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The Voice of a Wildling by Emma Wells

I’m a creature of darkness. I haunt as demons. Bearing blood-stained beads for eyes, I seek out prey as laser rays, targeting as pulled archers’ strings. For centuries, this has been my dismal fate: locked by a deadened scripture to curse others, depleting me of a childhood, morality, and humanism.

My supernatural father is a warlock. He has chained me to bend to the curvature of his will, for as long as I can remember. I have stalked thousands, killing most, as I was prescribed to do. Hollow, darkened holes hold my silhouette form, as a neck in a tightening noose. I stalk each chosen one like a hungered vampire, praying for the blood-bound monotony to be over.

Final. Cut.

Each sighting of a wildling, like me, brings about an untimely death. We have been the curious talk of folklore since early man. Our kind has always skirted humans, as flies upon decaying flesh. We ghost besides them, be-screened by nocturnal wings. Mine are satin black, soundless in the breeze as a flying falcon. I have no need of talons. Only one straight look into the whirlwind pools of my own eyes, soulless, onyx saucers, will be enough to steal a life, stoppering the heart as a corked vintage wine.

Millennia’s endless cords have knotted me to these Scottish backwaters where I am compelled to hunt the living. My world: a dusty, forested microcosm. For decades, I have idled away tenacious time beneath willow trees, morphing with their heartbroken spirals of woe. Each dangling, sweeping branch, a mirror of my deconstructed soul, lost and downcast. Unable, as I am now, to raise hopeful eyes towards the rising dawn as I did so fruitfully while an infant. My lot in life is padlocked, securely tightened as screws. I am bound, menacingly tied, by melancholy’s winding strings as a fateful package.

Oftentimes, I encircle my sprite-self into a perfect circle, urging the earthy soil beneath, to swallow me so I may blend in raven forgetfulness, beneath the bowels of the earth. It is where I belong: in hell or a version of its macabre torments.

Instead, I’m enslaved. Struck hard by the warlock’s curse to stalk the damned on Scotland at his immortal behest. His physical self, dwindled long ago, but alike the other, we exist in the smoking ether. Each curling swirl of despair whispers my name:

“Wildling. Wildling. Wildling.”

I have forgotten all else, for long ago, I dare to believe, I held a human name, befitting for a fleshy child of God. Now, I’m an eclipsed heathen, blotted out by murders, maddening scrolls of penned murders, where the last flicker of despair hooks upon my damaged soul, lacing another barbed knot to its war-like grip.

Harbingers of death are my only comrades – fellow wildlings, but, sadly, in all my elastic existence, I have seen no other cursed changeling. I exist as an anomaly. A castoff: an easily dispensed tangle of fabric, haphazardly thrown to burn in the fiery flames of the hearth by a seamstress.

Unwanted. So wholesomely unwanted.

One brave wintery morning, I endeavoured to escape: wishing to dissipate within the ferocious waters of the nearest sea loch; many of which are scattered around the western coast of Scotland. The loch’s stony outreaches are jaws of oblivion where I chose to erase my shaded outline. I longed to unravel each knot of my past evils, witnessing them disband to watery hell, as each of more sins is purged, cleansed by the salty sanity of the sea.

At Camusdarach beach, part of the Silver Sands of Morar, I step an ugly, witch toe into the swell of the surf: swirling forgetfulness with wispy ribbons of my begrudged existence. Undeterred, I push on. Drinking in heady gulps of medicinal sea tonic. Time spins its ceilidh dance around my pulsing frame, holding me fast like a mother’s newly born child. I permit my eyes to close. Praying to watery sea gods to take my fragmented heart, and to cut it into pieces. Each scarlet morsel will send messages: ones handed down to brethren, such as to growing sea nymphs. They must learn to avoid my bludgeoned fate at all conceivable costs.

I let go.

Contented, at long last.

Suddenly, my reluctant, bitter stone eyes open. Years have spun their yarn, but I still remain. The sea has held me in its lullaby arms for as long as it dared, but now, mortifyingly, my cursed fate returns The warlock hold still fiercely acts upon me as forging love in blistering heat.

Struggling profusely, I slump and groan, knowing that I am returning to curse the living upon Scottish lands. My eyes, cloudy from sea-tossed forcefulness, slowly focus, until I gaze upon a lonely man at the shoreline. His hand is latched to a lover. She studies the spilling waves as I affix my cursed weapon of evil-riddled sight upon him.

Our eyes lock. A pack is pledged. He shakes hands with devious intent, nodding to me as he passes, intuiting that there is no way out for either he or I. He leaves his lover, totally alone, burial-bereft on the shifting shoreline.

And so, it begins again: my eternal servitude.

A wildling.


Emma is a mother and English teacher. She has poetry published with various literary journals and magazines. She enjoys writing flash fiction and short stories also. Emma won Wingless Dreamer’s Bird Poetry Contest of 2022 and her short story entitled ‘Virginia Creeper’ was selected as a winning title by WriteFluence Singles Contest in 2021. Her first novel is entitled Shelley’s Sisterhood which is due to be published in May 2023.


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