Morgan Parker looked out from behind the velvet curtain. She saw expectant faces and troubled looks in the rows. She heard sighs, gasps and giggles as they brought out Titian’s ‘Venus of Urbino’. The hands flew up, the bids were made, the sale was finalized and the painting was taken away. The next one was from an unknown artist, she had been hesitant as to whether or not add it to the lot. Her manager, Ethan Peabody was the one to convince her to add it to the collection. He said it was showing it or it was her job that was on the line. They weren’t the largest auction house, so they had to sell whatever they got. She sighed as she saw an elderly woman hold up her card. What would she want with an abstract painting of the Salem witch trials? Morgan looked on as one other person bid for it. She let the curtain drop and walked back into her office. Not the highest bid they could have got, but it was better than nothing. She knew the painting was worth much more, but it took the right person to bid on it. She would have gladly bought it, but she didn’t have the means. The Salem witch trials were her secret obsession. She had her degree in business and the arts, but she was self taught on every subject that involved history. Her favorite, of course, was the witch trials. She still couldn’t comprehend how such hysteria could have affected the lives of so many people. The witch trials were a mystery to her and she was always searching for the answers.
Morgan lifted the sheet from the painting and looked at it. Her phone rang, she let it go to voicemail. She sat down on the floor, being careful not to get her new diesel trousers dirty. She looked at the painting for the longest time, searching for a clue in the colors, the background, even the hair of the girls. It was a painting that described the trials in their entity. In the background, you could see the girls being tied up and hung, on the left hand side their was a jury and a girl being tried and in the foreground was a man and woman’s hand being pulled apart. Morgan shivered as she saw the hands. She thought of Blake. She instantly picked up her phone and called him. No answer. She checked her missed calls.
‘Hey Babe, I’ll be there in about an hour. Gone to get us a snack. Love you.’
She put her phone back on the desk and put her attention back on the painting. She looked it over until she thought their was nothing more to see. Then she saw it. A small smudge of black ink. To the untrained eye, it would go unnoticed, but not to Morgan’s. She found her magnifying glass and held it up to the blur. It was a phrase;
Christian Martyr who for Truth could die,
When all about thee Owned the hideous lie!
The world, redeemed from superstition’s sway,
Is breathing freer for thy sake today.
Morgan read the words out loud and laughed. She got up, grabbed the sheet and was about to put it back, when she had the urge to sing a christian song she had once heard. The sheet dropped to the floor, her stomach tightened and she was propelled forward towards the painting. She rolled down on the ground in pain, clutching her head between both hands. She looked up at the painting through her tired eyes and saw madness. The painting had come alive. The girls were screaming, people were crying. One girl was saying: I am as innocent as a newborn babe. The woman and man’s hands were being torn apart. She could feel the pain of it in her chest. She reached out and touched the hands, closing her eyes as she drifted into deep sleep.
Morgan smelled smoke. She opened her eyes and looked up. Barn wood paneling lined the walls and ceiling. Her head hurt an awful lot. She rubbed her temples slowly, but no relief came. She noticed the sleeve of her clothing and jumped out of the bed. She was wearing a full length woolen dress. It was shit brown and it covered her entire body. The room she was in was tiny, with a small dresser in the corner and a pot on the ground. She walked to the old door and opened it. She could hear someone speaking not too far away. The words were jumbled, but she could make out the following words; witch and death. She shivered despite her awfully warm clothes. She walked out slowly and was confused by what she saw. A large field covered most of the land beside the house, she saw men cutting down weeds, women pulling on food carts and children playing in the muddy roads. She rubbed her eyes, closed them and tapped her feet together. ‘There’s no place like home.’ She opened her eyes. She was still in the freaky Amish community.
Shawn Young was accused of witchcraft the same day his father died. His mother accused him, yelling that he had caused her husband’s death. The lawmen came and got him while he slept, abruptly awaking him to throw him in jail. He was dirty, tired and sad. How could this town, the one he had grown up in, turn against him and so many others? It was ludicrous and maddening. He had to escape, find a way to leave and never come back. His resolve was slowly cracking, especially since they had started torturing him into a false confession. He would never break, it would be a sacrilege against his savior if he did. Telling a lie sent you to hell. Then again, he was already in hell.
Morgan deducted that it was a prank someone was playing on her. She could not possibly have gone back in time. To this place of all. places. They didn’t even have any running water for crying out loud. She felt like she was in a remake of a western, except for the cowboy boots. Her feet were killing her. She found nothing during her search, everything seemed genuine. She found a mirror at some point and screamed when she saw herself. She wasn’t herself, she had transformed into a plain lady. Her hair was not it’s fake vibrant red, but her natural brown. Her face was scrubbed of all makeup, her cheeks were pale and her eyes looked tired. She didn’t like this new person. She frowned and it only deepened the realness of it all.
‘You are up Sarah! How fortunate you are feeling better.’
Morgan turned and saw a frail elderly woman.
‘Where am I?’
The woman was puzzled.
‘Do you not remember where you are Sarah? This has been your home for twenty four years.’
Morgan went over to the bed and sat.
‘I think I might have lost a bit of my memory. What happened to me?’
‘You have taken ill these past three days. This is the first time I see you awake and well.’
Morgan decided to go along with it. Nothing worse than not knowing where you were.
‘Where am I? What year is it?’
The lady looked puzzled once again, it took her a few seconds to carefully answer.
‘You are in Salem, the year is 1692.’