Tuesday, April 20, 2010

GOD's Cruel Joke

The wait was finally over. After five years in a cell of old brick, hard dirt floor, and iron grading, the council had requested her presence to give a final decision of her fate.

Dressed in what was left of her rags and smelling of something dead, she stood alone in the center of the room, cuffed and shackled, two large armed escorts on each side.

“Are you Katherine Eliza Bristol?”

She let out a hacking cough and managed to say, “I am.”

“Are you the same Katherine Eliza Bristol that was found aboard the ship Glacial Death, by Constable Alfred Wolfe?”

“I am.” Her answer was said in a hoarse cackling voice which came from not having to speak or be spoken to for such a long time.

“Then let it be known that on this day, the thirteenth day of September, in this year of 1666, that this woman, Katherine Eliza Bristol has been charged and found guilty by this Council of Parliament. The crimes are as follows: Katherine Eliza Bristol you have been tried and found guilty of piracy as you were found amongst the pirates and thieves removed from the ship called Glacial Death, dressed in rags of a whore; guilty of heresy for speaking against the clergy and denying confession upon removal and placement in the cell; guilty of witchcraft for you attempted escape and being able to swim when it is known that woman know not how to swim unless they are inundated with the spirit of the devil.”

Katherine knew that her outlook didn’t look good. She hung her head knowing what was coming.

“You have been sentenced to death by drowning, which will take place tomorrow afternoon.”

Head held high she walked as straight as she could back to her cell. They had decided her blood should be payment to a God who was in her mind as unloving and unmerciful as they came.

She didn’t eat or sleep that night; she pushed her food bowl back through the slot in the door when they tried to slide it under, and sat looking up through a small window high in her room at the stars.

Katherine recalled the past, of what led her to be on death row. The ship she and her father had been on traveling from Spain to Constantinople where she was to be given to be wed to a man from a wealthy family whom she had never met. It was on the third day that their ship had been overcome by pirates and being the only woman on board forced to stay with them and do their personal bidding. So dressed like a whore that they had made her become she prayed daily for death or to be rescued. Being with pirates and in her need to bathe, she had forced herself to learn how to swim.

She blamed God for his cruel joke of sending a rescue crew to find her. When the clergyman announced that she was a heretic for thanking God in her Spanish tongue claiming that she was praying to the devil, as Katherine was brought to land, she panicked. She broke away from her saviors and ran back into the water swimming for the safety of the boat. That was the moment that the name witch clouded over hers. She had been pulled back inland, placed in chains and thrown into the cell that she had now called home for the last five years and given even less of a life than the one she had been forced to endure for the many months aboard the pirate ship. She had spent her time counting the days by making marks on her walls, singing to herself, dancing in circles, and finally just lying on the floor wishing for death to come.

The site of the sun rising caught Katherine off guard as the light through her window spilled across her face. It was soon after that she was collected by her executioners.

She cursed them all to their faces with burning eyes as they tired her to the chair then secured the weights that would hold her under water until death overcame her. “May you burn in hell for your false accusations and may my blood be upon your hands for my unjustified death when you meet with God.”

Those were her last words as she was pushed over the edge of the doc into the slow moving portion of the river just outside of their small town. Her final thought was, at least the wait is finally over.


  1. Did I miss something? She is Spanish and her name is Bristol?

    I've got to say CJT, I liked it. The pacing was good and the story was well told, but I would have liked to learn a little bit more about the character. Maybe a little bit of fleshing out the time she spent with pirates or perhaps a conversation with her jailer. Just a suggestion. I understand time is tight. It's the same with me.


  2. Doc - Well I hadn't originally planned for her to be spanish, that just sort of happened. The whole exercise of Thinking Ten is to write and edit something using the daily promp that does not exceed ten minutes. So yes, I do think that I will go back and revamp this piece and flesh out the characters a little better, but for having written something where I haven't written anything worht posting, I feel that it was a decent piece. (smiling)

    Thanks for your comment Doc!