Free Write: 10/28/19

The guard pushed the old man out of the church, face forward. Douglas stumbled in the bright light of day, his eyes adjusting.
Somewhere nearby the creak of a wagon rolling by, the clucking of hens, the hammering of metal on metal, the smell of smoke from the smithy.
“Go on there, Dougy,” said the guard. “You think we’d not find out?”
Douglas couldn’t answer, he just mouthed his confusion. Not because he was innocent. He was guilty. But because he didn’t know how they’d found out.
“You look like a fish outa water, you do,” said the guard. “It’s right sick.”
The other soldier chimed in, standing on the stone steps of the church. “Witch out of Harem more like.”
The first one asked, “I thought only women’d be witches, don’t you?”
Douglas shook his head. The congregation in the church watching from the entrance to the holy building.
“Sirs, sirs,” said Pastor Barnaby, “Surely you’ve got the wrong man?” he asked. Then, “You’ve got the wrong man.” It was a statement.
“Nop,” said the first soldier. “Nop. I’m sorry, father, but this one ‘ere, he’s been hiding ‘ere for too long and thinking nobody’s the wiser.”
Douglas could feel the burning in his bones. He wished he could make it stop. Break the curse, anything.
“Don’t,” he said.
“Don’t” asked one of the soldiers. “Or wha’, you go’n turn us into little froggies or som’at?”
“I mean,” said Douglas. “Don’t hurt them. They didn’t know.”
“Like ‘ell they didn’t” said the first guard. “Been livin’ with a witch all this time and never thought nothing did they?”
“Nothing,” said Douglas.
“Right, well, Grand Master Picel thinks different, he does.”
The soldiers accosted him again. Douglas didn’t fight. He was all done fight. “Not a witch,” he said.
“Oh no?” asked the guard on his left, a boy barely past his childhood, if his facial hair was any indication. “Then what are yea, then?”
They walked him down the dirt lane, shadow’s stretching out behind them, and each step he took Douglas could feel the pain inside him grow. It was a burning, a trifle at first, but quickly strengthening.
“Look,” said Douglas, trying to explain. “If you kill me, This town. . . it will also die.”
“Ah, making threats now, eh? That’s more like it.”
Douglas shook his head. They passed the scroll and book emporium he had spent so much time in, since his arrival in the quaint town. It had been years and he loved it and he’d come to love those who made it what it was. A tiny town on the outskirts of Bath–but then why’d they come for him. He’d not done magic since. . .
“You’re a sick bastard, you are,” said the guard on his right. “Ask me, you deserve to be burned up.”
“My bones,” said Douglas. “There’s something wrong with ’em.”
“No doubt there’s something wrong with all witches,” said the boy guard. “It’s why they’re witches, right?”

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