A Story by Dixie Carnley

I let them believe I had fallen into submission, when in reality; the real horror was only beginning. They thought my sister was the monster, the witch to be feared. They were wrong.


The roar of the crowd was overwhelming, the constant pushing and shoving like the sea’s tide during a full moon.  As the waves of bodies ebbed and flowed, I shoved my way through them, not caring who they were.  Their shouts, eager and excited, soared to the heavens, their faces full of youthful joy.  I fought harder, turning my opened palms into fists, shoving them into backs and stomachs, surging through openings.

My open toed sandals caught on someone’s foot, ripping from my ankle, throwing me forward.  I caught my balance on another body, the stench of sweat and alcohol rancid in my nose.  As they shoved me back, I moved with the momentum, my bare foot slapping against the pavement in time with my one shoe.  My heartbeat thrummed in my chest, its cadence in my throat as I angled myself once again towards the center of the riot.  Panic-stricken, I pulled through another hole, feeling hands tear into my shoulder blades and back- angry, vengeful hands that ripped at my t-shirt and hair, trying to haul me away.

But they couldn’t!  To do so, would mean death.

I broke out into a quicker pace, stumbling, breathing harder, and fighting back tears.  My hands separated bodies, some easier than others.  I could finally see the light at the end, the open eye in the middle of this hurricane of summer heated bodies.  The sun shown down like a spot light, harsh heat and bright light that seemed to only highlight the horror of the day.

My teeth hurt from clenching together, my nose burning from the effort of holding back my tears.  One by one, they balled up at the corners of my eyes before streaking down my caked face, the dirt, salt, and moisture creating tracks across my cheeks.

“Marunae,” my name began to echo through the crowd, quiet at first, but gaining in intensity.  Now they knew I was here, but it was too late to stop the chain of events.  All I could do was push forward through the ocean of humans, fighting the battle against the tide, with the heavens looking down upon me.  Most would have stopped; but I kept on going, fighting everything and everyone.

“Stop her!”  Bodies parted like the Red Sea, revealing men in uniform.  I couldn’t let them stop me; not when I was this close.  Not now, after coming all of this way.

Altering my course, I ripped through a new path, all the while, working my way in that ever closing circle.  I could make out the pole now, standing tall and proud in the center.  It rose like a beacon above the heads of the men, women, and children, calling me closer with each step.  I could smell the scent of diesel now, strong and think, calling upon many memories of my childhood.  The vision of huge eighteen wheelers, traveling across America, flashing in the sunlight, full of chrome and lights- the images were burned in my mind, remnants of a childhood built before the Fall.

“Marunae!”  This voice, specifically female, screeched over the din of the crowd, hysteric and high.  My head whipped around on its own, seeking out that source. 

She was standing on the top of the platform, her white blonde hair wild and curling in the summer breeze.  The white tank top shown against her tanned flesh, her jeans- ones I gave her only moments ago- fitting her beautiful form.  Blue eyes stared at me with shock and fear, brimming with tears, skin around them puffy and swollen.  The once gorgeous model was now a wreck, fearing for her life.

The officers were closer, weapons drawn, aimed, and ready to shoot.

The flame holder was in position, torch lit and just above the surface of the wood.

I was out of time, but I had to do something.

Please, whispered thoughts sent on a desperate prayer.  It floated like feathers to unseen ears, hope like a trailing ribbon, my sorrow and desperation clinging to my final hope.

I watched as the torch dropped, the flame holder’s eyes taunting, victorious.  Cheers went up around me, words of encouragement steady as a beating drum.  Time stopped for me, especially as the flames crept higher up the wood.   The licking bands of gold and orange rose higher, edging towards bare, dancing feet.

“Please,” My sister’s broken cries ripped through the air, repeated over and over to a deaf crowd.  “Somebody, please stop!  Help me!  PLEASE!”

Her sobs got louder and louder, but broke off into choking coughs as the smoke thickened.

Arms wrapped around my biceps, jerking me hard.  I pulled, fighting, but it was me against three, highly trained law officers.  There was no competition.

My sight blurred, but they never left the platform.  The screams of a burning woman were like shards in my mind, heart, and soul.  She fought against her bindings, but she was quickly failing, the smoke and heat becoming too much. 

When her pants caught fire, the crowd went into a riot, surging forward, not for help, but for a better view.  Sickly, they laughed as her screams tore through the beautiful, cloudless day. 

A gentle wind lifted the leafy greenery, scented by flowers and smoke.  Music filled the air from instruments nearby, a joyful tune that made a few break out in a dance.

Meanwhile, upon the stage, the subject of their amusement fell silent.  No longer able to be seen through the wall of smoke and ash, her cries for help and pain died.  My heart stopped, my breathing falling still.

“No.”  I could not accept it.  “No, no, no.  No!”

A few looked at me, some smug, others with a sense of pity.  The officers’ calloused hands hauled me back, away from the body of my burning sister, my sole remaining family.  The image of her haunted my mind, her sobs and voice embedded into my memory.

I hung limp, mirroring my sister’s pose.  Tears escaped my eyes freely, no longer held back.  My heart broke, ripping into the separate pieces that bled profusely.  The pain unbearable, I spared the pyre one last glance before the crown closed in around me.   Suddenly, it wasn’t pain that tore through my chest, but heat.

It started small, like an ember, gentle and warm.  It was a flare of hope, and light in the middle of the darkness; a way out, a way of revenge.

I let them believe I had fallen into submission, when in reality; the real horror was only beginning.  They thought my sister was the monster, the witch to be feared.

They were wrong.

© 2013 Dixie Carnley

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Added on October 7, 2013
Last Updated on October 7, 2013


Dixie Carnley
Dixie Carnley

Mountain Home AFB, ID

I am a novice writer originally from southern Alabama, though I now call the Treasure Valley of Idaho my home. My passion is writing and reading, though if you really want to get to know me, put me a.. more..