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The Long Night

A dark trek

By Luke FosterPublished 2 years ago 6 min read
7
The Long Night
Photo by rashid khreiss on Unsplash

The cabin in the woods had been abandoned for years, but one night, a candle burned in the window. Klaus had almost given up hope, the village was on the verge of collapse. But if the candle was lit once more, then that meant she was back.

Olga had been the witch of Braden village for five generations, and for that time the Danner family had been the villages liasion to her. Klaus had visited the old cabin with his father as a boy and the old woman terrified him, when he found out that he was going to be the sole contact of Braden with Olga, the seven year old Klaus had cried all night.

But that had not come to pass. When Klaus was fifteen, the old woman disappeared into the night. She had previously gone off before, but was always back whenever the village needed her.

She had been gone for three years now, and the village needed her more than ever. In the last year, people had started to disappear. Creatures of the night roamed the woods around the village, striking once a month when the moon was at its most full. Klaus' father had been one of the first to fall, found one morning with his throat torn to pieces as he went to seek the advice of the old woman.

People were afraid to leave their homes, especially when darkness fell, and those that did dared not tarry. So when one of the hunters came back this morning and told Klaus that the cabin in the woods was showing signs of occupancy once more, then Klaus knew that he could not escape his fate. He would have to make the perilous journey into the woods to seek out the old woman.

He packed his provisions with care, when his father used to visit Olga, he would take breads and preserves made in the village, so Klaus made sure to do the same. This was an important part of the contact role, his father told him that this was an unspoken agreement between the old woman and the village, in return she provided various poultices and medicines, along with advice and help with other matters. And by the spirits, they needed her help now.

He stuck a hunting knife in the belt of his trousers, he didn't think it would do much good but he didn't know what else to do. The thought of this journey threatened to unman him, it was only about an hour or so, but the woods had become synonymous with death.

He realised that he had packed and checked and then repacked his bag three times now. He had put this off for as long as he could but if he was to make it there before the candle ran out. The most important rule of the old woman was that she would only see the Danner family whilst the candle was lit.

Klaus swung a cloak of deep crimson about his shoulders and set off from his cabin. Night was beginning to take hold, and the village was deserted. The sky had a purple hue, and the whole evening had an ominous feel to it. He took a deep breath and pulled the cloak tighter about him as he stepped under the cover of the trees.

The silence deepened under the canopy of leaves, and the darkness closed in. Klaus jumped at every branch moving in the breeze and every bird call. The limited moonlight that made it through the trees caused the shadows of the leaves to flit to and fro.

Klaus kept up a brisk pace as he moved through the trees, his hand clutching the knife handle at his belt. Given the frequency of attacks around the village, he knew that he would have to be lucky to get through with his life. He really didn't want to be out here, but being in the village wasn't much safer at the moment, and he was the only one who could make this journey.

An animalistic shriek came from the darkness. Klaus tried to hold his nerve for as long as he could, but a second shriek sent him scurrying at pace. He should have taken more care but his heart was threatening to beat out of his chest.

He slowed down when he lost sight of the trail, but his heart was still racing. He took in some deep breaths and tried to make out where he was in the gloom. A flicker of light caught his eye, unbelievebly he had stumbled upon the old woman's cabin.

As he approached, he could see the outline of figures stood in the treeline. There was no time to waste. Running once again, he heard the rustle of movement as he was chased towards the small wooden structure. He vaulted across the front of the cabin and hammered on the door with his fists.

The door opened and the old woman stepped out into the night. She stepped past Klaus and spoke a word of power. The spell was so powerful that even stood behind her, Klaus was forced to take a step back. The foul, twisted creatures of the night recoiled from its power, and retreated into the treeline.

"Young Danner. Come in." the Witch's voice was smooth and strong, belying her decrepit appearance. She lead the way into the small one room cabin. It was only lit by the one candle, but that was bright enough to throw half of the room into sharp relief.

"So you've seen the beasts of the night?" the old woman spoke casually, as though creatures of hell were not outside.

"Yes, the village needs your help. We are dying, Olga."

The old woman shrugged and picked up the knapsack that Klaus had dropped and began to rifle through it's contents. She pulled out a loaf of bread and ripped off a piece, studying it in her hands before taking a bite.

"Did you know, young Danner, that I've been the witch of Braden village for almost exactly 200 years. As long as there has been a Braden village, in fact."

The old woman stood across the cabin by an unlit and unlaid fireplace. When she looked up her face was half in shadow, and the dark eyes flashed.

"Eight generations ago, your ancestors summoned me to this forsaken spit of land. We struck a deal, and I have watched over you ever since."

The sinister nature of this speech unnerved an already frazzled Klaus, but he had more important things to worry about.

"Olga, we need to go to the village. The people are in danger, and the monsters are closing in." His voice was panicked, and he wanted to get out of this cabin as soon as possible.

"They won't come until they are called. The deal that was struck has expired, and Braden village is mine."

She stepped out into the candlelight, her face was distorted and her eyes were a fiery red. Klaus recoiled in horror but it was already too late.

-----------

Some 300 years later, a man and a woman were hiking through the forest. They stopped at a fallen log and took on water from their hydration packs.

"Did you know that there used to be a village around here?" the woman was losing interest in the hike, and the light was starting to fail. "Around two or three hundred years ago it just disappeared. Weird, huh?"

"What are you talking about?" she was used to hearing his stories, but he did go on a bit. "There's a cabin right over there."

The man looked through the trees at the rundown old cabin, and he was sure that he could see a candle lit in the window.

fiction
7

About the Creator

Luke Foster

Father. New husband. Wannabe writer.

Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

Top insights

  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  2. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

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Comments (7)

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  • Mike Singleton - Mikeydredabout a year ago

    This is my first read of this excellent challenge entry. Good one

  • Cathy holmes2 years ago

    This was great. Well done

  • Amy Writes2 years ago

    Nice!! This was really well written and had me hooked, wanting to know more!

  • L.C. Schäfer2 years ago

    Good ending! 😁

  • Heather Hubler2 years ago

    Great suspense and loved the ending!

  • I love the sense of time and character you managed to fit into a short story. (And now I sorta want it to be the prologue to a whole novel ;) )

  • Angel Whelan2 years ago

    Very interesting take on the prompt - I like the fantasy spin on it. Good job!

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