by Crow and Laesë
It's going to be another long night here in my dark lonely corner. So many faces, so many different stories. I've grown tired of listening to their woes of unhappy lives outside this place. So now I just sit and watch. Every night for as long as I can remember I would sit in the same spot, my spot, and just watch people come and go. My eyes this night however caught the glimpse of a young woman walking through the door. Something about her didn't quite fit here. She looked pure or something, maybe too innocent for the likes of this place. I stood up and decided to get a closer look. Our eyes locked onto each other's and I just stood there feeling a fire igniting deep inside of me. A fire that I haven't felt in such a long time.
Her hair hung down over her shoulders as if she were draped in a golden fleece and her eyes--like pools of cool water. I felt a charge, a current running through me, waking up every nerve ending. Suddenly her eyes shifted to a group of women walking her way. She looked so happy to see them. I knew she did not belong here. She was just here to meet friends. Probably an after work get together. I slithered back into the dark corner that gave me so much comfort. Then I remembered. How could she see me? No one else can.
I took a deep breath and walked out into the light of the room. Her eyes found mine again. My heart began to race. She can see me! I walked over to her, our eyes not losing contact.
"Hi." I spoke. My voice was raspy since I hadn't used it for a while.
She looked at me but said nothing.
Some woman in their group spoke. "Celine?" She called.
"Celine." That was her name. I said as a whisper.
Celine turned to the woman and they started talking. She couldn't see me, after all. My heart dropped. But she must have felt me. I felt it. The way she looked at me. She had to have seen something, felt something.
I stood behind the group and listened to them talking and laughing and getting more and more inebriated. This is what I was condemned to do. Walk this place for eternity. But why? What was it that I did that put me here? I began to feel sorry for myself again. The pity that sat in my stomach began to stir. I stood behind Celine and listened to her silky voice. I felt such warmth coming from her. Somehow just being near her took away my constant chill.
"It's getting late." Celine said to everyone and no one. "I have to get going." She stood up and said her good-byes.
"OH PLEASE DON'T GO!" I said as loud as I could knowing that I wouldn't be heard but somehow hoping.
Celine turned her head and looked right at me again. Her head nodded - just a tad, but it was enough.
I swallowed hard as I knew she was "talking" to me. She was inviting me to go with her. I walked with her towards the door. My heart pounding wildly. I've not been able to pass through the doorway since forever. And God knows I've tried.
Celine are you okay? A woman asked and Celine shook her head slightly.
Yea, yeah, I kind drifted for a minute. Sorry. Celine spoke shaking off the dream like state she felt herself falling into.
As we got to the door I put my hand on her shoulder and closed my eyes. My legs still moving. "Please." I spoke. The chill ran through me like walking through the snow naked. Then it began to burn-- cold. I opened my eyes and I was walking though another door. It was warm and soft. The colours were so different from the tavern. Soft glowing lights illuminated the room. The floor was carpeted with a wool like material. It was pale blue and I knelt down to touch it. My fingers stroked at the fabric but I could not feel it. I could not feel anything with my hands or any other part of my body. Only my heart.
I heard a cat.
Oh my goodness a little black cat walked into the room. It began to rub it's face up against my ankles. I could feel the warmth coming from it's body, filling my heart with happiness. I took in a deep breath; I could not believe this was happening. Contact with someone after all this time. "THANK YOU TO WHO EVER ALLOWED THIS".
Celine walked into another room and turned on the lights. She sat down at a box that lit up with pictures and music began to sound from it. Her hands rested on buttons that had letters. It was like the machine that old hag at the tavern had. I never paid much attention to it but this one here was quite interesting. It had drawings of the most exotic looking women on it. Celine sat down and began to press down on the buttons. The screen turned white like canvas. I stood behind her and saw that she was writing and it was writing back to her. It's name was "WitchiePoo." How strange, I thought. She told it that she went out with some friends even though she wasn't really in the mood because she wanted to be here with it. It called her "Broomrider" and said it missed her very much and hoped she had a good time.
Broomrider: "It was okay." Celine typed the words.
WitchiePoo: "Did you meet anyone interesting?" The box typed back.
Broomrider: "I felt a strong presence there. I can't explain it but I could sense it. I think it was a woman." Celine typed.
This caught me off guard. I didn't expect her to really feel me. I was beginning to wonder how I passed through the door. But now I knew she did invite me. I looked around then started walking around her house I assumed we were in, to see if anyone else lived there.
There was one bedroom with a big bed and another box. The face was black. I sat at the chair and looked into the dark mirror. I could not see myself only the reflections of the room behind me. I put my hands over the letters and tried to touch them. Taking a deep breath I used all the energy I had to charge the buttons. I remember I used to move things around the tavern until one day the old hag brought in some people to make me stop. And since I didn't want to offend their god I didn't use the gifts I was given so very long ago. I focused on the box and the screen suddenly lit up and I was able to see the words I wanted to say.
"Hi Celine." I thought the words one letter at a time.
I stood up and felt a bit dizzy for a second, not having used my powers in so long. Shaking it off I ran to the other room where Celine was sitting. I saw my words on her screen too.
Celine gasped in a breath. "Who...Who is that writing to me. How do they know my name." She looked at the screen.
Broomrider: "Who are you?" Celine typed out the words.
I ran back to the bedroom and sat down again. "Who am I?" I spoke out loud. "What do I tell her?"
"I saw you at the tavern tonight and I wanted to say hello." I brought the words onto the screen. Then I ran back to the other room where she was to see what she said.
"OH FUCK!" Celine grabbed her throat. She stood up went to the window and closed the curtains. "What's going on?" She said aloud.
I suddenly felt like I did something wrong but I did not know what it was.
Celine sat back down and typed out some more words.
Broomrider: "Witch, get off line so I can call you right now."
She waited for WitchiePoo to respond then she shut down the box and grabbed the telephone.
"Hi Lisa is that you?" Celine spoke into the phone.
"Yeah what's wrong honey." Lisa heard the panic in her friend's voice.
"I don't know, someone. Shit! Someone IM'd me and they knew my real name. No one but you knows that. They said they saw me at the club tonight."
"Okay sweetheart what was their name?" Lisa asked with a calm voice hoping it would help Celine's panicky one.
"That's just it, there was no screen name. It just appeared in the instant message box with yours. Did you see it?" Celine felt her panic begin to rise even more at the thought of someone watching her.
I heard the conversation and realised there was a protocol to this stuff. I should not have done that but I was so excited that I could communicate with her. I really did not mean to scare her.
"Celine honey, maybe it's someone from work just messing around." Lisa said hoping this was true.
"Well what should I do?" Celine let out a breath of air.
"Okay do you want to go back on-line and find out who it is?" Lisa asked.
"I don't know. Maybe." Celine thought about it. Well if they're on-line then they won't be able to come in here right? "Okay sign back on and I'll see you there."
Lisa was curious to find out who was messing with her friend. "Okay, see you in a few."
"Lisa?" Celine spoke calmly.
"Yeah?" Lisa already knew.
"I love you." Celine said.
"Me too, Love, very much." Lisa hung up the phone.
Celine walked over to the kitchen and got a glass of water before returning to the computer.
I sat behind her and waited to see what she was going to do. I saw the name WitchiePoo and now knew it was the one she spoke with on the talkie thing. I heard the voice of the one called Lisa.
WitchiePoo: Hi Love, you there?
Broomrider: Yea I'm here. I'm okay now. Thanks baby.
WitchiPoo: Tell me what happened at the club?
I stood and read their words to each other and figured that they talk a lot to each other this way. A form of communicating. How very odd this world has become. I sat in that tavern for such a long time, so many things around me changed. I'll try again to send my thoughts to Celine. I ran back to the other room. There must be an easier way. I thought to myself. I decided to bring her words to this box. I sat and focused on what I could see in the other room. Slowly I became part of the device that held the words inside it.
"Celine please don't be afraid. I did not mean to scare you. I'm sorry." I felt the letters coming on the screen easier.
Broomrider: Who are you????
Okay if I tell her too soon I'll scare her and then I don't know what will happen. Maybe I might end up back at the tavern. Oh God NO! not there I couldn't bear it. Who am I okay. What am I? I was the keeper of the black book. The list of names that held the lies of who they really were. They never knew that I was one of them. I wrote down what they told me to, even though I knew it was not truth. I just wrote. That is all I did. I wrote.
I am a writer of sorts. The letters came easier.
Broomrider: How come your name does not appear in the IM box?
WitchiePoo: Hon, is that person writing to you now because I can see your message?
Broomrider: Yea, you can't see them?
WithciPoo: No, just you.
She needs to see a name to feel better. A name. I can't tell her my real name, not just yet. Suddenly I heard footsteps walking toward the room. It was Celine she's coming in here. I waved my hand over the box and it went to black again. Then I stood up and went to the corner of the room.
Celine walked in and went to the closet doors. She opened them and reached up on the shelf for some candles and a jar that held some powder. She brought the items to the table by her bed and lit them.
I heard Celine whisper some words from long ago. How could she know these things? They were the sacred Names of the Mother. My eyes widened as I saw her take off her sweater. She had the mark on her forearm. I knew that mark so well I had seen it all my life. OH what have I done? I grabbed at my heart and felt the pain suddenly realising who she was.
Celine turned back around and headed out to the other room.
WitchiePoo: Sweetie you still there?
Celine saw the screen and sat down. Her fingers swiftly replied.
Broomrider: Yea just went to change and get a little protection. You know what I mean.
WitchiePoo: Yea Hon, I do. So what does this ghost writer have to say?
Celine laughed out, Yeah ghost writer is right.
Broomrider: Nothing yet. I'm still waiting for a reply.
I sat in the other room reading Celine's words to the other girl. Ghost writer I said feeling the name. I like that. I had no words for her for now. After finding out who she was I decided it's best to just wait and see why I came here. Or why she called me to come.
The cat came and jumped up on my lap and began to purr. I tried to pet it with my hands. I closed my eyes and felt it's heart I heard the beating and let my own match it's rhythm. We began to beat as one. How curious ... I still have a heart beat .... My eyes closed as I felt my self merging with this being.
Suddenly the light burst on and I heard a scream.
WHAT THE HELLS GOING ON HERE! Celine yelled out as she saw the computer terminal turned on. She saw her words on the screen. That can't be.
I jumped up so fast the cat flew up and then down on the floor.
Celine felt her heart racing. She held out her hand and spoke. Ye who are of evil must leave this place!
NO PLEASE WAIT I'M NOT EVIL
Celine took in a breath as she saw the words appear on the computer. Who are you? She asked.
I stood back in the corner. What do I do now?
Are you the one who saw me at the tavern? Celine had been in many séances before but this was the first time she'd ever spoken to someone on-line who was um not of the living.
Yes. I spelled out.
Okay. Celine took another deep breath afraid of the answer to her next question. Where are you now?
I'm here with you Celine. I saw the mark you wear and I think that is why I was able to come through the tavern doors with you.
With me? Here in this room? Celine swallowed.
Celine clutched at the pentagram she wore around her neck. She had never felt so scared before. A spirit attached itself to her and came into her home. She always kept a shield up around her house but now she realised that she must have inadvertently asked it to come. Okay, um what is it that you want from me? Celine asked.
I don't know. I don't know why I am here with you. When I saw you at the tavern you were looking at me and I said hi. When you were leaving I pleaded that you not go. You turned to me and invited me to come with you and I did. I was suddenly feeling really tired. I think I used up to much energy. I let myself fall to the floor at the corner of the room where I was standing. I couldn't move.
Celine jumped at the sound of the ringing phone. Oh Fuck! She turned and grabbed the receiver. Hello?
Hi is everything okay? You were gone for a long time so I signed off.
Lisa, Oh god I need you to come down here right away. Please? Celine pleaded with her love.
Lisa thought for a moment, she was going be there in two days anyway. Okay I'll be there in about three hours. Celine honey what's wrong? Lisa lived an hour and a half she figured she'd get her stuff together and call her sister to take care of her cats while she was away. She would be able to take the next two days off from work easily since she could use the computer at Celine's house to finish up her reports and send them out.
I'm not sure, I just need you here please? Celine tried to sense where the ghost was in the room but she couldn't find it anywhere.
Okay baby, I'm on my way. Lisa said then hung up the phone.
Are you still here? Celine asked, then waited for a reply on the computer.
There was none.
She was going to sit down on the computer chair but then thought, what if it whoever it was is still sitting there ? So she went and sat on her bed. Every hair on her body was standing up but she didn't feel like she was in danger from this spirit or ghost or what ever it was. She wanted to know what it's purpose with her was. Wasn't there always a reason for their arrival? Isn't that why people wanted to speak to them? She thought about these things and laid her head up against the pillowed headboard.
I sat in the corner hoping to regain the use of my body. I used up all my energy telling her how I came to be here. What's happening? I felt myself being transported back, back to that place. No! not the tavern. Please not there!
He's here I can feel it. The door opened and they walked in one by one. They surrounded her. She was laying on the table, her hands tied to the bar above her head. Why again? I thought as I began to shiver. Her eyes were pleading with me to stop them. I can't move. I can't help you. Why can't I help you?
They looked on with disgust. She was terrified, I could feel it. How did I end up back here? Not here again. Then I heard the footsteps. I knew them; it was him. He walked through the door, his hair long and black curling down past his shoulders. His eyes like fire and black coals. He looked at me and my eyes dropped down to the floor. All I could see were his shoes, black with brass buckles.
What do we have here? He spoke, his voice deep resonating throughout the chamber.
YOU, were seen by many out in the darkness of night dancing with the rise of the moon. YOU were calling for him weren't YOU! So that you may convenant with him, the devil himself. This be true you poor miserable creature?
NO! PLEASE I'VE DONE NOTHING WRONG. PLEASE. She yelled out with terror.
He pointed his finger at me. "YOU! Read the name marked down upon the book. Read the charges so that they may be heard."
I felt my hands begin to shake as I opened the black book. I read, as he commanded me - what else could I do? I could hear the shaking in my voice and strove to steady it - else it would be a beating for me this night after the horror.
Upon the night of the full moon it was said that the accused was seen wailing and dancing her head flinging to and fro her body gyrating as she dropped to the ground and proceeded to move in such a way that only the devil himself could be fornicating with her."
I felt ill as I read the charges. This woman - I knew her ... loved her. She had never been ill before childbirth but I had seen her body fight against the illness which followed. I was terrified. How could I challenge the word of the Reverend? I knew of the ails that afflicted this woman but I had not the courage to speak.
Speak the name, for I call the sentence soon. The Reverend demanded.
I felt my stomach turn. Elizab--
NO! STOP THIS NOW! Celine cried out.
I got you honey. Lisa ran into the bedroom and wrapped her arms around Celine. I'm here.
Celine was still groggy from trying to wake up. Lisa? She said.
I'm here. I heard you screaming outside your window. Thanks for giving me a key love. Lisa said feeling a bit calmer now that she knew it was only a dream and not some intruder trying to hurt her lover.
"Oh my God, it was so real!" Celine hid her face into Lisa's chest.
"What was it honey?" Lisa said. Her lips brushing up against Celine's hair.
I sat in the corner, my body shaking from the memory. "OH Elizabeth my love, I'm so sorry. What have I done? How could I have? I forgot about that. Please forgive me." I wanted so much to cry but I had no tears.
"I don't know I felt like I was somewhere else, it wasn't me though, it was some woman. I felt I like I was her." Celine's voice was husky and dry.
"Celine honey, what happened earlier?" Lisa said as she stoked her lover's hair.
"I was on the other computer and I came over here to get something and that computer was--" Celine look at the computer, the screen was off.
"What about it sweetie, what was it doing?" Lisa looked at the computer too.
"It was on, it was running, it had the Instant Message box opened up to our chat. But how can they both be on the same screen name at the same time? I got scared and I tried to cast out what ever was here. I felt something for a moment. Then it wrote that it was not evil and that it followed me from the tavern." Celine was talking a lot faster than usual. She sounded scared still from the dream and the fact that there might be a ghost or some kind of spirit in her house.
I just sat in the corner. I didn't know why I was pulled back to that horrible place. I don't remember what was happening just that I was terrified of that man.
"OK, well let's turn it on then and see what happens, okay?" Lisa suggested as she untangled herself from Celine. She went to the computer and turned it on.
I hadn't seen those images in so long I had forgotten. They were coming back to me though. How was I going to explain this to Celine? Why her? What was it that Elizabeth said to me?
"Okay so what happened? You were typing to me and then someone just popped in on you and said they saw you at the tavern right?" Lisa was going over the events to understand what was going on.
"Yes, then I came in here and that someone must have been using the computer in this room to chat with me on the other computer." Celine tried to make sense of what was happening.
"Celine, please help me?" I thought the words until they appeared on the screen.
"OH MY GODDESS!" Lisa saw the computer screen.
"It's okay Lis, I think that's who I've been talking to." Celine got up from the bed and stood next to her girlfriend.
"Are you the one who's been writing to me tonight?" Celine asked.
"What do you want?" Lisa asked boldly.
"I think Celine can help me. What she saw in her dream was real."
"Oh my God, Lisa!" Celine grabbed Lisa's arm and felt her knees begin to shake.
"It's okay honey they will not hurt you. RIGHT?" Lisa asked. I could feel the fierce protectiveness in her voice and knew not to cross this woman - even if it had been my nature to cause harm, I would not attempt it in her presence. Somehow her presence made me feel safe, as well - even from him. At least for now.
"No, I will not hurt you. I promise, please I'm scared of him coming here, he'll find me."
"Who?" Lisa asked.
"Him, Celine you saw him, he will come for me. Please you have to help me?" I knew I had a chance to escape my imprisonment if she helped me.
"Celine do you know who he is?" Lisa looked at her girlfriend.
"I-I think it was that man from my dream - the one who was um-," Celine closed her eyes she felt the darkness held the man in her dream's heart. He was evil. "I don't know who he was though. I've never seen him before."
Lisa closed her eyes and looked beyond the room to see what was there. Her eyes turned to the corner of the room and slowly she began to see the shadowy outline of a figure. "There!" She pointed.
Celine looked in the direction but saw nothing. "Are you sure?" She asked.
"Yeah, I can just make out the blurry outline." Lisa said remembering back to when she and Celine first started chatting and they both talked about seeing spirits at one time in their lives. It had been a year of chatting back and forth on-line before they met in person, but when they did they both new it was a love beyond the ages. They discovered that they had shared many lives as lovers before and were not surprised at any of it. It was Celine who helped Lisa understand her abilities and guided her to using them. Now Celine was certain that Lisa's powers surpassed her own.
"Is that you in the corner?" Celine asked.
"Yes, I'm tired though I need to gain back my energy. May I please stay here? PLEASE?"
I knew that I drained myself using this strange device. I needed to just sit and let my energy return.
Lisa nudged Celine, "Does she have to stay in the bedroom though?" Lisa whispered.
"NO, I will go to the other room and sit with the cat." I wasn't that dumb. I closed my eyes and faded into the other room.
"Okay so what do we do now?" Celine asked.
"I don't know what do you say we get some sleep, it's almost four O'clock and I've been driving all night." Lisa started unbuttoning her shirt.
"Lisa? Don't you think it's odd that I brought some strange spirit home with me?" asked Celine.
"Not strange at all - Samhain is approaching," said Lisa, shrugging. "'All Hallows Eve' - the night when the veil between the Land of the Living and the Lands of the Dead is thinnest."
"What if that man comes here?" Celine began to pace the room.
"He won't, not while I'm here, anyway, but if you want then why don't we seal the place up again?" Lisa said as she pulled a night-shirt over her head.
"Good idea." Celine grabbed some oil from their altar and began to light more candles since the others had burned into the pool of wax. She lit some sage and waved it around the room. "Come on." she said to Lisa.
Lisa ever-so-calmly walked the room with Celine. At the window they placed a symbol mixed from the oils and chanted, closing the entrance way to any evil entities. Then they proceeded to walk the house. When they got to the living room they both gasped at the sight of the cat sitting on an invisible lap rocking in the chair.
"Okay it's okay, if it's truly not evil then it won't mind the oil that you flick at it." Celine said, then she looked at Lisa.
Lisa got the hint and touched some oil with her fingers and tossed it at the chair.
"MRRROOOOOWWWW!" The cat complained but did not move from the lap of the ghost.
"Okay we're going to bed now so I guess you're welcome to stay as long as you intend no harm." Celine said as she grabbed Lisa's hand and pulled her to the other room rather quickly.
I sat in the chair, rocking and humming to myself. Never had I felt such peace, even in life. The cat purred contentedly in my lap, finally falling asleep. I felt the shields the two witches had placed around the house and knew that not only did they keep him out, they also stopped the pull of the Tavern from snapping me back there. I was almost happy for the first time ... ever.
Elizabeth .. oh, my Love, I thought. I am so, so sorry. Nothing I could have done - however did they get you in that terrible place? My mind drifted, but I was no longer afraid of the images - I knew that the protection and the shields placed on this home kept me safe. Then I remembered and my tears were unstoppable.
Elizabeth, oh my Elizabeth! Her husband - he had found us. Had accused me of bewitching her - but the Reverend - oh, Great Goddess! He would not allow that his daughter was a witch! I had seen enough of his cruel god to know I wanted no part - the Great Goddess called to me when I was but a child and I had followed Her ever since, but the Reverend, if he knew of it, would not stand for the shame of a member of his household being accused. As a result, his torture of Elizabeth was especially cruel .. and I was made to watch, his cruel smile and his dead eyes upon me the whole time, gauging my reaction ... the Tavern ... I remembered now - the Tavern was the old courthouse, the place where my beloved died and I could do nothing to stop it ....
I remember that afterward, I, too was given in marriage to a man of my father, the Reverend's, choosing. I went meekly and died in childbirth a year later. Under the circumstances, it was the best thing for everyone ....
Suddenly, the bedroom door opened and Lisa emerged into the shadows of the room in which I sat. She looked directly at me and spoke.
"What is your name?" her voice was low and gentle. I saw her dark hair shimmering in the half-light from the candles, still burning and lending their illumination from the bedroom door which Lisa had left ajar. The soft glow surrounded her like a halo - like pictures of the saints I had seen in the Reverend's books. I could see Celine, asleep in the large bed, her breathing quiet and even. I strove to speak, but I had no voice. I wanted to tell her that I could not remember my name - my name was never important in life - why would it be now?
"Names have power," said Lisa, sitting across from me, crossing her legs. The cat awoke and jumped down, leaping into Lisa's lap, kneading her bare thighs. I knew that had to hurt, but Lisa paid no attention. Her focus was completely on me. That frightened me into a deeper silence. "We will help you - that's what we do. But if we are going to do this, I must know your name. Please."
I drifted back, I was sitting on the blanket Elizabeth had spread out for us under the tree in the meadow. We were laughing and she was braiding my hair.
"You are so beautiful." Elizabeth whispered as her lips came close to my ear. I felt a shiver and closed my eyes.
Her lips gently came down on my ear as she placed a kiss. I turned my head slowly and felt her lips on my cheek and then ever-so-softly they began to brush my lips. My mouth open slightly as I felt her tongue push it's way slowly in. I moaned out in pleasure. My heart was so full of love. She pulled back from the kiss and I opened my eyes to her gaze.
"I love you so much Sarah," Elizabeth said with a sigh.
"I love you too." I said.
Lisa stood up and walked to the other room where the box was and she turned it on. I got up and followed her and flopped down on another chair that was there. I was amazed that she could follow my movements. She really could see me.
"Your name?" She asked again.
I focused on the words and brought them to the device. "My name is Sarah."
"Do you know what it is you are here to do?" Lisa asked.
"I'm not sure. I remember Elizabeth telling me something important but I do not know exactly what it was."
"Well I guess we'll have to find that out won't we." Lisa said. Her eyebrows pushed down on her forehead as she pondered what would have to be done.
Celine was in the bedroom sleeping until she heard a noise and woke up. She was at the tavern, she started walking around there and came upon a young woman sitting in a chair.
"Hello, I'm glad you could come." The woman spoke.
Celine looked closely at her and realised it was the woman from her dream earlier. She was the one being tortured in accusation of witchery. "Who are you?"
"My name is Elizabeth. I need you to help us, only you and Lisa can do it. Only my blood and Sarah's can break the spell that I cast so long ago."
"I don't understand?" Celine questioned but just then the reverend stormed into the tavern and grabbed the woman. He looked at Celine with pure hatred. Celine gasped.
"YOU Cannot save the damned. She is mine to save." He spoke as he grabbed Elizabeth. They both turned to smoke and disappeared.
Celine opened her eyes and jumped out of bed. She ran to the other room to find Lisa on the computer.
"Lisa! I think he has her." Celine yelled out excitedly.
"Who?" Lisa turned and faced her lover.
"Elizabeth. The man in the dream he said only he could save her, she was damned."
I sat up as a flood of memories began to come back to me.
Elizabeth was laying on the table, he and the others left the room I ran to her and held her tightly. The tears blurring my vision, I did not know how to help her. MY LOVE WAS DYING.
"It's okay my darling, I'll be okay. Just hold me and never leave me okay?" Elizabeth whispered.
I held her and promised that I would always be with her. I wanted to confess everything to the evil man so I could go with my love, but she wouldn't let me. She told me she would wait for me here. Her eyes closed and my heart died that very moment.
He came back into the room and saw me holding on to my love. He was angry but I didn't care. "I'M A WITCH TOO FATHER, SO DAMN ME THEN YOU BASTARD!" I yelled out.
Just like your mother, he growled. He raised his hand and I fell into darkness.
The time passed so quickly and I was lying in bed, I was giving birth. A child that I would not see, I knew something was wrong, my husband who's hands were like iron every time they would connect with my face or my stomach, I knew he did something to me that morning and I would not see my baby being born, I was so scared but the blood did not stop. But I was glad that my father was not alive anymore, he would never see his grandchild, he would never again hurt anyone like he did my Elizabeth. I heard the cry of my little girl. I closed my eyes and spoke the last words "Mother Goddess protect this little one."
I opened my eyes and felt no more pain. I heard my love calling for me so I followed her voice. She was in the court house waiting just like she said. My love was there just like she said. I started to run toward her. He was there watching, laughing. "You really think you can have her?" She is damned as you will be now." He raised his hands and opened his mouth to speak but she jumped at him and told me to run inside.
"Though I am held within his grasp
my soul not yet set free
be this night my love
a protection over thee
keep ye safe inside these doors
unbroken spirit shield
until released together as one
love pure forever sealed"
I remembered then - it was Elizabeth who had bound me to the Tavern - for my own protection from him. She had always tried to protect me. That was her way. But he had her! Suddenly, I desperately needed to communicate to these two women - we needed to save my love and I knew that somehow, these two had the power to do just that.
The room grew very cold as I drew in all the energy I could to manifest myself in a way I had never done before. I saw their breath coming out in puffs of fog, Celine shivering. Lisa wrapped her arms around Celine, seemingly unaffected by the frigidness of the room.
"Look," whispered Celine, pointing at me. I knew that I was as a solid as I had been in life and at last I found my voice.
"I am Sarah Bishop," I said. "We have to save Elizabeth. He has her and he will never let her go."
I began to tell them my story. I was the daughter of the chief "witch hunter", inquisitor and judge of this area. I was born in 1632. My mother died when I was three and my father never re-married. It was up to me to take care of his house and prepare his meals. We had servants, but I was essentially the main servant in that house.
I met Elizabeth when we were both thirteen. We met in Meeting one Sabbath and were both whipped for giggling after the service. Elizabeth seemed not to care, though. Nothing would break her, not even being given in marriage to a man with a heavy hand two years later. I would see her bruises and exclaim over them, applying poultices to the dark swellings, but Beth would merely toss her head and laugh.
We met in secret and over time, we fell in love. I hated her husband, not only for hurting her, but because he was permitted to touch her in ways I could only dream of, as evidenced by her growing belly. Beth had great dreams - we would run away and join the wild "savages" who had inhabited this land before the white folk came. As soon as the babe was born, we would take it and raise it amongst the Indians. In my heart, I knew this to be impossible, but still, it offered a tiny beam of light in my bleak world.
Then, little Rebekah was born and Elizabeth grew ill - she had "fits" after the baby was born and nothing could be done for her. My father, the Reverend, forbade me to go to her or to see her at all. That didn't stop me - and to my shame, I wonder if that was why she was condemned. But no, I know it was that husband of hers. He caught us one day and Beth was beaten without mercy. But I think my own punishment may have been even more horrific - I was forced to watch as my only love, the only light in my world, was tortured to death at the hands of my father.
"Her last words were a spell to protect me from him," I said, the tears flowing from my eyes unchecked. I saw through my tears that Celine was crying, too, Lisa holding her close as tears flowed freely from her green eyes. So like Beth's eyes, I thought, reaching out and catching one of her tears.
"Oh, Lis, we have to help them," said Celine.
"Shh, don't cry," said Lisa, soothingly. "We will."
"You two are the last of our descendants," I said. "You are the only ones who can help. When Elizabeth spoke the protection spell, she placed a time for it to end. '... until released together as one love pure forever sealed...' You two have found one another, and now it's time to end his reign of evil. Tell me, in this time are you free to love one another and to practice the old religion, free of persecution?"
"Not exactly," said Lisa, grimly. "But we are certainly more free than you were - not that it takes much to be freer - those were horrific times."
"Yes," I agreed with her. "But it is comforting to know that it has grown less oppressive."
"The last known Witch Trial here in America was in 1692 in Salem," said Lisa. "But even today in South Africa, old women are being called 'witches' and are being killed."
"So it has changed somewhat, but not completely," I sighed. "Still, I would have been happy to simply be free to love my Beth."
"And so you shall. You two will be together," said Celine, her eyes far away. I recognised a trace of Beth's illness in her and suddenly came to realise that Elizabeth hadn't been ill at all - she was visited by theses trances all the time after the birth of her daughter. It was part of her power. And her descendent had inherited that power. My hope was renewed. Unfortunately, my energy was not. Wearied beyond exhaustion by my manifestation, I felt myself begin to fade back to that limbo place which served as sleep for spirits. I only hoped I would remember this night when I was able to return.
"I will be back," I said as I faded out.
After the ghost faded from sight, Celine turned to Lisa. "Okay, where do we start?" she asked.
Lisa chuckled, nuzzling Celine's clean dark hair, revelling in the lingering scent of the incense they had been burning.
"We start with going back to bed - it's almost dawn," said Lisa. "Later this morning, we'll check out the Tavern - that's where she was first bound. We need to find out a few things."
It was a hazy day outside, the sun was hidden just beyond the clouds waiting to shine through. Lisa parked her truck just outside the tavern and she and Celine walked up toward the entrance.
"Wow, can you feel that?" Lisa asked Celine had her hand on the door.
"Yea I can. Funny I didn't feel anything like this last night." Celine said. Her stomach feeling a bit queasy. "What do you suppose it is?"
Just then the door opened and a woman in her late sixties poked her head out. "WE'RE CLOSED!" The woman started to close the door again when she heard a loud crash of breaking glass. "What the heck She turned back and gasped in a breath.
"What is it?" Lisa asked.
"I don't know but I've been hearing things all night, screams coming from downstairs." The silver-haired woman looked back.
"I think we can help you." Celine said. Her eyes looking beyond the door.
The lady looked at Lisa and Celine and let out a sigh. "Come in." She had a strong feeling they really could help her.
The bar was dimly lit, tables and chairs were situated throughout the place. There was a eerie silence suddenly as the three women entered.
"We need to go downstairs I think." Celine spoke softly. She felt herself being pulled toward the back of the tavern.
"I don't like going down there. I um, usually keep it locked up. What's going on?" The woman felt a chill. She knew there was something down there so she kept it closed off.
"I'm Lisa and this is Celine, I don't really know how to explain it but I think there is something down there that we need to take care of."
"I'm Mrs. Cassidy and I think you're right. My father owned this tavern and I took over when he passed on. He used to tell me there were ghosts down there. I thought I could have it cleansed and make everything go away and for a long time it seemed like it did. But over the last year or so, things have started happening again and last night things escalated. Whatever it is was throwing things around, breaking glasses - that sort of thing. I don't know how you two could know I needed help but I'm kinda glad you came." Mrs. Cassidy had been up all night trying to clean up the place. She had tried to ignore the sounds of breaking glass but was about ready to give up when she heard the knock on the door.
The two women waited for Mrs. Cassidy to unlock the door. Lisa hunted around for a light switch, at last finding it, wiping dusty cobwebs from her fingers on the leg of her jeans. The light was dim, but it was better than the inky blackness which had preceded it. Slowly the three women descended the creaky wooden steps.
The cellar of the Tavern was covered in dust, but oddly, there were no spider webs in the cellar proper. Just as odd, no sign of mice or rats either, which the women would have expected in the long abandoned cellar. No signs of any living creature were in evidence anywhere.
There was a damp chill which pervaded and a musty, sort of decay smell. Celine shivered. The damp seemed to penetrate even her heavy wool sweater and the smell of mildew was beginning to nauseate her. Or perhaps it was more than that.
Feelings of panic, then terror, then despair all battled for precedence within her. Panic won out, and Celine raced for the stairs.
Celine! cried Lisa, running after her. Not to be left alone in the cellar, Mrs. Cassidy swiftly followed the other two women. Only when Celine reached the door of the Tavern did her panic ebb. Once outside in the crisp autumn morning, Celine gasped for breath. Lisa reached her.
Honey, what is it? asked Lisa.
Didn't you feel it? asked Celine. Lisa frowned. She had felt something, but it was too horrendous to process. Lisa blocked it from her conscious mind, but a residue of the evil which had been perpetrated in that cellar remained there.
Okay, said Lisa. I felt it. But it was a long time ago.
He's still there, Celine whispered, burying her face in Lisa's shoulder. That was the place in my dream. I know it sounds crazy, but
Sh, no it's not crazy, said Lisa, soothingly as she stroked Celine's hair gently.
Hey, hey, you two, said Mrs. Cassidy, puffing breathless behind them. This ain't that kind of place if you're gonna do that get inside before people get the wrong idea!
Lisa rolled her eyes at the woman, then gently guided Celine inside the Tavern.
Hey! said Mrs. Cassidy, going to the bar. How did that come on? Celine looked at the computer monitor and saw her screen name, Broomrider in the instant message box.
Broomrider: Get out of there NOW! HE'S COMING!
"What the hell ?" said Mrs. Cassidy, incredulous. "Is this some kind of joke?"
"No," said Lisa, grimly. "It's no joke. Come on we have to leave."
Suddenly the Tavern grew icy cold. The women's breath came out like puffs of fog. There was a sound, faint at first, then growing in volume. Footsteps and a slight jingling.
"Oh, Great Goddess the buckles on his shoes," whispered Celine. "That was what they heard one of the last things they ever heard."
Lisa closed her eyes and suddenly, the sound of crows cawing became louder. The footsteps faded and the room grew warmer.
"H - how did you do that?" asked Celine. Lisa shrugged, but even she shivered with the after-effects of the chill which had invaded the room.
"I don't know," she said. "Come on we have to get back."
"Hey wait a minute," said Mrs. Cassidy. "I thought you said you were going to help."
"We are," said Celine, laying her hand on the older woman's arm. "But we have to wait until the time is right."
"When will that be?" asked the frightened woman.
"All Hallows' Eve," said Lisa grimly.
"Can't you do anything before then? I have a Halloween party planned," grumbled Mrs. Cassidy. "I'd like to know the patrons won't be scared off if "
"Look, Lady, " said an impatient Lisa. "We're going to help you you just have to wait until we can understand?"
"Maybe you should cancel the Halloween party," said Celine, quietly.
"Are you nuts?" said Mrs. Cassidy. "Around here, Halloween is big business. It's not the production it is up to Salem, but we had our very own Witch Trials right here."
"You sound proud of that," said Celine, slightly disgusted.
"Well it is good for business," said Mrs. Cassidy, grinning. "And I don't know what you're all so fired up about, Missy, seeing as your family is one of the oldest in town like as not, your own ancestors burned a few witches."
"Or were burned," murmured Lisa. "Come on, Celine. We have to get back."
"Please, Mrs. Cassidy," said Celine. "Please, at least consider cancelling the party."
"That's out of the question," said the older woman, stubbornly crossing her arms over her chest.
"Please," Celine pleaded. "People could get hurt if you don't." "Don't be ridiculous," said Mrs. Cassidy. "One thing I do know about ghosts is they can't hurt people."
"This one is different," said Celine, her eyes gazing far away at a scene neither of the other two saw. "He's not just a ghost. He's a a force. An evil force."
Mrs. Cassidy laughed. "You should hear what you sound like," she said. "Hey, you come to the party and start talking that stuff and I'll give you free drinks all night you can build the atmosphere. People get spooked enough, they drink more."
"Come on Celine," said Lisa, almost growling.
"We'll be there," said Celine, sighing sadly as she and Lisa turned to leave.
They got into Lisa's truck and Celine turned to Lisa. "She doesn't believe us, does she?"
"I just think she doesn't care," said Lisa, grimly.
"What did she mean by saying she knew ghosts couldn't hurt people? She sure seemed scared enough when we got there," said Celine, musing.
"I don't know," said Lisa, frowning. "She knows more about this than she's telling."
"Let's just get home," sighed Celine. "I want to talk with Sarah how could she know that he was coming just then?"
"What do you mean?" asked Lisa.
"Sarah is within the protective wards we put up," said Celine, feeling her fear grow. "How could she sense he was
"Oh, gods, I don't know," said Lisa, picking up on Celine's fear. "We've got to hurry back."
The women arrived and Celine's hands shook trying to fit the key in the lock. Lisa gently took the keys from her and opened the door. The place seemed untouched. The computer was on, however. Celine's cat, Galinthias was sitting in front of the screen, paws on the keyboard. When she heard the women come in, Galinthias jumped down and ran, leaving the instant message box open.
"What the " said Celine, cautiously going to the computer.
"Wow, that is one well-trained cat," chuckled Lisa, who looked over at Galinthias, licking her paw and wiping her whiskers with it, just like any other cat.
"Lis, that's not funny," said Celine, staring at the screen. "You know we left the computers off this morning. Come and see this."
There in the instant message box, the women read the words.
CAS789: Sarah, you have to get them out of here he knows they're here now.
Broomrider: Beth? Is that you?
CAS789: There's no time for that now get them out of here!
Broomrider: Get out of there NOW! HE'S COMING!
"So Elizabeth was communicating with her through the computer amazing. `Techno-spirits'," said Lisa.
"Not so amazing that's how we found each other," said Celine, smiling as Lisa wrapped warm arms around her.
"Yeah, but they're ghosts," said Lisa, shaking her head.
"Ghosts who love each other," said Celine, softly. "Spirits without form to adequately express what they feel for one another sort of like we were before we actually met. How sad."
"I guess I never thought about it that way," said Lisa. "But now, we have found each other."
"Yes again," said Celine, looking at Lisa and smiling. "And, we have more than `adequate' forms to express our feelings for one another."
Lisa raised an eyebrow and grinned at her, glancing back once at the cat, still washing herself before following Celine into the bedroom and closing the door behind them.
"Are you okay?" Celine asked watching Lisa trying to massage her own neck with one hand.
"Yea, just a little tense after this morning. I'm okay though," Lisa replied.
"Come here and let me do that for you." Celine patted the empty spot next to her on the bed where she was sitting. Lisa sat down and pulled her dark hair around to the front of her shoulder to expose her neck. Celine placed her hands on Lisa's shoulders and began to gently knead into the flesh, gradually making her way toward the centre of her back. Lisa sat feeling the sensations of Celine's touch running through her body.
"Mmmmmmm, that feels so good." Lisa moaned.
"I'm glad, it's actually making me feel good too, Baby. I miss you, I miss this," Celine said, softly, then brought her lips down on Lisa's neck which elicited a loud gasp from Lisa. Lisa closed her eyes, her heart began to beat faster.
"Whawhat are you doing?"
"Well if you don't know, then I'm not doing it right." Celine whispered sending her hot breath into Lisa's ear.
"Umuh huh," Lisa breathed out. "Oh, you're doing it right alright." She leaned back offering more neck for Celine to enjoy. Celine's hands slid under Lisa's arms and to the front to cup both breasts which were covered by a brown cotton shirt with a logo from Xena Warrior Princess - both women's favourite TV show. Lisa let out another moan. She closed her eyes and reached behind her, pulling Celine closer. She began to caress Celine's soft golden hair. Celine moved her hands down toward the hem of Lisa's T-shirt. Her fingers slowly tiptoed underneath the T-shirt pulling it upward until Lisa felt the cool air hit her bare nipples. But it was the touch of Celine's hands that got them erect.
"Oh that feels soooo good." Celine closed her eyes, her fingertips stroking along the tips of Lisa's breast. Lisa began to breath harder. She turned her head further back, her lips capturing Celine's. As the kiss intensified, Lisa felt Celine's leg swing around so that she was able to straddle Lisa's waist. This brought an "Oh Goddess!" from Lisa's lips. Celine leaned forward, making contact with Lisa's back side. Her legs tightening around the body of the woman she loved more than her own life, the movement creating moisture and need. She fell back on the bed bringing Lisa with her. Lisa moved down giving Celine more friction. She wiggled around a bit then decided she couldn't take it any more and turned over positioning herself on top of the smaller woman. Her hands went straight for the top of Celine's blouse. She fumbled a bit with the buttons unable to unclasp them. She looked at Celine who was silently pleading with her to get the blouse off her. Lisa arched an eyebrow then grinned as she grabbed either side of the collar and ripped the material completely off exposing a pair of firmly hardened pink nipples.
"You are so beautiful," Lisa said, gazing lovingly down at Celine before lowering her head and pulling a nipple into her mouth.
"OOOHHH!" Celine cried out arching her back up, offering more for her lover to enjoy. Lisa flicked her tongue around the tip of Celine's nipple in tiny little circles. She moved her mouth to the other nipple doing the same thing. Celine felt Lisa move her thigh in between her legs and pressed herself up to it, squeezing in and out feeling the need intensely.
"Oh Baby, I love you so much." Lisa moved her hand down and stroked along the waist band of Celine's pants until she was able to slide her fingers beneath the material. She found the elastic that held Celine's panties in place. Lisa pulled a bit at the annoying material until she was able to brush along the inside feeling the soft curls that hid her treasure.
"OH GODDESS PLEASE!" Celine cried out. Lisa moved her hand to the side of Celine's hip, cruelly teasing her lover. Celine raised her head and bit down on Lisa's neck. Lisa breathed in sharply.
"Okay, okay" Celine arched up, pressing herself against Lisa's thigh again. Begging with her eyes.
"Lisa please," she whispered. Lisa moved both the pants and panties down Celine's legs and with Celine's enthusiastic assistance managed to get the obstacles off her body quick and easily.
"Your turn," said Celine, her voice had taken on a deeper tone that Lisa knew meant her arousal was now almost out of Celine's control. Lisa looked down at Celine and smiled. Celine growled, meaning that Lisa was taking far too long to disrobe. Lisa's smile grew wider. She loved it when Celine was like this. Hell, she just loved Celine, period.
"Okay," said Lisa, quickly pulling her beloved Xena shirt off before Celine got the idea of following her own example. Now Celine's hands were moving of their own volition, pulling Lisa close to her as Lisa slid her shorts and underwear off. Celine looked up into Lisa's dark eyes and saw the love they shared. She thought her own heart would burst from it. Lisa's hands moved over Celine's body, feeling like liquid fire against her skin. Lisa made her way slowly, with agonising gentle tickles of her lips and tongue to Celine's inner thighs.
"My Love," said Lisa, her warm breath eliciting a soft moan from Celine. Lisa kissed softly, then began loving Celine with her mouth, her teeth offering gentle nips, her tongue creating a warmth within Celine which gradually grew until Celine felt as if she had swallowed the sun. Suddenly the warmth burst and spread throughout her entire body and Celine found herself flying. She clung to Lisa, who quickly slid back up the length of Celine's body to hold her close as Celine shuddered with the intensity of not only the exquisite sensations washing over her, but the infinite love which they felt for one another.
Lisa was so overwhelmed with the feeling of love she felt for Celine, she felt her own body begin to respond, trembling with the sensations running through her. She caught her breath and tried to calm the excitement that began to build. Celine sensed her lover's arousal and the sudden pulling back.
"Oh no you don't." Celine whispered, her hands moving, seeking, and at last finding the silky warmth hidden beneath darkened curls. She began moving slowly at first, gradually building up speed in response to Lisa's own body movements. "You're going to come for me baby"
"Celine please I I Oh Goddess Celine, I love YOU!" Lisa felt the love so strongly coming from Celine. She begin to quiver and shake. Her body out of control in the hands of her lover. Lisa closed her eyes and felt the tears coming. She knew from the very first time that Celine was the one, the other half of her soul. Finally after all this time, they found each other. Celine held her lover close, gently stroking her face and kissing away Lisa's tears until both fell into a contented sleep. The last peaceful sleep they'd see for some time.
Emmeline Cassidy sighed and sat behind the bar and switched off the computer. She hated deception, but it had been necessary. Those two would never have left when they did if she hadn't sent that message to the ghost now taking refuge in Celine's apartment. Em had been seeing the ghosts resident in this Tavern all her life, had in fact seen Sarah following Celine out of the Tavern. She liked the two female ghosts, but that one! The Dark Man, as she had always thought of him, he was something else. Em suspected Celine was closer than even she knew when she called him more than a ghost.
She also hadn't meant to sound so querulous with them, but she was tired. She had been up all night, cleaning up after the Dark Man's temper tantrum seemed he didn't like that Sarah had escaped the Tavern or something. And as for cancelling the party well, Em learned a long time ago not to give in to bullies. The only way to deal with the likes of him was to stand up to them. She wasn't about to admit that, though it wouldn't do to sound like a stubborn old woman. Em laughed at herself. Better to sound greedy and mercenary? she thought, shaking her head.
Still, Celine had seemed so sure that there would be trouble of some kind at the party. Maybe she should consider cancelling. No, thought Em. I won't cancel. Guess I am just a stubborn old woman, after all .
Just then there was a banging on the wall. Em tried to ignore it, but it grew louder and more insistent.
Aw, give it a rest, will ya? said Em, irritably rising from her seat. A figure began to slowly materialise in the corner. You. What do you want? The woman pointed at the computer, then at Em. She smiled.
Yeah sorry about that, said Em, grinning. The ghost shook her head and smiled, then nodded. Glad you approve. It worked at least. He was coming for them wasn't he?
The spirit's smile faded and she nodded, solemnly. Why? asked Em. The spirit merely shook her head. Who is he, anyway? Why is he so angry?
The spirit frowned for a moment, then pointed to the computer monitor. Understanding, Em turned it on. The spirit smiled and nodded, then made the motion of typing with her hands. Em typed her question.
CAS789: Who is he? Why is he so angry? What does he want with Celine and Lisa?
He is the Reverend Matthew Bishop.
The answer appeared on the screen. Em felt goosebumps begin to rise along her arms. She was actually communicating with a ghost! Then she laughed. She was communicating with a woman dead for over 300 years on the most technologically advanced PC available in the 21st century! The irony tickled her.
Okay, okay, said Em, wiping her eyes. Sorry about that I get a little punchy when I'm so tired is all. Reverend Matthew Bishop, huh? Seems I've heard that name somewhere.
He was the most effective prosecutor of witches in this town during his time.
Oh, yes, I remember now, said Em. But everyone knows that most if not all of those tried for witchcraft back then were not really witches. Well, we know that now anyway.
So did the Reverend, even back then. It was politically expedient to remove all those who would cross him. Even me.
Ah, so that's why you're here, said Em. This was the old courthouse, wasn't it?
And jail, torture chamber . It was an evil place. Your father did well to make this a place of revelry. It has almost removed the residue of those evil times.
All but the cellar, said Em, quietly. The ghost appeared to shiver, then nodded slowly. That was where well, that was where most of them died, wasn't it?
The spirit shook her head then pointed again to the screen.
No, but that was the 'confessional' the place where the Reverend extracted confessions. It was nothing more than a torture chamber. And he derived such pleasure from causing suffering!
Regular sadist, huh, said Em, shaking her head. The ghost looked puzzled. Sadist someone who gets off on causing another person pain? You know, from the Marquis de Sade - never mind you were before his time. I forgot.
The ghost nodded her head, understanding.
Sadist seems the correct term by that definition, though. He certainly did seem to 'get off' as you say. Sarah was his victim more than I ever was, though.
The spirit looked angry and her form became more solid with the strength of her emotion. The room grew colder and Em shivered.
What do you mean? asked the woman. The spirit spoke now.
Sarah was his daughter. Daily he tormented her. He made her read the charges against me. She dared not disobey, else both of our punishments would have been well, worse than what they were. My torture, which she was forced to watch, was his crowning moment. You see, Sarah and I loved each other, said the spirit.
Ah, maybe that's why he's after Celine and Lisa, said Em, nodding. Homophobia knows no bounds not even death.
The spirit shook her head. No, it's more than that, she said. You see, Celine is my descendant and Lisa is Sarah's the last of our lines. And now, they are together.
Which means ? asked Em.
That together they have the power to finally defeat him, said Elizabeth, smiling.
Celine awoke first and smiled. She gazed lovingly over at Lisa. Lisa slept, curled up on her side, her black hair over her closed eyes. Gently Celine brushed it back and leaned to kiss Lisa's temple. Lisa stirred, her eyes fluttering open, then she smiled.
Hey, she whispered, pulling Celine down for a kiss. Celine returned the kiss, but just as it began to grow into something more, they heard the cat yowling in the other room. Both women leaped up, throwing on whatever clothing was handy and ran to see what it was.
The women could see through Celine's windows that the sun was beginning to set. The room was dim since no one had turned on the lamps and they could make out a shadowy outline in one corner of the room.
Sarah? said Lisa, starting to approach. The shadowy figure put up both hands to ward the women off. Sarah, what's wrong?
The ghost pointed in the direction of the kitchen. Lisa walked over to the kitchen entrance and flipped the light switch. Nothing happened, but she could make out the cat, Galinthias, staring at the small window over the sink. The window was ajar and a horrible smell filled the room. Galinthias was crouched low, ready to pounce, growling at the window.
Hey, Gil, what is it? said Celine, coming up behind Lisa.
Shh, said Lisa. She sees something.
Celine frowned and tried the light.
Doesn't work, whispered Lisa.
No kidding, muttered Celine. What is that smell?
Don't look at me, Lisa joked, trying to break the tension and the fear she was feeling.
Funny, said Celine. It smells like oh, gods! It smells the cellar at the tavern!
Yeah, said Lisa. Only ten times stronger. Hey, did we do that window the other night?
I I don't remember, said Celine, biting her lip.
I don't think we did, said Lisa, grimly. Damn! He must have followed us from there today.
What are we going to do? asked Celine, frightened. She moved closer to Lisa. The taller woman wrapped an arm around her and pulled her closer.
It's okay we have to get him out of here, though, she said.
Suddenly, the kitchen light came on, but only for a spilt second as the fluorescent bulbs suddenly flashed painfully bright, then exploded in a shower of tiny glass shards. Galinthias bolted from the room. Lisa pulled Celine closer still, burying the smaller woman's face protectively in her chest even as she turned her own face away from the flying glass.
All the ceramic canisters on the counter top began to shatter, one by one, like dominoes falling, spilling their contents. The cupboard doors banged open and shut, boxes and cans flying out. Dishes flew, smashing against the walls. The refrigerator door flew open and the contents flew out, hitting the walls and splattering them in a colourful display which rivalled a modern art exhibit.
The women heard the sound of glass shattering and a feline howl in the living room.
Galinthias! cried Celine, breaking away from Lisa and running over the splinters of glass embedded in the carpet. Lisa ran after her. Celine found her beloved cat cowering behind the couch and bent to pick her up, just as a heavy lamp flew over her head, missing her by bare inches.
The computer monitor exploded in bright flash, leaving the smell of electrical ozone heavy in the air. The television followed, blue flames spitting from where the screen had just been.
Come on, Celine, we have to get out of here! Lisa cried, grabbing her and pulling her toward the door.
Wait! cried Celine, running for the bedroom. Lisa rolled her eyes. Celine is beautiful, but panic just isn't pretty! she thought, following. She stepped into the bedroom and the door slammed shut behind her.
Inside the bedroom, all was peaceful and quiet. Celine sat on the bed, sobbing into Galinthias's black fur.
Celine, honey, come on, said Lisa, gently. We have to go come on, Baby it isn't safe here.
He can't come in here, said Celine, looking up at Lisa with tears in her green eyes. It's consecrated by the altar and the magic.
No, Love, he can't get in here but there are about half a dozen small fires out there that can, said Lisa. Not to mention the toxic fumes all those burning electronics are letting off. Come on, Sweetie. Bring Galinthias and let's go.
What about Sarah? asked Celine.
Suddenly the computer came on and words appeared on the screen.
GET OUT OF HERE NOW! DO NOT WORRY ABOUT ME - JUST GO!
See? said Lisa, pulling Celine to her feet. Even Sarah says to go. Come on.
The women paused only to pull on some more substantial clothing and then went to the bedroom door. It was hot to the touch.
Damn! said Lisa. We can't go that way the fire's already at the door!
The window, gasped Celine, already feeling the effects of the fumes seeping under the crack of the door.
Lisa opened the window and pushed the screen out. Already the women heard sirens rapidly approaching. She helped Celine through the opening, then grabbed the quilt from the bed, as well as her cell phone and wallet from the nightstand. Then she climbed through the window after Celine. She wrapped the quilt around the smaller woman's shoulders. Celine still clutched Galinthias. Lisa noticed the creature was more docile than usual. She had half expected the cat to have already jumped from Celine's arms probably leaving long gashes from her claws along the way and run off. But no, Galinthias sat quite calmly in Celine's arms, moving only to rub her face along Celine's tear-dampened cheeks, as if to comfort her.
A fireman approached the women.
Hey, he said, smiling sympathetically. What happened here?
We don't know, said Lisa, walking up to the man. We just tried to turn on the kitchen light and all hell broke loose. Literally, she thought grimly. It wasn't exactly a lie, but Lisa had no desire to try and explain that an evil ghost had come in through a hole in their defences and attacked them for reasons they themselves still did not understand.
These old buildings, said the fireman, shaking his head in understanding. The wiring's all screwed up most of the time probably a short in the system somewhere. Well, we'll check it out and see that you get a report for your insurance company. Must be a lot of damage the neighbours called us and said that there were explosions.
Yeah, said Lisa. Whole refrigerator blew up.
The fireman whistled. Wow that bad? he said. Lisa got the impression that he was impressed to the point of glee. Must be bored just covering calls from people with grease fires on the stove or rescuing cats from trees, she thought cynically. And speaking of cats, that one is acting very strange
Celine was somewhere else. She gazed off into the distance, still clutching Galinthias tightly, but the cat did not fight her grip.
Is she okay? asked the fireman, gesturing to Celine.
Yeah, I think she just breathed in too much stuff in there, said Lisa. She'll be fine.
Well, we got an ambulance on the way anyway standard procedure, said the fireman. We should check her out, just in case. Might be in shock.
Probably, said Lisa, sadly. She just lost everything she owns.
Yeah but at least she managed to save the cat, said the fireman. You have no idea how many pets are lost each year and how many stupid people we lose running back into a fire to save Fluffy. He shook his head.
Galinthias is much more to her than a pet, said Lisa. She knew the significance of a witch's familiar and was extremely grateful that Celine had Galinthias, especially after all this.
I understand, said the fireman, nodding, though Lisa doubted that he really did. Okay, I'm going to go and do my job stick around for a bit. We may need to ask a few more questions. The fireman jogged off, leaving Lisa and Celine. The other tenants of the apartments were standing around, staring at the women resentfully. Lisa merely shook her head, ignoring them. She glanced over at Celine who was still staring at nothing, absently stroking Galinthias. The cat seemed to have fallen asleep in her arms. An ambulance pulled up and two attendants hopped out and questioned the firemen, then came over to Celine and Lisa.
Either of you hurt? asked one of the attendants, a young woman with short blonde hair in a navy blue uniform.
Nah, not really, said Lisa, with a shrug. A little glass flew around, but I think we're alright.
What about her? asked the male partner, gesturing to Celine. Lisa frowned in concern.
I don't know she may be in shock, said Lisa.
We'll take care of her, said the woman, gently guiding Celine towards the ambulance. You want to hold the cat?
No, said Lisa, shaking her head. Let her have her I think she needs the contact right now.
Okay, said the woman, again guiding Celine to the ambulance. Lisa flipped open her cell phone, pulling a credit card from her wallet and began dialling.
Several frustrating calls later, she closed the phone and walked to the ambulance.
She alright? asked Lisa, noting with mixed relief and anguish that Celine was crying, quietly. At least she's back with us, thought Lisa.
Yeah, she'll be fine, said the blonde EMT, smiling and gently pushing Celine's golden hair from her face. Lisa raised an eyebrow at that and quelled the jealousy that threatened to make her deck the woman. She's only doing her job right? thought Lisa. Riiiight . Okay get Celine out of here now. Tomorrow will be time enough to go over everything. Right now, I just need to get her away from here. Someplace safe.
Can I get her out of here now? Lisa asked. The EMT looked at her, then grinned, quickly dropping her hand.
Sorry, she said, understanding immediately.
No problem, said Lisa through only slightly clenched teeth. Then she grinned. I do that all the time myself. Can we go?
The EMT laughed out loud. Yeah, no problem as far as we're concerned. She's fine, just a little lost there for a moment perfectly understandable, given the circumstances. Just go and check with the firemen. They may have more questions for you.
Lisa nodded and helped Celine from the ambulance. The two women approached the cluster of yellow-slickered firemen.
Hey, can we go now? Lisa called to them.
Just a minute, said one of them. Lisa saw he wore a badge on his helmet and assumed he was the chief. That's a real mess you got in there. What the hell happened?
Lisa shrugged. Like I told the other guy, all we did was try to turn on the kitchen light and all hell broke loose.
The chief frowned. It looks like a lot more than that went on in there, he said.
Hey, Chief, we found the problem, said the fireman who had first approached Celine and Lisa. He grinned and nodded at the women. Wiring, just like I thought. Chewed looks like rats have been after all the wires in the place. The owners are going to have fumigate as well as replace all the wires in the building. Meantime all these folks will have to find a place to stay. Building won't be habitable for some time. Tough finding a room right now, though.
Tell me about it, muttered Lisa. Every place is booked solid.
Yeah, this time of year Halloween is big business around these parts, said the friendly fireman.
Well, we have a room, said Lisa. We'll be at the Motel 6 on route 54 if you have anything else.
Whoa way over there? said the fireman.
Only thing I could find, said Lisa, refraining to mention that it was the not only the closest place with a vacancy, it was also the only place she called that allowed pets and Lisa knew that Celine would not stay where Galinthias could not stay with her.
We'll be in touch, said the chief.
Lisa guided Celine to her truck and the two drove to the motel. Lisa checked in while Celine waited with Galinthias. Lisa still marvelled at the cat's behaviour. The went to the room and Celine sat on the one double bed, finally putting Galinthias down on the floor. The cat hissed and ran under the bed.
Now that's the Galinthias we all know and love, chuckled Lisa, sitting next to Celine.
Sarah, said Celine, softly.
Honey, Sarah is just fine, said Lisa, gently stroking Celine's hair.
No, I know she hitched a ride with Galinthias, said Celine, smiling up at Lisa's incredulous look.
So she's here with us? said Lisa. Right now?
Somewhere, said Celine, looking around at the standard Motel 6 décor.
Okay, sighed Lisa. Why don't we try to get some sleep?
I don't think I can, said Celine, biting her lip to keep from crying again. Oh, Lisa!
I know, I know, Honey, said Lisa, holding her. But the fireman said it was the wiring insurance should cover almost everything.
Not not everything, sobbed Celine. Not the pictures
Lisa thought sadly of the photo album, lovingly compiled by Celine's grandmother who had raised her. Celine's mother had died giving birth to her and her father, who had owned and run a small grocery store, had been killed a few years later in a botched robbery attempt, leaving only his mother to raise the little girl. The album had held the only pictures of her parents. And now it was gone.
I know, said Lisa, soothingly. Honey I am so sorry.
It's okay, sighed Celine, subduing the tears which threatened. And you're right almost everything can be replaced. It's just things.
I know, but they were your things, said Lisa, still stroking Celine's hair, calming the other woman. Things you've worked very hard for. It's not fair.
No, it's not, said Celine. But that's just the way it is. And speaking of work, I still have to go in tomorrow. I probably should try and get some sleep, after all.
Can't you take the day off? asked Lisa. I mean after all that's happened tonight, surely your boss will understand No, huh?
Celine rolled her eyes. No, not if I want the day after off and I simply can't go in on Samhain, she said, laying back in on the paisley- patterned bedspread. There's too much preparation for what we have to do that night.
True, said Lisa. You get some rest, then. I'll be right here.
You're not going to sleep? asked Celine, already drifting off.
Nah, I'm not tired, Lisa fibbed. In truth, she had decided to stay awake and keep watch just in case.
'Kay, said Celine as she slowly drifted into nightmares from which Lisa had to wake her several times until dawn.
Celine finally awoke and left for work. Lisa stretched out on the bed and decided to sleep until Celine returned that afternoon. But Celine arrived back at the room hours before she was due, slamming her briefcase on the standard issue, bolted-down desk provided with the room.
Honey what's wrong? asked Lisa, squinting at the smaller woman through sleepy eyes.
I'm fired! growled Celine plopping down on the bed beside her.
What! Why? asked Lisa, now wide awake.
Celine sighed and lowered her face in her hands. I was called into the boss's office as soon as I got there. Apparently, they heard about the fire at the apartment complex. Seems the company owns the building and it's going to cost a bundle to get it up to code. Since it was my apartment that 'started' the whole mess, they wanted to know what happened.
What did you tell them? asked Lisa, sitting up to wrap comforting arms around Celine.
Just what I heard you tell the firemen last night, said Celine. We tried to turn on the kitchen light and 'kablam' everything went.
I take it they didn't believe you? said Lisa.
Oh, no, it wasn't that they didn't believe me, said Celine. The apartment was just the excuse for calling me into the office. It seems there have been rumours about my 'proclivities' and that is simply something the company cannot tolerate their reputation is at stake.
Your what? asked Lisa, quietly.
You know my preference for tall, black-haired beauties, said Celine, smiling slightly. Of the female persuasion.
They can't fire you for that! cried Lisa, angrily. That's illegal!
Actually, Sweetheart, it isn't, said Celine, sadly. Not in this state.
Celine, said Lisa, softly, her warm breath tickling Celine's ear. Come back with me.
What what do you mean? said Celine.
Come home with me for good, said Lisa.
I don't know, Lis, said Celine. I'd have to find a job and oh. I have to do that anyway now, don't I?
Yes, you do and it shouldn't be at all difficult for you to find something there. Come on Celine there's absolutely nothing holding you here now, said Lisa.
Celine snuggled closer, feeling the rightness of it, the safe feeling of Lisa's strong arms wrapped securely around her and knew there was no place she ever wanted to be but there.
Yes, okay but after we do what we have to help Sarah and Elizabeth and to stop him, she said, green eyes narrowing. It's personal, now.
Lisa chuckled and kissed the top of Celine's head, happier than she had been in a long time.
You got it, she said.
Em Cassidy prepared well for the party she had planned the following night. She even hired a professional fortune-teller for the evening. Hard cider would be the seasonal special for the evening, but there would be plenty of other drinks available for a price.
Shaking her head, the older woman thought again of Celine's warning and plea to cancel the party but hell, she had already paid the fortune-teller and bought the extra supplies. Maybe I am greedy and mercenary after all, she thought. Ah, well, ghosts really can't hurt people, after all.
She looked up to see the first patrons of the evening walking through the door in costume. Raising an eyebrow, but smiling, she offered Romeo and Juliet the first drinks of the evening
Celine and Lisa drove back to the apartment. Lisa had called the fire department and had learned that the building was clear for the residents to enter in order to remove what belongings they would need until they could move back in.
Celine was surprised to see that the bedroom and its contents were untouched by the damage. She and Lisa packed everything except the furniture in crates and loaded up the truck. They went back to the motel to prepare for the party at the Tavern later that night. Lisa had tried to rent costumes for them but had found that all the costume shops were sold out.
It's just as well, said Celine. I have a feeling I think I know just what we need for tonight can we go to the fabric store?
Well, sure, but I don't think we have to whip up anything from scratch, said Lisa, doubtfully.
We don't need to, said Celine. If we get into the crate that holds my clothes, I can make a few alterations and I think we'll have just what we need. Trust me?
Always, said Lisa, smiling.
The Tavern was filling rapidly, leaving Em with little time to pay attention to anything but her patrons and their demands. So she didn't noticed when a couple of her more inebriated customers crept away toward the cellar door which Em had forgotten to re-lock after taking Celine and Lisa down there two days before
Well, what do you think? asked Celine, twirling to show off her handiwork.
Nice, said Lisa, tugging at the tight collar of her own costume. Did people really wear these things? How could they stand it?
She was startled by a low chuckle in the shadowy corner of the room. Yes, we did, said Sarah. You get used to it actually, it's all we ever wore we didn't know any different.
Sarah, said Celine, staring at the ghost as she emerged from the dim corner into the full light of the motel lamp.
It's Samhain, said Sarah, smiling. I can come fully into your world now, my friends.
Oh, it's not just that, said Celine, breathless, glancing over to Lisa. The resemblance especially in those clothes
Both women were dressed identical to the spirit which stood before them now. Celine had taken two black dresses which had hung in her closet for ages and with a little alteration had transformed them into Puritan garb.
I would say the same of you, Celine, said Sarah, wistfully. You are the very mirror of my Beth.
I guess we should go, said Lisa, quietly. Will you be going with us, Sarah?
I've no choice, said Sarah, sadly. It is necessary that I, too, be there for you to be successful. But at least, perhaps, I will see Beth. I miss her so.
I understand, said Celine. Shall we?
I will meet you there, said Sarah.
I was startled by the appearance of our great-great - . Well, however many greats it takes to equal over 18 generations! grand-daughters. They were us. And yet not. Lisa was stronger than I had ever dared to be, even inwardly. Celine, though possessing Beth's fiery spirit, had more inner strength and stamina than Elizabeth what this new world had bred into our descendants delighted me. If only we had their courage and strength then, how different things may have been for Elizabeth and me!
I was proud a little envious, but mostly proud. The blood of these marvellous women was linked to Elizabeth's and mine. But they were also blood-linked to him, my father. I knew that not only did that give them power over him, but the connection went both ways. At least for Lisa was his darkness in her? I had seen something. I, too carried the taint I had never defied him. I wrote what I was told in his black book even though I knew it was wrong. Most of the people in that book were not followers of the Old Religion certainly none of them worshipped his 'devil'.
But a few were worshippers of the Lady. They were ones who never confessed. When my father demanded that they say they worshipped his devil, they would not for us, this devil did not exist. I am ashamed. They showed more courage and strength than I ever had. And worse, far, far worse, they did not reproach me for my role in their suffering. They simply said nothing to me. That was worse than if they had railed against me, exposing my place with them in the sacred circles.
Not that it would have mattered. My father knew what I was about he simply could not afford to have the community know. I never, ever accused anyone, though. That would have been a line even in my terror of the Reverend I was not prepared to cross. Strangely, he never asked me to. The Reverend Matthew Bishop was far more interested in removing political adversaries from his way than in capturing real witches
I would indeed go to the Tavern, but I would have to again 'borrow' the body of Galinthias, Celine's familiar. It was fortunate for me she had one, a creature who was accustomed to working with the spirit realm and the inhabitants therein. She was a willing vehicle, if an apprehensive one. But her feline curiosity won out and she allowed me entrance.
So, I slipped into the cat and made my way out the window since they had locked the door as they left
Celine and Lisa walked into the Tavern, greeted by a red and yellow silk-clad Harlequin, who bowed and led them to an empty table. Em came over to them, dressed as a 17th century tavern maid. She grinned and Lisa wondered how much of her own hard cider she had already enjoyed.
Seems I wasn't the only one with this idea, eh? said the tavern-keeper.
Spur of the moment, said Lisa, wryly, sipping at the complimentary cider. It was good, she had to admit. We didn't have much time for costume shopping since Celine's apartment was destroyed.
What? said Em, quietly alarmed. She sat at the table with the two other women.
It was him, said Celine, quietly.
Lisa described the episode to Em's growing alarm.
God, I didn't think I never believed that
What? Ghosts can't harm people, right? said Lisa, angrily.
I'm sorry, said Em. And I'm so sorry for your loss, Celine.
Celine smiled brightly at the older woman and clasped her hand.
No, it's alright, she said, looking over to Lisa. Because of it, something even better has happened.
Oh? said Em, smiling at the two, one eyebrow raised.
Hey, careful, growled Lisa, but she was smiling a bit herself. This isn't that kind of place, remember?
Oh, pooh, said Em, waving her hand. I didn't mean anything by that. It was a bad day. Congratulations, you two. I am truly happy for you. Both of you.
Yeah, well, anyway, said Lisa, looking around the dimly lit tavern. Hey is that door supposed to be open?
No! cried Em, leaping up from the table and hurrying as fast as the crowd would allow to the cellar door. Celine and Lisa followed. The three women looked down into the inky darkness of the cellar, the odour wafting up to gag them. Celine staggered back and was caught by Lisa.
Damn! said Em. I must have forgotten to lock it back up that day I had a lot on my mind, you know.
Yeah, I know, said Lisa. Do you suppose it blew open in a a draught or something?
A loud moan from the bottom of the stairs answered her.
Oh, nuts! Someone must have stumbled in the dark and fell that's a lawsuit waiting to happen, grumbled Em. An unearthly, teeth-setting laugh rose from the darkness, raising goosebumps on all three women's skin. Or not.
Celine looked dazed. She stepped forward toward the steps and Lisa caught her and pulled her back.
Hey, where are you going? she asked. Celine shook her head.
We have to go down there, said Celine. If no other reason than that someone may be hurt and we have to help them.
Celine are you crazy? said Lisa. You know what's down there that's no human being making those sounds.
Lisa, I have to, said Celine, trying to shake off her lover's firm grip. She stopped struggling for a moment and looked pleadingly at Lisa. You know we have to, don't you?
Yes, but said Lisa, frowning, trying to think of an effective stall. We should wait for Sarah.
Celine stopped and nodded. Yes, she said. You're right. We must wait for her and Elizabeth. They will be here soon enough.
Sighing her relief, Lisa led Celine back to their table. It had been claimed by another group, but Lisa simply looked at them and they quickly scattered, offering hesitant apologies and nervous smiles. Only one of the group was drunk enough to offer resistance, but Lisa quickly dispatched him, grabbing his hair and pulling him up from the chair. She tossed him in the direction of his friends and sat down with Celine and Em.
Hey, want a job? chuckled Em. I could use a bouncer.
Nah, said Lisa, grinning. Takes too much self control to not just slam him into the wall the one across the room, that is.
Em laughed and Celine managed a slight smile. Well, in the meantime, why not visit the fortune-teller, said Em, gesturing to a woman seated in the centre of the Tavern. She didn't look at all busy, simply sitting, shuffling some cards repeatedly, then laying some out, frowning and re-gathering them back to shuffle again. Em frowned.
I am paying her a fortune and no one is said the tavern-keeper.
Maybe no one is in the mood for a fake fortune, said Lisa, shrugging.
Oh, she's not a fake, said Em. In fact, she comes highly recommended.
Yeah? said Lisa, her curiosity getting the better of her. She arose and approached the fortune-teller, sitting across the small table from the woman. So? Tell my fortune.
The woman frowned. Sarah? she whispered.
Lisa looked into the greenest eyes she had seen since gazing into Celine's but a few moments ago.
No, she said. I'm Lisa.
I'm sorry, said the woman, shaking her head slightly. She smiled. Well, what will it be? Love, romance, money where do your questions lie?
Nah, I know all of that, said Lisa. Tell me about my brother.
Your brother? said the woman, frowning. That's impossible. You can't have a brother.
Lisa chuckled. Tell my mother that, she said, sensing someone behind her. Hey, Em, I hate to tell you this but Lisa noticed the startled look in the fortune-teller's eyes, then turned to see Celine.
You you said the woman, then she broke into a wide smile. You two are here. At last.
Lisa raised an eyebrow. Elizabeth I presume? she said, as a shadowy figure stepped out from behind the seated woman. There stood Elizabeth. She smiled.
Yes, she said. We have much to do this night. Where is Sarah?
A black cat came running into the tavern, causing squeals as people dodged her determined path to the women standing by the fortune-teller. As if drawn by the crowd, others began to gather around the bemused woman and ask for their fortunes as Elizabeth, Celine, and Lisa walked a bit away from her. Celine bent and scooped up her cat.
Galinthias, what are you doing here? she scolded. How did you get here?
Sarah suddenly stood before them. She smiled as Elizabeth gathered her into a long-awaited embrace. The two spirits stood there for several moments, gazing into each other's eyes.
Alright, muttered Em. Break it up. People are staring.
Let them, said Celine, brushing a tear from her eye. Haven't they waited long enough?
No, she's right, said Elizabeth. We have work to do. Come.
To ? said Sarah, fearfully.
Yes, said Elizabeth, firmly.
Oh, Goddess, said Celine, turning pale. We have to go down there. I think I'm going to throw up.
Later, said Lisa, taking her arm and leading her to the cellar door.
Elizabeth took a candle and lit three others from it, handing one to each of the women and Sarah. Emmeline, wait up here. This is not your battle, she said.
It's my place, said Em, stubbornly lighting her own candle.
She's right, said Celine, a dazed look in her eye. She's the owner of this place now. She has to be involved in the banishing.
Yes, but said Em.
Not to fear, old friend, said Sarah, smiling at her. If all goes well, Beth and I will not need to be banished we will be allowed to move on.
Together, said Celine, smiling.
Always, said Elizabeth, smiling at Sarah.
Lisa rolled her eyes.
Enough mush can we get on with this, please? she said, impatiently pushing the cellar door the rest of the way open. She felt around for the light switch, but found it didn't work.
Careful, whispered Celine. Remember what happened last time we tried to turn on the lights.
Right, said Lisa, grimly. Okay, let's go.
They proceeded cautiously down the stairs, hesitant to feel their way for the shapes illumined by the dancing candlelight were ominous.
Celine found herself reaching back with her free hand and grasping Lisa's hand. The strength of her soul-mate's presence gave her courage to keep going. Lisa squeezed her hand gently.
It's okay, said Lisa, noting how the candles' glow gave Celine a certain ethereal beauty. Like an angel, thought Lisa, admiringly. She noticed that the spirits, Elizabeth and Sarah were translucent in the candles' soft glow.
At last they were all at the bottom of the steps. Lisa looked around, setting her candle down on a dusty barstool which had been relegated to the cellar for the sin of a loose leg. No doubt, it had been Em's father's intent to fix it some day. Celine wondered just how much of this stuff had been put here against that some day which had never come. She also reflected on how many some days she had put things off for grateful that her new life with Lisa was not one of them.
If we ever get out of here, she thought grimly. I'll think twice about putting things off, Mother, I promise I will
All of a sudden, a foul wind blew through the cellar, blowing out all the candles. Celine felt strong arms wrap around her waist and relaxed slightly, though she was gagging on the odour of the wind. A maniacal, unearthly laughter filled her ears and though Celine clapped her hands over them, she could still hear it loudly. She realised that the sound was in her head and nearly panicked until she heard Em's voice.
Cease and desist!
There was an eerie silence for a moment, then the laughter returned, louder and more derisive.
You think your puny claim on this building can stop me, you sinful woman? came a booming voice. The wind returned, stronger than before and worse-smelling. Em was knocked back, hitting the stone wall hard enough to knock her unconscious. Suddenly, Sarah and Elizabeth were visible. A glow surrounded the spirits and filled the room.
No, but I can, Father, said Sarah, quietly.
Celine and Lisa saw him, then. An imposing man, tall and clothed in black. His eyes were piercing, black, but filled with an unholy fire and his face was cruel, if handsome. His hair was long and coal-black, hanging well past his shoulders. His skin was pale as milk. He smiled and Lisa saw the madness in him.
So, he said, quietly, but the threat remained in his voice. Sarah, my Sarah. Have you not learned in all these centuries that you cannot defeat me? Why, look at you, Girl you still tremble in my presence. Give it up.
No, said Sarah, defiantly, her dark eyes meeting his for the first time ever. Father, you are evil and I have come to stop you for all time. You will never again cause harm to those I love.
'Love'? laughed the Reverend. What do you know of love, Girl? You are damned the damned know naught of love only of sin.
Excuse me, said Celine. What is this 'sin' you keep talking about?
Celine! Lisa hissed, trying and failing to pull Celine back behind her.
The Reverend smiled in delight.
Why, my Child, sin is anything which is against the laws of God and nature, he said, almost gently.
Like, um, the torture of innocent people? said Celine, her eyes narrowing.
None of them were innocent! boomed the Reverend, angrily slamming his fist down on the rickety barstool, smashing the wood to splinters and sending the candle flying across the room. And you know it! He pointed to Sarah. You! You wrote the names yourself and the charges.
Just because it was written didn't make it true, Father, said Sarah, quietly. I am ashamed of what I did.
That is because you are a sinner and damned, just as they all were, said the Reverend. That is why you are bound to this accursed place.
No, said Elizabeth, her eyes flashing. That is why you were bound to this place. Sarah was never bound here she was free to move on whenever she wished. She was waiting for me only you cursed me to remain. Sarah wouldn't leave because I was here so I placed a spell of protection over her as long as she was here so you could not harm her.
You see?! cried the Reverend, gleefully. You were guilty of witchcraft!
Yes, I practised the old religion, said Elizabeth, defiantly. So did Sarah and so did her mother your wife! But never did any of us work to cause harm or worship some creature out of your Book called the 'devil'.
Yesss, hissed the Reverend. I knew of their betrayal.
Is that why you killed my mother? said Sarah, angrily.
Your mother died in childbirth, said the Reverend, shortly.
Yes, after you beat her into her birthing pains! cried Sarah.
Suddenly, Celine was transported back in time. She saw the whole scene before her .
<I>Sarah's mother was screaming, weeping vehemently.
Noooo! she cried as the Reverend landed another blow to her huge belly.
You will </I>not<I> defy me, Woman! he said quietly, the very calmness of his voice as he landed blow after heavy blow upon the woman sending shivers through Celine.
Suddenly, the woman fell, blood trickling from her mouth, her eyes rolling back. Celine saw her spasming as the birth pains came.
You monster, she whispered weakly. You would call me 'witch'? Very well, you bastard. Then a 'witch's' curse I will lay upon you never will any male child be born of your line and all of your descendants will die in childbirth until your line dies out. No male child will be born to your line so that the taint of your evil blood, your evil name will die out in time.
The Reverend cursed and took his hat, leaving the house and returning with the physician.
Reverend, said the man, quietly. She's dead.
What about the child? asked the reverend.
I don't know, said the man, scratching his head.
Cut it out of her, said the Reverend, coldly. I must see if it If it is a son, it is worth salvaging.
And so, Sarah was born from her dead mother, cut from her still-warm body. The baby squirmed when the cold air hit her, then mewed like a weak kitten. The Reverend looked at her in disgust.
A girl, he spat. Never mind find a wet-nurse in the village. I suppose it's my Christian duty to try and keep it alive. At least long enough to baptise all females are vessels of original sin I must do whatever is necessary to quench that sin keep it alive until I can drive out its demons by the holy water of baptism.
Yes, Reverend, said the physician. He put on his hat and wrapped the infant tenderly in a blanket. What about her, Sir? The man pointed to Sarah's mother.
Ah, poor woman, said the Reverend. She was quite mad, you know had a fit. I couldn't stop her. She just kept throwing herself to the floor.
The physician eyed faded bruises shaped like hand-prints but said nothing. Instead, he covered her with a sheet from the bed.
I'll send some women over to prepare the body, he said. And we'll start digging the grave would you like for me to send for another minister to preside - ?
No, said the Reverend, harshly. I will conduct the services. But the women to prepare the body and men to dig the grave that will be quite welcome. Thank you.
Then the physician left with little Sarah and Celine saw no more .</I>
He did he killed her! cried Celine.
Silence! roared the Reverend, pointing at her.
Along with over forty other innocent people.
Lisa looked over to where Emmeline Cassidy lay. The older woman sat up slowly, rubbing her head. She looked at her hand and saw blood there. A figure stepped out from beside her.
Mother! cried Sarah. The woman smiled at her and nodded.
You! roared the Reverend again, pointing at the woman.
Yes, Matthew, it's me Rachel, said Sarah's mother, smiling but her smile to him was not so nice. You tortured to death over forty innocent souls. And the only evil in this village was <I>you</I>. Yes, I walked the old path and even after you killed me, I came to my daughter, teaching her the old ways. But I was not evil nor were any of those you murdered for your own foul purpose.
All were evil all were sinners! cried the Reverend fiercely, but the women could see that he was losing momentum in the face of this powerful adversary.
No, Matthew, the only sin was yours, said Rachel. She looked around at the dusty cellar. Here, in this place, where you tortured so many is where you yourself will pay for your sins.
Suddenly, the room was filled with people, all wearing the garb of three hundred years ago.
Abigail Gideon, said Sarah as one woman stepped forward. You tried to make her confess to hexing your pulpit because <I>you</I> lost your sermon notes for that Sabbath Meeting and couldn't remember what you were speaking about. It wouldn't do for the Reverend to look so foolish, now would it? So you used a hot poker until she screamed her confession. Then you hanged her in the village common.
Sarah recited the names of each of the souls who had suffered at the Reverend's hands and the women saw that she held a black book from which she read, scratching away upon the pages with a quill. She looked up at the Reverend. Now, Father, the truth will be read and recorded, as I should have done then.
Celine, Lisa and Em listened to the litany of the Reverend's victims and his crimes against them, horrified at his cruel tortures.
Then Sarah closed the book and Elizabeth leaned over to Lisa and whispered, Get Celine and Em out of here and clear the building.
What about you? asked Lisa.
Don't worry about us, said Elizabeth, keeping one eye on Sarah. Just get everyone out please, Lisa! There's not much time left!
Lisa gently but firmly took Celine and Em by the arms and led them swiftly up the stairs. She turned back once and saw the people slowly advancing on the Reverend, he himself cowering back in fear.
Swiftly, the women closed the door of the cellar just as howls of terror and pain began to sound from the now dark cellar.
Alright, Everybody the party's over! cried Em.
Awww, come on! cried one of the patrons. Lisa stepped up to him, grabbing him by the throat and escorting him none too gently through the door, noticing that the sky was turning pre-dawn grey. She turned to the other patrons.
Who's next? she said, grinning. Come on it's way past two am Em's gonna have trouble with the liquor board if you all just don't get out you want to see this place closed down?
The patrons stopped grumbling, most apologising and thanking Em as they passed her on the way out.
Yeah, yeah, she said. We'll do it again next year.
Hey, I think my buddies are still in the bathroom, said one young man. They been gone a couple of hours
Okay we'll just let them sleep it off in there then, said Lisa, escorting the young man none too gently by the collar out of the door. She looked at Em and shook her head. Em nodded slightly, catching Lisa's thought. Those young men would probably not be seen again.
Finally the Tavern was clear of patrons, all of them getting into the vans Em had hired to ensure that none of tonight's guests would drive drunk. The fortune-teller gathered her things and left after them.
I gotta charge ya extra on account of I went over time, Emmy, she said, then smiled. Ahhh forget it I haven't had so much fun in ages consider it a Halloween gift.
Thanks, Barb, said Em, smiling.
The Tavern was empty. It had taken all of ten minutes, but to the women caught in the urgency of the situation, it felt like hours. Em looked around, suddenly struck by a sharp sadness she couldn't quite define.
Come on, said Lisa quietly, leading the other two woman out to the empty parking lot. The sky was turning lighter, the grey tinged with pink. It was going to be a beautiful sunny day, Celine thought, cradling Galinthias in her arms.
Suddenly there was an loud BANG! The women looked back and saw the Tavern in flames.
Oh, no! cried Em, starting to run back. Lisa and Celine grabbed her and held her back. Em shook her head. Thanks. Don't quite know what I thought I was going to do about it.
No problem, said Celine, smiling sympathetically. I know how you feel.
Oh, yeah, said Em, again shaking her head. You know, I had a feeling ah, never mind. I'm going home. You two need a lift?
Just like that? asked Lisa, one eyebrow raised. Don't you think you should wait for the fire department?
Nah. I just can't watch it you know, said Em, sadly.
I do know, said Celine. She hugged Em and the older woman left.
Come on, said Lisa as the sound of sirens appeared.
But don't you think someone should be here when the fire department arrives? asked Celine as Lisa led her to her truck.
Maybe, but not us, said Lisa, opening the door. They'll remember us and I really don't want to deal with all that. Come on, Baby, get in.
Celine turned and watched as the old wooden building collapsed into the hole that had been the cellar. Lisa raised an eyebrow. Then understanding dawned.
Come on, she said gently, helping Celine into the truck. We'll watch from over there. She pointed to a hill where a huge old oak tree stood.
Lisa drove over to the hill and parked. Celine got out and Lisa pulled an old blanket from the back of the truck, spreading it under the tree. She and Celine sat, arms around each other, watching the firemen swarming over the already smouldering remains of the tavern. Celine lay her head on Lisa's shoulder.
Do you think they're she asked softly.
I don't know Love, said Lisa, kissing the top of Celine's fair head.
I hope wherever they are, that they're together and happy, said Celine wistfully.
Count on it. The two women looked up and gasped, then smiled as Sarah and Elizabeth materialised. We wanted to thank you both of you.
Yes, said Sarah, smiling happily. If not for you, we would still be trapped.
What about ? asked Celine.
He has gone to the place he prepared for himself, said Elizabeth.
I hate the thought that his blood is in me, said Lisa, frowning.
It isn't, said Sarah. Mother told me the Reverend was not my father after all.
Then who ? asked Lisa.
It doesn't matter, said Sarah, smiling. You know, if not for you two, I may never have found the courage to confront him. You showed me I could be strong, that I could do what was right. By finally telling the truth, I have set myself free. Here take this and guard it. It is the true record of the Witch Trials here.
She handed Celine the black book.
I will keep it safe, said Celine, gravely.
We'll do one better we'll publish it, said Lisa. That way, the truth will be known.
Then we are truly free, said Sarah, happily.
So, it's over? asked Celine, hopefully.
No, said Elizabeth, smiling happily. It's only the beginning.
The spirits embraced, gazing lovingly at one another, then leaning in to each other, their lips met. The kiss broke and they smiled at their descendants and walked off towards the rising sun, hand in hand until they disappeared.
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