Palingenesis

Tova Hope-Liel

Wyld FLASH 26 – January 21st 2021

Her life ends in flames. Her blood boils and her skin blisters as she writhes on the pyre. Her lungs are scorched from screams and smoke.

The Witch-Hunter watches calmly. He’s barely seventeen, still a child, and he’ll be her death. 

He’ll regret it. 

The curse leaves her lips, but he can’t hear it over the mob’s cries. 

Kill the witch! Kill the witch!

An exhale frees her soul from her body. It sinks through the pyre unnoticed. It rests under the blackened ground as her remains burn away above. It rests after the last zealot has gone home, her death forgotten. It rests until the storm; when the rain comes to wash the last of the ashes away. That’s when her soul follows the flow down to the ocean. 

There, she begins to gather herself. Hair of seaweed. Body sewn together by fishbones. Voice stolen from whales. She rises to the froth of the ocean. Her curls bleach in the sun. Her skin softens in the rush of the waves. Her scales glitter. 

He takes to the sea years later. He has a family now, and he’s on a mission: to discover new worlds, to purify them.

She finds him looking off the deck, scanning the pearlescent seas for a sign of danger. 

He called her dangerous, once. 

She begins to sing. His eyes glaze over. His mouth waters. For all the pain and terror he caused her, this seems too easy.

Come.”

He ignores the cries of his family, and follows her voice to the edge of the ship. Men try to pull him back so she bewitches them too. They join him. 

Jump.”

They do. 

As her life ended in flames, his ends beneath the waves as she and her sisters tear the hunters apart.

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Author bio: This is Tova’s first published work, but she’s hoping it’ll be the start of a long career. She can usually be found reading or writing, and though she loves to swim she still can’t shapeshift into a mermaid, much to her dismay. 

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Eight brand new science fiction and fantasy stories by Melissa Bobe, David McGillveray, Marion Pitman, Andrew Reichard, Max Sheridan, Denali Stannard, Nicole Tanquary and Michael Teasdale.

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