Sizzling Nibbles: Reviving the Orchard

In case you missed it, last night was #SpookySmutSlam! This is the story the ether slammed into me in spurts and sputters. I hope you enjoy it.

Choking, burning, darkness.

Pain. Alive. Intruder!

Heart-wrenching devastation dropped me to my knees. When I read the property details, the words did not convey an accurate picture. Wildfires decimated the orchard. The house had been looted but not burned. Ash clung to everything. Between fire and rain… was there anything left alive?

Closing my eyes, I shoved my hands into the soil, sending my feeble senses out. There had to be something, a spark… anything.

“Who are you and what are you doing?” The voice was sharp, commanding. Yet, not unwelcome during my search.

I stood slowly and turned to find a woman standing before me. Her skin reddened and burned. Clothing, torn and showing cuts. The worst… her hair was gone. Blackened and breaking away.

“I’m the new owner, and you are?” I wiped my hands on my jeans. It was difficult to look at her. She must be in severe pain. It would take forever for an ambulance to get here.

“I… I should go.” Her eyes darted, taking in the surroundings. Her breathing sped up and she coughed as she choked on the ash.

“Let me help you. You look injured…” I reached for her but stopped. I feared causing her pain if I touched her.

“No one can help me.” She reached to touch a branch of an apple tree but pulled back when ash fell onto her fingers. Tears ran down her cheeks, leaving trails in their wake.

“I can help you. It’s why I’m here. My name is Van. What’s yours?” Something was special about her. Other. I could tell when I turned my head and looked at her in the periphery. A glow. Weak, but there.

“I feel no intention of harm from you.” She reached out to touch me, then pulled back at the last second.

“Why don’t we go to the house? It’s been looted and it’s a mess, but livable. You can get cleaned up and I can tend to your wounds.” I offer her my arm.

When her hand touches me, a jolt rushes through us. We both take a step back, staring at each other in fear and suspicion.

“What are you?” She reaches out and takes both of my hands in hers. The same jolt rushes through me again, but seeking for something. I stare into her eyes and… they’re glowing. Or perhaps just reflecting the full moon as the clouds break away.

“What is that? What if I? Aha….” She sounds triumphant and another jolt rocks me.

It feels like something inside of me is being squeezed. My heart pounds and sweat breaks out everywhere. And then… something cracks like an egg. It feels like something alive is slithering through my body.

“What did you do to me?” I pull away and try to shake it off, but it’s inside. Spreading. I feel warm and a touch queasy.

“I freed you from your bonds. Your true name is Sylvan and I’ve been searching for you.”

“I don’t understand.” She looks up at me and smiles.

“You want to save this orchard, yes?” She slips the straps of her sundress off and lets the tattered fabric fall to the ground.

“Yes, but why are you stripping?” I look up at the sky, the full moon breathtaking as it beams down on the lifeless land.

“This magick… it requires a sensual touch. A bonding of bodies and spirit. Remove your clothing and come with me, sweet one.” She picks her way carefully to the center of the orchard.

I kick off my shoes and pull off my socks, then follow her, trailing my clothes along our path. When we reach the center, she turns to face me. I’m frightened and enamored.

I stand stock still as she glides her fingers down my chest and along my hips. “Do you not want to touch me?” She flicks her tongue along my collarbone.

“I’m afraid to cause you pain, you’re injured…” the words fall away when she places a finger over my lips.

“I’m not as frail as you believe. Take me, become one with me.” She replaces her finger with her lips and we kiss. Slow, gentle. The taste of ashes on my tongue. Wrapping her arms around my neck, she bites my lower lip and then kisses me hard.

Heat rushes through me, pushing aside the awkward slither of other inside me. I wrap my arms around her waist. She laughs and wraps her legs around mine, then pulls us both off-balance. We’re falling. I try to brace our fall. Her back hits the ground. We both let out a grunt. A cloud of ash and dirt ripple around us.

“My sweet, we must hurry. There is little time to dally.” With strength that defies her frame, she rolls me over onto my back and before I have time to think, we’re entwined.

“I don’t even know your name,” I gasp out as she rides me at a fast and furious pace. I grab her hips and dig my fingers in, hoping to get her to slow down. Instead she laughs and digs her nails into my chest.

“Yes, more of that, Sylvan. Take me. Save us.” She punctuates her words by nipping my neck with sharp pointy teeth.

“Yes, my lady.” The slithery thing she released within me feels like it’s trying to escape. With every thrust into her it would recede, only to rush back into me. The energy between us pushed and pulled. My ears felt like they needed to pop. Everything had an eerie glow. The air felt too thick to breathe and panic infused my core.

“Relax, my Sylvan. We’ve done this before and we’ll do it again. I’m so sorry you can’t remember.” She covers my face in kisses. It’s then that I realize her scalp isn’t blackened and burned any longer but covered in downy white growth.

“I’m sorry, I don’t…” Memories flood my mind, flashes of us taking it slow and playful. Flashes of us almost not completing the ritual in time. So many lost…so much pain. I can’t let that happen again.

The power between us builds, rushing back and forth, growing. I shake the memories off and caress her soft, newly healed skin. Committing fully to my role, I give her my everything. My heart and soul. I hold her tight to me and let her in.

“Yes, yes that’s it.” She laughs softly, relief flooding her features. “Mm, yes, you know enough now.”

My skin feels like it’s going to burst with the amount of energy rushing into me, but then it leaves and I’m emptied. It comes back and I’m sure it’ll kill me. It’s too much. I can’t hold it. So, I let it go.

The power erupts out of me and into her, this ethereal creature atop me that I can’t be sure won’t kill me when this is all over. She cries out, thrusts her hands into the ground and for a moment, nothing happens.

I take a breath. Then another. And she collapses on top of me, breathing hard herself.

“It is done.” A wan smile on her lips, she caresses my cheek and kisses the tip of my nose. With a sadness in her movement, she detangles us.

Branches on the trees surrounding us groan and creak as they burst with leaves and blossoms. Some magically bear fruit. I feel drained of all the energy and I let myself go limp. Trying to catch my breath is difficult. I cough, ash stuck in my throat.

“You did so well helping me, Sylvan.” She strokes my face, leaving dirt and ash on my cheek and chin. “My sisters and daughters are alive thanks to you.”

I can’t think straight, let alone speak. Cold envelopes me when she stands, grace in her movements.

The ashy earth covers my skin and I watch as her hair grows back, wisps blowing in the light wind. The glow I couldn’t see earlier is so bright it burns to look at her. When it dissipates, there are no injuries marring her skin. Her features have completely changed. Fae. Dryad. Other. Beautiful.

Breathing is hard with the ash hanging in the air above me. I need a moment to rest my body, limbs heavy and sated from joining with her. I lift my hand, reaching for her, and she offers a small smile. My heart and soul are full after reviving the orchard.

“You may refer to me as Amalia.”

Eyes closing, I drift off into darkness.


Now… don’t take the ending the wrong way. I’m not saying Van is dead. That, dear reader, is up to you… Feel free to share your thoughts and links to your spooky stories in the comments! Blessed Samhain, Happy Halloweekend! (coined by Queen Jayne)!


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O Death – Jen Titus

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