s back once more.

‘Repent you w***e.’ Thomas yelled.

‘I did nothing,’ Mary sobbed. ‘I beg you let me go.’

It was then that Matthew and his brothers were noticed. Thomas’ grin broadened as he straightened and something told Matthew that they should have stuck to their own game.  Looking around he saw his brothers had already fled, but for some reason he had remained. Frightened to move maybe, but stay he did. Thomas held out the birch and for a moment Matthew just looked at it.

‘Take it boy,’ his uncle snapped.

Reaching out he took the birch and held it awkwardly. It was far too long for his small body. Blood already stained the wood and Matthew felt sickness pull at his stomach. The girl still whimpered on the floor and it dawned on him what he was supposed to do. But he looked up at his uncle anyway, just to make sure.

‘Go on, show the wench what we do when we find the devil in our town. Show the devil he has no power here.’

Matthew raised the birch the best he could and then brought it down onto her body. It was hardly a strike, but still he received an applaud from his uncle.

‘Now go and leave us to drive him out.’

Later his uncle had bragged to his mother about how much James would be proud of his son if he were alive. But for some reason Matthew didn’t feel the same. He had really liked Mary and had no idea what she had really done. Surely if the devil was bad then he would have seen it in Mary. He had been so naïve then. Now he knew different.

‘Where next?’

John’s gruff voice brought him back to the present.

‘We stay in the next village. I’m tired.’

John looked back at him briefly with some essence of concern. He had been in pain for some time and John had seen it. It was slowly getting worse and even during that last cleansing Matthew had found himself struggling. The persistent cough kept him awake at night and rocked his chest so much his ribcage ached.

One of Satan’s w****s had nearly overcome him and if it hadn’t have been for John who knows what would have happened. His partner had been severely pissed off at him and hadn’t shut up about it ever since.

However John could test everyone’s patience. The continuous rants of his god fearing friend would always give him a headache. Matthew’s father had been a minister and there was nothing about the good old King James that he didn’t already know. But what could he do? John was good at his job and was willing. There were not many that were willing. Both men knew they played a dangerous game and these were dangerous times. The world had been turned on its head. Hell had been brought down on earth. It was little wonder the minions were now free reign. 

© 2012 AngelicDemons


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Added on March 7, 2012
Last Updated on March 7, 2012

Author

AngelicDemons
AngelicDemons

York, United Kingdom



About
Hi all. I am from North Yorkshire and I have been writing on and off since childhood. I prefer to write fiction with some theological theme running through it. I have an interest in the witch trial.. more..

Writing