“If we want this to last, we need to dry it out, and the best way to do that is a smokehouse. You two need to gather wood to build with.” Vira was only half concentrating on what she was saying. She was looking at the couple, but wasn’t really focused on them. “My old bones can’t really use a hatchet, but we need to get this done quickly, so I’ll guide you on what to do once you bring enough wood.” It was evident that Vira was just as excited about Nathan’s deer. “Go on now, before it’s spoiled.”
Nathan handed Charlotte over to Vira, and dashed into the shack and ran out, an axe in each hand, tossed one to Daniella, and dashed off to the closest tree, and started hacking away at it. Daniella was more encumbered by the heavy tool, but still managed to run to another close tree. Vira yelled at them, “No, not here! Do you want these trees to fall on your home? Do you know anything about lumbering?” She didn’t really sound angry, she used the same, neutral tone that her voice always held. The couple ran off in the woods together, leaving Vira and the baby alone by the carcasses.
Vira eyed the unnaturally still baby. Examining her face, body, and skin. Staring deeply into the baby’s green eyes. Vira saw something she liked in this infant, something she hadn’t seen in a very long time. She carried the baby and laid her in her bed inside the dark wooden room. As soon as the baby was set down, she started squirming and crying. “Oh be quiet you!” Vira said, although she knew it would have no effect on the noise. Vira started a fire and hung a pot of water over the fire. She went outside and came back with a bowl of bloody venison and dumped it into the pot. She sat there, stirring the stew, adding spices from her bag as she was cooking. Occasionally going outside to grab more meat.
As the sun began to set, Nathan and Daniella made their way back to their little home, arm in arm, covered in sweat. They were excited to come home and taste their first meat in months. They smiled when they smelled the stew cooking from inside. They saw Vira inside, holding a sleeping baby in one hand and stirring the stew in the other. She turned and saw the couple in the doorway. “Grab some bowls. I didn’t spend all day cooking for nothing.” They sat down on their uncomfortable chairs around the small table with their food and ate. They spent hours feasting with the most delicious food they’ve ever tasted. Daniella had lost count of the number of times she went to refill her bowl. Nathan had never eaten this fast in his life. Although the serving pot was huge, the size of the trunk they used to use to store their things when they went on vacation, they eventually did run out of food, hand went to bed shortly after.
After everyone else was asleep, Vira crept over to where the baby slept. “My rebirth will begin with you, little one.” Vira told Charlotte as she picked up the baby, waking her. The baby didn’t cry, she couldn’t cry. She was being held by Vira.
Vira carried her outside, and set her down in the dirt. She pulled a candle out of her pack, lit it, then set it on the ground in front of Charlotte. She started drawing designs on the ground around the baby. The night was creeping around the tiny circle of light from the candle. The air was still, and the forest was silent. Nothing could be heard but the chanting coming from the old witch. Something dark came out of the woman’s mouth and shot through Charlotte’s skull. Vira collapsed, the candle went out, and the darkness surrounded the child.