The Witching by Carter Bays
The Witching by Carter Bays
“Miah, wake up… Miah… Jeremiah!”
“Wha– Who? Where?” Came Jeremiah’s groggy reply. He attempted to rub the sleep from his eyes and identify the voice coming from the foot of his bed. It was his older cousin Taylor. Her bright blue eyes caught the light from the street lamp outside and pierced through the darkness at him. She was wearing what appeared to be an all-black outfit with a black ski-mask or beanie-like hat atop of her silky black hair.
“What’re you doing here? It’s–” Jeremiah turned to look at his clock. “1:00 in the morning. I need to sleep, dude I’ve got finals this week.”
“I need your help exhuming a body.”
Nearly launching himself out of bed, Jeremiah looked at her now completely awake and wide eyed with his hair going in a million different directions looking like Albert Einstein minus the mustache.
“You need my help doing what?”
“Well, my dad and I are doing another–”
Jeremiah groaned. A sense of dread and unease came over him as he realized what Taylor was about to ask.
“I’m willing to bet you and your dad are doing another ‘investigation’ and you want my help because he’s busy holding down the fort at whatever the location is to make sure nothing else happens.”
“No,” came Jeremiah’s reply as he turned to lay back down and faced the wall.
“Miah, I know you don’t want to, but it’s been five years since your dad died. And we really need your help.”
“I already told you that I would never be a part of the ‘family business’ especially after he died. I’ve never wanted to know all the details of what you all do and that it was between you two and my dad, but now it looks like it’s just you and your dad.”
Becoming desperate, Taylor said, “Miah, this is going to take more than just me and dad this time. I wouldn’t be here if we didn’t absolutely need you.”
Sighing, Jeremiah sat back up on the bed, and stood to pull the string on the ceiling fan light to have a better look at her. He could now make out that she had war paint on her face and was wearing her St. Benedict medal necklace, which was a safeguard against evil.
“Your dad had a real gift for incantations, bindings, and banishments,” she said.
“Doesn’t mean I aspire to be like him though… we see where that got him.”
“Miah, that’s not fair, and you know it. Look, that family really needs our help. The malevolent spirit they’re dealing with is that of an old witch and necromancer that cursed the land more than one-hundred years ago before she mysteriously died. If we don’t take care of it, the whole family could lose their lives before the morning. The longer she feeds off of their fear, the stronger she becomes.”
“This is a legitimate question… but if we don’t do this, then no one else will either?”
Taylor nodded her head.
Growing weary of the conversation Jeremiah said,
“Alright, just tell me what I need to do so we can go before I change my mind.”
The two had to tiptoe through the dark and silent house so as not to wake Jeremiah’s mother. They grabbed some shovels, a flashlight, and a tarp, along with some rope from the garage and shuffled into Jeremiah’s 1969 blue Plymouth Roadrunner. Despite still being confused on how he got into this position, Jeremiah cranked the car and started driving.
“So, where and why are we going?”
“Morgantown cemetery. The witch who cursed the land vowed to kill anyone that tried to take the property. The Stills family are the current owners and they’ve been experiencing an oppression being caused by her restless spirit. Now, no one had bought the property until recently because Morgantown hadn’t developed quite that far out in the country. But the longer the family is there and we don’t take care of the witch, the more she feeds off of their fear and grows stronger by the day.”
“Okay, but why am I here?”
“Because I wasn’t going to be able to dig up the grave by myself… and the banishment takes three people to perform… and the burning of the body.”
As he took in Taylor’s words, and glanced at her, he said,
“I think I’m going to be sick.”
Jeremiah turned white as a ghost and pulled over on the side of the road. Scrambling out of the car, he crouched down and immediately began dry heaving. Taylor looked out at him from inside the car in pity.
“I’m sorry to drag you into this. But there’s no one else we can count on all of our contacts are out on other missions.”
Gathering himself back into the car, Jeremiah shrugged it off and threw it in drive.
When they arrived at the cemetery, the gates were already opened and looked like a pair of hauntingly cold arms waiting to greet the dead on their way to their eternal homes. The two got out of the car and just before they crossed the threshold of the gate, Taylor stopped Jeremiah. She closed her eyes and began muttering something incomprehensible in Latin as she drew a cross and seven stars in the ground on their side of the gate. When she was finished, the two crossed over into the cemetery.
“Was that for the witch?”
“Yes, and no,” said Taylor a bit uneasily. Let’s just find her grave and get out of here.”
The cemetery was the biggest one within fifty miles of West Salem and was home to over one thousand graves, a good portion of which were housed in the main mausoleum.
“For years, this was a civil war burial site,” said Taylor. “But shortly thereafter it became more common place for civilians to be buried here.”
“Interesting… but why be buried out here? Why not on the property”
“We suspect that her son had her buried out here in secret so that her curse could live on. But if anyone had found her body and burnt it, the curse would’ve been nearly destroyed already.”
Jeremiah nodded his head. “This is just a lot to take in on first go. I’m just trying to process it all.”
“Understandably. The main thing about this woman’s grave is that it isn’t marked by her name, but something that looks like two serpents facing each other on top and bottom of a Valknut. According to some letter’s left behind by her son Silas addressed to his own children. That’s why it took forever for us to find her.”
The two continued to pace along the rows of tombstones under the light of the blue moon. A slight drizzle started coming down. The smell of petrichor filled the air when Taylor said,
“I don’t think she’s out here…”
“What’d you mean?”
“I think she’s in one of the mausoleums.”
As there were only two mausoleums, they both sprinted towards the main one and scoured it. While they were looking, Taylor bent down to a crypt that was closer to waist level and noticed the Valknut which looked more like a decorative measure than a burial marker. Pointing to it she said,
“This is the one.”
Taking his shovel, Jeremiah cracked open the slab and began breaking it apart until it revealed the casket. Together, they tried to lift it out of the crypt, but dropped it on the ground as it shattered open.
“Couldn’t have afforded a nicer casket, eh?” Taylor said tongue in cheek. “Sorry, bad timing.”
As they removed the lid, Jeremiah gasped.
“S—She’s not decomposed.”
The witch laid in her casket looking perfectly preserved in every sense of the term. Her skin was flawlessly intact. She couldn’t have been more than sixty years old, had blonde hair that had mostly greyed, and wore a simple black dress with an emerald amulet hanging from her neck. In any other context, she would’ve been considered beautiful.
“Perks of selling your soul to Satan I suppose,” said Taylor.
“This is fucking nuts.”
“Well, thank you for coming anyway,” said Taylor
“You’re welcome, but I hope you know this is one-hundred percent certifiably insane.” said Jeremiah as he hauled the dead body over his shoulder behind him.
It was nearly 3:00am. A thick, dense fog hung in the air. As they continued to haphazardly make their way to the main gate, Jeremiah stopped and said,
“Did you hear that?”
“That noise. It sounded like it was coming from over there.” He pointed toward the other mausoleum that was maybe fifty yards away. Taylor paused for a moment to listen.
“Shit, shit, shit. Let’s go!”
“What’s going on?”
“Tell you later. Now, hand me her legs, we need to go,” said Taylor motioning to the corpse.
They began to carry the body out in tandem while trying to run as fast as they could with Taylor setting the pace. In the distance, there was an explosion as the doors of the mausoleum became unhinged and hurled themselves just over their heads stopping them in their tracks.
“What the hell is going on here Taylor? This is just weird.” Jeremiah shook the top half of the dead body, “But what was tha–?”
The wind began to pick up as the trees started to bend almost at a ninety-degree angle.
“Look, Miah, we gotta go. I can tell you about it later, but we have to make it out of here alive.”
In the distance, there was a low rumbling noise that started to grow into a roaring chorus of what sounded like moans. While they continued their sprint across the cemetery Taylor suddenly tripped and dropped the lower half of the body.
“Something’s got my leg!”
Jeremiah whipped around and saw what looked like a human hand had thrust itself from the ground and wrapped itself around Taylor’s ankle. Acting swiftly, Jeremiah kicked the arm it was attached to and stomped on it causing it to snap in half.
“What the hell,” Jeremiah said stunned.
Scrambling to her feet, Taylor ran, picked up the lower half of the body and said,
“Thank you. Yes, I’m fine. C’mon!”
As they both regained their footing, the ground continued to break up in front of them. More limbs began to emerge through the cracks. One by one, the arms began to push the rest of the bodies attached to them up from the ground. Trying to maintain their balance, the two kept running with the witch. Out of breath, Taylor said,
“We just have to get her past the gate. That’s why I put the seal there. It’ll keep the rest of them inside.”
That’s when they saw the others emerge from the mausoleum. A herd of zombified humans sprinting towards them in masse. A rough estimate of about one hundred former humans, each one just as gnarly as the next, with either pieces of flesh that dangled off their skeletal structures, or missing body parts like arms, legs, or even hands and feet. Some were dressed in late 19th century clothing, some still wore their union uniforms from the war. With over one hundred yards to go, the zombies gained ground on Jeremiah and Taylor, some faster than others. Laughing nervously Jeremiah said,
“How’d they do all this?”
“Because it wasn’t them that did it,” said Taylor out of breath.
Just before they reached the gate, a giant tree that had uprooted itself flew and smashed into the ground right at the entrance blocking their only way out. Panicking, Jeremiah turned to Taylor and said,
“What’d we do now?”
Unsure of what to say, Taylor stared blankly at the horde of approaching zombies and said,
Both of them closed their eyes as the horde continued to approach, their thundering footsteps growing louder by the second. As they got closer the noise became deafening, and then stopped all together. Jeremiah opened his eyes and saw that the herd had skidded to a halt maybe five feet from them. The zombies looked at them with their undead, emotionless, expressions.
“What’s going on here Taylor…Taylor?
Jeremiah turned to look at her but she was transfixed, pointing at a man floating in the sky just above the army of the undead that looked more intact than they were. In fact, he didn’t look dead at all. Aside from him floating just above the herd, having glowing green eyes, as well as a blue aura that engulfed him, the man looked relatively normal. He may have been in his late twenties or early thirties and was dressed in a white frontiersman style shirt and flowing pants.
“That’s Silas. And we just robbed the tomb of his mother, Jezebel.”
Silas floated above them in an unflinching, spectral, manner. Taylor tried forming any words that she could muster, but her lip only quivered. Jeremiah, understanding the situation piped up and said,
“What do you want from us? I mean you’ve got us right where you–”
“Why do you two defile the grave of my mother?”
“We came to retrieve her body, burn it, and banish her soul from the property which she cursed herself to roam,” said Jeremiah.
Silas turned his head to the side inquisitively as he lowered himself to the ground. When his feet touched down, the aura surrounding him extinguished itself. He looked surprised.
“So, you’re not here to resurrect her?”
Taylor pulled herself together enough to say,
“No. There is a family that is currently dealing with her malevolent spirit and they may not survive the night. My father is there doing everything he can, but we need to perform the banishment fast. She’s only getting stronger as time goes on.”
Silas stood still looking completely dumbfounded.
“I—I didn’t realize she’d cursed the property. I thought I’d taken care of everything by having her buried out here after she… died. That’s also why I put the amulet around her and put her in the unnamed grave, so that no one could summon her or track down the body. She was much too powerful when she was alive.”
“My dad and I thought it was because you wanted her curse to live on. By splitting her body and spirit like that we thought it was a way to keep her alive because in order to banish her you would need the body,” said Taylor.
“Far from it. I put her out here knowing no one would ever suspect it to be her resting place. But just in case, I had requested for myself to be buried out here as well to keep watch over her. I am the only one with power anywhere close to what she possessed… she taught me everything I know after all.”
“It all makes sense now,” said Taylor under her breath.
“If you seek to destroy her and her curse, then so be it,” said Silas. “Those people deserve to be protected.” He then proceeded to lift the tree with a spell and cast it aside. “May fortune fall kindly upon you. However, be sure that my mother is no push over even in her slightly weakened state.” Turning to address the army of the undead, Silas said, “Gentlemen… ten-hut.”
As the zombies came to attention, Silas commanded them to return to their homes. Marching in time, the zombies all proceeded to either lower themselves back into their graves, or return to the mausoleum. Jeremiah and Taylor watched the spectacle unfold before their eyes while Silas restored order to the cemetery using a variety of spells. When Silas reached the mausoleum, he turned to face Jeremiah and Taylor one last time, waved, and shut the doors.
“This night just keeps getting stranger and stranger, huh,” said Taylor.
“You’re telling me,” replied Jeremiah.
“C’mon, let’s get Jezebel in the trunk. We can’t waist anymore time,” said Taylor.
Before they both heaved the witch into the trunk, the two of them wrapped her in the tarp they’d brought from the house and tied it together with the rope. Taylor sprinkled it in holy water, and closed the hatch.
Initially starting the car ride off in silence, Jeremiah eventually turned to Taylor and said,
“Let me ask you a question.”
“Why do all of this? You and your dad. To a normal person this would be totally insane, but you all continue to… why?”
“Well, it sure isn’t for the money I’ll tell you that much.” Taylor said as she turned her head to look out of the passenger side window.
“I’m being serious.”
“I mean, why else, Jeremiah? We live to help people, protect them, and keep them safe. Because if we’re not out there, who else is going to be? It’s just what we do.”
With his eyes glued to the dark winding road ahead of them, Jeremiah replied,
“I only ask, because after you were grabbed by the ankle back there and I helped save you… I finally realized the reason I’m here. If not for that family then definitely for you and your dad.”
Taylor cracked a slight smile, “Exactly. We all have to have each other’s backs through all of this. Don’t get me wrong, it gets difficult sometimes remembering the reasons we do this, but like you said, when dad and I are with each other, it definitely helps put things in perspective for us too.”
When they arrived at the house, a little girl screaming bloody murder emerged from it as she ran up to the Roadrunner.
“Heeeelp! Help us!! She’s inside her!”
The girl couldn’t be more than nine or ten years old, wearing a pink nightgown and holding a stuffed penguin. Scrambling out of the car Taylor snatched the little girl and tried to calm her down. Brushing the hair out of the girl’s face she said,
“What’s going on Ginny?” The girl continued to sob. “Ginny, you have to talk to me. I have to know what’s going on in there.”
“Sh—she got inside Mikala and won’t let her go. My dad and your dad got her tied up a—and, and your d–dad’s trying to get her out.”
“Alright, you get in the car and stay here, oaky? It’ll be safer for you out here. Jeremiah, get Jezebel and take her around back, we’ve already got a pyre with matches and lighter fluid.”
“But what’re you going to do?”
“I’ve got to go in there and help keep her at bay before she destroys Mikala and anyone else in that house.” While Taylor took off toward the house, Jeremiah opened the door to the car and said,
“Ginny, right? Everything’s going to be okay. Taylor over there and my uncle are going to take care of you and your family. Just hang tight, okay?” Ginny nodded her head as Jeremiah ran around the rear of the car, popped the trunk, and tried to situate Jezebel over his shoulder as best he could and carried her to the pyre.
Inside the house, it was chaos. Taylor watched in the living room as her dad recited the prayers of the angels calling each one by name. Mikala’s father tried to keep the chair that she was tied up in still, as Mikala violently thrashed and reared her head with the spirit of Jezebel inside her. The rest of Mikala and Ginny’s siblings were huddled in the far corner of the living room with their mother. The house was shaking violently. Picture frames were being knocked off the walls, the chandelier swung threatening to come loose at any moment. Knowing better than to interrupt the summoning of the angels, Taylor immediately grabbed the holy water and began sprinkling Mikala with it. Upon contact, her skin made a sizzling noise, and a scream the likes of which Taylor had never heard emitted itself from the girl.
“Michael, Gabriel, Raphael.” Continued Taylor’s dad.
Suddenly the shaking of the house ceased, and Mikala became still. Then came a voice that should never be able to leave a fifteen-year-old girl. It sounded like a raspy choke that was trying to form coherent sentences between pauses.
“You really… think that you… can kill me? You better try…. harder… mortal ones. Because the fun… is just now… starting,” said the voice as Mikala’s face contorted into a wicked grin.
“Oh, we’re not going to kill you,” said Taylor’s dad. “We’re just sending you back from whence you came. You got the body right, Taylor?”
Mikala’s eyes widened. The house began shaking again, and with Mikala in it, the chair flew and struck the opposite wall of the living room near the fire place shattering it into pieces. The girls’ mother shot up and attempted to run to her baby as Taylor’s dad said,
“Stop! Don’t get any closer. She could still be inside her.”
Slumped on the ground, Mikala began to stir ever so slightly. She lifted her head and put her hand to it.
“Where am I?” came her normal voice. “Mom? Dad?”
“Well, that’s not good,” said Taylor.
“Taylor, where’s Jeremiah?”
“Out back at the py–”
Taylor and her dad immediately broke out into a sprint through the house and out the back door.
Jezebel’s body was laying on the pyre still tied up in the tarp. Jeremiah stood directly next to it anxiously waiting with his hands in his pockets. When Taylor and her dad burst through the door, Taylor shouted,
“Miah! Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine. Is everything good up there?”
Taylor and her dad trotted down the steps of the back deck and met up with him. There was a slight cool breeze in the air. And the sky was now slowly transitioning to a light shade of purple.
“Well, good news is she’s out of Mikala’s body,” said Taylor’s dad. “Bad news is, we don’t know where she is now. Let’s just burn it first, then do the general blessing of the land and perform the banishment. That should get rid of her even if we don’t do the banishment first.
The trio began dousing the pyre and the tarp wrapped body in lighter fluid as the wind began to pick up the echo of the wind chimes from the deck could be heard.
“You got the book?” Taylor asked.
Her dad waved it in the air, then began thumbing through it to find the proper page.
“What do I need to do?” asked Jeremiah.
Taylor handed him a slip of folded up paper.
“Just recite these words along with me and dad when I tell you to. Also, guard your mind, guard your heart, and your soul. We need the three of us to symbolize the same unity of the trinity. Followers of Satan tend to not like being reminded of it.”
As the two formed a triangle around the pyre, the trees started swaying more heavily.
“Deus domino sanctus pater…,” chanted Taylor’s dad.
But before they could continue, the body launched itself into the air. The rope unraveled as the tarp uncovered the body. Jezebel floated above them and the pyre.
“Thank you… for bringing my… body back.” Came the voice. “My stupid… stupid son buried me away from here.” Jezebel’s voice began to smooth out as she formulated more strung together sentences. “Hoping to dwindle my curse without desecrating my body. What a darling, but worthless… shit.”
Jezebel lowered herself down to their level and in true witch fashion began cackling.
“If I’d been buried out here, I would’ve been much, much, stronger. I may have taught him everything he knows but he disagreed with my vision for Morgantown. Turned against his own mother and killed me. Put this amulet around my body too so no other spirit could inhabit it either. Then he shipped me of to Satan-knows-where knowing full well I wouldn’t be able to leave this place. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a reckoning with that family.”
“Jezebel. In the name of God, stop,” said Taylor’s dad. The witch froze before taking flight toward the house. “Vade retro Satana! Nunquam suade mihi vana!” Jezebel’s mouth opened and she unleashed a scream horrifying enough to curdle blood. Taylor grabbed Jeremiah’s attention to recite the words on the paper.
“Vade retro Satana! Nunquam suade mihi vana!” They both continued.
“Sunt mala quae libas. Ipse venena bibas!”
“Jezebel. In the name of God, you are unwelcome here and I condemn you to hell!”
A black vapor dispersed from the witch’s mouth in a stream as the wind kept whipping violently. When the cloud was done exiting her mouth, Jezebel’s body slumped to the ground and the dark vapor shot into the stratosphere. In its wake, it had created a sonic boom that left several knocked over trees, and had blown out many of windows on the house. The trio then promptly tossed the body back on the pyre. Lighting a match, they began reciting the prayers of renewal and salvation.
The three watched as the body continued to burn. While they watched, the sun passed from the light of predawn to casting its warm glow over the entire property. After getting an ambulance on the scene to help treat Mikala and the other’s injuries, the Stills family emerged from the house.
“I can’t thank you enough for being here, and helping save my family,” said Mr. Stills while shaking his hand. “And both of you also, Taylor… and Jeremiah?”
“It’s what we do. We’re just glad everyone survived. Hauntings are never easy to fight,” said Taylor’s dad. The three spent the rest of their time on the property making sure everyone was okay, and performed one final blessing before departing. As they gathered around the Roadrunner, Taylor’s dad said
“Well, kids I couldn’t have done it without you.”
“Of course dad. ‘It’s what we do,’ ” said Taylor as she embraced him.
Jeremiah shifted his weight a bit nervously before he spoke and said,
“I can’t believe this is just a taste of the things that you all do for other people. I told Taylor before that this was absolutely insane, and it is… but I understand more now why you do what you do.”
Taylor cracked a smile at him as her dad put a hand on his shoulder, and said
“Look, I know your dad’s death was hard on you in high school and I get it, believe me. He was my brother. But, he died for the sake of a family much like this one, and he saw that as a worthy cause.”
“No, I get it now,” said Jeremiah. “Now that I’ve actually been out here on one of these with you guys I see how truly important it is for people like us to be out there.”
“Well, if you’d ever care to join us again, let me know. I know you said you’d never do it, but I think it’d be great to have you as an addition to the team after all these years.”
Jeremiah nodded his head,
“I couldn’t agree more.
Copyright Carter Bays 2020