The Twins of Withering Moor

withering

At the edge of the deadly forest, deep in the heart of Slavinia, existed a stretch of wilderness which extended further than souls had tread.

Within a lone moor, on the edge of this particular forest stood an ancient castle, towering and desolate.  Inside this ancient castle had resided a family by the name of Withering. Legend tells us that over several months, on the sixth day of every month, each of the Withering family had disappeared into the forest, one by one, never to return.

The deadly forest stood deep and dark, surrounded in ungodly secrets which bubbled under wet soil.  Howls and sharp screams could be heard on the surface of the wind, travelling in gusts over towering trees.  Great shadows covered the vast areas surrounding the forest and even in day, there would be black skies looming over the moor.

At this time in question, there had been but two yet to leave the castle.  Long after the others had departed, the Withering sisters sat inside the large crumbling towers, watching and listening, shivering and quaking, never venturing out into the open wild, unlike the others.  Deep in the moor, they existed, timid and alone, all but for the bats at the windows and the ghosts in the walls.

In the beginning they had tried to survive.  Mice and rats would be slaughtered and devoured, at first with a resilient unease of rock or hammer, but now with a cold, fast sleight of hand.  Stone floors and frayed carpets dripped red with blood and tail.  Multiple eyes tossed out of tower windows gazed back to light up the moor in the dead of night. They had no other means.

Small at first, the girls grew tall as young trees. Their clothing now too small, moth bitten blankets were thrown tightly around their slender bodies to fight the unforgiving chills.

One day they ventured up to the attic and came upon two white dresses hanging from the dusty ceiling.  Weaved of such delicate lace and entangled in thick webs, they gathered them down.   Tattered labels attached to each garment, penned with black ink the names – “Elizabeth Withering” and “Sissy Withering”, and indeed were a perfect fit for new bodies.

Locks of white hair grew so long as to touch dirty bare feet.  They knew not of knives or scissors.   Sharp unsightly nails would be bitten off with teeth. They knew nothing but the castle and of each other.

After more time passed, the castle became colder and darker and food became scarce.  Rodents would now smell the putrid scent of massacre wafting inside and out and flee in terror from the grounds.  Float like ghosts they did, two white figures dashing up desolate towers and winding into haunted dungeons, searching for morsels to satisfy their hunger.

Then, on the sixth day of the final winter month, when it was concluded that they would not indeed survive another day, they stepped outside of the castle.

Standing upon the lonely moor they waited, the empty vastness enveloping their thin, identical bodies.  Eyes of pale blue, side by side on the dark side of the moon, they walked.

A deadly silence gradually circled the moor then a piercing scream from beyond threw outwards.  As they stepped, each slight movement crashed towards the heavens then a mighty force from the forest began pulling forward.

Faster they stepped, toes now slashed, dripping red and blue.  White lace shredding from garments, ghastly branches grabbing and slashing.

Deeper and deeper into the thick they tread, bodies now entwined with the murderous looming trees.  Two long branches, delicately wound, tightened around necks as hair covered moss, lending their final souls to the living.

Up and up their bodies dragged, feet leaving earth, hanging flesh onto bark, until four eyes finally closed, sending the light of blue up through the heights of forest, to the moon, which now stood gazing upon the moor in eternal sadness.

***

first published via Gothic City Press 2014

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