“If you want to remain safe and well, you must never and I mean never divulge what I’m about to tell you now. Not only could it be the end of us, but to the end to the human culture, as you know it,” Abby said solemnly.
“Go on Ms. Parris,” said the professor. He was totally absorbed with what was going on and if he could help, he would.
“It goes back three hundred years, to the time of the Salem massacre. We came back–one of the White Order and one of the Black Order. We are here to prevent evil from returning to take over Earth. It is our charge that we prevent evil’s entrance. We must denounce it before it manages to grasp a foothold. We also need to make the general population aware of its duplicity without them finding out about us.”
“How will you do that?”
“We don’t know yet. We haven’t had any sightings or heard anything strange since we arrived here. According to Zeb, things are changing and will change faster from now on.”
Abby looked at the three rapt faces that each held a degree of skepticism. “This is where the White meets the Black. You might call it a gathering place–the only one that can lead to the destruction of our orders. It is here that we must stay and if the final stand comes, it will be here that we will battle the evil.”
“What happens if you fail?”
“If we fail, the human race will be enslaved by evil and nothing will ever be the same again.”
“Ok, ok everything sounds so melodramatic but what is the evil?” Anne asked.
Abby smiled at the woman’s remark for it was a very good question. “It is the evil of the heart Ms. Putnam. It has already seeped through the human race, but it is controlled. Very soon it will begin to knock at the door of all witches and warlocks or anything that stands in its way.”
“Are you saying that it isn’t tangible so we can’t see it?” Anne asked.
“At times, it takes form. It is a very deadly form that we have trouble controlling. We have been able to do so far and we will continue to do so.”
Anne creased her brow. “You sound so sure that you will stop the rot and prevent it from destroying everything.”
“Oh I am not so foolish as to think that. I do have some special skills that will help. I want your word that you will keep our secret.”
“Sure,” they replied in unison. If that was all she wanted, it was easily given. What they didn’t know was if they could discuss it between them and was there anything, they might do to help.
Abby looked each square in the eyes and said, “Please repeat after me, each one of you, in turn the following.
I freely give my word and I will honor it as I give my pledge of secrecy to the White Order and Black Order for the duration of the evil that rises. Let me not break this solemn pledge for evil will avenge it.
Grinning, Anne spoke the pledge as she was prompted, thinking it a good joke to tell her friends about at some stage. The whole thing was like being at camp and the stupid stories that everyone made up around the campfire.
Professor Mather and Johnathan followed and then all was silent for a few minutes.
“I take it that there is a payment if we break our promises?” the professor asked.
Abigail gave serious thought to the question. The professor was very astute. “Yes, of course. However, that shouldn’t trouble you if you keep your promises.”
“What does she mean?” Johnathan asked the professor.
Anne surveyed the room filled with interesting bottles and objects not to mention a rather lazy looking hound. Isn’t that the professor’s stray dog.
“I’ll tell you about it later,” the professor said. “I should warn you to hold your tongue or you might not have one in the morning.”
Johnathan gazed in horror at the professor and the witch. I know I’m going to wake up soon and this was all just a dream.
“Right,” Abby said breaking the silence and the other participant’s thoughts. “If you don’t mind, I’ll see you home before Guy arrives. He’s due anytime and we don’t want him to know about our little secret, do we?”
After agreeing, they all stood up. When they all assumed they would be leaving by the front door, Abigail wagged her finger at them.
“My method of transportation is a little more subtle than feet.”
“Don’t tell me, a broomstick?” Anne said as she laughed at her joke. All eyes turned to her. Once she realized that they all failed to catch the joke, she said, “Witches flying broomsticks get it?”
Johnathan shook his head and the Professor merely gave Anne an indulgent smile.
“Ms. Putnam, I’m a little more sophisticated than that,” Abby said softly.
One minute Anne was listening to strange chant from Abigail Parris and the next she was in the middle of her dorm room.
“Way to go, Ms. Parris!”
The professor was mildly surprised at his sudden appearance on his porch and quickly moved inside his house to retrieve some of his mother’s old journals.
Hell is not a nice place to be Mr. Proctor. I hope you never have cause to end up there. Johnathan heard Abigail Parris speaking to him just before he found himself standing next to the computer in his room.
+ + +
Guy had left them shortly after he heard Zeb’s news–he was in a good mood. He had been bored waiting for some action and now it looked like there might be some.
“Do you really think you did the right thing in letting them go?” Guy asked.
Sarah had been surprised at how cool Abby had been, when Guy came. She would have been a nervous wreck if she’d done what the white witch did. In fact, she’d been perspiring expecting at any minute that Guy would use magic to read her mind–he didn’t. All he was interested in was Zeb’s message.
Zeb’s message was simple. Evil was about to come to town and possibly was already there. The rumblings said they wanted to find the protectors of the gathering and remove them by whatever means they had at their disposal. Once that happened, the humans would fall easily since the White and Black Orders were no longer there to protect them.
“I think it was a wise move–perhaps in the future they might prove to be helpful,” Abby said.
“In what way?” Sarah retorted.
“They go to places we do not and see things we couldn’t hope to see. Perhaps we have made an alliance that benefits them as well as us. After all, it is their lives at stake too, why shouldn’t they help.”
“Do you think Zeb’s message was correct?”
Abby snorted at Sarah’s question. “Yes, why would he have come otherwise? Anyway, it will save us many years of waiting if the battle is fought now.”
“You sound so confident,” Sarah said eyeing the white witch. “Are you?”
“I’m ready for the battle. I have been from day one. Therefore, I have nothing to worry about.” Abby let out a long deep sigh. “It’s been a long day. I’ll say goodnight and see you in the morning.”
“Yes?” Abby said looking at the woman who appeared to be so fragile. But she knew better than to fall for that–Sarah would happily given their visitors to Guy and his sadistic methods.
“Oh nothing,” Sarah said softly. “I’ll see you in the morning. Goodnight.”
Sarah watched as Abby left the house for the stables. Why is she so supremely confident? “You might be ready Abby but what about me? Dorcas can defend herself and others better than I can. I wonder how that will affect our chances.”
It had been a long and interesting day. As she closed the door, she wrinkled her nose at the smell that invaded the kitchen. “What is that?
The smell, she recognized as sulfur, became stronger and stronger as it invaded the room. “Of course...Jules.”
Wracking her brain for the reversal spell, she quickly spoke the words several times and suddenly Jules appeared floating in the air. “I’m so glad to have you back Jules. Where have you been?”
Sarah hugged the dragon to her and heard a vicious gurgling of the small dragon’s stomach. “Are you ok?” she asked giving him a critical gaze–it was hard to tell if a dragon was sick–she was already green.
“Next time you do a spell on me can you please get it right? I’ve been indisposed all afternoon.”
The dragon looked so woebegone and upset that Sarah’s heart went out to the creature. What did I do wrong? When the dragon bolted out of the window for the outhouse, she knew what she had said wrong.
Sheepishly, she walked over to the cabinet, took out several herbs, and mixed up a potion. She scribbled a note and left it for the dragon when she eventually came back.
Sorry about the little problem this will help the upset stomach and the bowel problem. You’ll be ok in the morning I promise!
Walking out of the room, she switched off the main light and sighed. “I wonder what tomorrow will bring.”
+ + +
Dale Roundtree had been searching for Johnathan all afternoon. “I'm gonna hurt that little geek when I find him,” he muttered. “I told him not to go anywhere without me knowing his location. He better show up soon or I'm gonna have to do something very drastic. I need to let him know what the assignment is so he can get it done on time.”
His ability to find incriminating evidence on people along with him being two hundred and fifty pounds and the right tackle helped him to bully people into doing what he wanted. He had a brain, but being lazy and having so much fun having others to do his bidding, was just something he refused to stop.
“Ah, there he is. What the hell is that dork doing with such a beautiful woman? Wonder where they're going. Maybe…” he said before letting out a low, evil laugh.
Dale spotted Johnathan and Anne and started following them. He stayed close enough to keep them in sight, but far enough that he wouldn’t be noticed. When they stopped at a farmhouse, Dale found a nice, big bush to hide behind where he could see everything yet be out of sight. His eyes widened a bit when he noticed Professor Mather join the group standing in the middle of the yard.
The tension in each body was unmistakable as they spoke to each other. He wished he were closer to hear what they were saying. Once the group went into the house and had been in there for at least a half-hour, he became restless. Just as he was formulating a plan to get closer to the house, the door burst open. He watched as Professor Mather, Johnathan, and Anne walked to the barn lead by the tall, black-haired woman. He watched them go in, and after a few minutes, he watched as the woman came back out alone. Dale waited for the other three to follow – they never did.
The sun had been down for at least an hour. Dale watched as Professor De Ville came and went, yet there was no sign of the three who had gone into the barn. Smirking, he said, “I must find out what happened to them. I bet once I find out I will be rewarded greatly for keeping my mouth shut.”
+ + +
Dorcas, in spite of being the sweet and lovable child could be a pain-in-the-neck. That same night, after Abigail had transported the three ‘stooges’ back to their own reality, Dorcas was sent to bed…by a very determined mother.
Unable to sleep, she got up and walked toward the window. Sensing light footsteps getting closer to her bedroom, she ran back to her bed, threw the covers on, and pretended to be deep in sleep. The door creaked open, and with one eye slightly opened, she saw Sarah standing next to the side of the bed.
“Dorcas,” Sarah whispered softly. “I have to go out for an hour or so…you will be safe here…sleep well and dream well.” With that, Sarah kissed her daughter on the forehead and left the room.
Holding her breath as much as she could, she waited until she heard the front door close. Getting up quietly, she once again walked toward the window. It was a full moon, but the trees were covering the moonlight. The faint light the moon cast upon the backyard gave her an eerie feeling. Nothing was stirring. Even the crickets that sang their nightly nocturnal sound were silent. “This is boring…nothing exciting ever happens in this place…” she muttered.
She was about to get back into bed when she heard a sound–someone had stepped on something like a twig or branch. Excitedly, she ran back to the window and peeked out. She nearly missed the shadow, which was walking toward the barn.
Jumping out of the window and surprising even herself with her agility, she found herself a few feet away from the shadow. The shadow turned around to look what was behind him, but being small, Dorcas was able to hide herself behind the big oak tree. Good thing Abigail spared this tree, she thought. The shadow stopped for a second, but for a child, it seemed like hours before she could release her breath.
+ + +
Someone was in the barn. The light emanating from the cracks gave a faint glow outside its walls. The figure, wearing a floor-length, black cloak was talking in a subdued tone. “I will surprise you yet one day, Miss Abigail. One day I shall be able to cast a spell without making a mockery of the word witchery. You will be proud of me when I fight with you side-by-side against the evil one.”
Dorcas kept a good distance away from the shadow as it neared the barn. It stopped next to the door and turned its head, observing its surroundings. Dorcas knew she had to do something, and with a sudden flash of an idea, picked up a stone and threw it a few feet away to the right of the barn. The shadow turned and ran toward the sound while Dorcas twisted herself and entered the barn through the wall.
At the sound of someone running, Sarah spilled the contents of the glass jar she was holding.
“Hush, Dorcas, hush…someone is outside the barn.”
“I know…I followed him.”
“Him?” questioned Sarah.
“Yes, Mamma, it's a man, and he was about to come in here. I've never seen him before.”
“I hear steps, he must be returning. Let’s hide and see if we can see who this mystery man is.”
The shadow, having found no one and determined that the wind, which had picked up, had caused the noise, returned to the barn. With each step it took, the shadow was determined to go into the barn. He wanted to see who was in there and what they were doing. Upon opening the door, the shadow, blinded by a light, stumbled, and fell to the ground and became unconscious.
Sarah and Dorcas saw the door slowly opening. In her panic, Sarah mumbled a few words and pointed her hands toward the open door, causing a flash of white light to render the intruder unconscious.
“What are you gonna do to him, Mamma?” Dorcas asked. She kept her voice low so she wouldn’t wake the unconscious man.
“Yes, what are you going to do to him, Sarah?” Abigail asked from behind Sarah.
“Argh!” The mother and daughter team cried in unison before ending up in each other's arms.
“Don't do that! How did you get in here?” demanded Sarah.
Arching a brow, Abigail replied, “Same way your daughter did a while ago–through the wall.”
“So…what are you going to do to him?”
“I don't remember seeing him before, have you?”
“Yes, his name is Dale Roundtree. He’s the university’s biggest bully. He thinks he's nature's greatest gift to humankind. I've seen him causing trouble for some of the students,” Abby said with a shrug. “Since he stayed away from me it was none of my business.”
“Can I cast a spell on him for sneaking around here?” asked Dorcas.
“What kind of a spell, Dorcas?” asked Sarah.
“Hmm…how about one where if someone says a certain word he’ll start acting like a flower or, no, I know…how about making him dance like a ballerina?” The precocious child clapped her hands in delight.
Sarah and Abigail couldn't help it–they laughed along with the child.
“Alright, then,” said Abigail. “What word shall we picked for such a spell?”
“It would have to be one that is often spoken, yet not his name,” Sarah said.
“How about teacher?” Dorcas asked. “You did say he goes to the uversty.”
“That's university, Dorcas,” corrected Sarah. “But we can use the word professor.”
“That's it, then,” said Abigail. “Shall we make him act like a chicken?”
Dorcas clapped her hand again. “Yes…that would be perfect.”
“Do you remember the words to the spell?”
“Yes I do,” answered Dorcas.
“Go ahead, then.”
Talking quietly, Dorcas spoke the words to the spell that would cause Dale Roundtree to act like a chicken every time someone mentioned the word professor. The three witches hoped it would be quite often.
“Now, we have to get him back to his house without anyone seeing us,” said Sarah.
“Sarah…would you like to do the honor of transporting him back to his dorm room?” asked Abigail with a slight giggle.
“Huh? Why me? Why not you? You're better than I am,” cried Sarah.
“Now is the best time to practice your incantations.”
With her hands fidgeting with her cape, Sarah began the transportation spell then poof, the body was gone.
“Hurray for mama!” exclaimed Dorcas.
With a triumphant smile on her face, Sarah turned toward Abigail and saw a glimmer of something she thought she would never see on Abigail's face – pride.
“I think it is way past everybody's bedtime,” announced Abigail.
“Yes, I do believe you're right,” responded Sarah looking at Dorcas.
That night, a very happy child fell into a contented sleep.
Sarah fell asleep with her mind still on the look of pride, even if it was small, on Abigail's face.
Abigail lay on her bed thinking of the evening's events, and of Sarah's happy face at her success of the spell.
+ + +
A thick, dense fog lay heavy in the air obscuring everything. From out of the mist, a voice called to the woman standing in the fog.
“Come with me. You belong with me.”
The woman turned her head in the direction she thought the voice came from and frowned. The murkiness of the air made pinpointing the exact location of the voice difficult. She stood stock still listening for any type of sound–nothing–emptiness.
“Come with me. You belong with me,” the voice said.
The woman turned her head trying to get a fix on the direction. “Who are you, and why do you say I belong with you?”
Slowly, very slowly, a shadow seemed to be emerging from of the mist toward her. By the harsh, deep tone, she knew it was a man, She felt apprehensive–scared, but not quite.
“Come with me. You belong with me.”
Shaking her head, she answered, “Oh, no. You answer my questions first. If, and I do repeat IF, I like your answers, I'll consider it.”
The man stopped within arm’s length of the woman and held out his hand to her. Even that close, she could not make out the man’s features. “Come with me. You belong with me,” he repeated.
“You're a stubborn cuss. You sound like a broken record.”
“Come with me.”
“Here we go again,” she mumbled.
“The time is almost at hand. You are needed.”
“What are you talking about? What time, and what am I needed for?”
“Come with me. You belong with me.”
The woman was getting more and more irritated by the repetition and lack of answers. Suddenly, her fear began to overcome her apprehension, and she wanted to escape. She tried to plan an escape as her eyes rapidly scanned the area. An idea that had the potential of being stupid and silly came to her and she decided to give it a try. Her eyes became wide as she looked behind the figure and pointed her finger in that direction.
“Look…over there,” she gasped.
As the man turned to look at what might be behind him, she took the advantage and disappeared.
Gloria woke up from the nightmare with her heart pounding hard from the fear she felt. She fought the urge not to close her again–if she fell back asleep, the man would still be there. The feeling was deep within her and she knew the certainty of it. What the heck was that all about? It almost seemed like something out of a gothic novel.
She pondered the dream for a while resisting the need to go back to sleep. The last thought she had before succumbing to a restful sleep was, Excuse the pun, but it feels like something wicked this way comes, and I need to prepare for it…somehow.
+ + +
After his experience at the farm, Professor Mather went straight to his attic to dig around for the boxes containing his mother's things. He had put them there for safe keeping believing he would never have need of them. By the time the relocation of the boxes into the living room had been done, it was late, and his body was screaming for food and rest. Tomorrow morning is as good a time as any to begin, he thought. He was feeling aches in places he had forgotten could hurt. After finishing a sandwich, he fell asleep as soon as his head hit his pillow.
The next morning, he ate breakfast knowing he would need the energy for the work that was ahead of him. As he pondered the events of the previous day, Increase wondered if he was a fool–he wasn’t. He had been feeling some changes, but couldn't pinpoint exactly what they were. Now, if there was a way, he needed to find how he could help.
The professor had learned much not only from his mother but also on his own. Over the years, he had let the teachings slide for he thought he would never need them again. He needed to read the books to refresh his memory of the spells, and maybe, just maybe, what power he had would enhance. Finishing his breakfast of scrambled eggs, toast, and coffee, he went to the living room looking forward to his task.
Opening the first box, he noticed it was full of books and pamphlets about witches, warlocks, covens, spells, and the like. He placed each in the proper pile they belonged to, and went on to the second box. It contained the same things…with one exception…there was a talisman. He didn't remember his mother ever wearing it or showing it to anyone. Strange, he thought. Reverently, he held it and examined the intricate design. It was round in shape, about an inch and a half. The shape of a triangle was in the middle, with indistinguishable marks surrounding it, and an eye in the center. A very pale blue color lined both the circle and triangle. The intercity of the talisman made it beautiful. The professor wondered what secrets it held. He placed the talisman on the coffee table and continued his perusal of the box. Once done, he continued to the next.
Inside the third box were more books that he recognized. Aradia or The Gospel of the Witches by Charles G. Leland, The Egyptian Book of the Dead, also known as The Papyrus of Ani, translated by E. A. Wallis Budge, The Book of Shadows by Lady Sheba. As well as the book all witches must have, the Encyclopedia of Wicca and Witchcraft by Raven Grimassi. Those books he placed in a separate pile, to read first. The rest of the books he placed in their proper piles.
When he opened the fourth and final box, the first thing he beheld was a black leather pouch, which was at least five inches in length and width. Picking it up, it felt soft to the touch and bulgy, indicating that it was not empty. He cautiously pulled at the ends to open and see what his mother hid inside the box. He felt as if he were invading her property, which in a sense he was, but he wanted, no, needed to know what the pouch held. Once he opened the pouch, he held out his right hand and emptied the contents into it. A small gasp of surprise escaped from his mouth when he saw were all kinds of different stones all in various shapes, sizes, textures, and colors. The professor also noticed a couple of religious icons, as well as a small Buddha. The last object he saw was another talisman. Taking a closer look, he recognized the talisman…The Circle of Protection.
The next object located in the box was a leather-bound book with the words MY JOURNAL By Rebecca Nurse Mather. With a look of surprise and shaking hands, Increase reached for the book. As he picked it up, an envelope with his name printed in his mother's handwriting fell to the floor. He left the envelope where it was for he was not ready to read what his mother had to say. The professor held the journal in his hands as he gently touched the leather–his mother once held the journal. Even though it had been a few years since her death, he still missed her. She had always told the best stories, and was the main reason he had become a professor of folklore and legend. The stories had always intrigued him, making him want to know more. He wanted to share them with others and decided that teaching would be the best way to accomplish that.
Finally, after a bit of reminiscing about his mother, the professor picked up the letter. Considering where it had been, he was a little wary about reading it. But his curiosity won out. Ripping the envelope open, he took the letter out and he began to read.
My dearest Increase,
If you are reading this letter, a couple of things have occurred. One is that I have gone to meet my maker, and two, you have come upon a special situation, which requires the need to delve into my 'special' books. Read my journal, where you will find some special Incantations that, I hope, will help in whatever situation you find yourself.
I tried to teach you as much as you were willing to learn, but I'm guessing the situation needs some memory refreshing. I hope you find all you will need within these boxes. You will find my protection pouch with two talismans I possessed. The talisman in the pouch, I know you will recognize as the Circle of Protection. The other talisman, which I never told or showed you about, is the Power Triangle. This talisman will help as you allow your power to come finally to you. Although you might not want to acknowledge it…you have the power. Study the books, practice the spells and potions, and accept what you possess. Remember…YOUR POTENTIAL HAS NO BARRIERS!
I will always be with you and watch over you. I love you.
Rebecca Nurse Mather
The professor finished reading the letter, replaced it in the envelope, and with tears running down his cheeks, tucked it back in the journal.
“Thank you, Mother,” he whispered. “I miss you.”
Once the professor's emotions were back under control, he finished pulling out the rest of the contents in the box–there were no more surprises. He moved the empty boxes back to the attic, returned to the living room, sat in his favorite recliner, and opened his mother's journal. “I wonder what mysteries I’ll find in here.”
+ + +
Sarah woke up to the giggling sounds coming from the window. Getting up, she found Dorcas sitting on the window ledge looking at the stars.
“Dorcas, it is not quite dawn yet, what are you doing up at this time?” asked Sarah.
“Mamma, I can’t sleep. I keep thinking of that man from last night. Did you see the look on his face before he passed out? Didn't he look funny?”
“Well…yes, he did look kind of funny…but you have to go back to bed and get some sle…”
Before Sarah could finish what she had started to say, Dorcas leapt off the window ledge and bolted to the door. She was out of the house by the time Sarah reached the door.
“Oh no, what is she up to now?” Grumbling, Sarah put on her clothes and went in search of her daughter.
+ + +
“Wha…wha…what am I doing here,” Dale asked himself as he tried to get up from the floor outside his room at the dorm. His knees were wobbly, and as he stumbled into his room, he tripped on his own leg and fell face forward. He lay on the floor trying to remember the incident from the night before. But he could only remember the bolt of lightning that came from nowhere.
After a while, he got up and walked toward the bathroom. ”A cold shower, that will do the trick,” he mumbled. Turning the taps on, he took off his shirt and emitted a pig-like squeal. Tears coming out and eyes full of horror, he stared at the small, blackish spots all over his body. He was covered with…warts.
+ + +
Dale was petrified–he didn’t know what to do. The warts that covered his body now seemed to be going up to his neck. He sat on the bathroom floor rubbing his torso with his wart-covered palms.
“Hey, are you coming out of there? There are people here who want to use the bathroom as well, you know…” a loud voice followed by incessant knocking woke him up from his stupor.
“Give me a minute or two more and I’ll be out of here.” Dale quickly put on his bathrobe and got out of the bathroom. Once inside his room, he changed into a long-sleeved shirt, which he buttoned completely. Dale, aside from being a bully, was vain and liked to wear his shirts unbuttoned, to show his “manly chest” around the campus. To his eyes, his warts were getting bigger and bigger, and there was no way anyone was going to see that.
“There must be something that can get rid of these…these…things!” he cried.
Pacing his room, he tried to come up with a solution. His class would not start for another hour and a half, so he had plenty of time to come up with something.
“I got it!” he declared to the empty room as he snapped his fingers. “The pharmacy should have something to help.”
Hurrying out of his room, he briskly walked the few blocks to the pharmacy. Upon entering, he went directly to the back where he knew the pharmacist would be.
+ + +
Abigail had been stocking up some supplies when she heard the bell over the door announce a customer. She watched as the young man who they caught snooping at the farm the previous night stormed his way toward her. She walked the few steps to the counter and taken off guard when Dale grasped her forearms.
The young man began to ramble. “Please, you have got to help me…there are these things…you've got to have something to get them off…I can't let anyone see them on me…class doesn't start for another hour…there's time…I need to get them off…”
“ENOUGH!” Abigail bellowed effectively bringing the ramblings to a halt. As much as she wanted to 'zap' him into some unknown galaxy, she reined in her temper. No one touches me without my permission.
With her eyebrow raised as far as they would go, she roughly pulled her arms out of Dale's grasp, and in as calm a voice as she could, asked, “I might be able to help you if I knew what the heck you were talking about.”
“What do you mean? I just told you!”
“You told me nothing except that there are these things. Now, if I knew what these things were, it might be easier to assess the situation.”
“These!” Dale hotly responded as he tore his shirt opened. “They’re everywhere.”
Abigail's facial features never wavered as she noticed the warts upon the man's upper body. She knew the laughter wanting to bubble out would only bring grief if she didn’t take Dale’s angry seriously. She didn't have to worry about herself–she could take care of herself–the rest of the population was another story. She knew Dale's reputation, and although she didn't outwardly show it, she didn't like him one bit.
Abigail had a very high suspicion that this was one of Dorcas' usual tricks. How did we miss this last night? She would have to have a witch-to-witch talk with the precocious child once again.
“Yes, I have something that will help you…please wait.”
Going to the back of the room, Abigail filled a small bottle with water, added a drop of some foul smelling liquid, and sealed it. Walking back to the counter, she handed the bottle to Dale, instructing him to go home, take a bath pouring the contents from the bottle into the water, and soaking in it for at least fifteen minutes.
“The warts should start disappearing almost at once,” she told him. “They should be completely gone within the hour.”
Unknowing to Dale, Abigail had started the reversal spell upon the warts and the events would occur as she had stated to him.
Once Dale left the pharmacy, he ran to his dorm room. He had to hurry if he was to make it in time for his class, he could not be late to this class.
+ + +
“Hey hold up Johnathan I need to speak with you.” Anne Putnam sprinted toward the young man walking swiftly toward the entrance for one of Professor De Ville’s lecturers.
“I’m going to be late for class can’t we catch up later?”
“Sure we can, are you going to De Ville’s class?”
“So am I.” Johnathan stared at her suspiciously. He had never seen her in any of DeVille’s classes before. “You don’t…oh forget it. Come on he’s obnoxious when you’re late for his classes.”
“Really, and I thought he was always that way…”
+ + +
“God he’s so full of himself isn’t he.”
Johnathan gave Anne another glare as he mouthed for her to be quiet. When he did, Professor DeVille’s sharp hawk like eyes glanced his way.
“You have something to say Proctor?” All eyes turned to the student who turned a beet red as he faced the professor. It didn’t help that several students sitting close to him giggled nervously.
“No sir…really? I find that hard to believe. Were you perhaps making a date with the lady to your right?” All eyes then turned to Anne who glared at as many as she could–especially the obnoxious Dale Roundtree who was leering at her. He was as bad as the lecherous DeVille. Her eyes immediately focused on the enormous wart sticking out of his neck. I wonder why I didn’t see that before. Yuck!
“I protest professor.” As Anne spoke the words, a loud cluck followed from the direction of Dale Roundtree. The entire classroom filled with nervous laughter.
“Enough Roundtree!” DeVille glared at the other student who had his chest puffed out like a rooster ready to crow.
“What Professor…cluck, cluck, cluck.” Roundtree ignored the indignant professor’s request.
The class was in up roar as they watched the offensive Roundtree received a stare that could turn anyone to a pillar of salt.
“What are you doing? This is not a farmyard.” Guy DeVille’s thoughts darkened as each second passed.
“Farmyard no, no it’s not Professor…cluck, cluck, cluck.”
The crescendo of people’s laughter and applause deafened the room. Anne and Johnathan looked at each other as they both wondered if he was under a spell.
“Hey Dale ever heard a chicken ask a question of a professor?” Anne watched as the young man once again made sounds like a chicken.
All eyes went to the beleaguered student. He was one of the most hated people on campus so no one cared that he was making a fool of himself. They also couldn’t believe that DeVille was unable to control him.
“Do you think this is a good time to leave?” Anne whispered in Johnathan’s ear. They watched in fascination as Dale received extra work and reduced grades for the semester if he didn’t stop clucking.
“The lecture hasn’t finished yet–DeVille is only half way through.” Johnathan replied.
“Something tells me that in a few minutes DeVille will call a halt to class and remove Dale from the room.” Almost like a fortune teller, the professor held his arm up and dismissed the class. Then he began dragging an apologetic but clucking Roundtree, after him to the exit.
Johnathan gave Anne a startled glance. “Have you been taking lessons from our resident witches?”
“Jon, don’t say that in public. She told us to be discreet. Lord knows what she would do to us if we let it slip. There is no way I want to make a fool of myself sounding like a member of the farmyard.” She collected her notebook and purse before winking at the shamefaced man at her side.
“You know what this means now don’t you?”
“Dale will be hounding me more than usual to do the extra workload he’s going to get for that episode in class,” he said resigned to his fate.
“Roundtree will be up against much tougher opposition if he tries to make you do anything against your will again.”
“I don’t understand.” He looked down at the notes he’d made and shook his head.
“Simple my friend–spells, magic, call it what you will. You and I Jon have acquired very powerful friends and I’m sure they will cook up a potion for you if you ask nicely,” Anne said as she collected her books and satchel and stood up.
“I couldn’t…could I?” he said as they walked out of the building toward his battered old mustang. “Do you want a lift?”
Anne looked at the vehicle that Johnathan was standing by. She shook her head and said, “I’ll take a rain check.”
Johnathan nodded as he threw his belongings into the passenger seat. “Ok, see you around.”
“Yep for sure. We are going to save the human race remember.” Anne grinned then began to walk away only to stop when the young man’s hand took her arm. “Do you think we can?”
Laughing softly, Anne rolled her eyes. Doesn’t he have any balls? Of course, we can. “It’s a cinch with our team. Can you see anyone opposing Abigail Parris?”
Johnathan had thought the white witch was not only mysterious, but also attractive and intelligent. She didn’t need to cast any spells for him to fall under her charms–he would surrender willing. “I think she’s sensational.”
Anne scrunched up her face. There he goes. A pretty face and the male of the species fall prey to it every time. It’s not surprising we are heading toward the brink of evil taking over the world. Men are so predictable. “Yeah, well you would… men.” Anne shook her head. “My original statement stands–no one would want to get in her way. If I was you Jon, I’d watch my step around her.”
Unable to comprehend Anne’s bristling comment, his face creased in puzzlement. It was too late to ask her what she meant. Clearly irritated, Anne walked off down the street. “I only said Abigail was sensational, where’s the harm in that?”
+ + +
“Are we ready to proceed?”
The darkness shrouded the voice that spoke with an eerie resonance, insinuating itself like a crawling insect inside the skin ready to erupt at any time. How delicious it is to feed off these creatures called humans. They are so weak, pitiful, and gullible. Even the superior ones, who called themselves witches, were no match now. The witches could no longer control the evil that lurks in every one of the pathetic mortals.
He grudgingly had to admit that they had once put up a fight that had delayed the inevitable. Where the delusional Black Order had thought they were in charge of the evil side of this planet, they were actually making it easier for his disciples to take over. Slowly and discreetly, they had done so, and now were in a position to remove the enemy without any chance of success to fight back. Any battles this time would be all one way and winning the war would be a mere formality. There wasn’t enough good on this world to thwart plans, which had been gradually building strength over centuries.
“Yes, oh evil one, the plans are in place now we need only to carry them out,” the messenger said.
“You are in possession of the souls I specifically asked for?”
A silence descended, eventually broken by a hesitant reply. “Almost.” Closing his eyes the messenger felt the coldness of ice through his veins as the eye of evil concentrated on his position. He could feel the stench of the evil breath flooding over his body. He hadn’t lied–the great evil must have seen that.
“Almost! Almost! How is that a word that fits our plans? Tell me who?”
The hideous cry shattered the man’s composure and he crumbled to the floor begging to be spared. He knew the wrath of the evil lord would be extinction in the truest sense of the word.
“The woman Gloria,” he said cringing in a corner. Even there he was unable to hide from the all Seeing Eye that penetrated every pore of his skin. The pain was so great that he felt he was bleeding from each pore on his body.
“Gloria…a mere human who possess none of that mockery of tricks called witchcraft. If you cannot do this simple task, how can you bring the prize I seek? Tell me how?” evil screamed.
Words failed the man as he cowered further into the corner. The woman had been so persistent in blocking his request in her dreamscape–they usually succumb so easily. She had tricked him by waking prior to his summoning to the Great Ones presence.
“She woke up Evil one,” he said trembling.
The darkness began to swirl around and the man knew what was to come. He’d seen it happen to his predecessor who was swallowed and was never seen again. This was his end. He failed the bidding of his dark master and had nothing more to offer.
The voice he never expected to hear again echoed hollowly in his head. “She woke?”
“Yes. Oh yes Great One, I was shocked. I thought I would try again.” The man quickly spluttered in the hope that his fate would change for the tone of the Great One had changed.
“You used my power to enter her mind as instructed?”
“Yes, yes I made no mistake. She was weakening, I was sure I had her, then she woke.”
The menacing darkness moved away condensing into a black hole in the middle of the room. “I will take care of that personally…now you have another task and you will not fail is that clear?”
“I will not Oh Great One, I would rather die trying.”
“That may yet be your fate. However your next target is conceited enough to be duped, believing themselves to be sufficiently powerful, with the added touch of arrogance that they cannot be defeated. We shall see to it that they are defeated and join our army of followers, and who knows they may end up as my right hand, how fitting that would be.” An evil laugh that echoed in the damp darkness of the room lingered as the black hole disappeared. Light streamed inside the room from the windows previously rendered impenetrable to the sun’s rays.
The man cautiously stood up wiping away the sweat from his brow. Who is the target? As he thought the words, a message crashed into his skull with such a force that his head ached immediately from the impact. Oh so that was the next victim, what a strange choice.
“Have you finished Hal? Mrs. Lasky needs to see you.”
“Yeah, I’ll be out in a minute.” Looking around the storage room, he heaved a sigh of relief as he considered himself lucky to be walking out at all.
Stepping into the small corridor that led to the police headquarters, he looked around at the virtually deserted office area. Most of the small force would be out on neighborhood patrol as it was the early part of the morning shift.
Walking over to the Sergeant on the desk, he smiled briefly. “What’s wrong with Mrs. Lasky today? Not more dragon sightings I hope.”
“Nope not today, she said she saw a goblin over at the entrance to Bishop Farm.” Sergeant Cambridge smiled indulgently–the old crone always seemed to be seeing strange things at the Bishop farm–if it wasn’t a dragon, then it was a talking dog? “The woman was going senile.”
“I take it she wouldn’t talk to anyone else?”
“Sorry Captain, she’s all yours I’m afraid. Her words, I want to see Captain Razor now!”
“Ok, I’ll go over there and I’ll check it out. It’s been a while since I’ve visited the old Bishop place. It might be a good time to make acquaintance with the new owners.”
Walking outside into the sunlight the ramblings of Mrs. Lasky a secondary priority as he considered how he would take on his next prey.
+ + +
Dorcas stroked Balthazar’s head in a distracted manner, her mind full of the pranks she could play on people if only her mother and Abby weren’t so stuffy.
They did allow her to cast a spell on the horrid boy who had tried to spy on her mamma. Abby had said when they had come to live there, that her mamma needed protection. Together she and Abby would protect mamma, because she couldn’t do it herself–spells and magic weren’t her mother’s strong point. It didn’t matter though–she loved her and that was all that mattered. As long as they all stayed together, everything would work out–even her mamma’s accidents.
“Do you think Jules is still mad with Mamma Balty? I think she must be I saw her trying to breath fire behind her back at mamma this morning. Lucky for us Jules can’t breathe fire, although Abby said it could happen at any time.”
Baltazar gave the child a look from his sad brown eyes as he considered her question. “Jules will come around, she always does. Anyway, she loves your mother even if she does have to take the burden of most of her mistakes. Tomorrow you will see Jules will be back to normal and no harm done.”
“Tek doesn’t like us, does she? Especially Jules, why is that?”
Once again, the dog gave her a pained expression as he licked her hand. The black cat could do with a hard lesson in who was boss around here and it certainly wasn’t her. Although, with her high and mighty manners, she thought, she ruled the farm.
“Tekchuba is a cat and a black one that should answer your question. No one but a black witch master is good enough for her!”
“Mamma isn’t a black master…far from it. Doesn’t she like mamma either?”
The child always has questions. The dog wondered how his mistress put up with it when she taught her the white art. “Mistress Good was given Tekchuba by Beldevrie himself. Therefore, the cat will always be loyal, even if she feels that your mother doesn’t deserve her. I call it classic snobbery myself.”
“What’s snobbery Balty?”
Oh no another question. “Shall we go play in the field Dorcas? You can throw the ball for me. We might find Jules on our travels and she can play too, what do you say?”
Easily distracted when the dog mentioned the word play, Dorcas jumped up and threw her arms up in glee while whooping with delight. “Yeah, yeah and I know where Jules is let’s go.”
Running as fast as her short chubby legs would allow, Balthazar watched the child head for the hay barn as he ambled after her. She was a precocious but lovable child and he knew why his mistress indulged her so. How could you fail to love the wonderful innocent spirit that still existed after all those years in the Black Cauldron Order, it was a miracle. A true good spirited soul untarnished by the darkness that surrounds so many, even his beloved mistress.
+ + +
“Sarah, where's Dorcas?” Abigail asked when she saw Sarah in the kitchen.
“Why? What has she done?” asked a wary Sarah.
“I'm not sure. I need to ask her.”
“If you're not sure, why do you assume she did it?”
“Because she usually is the culprit when something happens.”
Sarah glared at Abigail, but refrained from saying anything further–she was right.
Sighing, Sarah said, “She should be in her room. That's where I left her taking a nap.”
“Thank you. I'll go talk with her…if she's awake.”
As Abigail left the kitchen, Sarah turned back to her work. She wondered how the enigmatically stoic woman always managed to get her in a defensive mood by just walking into any room. She is always so self-assured and confident. She never makes a mistake, and usually ends up fixing mine. However, if I am truthful to myself, I wouldn't want anyone else working by my side against the Evil we are to face. She works so well with Dorcas as well. And though she irritates me to no end, I find myself feeling so safe when she's around. With a sigh, Sarah finished her thoughts.
Abigail went up the stairwell and directly to Dorcas' room. Opening the door without a sound, she noticed that the little imp's eyes were open. She walked into the room and sat on the edge of the bed.
“Hello, Dorcas…how was your nap?”
“Hi, Abby, it was fine. I still don't know why I have to take a nap every day,” she replied with a scowl.
“Because you're six years old and all six year olds need a nap.”
Dorcas sat up. “Still…” she said with a pout as she crossed arms.
“Do you feel rested and ready to go play?”
“If you had not taken a nap, you would, at this very moment, be tired and would not be able to go play. You wouldn't want that, would you?”
“Oh no, I like to play.”
“Yes you do. That is why I need to ask you a question.”
“You remember the man from the barn last night?”
Giggling, Dorcas responded, “Oh yes, I remember him.”
“Dorcas, we agreed on allowing you to place a spell on him, correct?”
“Yes,” answered hesitantly.
“But you did not abide by that agreement, did you?”
Dorcas was looking into Abigail's eyes, but after a few seconds, she lowered them, “No.”
“I see. Will you tell me why not? Why you placed a second spell on him?”
Shrugging, she replied, “I just wanted to have some fun with him. He had been snooping around, and I didn't like him.”
“Hmm…well, next time let me know so I can be prepared for the fallout.”
“Are you mad at me…for breaking the argument?”
“That's agreement, and I should be mad, but seeing him with all those warts, it was kind of funny,” Abigail replied with a small smile. “But…I will not teach you anymore if you break any more agreements. I cannot have you running rampant casting spells on anyone else, whether you like them or not…is that clear.”
Although Abigail knew the child would not abide by the rules, she made no more comments on the subject, and just hoped for the best.
“Ok, I think your mommy is in the kitchen. Shall we go see what she’s up to?”
Hand in hand, Abigail and Dorcas walked down the stairs to the kitchen and Sarah.
+ + +
“Gloria? Gloria?” Anne called out from the kitchen door. Not getting an answer from the housekeeper, she went to the back of the house. In the time when day gave over to night, Gloria was on her knees searching the grass behind the green house with her hands as if she had lost something. She looked so intense and seemed agitated.
“Can I help you look for whatever it is that you lost?” asked Anne.
So wrapped up in her thoughts, Gloria hadn't heard Anne. Startled by the question she jumped off the ground before landing on her behind. “Oh my!” gasped Gloria. ”Umm…did you ask me something?”
A concerned Anne asked, “Are you all right? I wanted to know if you needed any help looking for whatever you seem to have lost.”
“I'm fine, thanks,” replied Gloria, resuming her task. “I am looking for some very young shoots of Panax schin-seng, and they are not easy to find.”
“Panax schin-seng…isn't that a kind of herb? Don't we have them in the green house?”
“No, it's a root, and yes, we do have some in the green house, but they are not the wild ones that I need to make my medicinal concoction. The concoction only works if I use the young, wild shoots.”
“Let me help you, then perhaps you could come with me to town when we finish. I need some supplies for my project,” Anne said as she began to examine a patch of grass.
After half-hour of gathering the young shoots, the two women went back to the house. Once inside, Gloria attempted to take the basket from Anne, but the younger woman held on to it.
“I have to get some jars from the cool room anyway so I’ll take them there,” she said as she left for the cool room singing.
In the cool room, Anne surprised to find a large assortment of dried leaves sitting on the table next to the mortar and pestle. I wonder what kind of medicinal concoction Gloria is going to make. She normally uses the fresh herbs–her concoctions are better when she uses the fresh ones. Anne wondered why Gloria seemed agitated when she asked what the herbs she found were going to be used for.
She must be doing something she does not want Aunt Lisa or me to know about. I wonder what it is. Last week, she caught a lizard and put it inside a jar, and then she gathered some crickets and those fungus-looking things by the stream, and now Panax schin-seng? I think I'll speak to Aunt Lisa about this. Maybe she knows something.
Anne shrugged and went back upstairs.
+ + +
Though Gloria had no real powers, her knowledge of herbs and incantations was astounding. She had always found the art of witchcraft fascinating and had once indulged in reading as much as she could. If there was trouble brewing, she hoped all her knowledge was enough to help protect her. She didn't believe there were any real witches around, but in Salem, you just couldn't let that thought misguide you.
Gloria couldn't let the dream go as just being a dream. She was a firm believer of your mind being at its most vulnerable when you are at the REM stage of your sleep. So to her, it seemed as someone was trying to get to her while asleep. If that was the case, she must prepare for whatever was coming.
She didn't think Misses Lisa and Anne would believe in any such things, so she opted not divulge her fears to them. Gloria just had to work on protecting all of them and keeping her eyes and ears open from now on.