The Gardener.

Along the road to the wishing well the thing slunk and sidled.

Its intent quite golden, was disguised by the sidestepping gait and dragging feet. Rancid cloth and burnished leathered skin caused onlookers to tremble and clutch their souls.

The exact worth of those souls not equal to the mud consuming their booted feet. The secrets and lies festered within their squalid homes and hearts.

Yet, their eyes looked about the thing with such distaste and disgust as to summon all that is evil within their small, small world. For it was what was slowly eating them alive that also saved them.

The evil often groaned and moved beneath the town. Quite simply it was everywhere and everything and enjoyed touching and grasping through the thick black mud. It could hear the lies. It knew the secrets. Its body grew on greed and violence and hatred until it could almost burst with discontent.

The water ran in rivulets over kith and kin, over stone and hearth, over that sidling thing. It ran over the souls and soaked into soil that was never satiated.

The thing continued its dragging advance toward the well. Within its folded grasp three delicate blooms lay. A purple so bright as to render the world monochrome.

Its height so challenged that to peer into the well was a dream, the thing lifted the blooms towards the darkened sky. The falling droplets kissed the petals one by one, bruising and crushing the virgin flesh. The earth groaned and undulated and the mud pulled harder.

The souls stopped breathing and clutched their wretched bodies. It was a terrible thing to know the place you were destined to lie. Even more terrible the knowledge that your debouched soul was born to inhabit a world so delicate its borders blurred between one single open wound in need of constant tending.

With the tip of a gnarled wrist the petals tumbled into the gaping well. The thing imagined the slow fall into the earth below and stared intently at the surrounding carved and curved rock.

It was an age or barely a whisper and time stopped, and began again. The earth quietened.  The souls exhaled. The thing slunk and sidled away.

Until next time.

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