My small hands stroked the blood-stained denim jeans. “And they say girls are the weaker gender.” That sentiment always made me laugh. after all, I came from a long line of powerful women. Some of whom would have been drooling over the sight that lay before me.
My partner laughed. “And on Wednesdays we wear pink!”
“You know that movie?” I asked as I pulled my ceremonial bracelets over my manicured hands,
“All good lesbians know Mean Girls.”
“And some of us were born from them,” I smiled at my own joke. And some of us murder them and steal their powers. “Go check in on Lola. Babe, I don’t need her waking up to this.”
“She’s almost three. Trust me, she’s woken up to worse.”
“I know,” I said, as I tied my hair back. “She always wants to play in the blood. Last time I almost lost a finger.”
Annie chucked and left me to my work.
Bobby Reyes was dying. That kind of thing tended to happen when your girlfriend cuts off your junk and leaves your naked body on the side of the North Carolina highway. At least according to the police report.
“How you doin’? You still there?” I shinned a penlight in his eyes.
His dark eyes twitched, followed by a blink. He was alive. Hopefully, with my help, this would be a good thing.
“Damn, not even livestock deserve this.” I’d seen many discarded lovers of witches; beautiful men and women, thrown away like garbage. But most witches have the decency to finish them off by devouring the heart.
My partner was leaning against the car, our squirming toddler in one arm and her police scanner in the other. “We need to get him the fuck out of here before the cops come.”
“Why? You hear something?”
“Not yet, but we can’t risk it,” Annie muttered, shifting Lola in her arms.
I groaned, clearly, she wanted help with the baby.
“Hurry up, Raven. Is he stable enough to move or not?”
“No, he’s not,” I replied. “I’m working as fast as I can.” Annie was the older one, the wannabe super-soldier who never enlisted. But I was the one with powers. “Roberto Gian Reyes,” I said as I placed my hands on his chest feeling for a nice blood open wound. “You’re about to make a deal with the devil. But don’t worry, I’ll make it worth your time.”
I found the spot, just below his clavicle where a shard of bone was protruding through his skin. using the sharp broken bone as my cutting took, I made an incision across my palm, along my lifeline. Whenever he flinched I held him close, forcing the bone through my hand, until at last I was impaled to the point of being immobile. “I give you my hand, in exchange for your life.”
If I was a bad witch I would just bleed one finger and once the spell was complete I’d be down one finger, but having gained slave. I kind of like having two complete hands.
I watched carefully as his skin regrew and his body healed. Bobby was tall, with light skin and long dark brown hair. Yeah, his hair had been cut and or burned off. How anyone could disfigure such a beautiful human was just criminal. I carefully moved him to our trailer, with my hand pinned to his exposed bone. Lucky for me, the wheels on the bottom of my handmade gurney made the process a lot easier. “Let’s get the fuck out of here.”
Lola giggled, “Fuck!”
Annie rolled her eyes. Holding Lola with one arm she jumped into the driver’s seat and took off before I even fully closed the door.
I could hear Lola laugh with delight as Annie made a sharp turn, on to the highway. “I can hold the baby while you drive,” I said as I made myself comfortable. If I broke off the bone in my hand, the spell would fail and with the extent of his injuries, Bobby would likely die in my arms.
“Maybe when you’re finished. Lola’s at that stage where she puts everything in her mouth.”
“Fair enough.” I started chest compressions. to the untrained eye, it looked like I was performing CPR. And in a way I was. “Za—fi—an—a! By the goddess, the primal queen. Angelina, Scarlett, Miley, Elizabeth…” This was the hard part. I had to name famous, powerful women. Luckily it seemed to work with only first names (a fact that I learned through trial and error.) Each name invoked the power of all former queens. The trick was to use as few names as possible for the strongest dose of magic. I could only wonder what kind of power my name carried.
I watch my blood flow into Bobby’s chest, sharing my magic, my strength. To do this for a male was unheard of. But I’ve done it successfully six times.
Bobby had lost consciousness due to the graphic nature of his injuries, but once he borrowed enough of my power he awoke with a blood-curdling scream. He started to speak in what I assumed was Spanish or maybe French.
“Hey!” I gripped his shoulder with my newly freed hand. “You’re safe.”
He started to convulse. I knew this was going to be a bad one. I knew he’d been missing body parts, but there were also noticeable signs of organ damage.
“You’re okay, you’re going to be ok.” I sucked in my stomach, hoping against hope that the mechanics of the spell would draw from my fat as opposed to cells that I actually needed.
I could feel his chest rise and fall as breath filled his lungs. And then he screamed again, followed by more stammering in a language that I did not understand.
By the tone of his accent, I was leaning more towards French. I turned to Annie. “In your research; did you find anything about Bobby Reyes being French-Canadian?”
“I think so. Um, polly vou English? It’s the only phrase I know.”
Lola laughed at Annie’s french-southern drawl.
The laughter seemed to calm Bobby enough for him to realize he was in fact safe. “W-Who are you? What am I doing here?”
“The name’s Raven, my partner and I are trackers we follow-”
Suddenly our trailer screeched to a halt.
Annie chuckled. “Well, look what we have here.”
I stood up to take a peek out of the window. I saw a red, late nineties model ford truck. At least I thought it was red. As the vehicle came closer, it seemed to shimmer with a holographic glow. “Come out come out whoever you are,” I muttered playfully.
Two men emerged. The first was a middle-aged man with dark blonde hair. He had the muscular build of a former soldier and carried what looked like a customized rifle. “Are we really going to play this game, little girl?”
“Who you calling a little girl?” I knew needed to find a weapon of my own. I had no guns, but a gun wouldn’t have helped me: you can’t kill what’s already dead.
The second man was a typical surfer-flower child with sun-kissed skin the color of caramel and long black hair streaked with metallic rainbow colors.”Step out of the car Raven.”
“Why?” I replied playfully. “Does the power of Christ compel me?”
Annie laughed. “More like the power of Rainbow Brite or my little pony, right Lola?” She expertly pulled over the trailer while holding the baby. Having parked the car she went to the back. “Well, Raven, babe, what do you want to do?”
“The only thing we can do,” I muttered, already gearing up for a fight. I selected a knife, recited an incantation, causing it to glow with a neon blue hue. I gripped the blade, coating it with a drop of my blood. “This is enough of my power to sustain you. If shit hits the fan want, no I need you to drive.”
Annie shook her head with a look of disbelief. “I’m not leaving you to fight two men.”
“You know they’re not human,” I said with a sigh. Worst-case scenario; it would be easy for them to take Annie and Lola hostage. At that moment, a chill went down my spine: why did the two strangers suddenly go silent? “What do you fuckers want?” I shouted through the closed door. I needed to make a weapon, something that could take down an immortal creature. No, I needed a shield.
“Surrender the child,” said the soldier.
The hippy sighed, his tone far less aggressive. “You may be a demon queen but you know taking trophies is forbidden.”
What the fuck, you sideshow freaks? “She’s not a trophy, she’s my daughter!” I glanced at Annie, desperate to hide my growing panic. “You have to go.”
“No fucking way. Let me get back to the driver’s seat and we’ll floor it out of here.”
“They’re not cops, they’re angels,” I nearly cried as I said with words out loud. “This is not going to end well if we try to run.”
“What about Bobby Reyes?” Annie asked. “What am I going to do with him?”
“He’ll be fine,” I quickly turned to Bobby, hoping my perception of him was correct.
He appeared concerned, but not for himself. If he was truly a coward he could have surrendered himself to the angels.
“Bobby this is Annie, my partner in crime, my lover in life, and the co-mother of my child. We’re the good guys. But you’ll just have to trust me on that.”
I gathered my tools. First, my father’s rosary: a beaded necklace with a sharpened crucifix. Next was my mother’s pentagram: a simple pendant made of bronze. And my crown of thorns (in truth it was more of a hairclip of thorns.) In my mind, I had a plan. If everything went as planned, these angels were going down. I threw open the door and exited the vehicle with my hands above my head as if surrendering to the police. “I’m open to negotiations.”
The soldier laughed, cupping his hand over his face to hide the fact that he found something about this situation to be hilarious.
“Well?” I asked, with doll-eyes and a sexy pout. I expected one of them to start preaching to me about how killing my lover’s ex-wife and stealing her baby. but that’s not what happened.
The soldier took a breath, turned away. Then in one swift motion, he managed to come up punch me in the stomach and grab me by the waist. Before I knew what was happening he threw my body in the bed of their truck.
“Ow! fuck!” My face slammed into the cold mental. The first point goes to the angels. I got up and used the first of my weapons. I laced the rosary through my fingers. A shot of energy rippled through my body. My skin glowed the color of the blue moon, as I leaped like a pole vaulter, landing on the soldier’s back.
But as I did, he grabbed the rosary crushing it in his hand. The beads were pulverized. and crucifix snapped in half before vanishing.
That- was- not- supposed- to- be- possible. And something was still in my hand.
“Adam!” the hippy said with a disapproving glare. “Sorry, Sweetheart he’s new.” The hippy waved his hand, and a length of rope materialized. it looked remarkably like the fiction whip Wonder woman used. It sparkled with a mesmerizing glow, as it clenched around my neck.
The soldier whispered in my ear. “Tell them. You know you want to.”
“Annie drive!” I screamed. Why did I scream? I’d never scream!
The hippy snickered. “Behold The power of the lasso of truth.”
My wife had been holding the weapon I’d given her. She could either use it to try and save me or give the trailer enough of a jumpstart that she’d be miles away by the time angels knew what was happening. But I wouldn’t get to find out.
I awoke tied up, in the bed of the truck. Fuck, this can’t any worse.
And it was moving. FUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCKKKKK!
Keeping my eyes closed, I tried to meditate. Instead, I had a flashback. I was seventeen, caring for my father as he lay dying. The illness had taken so much, but it could not take his faith. joined him in daily prayer, even on days when he was so sick, breathing was painful.
“Daddy?” I was just a kid, he was all I had.
“Raven?” his frail hand reached for me.
“Yeah, it’s me. I’m here. I love you so much. God, I miss you.”
“I missed you too.” His lips cracked with a strained smile as tears filled his eyes. “I-I think I had an accident.”
The blankets were soaked with blood and feces. on the nightstand were a container of pills, an unopened bottle of vodka, and pistol. During his life, my father never drank and he sure as hell didn’t own a gun. “Do you want me to give you something for the pain?” I couldn’t do it, even if I wanted to: even if this wasn’t a dream.
My father shook his head. “All I ever needed was you.”
I rested my head on his chest, I could feel the bones of his ribs. “Daddy? I need you. Where are you?”
My father’s thin, frail hand reached out to me with more strength then I’d seen in a long time. “Take me to the river, and put my heart away.”
“The flares of the dying. We sparkle. We glow.”
I awoke with a shriek as the tacky angel vehicle went over a massive bump, causing my head to smack against the truck bed.
“Scream all you want,” the soldier said. “We’re on the backroads.”
Oh no. “I don’t need to scream, they’ll come for me! I have hundreds of followers, they’ll find me!”
“Will they?” asked the hippy from behind the wheel.
“Only if they’re tracking you,” the soldier asked, playing with something on his hand. “With these glorified keychains?”
I heart went through a barrage of emotions; from anger to sadness, to full-on panic. ”
Please give it back.” My request was for one item and one item only.
“Your father’s rosary?” asked the hippy. “You can have it back once we make camp.”
“We have a long way to go,” he replied calmly.
We drove for what felt like an eternity, as I rested on my back, looking up at the starry night sky. Strangely enough, I wasn’t the least bit tired.
When we finally stopped, the soldier picked me up, throwing me over his shoulder in a fireman’s carry. “If I untie you, can we trust you not to run?”
“Run where?” I asked with a scowl. Looking around I could see we were on a desolate beach. under the darkness of night, the calm water looked more like a lake, than an ocean. But I had no idea where I was.
The hippy chuckled as he took down an unassembled tent.” she has a point, Adam.”
The soldier, apparently named Adam, power slammed me face-first onto the sand. With my body too stunned to attempt to stand, I felt the ropes being cut with a large serrated hunting knife. When I was free, my whole body felt numb. I literally had to force myself to breathe.
“Better, Darlin?” Adam asked in a clear southern accent.
The man always had a noticeable accent but it was only when he was being sarcastic did it shine through. And the fact that his voice reminded me of my father: that annoyed the crap out of me. “Just give me my property, you fucking white-trash hick.”
Adam only laughed. He looked at my pentagram, twirling it between his fingers. “Nah, I think I should do the world a favor and smash this. Oh yeah I forgot, you wanted the rosary. A strange request for a witch.”
The hippy grabbed the rosary from Adam and handed it to me. “To be fair we’ve not given you proper introductions. I’m Leo Riveria, and this is my partner Adam Severgine.”
“Let me guess, you’re former military?” I asked Adam.
“Master sergeant, us army,” the masculine blond replied. He went back to the truck and started to pull down a bundle of logs that had been tied with a very familiar-looking rope.
I watched as he started to build a campfire, arranging the pristine wood into a circle before setting it ablaze with a neon blue powder.
“Are you hungry?” Leo asked me in a cheery, friendly tone. He knelt down by my side, like a teacher speaking to a small child. “We have plenty of human snacks.”
“Hotdogs, marshmallows, and other stuff that cooks over a fire. Sounds fun, right?”
“Right.” After all, I didn’t have much of a choice.
Leo stood up and went to the truck, returning with a cooler of snacks. But not before Adam sat beside me and proceeded to take out a cigarette.
“I hear your old man died of cancer?” Adam asked as he lit up. His voice was rough, uncaring and somewhat smug.
“My father suffered from colon-rectal cancer because my mother was physically and sexually abusing him. He died when her coven tore him apart like a roast turkey, devouring everything he was. except this.” I clenched the rosary. “this was always mine.”
Adam took a long hit, blowing a pull of smoke that clearly smelled like marijuana.
I shook my head in disapproval. “Do you have kids?”
“Were they by your side when you passed?” I asked, in an effort to make him feel just as uncomfortable.
“My daughter was,” he said, taking another long hit off the joint. “My eldest daughter,” he paused for a moment and coughed. “I-it’s complicated.”
“I can do the math,” I said with an unintentional smile. “Your wife was pregnant when you died.” Sucks to be you, Sergeant Ass-hat.
Adam put out his joint in the sand. “I think it’s Leo’s turn to entertain you.”
I watched as he climbed back into the passenger seat of the truck, pulling a previously unseen blanket over his body. I had a feeling he wasn’t sleeping, he was just tired of hearing the truth. “Serves you right.”
Leo took a seat beside me. “You’ll have to forgive my partner, he’s-”
“I don’t have to do shit,” I said, as I popped a marshmallow into my mouth. “With all due respect.”
“I get it.” Leo calmly handed me a skewer. “But you need to know the full story.”
“You have my attention.”
“Adam died from a brain bleed, following a lifetime of addiction.”
“And you?” I asked as I assembled my marshmallows for the fire.
“I was a demon hunter; a paranormal special agent of the lord. I offered up my life to save the soul and humanity of someone I loved.”
“Not Adam, I assume?
“This was before Adam. just like how you met the love of your life, before Annie:
the real reason you took Lola.”
“Like you said, Lola was a trophy. My goal was to murder her whore of a mother.” I roasted my marshmallows until they turned a crispy brown. Much to my surprise, they were still cool enough to grab with my bare hands. “So, when you said Adam died of a ‘brain bleed’, did you mean a bullet?” It makes sense that someone like Adam would be suicidal.
“No?” I asked with a mouth full of sugary sticky sweetness.
Leo stroked his hand through the fire, creating swirls of neon blue and lavender purple. “Adam was sick for a long time, but he would have survived had he not struck a deal.”
“A deal, for what?”
“To save his daughter’s life.”
“Oh.” I glanced back at the truck and the man sleeping within. He looked peaceful, but I was not ready to let my guard down.
“That’s why he can’t physically harm you.”
“What about when he dropped me on my head?”
“Are you experiencing any pain or dizziness?”
“Well, not at the moment. But what if I wake up tomorrow with a massive bruise on my face?”
“Then you would have debunked my theory.”
“Adam Severgine, much like your father is a descendant of the original Adam.”
“As in Adam and Eve? I thought all of humanity was descended from Adam and Eve.”
“Few know the full truth. When God banished the first couple from the garden of Eden, they produced two sons.”
“Cain and Abel, right?”
“But when Eve was pregnant with their second child, Adam carried on an affair that produced a daughter. She was the only one by his side when he died of illness.”
On his deathbed he talked about his life of regrets, each painful memory compounding his sorrow and pain.
He offered her his heart if she could allow him a chance to be reborn”
the story sounded eerily familiar.
“After his death, she cut out his heart. For each chamber she consumed, she gave birth to a child that was a genetic clone of her father.”
“So technically not incest?
Level with me, Leo, what am I doing here? I mean, yes, I watched my father die. But I’m sure plenty of other people have been through the same.
You’re right about that.” he said as he toasted a marshmallow in his bare hand. “What do you know about Annie?
“I know enough.” I knew Annie lost her parents at a very young age, and that her story was even more fucked up than my own.
“You can feel Bobby Reyes, can’t you? His blood flows through your veins.”
“I have a spiritual connection with all of my followers.”
But Bobby’s different: you can see through his eyes.
“Believe what you like, do as you will.” Leo reclined in the sand, adjusting his hair before resting his hands behind his head.
“Where do I sleep?” I asked.
Leo closed his sparkling green eyes. “The answer will come to you in time.”
I knew what he meant. He expected me to go exploring or maybe even rummage through their belongings. But at that moment all I wanted to do was sit by the warmth of the fire. Could I really see through Bobby’s eyes? What would that even feel like? I blinked hard, trying to focus on Bobby’s face. I had only seen him for a few hours but there were parts I could remember. His eyes were dark. Were they brown? No, they were green, a deep forest green. And his hair, it was long and wavy (kind of like Leo’s hair, except without the random streaks of color.)
“Take me to the river drop me in the water,” I quietly hummed the tune from memory. I didn’t even know the real name of that song, only the part that the famous rubber fish toy used to sing. Looking out at the clear, calm water, my mind body and soul felt at peace. That was where I needed to be.
That was where I needed to sleep. Fully clothed I took one step then another until I was waist-deep. The hand that held the rosary felt wet but before I could get a closer look, a glow took over my vision.
I was sitting on a bed in a hotel room. I could hear the television, it was on some kind of infomercial.
Lola giggled with delight at the sight of the elderly woman making sample dishes.
“Lola?” the sound that came out was not my voice.
The bathroom door opened. Annie appeared wearing a t-shirt and sweatpants (her typical sleepwear.) “Hey, Bobby, you alright there?”
I looked down at my hands. “Yeah,” I said in his soft, french accent. “Je vais bien.” I’m good. “Merci.” Thank you.