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The Ragged Man

A Story Every Day in 2024 Feb 25th 56/366

By Rachel DeemingPublished 2 months ago 2 min read
Top Story - February 2024
30
The Ragged Man
Photo by Tobias Rademacher on Unsplash

"Burn her!"

The mob were shouting as Carys was brought to the pyre. The ragged man watched from the cover of the building. Carys looked demure, resigned.

He would not let her die.

Carys was terrified but she would never show it. She heard the screeching and jeering, and felt the spitting. But she would not give them the satisfaction of seeing her true emotions. They were hers and hers alone.

Her heart pounded along with her head. She saw the pyre, an innocuous pile of sticks on the common which would transform with just one spark into the heat of Hell.

She was bitter and she hoped that its acrid smell would permeate the air as she burned, and suffocate them all. They deserved nothing less. She was a talented healer, not a witch. People always feared what they did not understand. The irony was not lost on her. They prayed for a miracle to save old Rhea and then, when she provided the means, they cursed her for it.

She could see Rhea in the crowd. She wished no ill on her. Rhea had tried to speak on Carys' behalf but had been shouted down. Carys knew that Rhea would be concerned for her own safety and would not want to draw attention to the taint that Carys' care conferred on her.

I'm a weak old woman, Rhea thought, her lack of courage having shamed her into witnessing what she did not stop.

The ragged man watched intently as Carys was tied and the straw and tinder sticks at the base were lit. Soon, smoke was billowing and the crowd was cheering, their bloodlust palpable.

Carys wanted to be sick, her chest heaving as the smoke infiltrated it, its choking hold gripping and tightening. She was slipping into unconsciousness, head lolling.

Through the haze, noises. Loud, treacherous bangs, emanating from the pyre!

Rhea gasped. What sorcery was this? The ragged man smiled. The mob mobilised and scattered in confusion, as he knew they would, frightened sheep.

Confusion bred opportunity and running to the pyre, knife out, he quickly cut Carys' immobile form loose.

Saved.

Rhea cried with relief but who was the ragged man?

***

366 words

Thanks for stopping by! If you do happen to read it, do leave a comment as I love to interact with my readers.

56/366

ExcerptShort StoryMysteryMicrofictionCONTENT WARNINGAdventure
30

About the Creator

Rachel Deeming

Mum, blogger, crafter, reviewer, writer, traveller: I love to write and I am not limited by form. Here, you will find stories, articles, opinion pieces, poems, all of which reflect me: who I am, what I love, what I feel, how I view things.

Reader insights

Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  1. Masterful proofreading

    Zero grammar & spelling mistakes

  2. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  3. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

  4. Expert insights and opinions

    Arguments were carefully researched and presented

  5. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

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Comments (25)

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  • C. Rommial Butlerabout a month ago

    The ragged man, the motley jester, the pure fool, the secret smile! Well-wrought! I direct you to this recent piece I wrote for a friend as it is related to your story here in a way witch (!) you might find interesting: https://www.horrortoculture.com/blog/quoth-the-raven-dont-be-a/ Whether feeding the Christians to the lions or the lions to the Christians, it is the wrong way! No witch way about it!

  • Blake Boothabout a month ago

    Your first line got me to click on your story. This was a great little short. Way to leave us with some suspense. Looking forward to more.

  • Amelia Mooreabout a month ago

    this was lovely and really well done... it reminds me of this poem called 'Witch Burning' by Mary Elizabeth Counselman. amazing piece, you should read it! similar vibes to this story. link to it: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/32493/32493-h/32493-h.htm

  • Tomos Jackson2 months ago

    Nice work, gripping enough to encourage reading to the finish. It makes me curious, is this a story set in the Medieval Ages or a Fantasy world separate from our own? I would have liked to see perhaps some more detailed plans of retribution from the main character ,perhaps she picks on one individual in the crowd and envisions what she might do should she be free to really give the reader a sense of the anger she has towards her neighbours. I do like the ending as well, it leaves a mystery and a sense of "what will happen next?" which is always a good tool to employ to keep a reader interested. I hope you find the time to critique any of my own work. While I enjoy the work I produce, it could do with a bit of a counter balance of opinion in order to refine it I feel. Good luck and keep up the good work!

  • Jean McKinney2 months ago

    Great little story and a perfect illustration to go with it.

  • Anna 2 months ago

    Congrats on Top Story!🥳🥳🥳

  • LASZLO SLEZAK2 months ago

    Congratulations

  • A. Lenae2 months ago

    You built this with a perfect pace, showing us just enough to feel like we're a part of the excitement, understanding of the predicament, but also intrigued and swept up by the action. Fantastic writing! I would love to read more of this!

  • What a gripping and compelling tale! It's rather amazing how you manage to captivate readers and keep them wondering about the enigmatic, disheveled man.

  • Test2 months ago

    Fabulous work! Keep it up—congratulations!

  • Kendall Defoe 2 months ago

    Yeah, I want to know now!

  • Donna Fox (HKB)2 months ago

    Oooooo!! Rachel this was so captivating and such an intense read!! Are you or have you started a continuation of this?? I'd love to see more from this story!!

  • Back to say congratulations on your Top Story! 🎉💖🎊🎉💖🎊

  • Gabriel Huizenga2 months ago

    Awesome storytelling!! "The Ragged Man" is an absolutely epic title, for both the story and the character :) Congrats on the Top Story!

  • D. J. Reddall2 months ago

    Congratulations for the TS! 366 or bust!

  • Cathy holmes2 months ago

    And who might be this ragged man, I wonder.

  • Oooo, who indeed is this ragged man? Would we find out his identity? Also, Rhea made me think of Diarrhea 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

  • John stole my line, lol! Who indeed, indeed! And why wasn't he there for all the other falsely accused?

  • D.K. Shepard2 months ago

    LOVED this one! The scene was spellbinding and mysterious identity of the ragged man was such a source of intrigue 100% hooked for more

  • Jay Kantor2 months ago

    Rd - The Terrific Tale Teller. No carpel tunnel yet, then? I don't think as fast as you write. Jb

  • Shirley Belk2 months ago

    Agreeing with John!!!

  • John Cox2 months ago

    Who indeed? This is an intense read, Rachel, fairly beggin’ for more. Far be from me to act needy, but keep continuation of the story in mind. You started this fire after all.

  • Gerard DiLeo2 months ago

    That ragged man was me! Not braggin'.

  • D. J. Reddall2 months ago

    One must admire the heroism of the enigmatic, ragged man!

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