Sodom Calls Gomorrah to the Flame
The late-night whisperings of the Kinnunen homestead were still in the dull, cold air. Now, these whispers need not be compared with the nightmarish tales around the town, that members of the Kinnunen family were dark practitioners - witches. Old lady Emma Kinnunen had the appearance of a strange old hag, but she had the kindest heart of anybody for miles around.
Muma, that's what they called her. When her son Eetu was born, it was what he first said, and he was in Emma's arms. So, the name stuck.
"Why do they have to come here, Muma?" little Enkeli cried to Muma Emma that night.
She had her head down in Emma's lap, nearly asleep as Muma rocked in her chair.
"I don't know, Enkeli," was the reply. "Just pray it passes."
"When will it pass?" the curious child asked more.
Muma sighed, chuckling, "I don't know."
Promptly after that, Enkeli fell asleep in Muma Emma's arms. The old relic of a woman ran her bony fingers through her granddaughter's hair. An angel, she was - after all, was that not what "Enkeli" meant in Finnish?
Muma Emma, as she did every night, started to reminisce of the old country - Finland her beloved. She remembered how much she loved the forests of Helsinki, and how when Eetu, now the father of Enkeli, would spend so much time with her. Without Emma's knowing it, a tear slid from under her crinkled parchment eyelid.
"Muma?" she heard a voice coming from another room; it was distressed-sounding. "Muma, where are you?"
She knew then it was Eetu.
"Eetu," she called from her chair.
Heavy footsteps sounded across the pine floor of their little shack, and Eetu appeared in the doorway, bretahing heavily and looking worried. Blond hair swinging in front of his distressed face, he took the sleeping Enkeli in his arms and took Emma by the hand.
"Eetu, what's the matter?" Emma cried out in surprise.
"Muma, we have to leave," he responded in a choked voice. "Get Annukka and we'll go."
Mustering the most strength her ancient bones could, Muma stopped on her heels right there.
"Tell me why, Eetu," she said softly, yet almost sternly.
The man bit his lower lip, as if he were a child again, and Emma had caught him chasing the deer again.
"The witch hunters," Eetu whispered. "They're here."
Muma Emma's eyes stretched in fear and shock. With a strength she didn't know she had, she ran into another room.
"Annukka!" she called into the room.
Eetu's wife awoke from her bed, still immersed in her dreams.
"Muma...?" she groaned. "Muma, why are you still up?"
"Annukka, we have to leave."
Emma moved frantically about the dim room, awaiting Annukka to rise from her bed. Annukka started to rouse a sleeping lump beneath the blanket.
"Jukka," she muttered. "Jukka, wake up."
A tired-looking boy rose from the sheets. He rubbed his eyes - for only a short while before Annukka scooped him in her arms and went out the door, calling Eetu's name. Muma Emma followed suit.
Once the Kinnunen family was outside, they could all see the bright points of light - torches. Jukka started to cry, burying his face in Annukka's arms. She patted his back - reluctant to promise him it will work out, but Annukka wasn't even sure.
"Listen to me," Eetu gulped, trying to take command of the fear. "We have to run. We have to run through the forest and far away. Don't look back, just run."
"What about Muma, papa?" Enkeli said in a choked, depressed voice. "She won't be able to run very far..."
Muma Emma, seeing the tears well in her eyes, hugged the near to tears Enkeli.
"Don't worry about your Muma, Enkeli," was the broken-hearted response.
Suddenly, the shouts of a riot in progress started to come near them. Without another thought, they ran as fast as their feet could carry them. And Muma Emma was falling behind.
Before long, there was a BANG! that echoed in the trees. Eetu looked behind - and shut his eyes tightly.
Muma Emma lay on the ground, on the border of death and life. Eetu let go of Enkeli and ran over to his mother. Emma's breathing was shallow, and raspy.
"Mama...mama..." Eetu repeated chokingly over and over.
Enkeli was quiet, holding back tears. Annukka was in blind shock. And baby Jukka could only cry. Eetu's pain was unimaginable. He was witnessing his mother, his Muma, his best friend, die. There was little he could do about it.
"Eetu..." Emma groaned, trying to move her weak hand.
"Muma...don't speak, Muma..." Eetu said feebly.
"EETU!" Annukka screamed.
The gunman slammed the butt of the rifle into Eetu's temple, hard. He fell to the ground, instantly dead.
"Terve," the gunman said in a derisive fake accent.
He reached for Annukka - she stepped back; right into gruff, waiting arms.
Annukka found herself back at their house, tied to a table leg. Jukka and Enkeli were passed out - probably knocked out cold - and were bound and gagged to the same table table leg.
"Perkele," she swore in blind fury.
Just then, she heard a a tinkling noise - one that used to bring her blissful comfort. Now, it was fear in her heart. The man, the same one who killed Muma Emma and Eetu, was standing outside their home, badly and aggressively plucking the strings of Eetu's kantele. Then, to Annukka's horror, he threw the prized kantele onto the ground and stepped on it.
It broke into a hundered pieces.
"NO!" she screeched. The gunman stared at her coldly.
"Fire!" he shouted to a group behind him.
All at once, they threw their lit torches at the house. The pine and sod of the cabin caught fire quickly, spreading rapidly to every corner of the area. Soon, all it was was a smoking heap of ash and bones.
And without so much as a word, the gunman and his group rode back out of the forest, pride welling in their minds.
The witches were dead, to him at the least.
Birth of Sin and the Fall of Eve
All at once, Erik Hietala was hit by a resounding wave of emotion. Fear, anger, excitement, happiness and grief - all of those piled up in his mind, ready to burst out.
It had supposedly happened just before Erik got home from school. When he drove past his house, he noticed there was a dark, almost funerary mood about it. The tree was not losing its leaves in the cool autumn breeze as it should have been. The sun was not shining as brightly as it was just a few minutes ago. And the carols of the sparrows had been replaced by the ominous cackling of ravens.
He drove into the driveway's silence, and went into his house.
"Auntie?" Erik called into the gloom. There was but a turning of heads, and a creak in the leathery furniture lying about his house. Men and women in black suits were sitting around his mother, who herself was dressed in a long dark grey and black dress. Her tear-and-mascara-stained face was contorted in a distraught grimace. And then, she noticed Erik standing at the door.
"Erik," she called, making a 'hither' motion with her finger; "come here."
He did as she commanded, and Erik found himself in the middle of many bleak-faced strangers. They stood in the near-silent light - or lack thereof - in the den as one of the strangers, holding a rolled-up piece of paper, came near Erik. He half-shirked back.
"Erik Hietala," he said grimly, like stones moving over a shallow grave; "we understand that you were very close to your grandmother, Anna Kinnunen."
"Yes..." Erik said, slowly nodding; barely moving his lips.
The grim old man coughed a little in his throat, and he started to open to the rolled-up paper.
"Your grandmother has died," he said without human emotion in his tone; "'Should I, Anna Kinnunen, die, I shall leave behind my possessions to my family. To my wonderful daughter Elisa Kinnunen-Hietala, I hand over all my money, and a request that she guards it for her own will. To my son Nestor Kinnunen, I offer my luxurious New York estate.'"
Erik found it hard to swallow as he absorbed every little word into his thinking pattern.
"'And lastly, to my grandson, whose seventeenth birthday I have failed to see, I offer my place of residence in Southwest Texas. Consider a final birthday gift from your grandmother.'"
The bleak old men and women faded away in a hazy blur, and their voices became mere whispers, then silence. Their faces, even that of his aunt had become faded things. And after that, Erik could not remember what had happened.
But all he did know was, as he sailed down the lonely Texas road in a Cabriolet, was that he was to start a new life in what was once his beloved aunt's home.