Witches on Gallows Fieldbyoggbashan©
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Copyright Oggbashan October 2005
The author asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.
This is a work of fiction. The events described here are imaginary; the settings and characters are fictitious and are not intended to represent specific places or living persons.
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We were running late. We had intended to meet up with our friends at the campsite near Sandwich, in Kent about seven on Friday evening. It was going to be a party of our re-enactment group to end the summer's activities. It had been arranged for the weekend of Halloween so there would be an element of witchcraft and spooky things.
There had been a major traffic accident on the M2 motorway that had left us stationary for hours. When we reached the end of the motorway we took the wrong turning and drove down to Dover before turning north again towards Sandwich. Then we got lost. At eleven o'clock we decided we had had enough. We were just outside the town wall of Sandwich. There was a car parking space with an empty field beside it. We stopped, threw our camping equipment over the low fence and erected the tent on a flat patch of higher ground.
All around us was wet and misty, dank and drear. There was a stream beside the field that barely moved under the faint glow of the streetlights. It looked cold and muddy.
The theme of tomorrow's party was 'Guys and Dolls'. The men had to come as women; the women as men and both in Elizabethan or Jacobean costume. Marie had chosen a basic pair of trousers and a hooded tunic top with a pair of loose leather boots. She had found a full woollen dress for me to wear over a cotton shift. My feet, if anyone could see them, would be in sandals. On my head I would wear a shoulder-length brown wig topped with a white linen wimple. Both our costumes were loose fitting.
Marie intended to wear a broad leather belt with a sheath knife. I had a long gold leather girdle that hung down at the front almost to my feet. We could wear jeans under both costumes if the weather was cold. It was cold in our tent. It may have been the effect of all the water near us. We wore our costumes over our pyjamas inside our sleeping bags. I didn't wear the wig but the wimple was a welcome cover around my head.
We were too tired and too cold for anything to happen between us that night. Why should it? We were sharing a flat as husband and wife in all but name. One night without sex was no great sacrifice. Freezing our skins just to make love would have been the sacrifice.
It was still dark when I was woken up by the sound of many feet tramping through the muddy field. Through the tent I could see flames as if from flaming brands.
"There they are!" Someone shouted. "Get the witches!"
The feet broke into a run. Was it another group of people having a Halloween event?
Our tent was knocked over and wrenched away. Dozens of hands grabbed us. I could see Marie's mouth covered by a dirty hand as another silenced me. My girdle was used to tie my wrists and elbows tightly. A dirty cloth was stuffed down my throat. The smell of the people holding me was rank. They couldn't have washed for months.
I couldn't believe what was happening to us. After the cry of 'Get the witches!' not a word had been said. I could hear Marie squealing faintly behind that hand. I couldn't see her. My head was forced downwards and sacking was tied around my lower face to hold the gag in place.
When my head was released and I could look around Marie's head had been encased in a metal cage. I had seen such a thing in a museum labelled as a scold's bridle. My sackcloth was removed and I too had a scold's bridle clamped around my head. A metal tongue moved the cloth deeper into my mouth. I couldn't shut my lips because there were spikes holding my tongue down and pressing against my upper palate.
Marie and I were dragged to the edge of the stream. There a man stood with torchbearers on either side. His face was shadowed by a wide-brimmed hat.
"These are the witches? You are sure?"
"Yes sir," One of the men holding me replied. "They're unnatural. See."
He ripped the wimple from my head, tearing it on the edges of the metal bridle.
"Sir, this one is a man dressed as a woman."
He nodded to one of the men holding Marie. That man lifted the hood back from Marie's head. Her glossy brown hair tumbled over her shoulders.
"And that one is a woman dressed as a man, sir. They do that to enhance their power as witches. The man gets woman's witchcraft. She gets man's dominance."
"Very well. Bring them to the trial." The leader stood aside.
"Sir?" The voice was deferential but insistent.
"Well? What is it now?" The leader seemed bored by the proceedings.
"They would pass the trial if we did it now, sir. They are at the height of their powers. That power has to be weakened before the trial."
"Very well. Do what you must."
Marie and I were dragged back to the mound and thrown to the ground. A voice hissed in my ear.
"Not a sound, me bucko, or this knife will stick in your vitals."
I felt the point of the knife against my stomach. I kept quiet as they removed the bridle from my head. The cloth was still deep in my mouth. I glanced sideways to see Marie's head being freed. She too had a knife at her stomach.
"Dorcas! Where is that woman?"
Dorcas was dressed in torn and patched homespun.
"You know what to do. Do it well and we might remit the fine next time you are found whoring. Do it badly and you might join them in the trial as one of theirs."
"I'm not!" Dorcas was badly scared. "I'll do it. I don't like it. It's unnatural."
"So is he, dressed as a she. Do it Dorcas."
Dorcas lifted her grubby skirt. The petticoat underneath might have been white once. It was dingy grey. She straddled my body and sat on my chest. My arms were in pain crushed under my back. She humped herself up my torso and then her hairy pussy opened in front of my horrified eyes. It stank like the worst sewer I had ever smelt. That rancid flesh pressed hard over my mouth and nose. I tried hard to stop myself retching. If I had, I would have drowned in my own vomit.
Dorcas kept pushing down on me but lifted her buttocks slightly so that I could breathe. I was sure she wasn't meant to do that. I breathed as quietly as I could under her stinking clothes.
"That should do. Get off him Dorcas."
I turned my head to one side and coughed as hard as possible past that cloth. I made a production of snorting through my nose.
"Aye lad, Dorcas' quim is mighty strong. It has to be. It has housed almost every one."
Marie was gagging on a large dirty prick. Her head was held in position by two hands. The knife was still held against her stomach, perhaps to deter her from biting. As I watched the man juddered and his cum slithered down Marie's throat.
"That's sorted the bitch as well. Time for their trial."
We were brought back to the edge of the stream. The hatted man watched as we came.
"Done your business?"
"Then bind them in the position."
Our arms were untied. We were forced into a foetal position. Leather laces were used to tie our left wrists to our right ankles and our right wrists to our left ankles. Our mouths were emptied.
"Anything to say, scum?"
"We aren't witches." I croaked.
"They all say that. This is the Guestling Stream. It is used to test for witches. If you sink you are innocent. If you float you are guilty. Of course if you sink you may drown. Shame. If you float you will hang. In with them!"
We were thrown into the stream. We floated. We couldn't sink. The stream wasn't deep enough. After about a minute we were dragged out again and tied with our hands behind our back. At knifepoint our scold's bridles were refitted. They hauled across the field to where our tent had been. There was no trace of it, nor of any of our belongings.
On that mound stood a black gallows with two leather ropes dangling. Nooses were made around our necks. The leader strode up.
The nooses tightened around our necks and gradually lifted us from the ground to strangle slowly with our feet just inches above the earth.
I woke up with a start. Marie was gasping beside me. I shook her. She coughed and croaked.
"Marie! Are you all right?" I was croaking too.
"I think so. They hung us."
So she had experienced the same dream. The dawn was just beginning. We packed up our tent and left the field as quickly as we could. At the entrance was a plaque about Sandwich's history. It read:
"Gallows Field. Once the town's place of execution. Felons were hanged and witches were drowned. Last hangings took place in the 1790s."
We could tell them that they were wrong. Witches were drowned and hanged.