DURING THE MORNING OF that Saturday in early March, the landscape was garnished in two colours, grey and black. The mountains in the west stood barren, casting shadows upon the little German town. The sun played peek-a-boo with the heavy cloud covering that developed in the sky. The villagers remained true to their convictions. They stood unashamed in their decision.
In anger, Shane kicked a few stones from the forest floor and walked closer towards the Tower. His sacrifices and prayers remained unanswered. In the end, his act of submission remained. He wondered why he tried.
Suppressing nausea, he moved within the crowd. A sudden hush fell over the people, as she appeared before the tower door. Shane gasped over her appearance.
Her long dark hair was knotted and filthy. Her eyes were opened wide and wild. He wondered if she blamed him. The guards pushed her forward. Faceless hands ripped at her tattered dress, forcing her onto the podium and into the arms of the vicar. The Keeper of the Tower read the charges against her. The crowd roared.
"How do we find this woman?" said the Vicar.
"Guilty!" said the people, yelling.
Shane studied the crowd's reaction to her. The mental notes would stay within his head. Although it was strictly forbidden, revenge would be his. To hell with the consequences, he thought. The only woman he ever loved was to be burned alive before his eyes.
"How many have you placed under your spell?" the vicar yelled to her.
"I am innocent. Please believe me. I beg you all. I have done nothing wrong," she cried.
The sound of her sweet, begging voice forced shivers down Shane's spine. His slave stood on the podium accused of things she was incapable of doing. Thoughts of her ample breasts filling his mouth flashed through his mind. He could still smell her sweetness on himself. He swallowed hard.
"With your death, we will have peace and prosperity in our village!" the vicar said. The crowd cheered. The tower keeper pushed the frightened women down from the podium and tied her to a log. One by one, the townspeople lay cut wood at her feet. Her hair hung over her face hiding herself but Shane knew she was weeping.
"Stop!" a cloaked man said, shouting into the crowd, "there is no reason to execute this woman. Do not hurt her in the name of our Lord!"
Shane struggled to see the face of the man speaking, but the crowd enveloped him. He thought he smelled an odour of familiarity, but surely his kind would dare not garnish himself in the cloak of a Catholic priest.
The vicar raised his hand to silence the crowd and spoke. "Father, we already know how you feel on this matter. You made it quite clear at last night's meeting. But, the execution goes as planned. Evil must be banished, not accepted."
A bystander screamed, "Ask him, Vicar, if there is an erection underneath his cloak? Why else stand in defence of evil. He must lust after the woman. She has even put him under her spell. This woman has never attended church. Ask her why?"
The crowd around the priest grew thicker. Shane struggled to see the brave stranger to no avail.
"Please," the priest said in an agitated tone, "I beg of you all. Do not kill in the name of the Christ! You'll doom yourselves to hell!"
With their patience gone, the crowd surrounding the priest tightened. His pleas for mercy on behalf of the girl drowned within the roar of the mob. A simple push brought the priest to his knees. His Bible flew from his grasp. The crowd punched and kicked, as the pages ripped from the Holy Book of Man. Blood trickled from the priest's mouth, as he lost his balance and fell to the ground.
"Enough!" yelled the Vicar.
Shane's heart beat faster as the crowd worked swiftly to place the logs at the woman's feet. The crowd cheered as the men lit their fire torches.
Shane had seen enough. He looked to the Vicar. The Vicar trembled as Shane made eye contact with him. Suddenly, feeling feverish, the Vicar loosened the top button of his coat. He then opened another button. A trickle of sweat swam down from the fat's man face. The wind howled and bit at the Vicar's flesh but it could not soothe his burning. His body began to shake and quiver. Blood ran from his nose and eyes, staining the front of his shirt in red.
"Hurry!" said a bystander, "The evil is killing the Vicar. Look! Light the fire!" a man said, screaming. The torch holders scurried to the woman's feet and began lighting the logs. The woman whimpered and begged for forgiveness.
Shane directed his attention to the crowd. The mayor said, yelling to the crowd, "Light more. Men! Get more torches. Kill the evil bitch!"
Blood poured from the Vicar's ears. He collapsed onto the podium. The mayor ran to him to offer help but the Vicar lay dead. Shane laughed, knowing his revenge had only begun.
Looking into the crowd, the mayor gasped upon seeing his wife crouched over on all fours. The storekeeper ravaged her. He jumped down from the podium, grabbed a shovel and hit the storekeeper in the head, killing him instantly. As he bent over to pick up his wife, the storekeeper's brother grabbed his rifle and shot the mayor in the head. Laughing, he pushed the mayor's wife back onto all fours and tried to finish what his brother started.
Shane looked to twin, six-year old girls dressed in their best attire for the witch burning ceremony. They pushed on one other. Their nails ran across the other's face, drawing blood from blood, until their tired, limp bodies fell on the other. Outside of the tower, a young man began beating his fiancÚ. Her dead body fell to the floor with a thump.
He played the townspeople as if they were a chess game. He destroyed one piece at a time. They now lay in judgment before his lover's pyre. He looked to her and tried to stop the flames engulfing her. He was unable to do so. Her death was foretold and Shane could not stop it.
Looking at her pretty face, Shane moved his mind into hers and comforted her as the flames took her flesh. He sighed, knowing his lover would die with no recollection or pain. He held her tightly within his mind. Her flesh pressed against his, soothing his pain. Once she was gone, tears fell from his eyes. Thunder filled the air. A terrible snowstorm had arrived. Shane screamed into the sky," She was mine! Why? Why am I destined to be alone?"
Flames spit out over the area from his lover's pyre.
He looked to where the priest's body had lain moments ago, but he was gone. Shane sniffed the air but could not recognize the priest's scent any longer. The snow fell harder. Shane moved to the woods. He listened to the crackling of the flames and the cries of the people as they murdered one another. Turning back for one last look, he allowed the flames to spread about the community. Even the falling wet snow could not dampen the fire as it devoured the village. The town and its people existed no more.