Fantasy Horror

A chill bit through Hanna’s thin shawl. She wrapped it tighter around herself, brushing off errant leaves. Her head hurt and the world slightly spun. She put a slender hand on the trunk near her and took in the sight and smell of the forest. It didn’t make sense. How did she get here? Her mind was a fog, but Hanna was sure it had been a beautiful spring day when she had come to pick mushrooms for dinner. Now, she hardly recognized where she was in this picturesque fall forest.

A slight breeze ruffled orange and red leaves, scattering them to an already crowded forest floor. She had to get home; her new husband would be expecting her. They had barely been married a fortnight and Hanna wanted to impress Eoghan. She ruffled her damp skirts and marched on. If she was where she thought she was, her modest cottage should be just around the bend.

Moving on wobbly legs, Hanna let her muscles do the work, her mind still spinning. Finally, after what felt like much too long, the dusty road appeared in front of her, her home village, the one she had lived in since she was born, sprawled out below her. The sight of the tall church steeple filled her heart. Whatever had happened, maybe just a horrible dream, must be coming to an end. With wobbly confidence she marched down the road, across the burbling brook, and down into her home.

 The sight of her blooming garden welcomed her, but it was, off. Her plants should just be sprouting, as she had planted them when she and Eoghan moved in after their wedding. But now, towering sunflowers and bright round full pumpkins filled the small space. She pushed it aside, eager to see her husband. Maybe she would rest and when she woke up all would make sense again. She lightly palpitated her head, could she have had a fall? Last winter old man Peter hit his head on his barn eaves and lost a full week from memory. Could that be it? No, It didn’t feel right, Hanna was grasping at straws.

She approached her wooden door and before she could twist the handle, the door opened. Hanna bit back a gasp. She was staring at, herself. Tall with coiled auburn hair, a slender, pale face spattered with freckles. Hanna pinched her arm, hard. This had to be a dream. Worse, a nightmare.

           “May I help you?” she heard herself ask.

Hanna was speechless.

           “Are you quite alright? You look as though you’ve had a fright.”

           “I don’t…who are you?”

           The woman’s eyes, her own eyes looking back at her, grew distrustful.

           “My name is Hanna O’Murray. Who are you?”

           “I’m…I’m Hanna O’Murray. This is my house. What is going on?”

           The woman laughed, but the humor didn’t reach her eyes.

           “You must have taken a fall. Either that or you’ve had too much ale before the Harvest’s eve festival. I suggest you make your way back into town. My husband will be home soon, and he doesn’t take too kindly to strangers.”

           Hanna, though in disbelief, felt anger and bewilderment stir inside of her.

           “Your husband?” She almost shouted. “Liar! This is my house and I don’t know what sorcery or tomfoolery you are trying to pull here but I demand you leave at once.”

           The woman looked around, as though to make sure they were alone. When she turned back on Hanna her eyes had changed to a glowing yellow, her teeth grew long and sharp. Gently, she ran a clawed nail down Hanna’s cheek.

           “My dear, my sweet, sweet child. You have been missing for months. You would have been dead if I hadn’t needed you alive to take your form. You were as good as lifeless from the moment I dropped you in that forest glen like a wet sack of sod. You simply do not exist anymore. I am Hanna O’Murray and you are nothing.”

           Fear chilled Hanna’s insides. “I know what you are. You’re a fairy. A changeling. But that’s impossible, that’s just a story my mam told me as a child. This…this can’t be real.”

           “Oh, it is. Now, begone before I change my mind and eat you.”

           Hanna felt rooted in place, fear, and anger keeping her tethered. Suddenly, the sound of a horse came rolling up.

           “Hullo, dear! Are you ready for the harvest festival? I hear Kian grew a pumpkin the size of his sheep!”

           Eoghan, sweet Eoghan. Hanna felt tears well in her eyes when she looked at her husband. As he hopped off his horse and approached the house, his shining eyes changed to puzzlement. Hanna looked at the fairy to see her appearance had changed back.

           “Eoghan, darling, this woman is sick. She is pretending to me be. She plans to kill me and be your wife.”

           Eoghan’s dark eyes turned deadly as he rounded on Hanna. She had never seen such malice mar his face.

           “She’s lying! She’s a fairy. Please, Eoghan, it’s me, Hanna. Your real wife!”

           Eoghan looked back and forth from woman to woman.

           “Eoghan, please kill her before she kills us! She’s a demon! You know it’s true.” Pleaded the fairy.

           Eoghan took out the slender knife he always carried with him. He looked back and forth. Hanna could tell he didn’t know what to do.

           “It’s me! I can prove it. We got married on March 15 in a tent in a beautiful flower field. All of our friends and family were there. It was the happiest day of our life.”

           “Don’t listen to that demon, she’s tricking you! Kill her! Kill her now.”

           Then, the fairy began to speak an ancient language under her breath. A language long forgotten. Eoghan turned on Hanna, his knife raised high. The fairy’s face turned ugly, saliva oozing from elongated teeth. Hanna met Eoghan’s eyes, and she knew before she felt the knife slip into the soft flesh of her belly. Warm blood seeped through her hands. She was no more.

October 25, 2021 02:34

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