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Basilisk (part 2)
Unwinding the caught hair, my gaze wanders over to the trunk of the tree, thinking it peculiar how dark this particular tree was. Almost as if it had been—
“Hello? Is anyone around here?” Calls a nearby voice. The sound startles me out of my revere and gasping, I whirl around. My heart pounds. Are they friendly? Are they here to take me to the capitol?
“Hello? I came to help! Huh, I could have sworn…” The stranger was closer, and by their voice I could tell that it was an elderly woman. Excited that someone is close, I call out to them without a second thought.
“Me! I’m over here!” I croak out, my voice hurting from its recent activity. I covered my mouth the instant after the exposing words left my lips. I’m so stupid! I can’t just assume that an old lady won’t turn me in!
“Oh, there you are! Was it you who screamed a little while ago?” says the sweet little old lady who just appeared from the dense foliage. She is wearing a tattered brown and tan woven shall with a simple dark blue dress. She has a worried expression on her face and is looking about us as if to search for the thing that made me scream. Shyly, I look down and nod my head.
“Oh you poor thing! I recognize your face from the notice that went around the village. Your name is Caitlyn, correct?” she says with a sorry expression on her face. Shocked that I have been found out all ready, I begin to back up. She notices my small step backward and her eyes widen.
“Oh no! I don’t intend to turn you in to the government. I hate the king!” she says with a spit to the ground. Surprised that such an action could come from such sweet old lady, I instantly am aware that this is no normal woman. “He is the one who stole my husband Henry and son George away from me and sacrificed them to a stupid plan without a care in the world.” She tells me with a distant look of pure hatred.
Immediately, I revise my image of her being a sweet little old lady, the kind that sits at a window and knits all day, into a strong woman who has a past and has lived through more than her share of distress and sorrow. I look at her with admiration and astonishment, for she is in a situation similar to mine.
She notices that I have a weary look about me, and becomes inquisitive.
“How long have you been walking, dear?” she asks me, confused.
“Only a—” I clear my throat. “Only a few hours, I think…” I tell her.
Shocked, she exclaims “But, that’s impossible! The capital is at least one and a half days away from this town on horseback!”
Taking a moment to absorb what she said, slowly I look back the way I came. I see the long and winding stream. I see her staring at me like I have wings and horns, so I change the subject.
“What were you doing out here in the woods?” I ask her, truly curious. She continues to look at me and whispers, ignoring my question, “How did you do it? No one has ever escaped the dogs before…”
“I don’t kno—Wait a second, did you say escaped the dogs?” I ask her, bewildered. That can’t be right. Weren’t they still chasing me? Wasn’t I still on the run?
Then, shaking her head as if to clear her thoughts, the old woman looked back at me and smiled brilliantly with her yellow, crooked teeth. “Yes, deary, I did. You’re the first one to have ever escaped the death dogs. You’re alive!” she said with a joyous exclamation.
Dazed by the fact, I look about the woods blankly, seeing nothing and everything at the same time.
Taking a step toward me, her foot was placed in the stream. “Oh!” she said, quickly retracting her foot. It was then that I remembered that I was still in the stream. I could not feel my feet.
“Oh child! Come out of that stream before you catch cold!” she orders me, gesturing with her hand to come toward her. Slowly, I slide my feet out of the stream, taking one step a time with great care. She takes my elbow and begins towing me in the direction she came from.
“Oh, you poor thing! Let us go to my house for some food and drink.” Her voice enters my ears as if from underwater, muddled by my kaleidoscope of thoughts. ‘I made it.’ Is the one recurring thought within my mind. Most of our trip is a blur of the old woman’s voice, whose name is Birgett, as I find out in a random time I zone in, then I zone out again.
Several minuets later, we arrive at a small shack that barely passes for a house. The door is dented and old, and the whole outside is in need of a paint job. I can tell that it was once beautiful under all the filth and vines, with good, sturdy walls and roof of wood instead of the straw thatched that my house had.
“Here we are! Home sweet home!” Birgett chirped from my shoulder, for I was considerably taller than her. She begins to look for something in the folds of her blue dress.
“Now where did I put that...” she mumbles to her self, continuing to search her dress. Giving up, she sighs and continues to walk toward her house. Curious as to what she was looking for, I open my mouth to ask, when she suddenly bursts out a triumphant “Ah ha!” and proceeds to reach into her shoe and pulls out a key. It was a normal key, made of brass.
“I had to put it in my shoe because I didn’t want to forget where I put it again.” She explained to me with a simple smile on her face. The strange thing is she did not use the key on the front door, but instead just went in. I thought it very peculiar that she had a key at all, and it wasn’t even for her front door.
“Make yourself comfortable, whilst I find us something good to eat, eh?” she said. With that she exited the front room into what I presume to be the kitchen. Looking around, I discover that the inside of her house is worse than the outside. There is a coat of dust on practically everything in sight: the wooden rocking chair, the small table, the bench under the window, and the little book shelf in the corner. Odd.
There was a small entry way in the back corner of this room, and the door was darkened, as if the pattern of spider webbing cracks had been seared onto the door. Fighting my curiosity, I walk about the room kicking up little puffs of dust with every step I take. Glancing once again at the mysterious door, my curiosity takes over. Checking the entryway that Birgett had left through, I discover that the old woman has left. It’s now or never.
Creeping over to the darkened door, I become unnecessarily nervous, my palms have become slightly sweaty and my heart is pulsing in my throat. I approach the source of my internal conflict and a low ringing begins to buzz in my ear, like a silent warning bell going off in my head, making the scene even more eerie. Reaching out my hand to grasp the dull brass handle, I note that my hand is shaking as if I were terrified of what laid behind this mysterious door.
‘Nothing’s going to happen, so why are you reacting this way?’ I criticized my self. ‘Why are you so nervous, Caitlyn…?’
“Well, deary, we have a few selections.” Birgett chirped from the other room, making me jump. Startled by the old woman’s interruption, I frantically looked about the small room, searching for something to sit on. The bench beneath the window is closest, so I make a mad dash for it.
Just as I’m settling down, she enters with a small tray full of small cookies and two cups of tea. She shuffles across the room making little clouds of dust with each step and plops down on the rocking chair. As she slowly puts the tray of food on the small table between us, she asked me “So, tell me about yourself Caitlyn. How did you get into this horrible situation my dear?” She was smiling so brightly that her eyes disappeared underneath the folds of her aged skin. I reach over and grab the small tea cup off the tray.
Birgett and her kind old ways, the comfortable house, the warm food. Even with all of these things, I am still uneasy in the old woman’s presence. Taking a gulp of the hot tea, I answer her question.
“Well, it began two weeks ago…”