The Salem Mystique

High school is over and so is summer. It's
time for Billie and her friends to go to college.
As intended, Billie attends Salem Community
College with Riley and what secrets is Salem
hiding behind closed doors?
As Billie prepares for her first Samhain Ritual, she is
distracted by more than homework and family feuds. Two
mysterious German brothers show up in Salem, armed to the teeth.
Even with every faithful Witches eye upon them, she cannot rest
until she finds out their reason for being there.

A time for action is called as a small child is hurt and her
cousin, Rowanne, goes missing. Are the brothers to blame? And
why do these terrible things happen on and around the full moon?

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4. The Firestarter

With Riley’s rhythmic breath brushing the back of my neck I eventually fell into sleep.  After what felt like only minutes I was aware of movement in the room.  The swoop-swoop noise of a fan over head was unusual due to the fact that we didn’t have a fan in our room so my eyes snapped open instantly.  I wasn’t in my dorm.  I was in the hospital bed I laid in before the summer after Desiree’s attack.  The only sound I could hear was the fan’s swooping noise and a slight buss of electricity to power it.  I couldn’t hear the chatter of the nurses or the patients, the wheeled food cart or anything else in the vicinity.  The entire floor was in darkness except a few stray beams of light escaping the closed window curtains and the odd flashing light that hung from the ceiling.  As I climbed out of bed I caught sight of a couple more flashing lights further down the hall which made it look like the set of a cheap slasher movie.

 

I noticed I wasn’t in my favorable pink pajamas but once again in the usual hospital garb as I walked down the corridors barefoot.  The hospital was in disarray and looked like nobody had worked in it for a while with dusty countertops and the general mess and grime a building could collect if it was left unattended for a time.  I saw ghostly shadows playing against the walls with such quick movements my eyes almost didn’t register them.  Walking quick and soundlessly as I could I approached the end of the corridor where there were stairs that led to the Coma Ward where my cousin Ruby should be.

 

Again the corridor here was empty, in disarray with the same ominous flashing lights going off here and there.  I could hear the wind whistling like a storm outside although we were in the tail end of summer weather.  I was about to head towards Ruby’s room in the corridor leading off to the left when I saw figures lying still on the ground of the right corridor.  My gut was filled with butterflies as I recognised the still figures on the floor as my dead parents.  I tried to walk back the way to the corridor on the left when the linoleum under me yanked me off my feet.  When I looked over my shoulder I saw the linoleum moving of its own accord as it snaked its way down the length of the corridor towards my dead parents.

 

Every time I tried to get back to my feet to run, the floor tugged itself harshly and pulled me back down again.  The floor only stopped moving once I reached my parents’ bodies where I noticed something different about them.  They were changing, rapidly decaying before my eyes.  I screamed in horror and then several rotting hands burst through the floor, grabbing hold of my limbs.  I screamed and yelped as they pulled me down when I tried to run.  Instead I tried to fight them off with the axe from the glass case on the wall next to a fire extinguisher when I heard a horrible hearty laugh.  Looking up I saw something tall and dark stood before me with a noose in hand.

“It’s your time, Billie.” a deep voice said before I woke in my dorm room with Riley standing over me with panic written all over his face.

 

****************************

 

“May be you should talk to Riona about your dream.” Riley said the following morning after I’d told him everything I saw.

“It was just a nightmare, Riley.”

“That was not any ordinary nightmare, Bill.  I’ve never heard you scream like that before.”

“I don’t see how telling Riona is going to make a difference.”

“Billie, you’re coven leader now.  What if it was some sort of prophetic dream?”

I sighed.  “Ok, if I go see Riona will it stop you from worrying?”

“No, probably not, but it will make me feel just a tiny little bit better.”

“Ok, for you I’ll do it but not until tonight.”

“Thank you.  For this I’ll buy you dinner at the Craft and Cauldron.”

“Ooh, you’ve twisted my arm.” I said kissing him.  “Meet you there about six?” I asked as we started down different corridors.

“Yeah, see you then.” he said making his way to class in the opposite direction.

 

Classes that day were mostly lectures which made the day pass seriously slow.  For the second class most of the students arrived on time but as the lecturer was about to close the class room door one more student burst through them.  He hastily apologised before collecting his bag off the floor and made his way to the only empty seat near the rear of the room on my left.  I pulled out my books and stationary ready to take notes when I heard the last student swearing and muttering under his breath.

“Are you okay?” I asked him.

 

He looked up at me.  He was only a few inches taller than myself with rich dark skin and a handsome round face.  Just beneath his lower lip he had a small thin scar that was barely noticeable, he wore a pale cream coat, brown t-shirt, black pants and white sneakers.

“I was running a little late this morning, I forgot to pack the book I need for this class.”

“Hey, that’s no problem you can share mine.” I said friendlily.

“Oh, thanks a lot, I really appreciate it.”  He said scooting his chair over so he got a good view of my book.

“Sure, you’re welcome.”

“I’m Lee Rockwell.”

“Billie Black, pleased to meet you.  So where you from?” I asked conversationally.

“All over.  My parents died a few years back so I live with my Gran but she doesn’t like to stay in just one place.  I’m originally from Black Forest, Colorado.”

“I’m sorry about your parents.  I lost mine three years ago to a car crash and I’ve been living with my Nana ever since.”

“I’m sorry for you too.” He said genially.  “You from New York?”

“That obvious, huh?” I laughed and he joined in.  “Penn Gate, New York.”

“You never been here before?”

“No, I actually have a lot of family in Salem.  A couple of my cousins live here on campus, too.”

“Oh, that’s good.  At least you’re not in a strange place all on your lonesome.”

“No and I have my boyfriend, Riley.  I have him, too.  What about you?  Any family?”

“Other than Gran, no.  But I am quick, I’ve made a couple of friends here in class.  You should join us for lunch.”

“I’d like that, thanks.”

 

When the lunch bell rang the students spilled out onto the fresh cut grass to find the sun burning bright above us.  Lee led me out towards a tree where there were some kids soaking up the midday sun.  One was another guy leaning against the tree with gelled back glossy brown hair, green eyes, dressed in beige pants and a blue shirt.  A blonde girl shucking a cerise turtleneck sweater to reveal a violet tank top beneath was tall and curvy with a twang in her voice.  The third was an average sized girl with dark tanned skin, dark flowing locks, earthy coloured eyes and a prominent pout dressed in a green maxi dress and killer high heeled boots.

“Hey guys, this is Billie.” Lee said when we approached.

“Drew Murdoch I’m from Edinburgh, Indiana.” Said Drew offering a hand to shake.

“Erin Murphy, Chapmanville, West Virginia.” Said the blonde smiling brightly up at me.

“Lexie Woods, Carefree, Arizona.” Said the tanned girl.

“Where are you from?” asked Erin.

“Oh, Penn Gate, New York.” I said copying them.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you.” Drew said chomping on an apple.

“Likewise.” I said.

“Take a pew.” Erin said.  “We won’t bite.”

“Thanks.” I said settling down beside Erin on the grass before pulling some food out.

“That’s an interesting tattoo.” Drew pointed to my left forearm where I’d pushed the sleeves up to my elbows.

“Thanks.” I said awkwardly.  “I got it for my eighteenth.”

 

Lexie choked on her lunch when she got a good look at my Witches Mark and turned astutely away to talk to Drew.

“So are you guys living on campus?” I asked.

“Yeah, I’m living in Bowditch Hall with another girl.”

“I live there, too!” I said.

“Awesome!” Erin said excitedly.  “How’s your roommate?”

“He’s my boyfriend so, yeah, I like him a lot.” I said and Erin joined in with my laughter.  “How’s your roommate?”

“She’s nice, she’s a lot like me and we have a lot in common so I like her.  It’s better than being stuck with someone you wouldn’t like right?”

“Right.” I agreed.

“Oh, there she is.  Hey, Chloe!” Erin waved to my distant cousin Chloe Foster.

“Oh, that’s Chloe Foster.” I said waving to her also.

“You know her?” Lexie asked shocked.

“Yeah, we’re sort of like cousins.”

“She’s really cool.”

“Yeah, she is.  So what about you guys?”  I asked the others.

“Oh, you already know I’m off campus with my Gran.” said Lee.

“I live in Bowditch with another dude.  Very quiet, never there.  He only comes in late at night when I’m already in bed and almost always leaves before I get up.” said Drew.

“He’s really hot though, like model hot.  What was his name?” Erin asked.

“I don’t remember.” said Drew unenthusiastically.

 

When we returned to class the sun continued to pour its burning beams through the windows and boiled the classroom we were studying in.  Lexie was the last to enter and, to her annoyance, had to sit in the only remaining seat next to me.  She kept to herself throughout class and only spoke to me once to borrow my eraser and then continued her silent treatment throughout the rest of class.  When the period ended and the end of day bell rang, the kids all tore out of the room as I waited for Lexie to come out behind them.  She was stashing her books in her bag when I grabbed her arm and pulled her in the other direction of the flow of students.

“Look, I don’t mean to be rude but…” I said yanking her arm as her bag split open and all her belongings fell upon her feet.  “Sorry!  Sorry!  I didn’t mean to… hey!”

 

Lexie had grabbed her throbbing right food and started hopping up and down on her left.  On the ankle of her right foot was the mark that I bore upon my left forearm.

“Hey!  You’re a witch!” I said as Lexie began to gather up her books.

“Yes, I am.  Now leave me alone.”

“Hey, wait!  What’s your problem?”

“Look, Billie, I do not wish to be company to another witch okay.”

“Why not?” I said striding down the halls by her side.

“The Preachers, hello!  They’re after us.  They attacked my family a month ago.”

“I’m so sorry, was anyone hurt?”

“They killed my sister Candy.” she said rushing away.

“Oh, Lexie, I’m so sorry.”

“Don’t apologies, it’s not your fault.  I hear you’ve had losses of your own anyway.” She said still striding down corridor after corridor.

“Yeah, I have.  Look, let’s sit so you can tell me everything.” I said pulling her out to the tree we sat at lunch time.

“Well, they attacked.  Lots were hurt but only my sister died.  I decided that we should split up, I’d heard most covens were doing that already.”

“I’m gathering that you’re the new leader of the Woods coven, right?”

“Yeah.  I wanted to stay with my parents but they insisted that I continue with my education.  If anything is to happen I get to go home.”

“You said you were from Carefree in Arizona, right?”

“Right.”

“Has there been any other witch attacks near you in Arizona?”

“Not that I’ve heard of.”

“How long ago was the attack?”

“About three months ago.”

“Do you mind taking a little trip with me?”

“Where to?”

“Penn Gate, New York.”

“What!?”

“It’s okay.” I said pulling her up from the grass.  “Just hold my hand and close your eyes until I say otherwise.”

 

She glanced at me questioningly for a second before gripping my left hand in her right then closed her eyes shut tight.  I thought of home where Nana, Dulcie, Brian and Matilda ought to be and blinked once where I found myself in my bedroom back home.

“It’s okay you can open your eyes now.” I informed her.

“Where are we?” she asked taking in her surroundings.

“Penn Gate, New York.  My house on Horseshoe Street.”

“Why are we here?” Lexie asked.

“My family and some friends of ours have been trying to track down the Preachers.”

“What!?  Why?” she asked stopping dead in her tracks.

“If we can find them we plan on stopping them.”

Reluctantly she started to walk again.  “That’s very dangerous.”

“I know, but I’m not asking you to get involved I just want you to tell Nana how, where and when they attacked.” I said coming to the bottom of the stairs.

“Billie, is that you?” called Nana from the kitchen.

“Yeah, it’s me.” I said leading Lexie to the rear of the house where I found all four of them sitting at the kitchen table.  “This is Lexie Woods.” I introduced her as she entered behind me.  “This is my Nana, Josephine Black, my brother, Brian, my friends Dulcie Cortes and Matilda Stanley.  Lexie’s family was recently attacked by the Preachers.”

“Oh, dear, I’m so sorry to hear that.” Nana said sympathetically.

“Thanks.” Lexie said sheepishly.  “Just so you know I think you’re all mad for wanting to track them down.”

“We’ve been trying to find them for a while now with no such luck.  Come through, tell us everything.”

 

Nana led the way into the living room where Lexie, Nana and I took a seat while the others stood in the doorway.

“It was about five month’s ago.” she began, “We were all at my home for my birthday party.  The Woods coven and our sister coven, the Hudson’s.  Both our coven’s were quite large but my house was really small so it was all so very much tight packed that I hadn’t even noticed them at first.  They were dressed like anyone else at the party, hidden in plain sight.  They had been there for hours, I’d just assumed they were friends of my parents or someone else’s.  It was already too late when I realised something was wrong with them.  My father had asked me to fetch him a beer from the ice bucket we’d left in the garden, I found my aunt and a few of my cousins passed out on the grass but my sister…” she paused, “Candy, they had a noose around her neck and they had tied the rope of it to her play swing before kicking the stool out from under her feet.” she said letting her head fall into her hands while gasping with tears.

 

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