By Serena Wooten
Prologue: The New Colony of Roanoke, August 17th, 1590
She could feel it. It was penetrating her very being, like ice rushing through her veins. It was all because of that stupid corner. She had caused an uproar, raving to her husband about that same corner, with the shadows that never seem to leave and the voices that whispered to her very soul. “You are raving mad woman,” Ananias chuckled patronizingly, “It’s one corner of the cabin that hasn’t seen the light of day. I already have one child that cowers before the darkness, don’t let me have another, Eleanor.” As the argument persisted, and Ananias came to threaten to send her back to her father in England, Eleanor grew quiet, going about her business like an obedient little wife.
Eleanor cradled Virginia back against her chest as they sat on the tiny cot. The toddler’s eyes gazed at her innocently, trying to focus on her every word.
“Are they real, Mama?” her high-pitched voice cut in to her mother’s storytelling, glazed with curiosity. “Angels? Are they real?”
Eleanor combed her fingers through her daughter wild chestnut hair. “Yes, my love,” she answered.
“What do they look like?”
Eleanor smiled. “Like us, but far more fair.” Virginia pouted, crossing her tiny arms as if insulted by the mere idea of it. Eleanor smiled, tickling her tummy, “Not fairer than you, my darling,” she assured as Virginia giggled. “But if you close your eyes and listen real close and quiet, you can hear them sing their heavenly songs of God’s word. It’s one of the many blessings God can give you.”
Virginia’s tiny, grubby hand slowly reached up to the dangling chain around her mother’s neck. She grasped the circular pendant of silver encasing a blood red jewel streaked with cracks of yellow and black. “Was this a gift from Him?”
Eleanor stiffened, the foreboding feeling returning. Dread slowly seeped through her, her fingers trembling as they found Virginia’s to clasp and pull away from the jewel. “Mama?” Virginia’s voice was hesitant as she could feel her mother shaking and her grip tightening around her. Eleanor didn’t even glance at her daughter as her eyes slowly dragged over to the dark, isolated corner of their home covered in shadows. As if it had never seen the light of day. “There are many worlds out there, Virginia,” her voice had dropped into a whisper. “Promise your mother that you won’t go out looking for them.”
“I - I promise, Mama,” The young girl’s voice trembled upon noticing her mother’s ashen look.
“Go find your father for me, love,” she pushed. “Make sure he hasn’t fallen asleep on the floor once more.” The ale tends to do that to him.
Virginia paused, her small hand squeezing her mother’s in fear, but didn’t dare disobey. “Okay, Mama.”
Eleanor’s eyes slid closed as the sound of her daughter’s pattering faded. Her fingers clutched her pendant, which had started to burn. She could hear the soft buzzing of the whispers once more. “You can’t take them,” she whispered into the empty room. The shadows within the corner expanded, spreading against the wall, the tendrils creeping towards her figure as the whispers grew louder. ‘We . . . will . . . take . . . them . . . all . . .’ the voices hissed. The shadows surround her, reaching out to the pendant around her neck. “You promised,” Eleanor whimpered. The necklace seared into her skin. “Y-You promised you would leave us alone - leave her alone - if I set you free - ” The harrowing whispers answered with a word, repeated over and over like a mantra: ‘Croatoan . . . croatoan . . . croatoan . . . croatoan . . .’ All that was left of Eleanor Dare was her scream as the shadows engulfed her and the entirety of Roanoke with them.