Estimated reading time — 7 minutes
In the year of our Lord, 1587, celebration filled the spring air for the good people of Roanoke Colony. Winter had been unyielding once again, and the menace of war with the Spanish had severed much-needed replenishment of goods and supplies. As one of England’s earliest endeavors at the establishment of a permanent settlement in the Americas, they were truly isolated. Tested was their resolve of heart and faith in God. Eventually, the days grew longer, and the last of the snow had melted. Come spring; none of the one hundred and seventeen colonists had perished and in fact, the valiant people were thriving and prospering in this brave new world.
However, hardship and trials were absent from tongue and thought this warm day. Today was about triumph and victory. The rugged and savage land had not overcome their determination of will and manifestation of destiny. It was a time to congregate and make merry with their brother and neighbor. Offerings of thanks would be given to God and cups of wine would be raised to the Queen. Men bellowed in laughter; woman giggled amongst themselves and children ran and played throughout the settlement. All was good in the world that day.
A little boy’s voice sang out from the tree line to the forest that sat East of town. The voice of Thomas called out from within, “Mummy! Mummy! I caught him! He is mine! I caught him!”
At the sound of her son’s voice, Priscilla’s lips thinned with irritation. “Once, could not a single day come to pass in which the little waif would not cause me embarrassment?” she thought to herself.
Priscilla felt a mixture of guilt and disdain every time she looked upon the child, for she had married young and not for love, but for necessity. Plucked from the busy streets of Cambridge, by her adventurous husband, she despised him for the life he chose for her. Given the fact that he did not even have the courtesy to remain among the living long enough to ensure his expecting wife could escape this savage wilderness. In bitterness, she alone bore the responsibility of raising this child.
She held fast to the belief that never had there been a more disobedient child than Thomas. As the boy grew from an infant, he became such an odd and unusual child. No interest had he in the goings on around him and mostly dwelt in an inner world of his own making. Other than frequent outbursts of tantrums, little emotion was shown or shared by the child. Was it her fault that bonds of motherly affection did not form, thought Priscilla?
She did not turn or even acknowledge the callings of the voice and continued her duties of setting the tables and conversing with the other women. She ignored the curious glances over her shoulder and the looks of pity that fell upon her.
A scream arose from the crowd. The murmurs of talk and conversation instantly came to a halt. All attention had come to rest on the forest’s edge.
With a hop and a skip, the figure burst from out of the tree line and onto the grassy field that separated the colony from the forest’s edge. It approached the people with long, proud skips through the grass. As it grew closer, the people saw what approached. Mothers grabbed their children and men stood fast to protect their family from the coming atrocity.
Its was sickly pale and emaciated. Its skin drooped and hung loosely from its bones, forming striation of sagging flesh that swayed to and fro. Ropy, white hair clumped together upon its head. Patches of shiny red glistened in the sun where hair had been torn from root. The eyes stretched wide and protruded from its skull and held the consistency of soup or pottage when it has gone cold. It gazed absently past the horizon with cloudy blue and white pupils that were large and dilated. As it approached, the putrid smell of its ravaged flesh intensified.
Once reaching the town’s edge, the creature continued its hopping from one foot to the next, “He’s mine! He’s mine! I won’t give him back! He’s mine! He’s mine! He’s mine!” he chanted. Its two gaunt arms were held high above its head with hands cupped together, much like how a child would hold a butterfly caught from the air.
Another scream pierced the air, and others gasped for realization had come crashing down on all who bore witness. It fell heavy on their hearts and filled each with dread. For despite its deformities and gruesome appearance, there was no doubt this, in fact, was Thomas.
The sky above the forest darkened, and clouds of the deepest purple, blue and green spilled out from a single point in the heavens. It bled out from the firmament like a stab wound and gathered in ominous shapes and formations. The clouds poured out with such force; it gave the appearance of a vast body of turbulent water churning above the forest. Luminescent flashes of green and white glowed from within. The silence was stunning as the clouds continued to bubble and boil.
The expansion of clouds soon quieted and came to a stop. All was still, but the air was electrified with the anticipation of the approach of something. A loud crash of thunder rolled out of the heavens frightening the masses. The echo of its rumble lingered in the air until it slowly faded, then another clap boomed overhead. Panic gripped the people for this was no thunder that roared overhead, this was different. The low, mournful tone was too profound to be of nature’s making. No, it held the likeness of darkness and resemblance of dread from the sound of great trumpets. Trumpets, like those from scripture, that would herald the end of days.
Magnificent, luminescent objects burst through the clouds. So bright were they that no true form could be seen of its body. Only rings within rings of light did they have in appearance, but the large span of wings that outstretched from its back was unmistakable.
A legion of creatures of light began to descend on the small settlement. Pillars of fire ignited from the beings. One, then two, then three, five, ten, fifty and so on. As they approached, the purpose and nature of the fire became understood. The fire sat upon a hilt of a sword of flames.
Thomas stood before the crowd of people, as they cowered and looked at him with disgust. He held his hands firmly clamped around something that did not want to be trapped. A thick red and black fluid poured and seeped out from between his hands and fingers. It fell to the ground in ropy strands and began to smoke upon contact with the grass.
The fluid formed tendrils and burrowed into the hands and arms of Thomas, yet he took no notice. The tendrils spread out like a branch of veins and could be seen traveling underneath the skin of the boy’s arms.
Within the boy’s cupped hands, an inhuman scream shrieked loudly. It violently jerked the boy’s hands to and fro, up and down, side to side, but his grip held fast and unbroken. Brilliant beams of light exploded from the child’s hands as the thick substance began to foam and pour out from between his fingers in greater amounts.
Those unfortunate souls who had looked directly into the light were paralyzed from the flash. Their heads snapped upwards toward the sky, and their mouths opened wider without stop until a sickening “snap” was heard from their jaws dislocating. They stood there until their eyes bulged and shot high into the air and landed on the ground with a sickening “plop.”
The beings of light took formation on the green, grassy field that lay between the town and the forest. The rings of light that obscured its body were not soft and curved ribbons and streams. They were jagged and pointed halos of razors and blades. These were creatures of war and death.
Those who remained and had not fled behind the town’s high, yet feeble wooden wall gasped in terror and awe at the creatures of light. Between them danced the jubilant Thomas, still chanting his words, “He’s mine! He’s mine!” Now insane and blind; his entire body interwoven with the writhing and bloody tendrils that entered and exited his skin, orifices, mouths, ears and eyes.
One of the creatures of light came forward and glided toward Thomas. It hovered over the small boy, and a beautiful melody began to flow from the being. Thomas immediately stopped and listened intently to the sound. He cocked his head to the side and appeared to find the melody soothing and pleasing.
Thomas slowly held his cupped hands out in front of him to offer up what he held. Blood flowed in streams over his face. His hand were bloody pulps of mass, no longer useful digits of touch and grasp. As the large creature approached, a mischievous grin of a naughty, little boy formed on his lips through the wiggling root-like fingers writhing from within his mouth, and he said with a low hiss, “He’s mine! You can’t take him! If I can’t keep him, then you can’t have him either!”
Thomas slapped his hands together, crushing whatever he held in the space between his palms. The reddish, black fluid sprayed out with such force it coated both men and creatures of light. The substance ate away both flesh of men and auras of light immediately upon contact.
With flames from swords raised high and the war cry of pure angelic hatred and rage, the creatures of light charged into the settlement of Roanoke Colony.
In the year of our Lord, 1590 the first of the delayed supply ships arrived upon the shores of Roanoke Island to find not a single living soul. In its three years absence, no evidence of war, famine or any other possible reason for the colony’s complete disappearance could be deduced.
What had once been a thriving settlement of sturdy, thatched-roof cottages of one and two story habitats was no more. The first presence of the English Empire in the New World, shown through the efforts of these 117 people, had left no mark, or clue of the fate that befell them. A crudely built fort surrounding the former settlement was all that gave a hint of the past presence of the colonists. And upon a post of wood, bleached white as snow was found to hold the only clue that remained. Carved deep, a single word of three letters could be seen. No meaning could be found and remains a mystery to this very day.
Carved were the letters “CRO.”