June 10

1692 — First accused witch executed in Salem, Massachusetts

 

“If I’m who you think I am, you should be very afraid of me.”

The teenage girl’s remark took Mitchell by surprise.  Until now, she seemed harmless.  He couldn’t figure out why his friend Jonathon was so interested in her.

Interested enough to capture her.  To tie her to a chair in the basement of the house they’d broken into, then subject her to strange, vague questionings.  They were questions about identity, about special powers, about impossible acts performed in the past.  Nobody could answer them  — certainly not this frail girl, starving and afraid like everybody else, bound and blindfolded and shivering in the damp and dark.

A basement like a prison cell.  Like an old-fashioned dungeon.

Mitchell had been feeling sorry for her.

But in her latest utterance, the girl seemed confident.  She tilted her head toward Mitchell, then his friend, exactly pinpointing their location in the room — as if she could see through the thick blindfold.  For a moment, Mitchell got the impression that she was the captor, and he and Jonathon were her prisoners.

“You see, Mitch?  She’s practically admitted it.”

“Admitted what?”

The teenage girl laughed, and it was the cruel laugh of experience  and superiority — an adult surprised at how rash and foolish young people can be.

Mitchell shivered, struck anew by the damp chill in the basement air.  “Tell me why you kidnapped her,” he demanded.  “Tell me why you brought her here.”

Jonathon sighed, as if unwilling to explain the obvious.  “She’s the one I’ve been seeing in my dreams,” he finally said.  “She’s the witch who caused the end of the world.”

 

[…continued tomorrow…]