The sun had set on what was a very warm midsummer’s day in Ireland. It no sooner disappeared below the horizon, than it was replaced by the full moon. The glowing red clouds left behind with the promise of a warmer day to come, reached out caressed the moon and turned it to blood. An uneasy quiet shrouded the countryside. Night creatures rose from slumbering to begin their nocturnal foraging, tiny grey bats swooped through the still air and the call of the night owl was heard from deep within the forests. It was a night like any other, until the wailing started.
The animals heard it first, picking up their ears and sniffing the air. The sound caused both fur and feather to rise. None of them waited to hear it reach a crescendo preferring to take cover in their dens, warrens and tree trunks. It was a sound to chill the blood of any listener. Starting with a sigh and rising to a mournful keen that cut into the soul. It was the lament of someone who’d known great sorrow and loss.
The people who heard its warning crossed themselves in fear. Some muttered a silent prayer for its intended victim before locking any open window and pulling the curtains closed, despite the cloying heat. Children tossed fitfully in their sleep sensing the cry. Farmers, who were still at work in the fields, left what they were doing and hurried home.
Those who understood its meaning dared not speak of it. Fearful glances were exchanged, televisions were turned up as loud as possible, but nothing could mask the cry. It invaded the air, crept through cracks and keyholes, it would be heard. There was nothing to stop it. Man, despite all his modern technology, was not adept to deal with such a thing.
Its voice had haunted countless generations of the O Brien family, warning them of a coming death, but it hadn’t been heard for many years. Now, it was back and with a vengeance. It continued all through the night only quieting with the coming of dawn. The old, who understood too well its voice, lay awake until the last notes faded in the lightening air. Never before had they heard its cry last for so long or be more powerful. Instinct told them this was to be no ordinary passing for its prey. The voice they heard wanted more.
She was finally awake. The Dark One’s curse was almost at an end. Gathering her waist length hair about her, she raked her fingers through it picking out dead leaves and bits of twigs. She’d lain in limbo throughout the centuries and was only allowed on the earth for a short time, to herald each death of that accursed family. This was what she’d waited for. He was the last male in his line and soon he’d be no more. All the evil and wickedness would be brought to an end and she could rest in peace. Her crying would cease once he was dead. She’d wrap herself around him, her arms the embrace of a cold lover and they’d return to the dark earth together. He’d no other choice; he was powerless to resist her. There is no escaping the cry of the Banshee.
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by Gemma Mawdsley
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by Gemma Mawdsley
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by on October 24, 2016
- Gemma Mawdsley, May 2011
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