Stella’s townhouse is pretty nice. It’s a couple of streets behind her mother’s salon. Every day she leaves for work around when I do, since I got hired at Wally’s I can work two jobs now. Stella and I carpool with her sedan to work, usually, I drop her off then head over to Wally’s. Most of the day, I’m doing an inventory of canned goods. During the end of the week and on weekends I’m over at Slate Ski Resort up at the hayride.
It’s been over two weeks since I left the McCasters house. Will and I still talk at work, but things just seem kind of awkward between us ever since I left his parents’ house.
Colin was happy I was willing to work at Wally’s again. He offered me a better position than the one I had, assistant manager, but I declined. I don’t think it would be fair to the other employees who have been there the years I haven’t.
“Pass me some of that good stuff...” Stella mumbles while pulling her legs up onto the couch.
I hand her the popcorn bowl and she waves her hand, changing the tv station by motioning her magic to press the remote control channel button.
I’ve been paying rent to her, even though she refused to accept my money at first. We fought a little over me staying here, I warned her it could be dangerous with me hanging around and Darren still on the loose. She didn’t care though and eventually, persuaded me to stay. So now I’m bunked in her guest room.
“How is your mark?” she asks while grabbing another handful of popcorn.
“It hasn’t hurt since I was living with them. I think I’m going to head to bed a little early.” I say, standing up with a yawn.
Stella nods her head, her eyes glued on the movie.
After saying goodnight, I head upstairs and get ready for bed. I had to buy new clothes once I moved in here too. All the clothes I wore before were Crystal’s. I slip on a pink nightgown, then brush my teeth and wash my face.
I look down at the old brown, wool comforter then pull it up to my chin. The bed is twin sized and my pillow is surprisingly comfy, I reach over to the nightstand and turn off the lamp. I can still hear the tv on downstairs even though my door is still shut. However, it’s actually kind of comforting to hear it rather than absolute silence.
I cross my arms behind my head and try to count sheep when I reach the one-hundredth sheep I hear the tv turn off and Stella walk upstairs.
My phone buzzes on the nightstand beside my head and squinting through grogginess, I grab it and tap the touchscreen.
No work this weekend. Portal is being fixed, Silvets paying for damages. R u coming to the parade tomorrow night? Should be fun. I read Will’s text and blink.
Stella did mention the parade to me a couple days ago, well she was more interested in the ‘after’ party over at Wixton’s firehouse. The fire department is using the parade as a fundraiser to help fix the burned houses. After the parade, they are selling tickets to enter their drink fest inside the firehouse. I’m sure there will be a bunch of security there, just in case the necromancer decides to show up.
It’s true the coven now knows there is another family member of the Silvet’s missing. However, no one knows anything about the other brother because before they could question their family they left for Paris where apparently Mr. Silvet’s wife has been. The coven still firmly believes it to be Darren though since pretty much everything points to him and because he admitted he was the necromancer, they don’t care about the other brother.
After learning their son did manage to dent the portal to the other realm, they paid more than enough to have it fixed. Which I suppose was enough to satisfy the coven for the moment.
I don’t think Darren would make a disturbance at the parade, there would be too many witches around who could find him and overpower him.
So it’s not like I’m afraid to go, I’m just not sure I want to go. I really have no one to go with and I know Stella should spend some alone time with Colin. I rather not be the third wheel if I can avoid it.
I’m not sure. R u going? I text back to him in response. Then I turn my phone off for the night.
The warmth of sunlight radiates down onto my face and I pry my eyes open. Wiping away sleep, I sit up in my bed and glare out the blinds where the sunlight is seeping in through.
I shuffle out of bed and shut the blinds. Then I pick out a black long-sleeved shirt that is laced up in the back. I slide on a pair of light-colored jeans. After I finish getting ready for the day, I pick up my phone.
Yeah! Everyone in town is! I read Will’s response from last night and put my phone in my pant pocket, heading downstairs.
Stella is making an egg on the skillet and I pull out some cereal from the cupboard.
“Ew!” I screech, slamming the cupboard shut when I see a clump of fur dart out from the cupboard and onto the floor. I jump back, watching the rodent head for Stella’s feet.
“Stella, there’s a rat!” I huff and she follows my pointed hand, looking down at the floor.
When she sees the rat, she screams and drops the spatula she was flipping her egg with. The skillet wobbles and smashes onto the floor, gooey egg spreading all over the once clean white tiles.
We both run up onto the safety of the couch, watching the rat eat the fallen egg.
“A-another!” Stella gasps in panic, pointing at the counter top where the previous rat had fallen onto the counter from the cupboard.
The rats both have brown fur and red, beady eyes. I’ve never seen rats so big, they have to be near a foot long and that’s not even including the length of their tails.
With a shaky hand, she pulls out her phone looking sick.
“I’m calling animal control,” she says with determination.
“These aren’t normal rats. L-look...” I mumble beside her.
The diseased animals violently bite at the bottom of the kitchen table, ripping chunks of wood out with their teeth. All in one bite.
What kind of rat is that strong?
Slowly, the rodents approach us and Stella drops her phone mid-dial.
Using her magic, she sends a couch pillow flying at them. To my dismay, the mutant rats aren’t bothered at all and continue creeping towards us, the hair on their backs raises up toward the ceiling.
“That’s it,” Stella grumbles in annoyance. "Patentibus!" she yells and the front door opens so fast, it slams against the inside of the house almost coming off its hinges. "Exsilium!" she tries.
Stella’s magic lifts the rats off the ground and carries them outside, they screech awfully loud in protest and I shudder when the door closes behind them. What she did to the rats is almost exactly what Crystal did to me. A loud scratching noise comes from the door, they must be trying to get inside.
“Val, your magic.”
She sounds scared, but her voice becomes white noise as I focus on the awful clawing sound coming from right outside the front door. I feel my hair raising off my shoulders, floating around my head. My magic condenses around me like a bubble ready to pop.
I make a grunting sound as my eyes start to sting, a sensation I only felt the day I was revived.
"In infernis arderet,” I whisper in agony, once the foreign words leave my lips the screeching rats outside become mute and my magic dies down, the pain in my eyes gone.
Heat trails travel over the lines in the mark on my stomach, pulsating with life. I clench my teeth, expecting pain. However, the only thing I feel is the strange heat that for once isn’t burning, travel over my skin in jagged lines. It must be the curse.
“Burn in hell? Yeah, I hope they do. Jeez, you had me scared Val. Are you okay?” Stella asks me quickly, translating the Latin words that came out of my mouth.
I never remember learning that spell. Something dark consumed me in that brief moment. When the pain in my eyes became too much, I focused my irritation and agony on the rats. I wanted them to hurt and it terrifies me that I had no control over what I said...or felt for that matter.
“My stomach feels weird,” I say in a hollow voice, stumbling down from the couch and Stella grips my arm to steady me.
We walk side by side to the front door, Stella opens it and quickly slams it shut.
“B-black magic. You must have said a spell, those rats...I think they really went to hell,” Stella says in a waver while taking a deep breath.
I open the door slowly to see for myself and find the same exact mark on my stomach, scribbled out onto the floor. The mark is etched in some kind of black ash on the white chipped paint of the front porch floor.
The demonic hexagram symbol is about three feet in diameter. Stella runs back into the house, I hear her slam open and closed the bathroom door upstairs. When she comes back outside, she plugs in a hairdryer to an outlet, blowing the ash off the porch frantically.
“There is no way I’m using my magic around this thing. We could both wind up in hell like those things. Clearly, they must have been some kind of demonic rats. Who knows, maybe they were possessed.”
I did that to them though, I expelled them into another realm. Even if they were demonic, what I have done is forbidden and no worse than if I expelled another witch to hell. Stella must realize it too, but I don’t know how she can remain so calm. I feel like I’m going to throw up and the weird feeling moving across my stomach isn’t helping much.
We shut the door closed, then sit down on the couch.
“We know Darren is working with some demon, maybe they got in through the portal if it was cracked. He already admitted he is the necromancer, but we still have cause to believe there was someone else possibly involved. You and Will both caught Darren trying to break into the portal, but the demon was in the other realm. It had to have been. When Will testified, he said Darren mentioned the white witch walking again...” Stella says in a rush, steadying her breathing.
She looks over at me with a frown and I shake my head in disbelief.
“Crystal told me she doesn’t believe he’s the necromancer, she thinks it may be the other brother. The one that is possessed. We already know Jackson and Darren are not possessed. I just don’t know why Darren was trying to open it,” I explain to her.
I just don’t know why they would have granted me independence from the McCasters if they thought I could be the white witch.
She rubs her face. “Whether you believe in it or not, his family clearly does. Since they moved in, my mother has been trying to force them off their property. They hate us, it’s no secret. It’s the coven’s fault for leaving you in the middle of everything. My mother is the only witch who believes you to be the white witch so."
“What? So she really does believe it. She probably has the whole coven convinced now doesn’t she?” I say with suspicion.
“No! Most of them are more afraid of her than some old legend our grandparents read to us. Can you really blame her though, I mean with everything that’s happening? Your white hair, the demon and vampires joining together and you literally catching him trying to open the portal. Next thing you know, you’ll be making a deal with the devil.”
They must not have enough evidence to pin me down yet, so long as they don’t find out about my mark I should be safe. Patty has always known me to be a weak witch, never interested in the craft anyway.
Even if she hates me, she should know I have no interest in fulfilling some deal with the devil that leads to humanity’s downfall and eventually all supernaturals.
She’s out of her mind.
“Stella, those words I said...I didn’t even know what I was doing. I could sense my control fade away. It was terrifying.” I whisper, still angry at myself.
I could feel the evil in the magic I used, it definitely wasn’t mine.
“Whoever cursed you is the real monster, I don’t believe my mom. Soon they will find Darren again and sort everything out. It must be the curse they put on you that made you use black magic. When your aura finally surfaces, we will know for sure just what they did to you,” she mumbles.
Black magic? Well, I suppose that is what witches label magic involving demons. Still, we don’t know for sure if the rats were demonic or just mutant.
I rest my head in my hands, thinking the coven will show up here at any moment and have me arrested.
“Hey, no one is going to find out okay? Just relax. How’s your mark, did it react at all?”
I slump down onto the couch. “It felt funny, my eyes burned too. They both feel fine now. Oh and Will texted me last night, he’s going to the parade tomorrow.”
“Perfect, you can finally tell him how you feel. It could be a double date. Colin and I are going together.”
I try to mirror her happiness too, but my smile is much weaker than hers. “He has a girlfriend. I rather not be the third wheel and after what you just witnessed me do...I think it is best if I just stay in here and skip out on the party,” I say while looking over at the mess the rats made in the kitchen.
“Girlfriend? He must have lied. Val, I’ve seen the way he looks at you. You are totally coming, I’m not giving you a choice. There’s no way you are staying cooped up in here miserable.”
Stella’s probably right, I’m kind of interested in seeing who his girlfriend is too. Well, I suppose the jealous part of me is, the other half of me rather not see the two of them together.
It will hurt seeing them together, but if Will is happy then I should be happy for him.
“He offered to let me live with him, Stella,” I add, remembering how surprised I was at the time.
For a moment, I believed there was a chance our feelings were mutual, but when he told me about his girlfriend everything came crashing down.
She walks into the kitchen, speaking over her shoulder, “See, I told you. There’s something there.”
Still, I think what I’m doing is the opposite of what I should be. The necromancer is still out there, if it really is Darren’s brother then we really should be more careful.
Still, Stella probably needs to have as much fun as I do, with her having to deal with her mother on a daily basis. Her mother still wants her to work for her and I’m sure deep down she’s against me being near Stella.
Yeah, I’ll be there. See u tomorrow:) I text Will back.
Then I grab a broom from the kitchen closet and start to help Stella clean up the mess all over the kitchen floor. Sometimes, things like cleaning are just easier to do without magic. Besides, I think we’re still both a little too spooked to use magic after seeing my magic altered by my demonic curse mark.
Will and the McCasters saw me use magic before and it never turned to black magic, hopefully, this is just a freak incident.