The Lady

©2023 michael raven

The trees were bordered in effigies dangling, a slow rotation from the air currents listlessly ambling through the dense foliage. The children all knew better than to trespass past the boundary but adults… when they often laughed off tales of Abigail Armstrong as myth and superstition, and marched their way into the beyond, only to slink back hours later, never to laugh at such things again. Nor talk about what they had seen. Assuming they made it back at all.

Abigail weren’t no Bloody Mary, to be laughed off like some double dare chicken challenge of slumber party. Those who knew of her never mentioned her, save for in whispers under the wind.

Shush, now or The Lady will hear your racket, an’ come to take you home.

No one called her by name in New Canaan, especially near the wood. She was always The Lady. Or, The Kindly One. Folks did not like inviting her in by name, and they avoided mentioning it when they could.

But then, some kids from the city, kids who knew nothing about The Kindly One, her warnings or her ways. “Hiking” they had told folks, their SUVs filled with backpacks, tents and their dogs. Old Man Wendel, grimaced when he heard that, but told them of mostly forgotten trailheads north of town. When the blond young dude mentioned seeing maps of trails snaking behind the old quarry — trails claimed as property of The Lady by way of dangling crude ornaments made of stick, vine and thorn. Wendel forced the panic from his voice and warned the kids against excursions on that end of town. Too dangerous, plenty of hidden dangers in the woods behind the quarry, he said.

The blond kid promised to follow the trails Wendel mentioned, but those kids must have wandered off the trails or ignored Old Wendel’s advice, for they found five bodies in a star pattern, headless necks pointing with accusation towards the center where the stacked heads silently howled in a forever maelstrom.

Sheriff Kyle knew he was about to have a shitshow on his hands when the call came in about the bodies found roadside just beyond Her woods. Within the hour, he had to put is cellphone on silent ring within the hour, as calls from all over poured in, asking if it was true that some bodies had been found just outside the old Grey Goose quarry. He didn’t have answers and expected none would be had anytime soon. And he did not think the reporters and world would accept it if he said there would be no justice when dealing with a vengeful ghost. They’d make him resign.

“So you say a ghost did this?” would be the question he’d be haunted by. They they’d laugh and mock him in the news, and folks who did not even live in New Canaan would demand he tender one immediately. Ghosts, indeed.

He almost turned around and did just that as he parked behind the deputies’ squads. It was an inevitable outcome of this event.

But he didn’t.

A reported had beat him to the scene, accosting him even before he stepped out of the car — which was a first for Sheriff Kyle. It made him wonder who’s kids The Kindly One had butchered if news had already spread to the news.

“I know it’s early, and you just found the bodies, but what is your gut instinct about who might have killed these people?

Kyle didn’t even fight the tidal wave coming. “A ghost,” he muttered, half hoping he’d just be left alone to do his job while he still had a job to resign from.

“You’re saying a ghost did this?”

That’s when Sheriff Kyle crested the hillock and looked down at the bodies. It was worse than he’d expected, now that he was there in the flesh.

He grunted, and focused on the hike to the clearing. He would process the scene, then tender his resignation. He wasn’t cut out for talking to reporters and didn’t much care to make himself the laughingstock of half the state.

“I asked you: you’re saying a ghost did this?”

“Ayep.” He decided he’d just go take up residence at his grandfather’s cabin about 23 miles opposite this place from New Canaan. No electricity, no media, with a deep, forbidding lake to toss his phone into so he could forget all about this place.

5 thoughts on “The Lady

    1. As per usual, this is a draft improvisational piece. I like the idea of a Sheriff who is a homicidal maniac, but it would hard to explain how a 30-something was responsible for similar deaths back in 1973. And 1947. And 1921. 😀

      Actually, he had no place my the story until he stepped on scene. He was an uninvited guest.


      Liked by 1 person

  1. This has serious Stephen King vibes. You could expand this to a full-length novel if you were so inclined. I want to know more of her legend, of the history of the land, of who this group of kids are. I get the sense the sheriff knows more than he’s letting on—perhaps he lost a friend/family member to The Lady. Such evocative writing, Michael.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. I’m currently tossing around ideas in my head, but leaning away from novelizations. It’s too early to go into details, but I’m toying around with some conceptualizations. We’ll see if they come to anything or just end up in the rubbish heap of my head.

      Liked by 1 person

Post a reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.