It weren’t the machinations of Satan, nor the want o’ good Christian parents which led me to my fate. For just as sure as the sun rises in the east, I imagine my immortal soul is damned for good and all. If indeed there be such a thing as a soul, or even a heaven or a hell. No, it was by the sins o’ my own hand that I suppose myself forfeit to the devil.
But let me say that I’m telling’ true when I declare, that what I done I done all for the love of her. Her with eyes black as coal an’ deep as the ocean, her with hair the colour o’ midnight an’ skin the hue of burnt umber. Her as I love with every last ounce o’ love I do possess.
She came a wandering out of the prairie from god knows where, looking like the world had swallowed her whole, chewed her up and then spat her back out again. Beaten bruised and bloodied she was, and suffering sorely from privation and want. And barely able to speak more than a word or two at a time, so fatigued and ruined was she.
Course we took her in and cared for her, me and mine. What else would simple good folk do? My papa and my mama and my big brothers three, we took her all amongst us and nursed her back to somethin’ resembling humanity.
Now being the least able in the affairs of laborious toil, it fell to me to care for the girl. And it should be told that she was near her end when we discovered her, and it was days before I dared to stray from by her side. For delirious was she with a dire fever, and most times she seemed sore tormented by troublesome terrible dreams.
And many was the time in those difficult days, that I did hold and soothe her, and ease her through her torments. Whispering gentle poems and songs in the forbidden Prydeinig tongue, until she at last awoke from her torments.
And when she was herself again, there was one question alone upon her lips. Was I the one who’s gentle healing words, had guided her through the wilderness of her suffering? Was I the one whose gentle lays had led her from the shadows, and returned her to the light?
And when I confessed that indeed it was my song she heard, she threw her arms about me, and kissed me as sweetly as one might. As though my simple tunes had rescued her, from the very hounds of hell themselves.
And she came good enough ere long, after a whole lot of nursing and care. But she couldn’t tell us much of the fate that had befallen her, in fact she had very little to say altogether, and indeed she could not even remember her name.
Now thinking it a sorry thing to walk the world without a name, I took to calling her Annabelle. For it was to my ear a sweet sounding name, and it made her smile to bear it.
Now she herself never spoke to such things, but we came to suppose that she was one of them as got taken away by the cavalry. Torn from the arms of her mother, as a little thing and her family most likely slain.
Sent to live in one o’ them cruel native schools, and there to have her language and her ways, and even her name beaten out of her. And indeed she couldn’t tell us whether she was Oglala or Lakota or Yankton, or even if she were Sioux at all. Though from her set and her general manner we always supposed her to be so.
For she had a goodness to her such as is often found amongst them Sioux, even after all the wicked sins that’s been visited upon them. And a dignity about her as well, that’s common among that folk. And we knew many of them well enough, for poor folk are poor folk regardless of their skin. An’ poor folk do stick together, for the sake of trade and help and such.
And what with us bein’ o’ Cymry heritage, well the sons o’ the English hated us just as they hated them. Indeed their great chief Sitting Bull, often put me much in mind of our own long lost Owain Glyn Dŵr.
But I bet the chronicles an’ history books won’t record any such thing as I record here. I reckon it a fair supposition, that the historians will tell that they were a fierce and vengeful folk. Rightfully subjugated at the tip of a sabre, and taken from their homelands, to fade away an’ die. With every heart in this new world set four square against them, and not a friend in all the world.
But no history book I ever seen told the stories o’ folk like Annabelle an’ me, just stories of knights and cavalry and kings an’ presidents an’ such. Stories of glories gained an’ victories won, and never the stories of the struggling folk. Them as the noble kings and presidents sought to scatter and eradicate.
Now I was much taken with her right from the very outset, and in truth she made my heart to swell and pound. Such as a girl’s heart should only beat for a husband, at least as the ministers and elders say.
And I suppose it was while she wept and shivered through her fevered nightmares, that my heart first grew fond of her. And during her convalescence that my fondness turned to love, finally blossoming at the sight of her up and about. Smiling from time to time and even laughing sometimes too, as we did toil and labour at farm girl chores, always together and ever side by side.
Now I never read a word in the bible as said a girl shouldn’t love another of the same suit, but I knew right well how others though on such things. So I kept my thoughts and feels secret and hidden from my kin, and cautioned Annabelle to do so too.
But I swore a vow as solemn as any other, that one day it would be she and me together as long as we both lived. And never another to come betwixt us, an’ damn em all to hell if they do. And if god himself judged our love to be a mortal sin, then damn him to hell as well.
For I did dearly love that queer and curious girl, who came from nowhere and no one. I swear I loved every aspect of her true, an’ there weren’t even no part left unloved. And when one day the truth was told between us, she swore that she adored me too.
And so a bow of fond affection and love did we bind about us both. And a compact too that it would be always she and me, even unto the end of our days. And as often as we might dare we would spirit ourselves away from others, and dwell awhile in the paradise of our romance.
But in secrecy and careful caution, for we both understood that the outcome would be dire, should our union ever be discovered. With Annabelle likely put away from the family hearth, and maybe even returned to the mission school. And me held back from goin’ to her, and punished awful severe most like.
But we were careful and kept our precious secret well enough. Such that we could dwell in peace, and abide within the comfort of our hidden love. With none amongst my family suspecting that our hearts had become entwined. Not ever my own dear loving mother, that is for a time at least.
Now there were times when Belle would up and disappear, and come back home after a day or two, more wild and feral thing than girl. Round the time of the full moon, always the same. And livestock torn to pieces and half consumed, were discovered after each and every time.
Now me and mine had little by way of book learning, outside o’ what the bible has to say, and a few other history tomes of various sort. But we was far from dull minded or fool witted, if a little superstitious.
But soon talk turned to maybe Belle was some sort of shapeshifter, or were creature or some such. And hushed and whispered talk soon turned to sidelong accusations and veiled threats, an’ my own father began to speak the name Bleiddwn.
But Belle weren’t afeared o’ no man, nor stern hearted woman neither, even though the mood became increasingly hostile towards her. And when crossed words were spoken aloud, she always had me to step between her’n my brothers and my daddy. To cool hot tempers, and to speak to their fears with a reasoning and gentle tongue.
Until one night when soothing words and pleas for reason and calm, were no longer enough to keep resentful hostility at bay. And even my own dear mother’s finger pointed accusingly, and her tongue spoke harsh and cruel words. Snapping and barking that she was cognisant of our romance, and that we were sinners and hell bound both.
Now I don’t seem to have it clear on exactly what happened, but sure enough push came to shove one hot and unpleasant night. I remember stepping between accuser and accused, although I feel I must confess.
It was for the sake of my own kin that I truly feared, for by this time I understood something of what Annabelle truly was. For two hearts don’t come together as ours had done, without each discerning the most hidden secrets of the other.
In the heat of the fracas that ensued, fists flew and boots kicked mercilessly at my dear Annabelle. And me too as I thought to get between the men and her, and save all from a dreadful doom.
And a whole lot of blood was spilled before it were all over, mostly mine and Belle’s it was. For the men had become savage with fear, and their hearts hardened enough to do murder. And I suppose that in the fury of the fray, some of Annabelle’s mingled with some o’ mine and got all inside me. And then….
….well, then I was different. No ordinary good hearted Christian girl no more, and no true soul bound heavenwards no more neither. For that blood awoke a bestial rage within me, that they would be so cruel to my one and only love.
Truth is, all I remember with any clarity is coming to in the morn. Waking in sweet Annabelle’s arms as she did rock me back and forth. And further she did seek to soothe me, by bidding me not to look upon the horrors I had wrought.
But look I did, only to find….
….that all that was left of my kith n’ kin….
….was butchered meat and buzzin’ flies.
But the curious thing was the way that Belle held me close, while I wept out all my grief. For she wept right along with me like it were her loss instead of mine. And when I asked why she mourned so, all she said was that she wept for me. For she and me would be as one forever now, cursed and hell bound both.
Now of course I challenged my beloved about why that should be a bad thing, and why such should mean eternal damnation. And she in turn did truly tell me why, explaining the nature of her being.
She weren’t taken by no cavalry, and neither had she been imprisoned in mission school. No it were her own people who cast her away from them, and bid her dwell alone.
For my sweet Annabelle was a shifter, half woman and half wolf. And her folk knew full well that such as Belle and normal folk, simply cannot dwell in peace together. And she told me that she wept because she was the cause of the death o’ my kin, though it were my own fangs and claws which tore them all apart.
She claimed that she would have taken her leave long since, had she not been so reckless as to fall in love. And that had she not been so selfish, her blood would not have joined with mine. And my mother and father and brothers three, would be whole and breathing still.
Now of course I saw no sin in her wantin’ to dwell with me, and I wouldn’t have it said that she were to blame neither. All my sweet Annabelle ever did was love me true, and I would hear no more of guilt from her.
And together we did bury all the sundered portions of my kin, we scrubbed away the blood and gore, and made good the damage I had done.
And so we dwelt on the family farm and kept our grisly secret safe. And for years we were free and without care, until at last the railroad came. And with the railroad came towns and cities, and great crowds of people too. The flock as it were straying nearer and nearer the wolves.
And we of course being what we are, we did what came natural to us. But with the federal government seeking to bring order to the wild places, things got a little close and crowded for us. And with regular folk ever on the lookout for banditry and such, and seeking to guide and inform the hand of the law. Well, we found ourselves much at risk of discovery.
So deeper and deeper into the Badlands we been pushed, seeking to keep a distance betwixt us and civilisation. And day by day we become more like wild things, the deeper that we go.
So this will likely be the last and final time that I will put ink to paper, so take this as my soul’s confession. And a legal binding statement of my guilt, if such things be of significance to you. But if ye read this missive or hear the rumours I know been flyin’ about, take great care indeed if ye mean to come after us.
For I swear upon my cursed soul that I will lay low any and all, who think to get betwixt she and me. And doom will fall upon ye, should you seek to garner bounty for our pelts.
Heed me and heed me well, lawman and bounty hunter, soldier and nefarious bushwhacker alike. A terrible and fierce fate will befall the ones who come after me and my beloved, for want of a gold reward.
And butchered meat and buzzin’ flies is all they will find, of any and all who seek to work my sweet Annabelle’s demise.
Thank you for reading
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