Upon the Power of the Moon

Submitted into Contest #65 in response to: Write about a group of witches meeting up on Halloween night.... view prompt

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Horror Holiday Fantasy

It was unseasonably hot for the end of October. Taylor was only halfway to school and already covered in sweat, but he refused to take off his heavy coat. The stub on his right hand, where his index finger used to be, began to itch. Taylor shoved his hands into his pockets and tried to ignore the itching. In his mind he saw a flash of Renee gnawing on the severed digit, grinding her jaw back and forth with the finger between her teeth. She spat the finger out into her hand and gave Taylor her signature smile, as sexy as it was sinister. Taylor shook off the vision and shuddering, continued on to school.

As his high school came into view, Taylor stopped and stared at the building, trying to find the resolve that would see him through another day of classes. As he stood there, Renee's voice came into his mind unbidden. "They'll never accept you. You'll always be an outsider. Come back to me."

The voice didn't bother Taylor as much as the fact that he no longer physically reacted to it. The first few times Renee had spoken through his thoughts, Taylor had jumped and frantically looked around. The voice always sounded so clear, like Renee was standing right beside him. Now he was getting used to her voice interrupting his thoughts. The more she spoke to him, the more sense her words stated to make. Taylor put his head down and walked into the school.

Tomorrow was Halloween and the Spirit Club had decorated the halls with orange and black streamers. They crisscrossed above Taylor's head like festive vines as he made his way to his locker. He passed a group of basketball players waiting for the bell to ring. Taylor loved basketball, but he and his dad moved so often that he'd never been able to play on a team. Now that they were in Glengrove, Taylor's father swore things would be different.

"How many times has he lied to you? How many times has he failed you?" Renee's voice said in his mind. "I'm the only one you can rely on. I'll always be here for you, just come back."

For a second, Taylor entertained the idea of asking the coach if he could start practicing with the team. Taylor was only a sophomore. If he got in with the team now, and he didn't end up having to move again, he'd have a shot at playing on the school's basketball team for two years.

"That will never happen," Renee's voice said. "This is the eleventh time you've had to move. Each time, hasn't your father said that this time things will change? He's a liar Taylor. I'm the only one you can trust."

"Shut up," Taylor muttered under his breath.

"You're meant for much greater things. Instead of being a part of a team, you can lead whole legions. Come back to me."

Taylor hung his head, his long greasy hair falling over his face, and plodded on toward his locker. All around him, his classmates chattered excitedly. Not only was it Friday, but the next day was Halloween. The energy running through the school should have exhilarated Taylor, but instead it only added to his anxiety. He had not gotten much sleep the last few days. Just as he would start to drift off, he would hear Renee's voice in his head. When he did manage to fall asleep, he had nightmares, fueled by all the terrible things he'd done when he'd been hers.

Taylor made it to his locker and tried to act like he hadn't noticed Stacey standing across the hall. Stacey had bright blonde hair and radiant blue eyes. Her eyes reminded Taylor of the one time he'd seen the ocean. When he looked into her eyes and saw that deep regal blue, he wasn't reminded of being smushed against a dirty bus window, trying not to gag from his father's stale beer smell. Instead he saw the ocean as it was portrayed in travel commercials. In her eyes he saw idyllic beauty that matched the bombshell of a girl to whom the eyes belonged.

Taylor opened his locker and then bent down to unzip his backpack. He became acutely aware of his own body odor, the heat of the day causing him to have already sweated through his deodorant. As much as he longed to talk to her, Taylor hoped Stacey wouldn't come up to him. He didn't want her to be repulsed by the dank smell of his sweat. She was the only student in the school who made any effort to get to know him and didn’t just ignore him.

Stacey was, both inside and out, the most beautiful person Taylor had ever met. She was kind, intelligent, and had a laugh that rang through the halls like a choir of angels. Taylor was in love with Stacey, but he knew she'd never love him back. She was close to perfect and he was not. Her eyes shone, his were ringed by dark circles, made even deeper by his sleepless nights. Her skin was smooth, his was pale and sallow. Her body was fit, his was thin and gangly. Yet she was always nice to him, and seemed generally interested in his life before he'd moved to Glengrove. Even though he knew better, Stacey's kindness gave Taylor hope that there was a chance they could be together.

"What can she offer you that I cannot?" Renee's voice spoke up in his head. "She will never see who you truly are. Why would she ever be with a nervous, twitchy kid? What do you think she would think of your scars? Even if she wasn't repulsed, you couldn't explain where you got the scars, she'd think you were crazy. Or worse, she'd question how you got them."

Taylor took the books he'd need for his first two classes out of his backpack and then put the bag into his locker. He tried to ignore Renee's voice, but it continued, grating against his brain, making his teeth hurt and ears ring.

"I am the only one you can truly confide in. The only one who sees your true self. You can't tell anyone how you got your scars, and so you keep them hidden. You know if people saw them, they'd wonder if your father gave them to you. Then you risk them discovering the things he actually does. There's no need to worry about that with me. I will always accept you for who you are. I can help you become great again. All you have to do is come back to me."

Taylor closed his locker and as he turned around, there was Stacey. She greeted him with a wave and a smile that made his heart tingle. He smiled in return, nodded his head in her direction, and then booked it down the hall to his first class. The rest of the school day and afternoon passed without incident. Renee's voice did not speak to Taylor again. He got home to find his dad gone and he spent the rest of the evening alone in his room, working on homework. Finally, he couldn't hold his eyes open anymore and laid down to try and sleep. Just as he drifted off, Renee's voice came as a whisper through his thoughts.

"Dream of me, dear one. Dream of the power you once possessed and could have again. I'm waiting for you. Tomorrow night, come to the place we first became one. I will restore you to what you once were. Come, and we will be together again..."

###

"...and we will be together again," Renee said to the darkness. She opened her eyes and allowed her mental link with Taylor to lapse. Renee would have continued to whisper to Taylor, as she had the last few nights, but there were other things that required her attention. She picked up a trowel and began to dig into the soft ground of Glengrove Fields, the older of the city's two cemeteries. Cutting into the earth with her trowel, Renee made the outline of a person, complete with fingers, as if the body was lying on its back with its palms flat against the ground.

Next, she picked up a stack of wood, taken from an old house on the edge of town. A house that was rumored to be haunted, but Renee knew the truth. The house was a place of ancient power, just like the spot in the cemetery where Renee now knelt. Both were cosmic lodestar of the divine being Renee served. She took the pieces of wood and began to place them along the outer edges of the human outline. When she was finished, it was well past midnight. Renee sat back and looked up at mausoleum before her.

The mausoleum stood above one of the first graves ever dug in Glengrove Fields, back when it was more of a scattered graveyard than a maintained cemetery. The mausoleum was topped by the statue of a woman. The statue's face had been worn away to rough, featureless stone, but Renee could still feel the eyes of the Queen of Shades upon her. The statue marked the grave of Henrietta, first priestess of the Queen of Shades, and represented a legacy stretching back almost two centuries. A legacy Renee now hoped to not only carry on, but to finally bring to fruition.

Two figures approached out of the darkness and Renee stood to meet them. Renee greeted the two women, fellow worshippers of the Queen of Shades, as they came together in front of the mausoleum. Victoria was the tallest. She had pale gray eyes and long, dirty blonde hair that hung down below her butt. Samantha was plump with dark brown hair and large, black eyes. Renee herself was the shortest of the trio, with piercing green eyes and spiky red hair. The three women were witches who had come together with the goal of opening a doorway to allow the Queen of Shades to enter the mortal plain and rule over mankind.

"Is everything ready?" Renee asked the other two witches.

"Of course," Victoria started. "I have transfigured five men into beasts. I will release them one at a time into the city. Each one will prove locate to find and even harder to defeat. Together, they will keep the Saviors occupied and distract them from our greater purpose."

"I too was successful," Samantha said. "I managed to summon an entire troop of goblins. I fed each one a bezoar that will absorb expended energy. There are quite a few parties tonight and festivities planned all day tomorrow. The fear and chaos the goblins sow will generate negative energy. Combine that with the belief the mortals have in Halloween, and we should be able to capture enough energy. Victoria's beasts will keep the Saviors from destroying too many of the goblins, though I purposely summoned more than I think we'll need. Tomorrow night, when it’s time to perform the ritual, I will summon all the goblins back here. Then we can use the negative energy they have gathered."

"Excellent," Renee said, a wicked smile curling her lips. "Victoria, were you able to concoct the potion as well?"

"I was, but I still don't know how effective it will be, especially given how little time we have. Are you any closer to bringing the boy back to our side?”

"I believe he is starting to break, but if your potion is effective, we may not even need him. I may have lost control over his actions, but thank the Queen I can still manipulate his thoughts."

 “If he returns to you, all the better.” Samantha chimed in. "If not, let's get started on our back up plan."

Victoria produced a pot of thick, dark liquid. As Renee and Samantha cast concealment spells around the area surrounding the mausoleum, Victoria poured the liquid into the human shaped outline, whispering an incantation as she did so. Once she was finished, Renee pulled Taylor's finger and a silver ring out of her pocket. She put the silver ring on the digit and then pushed the finger into the liquid. It sunk into place where the outline's right index finger had been dug, and the liquid began to bubble.

"This substrate will produce something that we can use in the boy's place. The more power you pour into it, the faster the effigy will form and the more stable it will be," Victoria explained. "Even if it's not strong enough to transport our Lady to this plain, we can probably summon another entity. Then at a later ritual, that entity can be sacrificed to bring the Queen of Shades across."

"It is certainly possible, but tomorrow is our best chance at success," Samantha said. "Please do what you can to coerce the boy back to our side."

"I will continue to work on him," Renee said. "Now go, see to your beasts and goblins. I will stay and watch over the spell at work here. I'll see you both tomorrow night."

###

Taylor awoke, having slept through the night for the first time in almost a week. The sun streaming in his window didn't look like morning, and he glanced at his phone. It was six thirty and the sun was setting. He'd been asleep for nearly a day. Taylor had dreamed but they weren't his usual nightmares. His dreams had been glorious, and that gave him more pause then if he'd been plagued with the usual terrible visions. The dream seemed to have fully awoken his memories of that night. Meeting up with Renee in the cemetery. Her casting a spell over him. Him saying the words, "I call upon the power of the moon."

As soon as he'd finished speaking, a mythic power had filled his body, giving him enhanced strength, heightened senses, and fantastic abilities. The most terrible of those, the ability to transform into a monster. Taylor had tried to fight the transformation, to give up the mythic power and change back to himself. That was when he learned that Renee could control his body through the spell she'd cast.

Renee sent him out into the city, where he wreaked havoc and killed any person who he happened upon. Normally, he only remembered the experience in flashes. The nightmares bringing to the surface of his mind the shame of not being in control of his own body, the fear brought on by the great power possessing him, and the guilt over the lives he had taken. This dream however, had reminded him of a different set of feelings. He remembered the thrill of the hunt, the joy of the kill, and the exhilaration of wielding near unlimited power.

Lying in bed, he tried to push the feelings aside, but he couldn't deny that just the memory of the power made him feel better than he had in weeks. He tried to force his mind to remember the pain, to block out the feelings of sick jubilation. His rampage had been stopped by the Saviors, a group of three heroes with fantastic powers of their own.

Strange occurrences and phenomenon had been popping up all over the country for the last several months, and the Saviors had appeared to stop these threats to humanity. On that faithful night he'd met up with Renee at the graveyard, Taylor had become one of those threats. His battle against the Saviors was fierce and he'd almost triumphed. In the end, the Saviors had ensnared him in energy and literally ripped the mythic force from his body, leaving behind the deep scars that now crisscrossed his chest and arms.

Taylor had awoken in the hospital, a John Doe, under heavy guard and handcuffed to the bed. It was at that moment he heard Renee's voice in his mind for the first time. She'd offered to free him from his constraints if he'd only return to her side. Taylor had agreed and Renee had helped him escape. Once he was free though, he ran. That was when Renee started tormenting him by projecting her voice into his thoughts.

Taylor went to the bathroom and then peeked into the living room to check on his dad and was greeted with an unfortunate yet familiar site. His dad was asleep in his armchair. The beer bottles littered around the chair made it obvious he had passed out drunk. Taylor's dad had never once struck him, but he was still a mean drunk, full of hurtful insults and emotional manipulation. Taylor hated the person his father became when he drank. His alcoholism was why they'd moved so many times in the last few years. Taylor had tried to get his dad help, but so far, nothing had worked. Sooner or later, his dad always returned to the bottle.

"Guess things aren't going to be different this time after all," Taylor thought to himself bitterly.

Dejected, Taylor headed back toward his room. Then he heard Renee's voice enter his thoughts.

"Did you enjoy your dreams? Do you remember what it felt like? The power? It can all be yours again. All you have to do is come back to me. My sisters and I are waiting. Come to the Glengrove cemetery tonight. Walk away from your life and we will make you so much greater. We are all together, come join us."

Taylor stood in the doorway of his bedroom and looked between his bed and the front door. His memories of power pulled at him. His grief over the lives he'd taken paled in comparison to the shame he felt for his father and for himself. Taylor stood motionless for a full minute, lost in thought. Then he turned around and headed for the front door.

October 30, 2020 15:59

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10 comments

Ruth Porritt
02:23 Feb 08, 2021

Hello Michael, I enjoyed this story because of the description of what was going on in Taylor's mind. Is this story the beginning chapter of a novel? Also, what authors inspire you? Thanks, and have a great day, Ruth

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Michael Boquet
03:45 Feb 08, 2021

This would actually be a later event, if this were a novel. One of my other stories, "Samantha's Suitors" is a bit of a prequel to this one. Some of my favorite authors are Paul Tremblay, Chuck Palahniuk, Elizabeth Acevedo, Tom King, and N.K. Jemison. Who inspires you? Thanks for reading & liking by the way : )

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Ruth Porritt
14:01 Feb 10, 2021

Cool! Chuck Palahniuk is an author I am familiar with. (My old university prof had beef with him over the presentation order at a writing conference, or something.) I'll have to check out the other authors. As far as horror, Stephen King, Ann Rice, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Poe, Mary Shelley, Richard Matheson, and Roald Dahl. (and many more) My pleasure, and catch you later, Ruth

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Ruth Porritt
14:01 Feb 10, 2021

Cool! Chuck Palahniuk is an author I am familiar with. (My old university prof had beef with him over the presentation order at a writing conference, or something.) I'll have to check out the other authors. As far as horror, Stephen King, Ann Rice, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Poe, Mary Shelley, Richard Matheson, and Roald Dahl. (and many more) My pleasure, and catch you later, Ruth

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Ruth Porritt
14:01 Feb 10, 2021

Cool! Chuck Palahniuk is an author I am familiar with. (My old university prof had beef with him over the presentation order at a writing conference, or something.) I'll have to check out the other authors. As far as horror, Stephen King, Ann Rice, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Poe, Mary Shelley, Richard Matheson, and Roald Dahl. (and many more) My pleasure, and catch you later, Ruth

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Marilee Ryan
19:01 Nov 07, 2020

I enjoyed spending some time in the world of Taylor. I think there is a notion at the beginning, that it would be a dark or bad choice to return to the witches that fades through the story and becomes an interesting choice: Is choosing the dark side a valid choice or is it always a wrong choice? I guess it is the dilemma of The Phantom of the Opera, which always makes a thoughtful story. In this case, I think the dilemma is subtle, which I really like in this case. All that being said, one more polishing edit would help a few areas to ev...

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