The sun turned black but for the burning red smile of a demon. Its ruby rays incinerated the unfortunate few who remained outdoors.
The wind blew cold from the east and hot from the west, and its howls caused deafness in the young and insanity in the old. The children slept too long in their beds, for to open their eyes now would mean the plague.
A dark haired woman screamed and threw back her head for she knew the child inside was killing her. It clawed and scratched and she feared for the lives of her kin. She was cursed with this, her thirteenth child. Her blood was weak and her husband left many years ago when the crops would no longer grow. She did not know how this child was growing inside her.
She knew the birth would be her end. The gods were angry and the earth was covered with loosed devils tonight. The baby ruptured forth in a spray of blood, and its mother bled to death as the eclipse ended.
The newborn spent its first night on earth in a pool of his dead mother’s still-warm blood, and slept peacefully there until morning, when he was found by Anna as she delivered her homemade bread. She picked up the bloody infant and ran home to her sister, screaming the signs from her dreams were all around, and the demons had left a son. That night she cut her palm with a spirit knife, and poured her blood onto the fire and prayed for the black ghosts to take back their child.
She bled for the first time that night, and in her dreams the wolves waited at the fringe of the forest, but they were not allowed in the clear.
Anna and her sister lived alone, for their mother was exiled from their village. Anna, with her piercing black eyes and raven hair was considered to be the daughter of the black-eyed magician who passed through town years before. Upsetting and intriguing the townspeople, he came before the drought and made disturbing predictions of the future while seeking herbs for his rogue medical practice. Her blonde haired, blue eyed mother and sister never argued the point.
The baby’s cries jarred her in the darkest part of the night, and she knew she would care not for this dark boy. Her wakefulness was burden enough, for her visions and nightmares often kept her sleepless for days. She knew he brought with him a stain, a faint grey mist that would settle and then spread.
When her sister Mina awoke in the morning and found the child gone, she would tell her his siblings came to find him in the night.
She listened to his cries for another moment then went to him.
She lifted him from his bed and picked up her knife before walking into the forest. Although her sister believed Anna’s thoughts about the child were muddled for an infant can be nothing but innocent, she knew she needed to snuff the black spirits in the evil boy.
The woods were quiet as a tomb, and she knew the ghosts were watching and waiting for the dark task to be complete. The animals burrowed deeper underground and the birds flew away as she entered.
It was kinder, she thought, to plunge the knife into his heart than to leave him alone and alive to be devoured slowly by the creatures that walk the dark. She placed him under the sad arch of a willow tree, and looked at him one last time. His eyes looked calmly back at her, and she pressed the knife into his heart, and once again in the other direction to form a cross so evil would have to avoid him and he would be taken by the angels.
He did not cry or whimper. He closed his eyes and the wind began to blow. Anna looked up at the moon and knew her soul was lost.