Potestas inferna, me confirma.
Potestas inferna, me confirma.
Potestas inferna, me confirma!
Alastair, 4.10 Heaven and Hell
Ever since Taïga’s last visit over Easter, Taïga’s friends back in Vulturu haven’t been sitting around idling. They have patiently waited for her return from boarding school, only to learn that she would spend her summer vacation in sunny Monte Aquila, again. They have finally captured a black cat, and decided to go ahead with their little experiment. That is why Mitchell is meeting with the girls outside the graveyard late on a Thursday night with a full moon.
The tombstones cast long shadows and they don’t talk much as they set up everything for the ritual. Jen ticks everything off her check list while Leann starts drawing a Pentagram enclosed in a circle.
‘‘Full Moon – check. Black cat – check… I thought I told you to bring salt?’ Jen says when she sees Leann emptying a plastic bag in the form of a circle.
‘It is salt.’
‘So why is it red?’
‘I thought it would look more authentic if I added some red chalk – like blood or something.’
Little do they know about what took place here more than a year ago, when Granny and Missy unleashed powerful unknown spiritual forces to eradicate the menace of a Zombie invasion…* Would the knowledge of the doors to the underworld being partly opened after Hekate’s appearance at the very same spot, have stopped the kids from doing what they’re about to do? Probably not…
Mitchell puts the dazed cat down on the ground in the middle of the five-pointed star drawn in the circle.
‘Quick! Let’s get started before it jumps right out of the pentacle!’
The three kids join hands and start saying the spell.
‘The spirit of a ghost from Hell
Please come and let me ring a bell
I need a friend who give me supernatural actions
be my gaurdian, my friend, my brother
please, please, mote it be,
I invite you O prince Alastar, to remain with me.’
Nothing happens. Jen scratches her head. ‘It doesn’t seem to work…’
‘I’m scared. I want to go home.’ Leann whines.
Mitchell looks at the cat that is looking at them with yellow eyes. ‘At least the cat hasn’t budged… Let’s try again. Leann… Jen… Give me your hands.’
They join hands and chant once again,
‘The spirit of a ghost from Hell…’
Suddenly the surrounding air buzzes with electricity and blue sparkles appear from the center of the pentagon, surrounding the cat… Frightened, the three friends let go of each other’s hands and step back from the sizzling blue bolts.
‘Don’t stop chanting!’ Mitchell urges. ‘Widen the circle. We must continue the spell!’
Hesitatingly they reach out to hold hands but a sudden blast of light makes the kids take a few more steps back. Only Jen continues the invoking with a firm voice.
‘Do you think the cat will fry?’ Leann whispers. ‘I didn’t want to kill it…’
‘I don’t know…’ Mitchell swallows, staring at the cat. Suddenly it is surrounded by blazing light.
Petrified by fear, they stare at the intense rays of light. Progressively even Jen’s voice falters and gets quiet. ‘… I invite you, oooh…’ She swallows and takes a step closer to Mitchell.
‘This might not have been such a good idea…’ Slowly they start backing away from the blazing pentacle.
With a deafening scream, a demon shoots up through the circle of light. A shockwave of hot air sends the children sprawling.
Mitchell sits up and rubs his head where he smacked it on the ground. ‘Shit, it hurts…’ He looks around him, blinded by the light. ‘Jen? Leann?’ he calls. ‘Are you OK?’
Leann lays stock still, an arm slung over her eyes to block out the light as if it wouldn’t exist if she didn’t see it. Mitchell’s voice finally breaks through her defensive stance and she turns her head and blinks, confused.
‘We should leave,’ Jen whispers, starting to crawl backwards without leaving the demon with her eyes.
The menacing silhouette of the demon seems to be incapable of breaking through the light surrounding him. He waits patiently, looking at them each in turn with gleaming red eyes. The children scramble to their feet and stare at him, hypnotized by his fearful appearance. Progressively the light fades, making his whole shape discernible.
‘Run! RUN!’ Suddenly the kids break out of their immobility. They sprint away from the evil spirit before the flames completely die and liberate him.
But Alastar* doesn’t try to follow the frightened children. He smiles evilly and shouts after their vanishing figures, ‘Why such a hurry?’
He rubs his hands, listening to their fading screams.
‘Mwah mwah mwah! Finally freed! At last…’
‘Now, what have we got here?’ Carefully he lifts the black cat, which is no one but Miezul Nopţii, and pets her with long claws. ‘Oh… you’re a witch’s cat, now aren’t you? That’s why those stupid kids could set me free… Now, we have something important to do, little cat. We’d better take care of it before your mistress tries to send me back where I came from. Look me in the eyes. Good…’
Miezul Nopţii purrs and her eyes gleam malevolently in the dark for a second, before returning to their usual yellow.
The children run through the forest, forgetting about their bikes as they would have had to pass behind the demon to get to them.
‘Mitch! Do something!’ Jen pants out of breath.
‘Just shut up and run!’
They continue without a backwards glance, constantly changing direction because of the dense underbrush.
They turn around some big boulders and suddenly Mitchell stops. The girls almost run into him.
‘Did he follow us?’ Leann asks, checking behind her.
‘I don’t think so…’ Jen answers absentmindedly. She stares over Mitchell’s shoulder at a sinister shack rising out of the mist a few yards ahead, the wooden planks greyed with age and Transylvania’s harsh weather.
‘What is this place?’ Mitchell asks taking in the rusty slide and the swings swaying empty in the faint wind.
‘I’ve never actually been here but I think it’s the old abandoned playground,’ Jen answers reluctantly.
‘Never heard of it.’
‘A kid was murdered here thirty years ago, and the place has been off limits since…’
‘I don’t like this place. Let’s go,’ she continues, biting on her nails and throwing worried glances around her.
‘It’s too late. We can’t go home now.’
‘Because it’s too far on foot.’
‘I told you – we should have taken our bikes.’
‘So why didn’t you?’
Jen glares at him. ‘Because the demon was between us and them.’
‘Right. That’s why we set off through the forest in the first place and I don’t think we’re ready to get back into that dark maze again, maybe running straight into his arms.’
‘You don’t seriously mean we’re not going home? This place is supposed to be haunted.’
‘If we have to choose between ghosts and a demon, I know what I’d pick,’ Mitchell says cockily but looking a little wary nonetheless. ‘There’s a thunderstorm coming and the shack has got a roof and I think the demon didn’t follow us all the way here. I bet he didn’t follow us at all.’ He tries to seem sure, hoping the girls won’t notice how scared he actually is.
Leann doesn’t say anything. She just wants to leave this horrible place but she doesn’t have a clue which way to go. And if they can’t return home tonight, she wants at least to be indoors.
Jen and Mitch continue arguing.
‘Why did you make us do this, Mitchell!?!’
‘C’mon Jen. YOU wanted to do it as much as me!’
‘You talked me into it!’
None of them notice Leann head up the slight slope towards the ominous building.
‘You didn’t need much persuading…’ Mitchell murmurs to himself.
‘It was YOUR idea!’
‘No, Jen! It was yours!’
‘It wasn’t! … Leann! Tell him it wasn’t my idea! … LEANN!?!’
‘Guys! I think I’ve found a way in!’ Leann is beckoning for them to join her at the top of the slight slope. She gestures towards a rickety gangplank leading to the upper floor of the shack. ‘We’ll just pull it in after us and no one can follow us inside!’
‘Brilliant!’ Jen starts towards their friend but Mitchell shakes his head with vehemence.
‘There’s no way I’m going up there.’
‘What? Didn’t you just say we should spend the night here? Under a roof?’
Jen doesn’t wait for him to answer. Resolutely she pushes past Leann and crosses the wobbling gangplank. Leann follows her without hesitating.
Mitchell realizes he is standing all alone in the middle of a spooky playground with a demon lurking somewhere in the dark out of sight. He hurries after the girls up the slope to a little platform, but that is as far as he can go. Looking at the rotten planks, he is certain they will break and he will fall into the emptiness below.
‘Don’t be such a wuss, Mitchell. You can’t stay out there on your own.’ Jen’s voice reaches him from afar. She can’t understand why he’s hesitating.
‘What if the demon arrives?’ Leann says, hovering behind Jen.
‘It’s cool up here, there are candles and stuff. And Leann brought chips – your favorites,’ Jen insists but Mitchell shakes his head.
He is just standing there, staring straight in front of him with unseeing eyes. He clasps and unclasps his hands. Jen has never seen him like this before and it worries her.
‘Are you OK, Mitch?’ She frowns. ‘Do you need help?’
She walks down a few steps and reaches out her hand. He hesitates, then he takes it and closing his eyes lets her guide him up over the wobbly gangplank. It takes an eternity to cross over and when he finally steps onto the wooden flooring of the shed, he is feeling nauseous and sweating.
Jen immediately starts nagging, it is her way to deal with stress. Usually Mitchell just tunes her out, but he’s still feeling queasy after walking the gangplank, and needs to get some peace and quiet to think things over.
‘We must do a list,’ Jen says. ‘First: Find out what our demon is up to. Second: Eat something – you think better on a full stomach and third: we must find a safe hiding place!’
‘I thought this was the safe hiding place?’ Mitchell arguments.
‘You said so. It might be waterproof but is it Demon-proof?’
Before long Jen and Mitchell are arguing again, their voices getting higher and higher and soon they are screaming at each other.
Leann covers her ears to shut out their angry voices.
‘STOP IT!’ she howls.
Jen and Mitchell stop in midsentence, astonished at her outburst.
‘What’s the matter with you two?’ Leann stares accusingly at her friends. ‘We’re in trouble here and the only thing you do is yelling.’
Jen and Mitchell look sheepishly at each other. Leann is right.
‘Sorry…’ Jen mutters.
‘Are you all right?’ Mitchell tries to regain his composure as the group’s leader.
‘No, I’m not all right! I… I just want to go home.’ Leann looks down at her feet.
‘Yeah, I want to go home too…’ Mitchell tries to reassure her. ‘But there’s a Demon out there, probably waiting to do something horrible to us,’ he adds without thinking.
Leann starts crying. ‘But I… I… I want to go home to my mom!’
Jen stares at Mitchell. ‘You started it, you fix it,’ she mumbles, taking up a position by the window overlooking the playground. Thunder is rumbling in the distance and a sudden gust of wind rattles the swings. She withdraws a little from her vantage point, suddenly feeling exposed. She tries to see if the demon is coming, but the darkness of the dense woods is impenetrable.
Mitchell grinds his teeth and walks over to their crying friend, hugging her perfunctorily from behind. ‘Don’t cry, Leann. We’ll find a way out of this… Situation…’
‘Oh, Mitch. I’m so scared,’ she hiccups. ‘What… What will happen now? Do you think he will come after us? Maybe he will kill the whole town?’
‘Oh, come on. Who says we really saw a demon?’ Jen bursts out from her place by the window. ‘Maybe it was just a thunderbolt and we imagined the whole thing.’ She looks meaningfully at Mitchell to follow her lead.
‘Do you think so?’ Leann says in a tiny voice.
‘Yeah. Sure. It must have been a hallucination brought on by the thunder striking right next to us,’ Mitchell nods eagerly to accentuate his words.
Leann draws her breath and snivels. ‘It seemed so real. Did… Did you see his teeth?’
‘Yeah… And he had claws – sharp black claws,’ Mitchell adds with huge eyes.
Leann shudders and starts crying uncontrollably.
‘Are you satisfied now?’ Jen points out.
Mitchell turns towards her and whispers. ‘Make her stop crying! Please.’
Jen snorts, then her eyes widen and she stares at Leann over his shoulder.
Mitchell spins around and sees Leann texting with trembling hands.
‘Hey! What are you doing?’
‘I’m ca-ca-calling the… The police!’
‘The police? Are you crazy?’ Jen burst out.
Leann stops texting.
‘C’mon, Leann. You know we can’t call the police…’ Mitchell tries to coax her cell out of her hands but she holds on to it fiercely.
‘But we have to do something, Mitch. We have to warn everyone!’
‘Oh yeah? And who would believe us?’ Jen says mockingly. ‘Are we just going to waltz into the police station and tell them we brought a black cat to the cemetery to call on a demon so we could become witches and then, oh miracle, a dang demon actually showed up???’
‘I want my mom! And my dad,’ Leann whines. ‘They will tell us how to get rid of that… That thing.’ she adds, reluctantly letting Mitchell pry her cell away.
‘Didn’t you say there was a way of getting rid of a demon?’ Mitchell asks, switching off the device.
‘I only told you what I found in my parents notes…’ she defends herself.
‘Yeah, and it distinctly said a powerful witch could get rid of a materialized demon,’ Mitchell points out.
Jen breaks in, ‘I remember that. And you, Mitchell, said we were going to get rid of him with our joint powers once he had given us the “gift” of witchcraft.’
Leann hiccups and stares at them with huge terrorized eyes. ‘So… Are we?’
Both Jen and Mitch stares back with puzzled looks.
‘Are we what?’ Mitchell asks.
Leann looks from Mitchell to Jen and back to Mitchell again, drying a tear. ‘Witches?’ she gulps. ‘Are we witches now?’
Jen burrows her face in her palm. ‘I completely forgot!’
Both girls look expectantly at Mitchell who doesn’t know what to say.
‘Err… I guess we are. There’s only one way to find out, isn’t it?’
Leann empties her backpack and digs up the spell book she has borrowed from her parents’ archives. They gather around the book, searching for an answer how to get rid of Alastar…
Meanwhile, Alastar has finished his merge with the cat and is looking for something to eat. Something living and warm and not too fuzzy. He finds the footprints left by the children and sniffs the faint scent lingering in their wake. Perfect. Eating the one who called on him is a part of the ritual those little fools surely weren’t aware of. Only then can he affront the daylight in his current form. And there are three of them, just what he needs for a start.
His delight rapidly turns into annoyance when he discovers that the children seem to have traversed the Sacred Grounds, earth the Demon himself can’t cross. He will have to run around the whole area like a common mortal to pick up their scent again as he is too feeble after almost seven hundred years in captivity to use his telekinetic powers to get around.
Fortunately for the children, he is surprised by the dawn and has to merge with the cat, not being able to get out again before he has consumed his callers’ spirits and preferably their flesh, too. But how is a small cat supposed to kill and eat three children alive?
During the next weeks, Miezul Nopţii/Alastar has the time to think over and curse his predicament. The cat lives with an old witch and a crazy half witch who are of no use whatsoever to him. He has seen the girl’s room, though, but he can’t get any information on when she will be back. How he regrets not having gone after the children who set him free immediately, instead of spending so much time getting into the stubborn cat’s mind. Or at least he should have tried to find a huge stray. With big teeth. The stupid one living with them would have been perfect.
Restlessly he rooms the town in search of the three children, cursing the time it takes for a little cat to cover the great distances.
All efforts are vain, because the children and their families seem to have vanished, their houses standing dark and empty.
The only light in the obscurity is the discovery that the witches he “belongs” to are the direct descendants of Lady Ravendancer who once imprisoned him. His revenge will be none the worse for waiting…
Alastar has to settle for second best, only to keep his strength intact until the young, healthy witch, comes back from wherever she is spending the summer…
Part I – End of Chapter 44
Thanks Norn at MTS for their amazing “Pumpkin Munchkin Playground”