February 6, 2015

Hi guys,

I just wanted to say that I’ll be taking next week off for personal reasons, so no new stuff… Sorry about that. As for this post, this story was written on a contest prompt a while ago. Oddly enough, I can find the story, but not the prompt it was written off of, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. It is rather Halloween-y, but I appear to be circling Halloween all year round now, and hopefully this one’s at least entertaining.

Thanks!

– Yelena

******

“It must be pure for the master.”

She muttered the words to herself over and over again as she sat on the cold, damp grass, rummaging through her enormous burlap sack. She was a little out of breath after having carried it up the hill and then down the other side to the cemetery at the foot of the village. The high street had been packed with party-goers and noise exploded from the bars and restaurants lining the main thoroughfare.

No one noticed a small woman wearing a voluminous black cape and dragging a black burlap sack filled with mysteriously clinking items. At least, no one noticed on Halloween.

All Hallow’s Eve, she corrected herself. Halloween is for children and fools. All Hallow’s Eve, she thought to herself, was for true mystics. Like herself. She paused in her rummaging to fix the pointed black hat more tightly to her head.

Finally, after digging through the sack for another minute, her skinny, pale hand emerged holding a portable water purifier. It had been $39.95 plus shipping on Amazon. A little tight on her budget, but it was worth it. Nothing but the best would do for the Master. And once he was free, nothing would ever be the same. She wouldn’t need to worry about foolish things like money.

Reverently, she held the purifier up to the small, rusty faucet in the corner of the cemetery. The graves here were old, home to the great-great-grandparents of most of the village’s current residents. The faucet hadn’t been used in quite some time.

She pulled at the tap, which didn’t budge, but instead stained her fingers brown with rust. She hauled on it, putting her weight into it, until it grudgingly released a dribble of dusty water, filling the purifier.

She hauled the sack into the center of the small, square cemetery, letting it rest on a moonlit circle of bare, unoccupied grass. Hefting its awkward weight, she was reminded of the backpack she’d left sitting at home.

A burlap sack, she’d thought, would be genuine, would help maintain the purity of the ritual. So she’d ordered one on Amazon. She regretted it now, feeling her lower back pulsing in pain.

Pulling out a newspaper-wrapped bundle, she carefully unrolled the layers of paper to release a crystal goblet, which sparkled in the moonlight. She filled the goblet with the newly purified water and set it gently on a nearby grave.

Smiling to herself, she removed all of the items from the sack, lining them up neatly on the ground, and began to prepare for the ceremony. She checked her watch: there was still half an hour till midnight. Plenty of time to set up her workspace and summon the Master of all Evil in a timely manner. She always prided herself on her punctuality. If you’re not going to show up on time, don’t show up at all, she always told people.

That was the problem with people these days. No respect. No respect for time or property or other people. Last year, those hooligans had egged her house.

The Master would show them, she thought grumpily.

Some of the noise from the parties on the hill filtered down to her. She could hear raucous laughter and breaking glass. She just shook her head disapprovingly.

First the candles.

She hobbled around the cleared space in the center of the cemetery, setting up the tall, black pillared candles in a perfect circle. Walking around a second time, she lit them, one by one. They were the expensive kind of black candles; none of that scented crap. And they burned with a blue flame. She thought the Master would appreciate her attention to detail.

She smiled to herself and focused on the task at hand, careful to keep her long black skirt out of the way of the flames as she set up a second circle within the first, laying small circular hand mirrors on the grass in front of the candles. They were to reflect the evil of this world, she thought. Or maybe the Master just liked looking at himself.

She checked her reflection in one of them. Her middle-aged face was heavy with wrinkles, but her blue eyes still glittered pleasantly. The bold red lipstick had been a good choice. She’d had her hair done that day, and it lay nicely, a ladylike bob framing her features. She fluffed it and continued laying out the mirrors.

Besides, the Master wouldn’t care what she looked like. He would love her for her personality.

Biting her lip, she focused on placing the mirrors in the exact correct spots. Through her concentration, she didn’t hear the clip-clop of wobbly footsteps winding their way down the hill or the metallic creaky clang of the cemetery gate as it swung open to admit another visitor.

In fact, she didn’t realize that she had company until a voice spoke in her ear. She felt a warm presence at her back.

“What’cha doin’?”

The words came on the beer-scented cloud of the man’s breath.

The voice in her ear shocked her and she tumbled backwards into him, knocking the none-too-steady man over and upsetting one of the candles. The flame went out promptly when it hit the ground, but not before it set the edge of her skirt on fire.

Screaming, she grabbed the burlap sack and began hitting the skirt with it as he drunkenly stomped on the skirt, more than once stomping on stray finger. Finally, nursing some bruised fingers and a still-smoking skirt, she glared up at him. She could still smell the alcohol on his breath as he wobbled above her.

“Who are you?”

Her voice was a sneer. He didn’t notice.

“I’m Mike,” he said, proudly sticking out a hand.

“I don’t care,” she told him, deliberately putting venom into her words. “You do not belong here. This is a very delicate ritual. You are upsetting the balance. You will leave immediately.”

“Well… I didn’t have very good balance to begin with,” he slurred. “But it looks like you need help with your …. thing. I can help you.”

“Get out.”

Planting her hands firmly against his chest, she shoved him away. He spun drowsily in the direction of the exit and she returned her focus back to the ritual, frowning at the mess the cretin had made. It had all been so perfect and he had ruined it. She glared at the disturbed circle.

She lit the candle once more and settled the mirror into place.

She prepared herself for the third and final interior circle. She firmly grasped the bag of sand and hefted it upwards, ignoring the extra strain on her back. Black sand was hard to come by. It had been expensive.

Actually, she wasn’t sure what the sand was for, but it did look nice. Maybe she’d get one of those Chinese rock gardens for the Master, she thought. They were supposed to be relaxing. Surely someone who worked as hard as he was going to deserved something pretty.

She closed the final circle and dropped the empty sandbag on the grass, heaving a satisfied sigh. She checked her watch: five minutes to midnight.

Perfect.

She had just enough time to complete the incantation in the final moment.

“Sure looks pretty.”

The beery voice came again from behind her. He leaned over her shoulder to look at the circle.

She closed her eyes for a moment, fighting a migraine. She didn’t speak, just glared at him over her shoulder before shoving him away as hard as she could.

Somewhere behind her, she heard him thunk into the side of a tree. It would have to be good enough. At least he was staying quiet this time.

She needed to continue the ritual.

She knelt in front of the circle on the Eastern side as the book had said, closed her eyes and lifted her hands, palms downward. The book didn’t say anything about her palms, but this felt right

She cleared her throat and began.

“Oh Almighty Master, king of this world and the next, prince of darkness, destroyer of worlds.

Ye who has been cast from the face of this earth, rise.

Return to us from the bowels of the earth.

Return from the depths of sorrow. Renew thy reign.

Rise!”

She almost shouted the last word and as it escaped her lips, she felt her palms burn hot. Her eyes widened and a big grin lit her face as she saw the steam rising from the earth in the center of the circle. The tendrils rose and twined together, swirling and building until a tall cloaked figure stood in the center of the circle.

Looking at him took her breath away for a moment. She couldn’t see what he looked like, not with his face covered with the hood like that, but she was sure he wouldn’t disappoint. She liked tall men.

His voice emerged as a deep, hoarse whisper.

“Bring to me the water of the earth,” he said. “So that I may drink and be of the earth once more.”

She rose from her knees and stepped toward the gravestone where she had left the goblet.

But it wasn’t there.

Frantically, her eyes swept the graveyard. Where could she have left it? Surely, it had been on that gravestone?

Her mind raced and the sound of smashing crystal broke through her thoughts. It had come from the sidewalk outside of the cemetery. In the darkness she could just make out a figure wobbling away up the hill.

“Thanks for the agua, babe,” he called back over his shoulder as he teetered on his way to another party.

“Noooo!”

Her howl filled the night as the figure within the circle dissipated into mist once more.

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