Waking the Witch

May 24, 2015:

After the explosion on the tanker, the shattered remnants of Wanda float down the river of her life.

East River, NYC


NPCs: None.



Mood Music: Waking the Witch

Fade In…

There was fire.

Intense heat and the blast of an explosion and then cold blackness. So cold. So dark.

“Wake up.” It is a man’s voice though she doesn’t know whose. Soft. A gentle request for Wanda to wake. She stirs, eyes flickering open slowly before a rather harsher woman’s voice announces, “Good morning, ma’am. This is your early morning wake-up call.” It sounds like it is spoken over the phone but Wanda has no phone. She has lost another one…not that she even remembers who gave it to her.

Her eyes slowly focus on the blue walls around her. This is not familiar at all. “You must wake up!” urges another man’s voice and she immediately springs up to a sitting position. Wanda gasps for air, clutching at her throat for a moment as her panicked eyes take in the small room around her. There are no windows yet sunlight streams through the walls themselves. The light casts dappled shadows over the single bed that Wanda starts to clamber from. The floor looks so far away. “Wake up, man!” yells yet another man’s voice and she looks around for a source but sees none.

Then Wanda’s eyes are flickering open again. This time she is a small classroom that is barely more than a mud-bricked hovel in the Transian countryside. All the children in the class are no more than ten years old. The one sitting next to her in the back row has a predilection for silver. “Pietro?” she asks before having to cough and splutter.

“Wake up, child! Pay attention!” screams the old female teacher at Wanda, her cane smacking the desk in front of her. Pietro winks at his sister before disappearing in a blur of speed – no class for him today. Wanda wishes she could do that. Just get away.

“Come on, wake up” whispers yet another male voice. “Wake up, Love” urgers a much more cheerier one. Wanda’s eyes flicker open once more even though she doesn’t remember closing them. She is sitting cross-legged in a meadow under the shade of a tree. A man in his thirties sits on a thick tree root, a mandolin in his hands – it is her father. Her dead father. “We should make the night, but see your little light’s alive” he half sings to her before offering a warm smile. Then his smile is gone and his voice is as harsh as it ever was when she was expected to be working that day. “Stop that lyin’ and a-sleepin’ in bed. Get up!”

Then it is night and the pre-teen Wanda is sitting on her father’s lap as he points up at the stars above. The black night of the sky seems to shimmer and ripple like water. “Can you not see that little light up there?” he whispers in her ear.

“Where?” she replies.



“Over here.” Now her father is standing in the ruins of a concrete bunker. His face is bloodied. His limbs smashed and broken, hanging limp from shattered joints. His shirt ripped to shreds and the flesh beneath bloodied and pulped. Even though he spoke, he is dead.

“You still in bed?” asks a woman’s voice and Wanda pushes herself to her elbows to see her mother at the entrance to their caravan. Pietro is long gone…as always. Her father pokes his head over her mother’s shoulder. “Wake up, sleepy head” he grins before they both turn to look behind them. There is the sound of a crowd approaching. An unruly crowd. Not unusual when you are Romani but, judging by the look on her parent’s faces, this is worse than normal.

Wanda is now being led down a concrete corridor past sober guards in black uniforms and assault weapons in their hands. She is being led towards a thick steel door. Her feet splashing in the water that covers the ground though no one else seems to notice it. Wanda still gasps for breath; water dribbling over her lips. Her father is suddenly next to the door. “Don’t you know you’ve kept him waiting?” he mildly scolds her…though he is far too beaten and bloody to even be able to speak. And then her mother is there. Her skin charred black and her skull shattered enough to show pink brain throbbing within. The burnt visage smiles warmly at Wanda. “Look who’s here to see you.”

The crowd are on three sides. Drably dressed people of both sexes sit on rows of benches that rise high into the sky and leer over the central area where Wanda stands. Her hands are chained together and a huge stone is attached to her right leg by another chain. The back of her dress has been torn by the whipping she received to help loosen her tongue…though she still kept silent. The fourth side of the room, no doors or windows visible, is occupied by a high dais where a corpulent man in a black uniform that seems to be made of smoke stares down at her with undisguised hatred. “You won’t burn” he spits. “You won’t bleed” he growls. “Confess to me, girl! Go down back to your Hell.”

On each side of the Inquisitor stand chanting priests who constantly genuflect at the pale Wanda. “Poor little thing” the fat man leers, leaning forward to look over her with malevolent eyes. “You are the blackbird…but their wings are not made for water” he laughs…and so do the crowd. Wanda tries to speak but all that comes out of her mouth is saltwater. “I question your innocence” he roars, jabbing a fat finger in her direction. “She’s a witch!!” he grins to the crowd and they all nod in eager agreement. The man heaves himself upwards. “Damn you woman!! What say you good people?” The crowd get to their stamping feet. “Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!”

Wanda wants to proclaim her innocence but first she has to spit out another mouthful of dark, oily water. “NO!!” she finally manages to scream. “It is time that I was free of this stone upon my leg.” Though it is the corpulent Inquisitor she stares at when referencing the stone. Her chains disappear…and then the crowd and their benches…and then the dais. The Inquisitor now sprawled on a green meadow covered with dappled light. “Help this blackbird” Wanda whispers, her flaming eyes boring into him and peeling off layer and layer of fat until he is merely a black cloud of ancient evil.

“I am responsible for your actions” admits the cloud before it dissipates into nothingness.

“Not guilty” states Wanda’s parents and Pietro in unison, smiling warmly at her and looking happy and alive once more. And is that Bobby standing there too? And Nyx? But Nyx does not look so forgiving.

“Wake the witch” states a growling voice and suddenly Wanda’s eyes open once more. This time she is underwater, drifting downwards. The dappled surface of the water so very far above her head. There is a light up there. ‘See the light’ whispers her father’s voice in her ear and she kicks upwards with the last of her strength. Her lungs straining for air…urging her to breathe even though she is still underwater. Wanda breaks the surface and gulps at the air. The light swings round towards her but it does not find her. The heavy thud of a helicopter’s rotors overhead in the night sky.

“Get out of the waves! Get out of the water!” urges a voice over a megaphone to no one in particular as Wanda spits out more oily water before looking slowly around. Upriver a huge tanker is burning, surrounded by emergency response ships, and trucks upon the shore where it has beached. Something seems familiar about that but even the effort of trying to remember is too strenuous. Wanda needs to sleep. There is pain in her limbs and she can see where her clothes have melted into her skin. She seems to be drifting towards a beach and she tries to kick towards it but almost immediately her strength is gone. Wanda rolls onto her back and floats in the cold, oily water of the East River. Letting it take her where it will. Her blank eyes stare up at the night sky, the stars barely visible through the haze of the big city. ‘I’m sorry’ she whispers to the world before those faint stars fade into blackness as her body starts to shut down.

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