Chapter 1-The Awakening
Stale, moldy air suffocates me. My back itches to sit up while I wipe a layer of dust off the soft fabric of my dress. Finally, I open my eyes and let out my anger. Pounding at the wooden plywood, my coffin.
Swallowing dusty air, I gag and dry heave. My skin feels like leather. Who knows how long I’ve been down here, dead. The skin of my knuckles tears easily like tissue paper; a result of me hitting the hardwood over and over again.
My eyes sting as if acid was poured into them and the skin around them feels wrinkled with age. A sick feeling overwhelms me as I imagine myself a shriveled up raisin. If I were able to see, I’m sure I would make out the decayed crevices of my skin as rotten flesh. I can feel bone in some holes on my arm where skin once was, but the pain is numb.
If only my eyes were too.
“Let me out!” I scream to the top of my lungs, choking on the scent of my own rotten flesh.
I quit banging on the wooden plank that rests five inches above my nose and steady my breathing. Ragged breaths escape me, it feels as though my heart is being dragged down slowly to a stop. It hasn’t stopped yet though.
Whoever did this to me is going to pay. I was fine dying alongside my family. I bet it was another witch bringing me back as a way of torment. It’s not my fault my parents were not careful, I was not there when they were relocating the portal! Oh who am I kidding, any witch should know necromancy is forbidden unless one wishes to be punished by the ‘almighty’ coven.
Why must fate be so cruel?
I close my eyes and the stinging sensation slightly dies down, but not much.
I need to get out of here before I suffocate, and I rather not die that way. It would be much more painful and slow than my original death.
“Come on! Move!” I holler bitterly while slamming my fists into the wood again, feeling my weak bones crunch against the stubborn wood of my coffin.
My absence of pain must be a result of being awakened from death.
Hitting the inside of my coffin is useless, especially when I’m buried six feet under. In my own panic, I have forgotten not only my grim reality, but my family’s curse. Too bad for me, I did not learn much in my short life, unlike most witches they were reluctant to teach me the ways of coven life and wanted me to choose my own path instead of forcing it on me like most streamline witches did to their children.
If I recall, I died after my nineteenth birthday. I was only practicing witchcraft for about three years up until my death. On my sixteenth birthday, my parents told me about witches and our long line of ancestors who passed down books of spells, potions, and artifacts to them.
I only remember a few spells because I really struggled to embrace the practice my coven wanted me to learn. Being a witch isn’t just a practice though and although my parents gave me the option to choose, I was old enough to know I wouldn’t have a choice. To be in the coven is a way of life -- it’s in my blood.
If I’m still this much intact with my memories though and have the strength to pound against solid wood after just being revived, it must have been some powerful witch who bothered reviving me. Either that or a really old one. Maybe both or maybe not a witch at all...
What a pain, I never learned a transportation spell or how to make a portal. I’d need blood for the latter and judging by the dryness of my skin, I doubt that’d be a good idea.
A sharp pinching spouts in my chest as renewed energy floods into me, from where or how I have no idea. The best answer I can come up with is it’s a result of being messed with by whoever performed necromancy on me. Correction, whoever is still performing necromancy on me which is just a little terrifying.
It feels as though cold water is falling over the skin of my entire body. In this southern heat, especially in this box, I’m sure in any other circumstance the sensation would feel refreshing, but instead, it’s terrifying and just...strange as my nerve endings come to life and my skin miraculously begins to heal itself.
I shudder on my back, writhing in discomfort as the feeling travels over my body. A pained groan escapes me as my weakened muscles strengthen, my bones mend and my nerves come alive bringing feeling back into my aching knuckles and head.
Suddenly, the cold feeling vanishes only to be replaced by a scalding heat that sears straight up my spine. I jerk in agony, bucking my back and hitting my head painfully against the coffin. Stars cloud my vision as the invisible heat slithers all the way up my spine, wrapping and tightening itself around my neck like a snake. I make a choking sound and my eyes sting so bad I feel as though I’m surely blind now.
Then the burning sensation recedes from my neck and slithers down my chest, setting my lungs on fire. An agonized scream rips through me and I twist in pain, feeling the scorching heat settle over my stomach. It moves in jagged lines over my stomach for a couple seconds, leaving me feeling as though I have third-degree burns. The horrible sensation then finally vanishes.
With my mind fixed, I imagine the necromancer, the one who put me through this torture, as the coffin. Holding my breath, I give one hard kick to the coffin and against all odds, it cracks. Giving me a view of soft moonlight trickling down through the splintered wood. They must have dug all the way down to my coffin.
Grasping the small opening, I pry the rotten wood apart and kick again. This time, the metal latches give in and snap, the lid of my coffin flips open.
Whoever revived me apparently didn’t want me to suffocate six feet under, trapped in a box beneath the dirt.
They also must have not been interested in meeting me either. Why go to the trouble of breaking the law to save me? Well, it is not saving. I was fine living in the other realm. My whole family was there, it’s where we supernatural creatures go in death.
It felt like I was there a day until I was torn away from my eternity with my loved ones.
“Gack...” I cough, wiping my mouth after vomit leaves me.
My skin is a sickly yellow, but my arms are smooth and my eyes have finally stopped stinging. Ever since the burning on my stomach ended, I have not felt any discomfort on my tummy either.
I look down at what used to be my deathbed and sigh feeling lost, abandoned. All because of some idiot who decided to mess with the dead. I grab onto a giant root and use it to leverage my body weight as I straddle my feet against both long sides of my grave. Slowly, I climb to the top and read my headstone.
Of course, the coven did not bother putting any nice flowers out here for my relatives or myself. At least, they buried us next to each other. They could have burned us to ash as they do to those on their blacklist.
So, I suppose they were not too ashamed by my family.
My long navy-blue dress flutters in the night breeze. I look around myself confirming the cemetery to belong to Wixton -- my birthplace and the town that has managed to somehow survive with humans living alongside us supernaturals. Yes, they know we witches exist. They just have agreed to allow witches to handle the less humane or ill-natured supernaturals.
Something crackles behind me pulling me out of my thoughts. A bright white light in the shape of a circle is etched into the grassy ground. A witch no doubt, the coven has already found me? I must be in a ward and it automatically notified them of my arrival. Great.
“Valerie Parway...” Patricia Gild, or Patty, as our coven calls her behind her back, says slowly in her thick southern accent.
It must be my lucky day, the headmistress of Wixton’s elite coven has found me. If I were human, it would be like me being arrested, except I will not be getting any trial or jury. The coven polices the supernatural community here in Wixton, protecting humans.
Patty’s long red curly hair hangs over her shoulders, I notice the new grey tones in her hair and wrinkles on her forehead and around her eyes. Her black cloak wraps around her-a green emerald clasp holds it together below the nape of her neck.
She stands at a tall six feet, one of her skinny arms holds a brown bag and I already know what’s in it.
Necromancy is illegal and no excuse will save me, sadly from something I never even wanted to be involved with. Witches declare other supernaturals as either non-threatening or threatening. Seeing as I mysteriously just came back to life, I’d say she’s betting I’m the latter. Then again, my family has a history of being rather weak witches. She can’t declare me an enemy without looking bad, at least publicly.
“You have participated in outlawed sorcery and have been deemed a potential threat. We are unsure of the perpetrator responsible for your awakening. Until we find them, you are granted a reprieve and will be under house arrest until we have closure on this occurrence,” Patty says roughly.
I openly glare at the old witch’s sour expression.
Why is she looking at me as though I’m a stranger? I’m her daughter’s best friend!
How do I have any say in what happens to my body when I’m dead? I didn’t break the law, whoever did this to me did! The only reason she’s sparing my life is to find whoever resurrected me I’m sure.
“Patricia, I was happy in the other realm. Please, let me go back. I’m sorry my family was unable to hide the portal to the other realm well enough, but at least they managed to lock it,” I tell the heartless witch.
Ignoring me, she proceeds to dump the contents of the bag all over the floor of the cemetery with haste. She’s already warding off my grave site as a crime scene. Well, I hope they find whoever did this to me soon because I have no intention of staying here any longer.
Patty pastes on a fake smile, “No. We do not kill our kind and we do not forget those who have crossed us. You have been dead for ten years now.”
Ten years? Well, I suppose it could have been worse, but still.
Does this mean I’m like twenty-nine? I don’t feel any older than nineteen.
Besides, I never aged in the other realm. Time is much different there, slower.
Patty steps back into her portal, “I have chosen a family for you to live with. Think of this as your second chance to embrace what you really are.”
She did not come here alone, two other older witches stand by her side, keeping the portal open for her they bend down on the ground with their eyes closed, chanting in hushed whispers. Patricia fades away, leaving me with who I’m presuming are my new escorts to wherever it is I’ve been ordered to go.