” Whatever you do Hendry Coin, don’t look up. I mean it. ” his Father told him when he was a boy. ” If for any reason, any reason at all you have to cut through the woods behind the house don’t look up into those trees.”
“Cause the Witch will get me right?” Hendry said.
” If you’re lucky she will only get you to cut her down and then she will only chop you up and cook you in the big iron pot she keeps just for that reason in her kitchen. The problem Hendry is if you see her first. You will start screaming and you will keep screaming until every star in the heavens burns out.”
” That’s sounds like a long time Dad”
” It certainly is Hendry.”
The problem with the trees behind the Coin House is that they used to hang people from them. And the thing of it is, the people they used to hang were accused of witchcraft and out there in the town of Stonecrop, unlike in other towns were innocent people were hung or burned at the stake for witchcraft the people out in Stonecrop were witches.
They weren’t wise old crones, they were the type of people who would cut deals with the Devil and in most cases they won.
And in the cases were they did not they would end up hanging from a tree behind the Coin’s house where they would swing from their ropes until one of the other witches got a hankering for some Witches bread and decided to save the trip to the town cemetery and head over to the woods to get the spice that gave their bread that something extra the witches enjoyed so much.
So Hendry, who was a good kid and did as he was told not because he was afraid of ending up in a cast iron pot slowly simmering over a fire but because Hendry adored his Dad never would have never done anything to disappoint him. That was the reason he never had a bit of trouble back there in the Woods.
Over the years he saw weird things and heard strange sounds but nothing bad ever happened to Hendry or his kids ( he grew up to have seven of them ) or his Grandchildren ( 10 of those ).
One year Hendry decided to cut through the Woods to get to the new road that led into town when for the first time ever he found himself in a bad spot.
Hendry was walking along when he heard a creaking sound and then a little popping sound and somebody said ” hello there ” in a dusty sounding voice.
Hendry turned around but he did not look up- however there was no looking away from what in front of his face.
There were feet hanging in front of his face, and the feet were encased in worn black leather boots and were tied together at the ankles with heavy white twine.
He reached out and grabbed the feet to stop them from swaying and turning which was creeping him out because there was no wind, no breeze in the woods.
There never was.
So Hendry was standing there holding the black leather covered feet in his hands when he heard a voice, a woman’s voice from above his head say:
” Cut me down Hendry Coin and I’ll make you a meal you will never forget. Well. One that I will never forgot anyway. I am so hungry Hendry. Cut me down. Cut me down and anything, your darkest wish your brightest hope I can give that to you. A pound of flesh Hendry, that’s all we’re talking about here. That is all it would cost you. I’m quite handy with a needle Hendry. I could even put together a little something for you to slip into once you’ve paid that nominal feel. The rewards Hendry- think about it.”
Hendry told the witch, ” You know, in all these years of walking- and to be perfectly honest in my younger days I would run through these woods- I never had any problems. I figured I never had any problems with the tree witches because I always did what my Dad told me. “
“Is that right Mr. Coin? And what did he tell you?”
” Don’t look up, whatever you do.”
” And why did he tell you that Hendry?”
” Dad said that if I saw the witch first something really bad, something worse than death would happen to me.”
” That is the dumbest thing anyone has ever said in these Woods Hendry. And let me tell you. Some very strange things have been said in these woods…but that is hands down the weirdest thing anyone has ever said to a hanging witch. Honestly old man, do you really believe there is anything worse than death? Because let me tell you. And I am speaking strictly from experience here, there is nothing worse than death.”
” I suppose you’re right. My Dad was a good guy, a very kind and practical man but he wasn’t what you would call overly educated.”
” Well. There you are.”
” Yes. Here I am and there you are and what the heck is that above you head?”
He felt the feet push down as the witch looked up and Hendry couldn’t help but smile a little when the screaming started.