My names Isaiah, I'm an aspiring actor, and practicing narcissist.Questions, anyone?
There’s Alligators that live in the subway
Deep beneath the streets of New York City
Many don’t believe me when I tell them
But take the word of an old gypsy woman
They slither and squirm in the dark
But thank heavens they don’t live in Central Park
They stay deep down in those old dark dank tunnels
And eat the rats with their snapping jaws and yellow teeth
How does an old gypsy woman know this you may ask
Well spend enough time in New York City and soon you’ll know a little bit about everything
Because New York City is not for the faint of heart
Its for the midnight explorers and the people who have dreams
Its for the ones who wish to know
About all the strange people who come and who go
The empire state is a magical place for those who believe in such yarns
Like old men who have learned to jog backward while playing the harmonica
Or Dogs who have learned to speak
Or of course Alligators who spend time in the subway each and every week
They say that magic disappeared from our world centuries ago, and its true it indeed did. There is no doubt that the world was much different in the year of 1698. But not because of the technological advancements made, but in the simple fact that the world and its inhabitants answered to a higher power, and that power answered back.
It answered because we allowed it to, we accepted the notion that there were things that we as mere mortals could not comprehend or explain. This was of course before the human condition forced us to try to break down and wrap our minds around such ideas using the vehicle we call science and fact, thereby killing the magic and severing the tether we had to the other worldly.
This however is not a tale of science but one of superstition and it begins in the midst of the final gasping, stolen breaths of the age of magic and higher power. It was a profound time when the Vail between this world and the world of the spiritual was weakest, it was a chapter that history forgot.
The month was October, the town was Ellersville. A larger town built by early settlers and was home to roughly four hundred citizens most of which were church going, God fearing Catholics. They attended Sunday mass and mostly prayed for strong, bountiful harvests this time of year. Mary-Beth Chapman sat alongside her siblings and friends and prayed particularly hard this year for a strong harvest. The year before proved to be something of a famine, it wasn’t devastating to the town itself, there just wasn’t much to go around and her baby brother Christopher nearly starved. Determined to never allow that to happen again, Mary-Beth prayed as hard as she knew how.
Sunday mass let out and the Chapman family returned to their cabin. There was a sense of tension and underlining dread as Mary-Beth and her older brother Samuel spoke of the upcoming harvest The soil was proving to be as cold and lifeless as the metallic sky above. The town of Ellersville did not experience a famine the year prior, just a shortage of vegetables and thin, weak cattle. This year, however was proving to be, rather bleak.
Mary-Beth stirred a barely half full pot of potatoes while carrying on a conversation with Christopher. Samuel said nothing, he just sat poking and prodding a slowly dying fire in their stone fireplace. “Will we have enough food to last us the winter sister?” Christopher asked with his head down, looking towards his lap. “These are things you need not worry about little brother, leave this to me I promised you will never go hungry again didn’t I?” she replied keeping her attention on the boiling pot of potatoes, so to better hide her fear. She feared that this barely half filled pot of potatoes in front of her may be the most food her family sees all winter.
As the weeks passed and October was coming to a close the issue of food did not improve, rather it got worse, much worse. The weather was beginning to change and the cold was quietly creeping into the town. The harvest was weak and people were becoming desperate.
Much of the town was asleep when Mary-Beth rested on her knees in the middle of the cabin, her hands were turning beat red from being pressed together so hard. Through closed eyes and gritted teeth she prayed, prayed for strength, hope and most of all food. Realizing what she was really doing was asking for a miracle Mary-Beth finally collapsed and let her emotions overpower her. She just laid there and cried and listened to her younger brother moan from hunger pains in his sleep.
The sound of rain and distant thunder woke Mary-Beth from her sleep. The boys were awake. Samuel was comforting Christopher while he chewed on a shriveled beet leftover from their pitiful October harvest. “I’m going to repair the leak in the roof today” Samuel announced to Mary-Beth when he saw her awaken. “Pray you stay here with Christopher I’m going to see if there are any berries to be picked” she said as she pulled a winter coat around herself, Samuel just replied with a nod.
Mary-Beth had often ventured deep into the woods on the outskirts of the town, seldom did she find a bush with many berries to be picked, but she was desperate, and hungry. She wandered the forest which was vibrant with color due to the slowly dying leaves. Red, orange and yellow covered the branches. An hour of searching resulted in the usual empty basket. There was nothing, the forest was bare. Christopher would go hungry again tonight, the very thought of it caused Mary-Beth to weep.
Salted tears stained her pale skin. “God please” was all she could muster. The air was thick, with doom, for her and for the town. The sound of movement in the forest snapped her out of her weeping. She scanned the woods frantically, her mind suddenly began to race. Perhaps it was a small animal something she could kill and bring home, a raccoon, goose, maybe beaver. The rustling became louder as it drew closer, however Mary-Beth could not spot anything through the gently falling leaves.
Then, abruptly, she appeared as if out of the wind itself standing directly in front of the kneeling Mary-Beth. A beautiful, young woman with pitch black hair, flushed skin and ruby colored lips stared at Mary-Beth, examining her. Her stress wrinkles, her dark sunken eyes and cheekbones and her dry, limp hair. Mary-Beth looked at the woman with amazement, amazed by the fact the she seemed to have appeared out of thin air, but also baffled by the fact that for the first time in weeks, she looked at someone who wasn’t tired, beaten down or nearly dying of starvation!
This woman seemed to glow, radiate a youthful healthiness. The woman was wearing hardly anything, which also fascinated Mary-Beth, this woman was dressed what seemed to be a half dress that did not at all cover her legs, and she was clutching to her chest, an old brown, tattered book. Finally the mysterious woman spoke her voice smooth like honey. “Hello, fellow woman” she spoke so sweetly, then she scooped up a handful of yellow and orange leaves and blew them away revealing a bright red apple, she handed it to Mary-Beth.
She reluctantly took the apple and stared at it with fascinated eyes “eat” the woman spoke. “My family they need food my brother is but eight years young he’ll starve” Mary-Beth pleaded, and the woman hushed her and spoke again. “What is it you wish for?” She asked, Mary-Beth stood up to meet her gaze.
“I want food, enough for my family and the whole town please, all we are starving and-” again the woman hushed Mary-Beth. This time the woman got down on her knees and opened her book. “This I can do for you, Mary-Beth Chapman, but what you ask does not come without its, risks, do you still wish to proceed with the conjuring?” She asked her face grim, and very serious. Without really understanding what the woman meant when she told her of the risks she accepted.
A smirk played across the women’s soft youthful face. She opened the book and instructed Mary-Beth to hold her hand while she read from the book which she placed on the ground. With her free hand she revealed a silver dagger, which she used to slice the top of Mary-Beth’s hand. A hint of fear made itself visible on Mary-Beth’s face. The woman ignored her attempt to recoil her hand and only held it tighter. She began to read a passage from the book in a dialect that was unknown to Mary-Beth.
Suddenly a very strong wind blew through the forest and it was now blatantly obvious to Mary-Beth that she was no longer alone in the forest with this mysterious woman, this goddess, this.. witch. There was something else in the forest with them only it was not visible it was an energy, a vibration the woods became alive with the spirit of nature.
The strong gust of wind kicked up the dead leaves causing them to dance and almost taunt Mary-Beth as they swooped and whizzed past her. The woman began to speak faster this alien language was seemingly becoming more intricate and bizarre to Mary-Beth, the woman became engrossed in the conjuring her eyes were no longer soft and delicate, they became rather dark, like coals. Then, she said one more thing, this time in Mary-Beth’s native toung, the last words that escaped her ruby red lips were, “make it grow”. And suddenly Mary-Beth found herself in the center of town, without any recolection of leaving the forest or saying farewell to the woman.
So she stood there, her mind full of questions. Who was that woman, how did she come to know Mary-Beth’s name and what did she mean by, risks. She didn’t have much time to dwell on it because the sounds of cheering and laughters piereced the air. Men, women and young children ran the dirt roads of the town clutching beautiful purple eggplants, turnips, pumpkins and carrots.
Whatever happend to Mary-Beth in that forest, whatever spell that witch conjured worked and that scared Mary-Beth more than anything.
TO BE CONTINUED