The Demon Plague
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by Joreid McFate
Description: When Crystal Donovan inherits a mysterious amulet dating back to the Salem witch trials her life becomes an exercise in terror. A brutal murder and an encounter with an inhuman creature are catalysts for the journey of her life--a roller coaster ride through time. Crystal is thrust into a past ruled by superstition, then catapulted into a future devastated by biological weapons ... and inhabited by demons. Can she unravel the secret of the amulet? Will she find a way back to her own time? Or die trying?
eBook Publisher: Zumaya Publications, 2005 Zumaya Publications
eBookwise Release Date: September 2005
13 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [557 KB]
Reading time: 358-501 min.
Monday, August 15, 1692
Town of Salem
The Magistrate's House
As an artist, Anson Talbot had an extraordinary eye for detail. Grasping the charcoal stick awkwardly in his crippled hand, deformed since birth, he drew loosely but quickly, capturing in an instant the tortured face of nine-year-old Elizabeth Parris. Only a few strokes were needed to depict her contorted body writhing on the floor of the magistrate's house.
His attention was drawn to the doorway to the antechamber. George Corwin, the High Sheriff of the County of Essex, ushered in the witch. Anson had not seen the sheriff since June, at the execution of Bridget Bishop. If there was one image from that hanging that remained vividly etched upon his memory it was the obvious delight George Corwin had taken at being the instrument of the woman's slow death.
Patience Gladstone walked before the pompous sheriff, defiance in every step. All of the others Anson had observed, men and women alike, up north in Salem Village and here in the Town of Salem, had a beaten look about them. Not this witch. After five months of trials, he knew by instinct she would be the focus of his next painting.
Her eyes met his. He saw that she recognized him, and his hand grew unsteady with the heavy pounding of his heart. During his visits to Reverend Parris, he had oft times stolen glances at her as she served the meals. That she dared to brook Puritan mores by acknowledging him in open court sent a rush of warmth through his soul.
Anson sketched furiously. He drew the contempt Patience Gladstone's eyes held for the proceedings. Contempt for Magistrate Hawthorne, for the sheriff, but mostly for the throng gathered to hear her confession. Her posture not only placed her in opposition to those within these legal chambers, it blasphemed the very essence of Puritan values.
A delicate smile played at the corners of her bowed lips. At the sight of it, Anson knew a confession would not be heard here this day.
His crippled fingers began to cramp. He ignored the pain and drew as if possessed. Sheet after sheet filled with his exact renderings. He captured the self-aggrandizing peacock posture of Sheriff George Corwin as he placed various items on the table beside Magistrate Hawthorne.
There was a leather-bound book--a possible grimoire, Anson thought. There were cachets of herbs. There was some sort of amulet--a crystal held in a lacy web of silver filigree looped over a leather thong. There was also a small doll and several candles.
Anson scribbled frantically, trying to preserve the moment. His attention kept returning to Patience Gladstone. Though her skin was stained with the grime of her imprisonment and accented with bruises from her torture, she was exceedingly comely. Her hair was the color of autumn leaves, her skin like churned butter, and she was infused with the spirit of youth.
She was but sixteen years old.
He knew her defiant attitude had not escaped Magistrate Hawthorne. He stared down his aquiline nose at the accused. His blanched skin, pale against the black skullcap and black robe, and his close-set eyes gave him the look of a waiting vulture.
When he spoke, the words slithered from his lips.
"Elizabeth Parris," he said, "Speak, child. Have you been afflicted by Patience Gladstone?"
The young girl babbled wildly. Her small hand wavered as she pointed a trembling finger at the accused.
"What do you say, child?" The magistrate leaned across his desk. "Tell us. Is this the one?"
Writhing in pain, the girl pointed once more. "Yes, she is the cause of my affliction."
A wry smile crossed the lips of Patience Gladstone. "I am innocent and clear of this."
"Are you, now?" the magistrate said. "Yet, not only have we heard from this child, but others, too. Ann Putnam and Abigail Williams have both described your actions against them."
The Reverend Samuel Parris, father of the afflicted girl, stood. His child's pain, caused by the witch, had made its mark on his already drawn face.
"Release my daughter from your grip."
Patience held her chin high. "I have no control over little Elizabeth."
"Did you not consult with Tituba while under my roof? Tituba! A confessed witch."
"I am only your indentured servant, Reverend Parris, and Tituba your slave. She is no more a witch than I."
"Magistrate," Reverend Parris said, "you heard her. She has confessed to being a witch."
Patience waved off his accusation with impudence, drawing a gasp from the onlookers. When her hand moved, Elizabeth fell once more to the floor and screamed in agony.
The magistrate's glare silenced Reverend Parris, and he sat. Hawthorne's voice stilled the crowd.
"Release the child from whatever power you hold over her. I command it!"
Patience Gladstone returned his stare.
Hawthorne slammed his fist on the desk. "You have claimed that you are no more a witch than Tituba. Yet Tituba has confessed to making a contract with the Devil."
"Look upon these bruises," Patience Gladstone said. "They were caused by your torture to force a confession from me." She brushed her hair aside, exposing the darkness caused by the straps that had bound her neck.