Dreams in Frayed Cotton and Straw
The harmony of gossip in black, in blood and bidden assassins breath bore his title and even so dreams and nightmares haunted him in slow easy demonstrations of fear. He was Sable Warden keeper of the sentence, the purveyor of the gallows, the hangman’s knot and the edge of a triple bladed sword. He was the mask, the crimson spray and the dull thud of heedless punishment, he was the magistrates executioner and the lever was truly heavy.
Sable sighed and rolled amongst the cotton sheets and straw padding. He was caught by the half-light of a terrific phantasm, a sleep chartered by the wont of a decision, a choice given him in the moment of death.
He dreamed of starlight and dark suns at night, he dreamed of red smoke and flame, the better part of a battle wrought for the sake of the kill. With quiet stealth he saw the figure of a man in dark havens of silk, he was levitating and laughing. Sable knew and his knowledge bought the drama. The figure floated closer and he raised his triple edge. The hilt of the sword was solid silver with triple wolfs heads at the base. In the smokey light the wolfs eyes glittered, the eyes were blood red rubies, the blade the sharpest in the township.
Sable swung at the floating specter and screamed with a furious anger. The man laughed as the blade ripped through his mid-section tearing him in half and dropping him to the ground in a spray of blood and viscera.
Sable grunted in his sleep and shivered; in the dream he wore his executioners hood and silver tinged vestments of leather. He saw the sky as the twilight shone its light on the figure of the man. There was a twinkle of metal around the dead mans neck. Sable wiped tears of blood from the corners of his eyes and uncovered the flash of metal. It was a necklace hewn in gold and slick with the mans blood. The design was unfamiliar to him, stars, half moons and emerald slivers of stone. Sable grabbed the chain yanking it free, the spoils of battle he thought.
The sky bled bright orange and red and in the distance wolfs howled at the approaching blood moon. As the shadows closed in around him he moaned and rolled in the cotton sheets, sleep laden and borne by what was due he dreamed of crimson seas and the wont of an untrod path, the path of an unconscious passage, in dreams of love, loves lost and the end of his humanity. The blade lay next to him in darkness and he continued on dreaming of yet another battle. Sable swung his sword and the flesh was always pliant, the blade unforgiving as he sliced the head from a slender figure in union with the fight. Wooooosh, a moment, a breath of mere seconds as the head toppled revealing a woman’s face, it lay, face upturned, bleeding on his leather boots.
“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” he screamed recognizing his wife’s face. The sheets tangled about his feet and he dreamed of a scarlet sash binding his ankles and a small child, a boy towing him through mud and ash and the embers of countless fires. Sable kicked and screamed as he was pulled along, he was helpless in the child’s undoubting sway. The bed creaked and shook as he screamed in fear and convulsive thrall.
In the dream, the source of his unconscious hell he kicked screamed and fought the child pulling him, dragging him toward unbidden ends, toward an executioners fear.
Haze filled the air for a moment then thousands of leaves, dry, crumbling, flittering and fluttering like a million moths, they fell down around them and buried them absolutely. The tugging ceased and suddenly the child was gone.
He stood amongst the pile of decaying leaves brushing the heap away from his face. He moved forward. Ripples moved beneath the thick blanket, fast scurrying toward him in circles, and the sound of children at play, singing. The sky flashed a brilliant fire red and the leaves disappeared only to be replaced by mist and a sparkling dew that covered a long sloping hill of grass.
The castle stood in the distance and in the front a large pole with long tethers attached at the top. A group of children circled the pole each holding a tether. “We all fall down…….” they sang. They were expressionless as they fell to the ground in silent play. Sable moved to the edge of the circle, the children had dark half moons beneath their eyes and were covered in leaking bloody sores. He thought, the harrow has passed.
He groaned and tried to awaken without success. Daring fate he moved closer to the castle and the arched entrance. Bitter acorns lay in wooden bowls on either side of the gate, pausing he removed a handful and placed them into his pants pocket.
A shadow appeared near the stone entrance. Tall in black shawls and silver blades covered in scarlet. The figure yelled like a wild banshee, “YIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEE!” the figure grimaced and swung his knife blade at Sables neck. Sable stepped back and swung the triple edge of his sword. The air parted as did the flesh of the banshee. Blood and a thick viscous spray of ash filled the air and stained his sword. The figure fell to the grassy ground and an awareness stole over Sable.
In his dream he remembered, he remembered the gallows, the knots, the fare of a blood thirsty throng. He remembered the face of the aggressor, hung months earlier. He touched his cheek, hesitant, cold covered by the executioners hood. Sable groaned again remembering his wife and son, the reason he had become what he desired in hate.
Near the end of his dream he cried and a single tear tempered his blade, then he awoke.
The sky was dark outside and the sound of cicadas’ filled the space between his ears. He looked at the blade next to his bed and the black hood he had worn since their deaths, his wife and son.
Reaching into his pocket Sable pulled out a handful of pealed acorns. He whispered, “let it be at an end.” as he chewed the bitter acorns. Leaving the castle keep he moved on toward what he wonted, life, rebirth and new days bought by the hope that he could regain what had been lost.