We followed the book’s prescriptions faithfully. Having done so we feel honour bound to recommend the following corrigenda as a result of our experiences.
The first mistake was ours and ours alone. We decided on an evening enactment. I think the elders were concerned that the villagers remain working during daylight, rather than being drawn like moths to this particular flame while the sun was still high up in the sky to light their labour in the fields. Additionally I think they were also keen on the further benison, or perhaps expedience is more fitting, of keeping them out of the tavern for a single night, though many I’m certain smuggled in their own firkins and flasks of ale. Still, spiting the profits of the taverner could never be a bad thing.
So we convened justice when it was dark. Which only compounded the second erratum, the invocation to punish by fire. In other countries we know they lop off the offender’s head with an axe or dangle them from a gibbet until death. We respectfully feel that there can be no miscues with such straightforward orderliness. Yet in our case, we only fanned the flames of incitement in favour of that which we were seeking to expunge.
She stood there against the stake, arms strapped out either side of her in unwitting simulacrum of our own Messiah’s death, as the flames began to lick around her feet. Yet her flaxen hair, (I ought to remark that this specimen was not possessed of any gnarled, wen-covered crone’s visage), billowed out around her, presumably driven by the flow of the heated air. Now the effect of this was that her locks echoed and mocked the flames still trying to fully catch. It suggested that she was not only embracing the flames, but merrily encouraging them under her control. Was her hair on fire, or was it made of fire, indicative of her whole body being forged from the abyss itself? The red balefire against the darkness only augmented the impression that we were in the realm of those from the infernal place and they were in their element, whereas we in the village were far from home. We had surrendered the night to its denizens rather than brand our purifying mark upon it.
Her eyes too were blazing in the most diabolic fashion, even though we few men of learning present, appreciated that this was just the effect of the flames being reflected in her dead lenses. Their cowering effect still struck home amongst our populace though I could see. Many arms were raised to try and fortify themselves by quaffing on their home-made brews, as they perceived her to be glaring at them each with a most furious evil eye. We had staged this spectacle to demonstrate the power of Christ to defeat his foes, yet it was they who seemed to have inverted every one of our attributes and were demonstrating their own fiendish puissance through them.
Some said they heard her screaming her pain as you would hope, while others reported it as a wicked cackling. Again here was the cozening play of the image of her up on that pile perverting the minds of simple folk. I myself don’t remember any sound emitted from her at all, as if she was drawing demonic strength that even with her final breath she was still performing the devil’s work. That she was to be sacrificed in order to sow demonic diabolic seeds was exactly how Beelzebub always treated his minions, yet the perniciousness of such a fatal contract passed right over the heads of our people slathering near the stake.
Another fallacy was when these people at the front were dancing in what they credited to be blood and other boiled juices pressed out of her body by the heat of the blaze, actually turned out to be leaking pitch from the barrels fashioned with the usual slipshod craft by our village cooper. So that when a stray spark or two landed upon the liquid pool, up they went in a conflagration claiming their lives, which only seemed to offer another possible demonstration of supernatural forces at work.
And when the inferno had finished its ministrations and burned itself out by dawn’s first light, we were left with two further scathing impressions. The first was that when the flames had burned though her rope shackles and allowed her leaden carcass to topple forward to the earth, we had naturally assumed that the spark of life had left her. And yet the imprint on the soil disabused us of such reasoning, since she must have been able to move her arms and tried crawling away even though she had no legs to propel her. Since there in blood were outlines like snow angels, only red. An abomination of the very notion of an angel, here again to taunt us, but also stamping the notion of a fallen angel, one of Hell’s legions marked out for all to see. The second, that despite the fire reducing everything of her to ashes and powder, there in the middle of the blood angel was her perfectly preserved, albeit singed, black heart.
Brazenly presented with such sigils of damnable pre-eminence, the villagers fell under its spell at once. They started fornicating among the ashes hoping to absorb the occult powers. The black heart was borne to the church and placed on the altar, while the crucifixes within were all inverted. And finally I was forced to make the amendments you read in this book, transcribing in her dark angel blood. Before they mean to burn me on a pyre and challenge our lord of mercy to such a display of sovereignty to rival theirs.
Meet the Author
Marc Nash has published 5 collections of flash fiction and his 5th novel will be published Autumn 2017 by Dead Ink Books. He has contributed to the Mind’s Eye series as well as having stories published Akashic Books, The Good Men Project, The London Literary Project among others. He collaborates with video makers to turn some of his flash fiction into digital storytelling. He lives and works in London.
Connect with Marc Nash
Blood Angel is published in Marc’s short story collection Extra-Curricular: Tales Told Out Of School.