This is less of a very short story than an snippet of an idea. Too often people make the mistake of assuming that heroes must be great muscle-bound knights, or look like Tarna on Heavy Metal. Heroes can be, and usually are, everyday people placed in extraordinary circumstances. When your get right down to it, the fury of a mother protecting her young is legendary in the animal kingdom, but is all too often overlooked among people. Let any idiot that tries to get between a mother and her child take what they deserve.
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It mattered little to people how the dying started, as nearly as any could determine it was a simple illness, their fathers and husbands had fallen ill and grown progressively weaker until they faded completely. Soon the bodies were buried in long pit-style graves. Then the elder sons succumbed and then younger sons and the men of the croft were fading away quickly. Calia was the proud mother of a twelve year-old son, a tall and handsome lad that was now too beginning to fade. In fear she slept beside her son every night but he grew worse. Then one morning she awoke to white footprints leading into her son’s room. It was flour from a cask she dropped as she brought it from the granary.
Footprints meant but one thing, her son was being killed by someone rather than by some disease, this enemy had a face. She fed him broth throughout the day, and even thickened it with blood from the cow to replenish him. And she planned and plotted and thought her way through from beginning to end. Calia was not thought a wise woman, but she had a great wealth of common sense and a son that she would do anything to save from this fate seemingly ordained. She gathered all that she might and set herself to work.
Darkness came upon the small house and in time she made her rounds of the village, two had passed that day and new sources were chosen and their blood enriched her, she preferred the first bite, when their blood was the richest. But there was something to the last drink as well, when she could feel the soul pass through her as she claimed the life at long last. She entered the room and the stench assailed her at once. Damn all peasants and their love of garlic, this place positively reeked of it. She put aside her aversion and slipped into the small room that held the boy. A pity, she reflected. He was a pretty child, but only a male and beneath her concerns. The mother slept beside the bed again, but she would never even notice the final feast. She bent to the tender flesh of the young throat and the stench of garlic was overpowering. She knew! Her eyes flicked to the mother in time to see her eyes snap open, her hand was a silver flash that set her throat on fire. She had stabbed her in the neck and cut out her throat. The silver blade flashed again and again and they grappled, an ageless beauty with supernatural strength confronted by a very mortal mother.
They broke through the door and back into the common room, fangs and teeth traded bloody wounds with a small silver knife as they rolled across the floor screaming incomprehensively at each other. The mother’s vision faded as the creature choked her savagely, her hand flailed and grasped the pot over the fire and pulled sharply. The creature senses danger and looked up in time to see scalding water pour fully in her face, water that had been simmering four hours with several aromatic cloves of garlic steeping in it. The liquid burned both like fire, but for the time blinded the creature, granting the mother the time to seize a brand from the fire and drive it with all of her rage and fear up under the breastbone and into the heart of the woman-beast. She ignited and Calia barely rolled clear in time, her body was already blistered. Others arrived and forced open the door in time to see the creature’s flaming body shrivel in the floor and to see the battered mother that would never surrender her son.
© 2009 – 2020, Tim Boothby. All rights reserved.