The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
The Hanging Tree
by A.F. Stewart
In the rarefied air above the city, it appeared, the branch of the World Tree. It flickered like a mirage, sailing in and out of the sunlight until it hovered, solid and true. Suspended by nothing, connected to everything. Crowds gathered to gawk, news cameras recorded the phenomenon, and the world was mesmerized.
Then he emerged from the ether, from the clouds.
Balanced on the branch, dressed in black and a grey woolen cloak. A few nervous snickers sounded on the ground and jokes about wizards, but a spark of fear infected those who watched. The air unsettled itself, made the skin twitch and the blood chill; something momentous was going to happen.
The figure turned, spread his arms, and stepped off the branch. The crowd gasped, and he fell. Limbs unfurled, and like an angel he descended, glowing in white light until, as people turned their faces, his neck snapped at the end of a golden rope.
In the rarified air above the city, he swayed, the corpse of the hanging man. One beat, two beats, swinging like a pendulum, ticking down the clock. The ground shook, the sky lit with thunder, and the World Tree appeared in all its glory.
But only for a moment, a stroke suspended in the sea of time, before it crumbled into dust.
As it died, somewhere the great serpent awoke.
Ragnarok had begun.
Fiction © Copyright A.F. Stewart
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from A.F. Stewart:
Visions and Nightmares
Tragedy spares no one… and takes no prisoners.
In the twilight shadows, secrets are revealed past the whispers of madness.
Wander into the realm of the old gods with Elenora, where humanity and marriage are a prison.
Step through a looking glass of dark horrors with an Alice you never knew.
Join with Zenna to seek the truth as her death by magic grows closer.
Journey with Olivia as she crosses paths with a monster of the forest and runs for her life.
Watch Isobel summon the faerie to solve her problem of an unwanted husband.
Shiver as Doctor Killbride experiments with corpses to create life from death.
All that and more await within the pages.
Ten stories. Ten women.
Who will survive? Who will fall? And who will succumb to their inner evil?
Find out in Visions and Nightmares.
Warning: This book contains disturbing scenes that may be upsetting to some readers.