You’ll be glad to hear that you no longer need to be the sacrifice. I’ve found a better match – or rather, the better match found me. I’m sorry I ever considered you. I’m sorry I lured you here under a pretence. Really, I am, but I don’t have time to explain myself right now.
Oh, don’t give me that look. Yes, I do have time, but no, I won’t do it now. Better? You’ll have to forgive me. I’ve waited a very long time for this moment, and would rather not wait another second now. It would be unwise to leave another moment to chance.
It might be safer for you if you leave the room. I’m sure you want to see the ritual, but does your curiosity really outweigh what a vengeful spirit might do to you? It’s up to you. If you want to stay, stay, but don’t hold me responsible if she drags you into this.
I carefully light the candles which I’ve set up in a perfect circle days ago. Chances are it doesn’t need to be precise – not this precise – but I’m not taking any chances now. We’ve been sorry instead of safe too often. It ends now.
“Come here,” I say, and Sosostra nods, stepping into the circle with me. I take a deep breath – to calm my nerves, and fail – and begin.
“Hear me, spirits! With this spell I summon thee! With this spell I beseech you! Grant me your aid in lifting this curse which has been cast upon my family, and protect me from evil! I summon thee, Geraldine May!” Without wasting another moment, I take hold of the knife and cut Sosostra’s throat. Her blood is the best link I could have hoped for, and the spell senses it, too. The glyphs I have cast intensify, and form a glowing barrier around the candles.
“I offer you this sacrifice in return, Geradline May, that you may lift this curse from my family for all eternity!”
The fine hairs on my arm and back stand on end. There is something in the air, electricity, a charge, and it thickens the air painfully until it can’t stand the pressure any longer and bursts into an explosion of soundless thunder. A split.
I hear laughter, her laughter, and suddenly I want to run. If this doesn’t work…
No, she wouldn’t kill me already. Not while the curse still needs me to have my child. I’m about as save as I can possibly be in this situation.
There is something else in my circle, too. A hole. A crack in the atmosphere.
A tear in my room. I reach out my hand towards it, and the sudden change in the air freezes me. My heart stops for two seconds when I realise what I’ve done.
I’ve created a portal from our world into the next world. That’s why I can hear her laugh. That’s why I can feel her presence in the room as surely as if she’s standing next to me.
By my feet Sosostra coughs, blood spluttering around her face from the effort. I can feel the eyes of five people watching me from a particularly dark corner of the room. My heart hammers in my chest for what I’m about to do. For what I nearly did. They have been so good to me, and here I was mere moments ago, ready to bleed them dry.
This curse has reduced my family – has reduced me – to monsters, but no more.
The candles flicker, and Sosostra gasps for air in a futile attempt to live. Her body hasn’t yet comprehended what her mind knows already – she’s dead. My own lungs empty, and my hands reach for my throat instinctively. I can’t breathe. Somewhere beyond the tear I’ve opened, she is laughing. I can hear it. The sound is pounding in my ears and echoing in my very core.
Then she steps through. The hole is no longer just felt, but I can see it, too. A dark void has opened in the middle of my room, and I’m the one who made it happen.
Did Grandpa Ashton go through the same sensation? I didn’t see it in my vision, but that doesn’t-
No. This is different. I know it is.
It has to be.
Her smile is a terrible grimace. Her eyes find Sosostra, and the smile widens.
She says a few words – she must be, her lips move –
and everything goes dark.