“The Haunted Bend”

No wonder they call this place haunted, Sir Richard thought to himself. He looked down at the body lying on the ground. The knight had quite obviously been thrown from his horse, breaking his neck when he hit the hard ground, but if Sir Richard had been a fanciful man he would have commented on the horror that filled the knight’s eyes. Being a reasonable man, a physician, he kept his thoughts to himself and merely stated the obvious. “Third body this month.”

“I wonder where his horse has wandered off to,” Sir Richard’s companion muttered, looking around nervously.

“Frightened no doubt. He’ll wander back to the stable eventually.”

Together, the two men wrapped the body in burlap and loaded it into the cart, along with the sword and helmet that had fallen to the ground.

“His sword was drawn then.”

“Aye,” Sir Richard replied briefly, not wanting to encourage the direction of the conversation. If the knight had drawn his sword, it followed that he had seen someone he felt the need to defend against, or perhaps attack. With no other marks in the damp mud at this bend in the road, no one else cold have been here. Who then did the knight see? The Crown would not want the townsfolk gossiping about a ghost, a spirit that not even a knight in armor held a chance against. Sir Richard still shuddered at the memory of the three poor women that burned in West Fairfield, blamed for a death that had been entirely natural. He would not see the same thing happen here.

But what had the knight seen?

That evening, he discussed the case with his wife of twenty years. A lovely woman still, he knew others felt she was too outspoken, didn’t know her place, but he adored her and recognized that she was more intelligent than most of the men he knew, including his assistant.

“Richard,” she asked. “Have you considered having the local vicar bless the place, ward off the ghost.”

“Elizabeth, don’t be ridiculous,” he rebuked, exasperated. “There is no ghost, no demon, no phantom.”

“It doesn’t matter what you and I believe,” she spoke gently. She understood that he would not accept the idea of a vengeful spirit terrifying the travelers. She herself was not so sure.  “It’s what they believe, and if they believe a ghost is haunting that bend, the deaths will continue to be blamed on it. If they believe it’s gone, they won’t have that excuse. Without a supernatural explanation, perhaps you can find those who can help discover what is actually causing the horses to throw their riders.”

“Ah.” Not a bad idea, Sir Richard thought.

The following, he followed her suggestion, and the area was cleansed and blessed by the vicar. Sir Richard was probably the only one who was surprised that no more dead men were discovered at the bend.

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Dottie at Tink’s Place has a Monday Morning Flash Fiction challenge that I’m enjoying. Each Monday a new picture prompt will be posted and if you choose to participate you post your story on Friday – 350 words, give or take.