The Thirteenth Coven

“I don’t know about this, Rachel,” Amy said, straightening her Cleopatra costume and glancing at the candles they had arranged in the clearing around the Witch’s Well. “Maybe we should just go to the dance.”

“It’s fine,” Rachel snapped. “We’re just going to scare her a little.” She tugged the bottom of her too-tight mini-skirt and then lifted a compact out of the top of a boot that reached to her mid-thigh. “That’s what Halloween is for.” She peered into the mirror, her finger brushing away bits of flaking mascara under her overly made-up eyes.

Amy watched as twin belly-dancers escorted a pink teddy-bear through the surrounding woods, and then she glanced over at Rachel. “My mom said a girl died here on Halloween, back when she was in high school. She said they were messing around with witchcraft…”

A glint of evil flashed in Rachel’s eyes. “I know—that’s why she’ll be totally freaked!” Rachel laughed and tucked the compact back in her boot, and then she sauntered toward the others who were just entering the clearing.

Amy shivered and wished she had objected more vehemently back when it would have made a difference. Her reluctant feet shuffled after Rachel.

“Well, don’t you look special.” Rachel sneered as she reached out to rip the teddy-bear mask off of Sara’s face.

“Please,” Sara whimpered, her gaze darting from face to face. “Let me go, I’ve never done anything to you.” Tears shimmered in her eyes.

“I’ve never done anything to you!” Rachel mimicked in a high-pitched whiny tone. “You were born, that’s enough!” She gestured to the belly-dancers who dragged Sara toward the well, maneuvering between the flickering candles. “Have you heard the legend of the Witch’s Well?” Rachel called after them.

Sara shook her head. “Those stories aren’t true,” she said. “They’re just rumors.”

Rachel smirked. “Then you have nothing to worry about.” She reached behind a tree and lifted a portable CD player. “Amy—hold Sara.”

Amy cringed, but did as she was told, avoiding Sara’s pleading eyes by stepping behind her and grasping her upper arms.

Rachel pressed the button and a rhythmic music began to play. Amy squinted, as if that would help her figure out what kind of music it was. Ancient and spooky, it sent chills down Amy’s spine.

The twins began to dance around the well, waving their arms high and then swooping downward and shaking their hips, making the little bells around their waists jingle. Amy wasn’t surprised when their movements were in perfect sync, the twins were the best cheerleaders in school, after all.

Out of her other boot, Rachel produced a small book with a tattered brown cover. “Check this out,” she gloated, waving it under Amy’s nose and then pausing to read the title. “Curses of the Thirteenth Coven.”

Amy’s brow furrowed. It must be a prop, she thought. Yeah, that’s it, Rachel is president of the drama club.

Sara struggled to free herself from Amy’s grasp. “Please Amy, let me go! I won’t tell anyone, I promise!”

Amy clenched her fingers tighter, digging into Sara’s arms. “Just play along, it will be over soon,” she muttered.

Sara paused in her struggles, trying to look back over her shoulder. “You don’t understand. I can’t be here! My mother said—”

“Awwww, your mommy will never know!” Rachel flicked Sara under the chin with her finger, then spun away and went to the well. “They used to lower suspected witches down this well, you know.” She sneered at Sara. “Now the souls of the women who drowned are trapped down there and they’re mad as hell.” She peered over the edge of the well. “According to this book, on Halloween they can be called forth to serve the living.” Rachel turned her gaze slowly toward Sara. “But they require a sacrifice…”

Amy struggled to hold on to Sara who had begun to fling herself back and forth, wrenching her shoulders from side to side in an effort to dislodge Amy’s grip on her arms.

“Please!” Sara shouted. “Don’t do this! You don’t—”

Rachel strode over and slapped Sara’s face, then punched her in the gut. “Knock it off,” she said, smirking down at Sara, who was gasping for air.

“She’s really scared, Rachel,” Amy said. “Maybe we should—”

“That’s kind of the point, Amy,” Rachel snapped. “If you don’t have the stomach for it, maybe I’ll sacrifice you instead!”

Amy glared.

“Oh stop.” Rachel rolled her eyes. “You know you’re my best friend.”

Amy grimaced inside. Maybe I need to rethink my friend choices, she thought.

Rachel leaned over to peer at Sara’s face. “Oh look, your nose is bleeding. What a shame.” She reached into the pocket of her mini-skirt and pulled out a small sewing scissors. “Guess I better wipe that up for you.” She reached out and cut a handful of Sara’s hair, then dragged it cruelly across her face, squishing Sara’s lips and tweaking her bleeding nose. Then she examined the chunk of bloody hair. “Hmph,” she said. “Hair isn’t very absorbent.” She smirked at Sara, then spun away, dividing the hair into three clumps and handing two to the twins. They continued to dance around the well, now waving the bloodied hair over their heads.

Amy reached inside the top of her Cleopatra costume and tugged out one of the tissues she’d used to fill the C-cups. “Here,” she muttered, shame reddening her cheeks.

Sara took the tissue and dabbed at her nose. “Amy, please…let me go,” she whimpered. “This is more dangerous than you know.”

Amy steeled herself against Sara’s pleas. “I can’t.”

“Witches of the Thirteenth Coven!” Rachel shouted as she dragged a stick through the dirt, drawing a circle around the well. “Hear my voice! I call you to arise!” She dropped the stick in the dirt and gestured to the twins. “I bring you this sacrifice as payment for your service!”

The twins danced closer to the well and dropped the bloodied hair clumps into the abyss. Rachel stepped forward and set the third clump on the stone well-casing. Then she pulled a little box of wood matches out of her bra, struck one against the black strip on the side and dropped it on the hair.

Amy’s nose crinkled at the acrid smell of burning hair and blood mixed with the sulfur of the match.

Tree branches began to rattle as a breeze arose, swirling and lifting dried leaves from the ground.

Amy’s heart froze for a moment and then raced ahead.

Rachel backed away from the well, stopping beside Amy and Sara. “It’s working,” she whispered, her eyes gleaming. “Keep dancing!” she shouted, when the twins hesitated.

The breeze became a howling wind, bending the trees around them and snuffing out the candles. The boom-box tipped over, its batteries springing out of their compartment. Above, the clouds raced away, revealing a full moon that cast its light into the clearing, illuminating the well. The twins froze in place, each balanced on their toes, arms extended and their bloody hands open. A tendril of mist rose from the depths of the well.

“No,” Sara whimpered, pulling against Amy’s grasp.

Amy let go of her, but Rachel reached out to grab Sara before she could run away. “You’re staying with us,” she hissed. “I’m not finished with you yet!”

Amy willed her feet to run away, to go for help, but they seemed anchored to the ground. Her gaze was riveted to the mist as it explored the area inside Rachel’s circle, pausing to swirl around the twin statues.

The wind stopped, leaving a silence so loud that Amy thought her ears might explode. And then the whispers started. First echoing within the well, but then rising, rising, rising, until they filled the air; shrieks and sobs, pleas and begging. The mist began to form a shape above the well.

“Where is she who drew us from our slumber? The one we cannot deny?” The shape twisted and turned, as if seeking its master. “Give us our form so that we might walk among the living and serve once again!”

“Rachel—don’t!” Amy whispered as Rachel tugged Sara toward the circle. “This isn’t funny anymore!”

“Shut-up!” Rachel snapped. She grabbed Sara by the back of the neck and shoved her forward. “I called you forth!” she shouted. “And I offer you this girl as payment for your service!”

“We who suffered, we who died, we who sacrificed all for the one we serve. Deceive us not, are you she?” The shape leaned forward, a dozen faces forming in the mist and then vanishing again, each peering into the eyes of Rachel.

Conquering her fear, Amy willed herself to speak against her friend. “No!” She shouted as loud as her constricted throat would allow. “She is no one! Just a bully trying to scare this girl!” Tears welled up in Amy’s eyes. “Please don’t hurt Sara,” she begged, as the hate in Rachel’s eyes whipped back at her. “She’s innocent…” Amy’s voice trailed off.

The mist reared back and the whispers in the well began again, growing louder, demanding clarity. “Step into the circle and let us know the truth of the one who brought us forth,” the voices commanded. “It is she that we shall serve!”

Rachel looked back over her shoulder at Amy, evil spreading across her face. “You’ll be first,” she sneered, then she stepped into the circle with Sara firmly in her grasp.

Amy’s mind raced, but she was powerless to help Sara with her legs paralyzed like they were. She glanced at the twins who hadn’t moved, still frozen in their perfectly synchronized dance inside the circle.

The mist bent and twisted, swirling around Rachel and Sara, starting at their feet and rising until they were encased in a cloud of gray. Squeals of delight rose from the well, growing louder and ripping at Amy’s ears. “It is time! It is time!” they shouted.

The cloud of mist rose and split into a dozen forms, each floating within the circle. In unison, they spoke. “We kept our vow of silence, mistress. To our death we held our tongues. Trapped in the depths of the earth, we waited. Speak now and let us return!”

Rachel shoved Sara to the ground in front of the spirits. “I command you to return and serve me!” she shouted, lifting her arms in a grandiose gesture.

The misty forms recoiled, then struck at Rachel in unison, knocking her to her knees. “Be silent, pretender!”

Rachel’s eyes widened with terror and Amy realized she was now trapped, as well.

Sara struggled to her feet, her eyes narrowing as she looked down at Rachel.

Amy thought she saw a hint of regret flash across Sara’s face before her expression hardened and she stepped forward.

“Return, and serve,” Sara said.

The twelve became three and the three disappeared into the open mouths of Rachel and the twins. One by one, they prostrated themselves at Sara’s feet. Suddenly released, Amy’s knees buckled and she fell to the ground, trembling.

Sara turned to approach Amy, her hand outstretched. Rachel and the twins followed behind her, like servants awaiting her command. Amy hesitated, then accepted, allowing Sara to pull her to her feet.

“Thank you for speaking out for me,” Sara said, picking leaves off of Amy’s Cleopatra costume.

“I—I don’t understand…” Amy said, her brow scrunched in puzzlement as she studied the blank faces of her friends. “What just happened?”

Sara reached down to pick up her teddy-bear mask and tugged the elastic over her head, leaving the mask tipped up over her forehead. Then she walked over to retrieve the little brown book that Rachel had dropped, turning it over in her hands. “I never really believed those old stories…until now that is, when I saw this,” she said, holding up the book. She glanced at Amy. “My mom told me, of course, but I thought it was all just old superstitions…family gossip, y’know?”

“What do you mean?” Amy waved a hand in front of Rachel’s blank face. Rachel didn’t even blink.

“Those women that were drowned,” Sara said, gesturing toward the well. “They were witches in training and only the blood of their leader could bring them back.” She turned and walked toward the trail that would lead them out of the forest.

Amy stared after Sara for a moment, her mind racing. Then she trotted to catch up, pushing past Rachel and the twins. “But Rachel gave them your blood—?”

Sara paused, a wry smile tugging at the corners of her mouth as she nodded. “Their leader…the leader of the Thirteenth Coven… was my great-great-great-grandmother.” She tugged the mask down over her face. “Let’s go to the Halloween dance. I think it might be fun—for a change.”

I hope you all enjoyed this Halloween Short-Story! I’m going to TRY to do short-stories for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years, too. No promises though, since my life rarely cooperates with my intentions! 😉

S.R. Olson

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