Esther breathed in the heavy smoke of the incense they were using, the four other women seated around the young boy. He was sick with the fever, his skin sweaty and hot. The mother and father had been paid to drop the boy off, with claims that his death would be quick and painless.
“Lies,” Esther whispered.
“Beg pardon?” Wendy, an older redhead asked from her seat across from Esther. The old woman was notorious for being deaf as a post, something that there was no remedy for.
“Nothing Wendy,” Cecilia said, elbowing Wendy just below the breast from her spot next to Esther, “lady is just talking to herself again!”
“Bad habit, that,” Mia said, flicking the ashes of her cigarette onto the drawn chalk lines on the wooden floor, ashes sizzling into nothingness.
“This coming from you!” Faye said, the heavyset woman grumbled. He thicker glasses and shorter haircut often made her the target of ridicule from the people of town. Well, for a while at least. The locals never ridiculed her, just the college boys who’d come every Sunday to avoid being in a dry county.
Faye ran the Dry Martini, the only bar in the city. It flourished despite her cantankerous attitude and always had a full house. While not one to take one on, she always had her choice of lovers to pick up if she wanted any. Esther, with her pale complexion and sunken eyes, was jealous of her fellow witches use of power.
But tonight, it would all turn around.
Tonight, she got her own servant.
True, it may be a young boy, but the other sacrifices hadn’t been winner’s either: Faye’s had been a crippled old man, while Mia had taken a baby. Cecilia and Wendy had obtained their inhuman spirits before Esther had come along.
Looking around Wendy’s parlor, Esther smiled at the older woman’s obvious success. Two shelves of books made up the far wall, lined with ancient texts and copies of her award-winning series of teenage vampire romance novels. Between the stacks was a minibar, where crystal decanters held amber fluids, and a small fridge held miniature pickles, olives, and ice for cocktail drinks that the ladies would enjoy post-ceremony. Esther could feel the eyes of something malevolent gazing at her and tilted her head nice and slow, until her peripheral vision caught it.
Clinging to the wall leading from the foyer into this room, a creature made from equal parts shadow and tar clung to the wall, a long tail swishing back and forth in an agitated state like a cat that’s been kicked one too many times. Balding save for stray hair on the side of its head, the entity gazed down with amber eyes, yellowed teeth pulled back into a sneer as it watched the coven convene around the sickened child. Esther could hardly watch, but she couldn’t tear her eyes away as the creature slithered down the wall towards the floor and out of sight.
And into her eye it appeared, amber orbs blazing with intensity, teeth cracking as the jaw distended. Esther remained still, and watched as the spirit tried to scare her and even then, she had to admit that it’d made her heart leap into her throat.
“I’m so sorry Esther,” Wendy said, hand held over her chest., “William is always upset when we bring another of his kind to life.”
Esther chuckled, waving off her concern as William vanished without so much as a trick of the light, a faint scent of rotting meat lingering. “I understand. I’ll have one of my own to look after soon enough, I imagine he’ll be a handful for me at first.”
“A little boy?” Mia said, blowing smoke through her nose, smiling. “You’ll be lucky if he listens to you within the first week.”
“Don’t say that!” Faye growled, punching Mia in the shoulder. She looked over at Esther and smiled. “You just have to be assertive. He’ll have the mind of a child, so maybe set up a play area in your home, and a play room when you get a house? Do you know what you’re going to set him to do yet?”
Esther shook her head. All the women clucked their tongues and shook their heads while Faye groaned. “Esther! You must have a clear goal in mind, or else they become restless! You don’t want one of these haunting you because they have nothing better to do, trust me!”
“Then what should I ask for?” Esther asked in a soft voice, eyes downcast.
“A man to take care of you,” Wendy said.
“Power,” Faye said.
“Money,” Mia replied.
“All of the above, in limited portions of course,” Cecilia answered.
Esther looked over the others, taking in their advice and thought over their ideas for a few moments. She looked at Faye with her success in town, at Wendy with her successful book, at Mia with her string of lovers, and at Cecilia with her late husband’s fortune.
“I’ve decided,” Esther said with a nod.
“Good, now focus on what you want throughout the ritual. Don’t deviate, and you have to really want it, dear.” Cecilia said, patting Esther’s pale hand with her smooth, tanned one.
Esther nodded, but didn’t say anything.
They each took a black wax candle and three matches, along with a silver knife that had never tasted flesh. Together they waited until the clock in the foyer gonged out the sound of the hour, and they began the incantation.
One by one they lit their candles, scooting back from the drawn pentagram on the ground to place the black wax item at the point of the star. Their nude frames glistened in the dim lighting as the night warmed up, the house growing dark save for the candlelight. Noises unlike an Esther had heard outside this ritual could be heard; gnashing of teeth and the baying of hounds, all close by, while clacking of claws on hardwood floors skittered past them. But she kept her attention and didn’t miss her turn when she was supposed to cry out in ancient Assyrian.
In the flickering light, she watched the boy’s body, now still yet still covered in a thin sheen of sweat, sitting between five candles and partially covered by a sheet to preserve the boy’s modesty.
As Esther raised her hand up and cut into her index finger, dribbling blood down into the flames of her candle, she watched in fascination as bloody script bubbled up over his body like tattoos on a biker, running along his arms and chest, down his spine and thighs and shins to the tops of his feet. They circled over his heart, and, while chanting, Wendy leaned forward and grabbed the boy by the ankles, flipping him onto his back fully.
He sprang to life, eyes opening to reveal a pitiless void. He thrashed, kicking and screaming in a guttural tongue, cursing in the language of the dead Phoenicians. Cecilia and Mia held him down, their knives sinking into his upper chest to better pin him. No blood left from the wounds, however, and he hissed out chuckles as a long, red tongue slithered from between his lips to lick at his neck. Wendy raised herself up to her knees and called out.
“Dark Prince, Fallen Angel, Deceiver of All! It is your Judgement we seek tonight! An initiate wants to one who walks within your fields, who knows your ways, who sings your songs! Please grants us this entity for the rest of her natural life to aid her in what she desires most.”
The boy rolled his head, tongue flicking in an obscene manner. “You all wish for the cunt to get one like you?”
Everyone nodded, including Wendy, who continued to keep her arms raised. The boy chuckled, body twisting and popping as bones snapped from the pressure of the impromptu possession. “Very well then… by midnight, she will have one of my children.”
Esther shuddered when she felt a cold breath in the shell of her ear, “call for Sin when you are alone in a room lit by a single light.”
Esther swallowed the lump in her throat and shuddered as the heavy weight that had, at some point, settled on her back, dislodged itself and scrambled away. The heat slinked away and the candles died out, allowing Wendy to clap the lights back on. They all rose, with Mia and Faye rolling the rug back over the chalk outline of the pentagram they so often used.
They shared their after-ritual drinks as they often did, Esther enjoying her Long Island Iced Tea a little too much. By ten to eleven, she’d called the local Uber driver to take her back to her apartment and paid him with a generous tip.
She’d settled in her bedroom by eleven forty-five in her night time clothes, a conservative set of pajamas made of breathable silk that she’d been able to afford after a Christmas bonus. No, sitting on her bed with a single lamp in her small bedroom, decorated with occult items and tools for soothsaying, she counted down the minutes until she could mutter the single syllable word and name that would open up a world of possibility to her.