Once upon a time, I walked the streets of New Bedlam with many of my friends. I’m sure some of you will remember those cold, dark streets, where anything could be creeping around the next corner. Here’s a story from those times. In fact it was my first New Bedlam tale. Hope you enjoy today’s free read.
The following account was found in a journal discovered at a New Bedlam heritage site. According to town archives, the original homestead that stood on the property was gutted by fire in 1895. Somehow this journal survived, with all its pages intact.
* * *
Hillary helped me arrange my iron tools in a circle just outside the front door. No clouds in the sky means no threat of rain tonight, so they’ll be safe. I pray the spring storms don’t come anytime soon. We forgot to lay some iron out before the barn, so I fear what it might do to the cows. How I hope we don’t find a mess in the morning.
We could hear it last night, laughing and shouting threats from underneath our bedroom window. I was terrified it would try to get in through the back entrance, but the lock on that door is made of iron so that should keep it out. It hasn’t yet tried the two windows at the front of our cabin.
Its racket woke up our little Mary. She came down from her tiny room in the loft and asked to sleep with us. She could hear it scratching at her wall. I assume it must’ve climbed up to the roof to try our chimney.
I still cannot discern what we have done to make it so angry with us. Hillary and I always left payment for its hard work around our home and farm. We left it bread and honey, milk and some fresh baked biscuits—every night it had a feast, as requested. How did we insult the creature?
Mind you, we are in New Bedlam, and strange occurrences are frequent in this town. I thought moving here would be a fresh start for Hillary, Mary, and I, after we lost so much back in Alberta. Now, I’m not so sure.
Speaking with Rose Trotten—who some townsfolk fear and avoid, as she’s rumored to be a witch in trade with Satan—I learned this area has a history of tragedy. I fear we made a grave mistake coming here. Rose offered me advice on dealing with the creature, so I can at least be thankful for that. She believes something in the town could be warping its intent, corrupting it. This place is starting to stink with a festering malevolence.
I can’t completely blame the town, though. My grave mistake came when I met it at the crossroads and offered it passage in my wagon. I let it in my home and gave it food. It wasn’t until it took off its hat and brushed back its shaggy hair that I noticed its face. The creature—then posing as a man—looked exactly like me. This gave me quite a shock.
It revealed itself as a Fetch—a co-walker to my spirit, a double of my soul. A denizen of Fey, it claimed to be. Was I naïve to take it at its word? In truth, I was afraid of it by then, afraid not to. When it offered work in exchange for a place to stay and some food, I chose not to deny it. My next fatal mistake came there. I gave it too much will over my home and hearth.
I can see it now, from my bedroom window. I watch it as Hillary and I prepare for sleep. It still resembles me somewhat, but its appearance is more akin to animal than human now. Its pug-nosed face has taken on a piggish appearance. Its yellow eyes remind me of a wolf. When I catch a glimpse of it by daylight, its skin shines an odd, light blue. At this moment, it sits in a looming willow and peers in at me. I clutch the iron spike, one of a few I’ve stolen from the railway yard. Should it decide to try the windows tonight, I will be ready.
Copyright © 2012 Louise Bohmer. All rights reserved. No part of this short story may be distributed, shared, or posted online without the author’s written permission.