- The Seamstressby Dean Kuch
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She rips what she sews...
The Seamstress by Dean Kuch
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Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.

~The Seamstress~


Beware ye Mary Winterbourne

the day she died an oath was sworn.

With needles sharp as prickly thorns

she'll sew your mouth shut 'fore it's morn.


With golden thimble — catgut twine,

she starts to mend with pain in mind.

Her piercing quill all set to sew,

she'll stitch the smile your lips bestow ~



From the Journal of Willem Sampson

Woods Hole, Massachusetts

30 October , 1866


'I recall how the throng of onlookers swarmed the town commons like packs of hungry wolves on a husk of jackrabbits. Battered and bleeding, the object of their anger, one Mary Winterbourne, was arrested the day before after it was discovered she'd sewn the mouths of her four children shut with catgut. She left them locked inside a smokehouse to starve to death. The children ranged in age from an infant girl of just four months, to the eldest of the lot, Felicity Winterborne, at fourteen. Felicity was fortunate enough to survive, escaping her mother's torturous malevolence and starvation. Three younger siblings were not quite as fortuitous. She'd come stumbling into town, covered in grime and near death that cold fall evening. Only after collapsing on Constable Dunblatt's doorstep was the story of her and her siblings mutilations uncovered. The deranged girl's mouth was completely sewn shut. Her eyes, sunken deep within her pallid face, darted wildly from side to side. She scarcely resembled the pretty young girl she once was. As she was unable to speak, the tortured look in the poor girl's eyes conveyed all the terror she'd endured quite adequately. No vocalization was necessary. It was obvious to the good constable her mind had been irreparably damaged.

Mary managed to eke out a meager wage tailoring for the townsfolk to help supplement the family's income. She was considered to be a loner — more than a little standoffish towards the people within their community. She was best-known for the golden thimble she always used when doing her work. A family heirloom passed down to her from her mother, it was said to be her most prized possession. It's widely been speculated that one of the executioners pocketed it after removing it from her person. However, it was never proven.

Papa Johnson set aside the book for a moment, rubbing his aching eyes.

"You tired yet, Danny-boy? I sure am."

"A-w-w-w, c'mon.  Just a little more, ple-e-e-e-e-a-s-e..." his grandson pleaded.

"Okay. I suppose a little more wouldn't hurt." With a deep sigh, the old man continued reading...


The explanation forthcoming from the trail of the troubled and broken Mrs. Winterbourne was Jeremiah Winterbourne – a well-known, successful fisherman and the family's primary bread-winner,  had been lost at sea. Mary became so despondent from having to endure not only the loss of her spouse and soul mate of twenty-three years, but the whimpering of her mourning, hungry children. Her mind could no longer withstand the assault to her already damaged psyche. As hunger and despair overwhelmed her and her offspring, Mary's mind snapped like a strand of thread spun too tightly on the loom.

For eight days and arduous nights, a grief-stricken Mary would trek down to the seashore to call out her beloved Jeremiah's name. And, for eight grueling days and nights, her children also lay dying, one by one, from exposure and starvation on the earthen floor of the smoke house of the family's home. This continued beneath the towering lighthouse on Cobbler's Cove until Benjamin Fullerton, the lighthouse caretaker, became suspicious. Abandoning his duties one evening, he followed her home. As he watched Mary enter the house, Fullerton's attention was drawn to sounds — a sort of muffled mewling — coming from inside the smokehouse. He was in no way prepared for the horrors he was about to witness as he opened that door. Mary observed Ben from her darkened bedroom window. She'd been aware of him following the entire time. As the horrified gentleman soiled himself at witnessing the sight unfolding on the smokehouse floor, Mary buried an ax in the back of his balding, weather beaten skull. Poor Ben's head was split almost entirely in two — from stem to stern.

It was then that Felicity made her mad dash to freedom. Unbeknownst to Ben, he'd become a hero posthumosuly as he'd saved the life of one of Mary's four children.


When time came for Mary to pay for her crimes, four stout teams of six horses each were set on all sides of the condemned. Each of her arms and legs were bound and secured to a large hook apparatus. A trailing chain, one from each team, was affixed to the device. After Father Murphy read Mary her last rites, the command, “Giddayup!,” was given, whilst the rearmost horse's hindquarters was slapped with a wide leather paddle. Within seconds, Mary Winterbourne was torn to shreds.

Over many years, she'd scrimped and saved enough money to purchase the fine white linen and lace imported from France. She proudly boasted it would be the garment she'd wear on her eldest daughter's wedding day. As fate saw fit, it became her burial gown instead.


Before the teams of horses were set fatally in motion, Mary Winterboune uttered a solemn vow to avenge her death — a curse — that should any resident of Woods Hole receive a tear or rip in their clothing, and it not be mended before the following morning, she would come for them, silencing them forever by ripping out their tongues then sewing their mouths tightly shut. They would choke, drowning in their own blood.


The mutilations within the town's limits began a year to the day after Mary Winterbourne's execution. Entire families were found; their faces covered in gore, their tongues brutally ripped from the roots, while their pale blue lips were pulled crudely and cruelly together with twine...'


“I think that's quite enough for tonight, Danny-boy. The author goes on to describe how some of the murder victims were found, in a variety of mangled states. Each time, all were found with their lips sewn together with catgut...etcetera, etcetera. We'll finish the story tomorrow night; I promise. That is unless your mother finds out about it first. She'd kill me herself if she knew I was reading this to you just before bedtime.”

“Oh, c'mon Papa Johnson. It was just starting to get good.”

“No, I'm sorry. We mustn't overload your tender mind with too many gory details in a single sitting, Danny-boy. It just isn't healthy.”

“So... why do ya do it, Papa?”

""Why do I do what, O' little stealthy staller of sleep?"

"Why do you read me all these creepy stories?”

The elderly story-teller's voice dropped barely above a whisper as he leaned in closer to answer his grandson. “I do it because the more you know about the evils lurking in this world and beyond, the better off you'll be.”

“But Papa... what happened to Mary Winterbourne, and Felicity? Did anybody ever see them again? Did Felicity get better, get out of the booby hatch, or get married? How many people has Mary's curse killed since – you know... her execution?”

“Like I said, Danny. We'll pick up tomorrow night right where we left off. Now, I want you get some shut-eye, kido. Your mother will be home from work soon.”

“Oh-h-h-ka-a-a-y, I will.”

“Good boy. I'll see you tomorrow.”

Danny found it difficult to allow sleep to overtake him. It had nothing to do with all of his grandfather's crazy spook stories; Danny loved those. Besides, he was ten-years-old now; he knew how to handle himself. Instead, it was all of the anticipation building over the town's upcoming events the following evening that was clearly the culprit. It was going to be the biggest, most grand Halloween celebration Woods Hole had ever seen.

Prior to closing his eyes for the final time and pulling his blankets over him, Danny noticed a slight chill creep up his leg. It felt as if someone had blown on him. He slid his hand down the front of his thigh, where his fingernail caught on a small tear in the fabric of his pajama bottoms. Danny traced the edges of the tear with his index finger, poking it through to the warm flesh underneath. He'd  be sure to tell his mother about it in the morning. 

Danny lay still for quite some time before sleep seeped in like a fog to cloud his consciousness and steal him away. Before long, he'd drifted off to sleep, oblivious to the faint scritch-scratching noises emanating from within the closet. A golden thimble was sent skittering across the wood floor from inside the closet, wobbling and hopping like an out of balance marble, eventually coming to rest somewhere beneath Danny's bed.

A dark shadow washed over the sleeping form of the young boy. Soon after, in the pitch blackness of Danny's bedroom, it became quiet enough to hear a pin drop.


Writing Prompt
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1. Only ONE picture, at the top.
2. Only ONE font, of your choice, in standard black.
3. Between 500 and 1500 words.
4. No author notes.
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