Here ye! Here ye! House Waibel is hosting the Stockade Brigade. Warrants of arrest have been issued for select authors accusing them of witchery and wizardry. The pillory has been erected and the trial dates set.
Good people of Realmsdom, I call upon you to bear witness to these trials and offer your testimony for or against the author's crimes.
Points will be awarded for wordsmithing a comment in your best Olde English afore 8 of the clock in the Eastern time on the following scale:
5-Ye speak as one from the days of Queen Bess.
4-Ye could pass muster as a Ren Faire cast member
3-Ye could pass as a Ren Faire attendee
2-Ye wouldn't be foolin' yer mother
1-Ye stand out like the sun in a cloudless sky
An e-book will be given every day to the witness who scores the most points. Fear not, your daily score will be accumulated and the person with the highest score shall receive a special prize at the end of the week. So, brush off your Olde English and prepare to testify.
The wordsmither of this day shall receive an e-book of Stuart West's Ghosts of Gannaway.
*Sheriff Mary unrolls the scroll* Here ye good people of Realmsdom. Before you stands Lord Stuart West of the shire Kansas, presently a welcome ‘guest’ of ye olde Realmsdom Stockade Brigade, courtesy of her highness, Lady Mary Pax, and overseen by me, Lady Mary, the honorable Sheriff of Realms.
Lord Dennis has levied charges against Sir Stuart, claiming the good knight has been conspiring with ghosts, as seen scribed in his own words:
Good God, what was that?
His keys jangled in his hand before he reached the van. He banged into its side and fumbled through the key chain.
Where’s the key, give me the right key…
The keys slipped out of his sweaty hand and dropped to the ground.
Click slitch, click slitch.
Not gonna look behind me, not gonna look behind me…
He snatched the keys up, the correct key miraculously flipped upward. He hopped in, fired up the ignition. Locking all doors, he checked and double-checked them.
He shifted into reverse. Something scratched at the back of the van, the creaking sound tree limbs make when they ask for entry on chilly fall nights.
Dennis didn’t care. Nothing mattered but getting the hell out of there. If he took out a chat rat, the intruder had it coming. He jammed the gas pedal down. The van hurtled back. When he braked, he lurched to a stop. But the expectant thump didn’t follow. Spinning the van around, he wrenched out onto the highway.
For the first ten minutes, he couldn’t bring himself to look into the rearview mirror. When he felt enough distance had passed, he ventured a glance. But he saw nothing.
Lightning zapped the sky again. Next to him, blue-white magnetic charges snapped and sparked at the top of several chat piles.
And he swore—God damn swore—he saw a figure standing on the tallest chat pile, the one he’d climbed. Wearing a helmet with a lit torch burning brightly.
He didn’t look again.
Have ye any evidence to offer in your defense, Sir Stuart?
Verily, verily, Lady Mary, I cry fowl to the trumped-up charges presented against me. For I, a mere pauper, am merely a scribe, relaying true tales mine ears feast upon at the local tavern. How can such charges ring true within Realmsdom when I present the unvarnished truth? Forsooth, I counter with bold lies. Lies!
I prithee thou take pity upon my wretched self. As further proof of mine innocence, I bequeath you with another tale of truth, plucked from my tome, Ghosts of Gannaway:
As Dennis approached the waiting automobile, he identified it as a pick-up truck. Old. Very old. Dark blue and dented, rust soldering it together, but still in workable condition. Smoke drifted out of the exhaust, floating up into the sky. The full moon presented a spotlight behind the group of men standing in the truck-bed.
“Hey…could I…can I…” His mouth dried up as he drew closer.
Miners. All dressed in overalls and wearing hard hats. The one in front cradled a pickaxe in his arms like a baby. A large man stood next to him, his chest twice as wide as any of the others. They remained still as art and hushed as sickness.
Dennis dropped back. Gannaway’s secret mining crew, they had to be. And that meant serious danger.
A flashlight beam snapped on, blinding Dennis. He shielded his eyes and called out. “Sorry to bother you…my van’s broken down and—”
The miner turned the beam around, shining it back into his own face. Dennis screamed. Two black holes replaced the miner’s eyes. A toothless grin formed a death’s head smile. The things jumped out of the truck bed, light on their feet, and landed silently on the tarmac. One dragged his pickaxe along the highway, sparks flying underneath the scraping metal.
Dennis bolted back to the opposite shoulder. He tore past the dead crew, screaming between breaths, hoping—praying—someone would hear him. Someone living. The miners watched him, immobile except for their hideous smiles.
Please, God in heaven, what is going on? What’s happening to me? It’s not real, it can’t be real, don’t let it be real…
He braved a look back. The truck lumbered in the middle of the highway. The engine backfired again while the ghostly men hopped back into the truck-bed. All but one. That one kept singing a song, low and resonant. A gospel song. The others swayed back and forth to the unholy rhythm, a choir from the church of hell.
And so let it be told! Huzzah!
What say ye, good people of Realmsdom? Is Sir Stuart merely a scribe, and therefore innocent of the charges?
To learn more about Stuart R. West and his books,
visit his author page at: http://stuartrwest.blogspot.com/
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