Oubliette: Only the Specter Knows

The wind blew through the settlement but there was nobody to notice. None of what Jacob saw made sense. He wished that he found the cabins and barns burnt to the ground. He would have known what happened; savages. Instead, the settlement was pristine. There was not a single thing out of place. Even the muskets were in the magazine waiting for someone to come and steal them. As best he could tell, everybody just spontaneously vanished.

The door to the blacksmith’s shop creaked open. Normally, the heat coming out would have been overwhelming even in winter. Jacob scanned the room. Like the other shops, nothing was out of place. The only thing unusual was that the forge in the back of the room was cold and dark. Only the smell of smoke gave any hint that Wilheim worked in here. Stepping inside, he noticed an unfished horseshoe on the anvil and Wilheim’s hammer and tongs lying on the ground next to it.

Did whatever happened was so sudden and immediate that nobody had a chance to react? Another question popped into Jacob’s head, where are all of the animals? Not only the people disappeared, all of the animals disappeared.  Jacob squatted next to a chest and opened it. Sure enough, Wilheim’s whiskey stash was still in there.

Jacob pulled a bottle from the chest, popped it open, and sat on the anvil. He stared into space as he drunk. He did not know how long he sat there but motion near the tree line grabbed his attention. At first, he did not know what it was because it was actively hiding. Then, he saw it clearly, a savage. As he stood, the savage stopped and stared at him.

Jacob pulled his firearm and slowly advanced towards the savage. In response, the savage retreated into the forest. Jacob knew to not pursue the savage because they were known to ambush. He needed answers and decided to throw caution to the wind.

Stepping into the forest, he immediately noticed something was not right. It was silent. Normally, Jacob would hear birds, squirrels, and other wildlife. There was nothing. Looking up into the trees, he did not see anything. There were no birds or anything. The only sounds came from him as his feet ground into the dirt path as he walked. He continued down the path and rounded the corner.

He jumped back. In front of him, just down a bit, it was Miller’s creek. This was wrong. This creek was at least a mile away and in the other direction. Jacob spun around and realized he was not where he thought he was. He got a sick feeling in his stomach and walked towards the creek

He stood at the bank of the creek. It was the cataract and everything was as he remembered it. A wind blew on his face from across the creek. The cold air cooled him which is why he liked spending time here. He would get lost listening to the waterfall from the rock face to his left. He could not relax because what he feared was true.

In the pool at the base of the waterfall, a body floated. It was Bradon. He shot Bradon two days ago. Jacob did not understand why his body was still here. He would have thought someone would have found it by now. Jacob knew that he should have felt remorse for what he did but deep down, he knew Bradon deserved it.

Bradon was not a God fearing man despite his regular attendance at church. On the day Jacob shot him, Bradon was forcefully taking what he desired of a savage woman. Despite the consequences, he could not allow it; his conscience would not allow it. When Bradon came at him with his knife, Jacob had no choice.

As he stood there staring at the body as it floated in circles. Suddenly, Jacob saw him again. The savage stood across the creek watching him. Jacob did not react but watched him as he slipped into the forest again without any sound. Curious, Jacob waded across the cold water to follow.

When he stepped into the forest, he found himself in a clearing. He did not know where he was; he had never seen this part of the forest. In the center of the clearing, there was a totem. Jacob has seen some of the totems that the savages built but none like this. It had the typical figures but the top of this one was different. It was a dark figure with horns and red glowing eyes. Jacob reached out and touched the totem.

Suddenly, he found himself in darkness as he gasped for air. He could feel his tense muscles relax as he laid there thinking. His memory came back. The savages captured him shortly after shooting Bradon and brought him to their village. What just happened to him? Was that a dream?

Without any warning, the wrinkled, leathery face of the savage’s elder appeared before him being lit by a faint light in the tent. The elder was the only savage who knew English.

“The Vengeance Spirit judged you and chose to give you mercy.”

“What?” Jacob confusedly asked.

“Judgement will be coming to your people. You best leave this land and not return or else you will suffer their fate.”

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