Friday 5 July 2013

#FridayFlash - Watery depths

I tiptoe down the steps towards the arch in the wall, the stairs slick with wet leaves. A fine mist of rain clings to my hair and gown, yet I do not fear the moisture in the night air. Water is not my enemy.

I stand on the edge of the step, clinging to the stone arch, and peer into the gloom. Sten's boat will cut through the darkness and he will lift me down onto a seat. We will spend the night quietly traversing the canals of the town, sliding beneath the houses built over the water. I will sing softly in the tunnels, my song encouraging the water to glow to light our way.

Footsteps squelch on the steps behind me and I turn to see Sten. His face is white in the darkness, and he is not alone. Another man stands behind him and my blood runs cold when I recognise him. His sharp features and dead eyes can only belong to Ward de Ville, Chief Inquisitor. I know that my romantic trysts with Sten have been uncovered, but there is a greater threat than the shame of being an unchaperoned woman. De Ville would not be here otherwise.

"So this is her?" De Ville looks me up and down as though I am something foul and abject. He does not hide his disgust, but I can smell his fear beneath the bravado.

Sten nods, and refuses to meet his gaze. I wonder how much Sten will receive for my bounty, and if he will enjoy spending such newfound wealth, knowing he was paid for my death.

"Nothing to say for yourself?" asks De Ville.

"Nothing I would care to say to you, at least," I reply.

I see no profit in playing innocent, in asking Sten what he means by bringing De Ville here, in pleading for my life or denying whatever charges De Ville chooses to throw at me. Such grovelling is not the way of my people, for we are as strong as the tides.

Without a word, De Ville steps forward and pushes me into the water. My gown grows heavy, and the canal's cold fingers drag me down. They expect me to struggle, but I am caught in their quandry. If I sink, I am innocent, and if I surface, I will be burned.

I hold myself in the murky depths, waiting until the men are satisfied of my 'death' and leave the stairs. My anger burns so fiercely that I worry it will make the water churn and boil around me. I hoped this place would be different, that the people would be welcoming and appreciate my gifts, instead of fearing them. But the current of hatred runs strongly in man, and I must find another home. Again.

And yet. I bide my time in the water, secure that they have gone. Men with poles will return later to find my body, and thus proclaim my innocence, although they will find nothing. I hope that such proof will destroy Sten's conscience, in allowing him to think he condemned his innocent love, but I cannot let it rest. I follow the canals beneath the houses to find that of Sten. I pull myself up onto a narrow landing, where a service door leads directly into the tunnel. I heave it open and slip inside.

Sten will have quite a shock in the morning - perhaps the greatest, and last, shock of his life.


John Wiswell said...

The name "De Ville" made me smile. Is it a real name? Sure. But in your story, I imagined it meant the same thing it meant for my fictional characters as a teen. Not surprised he'd show up around a boat, or around a tragedy.

Was a grimly entertaining read, Icy.

Anonymous said...

Oh a witch. I think sten conscience will prick him harder if he's alive.

Helen A. Howell said...

Oh look out Sten! I could feel the icy water around her. A witch, being different is always hard, people shun what they don't understand. I think you captured this element very well.

Sulci Collective said...

this drips with atmosphere like the very drops of brackish water that condense on the underside of the bridges in venice. This was excellent. I wasn't sure if she was actually demonic / witchlike such were her strengths & powers and that would have made the Inquisitor right.

marc nash

tom gillespie said...

"Water is not my enemy" is such a great line and it begs the question, "what or who is?" A very atmospheric and chilling piece.. that makes me want to put a coat on and go sit by a roaring fire..

Tony Noland said...

Terrific ending! I loved the devotion to finding a clever middle way to both escape AND get revenge.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic story Icy! The imagery is so wonderful I could feel the damp air and hear the drips and the ending is super!

Larry Kollar said...

Beautiful, from the damp beginning to the soggy end. And yet, I wonder about Sten - did he turn her in to avoid his own death by torture? She's not a witch in the traditional sense, if she can survive prolonged submersion... a water mage, perhaps?

I'd love to see this fleshed out, maybe as a short story or novella. There's a lot going on here that bears exploring!

Cat Russell said...

Hell hath no fury, Sten. You should have known better! What a bastard!

I loved this, the way it was told, just everything.

Tim VanSant Writes said...

Cool character and great atmosphere. I like it!

Peter Newman said...

Once again, another great 1st person POV.

I also liked "water is not my enemy" and "my people are as strong as the tides". The sense of her pride is palpable.

Katherine Hajer said...

Loved this, loved how the strength and power of the MC were also her drawbacks.

liminalfiction said...

Looks like she'll have the last laugh on Sten and De Ville. Or perhaps an epic battle with De Ville will come later? Cool characters, Icy.

Anonymous said...

This flows beautifully like the water.
Adam B @revhappiness

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