As I (Stef, not his Royal Luiness, Thorn) write this, it is Halloween. Visions fill our heads of ghastly goblins and ghosts, frightful freaks, voracious vampires, and dastardly demons. Among these images, we fixate on another towering figure: the witch. The Wicked Witch of the West–green-skinned, enrobed in black, and filled with nothing but cackles and rage–is what pops into our heads. Centuries–maybe even millenia–witches (the name often given to wise women, female leaders, women with medicinal knowledge, and otherwise women with power) are cast as evil, manipulative figures whose main goal is to cause chaos and destroy the status quo. Many women who did not perfectly fit into the roles assigned to them were labeled witches and condemned to social isolation and/or death. As evidenced by the events of the Salem Witch Trials, even those who did stay within the lines wound up hung by one. And it is so refreshing to come across a story that doesn’t fit along the typical witch storyline. And even more refreshing to see witches–women–saving each other…and themselves. I am proud to know Aurora Suzanne for everything she does to encourage us women every day. Please enjoy,
The Shadow Witches
by Aurora Suzanne
Aurora huddled, shivering, in the dark, cold cell of the prison. Her whole body
shuddered as a woman cried out in the darkness, reminding her of the torture she’d endured every night the past month. She smelled her own urine and shuffled her muddy feet. Her ankle and wrists were swollen. As more cries pierced the silence, Aurora’s heart sped up and her breath came rapid. It would soon be her turn. She had to get out now.
The guards had to be distracted, she assumed. Slowly, her bloody, blistered hands groped along the hard wall until they touched metal. Her fingers closed around the metal, confirming she’d found the wrench she’d hidden under a pile of rags. One of the guards had left while she labored in the workshop, allowing her to slip the small wrench into her clothes. She gripped it as tight as her sore hands would allow. She crawled carefully to the bars and began to tug like so many nights before. It was slow and grueling, but she was determined to escape this horrible
Aurora was a political prisoner at Jau Prison, notorious for egregious human rights
violations. She’d been arrested for protesting the oppression of women in Bahrain. The consequences were torture and rape at the hands of the prison guards. At times, she wouldn’t eat for days. Her cell was her bathroom. She was desperate to escape these walls and run for the nearby hills where the legendary shadow witches supposedly lived. The wailing had stopped, leaving only an eerie silence. She focused intently on the wrench and bars, tugging, twisting, pulling. She didn’t notice a black shadow as it slipped past her cell. As she continued to tug in
the dark, several more shadows emerged, quickly darting up and down the passageway outside her cell. She heard someone breathing in the dark. Aurora looked up and froze as she gazed upon the shadows now surrounding her cell. She tightened her grip on the wrench, prepared to use it as a weapon. Had the guards discovered her wrench? Were they surrounding her now to dole out more punishment or maybe to kill her? She stared at the shadow outside her cell, It had
no particular features. It seemed a phantom in the night.
Suddenly, a shadow dropped into the cell behind her, and grabbed her, knocking her forward into the metal bars. Her head throbbed but she clawed at the figure and attempted to shake herself free. Two more shadows dropped down and lunged at her. The shadows grabbed her arms. Aurora pulled against the shadows, yanking, twisting, contorting, but their grips were too strong. Now another shadow snatched her legs. Aurora turned her head sideways, and bit down on the nearby hand, tasting warm blood, but the hand didn’t let go. One of the shadows
grunted softly. She clawed, twisted, and yanked, determined to set herself free. But it was useless. There were more and more shadows and they overpowered her. It was too late. She was at their mercy.
As she struggled, she tasted the salt of her own tears. She gritted her teeth. This can’t be the end, she thought. Not now. But doubts dominated her mind and a shiver crawled up and down her spine. She was terribly afraid. The shadows’ grips tightened, making it harder to struggle.
It seemed like a whisper. A woman’s voice whispered, “quit resisting,” sounding rather annoyed. Aurora didn’t know whether to believe what she heard. It sounded like a woman, but none of the executioners were women. She dismissed it as a desperate hallucination.
The shadows pulled a black sack down over her face and head. Aurora shook her head violently but the sack remained tight around her face. She felt the different hands hoist her up on her feet. She heard them breathing. Her ankle throbbed as she stood blind in the darkness. They pushed her forward. She stumbled, gingerly stepping with her left ankle. She wanted to know where she was going and if she was going to die. The shadows continued to push her forward until she bumped into cold concrete. Their hands were strong and firm. They traveled along for
some distance. She thought about breaking free and running, no matter how bad her ankle hurt, but decided against it as she felt many of them near her. Her breath was hot in the sack. They moved forward until she again bumped against a concrete wall.
They wrapped a thick, braided rope around her waist. She grabbed the rope, attempting to pull it off her, but the strong hands grabbed her fingers so they couldn’t move. She wanted to run. She twisted her body a few more times before realizing how useless her attempts were. The rope tightened around her.
Then, without warning, the rope pulled her up into the air. Her arms and legs dangled helplessly. It was like hanging between life and death. She strained to see through the sack but only saw black and slight movements. Her stomach turned. She wondered if she’d vomit into the sack anytime. She rose higher and higher, free from the hands for now. Where was she going? And why?
Finally, more hands grabbed her, and yanked her up onto soft ground, a stark difference from the concrete prison floors. Before Aurora could scramble to her feet, the strong hands pulled her up from the hard ground, and they started moving forward again. Aurora stumbled forward, sliding on small pebbles and gravel. The sharp, tiny pebbles cut into her bare feet. Her right ankle throbbed severely. She winced inside the sack as they proceeded forward. She noticed no feeling in her wrist, and heard her heart rapidly thumping. It was hard to breathe in the sack. She was tired, weak, and hungry. It was then Aurora realized she wasn’t walking on the prison’s concrete floor anymore. She was indeed outside the prison gates.
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“You’ve always had the power, my dear. You just had to learn it for yourself.”–Glinda from The Wizard of Oz
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Aurora Suzanne is a women’s rights activist, writer, and actress based out of San Diego County and has been an active member of A Word With You Press since 2010. She is passionate about women’s rights and shining a light on domestic abuse and the society that enables it.