The church bells chimed.
A cold Salem breeze gusted and chilled her to the bone. She stirred and reached for the afghan to pull closer to her. But it wasn’t there. Confused, she opened her eyes. Her mouth dropped open to gasp, but no sound came out.
How did I get out here? She wondered. Fifteen-year-old Grace Parris glanced around the dark cemetery. She didn’t remember wandering out here.
Mama and Papa will be so worried once they find I’m missing. She hid her face. What would the townspeople think if they found me, the minister’s daughter, in the cemetery? I must get home.
She picked up the pace and moved forward. Suddenly, her face hit the dirt. A greyed and dirty hand gripped her ankle. She felt the warmness of fresh blood on her knees where she fell.
Horrified, her eyes followed the dirt-crusted fingers to its source…the freshly covered grave.
Muffled groans and screams came from the ground below her. Grace twisted and thrashed, but the hand’s grip tightened around her ankle. She frantically grabbed everything in sight…threads of grass, small twigs, but nothing could pull her out of the hand’s grasp. She opened her mouth to scream, but nothing came out.
Finally, Grace kicked with all of her might, and the hand released her. She struggled to her feet and picked up her feet to run, but to her horror, hands raised from fresh graves all across this new section of the cemetery. One by one, the hands dug their way out of the soil and turned into bodies.
Grace turned and looked toward where she had fallen. A woman stood taller than her, her blonde hair caked with mud, her neck popped out of place. Grace suddenly recognized the face looming in front of her. It was Goody Proctor, her sister’s former employer.
Grace’s sister, Abigail Williams, changed her name to her mother’s maiden name to disconnect herself from the Parris family. Abi didn’t like role of being a minister’s daughter, so she became a maid in the Proctor household. The head of the house, John Proctor, fell in love with her and had an affair. When Goody Proctor found out, she was promptly fired. Abi was infuriated to be separated from Mr. Proctor, especially when he began to show that his feelings for her had disintegrated as he realized the extent of his adultery, which he asked her to keep silent. Even Grace’s parents didn’t know, but Abi had confided in Grace. To illuminate her love for Mr. Proctor and to get Elizabeth Proctor out of the way, Abi accused Goody Proctor of witchcraft.
Witchcraft was nothing to be taken lightly these days. Things had advanced when the year turned to 1690, but a slave girl, Tituba, had invoked fear in all of Grace’s peers. Frequently, the girls would dance in the woods and sell themselves to the devil as Tituba stirred a pot of mysterious substance. Grace cared about her reputation as the minister’s daughter, and did not concern herself with those things. Ever since their encounter with the devil, the girls have been accusing everyone of witchcraft. As of this morning, there were 20 condemned to trail. The trials were early tomorrow morning.
Why is Goody Proctor in the cemetery? And why is her neck disjointed?
Slowly, the accused women rose all across the graveyard…every one of them with a disjointed neck and mud-caked hair.
Lightning cracked. “Grace Parris,” Elizabeth Proctor breathed heavily, “Your family will pay for what they have done.” Her voice cracked, and she let out an eerie howl. The other women followed in her footsteps, and slowly, they marched toward the church.
“Wait!” Grace panicked, “Wait! What are you going to do?” She stumbled over a new headstone and fell. Rain poured from the sky. Another lightning bolt split the sky, illuminating the army of women rising out of their graves and marching toward her church and her home.
Raspy voices called out, “The Parris family must pay!”
Grace tried in vain to pull herself to her feet, but pain shot through her legs. Desperately, she tried to pull herself up and support herself on one of the tombstones. As she supported herself on the grave only marked “witch,” she realized it was too late. The innocent accused witches were no longer innocent. Their corpses entered into houses, killing every living thing. The women thirsted for blood, sucking the life out of every home.
Goody Proctor personally tore into Abigail’s room and made her watch as her town was torn apart. Blood trickled down Abi’s face where Goody Proctor’s crusted fingernails dug into her scalp. Revenge flamed in Elizabeth’s eyes. The injured Grace cried out in horror.
Bodies lay in trembling pools all over the streets of Salem. Streams of blood flowed onto the roads like a river. Grace’s friends and family gasped for their last breaths. As the last member of Salem died, Goody Proctor crushed Abi’s skull with a terrifying shriek of laughter. The women set the town on fire and stood in the bloodstained streets to watch it burn.
Grace realized the reality…she was next. As the town of Salem burned, the women turned in unison and marched toward her. The roaring of the flames faded, and all she could hear was her racing heartbeat. Goody Proctor’s hands soon gripped Grace’s neck, “Your family must pay.” Grace closed her eyes to block out the desolation of her home, and she heard a bloodcurdling scream.
Opening her eyes, she realized the scream was her own.
She sat upright in her bed. Sweat soaked her sheets and her nightgown.
Oh, it was only a dream. She sighed in relief, and got out of her bed. I must warn Papa that those women are innocent! They don’t deserve to die.
Grace ran downstairs to find her family sitting down to lunch.
The trials had already occurred. She ran to the window and saw the cemetery across the street with twenty fresh graves.
It was too late.
“What is it, darling?” Reverend Parris looked forlorn. Executions always saddened him, even when it was necessary.
Grace couldn’t bear to tell her father what she had dreamed. After all, it was only a dream! He did not need any more grief today.
That night, the Parris family settled into their beds.
The church bells chimed.
As the cold wind howled, a greyed, dirty hand emerged from the freshly covered grave.