Card Challenge: Day 37
Card Day 37: Two ants sword fighting on top of a stack of gold coins.
“I can’t do this without you, Matt.”
He sighed, fading beneath the onslaught of her persistent pleading. “Lydia, it’s just crazy. I mean, you can’t actually believe this stuff?”
She smiled and shrugged. “It is crazy. But just imagine if it works. We’d be rich beyond our wildest dreams, free to do what we want. We could finally run off together!”
“I know, it would be great. But, what, we’re going to sell our souls to the devil and then spend our days on our own private island?”
“Nope, no soul selling required. It’s all right here,” she spun the worn leather book towards him, and he saw the spidery nonsense written on the page. He shoved it away.
“You know I don’t read any of that. This is ridiculous, Lyd.”
He looked up to see the whimsy and determination fade from her eyes, shattered by sudden pain. “Don’t you trust me?”
That was the final straw, and Matt finally gave in. “Of course I trust you. I’ll help you do the ritual-thing,” he agreed with a dismissive wave of his hand. “As long as you agree this is crazy stuff.”
Lydia smiled and shrugged, granting him a quick peck on the cheek before darting away to prepare.
The little country church, so endearing during the day with its white siding and little bell tower, loomed intimidating and dark under the moonless sky. “Are you sure this is right?” asked Matt, giving the building the side eye.
“Well, you won’t read the manuscript, so you’re just going to have to trust me,” she giggled, tugging at his hand and pulling him into the building. “Now, you have to help me set up.” Suddenly, two stubby white candles were in his arms, their matching counterparts in Lydia’s. “Take those and put them due north and due south. These,” she wiggled the candles in the gloom of the building, “will go on the east and west.”
Matt complied, dutifully carrying the candles to the far north and south of the building. It was unsettling walking down the long rows of empty pews, the eyes of Jesus staring down on him as he trespassed the sacred space. He felt the pressure of dozens of eyes on him, accusing him of his blasphemy and sin. The wrongness of the situation settled on him like a sheet of ice, nearly freezing him in place. Lydia’s whistle brought him back.
“Here,” a white piece of chalk flashed through the air towards him, ultimately landing at his feet with a snap and puff of white. “Use that to draw a line between the two candles, but don’t connect them in the middle,” she warned, bending down to do the same from her candles. Matt picked up the two halves of chalk and carefully followed her instructions.
“We’re making a cross?” he asked, wondering if this witchcraft weren’t possibly more benign than he suspected.
“Not quite. A broken, unfinished cross. So make sure they don’t connect!”
The lines drawn, Lydia met him in the center and pulled a thin metal chain from her bag of supplies. She very carefully laid the chain in a perfect circle, touching each of the four lines from the candles. Next, she set a tall, slender, black candle in the midst of the circle.
“A silver chain, and everything is in place.” She looked back over her work with a giddy smile, clutching her hands together in excitement. “’When the empty moon hangs twixt heaven and hell, cast your eyes unto the darkness,’” she quoted, almost as if unaware of the words trickling from her lips.
Matt shuffled uncomfortably from side to side, watching her as she spun around the place, wide-eyed with excitement. The sense of unease from before had not relented, but instead grew more intense, as if the shadows were drawing about and suffocating him. Yet she seemed completely unfazed by the heavy danger in the air; if anything, she seemed invigorated by it.
“Are you sure this is a good idea?”
She froze in her place, then turned slowly to face him. Her face smiled widely, but there was an edge of threat to her voice. “I thought you said you would trust me on this, Matt.”
“I do, Lyd, I really do. But doesn’t this just feel…wrong?”
She quickly crossed over to him, warmth radiating from her caring glance. “Oh, I guess it is pretty weir, huh? But, just think, soon we’ll have all the things we ever wanted. We’ll have our dreams.” Carefully, tenderly, she ran her hands along the side of his face, cupping his chin softly. “We’ll have each other.”
Matt sighed heavily and laughed softly. “If it even works. Which it probably won’t. I mean, you did just dig that out of a thrift shop,” he said, nodding his head towards the book lying on the dusty floor next to the northernmost candle.
“Exactly. It’s just a silly little game.” Her smiled widened, and she was beaming with excitement. “Now, you stand in the center while I light the candles. It’s time.”
Matt took up his appointed position in the silver circle, standing just behind the unlit candle. Lydia ran from the western candle around, ending at the northern one where she fell to her knees beside the book. Now, Matt knew from their planning, she would read some words and answer the “questions” that some spirit was supposed to ask. He fully expected her to keep up the charade even when the questions weren’t asked, and then they would giggle and laugh and get some cheap coffee for the drive back home.
However, things did not go as planned. She knelt down, whispering in the silence of the church. And then there was a heavy shadow at her side, red eyes burning out of the darkness. She spoke to it, as if in a trance, eventually slowly raising her arm to point at him. That was too much for him, and he went to run towards her, scoop her into his arms, and bolt from the cursed place, but he looked down to see the silver chain twined about his ankles, suddenly impossibly heavy given its frail appearance. There was cold creeping up his arm, and he saw tendrils of shadow lapping along his wrists.
“Lydia!” he cried, and she turned sorrowful, empty eyes towards him. “What’s happening?”
Her voice was heavy with grief and exaltation, a blend of emotions that left him feeling hollow inside. “I told you I couldn’t do this without you, Matt.”
He screamed as the shadows began tearing away at his skin, every molecule those dark tendrils touching exploding into the immeasurable agony of oblivion. “I thought—I thought we were doing this together!” The silver chains burned at his legs and the shadows licked up his arms and across his torso with ferocious, hungry speed. “I thought you loved me,” he whimpered, the pain forcing him to his knees.
“Oh, Matt, I did love you. I do. This never would have worked if I didn’t,” she said, smiling as if her confession made it all better.
The last thing he heard as the shadows consumed all that was left of his body, leaving nothing but a tattered soul in torment, was her parting consolation. “But, Matt dear, you have to understand. Now, I will be unstoppable. Now, I will be a god.”
This work by Katherine C is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.