The Witching Hour by D.I. Jolly

As a child her favourite thing was rain. If you asked her why, she’d say,

“It feels like the world is taking a shower, and when it over everything is a little better, a little brighter.”

So, when dark cloaks and masks burst into her house one night and dragged her off, a part of her prayed for rain. Hoping, wishing that it would come and wash away whatever horrors had grabbed her and save her from what would happen next. And although the rain came, it didn’t wash them away. And for the next few years she was subjected to unspeakable acts, for the greater good. Faceless people proclaiming that the ends would justify the means, just as soon as they found the right means. As soon as they could prove themselves right, everything they were doing and would do and had done would become magically justified! And somehow that would make everything alright, like the rain. But it never happened, and a tortured little girl became a tortured young woman, and many of the faceless faces started to fear. One by one their fear of her transformed into fear of having to remove their masks and face up to what they had done, so in the middle of the night they would disappear and, in the morning, there were less faceless faces, until there was only one left. One solitary mask screaming accusations from the darkness. So blind to reality that it believed everything was somehow her fault, her doing. She had driven them away, made them disappear, and midnight was the key, midnight was her hour and it proved everything they’d believed for so long and finally justified everything they’d done, and justified what would happen next. Leaving her strapped to a bed as all of the evidence, all of the proof and all of her, was set on fire. As the smoke and the heat and the flame danced around the rooms, along the floors and up the walls to lick the ceiling, she once again thought of rain. Her friend, her lover, the only kindness in her life. She closed her eyes and prayed for it, wished, hoped, begged, screamed for a storm to come and wash away the flames, and the pain and the madness, to make everything ok and carry her back to being a child before any of the uncountable, unspeakable things had happened. But the rain did not come, even though the distant clocks struck for midnight, and when the flames finally flickered out it took her with them. Leaving only the faceless face alone to not stare at what had happened, at what had been happening for years. Frantic to tell themselves that no rain was no indication of mistake. Fire was the cure-all, everyone knew that. It was the fire that had prevented the rain. They were fine. They were justified. They had done the right thing. Saved the world from darkness, from evil, so that now, little girls everywhere wouldn’t have to fear being taken in the middle of the night and used. Saved from having unspeakable things done to them. They had been right, they had to be right. Then, like everyone else, the final faceless face disappeared into the darkness, leaving behind only ashes and fear.

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