The Village Gate: A Short Story
Thump! Thump! The “caller” was banging on the wooden door of the Murphy’s small cabin. It was midnight but this was urgent business. In a nervous hurry, the caller barged into the small cabin and loudly called out Clive’s name with no regard to anyone sleeping.
“Duncan! Is that you?!” Clive Murphy said with a scowling yell.
As Clive was preparing to leave, Doria told her husband “you tell Duncan to knock next time! He better never barge into our house again! I don’t care if our village is under attack by the Unknowns or not. Next time he knocks or he gets shot!” Since the Murphy’s were a part of the Protection Society, Clive was obligated to go when requested, day or night, no questions asked.
Doria Murphy, was clanking around the kitchen getting breakfast started when her little ones woke up from a fitful sleep. Clive Jr. (CJ), the oldest came bounding down the loft.
“Ma, why didn’t you wake me up when you got up? I should to be tending to the livestock, with Pa gone” said CJ as he was getting his coat on.
“You’re right CJ, I should have thought about the livestock . . . ” her words trailed off as CJ left the cabin. In truth, Doria was thinking about her husband’s involvement with the Protection Society.
The cabin was almost shaking as the winds picked up. The wind sounded like shrieks and mournful wailing. The wind would then calm down revealing a peaceful early morning only to send autumn leaves up in the air in a swirling pattern with harsh sounds of tools and scraps of woods pounding on the barn or cabin. There seemed to be a strange rhythm to the wind gusts.
By now it was breakfast time and the cabin was engulfed with the sounds and smells of bacon on the frying pan. The wind gusts had died down. Since Clive had not yet returned from the Protection Society at the village gate, Doria couldn’t help but think “this time they must be fighting the Unknowns.” That thought a worried Doria.
Many times the Protection Society had been called to arms to protect the village from the Unknowns. Until now, a show of force seemed to keep the Unknowns at bay. The Protection Society had never actually fought the Unknowns and they usually were home by morning. Since it was past his usual arrival time Doria was concerned a real fight was on. How would they fare? They didn’t really have any fighting experience.
Doria had just placed the last strip of bacon in the frying pan and wiped her hands on her apron, peering out the window she saw Maggie with her red braids floating in the air as she raced out of the chicken coop with her egg basket curiously empty.
Instinctively, Doria’s thoughts were swirling with Maggie frantically running out of the chicken coop and wondering where her husband was? Her thoughts were blasted as a breathless Maggie burst through the door at the same time the rooster eerily crowed. “Ma! Come quickly!” yelled Maggie, “there is something wrong in the chicken coop!”
Maggie and her mama rushed to the chicken coop. As Doria stepped into the roost, a strange feeling of despair came over Doria. All the chickens were dead except for the old crowing rooster. “Oh my . . . what in the name of St. Patrick happened to the chickens?”
As Doria was stepping out of the coop, she smelled the burning bacon. As she was running to the kitchen she wondered “why is everything going wrong this morning, what’s going on?”
While cleaning the frying pan that burnt the bacon a flood of questions came over Doria as she wondered what her husband might be doing? Was he in any danger? Could he be dead? He was a strong hard-working man but he was a peaceful man, did he have a killer instinct to kill whatever was threatening the village?
CJ rushed into the cabin followed by a rush of red and orange autumn leaves hollering “Ma, where’s the rope?”
“It’s in the barn,” his Ma replied as she walked past CJ and closed the door against the cold autumn wind as it started to batter their cabin.
“No, it ain’t, I looked everywhere, I’ve got to find the rope, Ladd’s loose and Pa’s saddle is on him. He won’t come to me when I call his name, he seems spooked for some reason.”
“What do you mean Ladd’s loose? Your father rode off with him when the Protection Society came calling last night!” Doria had a feeling that something wasn’t right. With her husband off fighting the Unknown, all the chickens dead, Clive’s horse on the loose, despair and foreboding filled her senses.
Maggie was cleaning the living area of the cabin while Doria started getting dinner ready. A while later Doria called to Maggie, “would you please go out and check on your brother CJ? It’s been a while and I want to know about the horse.”
Dusk had settled in and the cold wind was still battering the small wooden cabin. Maggie put on her scarf and coat and then she ran straight to the barn like she was told.
Bursting though the wooden doors, she startled the livestock. Her brother CJ was bent over a heap of a person with bloody clothes.
“Maggie, come quick, over here!” Yelled CJ.
“Pappa!” gasped Maggie as she recognized her pappa’s face. His head and chest were soaked in blood. Clive’s eyelids seemed to flutter a few times before his eyes opened. Maggie was startled and scared. Without a moments hesitation she ran toward the cabin. She came running through the cabin doors breathlessly shouting “Ma! Come quick!”
Troy Wagstaff © Copyright, All Rights Reserved