Fiction Horror Thriller

TRIGGER WARNING: Please note that this story contains gore and some scenes that may not be suitable for young children.

‘Everything was ready for the ritual’ was the email that Mary Sullivan received that morning, and a chill ran down her spine in anticipation. She remembered smiling and almost dropping her coffee mug into the sink at the sheer thought of tonight. But, instead, she made sure to double-check her belongings before leaving at dusk, saying that the ritual would work best without the glare of the purity of light.

 Children shrieked like banshees around her as she crossed the street of the suburban homes. It was Halloween night, the perfect night where the realms of man and the spirit world were at it’s thinnest. The trick or treaters ran around her in fits of giggles as they ran from home to home asking for candy. The darkness illuminated by the orange hue of the streetlamp that littered the sidewalks, and the guardians stood underneath it, trying to keep warm with mugs full of coffee or brandy, while the others stood by the bushes, sneaking in drags of their cigarette before their kids could see them.  

She stepped onto the sidewalk of the old family Sullivan home; the lights on the interior drew shadows of the people within, and she smiled, the feeling of nervousness and anticipation rising within. A little girl in a scarecrow costume bumped into her, and she smiled sheepishly at the Sullivan woman before darting across into the neighbouring lawn and quickly ringing the doorbell to ask for more candy. 

Mary rolled her eyes playfully and adjusted her jacket and the duffle bag holding her clothing needed for the ritual. Then, taking in a long, much-needed breath, she crossed into the driveway and walked up the path. She gave two sharp raps onto the door before letting herself in. The smell of pumpkin and burning wax filled the air.  

The light at the entrance almost blinded her as she took off her shoes; however, the rest of the unused rooms were dark, and she smiled. Even with the company coming, they still insisted on keeping lights off in the empty rooms.  

She was quick in going into the kitchen, and the smell of pumpkin soon turned into the smell of burning flesh and blood with a hint of cinnamon. Her mother and father stood together, stirring the pot. Her brother, Parker, was sitting at the counter, munching on a chocolate bar that Mary assumed would have gone to the trick-or-treaters outside, but swiped one for herself while poking her brother in the side.  

“Mary, honey!” Her mother exclaimed when she noticed her presence. She wiped her hands onto her apron, leaving a small red smudge on the white cloth, before giving her daughter a side hug. Her mother, Lois, gave her tight-lipped smile and went back to her duty of stirring the pot, “the wine is almost done sweetie, we are just waiting for the Pierces.”

Mary nodded, noticing her Aunt Sarah and her cousin Marcus slip into the kitchen. The young boy pouting from most likely being scolded by his mother. However, Sarah smiled warmly at her and engulfed her in a warm hug that almost covered Mary’s small frame.  

“How’s my Mary doing?” Sarah asked while pulling away and shooing her son away from the bowl of candy as his fingers reached for the nearest Mars Bar.  

Mary gave a wry chuckle and shrugged, “I’m doing good, Aunt Sarah,” She replied, leaning against the counter, her warm hands clasping the edge of the marble firmly, “I have to say, I was surprised that we decided to do it tonight.”

Aunt Sarah shrugged, picking up the grimoire, and flipped through it lightly, the red inscriptions almost appeared to be dancing and almost calling to the Sullivan family. “I believe that the ritual should be done tonight. It is the most spiritual day of the year, and we need to exploit it since some of the coven won’t come tonight.”

Mary nodded, thinking about the rest of the coven joining them tonight. But, instead, speak of the devil, and he shall appear; just as Sarah finished her sentence, three people entered the kitchen, all clad in black and smiles on their faces. The only three non-Sullivans to ever join the Coven, Linda, Ben, and Alexandria Pierce. 

 The family smiled at them and lifted two bottles of wine, “we brought wine!” They exclaimed, and the rest of the family, besides Marcus, who was underage and did not like the taste of wine, cheered. As if on cue, Mary went to the cupboard and pulled out eight wine glasses, and placed them onto the island one by one.  

Marcus rolled his eyes and went back into the other room, not feeling up to talking with the family who was so inclined to drink. Mary gave a knowing smile at his retreating figure and picked up the now-filled glass of cabernet.  

The Sullivans and the Pierce families drank together then till the moon was in the correct position. They chatted about their lives and periodically stirred the ceremonial wine till the liquid was a thick, crimson drink that looked almost dangerous to even consume. Finally, when the moon was in position, the dinner bell was rung, and everyone in the Sullivan house grew anxious smiles. Then, they took off their socks, slipped into their royal purple robes, and put on the golden, ram’s head masks over their faces before gracefully stepping into the basement. 

Mary shivered as her foot reached the cold, concrete floor of her parent’s basement. It was unfinished, meaning that it was cold, dark, and damp, and Mary shivered once more before feeling the nudge from her Aunt Sarah to continue to the circle that was drawn at their feet. 

The basement was lined with many different candles of different shapes and sizes. Some were scented, and Mary breathed in the mix of smells of cinnamon and lavender. She stepped onto the line and adjusted her robe to cover as much skin as possible as goosebumps rose on her skin.  

One by one, the ritual’s participants each took their spots, each standing firmly and with their heads held high. Soon enough, her mother was the last to join, the ceremonial wine in her hands. The gilded gold of the chalice gleamed in the candlelight, and she could hear her mother raise the cup to her forehead, kiss it gently before taking a generous sip and passing it clockwise to the person beside her.  

The rest of the party must do the same, each taking slow, delicate movements in kissing the chalice; the small smack of lips as they do so resonated in the room, and Mary wished that they could hurry up with this process. 

After what felt like an eternity, the cup was passed to her. The metal was warm from the many hands that had touched it previously, and the cup was near empty, and she knew that she had to finish the cup to continue. She placed the chalice to her forehead, breathing in a shaking breath, and lowered it to her lips to gently peck the metal before hesitantly lifting the liquid to her mouth.  

The liquid itself almost made her want to throw up the contents in her stomach. The metallic taste that filled the kitchen was undoubtedly blood. The notes of sage and cinnamon settled at the back of her throat, and she forced her eyes shut and gulped down the rest with restraint. Squeezing her thumb in an attempt to soothe the growing nausea in her throat. 

She gave a laboured breath as she lowered the chalice from her lips and passed it to her mother, who gave her an encouraging smile that looked menacing beneath the golden ram. She tried to give one back but grimaced at the feeling of the crimson liquid on her teeth.  

Once the wine was drunk, each party clasped hands except for the two on the southern part of the circle, who bowed and backed away from the group. Retreating in the shadows, and opened a small metal kennel in the back of the room. The party heard a struggle and a grunt, followed by crying, before dragging the subject back to the group. Throwing him into the middle of the circle.  

He was a short man, young too, someone that Mary would have considered grabbing a drink with if he wasn’t participating in the affairs. He scrambled to his bare feet; his pale skin glimmered with sweat and bruises from the kennel. His slacks were ripped, and a smell of urine filled the air as he stood before them.

Tears fell onto his cheek as he begged for them to release him, that this was not what he had signed up for, but Mary’s mother stepped forward, giving him a sympathetic smile. Caressing his face in a motherly fashion, shushing him with soothing words, the subject’s cried halted for a moment; however his lips still quivered.  

“It’s okay, hon,” Lois chided, “you are doing what you signed up for, believe me. It will be over quickly. I promise you.” Her mother whispered, wiping the tears with the pad of her thumb.  

She got up and stepped back into the circle before backing up and bowing, retrieving the ceremonial blade. The energy in the room was electric in anticipation, knowing the moment was so close to completion.  

Mary’s mother entered the circle in presenting the knife. The curved edge pointed towards the subject like a daunting finger, and the subject’s cries recommenced once more. The blade’s handle glimmered like ivory from the bone of the Salem witch. And Mary could almost hear the screams of the burning women on that fateful day. The room got a lot warmer at that moment, almost as they too were being burned alive.  

The chanting had begun at that moment, each copying the latter and clasping hands firmly between each other. They got louder and louder as the subject screamed, and Mary peaked her closed eye open as she watched Lois step forward. Her mother gave him an encouraging smile before pushing him down onto the concrete floor and straddling him. Both Alexandria and Ben Pierced grabbed his thrashing hands firmly and placed them onto the floor.  

The subject’s hips bucked, and his feet kicked as Mrs. Sullivan dug the curved blade into the first eye socket of his eyes. He let out a blood-curdling scream, and Mary almost stopped chanting because of it. She looked around the circle at the rest of the coven’s eyes, calmly closed and chanting louder and louder to drown out the cries. Her mother held out her hand in the air, victorious as the woman held one bloody eye. The red veins and tendril of the eye glimmered in the light, and she handed the prize behind her to Marcus, who bowed and held it delicately, waiting for the second. Soon enough, the cries subsided as the subject became unconscious from the amount of blood loss and panic. And the basement quieted into harsh, chanting whispers from the observers of the circle. Each one taking turns in watching Mrs. Sullivan take out the second eye with steady hands that could rival a surgeon’s.  

Mrs. Sullivan outstretched her hand, blood dripping down her forearms and slipping behind the robe. And she got up then, taking the bloodied eyes from Marcus, who looked sick just as Mary was, even behind his mask. Her mother bowed once more, leaving the circle and dropping the eyes with a small plop that echoed around the room. The chanting had stopped then, each participant watching the subject as their eyes could not tear away from the dark pits of his eye sockets. His eyelids were stripped clean, and Alexandria stepped forward with a bandage in hand and lifted his head to wrap the cloth around until the fabric covered up the bloody wounds.  

The rest of the coven dropped their clasped hands and were finally able to tear their gaze away from the subject to observe the way Mrs. Sullivan almost seemed to dance back into the circle.  

“Tonight is a new era,” she whispered, her voice seeming out of breath, “Tonight, we are finally able to look forward into the light and discover its secrets!”

A low murmur of approval passed between each member of the coven, and in the quietness, children were heard from up above, ringing the doorbell frantically, asking for sweets.  

“Wake him,” Lois proclaimed, giving Mary a pointed look. With a sigh, Mary stepped forward and kneeled before the man. Placing an extended hand on his shoulder and shaking him awake while mumbling a small apology under her breath. Instantly regretting joining her family affairs.  

With a nod from her mother, once the man was finally awake, both she and Alexandria grabbed his shoulders while her mother stepped forward and forced his mouth open. He struggled against her grip, and the bloody eye sockets seeped into the bandage, making a red splotch on the fabric. She grimaced and held onto him tighter as Mrs. Sullivan poured the liquid with his eyes into his mouth and made him swallow by forcing his head back and keeping his mouth closed. He struggled and choked but finally managed to drink the concoction.  

The gulp of the subject was like music to the ears of the coven. They all stepped back into the circle, resuming the chant lowly as the man got onto his hands and knees and heaved. His back arching like one of a cat, and his body shook from strain.  

“What did you do to me!” He yelled, desperately feeling the bloody bandage around his skull. 

Mrs. Sullivan cleared her throat in a high pitch squeal, “Mr. Thompson, we did what you had asked for, but unfortunately, we had to take your eyes for…special purposes.”

“My eyes,” he groans, his lip quivering as he touches the blood with shaky hands. 

Mrs. Sullivan licked her lips and adjusted her weight on her feet, “Mr. Thompson, do you see anything?” 

Mary leaned forwards as Mr. Thompson stopped quivering and fell to his knees, almost in a trance. She felt Marcus’ cold and shaky hand slip into hers, and she gave him a comforting squeeze, not particularly enjoying where this was going.  

The wind outside the house howled, and the children’s screams were carried to the party.  

“I-I see something,” Mr. Thompson murmured, his hands placed themselves on the cool concrete, and he bent over to touch his forehead to the floor as well, his lips turned up into a relaxed and satisfied smile, and yet he shook uncontrollably as if he was on withdrawal.  

The man’s reaction quickly turned into a look of horror, and the cheers immediately changed into screams as the subject smashed his head onto the concrete. Crushing his skull and collapsing sideways onto the floor. Part of his forehead dented in on itself, and Mary Sullivan had the urge to vomit.  

“What did he see to make him want to kill himself?” She whispered, standing at the corpse, breaking the circle as the rest of the coven backed away.

“I don’t -,” Mrs. Sullivan began but was suddenly cut off by the power going out, as well as the candles. 

Mary Sullivan took off her mask, as did the rest of the coven as the darkness shocked their senses. The moonlight provides the only source of light. 

“Somebody find the candles-,” her mother demanded from beside her as she clutched her daughter’s elbow with boney fingers. Her breath came out in short breaths.  

Suddenly, a wave of dread swam into the home and collided with each participating member, and a breathless, sinister, deep baritone laugh echoed softly throughout the house. The wind picked up, and the party scrambled for the basement door, Pulling and pushing it only to find the door wedged between the doorframe. Unable to let them be free from the menace that was unleashed down there with them.  

Most children left for the night outside the home, having it past their curfew, leaving the few teenagers to roam the streets like jackals, looking for the leftovers. The wind that picked up carried away the coven’s screams. Only noticing the horrors as the Sullivan house went up in flames. Smoke covered the moon and then disappeared into nothing.  

October 30, 2021 02:40

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