Chapter 2-The Mountain House
Their cold hands clasp onto my arms and I roll my eyes, dragging my feet as they force me into a black SUV parked on the road on the other side of the iron fence that surrounds the large cemetery.
The car is signature of the coven’s taste, they all drive the same type of car, dress the same with little variation, and for the most part, they all act the same too. If they knew any better, they would get off their high horses.
I’m shoved roughly into the back of the car. “Thanks,” I mutter sarcastically.
The black-haired witch wearing a purple clasp on her cloak gets in the driver seat and the other black-haired one sits beside her, locking the doors. The two women must be twins, but I don’t think I ever met them before I died.
One of them turns toward me and gives me a stiff nod. “My name is Leona, I will be informing you about the McCasters. They have agreed to take you in, be grateful for they are a very respected family in our community. Here,” The witch in the co-pilot seat tells me while tossing me a black cloak, “...put that on. They've taken responsibility of safeguarding the other realm after your family passed.”
I narrow my eyes, staring numbly into the back of her seat. Absentmindedly, I unfold the cloak and placing it around my shoulders. Why must I wear this thing? They can’t make me become one of them.
Besides, how do they even know I’m still capable of witchcraft? I think while recalling the awful pain I went through while my body healed.
The heavy material of my new cloak makes me sink further back into my seat as I remember the car accident. Sometimes we supernaturals cannot even save ourselves from the stupidity of humans. I’m sure it was a drunk driver.
My parents and I were driving down a highway heading to what I predicted would be an awfully long coven meeting my parents forced me to go with them to. It was rare that they asked me to go, but there were rumored demon sightings in our area. It was declared an emergency meeting and since my parents at the time were watching the portal, which the demons could have got in through, we were called in to come.
We never made it to the meeting.
Once I get to the McCasters I’m throwing this cape off me. I’m not a witch, I want nothing to do with them. Besides, for all I know, Patricia could be setting me up. I doubt it though, she wouldn’t want to ruin her reputation. We do not have the strongest coven in the country and there would be a hefty price she’d have to pay.
If my memory serves right, the McCasters were the owners of the ski lodge at Slate Mountain. Don’t tell me they put the portal up there, why would they put it near a resort? The humans swarm that place like bees. Well, at least when I was alive they did. Maybe their business has gone downhill since then.
Stella and I use to ski there in the winter. In the fall, they used the mountain as a haunted hayride. Stella, I wonder how she’s doing now? Unlike me, she was more eager to accept being a witch. Well, now that I really think about it, she probably had no choice. Her mother is Patricia Gild after all.
I wonder if her hair is still dyed blue and if she cried when I died...did they even give my family a proper funeral? Jeez, Stella’s twenty-nine now. I guess I am too in a way, but she must have experienced so much while I was gone.
I doubt she went to college, Stella never liked school. Stella was still crushing on Colin and working at Starbucks during the day. At night, she would do secretary work for Patty. Her mother owns a salon and many of the witches in her coven live in neighboring houses next to it.
My family, on the other hand, lived on the opposite side of town from them. I also lived in the middle of nowhere, but our farm was very small, and neighbors were far and few. Which is probably why the coven wanted the portal out our way. Colin, my other best friend, lived right down the road from me. Lucky for him though, he is not a witch. I wonder what he’s up to these days?
Colin will be thirty now. Wow, how am I supposed to take him seriously as an adult? I wonder if he matured much, doubtful.
Last I remember being with him was when we did the closing shift at Wally’s, a supermarket down the road from our houses that his parents owned. He thought it would be funny to leave the old doughnuts in the shape of a smiley face right in the entrance for customers to see in the morning. Sharon, our manager, would have thrown a fit.
Maybe being alive again won’t be so bad.
“We’re here,” the witch driving tells me.
I look out my window, taking in the giant mountain that sits behind the big square building of the ski lodge. To the right, a little ways back in the woods is an old three-story log cabin. The McCasters’ house, my new prison.
We pull up closer to their house. A faint silver shimmer sparkles around their mailbox and we stop next to it. Witches ward their mailboxes to keep other supernaturals out. Most witches use herbs, but every now and then the older ones require small animals. Which is another reason why I never wanted to be a witch, still don’t.
Leona passes her twin a dead mouse, she opens the mailbox and puts the poor rodent into the mailbox, closing the lid.
The ward fades, notifying the McCasters of our arrival. They also now know that we are friendly since we bothered closing the ward, rather than intruding like an ‘unfriendly’ supernatural might. They will likely use the mouse for a potion like most small animals are killed by them for. As if right on cue, the front door opens, and a large man steps out onto the porch giving us a friendly wave.
“You will live by their rules, they are your family now. I suggest you find a job, try to blend in as your parents should have taught you. The McCasters have also been assigned to keep you up to date on modern craft,” Leona tells me with a grimace.
What she says pretty much is how most witches live, blending in with society.
She steps out of the car and opens my door. Uneasily, I follow her over to the tall bearded man who I guess must be a warlock, a male witch. His family owns Slate Ski Resort. The mountain used to be mined for slate, hence the name. The smell of pine is strong due to the hundreds of pine trees surrounding us.
The man wears a red and black plaid shirt and muddy jeans, he steps forward in my direction. He must be Mr. McCaster.
“Please, call me David,” he says. “We’re sorry about your family and your predicament. Unfortunately, this is protocol, but we promise to clear your name.”
He shakes my hand then introduces his wife to me, Mrs. McCaster or Cathy, as she tells me to call her. Like my hair, her hair is brown and she wears khaki pants and a pink blouse.
I’m not really sure what to say so I just mumble, “Thank you.”
I do not know much about them other than they are of witch blood and own this resort. Also, I found out today they are in charge of guarding the portal to the other realm. That’s pretty much all I know though.
Leona clasps her hands behind her back and the other witch in the car gives me a wave. They must be sisters, they have to be. Leona smiles and nods her head at us before walking back to the car and getting in.
After the two drive away, Cathy guides me inside their rather comfy log cabin home, the air conditioning feels nice on my skin. A sharp contrast from the muggy hot night air.
Everything in their house is modern, even the decorations. Most witches don’t bother hiding their ‘materials’ put simply, but the McCaster’s seem to have gone to a lot of trouble making their house seem quite normal to humans.
David walks upstairs, leaving me alone with his wife, Cathy. Cathy offers me a fresh plate of chocolate chip cookies. Feeling starved, I gobble them down without much thought.
Using certain deadly witchcraft on our own kind is not allowed anyway. The witches like to save that for ushering away pretty much anyone who isn’t a witch, which could range from goblins to vampires and everything in between.
“Shall I show you your room dear?” Mrs. McCaster asks me while picking up a pile of neatly folded clothes.
“Okay,” I say quietly, feeling irritated at myself for not putting up much of a fight about being forced to live here. I’m an adult, I should be able to move out of here. I just need my name cleared and a job. I bet Stella already knows I’m alive, her mother doesn’t keep many secrets. Which is probably one of her few redeemable qualities.
The room Mrs. McCaster shows me is about the same size as my old bedroom, it probably used to be a spare room. A wooden desk sits in the corner by the window and a twin sized bed with a purple comforter is across from it.
There's a big black trunk at the foot of the bed, the curtain of the window matches the same purple of the comforter on the bed. A dark wooden dresser is to our right, beside the door and light switch.
The nightstand has a lamp in the shape of a crescent moon, the same moon shape is patterned over the white and black pillowcase of my new bed.
Cathy smiles warmly at me. “Here are some clothes. Make yourself at home. Dinner is at six.”
I smile back politely. Internally though, I’m still grumbling about being forced to live here and being made guilty by association. When I really had no say in anything.
Mrs. McCaster closes the door and leaves me to myself. I sit down on the bed feeling distraught, cradling my head in my hands. The coven should have this figured out soon. Necromancy takes a lot of effort to accomplish, I’m sure whoever did this to me has left behind some kind of trail.
I glance at the maroon colored walls of my room and catch sight of the mirror right across from me that hangs over my dresser.
“What?” I mumble in shock jumping up.
My brown hair is now white like an old hag. What kind of hair is this? It’s certainly not the one I died with! Maybe oil from the car I died in got in my hair and damaged it. No, there’s no way it could change my hair this drastically. Maybe lying dead in my coffin did it to my hair, lack of oxygen might have affected it.
With a sigh, I decide to put on a pair of fresh clothes after seeing how shredded up my dress is. I pull the loose-fitting dress over my head and look blankly down at my undergarments.
Two intersecting triangles are etched in black in the center of my stomach. The inky symbol looks as though they were tattooed onto my skin, but I do not remember getting any tattoos before I died. This must explain the awful burning pain I felt, I was hexed!
No witch in their right mind would ever get a tattoo like this or even draw this symbol. The hexagram itself is infamously known as an evil symbol, the two triangles form a six-pointed star and I tremble. It’s known as the mark of demons, for when they spawn in hell the mark is burned onto their foreheads, only to disappear when they manage to find a way to Earth.
If any witch saw this on me, they would scream demon or maybe, devil. The devil is beyond the reach of the living though, an ever-present being tormenting both mankind and us supernaturals, beyond our capability of understanding. The real demon spawns worship him like a god. He created them after all.
The hexagram is inside of a triangle though, a fire symbol representing both purification and destruction. Just what kind of necromancer did this to me? Is this supposed to be some kind of sick joke?
It wasn’t fun enough to just perform necromancy on me, but they had to go even further and falsely label me a demon! This hex sign though also means they cast a spell on me, after reviving me. Just what kind of spell did they make? I’ve never seen this combination of shapes before.
I pull the orange long sleeve shirt over my head and tug on the long black skirt.
Anger simmers within me at being forced into a life I never wanted. I don’t want to conform to being a witch, not after they shunned my family because a few supernaturals found the portal. It’s not like they managed to open it, the werewolves were detained before they could.
The mark makes everything worse if they find it they will forget about the necromancer and just focus on exorcising me. Which is worse than death from the rumors I’ve heard. I stare furiously into the mirror, my fists clenching at my sides. A foreign feeling blooms within my chest and something moves in the corner of my vision.
With my head downcast, I look up into the mirror to find the strands of my hair floating around my head. My gaze darkens as I look down at the floor, my skirt flutters around my ankles. The hardwood floor creaks behind me as if someone were walking. My eyes sting and I slam them shut, covering them with my hands and shrinking to my knees.
Hearing someone turning the doorknob of my door, my head snaps up and I jolt out of the strange trance I was in. My heart floods with dread, the pain in my eyes gone-along with the sound of the creaking floorboards behind me.
My hair falls evenly onto my shoulders and I turn, facing the closed door.
What was that?! I felt myself being consumed by something awful. My eyes were burning again and I could have sworn something was behind me.
Witches can’t make things float unless chanting a spell and I don’t remember muttering anything.
“Dinner’s ready dear,” Mrs. McCaster tells me while opening my door and I nearly trip over myself, wanting to escape both my new room and my new life.