As I stood looking at this old woman, I noticed her eyes. One was green, and the other was almost cat-like with a piercing yellow to it. It was otherworldly, and at that moment I began wondering why in God’s name we had come here.
I looked at Christopher, and he seemed calm as ever. Not that anything ever seemed to ruffle his feathers.
“I thought you could help us,” I said pure annoyance in my tone.
“Did I ever tell you I hate your new friends?” Amelia sighed crossing her arms and pacing around the room.
The old woman ignored Amelia and kept on talking to me. “That is what I am doing; you think stopping a thousand-year curse built around Gods is going to be easy? Go back to Mayberry.” She shifted her demeanor and walked away from me and then stood in front of my daughter. “I’m sorry I can’t help you.”
“If you take my heart will that help my dad?”
The old woman ignored me. “Yes, I can take away the curse that makes him turn into a beast. He never gave his soul willingly. So he can go back. The Gods will let him go, but you must give them a heart as pure as yours.”
Amelia nodded and looked down at the ground as if deep in thought. “I’m willing to for my family.”
“NO!” I yelled. “If you must take anyone’s heart you will take mine. My family is already used to living without me, and Amelia has too much life left in her.”
“Then it is done.” The witch said picking up a small bag and heading towards the back of the house motioning for us to follow her.
Before it, we could even take in what was going to happen Cecily had already begun the ritual. She had a small brown bag and in it red salt. She poured the red salt in a large circle around the room and then lit two black candles and two white. “Two for before and two for after, salt is for making the labor of the spell more aggressive.” I looked at her bewildered as to what was happening and trying to figure out a way to get out of here before it had begun. There had to be another way.
She grabbed Amelia’s hand and cut her palm. Amelia winced in pain, and she dragged Amelia to the center of the circle and made her sit down. She drained the bit of blood and put it onto an old cloth. She then cut Amelia’s hair and then sliced her hand and added her blood to the fabric and threw it into a glass jar. I watched her add dirt and a scarab beetle. She then took agave and poured it inside as well. She made what looked like more blood and drew a circle and wrote in two letters and what I realized was some sigil in blood. I walked a bit closer but felt knees weaken. All I could do is watch.
She then began to chant something in a language I had never heard before. “Mee shoo Mee Shoo” she began to chant. I had no idea what she was saying. I did start to feel a bit odd. I was angry, and I had had enough of Cecily’s craziness. I stood to grab my daughter and then I nearly fainted. Something she was doing was making me feel lightheaded. I stood again to grab Amelia because if anyone was getting their heart taken, it was me. This crazy old woman had stuck my daughter in her sacred circle, and I was supposed to be the one. I had said it. Again I stood, and yet the room seemed to shake all around me causing me to fall over. When I looked at Amelia, she was now lying down in the circle with her eyes closed.
Christopher watched me without offering any help to me.
“Oh, gods of the moon and gods of the stars and sun above give this soul back to her body. Take what you need.” She seemed to be yelling at the ceiling, not the sky.
Again I stood, and I managed to walk over to the circle and before I could stand inside of it the lights in the room went out. A strong wind blew out the candles, and then something shook the cabin. I was unable to continue walking towards Amelia.
There was a loud crash on top of the roof of the tiny cottage. Amelia slowly sat up. “What’s going on?” she asked slowly standing up.
Cecily, the old witch, took a deep breath. “Bastards!”
“What? Who is it?” I asked panicking more for my daughter than myself. If it were just me, I could change and protect Amelia, but someone needed to protect her now.
“I can take a guess,” Christopher said making a motion with his finger to his mouth to shush us.
The darkness seemed magnified by the fear that gripped even Cecily. Seeing the old witch scared now made it even worse. It had grown so dark outside before I realized it and it must have now been dusk as the moon was a crescent in the sky above us.
I didn’t see it happening only the screaming that followed. Amelia was on the floor writhing in pain twisting back and forth until her body began to rip in two.
I couldn’t stop it no matter how hard I wanted to; it was too late; Amelia was changing. Her transformation was brought on quickly through intense fear.
When it started, I held back my desire to shift, while Christopher transformed already and out the door to rid the cottage of whoever was out there.
I watched her crawling towards my feet while still in the grips of murderous pain. I bent down and placed my hand upon her head.
“Daddy help me…please” she groaned until her groan turned into a low growling.
I couldn’t do anything except watch helplessly. I still held my hand on Amelia’s head until I felt her head split in two stretching her skull outwardly.
Cecily ran out the back door causing the light of one of the candles that had dimmed to flicker a bit and now the flame was in full force. I wished I had not been able to see it. I thought perhaps Cecily would be right back but instead, she disappeared, and now I was left alone with the teen wolf. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to keep her from hurting me.
Just as I held the thought her shift began to change back and as her scalp began to close and she appeared to be going back to human form something else was now happening to her.
Her eyes changed from red to piercing yellow, and her body did strange movements. It was like watching stop animation the way she bent down and then stood straight up. She moved from side to side as did the fire flame on the candle. It made strange shadows dance along the walls of the tiny cottage. To my fear, she jumped up upon the ceiling sticking to it like an insect.
There was no sight of a dog or wolf in her; instead, she had shifted into something else entirely. She seemed to waver in limbo between shifting and remaining human. I knew then there was a real possibility my daughter was already gone. It scared me, and I was afraid to move from my spot as I looked up at her. Her mouth opened wide to reveal two sets of pointed sharp teeth. Her tongue was in a point, and it was almost serpent-like. She held her yellow eyes on me as I began to walk back towards the front door practically unconsciously.
The front door opened suddenly revealing who was the real evil. It was Snake who preceded to grab me and drag me outside using only one of my arms. As he did Amelia followed us escaping out the back into nearby woods.
Then Snake had me on the ground using his fists hitting me one hit after another. Christopher appeared and jumped on him wrestling him to the ground. They fought as Snake shifted into one of the most massive red-eyed wolf creatures I had ever seen. He had razor sharp yellow teeth ready to sharpen bones like the finest cutlery.
Then I looked around and saw them just beyond the treeline. There was a fog that had begun to appear, and red eyes surrounded me. This time I was no shrinking violet. I allowed myself to transform. It was amazing how easy it was when you had a purpose and right now anger fueled me. I had enough of this shit. I geared up for a fight and one by one they came at me. I had no idea where I found the strength to continue but I found it, and I slew them one by one.
Snake and his henchmen were still out there, and I noticed they had all gained up on Christopher as he ran from the woods on all fours. I ran at them as they chased my new friend I bit at the female’s leg and nearly tore it off. She crawled back into the forest whimpering which is where she belonged far away from my child and me. I had stopped caring about what or who I ate in my fury. These were monsters, and they were predators who hunted and killed for fun. Like they had done that night they hunted my son and me down. Tonight I was going to have my revenge.
They had gained all around Christopher who was now being torn apart by both Snake and one of the others that had joined Snake in his reaping of horrors.
I leaped onto Snake’s back and bit into his shoulder. It wasn’t long before he threw me off. The man was six foot five standing, and when you add beast to the equation, it made him double in size. I fought as long as I could and Christopher, and I managed to get Snake off both of us long enough to gang up on the other beast ripping him apart. I tore into his chest and bit off his arm while Christopher bit into his thigh and I watched as this beast fell to the grass melting back into his human form. When he did, I was amazed to see it was the man who had given me the card that morning. I shifted back and as I did so did Christopher so we could take stock of what had just happened.
I wiped sweat from my brow as I looked upon my freshly mutilated human being. I felt no remorse, but I did feel curiosity. That alone made me wish I could have had a chance to ask him more questions. Like why didn’t he kill me that day in the woods when he had the opportunity? I backed away, and Christopher held me by the shoulder. I looked at him, and then he looked down at me and laughed.
“Don’t be embarrassed I mean didn’t you ever play football in the locker room?”
I smiled for a second but right now all I cared about was finding my daughter and If I had to guess I knew who had her on his radar. “I need to find my daughter.”
“Let’s go.” At this point, I smelled it, and I knew Snake’s scent as well as anyone in my own family. We went into the woods after shifting back and traveled for some time before I sensed her. It was Cecily she was burning something in the forest. That crazy witch was burning things and dancing around a fire chanting all by herself.
“I knew you would find me,” she swayed back and forth. “He is here too watching you. My brother is a smart hunter, and you have walked right into his trap.” she continued to dance.
Christopher could sense my annoyance, and he walked over to her. “Sis where is the girl?”
“She is here.” she closed her eyes and continued to sway around the fire as though she were practicing ballroom dancing.
Then I heard a growl and I saw something swing down from the trees in the distance. Strange yellow eyes met mine and then just behind those were red eyes.
I knew what was about to happen even before he grabbed her. I shifted running as fast as I could a but it was too late. His hand around Amelia’s neck also before I could stop him. He hung her above his head smiling with his large yellow teeth hanging over his mouth. He sniffed her crooked body as it writhed back and forth. It was like she were a tiny insect, a little mealworm, moving back and forth while holding onto it so it couldn’t find it’s grounding. Her eyes were darting, and I recognized fear in them even though they looked nothing like Amelia’s green eyes.
Saliva fell from her mouth dripping down her neck as the fiend licked her neck and that is when I had enough. Christopher had beat me to it as he already had Snake by the jugular sinking his teeth into his neck. I had managed to get a hold of his arm that held my daughter, and as he bled out, he smirked at me snapping Amelia’s neck.
My child’s eyes became lifeless, and he fell to the forest floor dropping her with him. Christopher let out a sound of satisfaction and shook himself back into human form, and that is when he found me holding onto her. She had shifted back to human form as well.
My baby girl’s eyes were wide open staring into the sky. The only life in them now was the stars reflecting in them. Christopher bent over me realizing what had just happened. “NO.” he exclaimed in defeat. “Cecily there has to be something you can do!” He turned to me. “I am so sorry I let you down.”
“Life is but a dream. Eventually, we all go. Even I will go.” Cecily said in a sing-song voice.
“How can you be like this?” he screamed walking towards his sister.
I beat him to it having shifted before he stood up. I am not proud of what I did, but I had the old woman’s neck in my throat pinning her to the ground my claws inside her still beating heart.
I was angry, and she was the reason we were here now. There would be no more meddling with magic potions. There would be no more patience, and I had enough of these people! Dropping her to the ground, I heard her speak in a preternatural voice. “The Phoenix rises.” she was choking on blood as it gurgled inside her throat as she died right then and there. I was glad she was dead, the stupid bitch.
I shifted back and began to cry as my entire body shook. My hands shook so badly my whole body fell to the ground, and I felt Christopher’s hand touch me on the shoulder, and I smacked his had off me and wandered away from where we were.
I looked up at the sky and screamed with all my might. How would I tell Sarah? How would I tell Sarah her daughter was dead? I fell to the ground and puked up the blood I had swallowed earlier. I sat there looking around me trying to figure out how I had plunged into such a nightmare.
I walked back over to the old woman who was now strangely drained of all of her blood. She had faded quickly and all that was left of her were ashes. The wind seemed to carry her up into the treetops. The blood seemed to travel all on its own on the ground towards Snake and where Amelia lay. I was afraid it was for Snake’s benefit somehow and even though I needed to get the hell out of here before something supernatural happened and he came back to life. I walked away again but found myself sitting down on one of the dead tree logs, trying to understand what had just happened. I wanted to run but in case of more danger, but I was in shock as I were now rocking back and forth slowly. I didn’t know how to respond when I heard Christopher scream my name. I was frozen, unbending, and immobilized by trauma. It was as though I were in a fog. I could hear Christopher’s voice, but it was so far away.
“Did I ever tell you I hate your new friends’ dad?”
I had to be hallucinating. So soon? I had just watched my daughter die, and now she was talking to me.
“Dad.” I felt a gentle hand touch my shoulder.
I turned around to see my daughter smiling at me. “Amelia?”
“It worked. Whatever that crazy witch did it worked. I’m here dad.”
I grabbed her up in my arms and hugged her. Christopher walked over to me and nodded smiling slightly.
That night we said goodbye to Christopher, whom I never saw again after that night. I never shifted into a dog man after that night.
For now, I won’t worry about it. Cecily was right about one thing my daughter was a phoenix she had risen from the dead. If that was because of the blood ritual she had done then so be it. At least I can thank Cecily for our lives. My Amelia, damaged as she has been, was alive. I wasn’t sure if it was due to the blood she now shared with the witch or if it meant she had taken the old woman’s place. One thing I knew Cecily had known it required a heart, a pure one. I didn’t want to think about that all now.
If you are wondering, we never did tell Sarah about the events that occurred because they were now over. Everything was fine why drudge up something painful if it didn’t need to be.
We are all going skiing this weekend in Colorado with family friends. I hope the only thing that goes wrong is the lack of marsh mellows for the hot chocolate.
Life went on normally. Amelia went back to her usual self, but she and I now had a bond. Where before we weren’t anything except strict dad and rebellious daughter.
There was one strange thing though. Amelia’s green eyes had changed slightly. She now had one green eye, but the other was half green and half cat-like. Very much like that old witch’s eye had been.