Chapter LXI

Daniel and I convinced Mother to allow us to go for a leisurely walk with Chloe around the neighborhood. We assured her that we wouldn’t cross Bayview Avenue and would walk no further than Route One-thirty-six. She reluctantly agreed, clearly because it was a benefit for her to get us out of the house as it was her turn to host her social club’s weekly gathering and I knew she had an underlying fear that I would be the cause of some embarrassing situation for her. With both Dan and I out there was less of a chance that she would be put into a compromising position that would undermine the influence she had been meticulously cultivating within her clique over the years. The fact that the local police detectives had already been to our house twice concerning the disappearance of Josh Keyes must have caused some damage to her reputation and prized position with the group and I knew that it was frustrating for her.

As the three of us walked through the foyer I saw Mother in the morning parlor arranging chairs and setting out her Royal Albert china tea set complete with multiple tiered serving plates upon which she would later arrange a variety of simple sandwiches, petit fours, and scones for her group of female guests. I considered hanging around the house with the hope that I might overhear the conversation amongst the women believing that it might be an opportunity for me to learn more about the police investigation into Josh’s disappearance, but I realized the entirety of the discussion might only be minutes of a gathering that filled the afternoon hours. I was promised freedom that afternoon and I didn’t want to sacrifice it, plus my desire to know the details of that ongoing investigation was rather low on my current list of priorities.

Dan, Chloe, and I left the house in silence. Each of us were preoccupied with our own thoughts as we walked down the long gravel driveway and onto the street heading north towards downtown. Chloe and I were side by side as we walked along the road against traffic while my brother walked a few steps behind us.

“You know, those things are going to kill you,” I commented as Chloe retrieved a cigarette from the nearly empty pack of Benson and Hedges she kept in the inside pocket of her jacket.

“Yeah, Dad,” she scowled. “You take your medication today?”

Touché. I said no more about her unhealthy habit.

She glanced over her left shoulder at Daniel as she carefully placed the cigarette between her red painted lips. “So what did your parents decide to do about school?”

“Nuthin’,” he shrugged, burying his hands in the pockets of his zippered sweatshirt.  “Not yet, anyway. I’m supposed to take lessons from Angie’s tutor for now.”

Chloe nodded as she lit the cigarette and deeply inhaled.

“Do you go to Mount Hope?” he asked, moving beside her. His maneuver positioned him in the lane of oncoming traffic, but being early afternoon on a Wednesday there was hardly any vehicles on the road.

“I did, but my Dad pulled me out after I had a few … disagreements … with my teachers.” Smoke escaped her nostrils as she laughed. “Well anyway, I’m going to Portsmith Charter now.”

“Don’t they have uniforms?” asked Daniel with a nod towards her cigarette.

“Nope,” she smiled as she passed it to him. “There’s a dress code, for sure, every school has one, but theirs is pretty liberal. I can deal.”

“Cool,” nodded my brother, holding the butt with his index finger and thumb as he brought it to his lips. He took a drag then handed it back to her.

She smiled, as she accepted it. Holding his gaze, she brought the butt to her own lips and took a long drag. He chuckled and glanced away.

What the fuck was happening? The way she looked at my brother made my stomach lurch. There was something clearly off with her and in that moment I was even more convinced that she was possessed by a spirit than I had been on the last Sunday night we all hung out. She really was in need of an exorcism. I made a mental note to refer to my copy of Sacred Magick when we returned home. I knew there would be a plethora of information on the ancient rite.

“Angie says you don’t remember anything after Sunday night,” Chloe commented, flicking the ashes from the tip of the cigarette onto the ground before offering it to me.

“I don’t.”

“What do you remember?”

“Havin’ pizza with you,” he said as he brushed her hand with his own.

Did she just blush?! Aaarrrgggghhhh.

He continued, “And then puttin’ my shit away, and then Jacob called and we talked for a while …”

“Jacob?” she asked.

“A friend of his from St. John’s,” I interrupted, handing the cigarette back to her with a scowl. I mouthed, “Knock it off.”

“What?” she pantomimed.

“Then I showered and went to bed and when I woke up and went downstairs Mom was there and she tells me it’s fuckin’ Saturday,” he shook his head. “It was whack. I thought I was crazy or drugged. I mean, ’cause when I woke up I felt kinda out of it, you know, hung over or fuzzy, but I wasn’t.”

Chloe nodded.

The three of us walked in silence for a bit, Daniel falling behind Chloe and I when vehicles passed by, then reestablishing his place beside her. He stole side glances at her as we walked along Hope Street by the harbor. I could tell that she was enjoying the attention, and yes, while I was happy that she felt appreciated by my brother; he was a decent guy, I was irritated that whatever this was between them had the potential of becoming a serious distraction for Chloe and I just couldn’t have that happen. I needed her to be focused on me and the situation we had before us. I had to stop whatever was evolving between the two of them before it became a tangible threat and caused some irreparable damage.

“Angie, you said that you thought that your aunt misused her abilities. Why do you think that? What do you think she did with them?” asked Chloe as she flicked the cigarette filter into the street.

I recalled the uneasy feelings I experienced when I gazed at the synthetic yet meticulously detailed replica of my cousin Christian standing apart from my aunt’s other completed pieces in her home studio. Something about the eyes of that duplicate had convinced me that he was not a molded piece of resin, but a living breathing person that wanted to speak with me. I was reluctant to voice my concern, but I trusted Chloe and Daniel had to be told what power our family bloodline held within it. He needed to know.

I took a deep breath then said, “It’s her sculptures.”

Chloe furrowed her brow. “What do you mean?”

“Her sculptures aren’t inanimate objects,” I explained, kicking a loose pebble. “They’re people.”

“Did you say ‘people’?” he asked. He stopped walking and looked at me, understandably confused by my proclamation.

“Yes. Aunt Rachel has an ability like mine, but instead of using sound she uses feelings,” I began as we perched ourselves on the stone wall that separated the road from the water’s edge; a crumbling stone pier just a few hundred feet away. “She can force a human spirit into The Astral Realm by utilizing the energy of The Spiritual Plane, but instead of doing it with music she uses something physical like clay or resin. She uses touch while I use sound. She can do all the same things I can; syphon energy, store energy, and use the energy for trapping people in the Astral Realm, but …,” I paused before I continued, glancing at Chloe and then my brother, “the people aren’t trapped in songs on an MP3 player. They’re trapped in her sculptures. That’s why they’re so realistic.”

“Shit,” spit Daniel.

“That’s beyond fucked up, Angie,” said Chloe zipping up her jacket.

“But not everyone she trapped was a misuse of her power,” I felt the need to clarify my aunt’s actions as not all necessarily bad. Just as I had trapped guilty parties such as Ryan, Josh, and Mr. Morrell, Aunt Rachel had trapped tormentors. “But even just one innocent spirit breaks the sacred oath we swore to Frigg, to Syn.”

“But how do you know?” Dan asked, “How can you tell the difference between a guilty person and innocent one?”

I shrugged. “I think it depends on the ability. I hear the voices of the Ancestors. They tell me who’s guilty and who isn’t. I imagine for Aunt Rachel it’s by her touch. Maybe if she touches someone or something that belongs to them she can determine whether they’re guilty or innocent.”

My brother nodded, looking out towards Walker Cove. “I get it.”

“So for me,” Chloe said with a glance at Daniel before settling her focus on me, “it would be by what I see; someone’s glow would tell me.”

“Right,” I agreed.

“For you?” Dan questioned, placing his hand on hers.

Chloe sighed and withdrew her hand.

“Yeah. I … well …,” she started. “This is gonna sound crazy, but I have abilities, too. Kinda like your sister’s, but different.”

Maybe this is what would stop the thing happening between them, which for me would be good because then I wouldn’t have to directly do anything to hurt either of them, because I needed them each in my life, but separately. And maybe this revelation about Chloe and her abilities was the motive that my brother needed to pull away from her, to create distance between them. Perhaps it would make him nervous, like he was with me when we were younger, and then he would want to move further away from her physically and emotionally. A girl could hope, right?

“Well, alright. Cool,” Dan nodded. “Sounds like you might have Genetic Memories like Angie does, and I’m just the misfit here.”

Chloe giggled and slapped his arm. “Fuckin’ shut up, you’re not a misfit.”

Damn it. All hope was lost.

 

 

Advertisements

Chapter LX

I hadn’t heard from Chloe since the Sunday she was at our house hanging out. She stayed until after Daniel, her, and I devoured an entire pizza, but that was nine days ago. I was frustrated that I had no way of contacting her. She wasn’t answering her cell phone and my calls weren’t being redirected to voice mail, but even if I was able to leave her a message, I wasn’t sure she would retrieve it. I texted her numerous times hoping that she would respond, but she never did. Over time my frustration had morphed into anger then transformed into concern and at this point nine days later I was simply worried. I knew that something terrible had happened to her just as it had with Aunt Rachel. What I didn’t understand was why the Ancestors pursued her as they did my aunt. Had Chloe disobeyed them? Had she broken a vow? Did she use her powers in a disapproving way? Would I ever know the reason or would I have to glean it on my own as I had concerning Aunt Rachel.

Years ago my aunt had taken the same vow I had made, that all Williams women took, with the intention of repaying the family debt owed to the goddess and her handmaiden, both of who protected the family during the Witch Trails in Salem. We willingly made the vow to Frigg to be agents of Syn and as “choosers of the slain” we swore to be ever vigilant of those who tortured and persecuted the favored and protected, the innocent and lawful, slaying the oppressors when deemed necessary and escorting their spirits to the Astral Plane for Syn to judge. Their spirits would either be allowed to enter the grand palace of Fenislar and spend eternity with Frigg or be escorted to Valhalla where they would be celebrated until becoming the einherhar and fight at Odin’s side in the battle of Ragnarök, but those who were deemed unworthy of either of those fates would be cast aside and sent along to Helvegr with no chance of appealing Syn’s decision. I knew that Aunt Rachel had broken the family covenant with Frigg and had become that which she vowed to be watchful of. She was claimed and drawn into the Astral Realm by the Ancestors just as I had done to Ryan, Josh, and Mr. Morrell. No compassion was offered and neither was a chance given to make amends because like them she had become a tormentor, but unlike them she had made a sacred vow to an ancient deity and a Valkyrie that denounces her oath to the goddess Frigg was deemed contemptible and labeled an Oath Breaker. I knew she was bound to travel The Road to Hel.

Though the motives of the Ancestors and Syn had been unknown to me prior, I now understood that it wasn’t my actions that caused Aunt Rachel’s fate, it was her own lapse in judgment, her own grievous error. Overwhelmed by her fears and emotions, she misused her power and caused immense harm that I was expected to remedy. The responsibility of the family bloodline had been transferred to me during the bonding ritual that Aunt Rachel had done. How was I going to accomplish this task? I was unsure, but I knew that it was an enormous challenge that I felt unequipped to handle alone. I needed someone to aid and support me, which led my thoughts right back to where I had begun: Chloe.

I heard the heels of my Mother’s designer shoes strike the hardwood floor of the hallway as she approached my closed bedroom door. The measure of the raps on the floorboards indicated that she had a specific and perhaps uncomfortable purpose for disturbing me. I rightly assumed it had something to do with the lingering echo of the doorbell chime that hung in the atmosphere of the house. Were Detective Moore and Walker back to visit us again? I sincerely hoped they hadn’t because at the moment I had more than enough on my mind and adding another issue would certainly overwhelm me.

“You have a visitor, Angie,” she said with distain through the closed door after a brief, but loud, knock.

I heard the raps of her shoes retreat down the hallway just as fast as they had approached. I closed the leather bound journal I was reading and left it with the others on my bed, intending to return to them after speaking with whomever it was waiting downstairs for me. I was finding that the penmanship and language that was used in the diaries were difficult to comprehend, something I hadn’t prepared for when I collected the journals from Elizabeth Bennet.

I left the seclusion of my bedroom and walked down the stairs and through the foyer, passing the side table that held Mother’s house plants, all of which appeared to need watering; the tips of their leaves were turning brown. The late morning sunlight filtered through the sidelights and fanlight above the carved wooden door casting shadows on the Oriental rug, but otherwise the entranceway was empty of anyone. I walked through the archway that led to the large formal living room where Mother always escorted the police detectives, expecting to find both or one of them waiting for me, but found the parlor vacant as well.

Huh, alright. So who was here to see me?

I retraced my steps through the foyer and approached the opened door way to the morning parlor and found my visitor standing just a few steps over the threshold with her back to me. She was easily identifiable with her short mermaid dyed pixie hair style and black leather jacket.

“Chloe!” I shouted.

She turned and smiled. “Hey.”

“Are you alright?” I asked, examining her, searching for some injury or physical evidence of a reason as to why she didn’t contact me before now. “Is everything okay? Were you in an accident? Were you attacked? Did something happen to you? Did you lose your memory again?”

“Yeah, I’m fine, Angie. Relax,” she said, holding up her hands defensively. “You’re stressing me out.”

“I’m stressing you out?! Seriously, Chloe?? Seriously??”

She was joking, right? I had no words to express the level of anxiety over her well-being I had been dealing with since the night she left our house. We needed to have an in depth discussion about the lost time and I needed to find out if she experienced it too, but I didn’t want to talk about it there in the house with my Mother lurking around. I knew she had a tendency to eavesdrop on all my conversations.

“Let’s hangout outside,” I suggested.

Chloe agreed and followed me silently through the foyer and onto the front porch, the soles of her black combat boots rhythmically hitting the floor tiles, setting the tempo for the duet we were continuously composing together.

“Why haven’t you returned my calls? My texts?” I demanded as I secured the front door, granting us the privacy we needed. “What the fuck is going on, Chloe? What’s going on?!”

“Hell-llo, Angie,” she said, waving an obviously new cellphone in front of my face. “My phone died and my Dad had to buy me a new one. It wasn’t like I was purposefully ignoring you. I mean, why would I?”

She replaced the cellphone into the back pocket of her denim jeans while she spoke. “So I take it that some shit went down after I left Sunday night?”

“Yes!” I exclaimed, paused calming myself before questioning, “What do you remember from that night?  Do you remember anything?”

“Well, yeah, of course. It was all so fucking weird,” she said as she leaned against one of the four columns of the curved portico, the same spot that Ryan Fuller had favored months ago. “I left your house and walked to the end of the driveway before I realized that I should text my Dad to let him know that I was heading home. When I was texting I felt something, like, pulling me back towards your house. It wasn’t something outside of me, but more like something inside of me. I felt like there was something wrong in your house so I ran back here. I didn’t even knock on the door – I just came right in and as soon as I did … it was fucking intense.”

“What? What was it?” I was anxious to hear what she remembered.

“It felt like I was being sucked in by some sort of vacuum. It pulled me towards the parlor where your Aunt Rachel was reading her magazine, but when I got into the parlor I saw you,” she gestured towards me with her hands, ”floating off the floor, and some other woman, that wasn’t your aunt, standing across from you near the sofa, and there was something … I don’t know … unreal about the woman.”

“What do you mean unreal?” I questioned. Why was it that Chloe recollected the entire encounter while my memory along with Daniel’s had been stolen from us?

“Well … she had … like … I don’t know …” Chloe seemed to struggle for words to describe the woman I knew to be Syn. “Well, I mean she looked like a Viking Warrior Woman, you know a Shield Maiden cosplayer with all the leather and the cloak and face tattoos and spear. I mean I really wasn’t sure if I saw her or if I was imagining her.”

I nodded. Her appearance was something I would always remember; fiercely beautiful and yet terrifying.

“I didn’t know what to do, but I knew I had to do something so I called your name, but you just floated there with your eyes closed with this woman seriously focused on you.”

“I heard you,” I assured.

“You did?” she smiled. “Well, that’s good; so then I reached out to grab you, stupid I know, but I didn’t know what else to do. When I touched you I was sucked into some sort of air funnel that I realized was holding you off the ground and then I got sucked in, it made me float, too. And then that woman – “

“Syn,” I said with a sigh.

Chloe’s eyes widened. “That woman was Syn? Your Syn?”

“Yeah,” I nodded.

“Fuck!” Chloe cursed, shaking her head. She searched the pockets of her short leather jacket for what I knew was her pack of cigarettes. “Well apparently she thought I was hilarious because she laughed, but I couldn’t hear her laughing, like her mouth was opened but no sound came out. It was fucking creepy. She scared the shit out of me, Angie.”

“She does that,” I agreed.

“Anyway I knew she, Syn, was causing the air funnel and I got the sense that being stuck there was bad so I kept trying to wake you, to make you open your eyes …,” Chloe found the gold pack of Benson and Hedges from her pocket and removed a single cigarette as she continued with her narrative, “for some reason that seemed important. I was so scared that I was failing and something would happen to you. I kept yelling at you to ‘open your eyes’, but you wouldn’t. You just wouldn’t listen to me.”

She lit the cigarette with a black plastic lighter that she retrieved from the other pocket and took a slow drag. I studied my friend’s expressions as she spoke and couldn’t fathom how she recalled it all when I couldn’t remember her even being there. In the vision that Elizabeth Bennet had shared with me there had been no echo, no wraith, nothing of Chloe present.

“I decided to use my power,” she explained with an exhale of smoke. “You were surrounded by a dark indigo glow that had wisps moving and pulsing inside it and when I looked at it, or really more like looked into it, I heard some sort of chant in my head, but I couldn’t understand the words. I think either the wisps or the angels were … singing?”

Did she say angels? Where angels even a real thing?

She offered me the lit cigarette.

“Angels?” I repeated accepting the butt and bringing it to my lips.

“Angels, or something like that,” she said, flicking her lighter. “I don’t know what they were, but they swirled around you all sparkly. It was very beautiful and hypnotic. I’ve never seen anything like it before.”

“Those things were probably the Ancestors,” I explained, passing the cigarette back to her with an exhale, “especially if they were chanting.”

“Well, none of it felt right to me so I kept yelling at you and directing you to me. You thought I was your Aunt Rachel, but I kept correcting you and then you started getting scared, which scared me,” she exhaled a lungful of smoke as she spoke. “I moved towards you, but those Ancestors or whatever kept stopping you from coming to me and then something shifted, I don’t know what it was, but I felt you reach out for me so I reached out for you and then we were free of the air funnel. And then when I looked over at Syn with my powers still activated, that’s when I realized that she wasn’t cosplaying. I could tell she was something else. She had a glow that was so bright and pure with no hint of any color. It was just brightness.”

“What did she do once we were free?” I asked.

“She just nodded at me and disappeared. She faded and was gone like she was never there. The air in the house was back to normal.”

“Then what?”

“I helped you upstairs and into your room. You were really out of it so I made sure you got changed into something comfy and I helped you into bed and I left.”

“Where was Aunt Rachel? Where was Daniel?”

“I don’t know. I didn’t see either of them. I assumed Daniel was in his room because his door was shut, but I don’t have any idea about your aunt. I never saw her.”

“Do you remember anything after that?”

“After that? What do you mean?” Chloe asked.

I decided to take another approach. “When did your phone die?”

“Oh, yeah, well apparently during that whole episode, my phone fell out of the pocket of my hoodie and hit the floor pretty hard. When I got home I noticed the screen was shattered.”

“So then you remember what has happened to you every day since that night? Right? You don’t have any confusing or fragmented memories like that night in the woods with your friends Nick and Jack?”

“What?” She grimaced, “No, no. Why? Do you?”

“Well, I don’t just have confusing memories. I have no memories. I don’t remember you coming back to the house. I don’t remember getting in bed. I do remember you leaving and I remember the whole experience with Syn, but that’s because someone helped me remember them, but I don’t remember everything you just shared with me,” I paused. “Apparently there are five days between you leaving our house and me waking up that are a total blank to me. It’s like they don’t exist.”

“Shit, Angie, that’s fucked up” she said, dropping the butt of the cigarette on the porch and crushing it violently with her boot. “Is Dan okay?”

“Yeah,” I nodded. “He’s okay but he doesn’t remember anything either.”

“Was it Syn? Do you think she do something to the two of you,” she swallowed hard and whispered. “Like The Pickman Sister’s did to us – Nick, Jack, and me? A transmogrification spell or something?”

Was it possible? Could Syn have cast some sort of spell on my brother and me? I honestly didn’t know. Anything was possible at this point until I could figure it out. There was a reason for what she did, I understood enough about her to know that she had motives, but at that point I was at a loss as to what those might be.

“I know Syn took our memories, but I don’t know how and I don’t know why,” I explained. “Maybe you can help me with figuring it out.”

She nodded with a smile. “Yeah, of course. How can I help?”

Chapter LIX

On the drive home from Bridgeboro Mr. Stokes shared with me more information about himself and his history with our family than he had in the past year he had been tutoring me. While I’ve always known he was well educated and possessed the ability to academically instruct and challenge me, I actually liked him and found him to be an amusing teacher. I enjoyed our lessons and looked forward to our time together. He had skill and tact when dealing with my abnormal and morbid behaviors that were attributed to my mental illness, but I have come to realize that he never viewed them as symptoms and instead was aware of who I was and that I had been born under The Blood Omen, which practically ensured that I would possess abilities. I held respect for him from the beginning of our relationship, but that respect became tainted as each event unfolded over the last few months. With each new challenge I faced I discovered just how much Mr. Stokes had deceived me, holding vital information from me that would have influenced my decisions in some way. I wanted to trust him, but I found myself holding back. I knew that because we had been bonded by Aunt Rachel, he could be of great value to me, though admittedly I was unsure how that would work. He had the knowledge, skills, and experience to teach me how to control my abilities, all of which I knew I needed in order to become more advanced and perhaps fix all that had been broken in my life; beginning with my lost memories and finding Aunt Rachel, but I found it difficult to trust him, to rely on him, to believe what he said, and question what he didn’t.

Mr. Stokes was an entertaining story-teller. His word choices weren’t only compelling, but emotionally charged and impactful. He finally acquiesced to me and told me the story behind the scar on his forehead, which was a memento from the time spent with my Great-Great-Grandmother Catherine Elizabeth traipsing around New York City where the two of them visited speakeasies owned by some notorious crime bosses of the time. Apparently this behavior ceased only after my great-great-grandmother discovered that she was pregnant with my Great-Grandmother Lillian and was forced by the family to tame her wild nature. He explained that in those types of establishments, after consuming a fair amount of liquor, patrons would often unabashedly release their oppressed emotions, which would result in chaotic brawls. One unforgettable evening while accompanying Catherine he was involved in such an occurrence and was whacked on the head with the broken leg of a wooden chair by a man named Charles Luciano. My tutor described the uncomfortable sensations he experienced after being hit as hard as he had been and explained that he had been unaware of the deep gash on his forehead, the result of a protruding screw in the chair leg, until Catherine pointed it out to him. It had required the attention of a physician who had treated it for infection and stitched it closed. While at the time Mr. Stokes noted that he was irritated by the whole chaotic experience, he now allowed the scar to be a constant reminder of his primary responsibility; his human companion, whoever she might be during that current period of time.

He smiled as he described how fascinated she was by Spiritualism and how she enjoyed attending the séances being held throughout the area, some of which were hosted by the most notable mediums of the time. They had been invited to the home of a man named Goddard Crandon, a wealthy Boston surgeon whose wife was a well-known medium who channeled her dead brother, Walter Stinson, and though my great-great grandmother was four months pregnant at the time and my great-great grandfather forbade her to, she and Mr. Stokes took the trip to Boston and attended the séance. There they mingled with prestigious members of Boston’s upper class and Ivy League elite. The Blonde Witch of Lime Street was a disappointment to Catherine, who Mr. Stokes observed possessed abilities far greater as did all the women of my bloodline. Fueled by what she viewed as a mockery of her own gifts, my great-great grandmother, uninfluenced by the fame of the medium or the clout of the gathered audience, contradicted the information that Margery Crandon gave to the group that evening. He assured me that she didn’t relay what she gleaned from the spirits in a self-promoting way, but did so with tactful consideration allowing the group to leave with the available insight, but also with Margery understanding what it was to be an authentic channel and not just a performer. She was never invited back.

Shifting from his tales about Great-Great Grandma Catherine, Mr. Stokes spoke to his appearance and explained that he didn’t always look as he did now, resembling a distant family member, instead sometimes he would adopt the appearance of someone from his human partner’s memory, such as a close confidante or intimate friend, though he stressed the importance of having a corporeal form while in active service to the members of our bloodline.

“Being in a physical body creates a stronger bond between the two of us and makes life less complicated. There’s less explaining to do,” he said as he maneuvered his vehicle through traffic on the highway. With a hint of amusement he continued, “Because the majority of people I interact with are so unaware they don’t even realize I’m not a human being.”

I looked over at him from the passenger seat and studied his physical appearance. I didn’t find him the least bit attractive and would probably ignore him if I were to see him out in public, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t aware. Did it? His eyes were set too close together and were encased by thick, heavy eyelids. His large bulging nose and thin lips were accented by a trimmed mustache, while his almost non-existent chin donned a short goatee. His brown and gray head hair was thinning and receding, leaving him with a larger forehead than he wouldn’t have had in his younger years. His facial skin was wrinkled and sagging, which lead me to wonder if his physical body aged as mine did or if because he wasn’t human it remained in this permanent state. Did his body even work the same as a natural human body? Was he required to eat and drink to live? Did he ever get sick? Would this body he currently inhabited die? What did he look like without a physical body? Would I be able to see him in his true form? Could anyone see him that way? I realized that Chloe being a Tetraprismat would be able to and I began making plans in my head for her to meet him and tell me what she saw when she looked at him.

The sound of my brother’s snoring from the backseat disrupted my thoughts.

“So, what are you?” I asked my tutor. “I mean, if you aren’t human, then what are you? An alien? Angel? Demon? What?”

Mr. Stokes glanced at me before speaking. “Well … I am a trusted confidant … a devoted companion, who be–”

“Because of a blood bond willingly serves, attends, and blah, blah, blah,” I finished. “I get it. I know all that already, but what are you?”

Mr. Stokes frowned as he stopped at a red traffic light. I had made him uncomfortable. It was as if he didn’t want to speak the words aloud. Why was he hesitating? If he said what he was would it make it less true? Would it break some sort of spell or some sort of rule, like in that old movie with Brad Pitt and Edward Norton? Was he not allowed to discuss the nature of his being? If he was truly in servitude to our bloodline, to me, then wasn’t I entitled to know this information? If he didn’t tell me, then who would explain these things to me? Perhaps it was meant to be Aunt Rachel, but she wasn’t here and I wasn’t certain when she’d be returning, if she ever would.

“You know what I am, Angie. You’ve always known, you just never acknowledged it before because you were kept medicated by your doctor at the insistence of your parents,” he paused, “Well, more precisely by your Mother.”

“Tell me,” I insisted, as he pulled his vehicle into our driveway. “Say it out loud so I know I’m not making it up.”

He brought the car to a stop and turned off the engine. My brother stirred in the backseat beginning to wake from his nap.

“I’m your familiar spirit.”

 

Chapter LVIII

Precognition is understood to be the psychic ability to see future events. While it has been suggested that this ability violates the basic principle of causality, the cause is partly responsible for the effect and the effect is partly dependent on the cause this only holds truth if it is accepted that the world progresses in a linear fashion, but though human beings order their lives in this manner, it is understood by scientists that the concept of time and space are manmade constructs.

Time is a concept of measure; an impression within the minds of human beings who perceive the events of their life experiences as separate incidents occurring in a flowing continuum in the same physical location, and it is only when the individual shifts their perspective that they perceive the existence of time because it is that individual’s relationship to what he or she perceives as being part of their past, present, or future, but if that individual is aware that time is a construct and can understand that events within the human experience existing congruently only within varied vibrational frequencies then precognition might be understood as the psychic ability to see events aligned with another vibrational frequency or occurring in other dimensional plane other than the one the individual is currently dwelling within.

 

It took some time to reestablish some resemblance of order in the small back office of Luminosity, and though Elizabeth Bennet wasn’t upset by the chaotic destruction I had caused, I was. My abilities had been triggered by an unidentified source and I was uncertain as to how or why. I was concerned that there was a possibility that it would occur again without my prior knowledge or consent. Was it possible that Elizabeth Bennet had triggered my ability with her own just as Chloe did that afternoon in my bedroom? I had read about precognition within the pages of Sacred Magick, but had no firsthand knowledge about how it worked so I couldn’t be sure that Elizabeth was the catalyst, but if she was, then how could I stop this from happening again? What was the technique I needed to learn? I couldn’t continue to allow outside influences to trigger my ability. It was paramount for me to be in control of my power, because like it or not, I was the responsible one even if someone or something outside of me triggered it.

Perhaps the solution to this whole fantastical situation was less complicated than I imagined. Maybe I just needed to reconsider my opinion about the medication I had been prescribed my Dr. Worth. As much as I disliked the feeling I had while medicated I needed to consider the well-being of those who were around me: my friends, my family. What if my power was triggered and I unintentionally hurt someone? Or killed them? Would I be able to live with that guilt?

“I’m so sorry about this mess,” I apologized, as I picked up the fragmented pieces of one of the many broken statues that hadn’t yet been placed on the display shelves in the shop.

“It’s really my fault, Angie. I asked you to show me your ability and you did. I just wasn’t as prepared as I should’ve been. I underestimated you,” she said, glancing at my tutor, who was gathering scattered packing peanuts. “I think we all have.”

Mr. Stokes never glanced up from his task. He appeared to be caught up in his own thoughts.

Elizabeth seemed to be more familiar with me than I was with her and I couldn’t help but wonder how detailed was her knowledge concerning me? Did she know who I was that day I first wandered into her shop, the day I purchased the sphere and books? Was she aware of the connection I had with each of the items? Did she know that Abigail Williams was of my bloodline before our discussion about the inscription I found in the copy of Sacred Magick that I purchased from her shop?

“You know what I find funny?” I questioned. “It seems that you know a lot about me, but I don’t know you at all. You know things I share before I even share them, and yes, I know you’ve told us that you ‘read the portents’, and that’s fucking amazing, but I also know that some of the information you know about me came from,” I pointed at my tutor, ”him …”

“Angie,” Mr. Stokes attempted to interrupt.

“… because it’s clear to me that the two of you have some sort of ‘thing’ going on,” I continued, “which is really none of my business, but you shouldn’t include me in your ‘thing’, because I don’t want to be a part of it.”

“You don’t under –,” began Elizabeth.

“Yes I do,” I cut her off, caught up in my own bravado, “I understand more than you know, more than you all know. I am the epiphany of understanding. But you’re right about one thing; you have all underestimated me.”

With a heavy sigh, Mr. Stokes dropped the plastic bag he was holding and the white foam pieces he had captured within escaped their dark prison and reveled in their newly discovered freedom as they danced to the floor. Elizabeth Bennet looked from me to my tutor without speaking. The tension grew weighty as seconds passed in silence.

I wondered what Aunt Rachel thought of Mr. Stokes sharing information with this woman, if she even knew about it. Although I was unclear as to the details of his obligation to our family, specifically to me, I was certain that sharing personal information about me without my consent was breaking some rule. What would the consequences for him be? Did he forget that he was in servitude to the bloodline of Abigail Williams? He betrayed me; by sharing my secrets with this woman, a woman I barely knew even if there was some unseen bond between her and me, he still betrayed me. I would decide what she should know and when she would know it. Not him.

Mr. Stokes removed his glasses and wiped his face with the palm of his left hand before replacing his spectacles. It felt as if he was preparing to offer an explanation, but Daniel returned from a trip to the restroom before he said a word.

“Hey,” my brother greeted as he entered the office. “What’s going on? Something happen while I was gone?”

“No,” I shook my head, retrieving the worn leather bound diaries from their splayed positions on the floor. I smoothed the wrinkled pages before closing each of the books and gathering them in my arms as if they were children. “I think it’s time for us to leave.”

“Please return the diaries to me when you’re finished with them,” Elizabeth requested as she took a step closer to where I stood.

“I will,” I said, clutching the old journals to my chest anxious to leave the shop and begin reading the words that were written on the yellowed pages.

“Angie,” Mr. Stokes cleared his throat before proceeding, “I realize that you’re often discouraged by … well, without sugarcoating it, because I think we’re well beyond that now, so let me just be candid with you here …”

“Yes, please.”

I only ever wanted him to be honest and open with me.

“… your life, but mostly I think it’s the people in your life that frustrate you most because, and I include myself in this lot, we misjudge you. I understand your frustration. I do. You may not believe me, but I do.”

Elizabeth silently nodded from her spot by the desk.

“If I were you, I would be irritated with me, as well,” he slipped his hands into his trouser pockets. “It seems that although I was cautioned numerous times by Rachel to not underestimate you, I did; over and over again, when instead I should’ve been unbiased about your potential. As your teacher I should’ve been encouraging you to explore the depths of your power and guide you in gaining and keeping control of your abilities, but I neglected to do so and I apologize for my failure.”

I didn’t know what to say or think in response to Mr. Stokes’ words so I stood in silence. The sincerity of his expression softened my feelings of agitation and unease with the numerous unknowns that were presented to me. I used to believe that life was filled with boundaries and undeniable truths, but as I uncovered information about the members of my family and our shared history the more I realized my beliefs were naïve.

“I’d like to clarify something, Angie,” offered Elizabeth as she took a step towards me. “It wasn’t Gerald who spoke with me about you.”

I was confused.

“It’s all right,” my tutor said, placing his hand on her arm.

“She should know,” Elizabeth explained. “If we’re going to do this honesty thing then she needs to know.”

“Yes, of course,” he agreed, dropping his hand with a quick nod.

The shop owner glanced at my brother then looked to me.

“It was your aunt,” she confessed. “It was Rachel.”

Aunt Rachel? It was difficult to believe that my aunt was the individual who betrayed me by sharing personal things about me with a stranger. She was the one family member who always acknowledged and valued me as an individual with ideas and thoughts separate from my parents. She knew I had abilities and didn’t refer to me as delusional or paranoid and she never referred to me as being mentally ill. She never labeled me anything but unique. I trusted her. I admired her. I struggled with the idea that she was the one talking to Elizabeth about me.

“She and I are …,” hesitated Elizabeth, “Well, we’re …”

“Lovers?” questioned Daniel.

“Friends,” she continued, her word overlapping my brother’s. “We’ve been friends for years now.”

It was strange the way she said the word ‘friends’ as if the label didn’t quite fit the rapport my aunt and she shared and I wondered if my brother’s assessment of the nature of their relationship was a more accurate one. Honestly it didn’t matter to me who my aunt was sexually involved with, be it a woman or man, but the idea that Aunt Rachel might be currently romantically tied to or had been previously involved in an intimate relationship with Elizabeth Bennet intrigued me, not because she was a woman, but because of the abilities she possessed and how her blood relative, Sarah Osborne was connected to ours.

Chapter LVII

Until that moment in the back office of the metaphysical shop in Bridgeboro, I understood that time was an illusion, but I didn’t fully appreciate what that meant. Well, I should more accurately explain that I understood it as best I could from a purely academic perspective, but I had never truly experienced the concept expediently. While I could tangibly understand that everything was made of energy, being as I had manipulated the personal energy of more than one physical body at that point in my life and had broken it down to its purest form, the concept of time was more of a struggle for me. I had read about the illusion of time repeatedly in the pages of my favorite occult book, Sacred Magick, in the hopes that I would be able to have a true comprehensive understanding of it, but I was unsure if I believed the suggested idea that all of time is occurring congruently in one moment. I experienced life in a linear way; all human beings do. Each experience is delineated by the hours, minutes, and seconds of each day and how long we’ve lived is counted by years, months, and weeks. It was difficult for my mind to grasp that this rigid structure was a construct by human beings and was in effect simply meaningless, but after experiencing the vision I had when Elizabeth Bennet held my hands that day – I unquestionably understood.

Each night when I crawl into bed and allow my conscious mind to drift from wakefulness to slumber, I am aware of the subtle transition of one state of consciousness to another and often wonder if other people are able to identify that moment, as well. I am easily able to shift vibrational frequencies and align myself with other realms of existence and prior to acknowledging who and what I am, I would listen to the midnight whispers of the women of my bloodline and dance to the dark voices of the composers as they shared their intentions, dreams, and visions with me. Those nightly excursions would leave me drained both emotionally and physically as if I had never slept. Restfulness was elusive to me, and while lingering within the state of true exhaustion, I assumed sleep would only come as Death’s seductive companion; so, often nights just before the transition I prayed for death. She did not answer my prayer. She never came to visit; instead Dr. Worth brought me Klonopin. We had a beneficial relationship, Klonopin and I, and she brought me the restfulness I desired, but it was a relationship that I chose to sever not too long ago so that I might discover who I was, my true identity, a task that seemed mystifying and never-ending.

As I stood there in the back office of Luminosity, I felt myself drowning in the confusion of my mind as the chaotic storm of vivid images of Aunt Rachel, my cousin Christian, the goddess Syn, and a funnel of energy swirling above a reflection of me collided with the scattered fragments of my perceived understanding of the past and present. My intellect was threatened by the twisting insidious doubt of lucidity and the wildness of my imagination as the edges of my sanity began eroding away. The pieces of the puzzle gently fell into their rightful place as my intuition reconciled the shared understanding of reality and the smallest fraction of the greater truth that my human mind was capable of comprehending. I saw the resolution.

I knew the cause of Daniel’s and my lost memories. I hadn’t blanked them out because I was unable to deal with traumatic events that had occurred. I didn’t have a new mental health issue. I was not suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder. I was complete. I was whole and I was and had always been in control of my body. In fact, I was beginning to wonder if I was mentally ill at all regardless of what my parents or Dr. Worth believed. It was possible that I would never be able to prove to them that I was sane and they might live their lives with the conviction that I was mentally ill, but I knew better. I knew what was happening with me even if they did not.

I was aware that those lost five days filled with memories that I was missing had been washed away, stolen from me as well as from my brother, though admittedly I had no understanding as to why.

“She did it,” I said. “Mr. Stokes, she took our memories.”

“Elizabeth?” he shot up from his chair, glancing from me to the shop owner. “How?”

“I didn’t,” she protested. “I couldn’t. That magick is beyond me.”

“No, no, not you,” I shook my head as I waved her off. “Syn. It was Syn.”

My tutor dropped back down into his chair as he touched his forehead and began massaging the old scar with his fingers.

“Gerald, you knew this was a possibility,” sighed Elizabeth as she walked behind the desk, putting distance between us.

“What? Seriously?”

I was annoyed, actually I was beyond annoyed. I was furious with Elizabeth’s retreat as well as with the realization that every time I came to a point of self-revelation I discovered that it shouldn’t be; I should already possess the knowledge. It should’ve already been revealed to me, but someone had made the decision to keep it from me, and it seemed, as of late, that Mr. Stokes was the gatekeeper.

“You knew and didn’t tell me?” I glared at him. “Why? Why are you keeping secrets? Why aren’t you telling me things like this when you know they’re important to me? I don’t understand. I thought you were supposed to be helping me, but you’re not. You’re not helping … at all. I mean, you know how fucked up things are right now. You know this and still you say nothing when you know things … important things that could help me fix this colossal fuck up.”

My tutor remained silent and continued to massage the line near his temple.

I was enraged and disappointed and scared. I felt myself tremble as the emotions coursed through my body.

“Angie, I don’t get it,” my brother’s voice was just above a whisper. My outburst at Mr. Stokes clearly distressed him. “If Syn is the goddess that our ancestors worshipped, then why would she do this to us?”

“I defied her when I rescued Aunt Rachel,” I admitted.

I had been cautioned that my actions carried consequences, but I disregarded the goddess’ warning and directly worked against her, so I knew that she would claim retribution from me, but why Daniel?

“But I didn’t,” grumbled Dan cradling his head in the palm of his hands.

I was troubled that he had been caught up in the mess of my life. It was unfair for Syn to punish him for my disobedient behavior.

“I know,” I reached over and rested my hand on the top of his.

As the flesh of my palm touched his hand something deep within me snapped. My mind sprang alive. A collage of images flashed through with a speed that caused me to lose balance and tumble to the floor. I lost focus as my psyche was embraced by the thick feverish liquid of emotion; it covered, encased, and suffocated me. The fount from where it originated gush forth, hemorrhaging power. As this ocean crashed over me, the dark bloody undertow dragged me deeper and deeper within myself. I was sinking.

Was this Syn’s plan all along? Is this how my fate had been written thousands of years ago? Was my destiny was to lose all hint of sanity in the back office of a metaphysical shop owned by a descendent of Sarah Osborne who had died while imprisoned on charges of witchcraft, accused by Abigail Williams, my own blood relative? Was I the blood price for Sarah’s life? My life for hers, was that it?

Cohesive thought became difficult to structure as my essence merged with the formless void of alizarin crimson that churned within me. My mind released its grip on reality and slid further …

My parents had won.

I would be the daughter they always expected of me.

I would embrace my fate.

Embody the paranoid schizophrenic that they morbidly desired.

… downward and inward …

… as I surrendered.

NO!

I was not a coward. I was a warrior, a Valkyrie and I wouldn’t allow myself to give up without a fight. I dredged myself through the steady flow of overwhelming emotions, sorting through them and identifying which were mine and which were outside influences; dissolving the later into nothingness. I diligently searched for my center, the genesis from where this surplus of emotional energy sprang and once I located it, I coiled my mind around it; a viper, lithesome and crafty. I sank my venomous fangs into the succulent fount and gained control of the surging power, spindling it, allowing it to swirl before I forcibly pushed it through my body.

The sound of breaking ceramic and glass in the room around me startled me. My head pounded, my body felt numb, and I was certain I had a fever. Had I come down with the flu? I blinked numerous times as I slowly sat up.

“You alright?” Dan was crouched over me, looking and sounding concerned.

“I have a headache,” I admitted. I was unsure of how to tell him what I uncovered about his memory loss. I wasn’t going to withhold information from him. I refused to be a hypocrite. I pointed to the fresh wound on his brow. “What happened to you?”

He gingerly touched the bleeping cut with his fingertips. “I must have been tagged by something.”

I glanced around the room as my brother helped me to my feet. It looked as though a storm had whipped through the place; paper that had been neatly organized in piles on the wooden desk was strewn about, the shelves were toppled over and their contents was broken and scattered around the room. Mr. Stokes was helping Elizabeth to her feet across from me.

“What happened?” I questioned aloud even though I already knew the answer.

 

Chapter LVI

I looked around the small office at the disorganized wooden shelves and pile of unopened boxes that sat on the floor beside the desk in the middle of the space. Mr. Stokes and my brother sat on folding chairs that Elizabeth Bennet had provided for them while I stood leaning against a counter that ran the length of the room. The shop owner was perched on the edge of the desk with the diaries that we had come to her shop in Bridgeboro to retrieve set beside her. The shop had gotten busy with customers so Elizabeth had encouraged the three of us to accompany her to the private office in the back where we would be able to continue our conversation without interruption, but I was getting restless and wanted to grab the diaries and head back home to study them. While I was interested in this woman and our uncanny bond, I was also agitated by the lack of new information I was receiving.

“Everything is energetically connected; plants, animals, minerals, people, the earth, the air, the water, fire, light, darkness, the sun, moon, stars, heat, sound, colors,” she gestured with her hands, “All things found within the natural world and the things that are manmade. Everything is connected.”

I nodded. I couldn’t argue with her words; they made sense to me, but I was annoyed that she was wasting my time discussing the things I already knew and understood when what I wanted to hear, what I needed to hear was how she knew about our missing time and whether or not she experienced it as well. Maybe this was a key as to how our families had become connected and why it had come to be.

She continued, “It is because of this interconnectedness that human beings are able to manipulate these energies to create change. If you have read any occult books that discuss magick then you are probably already familiar with this concept. The thing is … every human being is born with the ability to tap into this energy.”

“Everyone?” I questioned. I wasn’t sure she had this right. It seemed highly unlikely that my Mother had any such ability.

“Yes, everyone. It’s within our nature to tap into and utilize this energy,” Elizabeth explained. She shook her index finger, “but none of us do so in the same way. Each family bloodline has an innate way in which they are more easily able to do so and is it through this inherited ability that they create change or receive messages, guidance, and insight from the unseen realms of existence.”

“But if what you say is true,” Daniel countered, “then why don’t we hear about this sort of stuff on the news?”

My brother made a valid point. If everyone had these abilities then why did I feel like an outsider? Why were my parents and Dr. Worth convinced that I had a mental illness? Elizabeth’s words seemed much too fantastical to believe. They felt true, but I knew better than to always trust my own feelings; many times they led me to an unwanted dosage increase of my medication or a short stay on the psychiatric ward in the hospital.

“Skepticism is healthy. It’s important to always question things especially when dealing with the occult,” she smiled. “The thing is that some people accept and understand how to use their abilities, but others aren’t aware they possess them or they’re afraid of what they are able to do or hear or see. We are taught as children that everything non-physical is pure imagination, but that just isn’t true. Is it?”

Daniel and I remained silent.

“And lest we forget that some individuals are simply convinced that these abilities aren’t real, that they are just symptoms of mental illness,” stated Mr. Stokes, who had been silent since Elizabeth had shown the three of us into the small back office.

“Or that they are dark gifts or evil powers bestowed upon the individual because they are possessed or made a pact with Satan, himself,” she added. “But we know that is just untrue.”

“Well, maybe not dark gifts from Satan, but they are gifts from other … I don’t know, other gods or spiritual beings.”

“Not always.”

“Yes,” I countered. “Always.”

She raised an eyebrow. “Well, why don’t we agree for the moment that it depends on the individual’s perspective of the Universe and how it works as to where the abilities originate. Does that work for you, Angie?”

Her suggestion seemed fair and I really wanted to move on from the current topic.

I shrugged. “Yeah, sure.”

“What about your family?” Dan asked. “Do they have abilities?”

“As I said ‘everyone does’,” she reiterated, “But not everyone recognizes them. For example, my brother Luke isn’t convinced that he has abilities. He’s more comfortable with logic, and facts, and truths. He’s a man of science and is a renowned cardiovascular surgeon, but he credits his success to years of studying human anatomy and his practical skill with a scalpel.”

I raised my eyebrows. “And it’s not?”

“Education and training were part of it,” she explained, “But our family’s precognitive tendencies and his spirit companion were the biggest influences even if he won’t acknowledge them.”

I was intrigued by her mention of a spirit companion and pondered the implication; was she suggesting that her brother had a familiar spirit or was she hinting at interactions with the Ancestors? I considered that it was possible that her family had a relationship with an ancient god or goddess similar to how my bloodline was indebted to Syn. Perhaps this was the strange feeling of kinship that I had with Elizabeth Bennet. The shared intimate bond was due to the fact that both she and I were human Valkyries of the goddess Syn.

“And what about you?” I asked.

Elizabeth reached out and grasped my hands in her own as she focused her eyes on mine. I returned her stare; the green, gold, and brown hues of her irises swirled around the pupils. We exhaled in unison and soon our breathing fell into resonance. I lazily blinked and when I reopened my eyes my sight had become clouded as images seeped into my mind unfolding an event that occurred miles from the shop, but appeared to be just a few feet before me.

I saw a reflection of me with my head bent down and right hand pressed against the doorframe of the morning parlor in my family home. An ethereal image of Aunt Rachel concurrently drinking a mug of coffee while looking at a magazine and sitting motionless while staring ahead towards the reflection of me sat on the Queen Anne sofa. My spiritual echo took a step towards the spectre of my aunt then looked over her shoulder in the direction where the foyer would have been in our home. As Aunt Rachel’s spectre brought the mug to its lips, it looked up from the magazine and smiled, motioning for my phantasm to join it, while it simultaneously sat immobile focused in the direction of the doorway. The projection of me released her grip on the doorframe and approached the spectre of Aunt Rachel as the scene shifted, as if the frequency of the event had been jolted by some invisible energetic volt.

The ghost of my cousin Christian appeared beside my reflection, but as I sat holding hands with Elizabeth Bennet, I physically felt the grip of his fingers on my forearm. I repressed the urge to vomit as an unseen force pressed upon my physical body and the familiar calliope of organic murmurs emerged from the depths of my mind. I watched as my reflection collapsed to the floor as both the spectre of my cousin and my aunt dissolved. The haunting moans, gurgles, and snarls of the primordial chorus morphed into arcane chants that tickled my physical ears and pressed against my mortal flesh and vibrated my bones. I knew the Ancestors were casting a spell upon my spirit and I felt primordial fear rush through my entire body.

I felt my eyes fill with tears as I watched an apparition appear in front of the Queen Anne sofa that my aunt’s wraith had previously occupied. The tears were not manifestations of my sorrow, though in that moment I understood where my aunt had gone and that it was unlikely she would be returning. I was overwhelmed by fear, fear of the apparition that had appeared before me. The power that radiated from her was both stunning and formidable.

My echo pushed herself into a sitting position as the screeching voice I recognized as Syn demanded that she stand with her eyes open. Wiping away the tears with the sleeves of her sweater, my reflection stood trembling as she gazed upon the apparition.

The dissonant voice of the Ancestors became rhythmic as waves of energy emanated from Syn and surrounded my doppelganger. The space between the two shifted as waves of heat and vibration expanded and contracted creating an energetic umbilical cord. A loud hum filled my mind as I watched my reflection fade and the apparition of Syn grow brighter and more dazzling until my mind was blinded by her brilliance.

I felt Elizabeth release my hands. The vision disappeared leaving me surrounded by blackness. I blinked a few times until the shop owner’s face and physical environment reappeared.

“That,” she explained, “is my ability. What’s yours?”

Chapter LV

In the spring of 1692, the lives of every resident in Salem Village, Massachusetts were dramatically changed as a small group of young girls and women claimed to be afflicted by evil spirits and openly pointed to their neighbors as the individuals responsible for their fits and unusual behaviors. According to the afflicted it was due to the illicit midnight romps with Satan that enabled these Witches to vex them.

Tituba, a slave from Barbados that lived with and served the Parris family; Sarah Good, a short-tempered beggar; and Sarah Osborne, an elderly bed-ridden woman scorned for her romantic involvement with her indentured servant, were the first to be accused by young Elizabeth (Betty) Parris and her “cousin”, Abigail Williams. Initially these three women claimed to be innocent, though Sara Good readily accused Sarah Osborn, but following repeated examinations by the magistrates, Tituba provided them with a signed confession. She admitted to making a pact with Satan by writing her name in blood in his book where she claimed to have seen not only the names of Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne, but the seven unreadable names of other Village residents.

With this confession the wave of hysteria mounted within the colony and other girls and young women (Ann Putnam, Jr., Mercy Lewis, Elizabeth Hubbard, Mary Walcott, and Mary Warren) began experiencing similar fits and accused not only outcasts and misfits of the community, but began pointing to the upstanding members, the families of prominence and power, such as Rebecca Nurse. As the number of the accused rose, the local justice system became overwhelmed, forcing the newly appointed governor, William Phips, to order the establishment of a special Court of Oyer (to hear) and Terminer (to decide) to rule on the pending witchcraft cases.

As a result of the Court’s rulings nineteen individuals were convicted of witchcraft and hanged; the first being Bridget Bishop, who was hung on June 10 at Gallows Hill. Five more people including Rebecca Nurse and Sarah Good were hanged on July 19, five more on August 19 and eight on September 22. In total one hundred fifty women, men, and children, were accused over a span of several months. Seven of the accused died while awaiting trial in jail, including Sarah Osborne. Giles Corey was subjected to peine forte et dure (strong and hard punishment) and pressed beneath heavy stones while repeatedly being asked to enter a plea for his arraignment. He refused and died after two days of this torture.

On October 29, 1692 Governor Phips’ wife was accused of witchcraft; in response he dissolved the Court of Oyer and Terminer and replaced it with the Superior Court of Judicature, which was instructed not to admit spectral evidence, which had been the predominate evidence in the proceeding cases. Subsequently during the months of January and February fifty-six individuals were indicted, but only three of them were convicted and by May they, along with all others still being reprimanded in custody on witchcraft charges, were pardoned and released. Unfortunately by this time the damage inflicted to the families of the accused and condemned as well as the community at large had already been done.

 

Daniel and I listened as Elizabeth Bennet, the owner of the shop, Luminosity, shared with us her remarkable knowledge of the Salem Witch Trials. Mr. Stokes added clarifying details to her narrative when he deemed them necessary. Though I was familiar with the history, the events became more real and personal as Elizabeth spoke them aloud. This was a part of my story, my family history no matter how dreadful it was when viewed with the modern perspective of morality and basic human rights.

“Hold up,” interrupted my brother as he shook his head and waved his hand, “So are you telling us that Sarah Osborne, one of the first women accused, is your great-great-great-great … however many times, Grandma?”

Elizabeth nodded. “Yes.”

“And she was accused by Betty Parris and,” Daniel looked to me, “Abigail Williams?”

He was now just making the connection that I had already made.

“Yes,” confirmed Mr. Stokes with a nod. “She was.”

“Man, now that’s fucked up,” sighed my brother, shaking his head as he lightly tapped the counter top with his fingers.

It was curious to me that I was intricately tied to multiple people in my life in ways I was unaware of until that moment. We were becoming fused in some manner that I hadn’t consciously intended. It seemed that it was as if someone or perhaps something was continuously drawing our bloodlines together, manipulating the circumstances and events of our lives so that we would meet and form relationships, but to what end and for what purpose?

Was it possible that I had the power to do such a thing or was this all Syn’s doing? The goddess seemed to be the obvious source of such a manipulation, though I wasn’t convinced it was her because Chloe didn’t even recognize her name when I mentioned it. Was it possible that her family bloodline was indebted to a goddess that was unknown to them in modern times?

I contemplated my uncomfortable interactions with The Ancestors and quickly concluded that their actions seemed to be in servitude to Syn and not in a position to demand anything from her so if this was the agenda of either spiritual entity, I would wage my bets on Syn … and yet, something just didn’t feel right with the seemingly obvious conclusion. So then what was it that possessed such power to manipulate the lives of so many human beings?

Maybe Elizabeth could provide some insight on the situation.

“I am friends with a girl named Chloe Putnam,” I offered.

The woman’s eyes widened. “Oh?”

“She told me that she’s the descendent of Anne Putman,” I explained as I traced the stitching of the leather bond diary that sat on top of the others on the counter in front of me.

“Gerald, have you verif –“

“I believe her,” I interrupted, recalling the eerie appearance of Chloe’s eyes vacant of pupil and iris when she gazed at me that afternoon in my bedroom. I had no doubt that the story she shared with me about the Pickman sisters and her claim of heritage to Anne Putnam, Jr. weren’t true.

“Do you?”

“I do,” I raised my gaze to meet hers with the knowledge that with this simple nonverbal exchange I would convince her to believe my words. There was a connection present between us that I was unable to fully grasp. I couldn’t determine where it originated and it made no logical sense that it should exist, but I felt it and with each moment that passed it grew more palpable.

“Then I fear for our future,” lamented Elizabeth with a frown.

“Give it a break,” sneered Dan.

My brother was afraid of what this all meant; the past events, this connection we had with not only Elizabeth, but Chloe, too. There was a tension that surrounded the two of us since he arrived home and the energy of it was becoming intolerable for him.

“I can’t listen to her bullshit anymore,” he scoffed as he turned and walked toward the shop entrance. “I’m going to wait for you in the car.”

“I think you know this isn’t bullshit,” Elizabeth called after him as he passed a tall display case holding a variety of unique items. “What about the missing memories?”

My brother stopped midstride without turning around. As Elizabeth shifted her attention to me, I felt like my dirtiest secrets had been revealed.

Missing memories?

Mr. Stokes; how dare he! It was presumptuous of my tutor to share that information with this … this woman. Even if it was obvious that she was well educated about the occult and might conceivably possess abilities herself, beyond reading portents, I was uncertain as to how much I wanted to reveal to her about my own experiences. I didn’t know if I could trust her, and here my tutor took it upon himself to make such a decision for me without my consent or my brother’s. Who the fuck did he think he was?

I should’ve realized that he would tell her things about me and maybe even about Aunt Rachel because it seemed from the brief interactions I witnessed between the two of them, they had some sort of “thing” going on, a relationship of some sort. I wondered what Aunt Rachel thought of it, if she even knew about it. How did that affect his obligation to our family, to me? Wasn’t he in servitude to us?

I was agitated with the thought that he was sharing our secrets with a woman that I barely knew even if there was some unseen bond between her and me. I would decide what she would know and when she should know it.

I glared at him.

He said nothing, but shook his head as he removed his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose with the fingers of his right hand.