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To Turn Witch Pricker

Master North spears the fire with a poker, sending sparks flying.

I lick my lips, feel cracks like chasms under my tongue. When did I drink last? Time sticks and slips like hot grease.

He looks down at me, the glow of the rushlight turning his nose to a hook, to the questing beak of a giant bird. ‘Who else was at Grimmin’s Hill?’ The smell of him is like pork roasting on a spit.

The bodkin rolls between his fingers, ready to find my flesh again.

I know who pointed that beak my way. I’ve kept my peace so far, faced Hell alone. But that weapon could find others to punish.

I take a breath, taste smoke, think of my friends in the village and know they might do the same. ‘I saw Goodwife Huggins with the Devil. I saw Goodwife Wallace with the Devil …’

(A version of this story first appeared on my blog, Word Shamble)

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