Archive for January 20th, 2012

20th January
written by amber

The Fountain on the Green

The well in our village square was renowned for being the deepest in the shire, but no man had drawn water from it for many years. The water, having developed a foul sulphuric odor, was said to be cursed by Satan.

Yet we lived happily enough, drawing sweet water from a brook, tending our sheep, harvesting our crops, attending our small church every Sunday. And if some people in other towns claimed that our village had been cursed by Satan, not one of us believed it.

But then the ground beneath our feet began to shake at sundry times, and the brook flowed backwards on two occasions, and at other times the brook water became as hell-tinged as the water in the well. And some became frightened, and emptied their houses onto carts and rode away from the village, for whence we knew not.

At this time, cracks began to appear in the walls of the church, and the plaster shattered to the floor and the stones of its construction shifted on their moorings. Then, one Sunday before any man had left his bed, the church crashed to the ground. The vicar’s small house was located at a safe distance, but this disaster unhinged his mind and we had to send for the vicar of the next village to fetch him to his house to be cared for.

The brook became dry, its bed being elevated and creating a lake to one side of our village and a drought to the other. In need of water, we had to walk great distances and some villagers felt that their gardens and their livestock would not be harmed by the water from the well. However when they approached the well, they found the ground around it also elevated. Despite this, the well’s water flowed freely over the stones of its enclosure, creating a noisome swamp of the village square. And no man drew water from that well, but all avoided it.

One night we were roused by a mighty thunder, and stones descended from the air, frogs also, crashing on and through our roofs and into our yards. No one dared step forth until daylight, when we found the well demolished and the village square now a lake of clear unnatural blue, shimmering into unimaginable depths, and very warm.

Hellfire Lake, we called it, and waited to see what would happen next. More villagers reached the decision to move away, but some of us were fascinated. Perhaps we were as mice entranced by the snake, or perhaps we had nowhere else to go. We were rewarded in our anticipation, for the next week Hellfire Lake erupted in a fountain of water reaching halfway to heaven. Those who saw it could speak of nothing else and those who had missed it were sorely regretful, but in the very next hour the water shot upwards again.

And so it has been, every hour of every day for five years now. Although all agree the boiling brimstone-scented deluge can come from only one place, everyone wishes to see it. People from the shire, the country and even across the sea visit us. We’ve all built new houses at a safe distance away, and we sell vials of the water and painted likenesses of the fountain, and we provide food and lodgings to the visitors.

Our town is now named Hellfire, and life is very good there, although the ground still shakes from time to time.

The Story 365 project is a year-long marathon of short story writing, with a new story for every day of the year and posted on this website from May 1, 2011 – April 30, 2012. Stories must be a minimum of 200 words. Please help me by adding first line or topic suggestions in the Comment section of any story. If you’d like me to use your name in a story, I’d be happy to do that.