Omar was nowhere to be seen when I came down the stairs, and I was grateful to miss another sad goodbye to my adoptive Uncle. Quickly leaving the house behind I got on the bike and started her up. From Iona’s directions, it would take me an hour by bike to get to the cliff. I was behind.
I drove toward the end of the lane when the two wolves I had temporarily forgotten jumped in front of the pathway through the hedge.
Not aggressive, but a look of stubbornness on their faces.
“Move!” I hollered to them.
They did no such thing, in fact, they laid on their bellies and forepaws, staring at me. Blocking the way with passive resistance. I got off the bike in a huff,
“Move, dogs!” They seemed to take offense to this and slightly bared teeth. I pulled my hair back, I did not have time for Rhys’ guard dogs, but I could not have them following me.
Stretching my hand out to the big one, my demeanor changed to an owner trying to reason with a bad puppy and I walked towards them.
“Guys, look I just need to head across the hills for a minute, burn off some energy.” I reached for the big one and he smelt my hand before putting it in his face.
“Good dog.” I mumbled before squeezing the pulse of his consciousness and the large hound collapsed to the ground. A growl on my left sounded and the smaller wolf suddenly lunged at me. Instinctively, I raised my hand to him, cocked in a gun and pulled, using my old trick of pushing an overwhelming amount of energy through a brain.
The wolf fell to the ground mid-leap and I jumped away to avoid its falling corpse, getting a slight chill and spike in adrenaline.
Fuckit! I pulled at my hair and twisted it at my nape in frustration at the pair on the ground. I was officially late and stared at the one dead and one sleeping wolf. I looked back to the house to see if Iona was watching out the window, but saw no one. Well shit, there was nothing I could do about these guys now, even if I wanted to.
Hitching up the delicate dress, I started up the bike again and maneuvered it through the hedge and over the hills. It revved up the hillocks easily and after a few miles of them, the little dirt road Iona spoke of appeared. It skirted between farms and the coastline, but I found I couldn’t open her up and speed along the road as there were potholes everywhere.
After a few miles of concentrated driving, it hit me. I had just killed a man. Not just a wolf, but a man. A man with probably a family and a job, who’s only crime was that he had been told to protect me and keep me on the farm. I didn’t even pause as I did with the other three men I killed. He jumped, I shot.
What was worse is that I didn’t even feel the crushing guilt I had with the first man who was somewhat innocent. Shit, I was more concerned if my grandmother had seen me doing it rather than that I had taken a life.
Was this the new Were side coming out? From my memories, she was a killer for sure and seemed to influence me into being more ‘me’, but she was quiet now and had been back then. No, this was definitely me, but what the fuck, Kelly? Killing without guilt, with no remorse, it sounded dark. It sounded like…
Shit. I couldn’t finish the thought. I didn’t dare.
No, this wasn’t me. It couldn’t be. Before my life started to spiral into a nosedive after the Chad-pocolypse, my biggest defining feature is that I was called an eco-warrior and I was the designated driver among my friends, the ‘mom’ of our group. After my first revelation, I was still loving and caring, I still hurt that I killed a man.
Something was different, but I was starting to think it didn't come from me.
There was only one person new to my life who might be responsible, and I had learned all her tricks over 6 weeks.
The dirt bike skidded against a wet patch on the service road and drew my attention back to driving. A fresh wind whipped against me and I felt a chilly gale blowing down from the North. It wasn’t raging, but I didn’t need it to be.
Another fifteen minutes on the bike and the scrub of the coastline fell back to where it was just a rocky area overlooking the sea.
A black sedan on the hill up ahead grabbed my attention, only because it was the sole thing in the area. There was nothing, literally a road, pasture to the left and the sea on my right. The bike revved up a final hill before coming to the car and I switched it off to let it fall.
Witch Fall Cliff looked every bit as dangerous from above as it did from the water. It almost looked like it wasn’t there at all. It was too serene. Green grass led right to the pointy edge until it didn’t anymore and there was only air and an angry ocean to meet on your way down. What a simple, violent death it would have been.
And right on the precipice was a woman in a blood red chiffon dress, the cool wind gently blowing the flowy material up and away from the cliffside as she looked down. It was dramatic as fuck. I walked up behind her, still looking over the ocean despite hearing my bike, and up to the point where we were a few feet from the edge. Most likely in the spot where so many of our kind had been sentenced then thrown. She had on a bright red lipstick to match her dress and spoke without any of the niceties and calmly said, as if thinking out loud,
“Something feels different about this place, bigger. There is a buzz.”
I nodded in understanding.
“This is where the Weres used to execute witches when there were still some left.”
“It’s a killing ground?”
I nodded over the side of the cliff, “Down there is.” She leaned over to view the large basalt stone, almost an off color for all the blood of hundreds of witches that had stained it.
She knew what I was thinking, the violent death of witches left an energy. One alone, not so much, but hundreds would be strong. I had felt its hum when the boat had passed close to it. If you could use it, everything would be amplified. Like using a megaphone. From what I read in her books, anything we did on this cliff would be magnified if we asked it.
The ocean itself currently held no boats, and although the sun still had a few hours until it set at our high longitude, the low hanging dark clouds gave the feeling it would be night soon. I hadn’t missed them, the fleet of my father’s trawlers, now used nefariously, must still be to the South, delivering their cargo.
She now turned to look me up and down and I felt my blood rise with the action of a mother's judgment. Jolene Jones, so many secrets, so many machinations that I, at the center of most of them, had lost count. I didn’t return her gaze, I was too angry at her. If my line of thinking was correct, I should be. I should be a goddess of Furor if half what I guessed was right. My own mother had been playing me, right from the start. She noticed my avoidance,
I pursed my lips at her and smiled without showing teeth, she had clearly forgotten that I was going to have my first change this month. Different? She didn’t know how right she was.
“I feel different.”
Her face compressed in worry and for the first time, and I gazed back out to the slightly turbulent sea. I could take a good guess why. When I changed as a Witch, she knew the result, she understood how to handle new witches. But a new Were that had been repressed for 28 years and just realized the truth of it all? She was about to get schooled.
“Liberated from what, darling?”
I steeled myself against her endearments and lost any trace of emotion, my eyes as cold as the ocean below as I searched for any signs of the boats returning.
“The leash... mom.”
She stayed silent in thought while I looked up and examined the sky, I would need more warm air from the South to meet the cool air from the North. That would make it easier than me pulling an invisible rope up from the ocean like a goddamn lunatic. I went closer to the edge and felt the wave of energy wash up and over me like a gossamer blanket.
Feeling it buzz over my skin and senses, I muttered out the incantation for heat and wind, traditionally used for making fires, and dragged my outstretched arms back towards my body, pulling them from the South. Pulling warm air up the Channel and through the gossamer, I sensed the words echo out onto the sea and far away. I felt that reverberate, everywhere and was floored by the power, the cloud formation was fast becoming visible even at this distance.
The wind I needed was definitely on its way, and fast.
A speck on the ocean appeared underneath the far clouds and I focused on it. About 5 miles away, several specks were now dotting the horizon through the ocean haze. They were slowly followed by more and within a few minutes, twenty or so boats were visibly making their way back up the channel. The Maddock fleet was coming.
I turned back to my mother, carefully studying me as if I was a dog she couldn’t work out was nice or vicious. That look. How dare she, after all she had done, give me that look of wariness. As if I was the puppeteer pulling the strings in our relationship. I faced her, ignoring the new hot wind blowing at our backs and the ships maybe only a few minutes out. The new resolve to cut out the bullshit in my life steeping into my bones,
“You made Carlyle laugh...”
Her face blanched at the sudden accusation,
“In the caves, when he was on fire. I was about to put him out when he suddenly laughed at me. A terrible, ugly laugh, like he thought the whole situation and me trying to best him was so damn funny. I lost my shit when I heard that and then killed him. But that was you. He was frozen, he literally couldn’t have. It was you, using your little ventriloquist trick, huh?”
She looked out to the ocean, her mouth hanging open looking for an answer to my harsh accusation. But I no longer needed one for that solved puzzle. I shook my head down at my feet, so monumentally stupid, or rather naive. No, not naive, trusting. I had trusted a mother who really had died in a fire. This wasn’t the same person, not really. But I was on a roll now, all the pieces now falling into place. She finally looked like she had come up with an answer when I cut her off.
“Did you ever use the suggestion incantation on me? Is that why I agreed to all this?”
A memory of the caves suddenly returned and I almost laughed at myself for being so gullible.
“Oh fuck, it was in that orange juice? The tangy one that I thought was left out for too long, wasn’t it?”
I ran my hands through my hair and started to pace the small precipice of the cliff, hair and emerald silk now flying everywhere in the approaching storm.
“Of course it was, why else on earth would I leave and let you take Diana’s baby? Will was there!” I nearly screamed at her, ignoring the approaching tempest and the now frenzied wind blowing my hair everywhere. It matched my disposition, fucking wild and violent.
I stopped pacing to let her answer for her actions, a resolve coming over her features. I answered for her,
“You manipulated me.”
She shook her head emphatically and with conviction,
“I freed you.”
A crack of lightning sounded somewhere out over the water behind me and Jolene flinched at the sound while I watched her in the darkening daylight.
“Any other times you freed me? Don’t lie.”
She pressed her red lips together, wondering whether I could catch her out in a lie, or if she wanted to chance the truth with me. She answered in a rush of words, trying to get in as many as possible,
“Only a few times, to give you the confidence, to make you realize what you could already…”
“Oh for fuck’s sake! Those ‘famous’ blood orange mimosas!? That’s why I let everything slide, isn’t it?! Why I never questioned you harder about being a fucking psycho for fourteen years!”
I screamed and wrung my hands into fists at her and began my pacing again, almost roaring my rage at her. To be so hypocritical and conniving as to use a willing daughter. The Maddocks had nothing on my mother and I loathed her for making it so.
“Argh! I’m so.... furious at you right now!” Another crack of lightning sounded over the water, and Jolene came to me now with maternal concern and determination, confident that I wouldn’t hurt my own mother. Forcefully grabbing my shoulders and spinning me to face the ocean, some four hundred feet below she pointed. Out on the water, the boats were closer, a kilometer away and she frantically spoke in my ear above the wind,
“Then use it, Kelly!”
Surprised that they had come so close, I realized she was right, this was not the time to hash out my mommy issues. There was still the sleazy and conniving Maddock pack to deal with, and they were nearly here. A horn from the lead boat sounded and together we looked out over the overcast sky and the deep gray ocean of the St George Channel. They would be in front of us on the cliff in a few minutes.
We needed to get to work. The ocean had turned rough and choppy with the new winds, the little figures of men on the boats now clearly working on securing them and making their way up safely and in one piece.
“Are they both out there?” Jolene asked, now having to raise her voice.
I shook my head, focusing on the clouds above, sensing the already present turmoil inside them as the air currents clashed.
“No, Deian Maddock was murdered last night by his son.” There was a beat of silence before my mother began to laugh. A deep throated laugh, that turned almost hysterical. I looked over to her to find she had her arms around her waist and a look of delight on her face at the news.
“How perfect! To be killed by the person you fucked everyone over for.” She continued laughing and I turned my attention again to the clouds, starting to whisper the incantations and using large gesticulations to force the clouds to whirl together. Her laughing rang in my ears and it almost fueled me along with the frenzied gale. It was vile and hideous and my hands and arms twisted unwavering like it was her that I wanted to strangle.
A funnel of wind from the low hanging clouds started to twist down from the sky and stole all my attention. I held my breath in awe, that was actual power I realized. Not stopping mother nature, but forcing her to seethe for you and I marveled at the water spout as it began to make its way down to the ocean and near the first boat.
The ships were now even with us and an alarm somewhere sounded on one of them as they became aware of the danger. My eyes traveled to the second boat even as my hands were wildly gesticulating, a sliver of bright orange barely visible from the bow through the beginning rain.
Rhys. Beautiful, fucked up, psychotic Rhys.
He was there, he had done it, completed the cycle, and became just like his father. My mother’s wild cackle sounded in my ears and I looked to her to see she had now caught on to my plan and started another large waterspout towards the end of the group of boats. They were now surrounded by wind and rain on a stormy sea as the vortexes boxed them in.
I let the power of dead witches flow over me once more and I called out Jolene’s incantations over the air, asking the twister to move and letting my words and voice echo out across the ocean.
I dropped my arms to watch what I had set in motion play out. The maelstrom moved through the line of boats, rocking them violently, the first boat toppled to its side, capsized. A little flurry of guilt for the men came over me. I didn’t need the average fisherman dead and gone, but their boats had to be. Capsizing would be enough and fishermen surely knew how to swim.
Jolene’s own waterspout was moving up through the boats, reigning havoc, and tipping everything in its path as it came up the Channel. The funnel writhed and twisted like it was alive as it moved up through the main grouping of boats. It was as if it knew it’s creator had tasked it with purpose, not just existence.
My own creation moved steadily through, passing by the second boat, leaving it roughed up, but upright. Next to me, Jolene screamed above the howling wind,
“KELLY! DO NOT FUCK THIS UP!”
Lightning cracked over the ocean with my anger at her insult. It hit one of the boats in the main group and an explosion erupted over the waves.
‘Don’t fuck up?’ Was she serious right now? The woman who had done nothing but fuck up my life, censuring me? Strikes of lightning cracked down onto the ocean as I bitterly recalled everything she had ever done while watching the chaos below.
Leaving me alone after dad’s death?
Letting other people raise me while she lived happily married on a farm in Italy?
Making her cronies torture me until they got the result they wanted, all under the guise of Will’s safety?
Constant manipulation through fucking drugging me? Literally spiking my punch.
Jolene turned and walked up to me, looking out like she owned the anarchy happening below. Another lightning strike, another explosion. The ships below weren’t trying anymore to move through the sudden storm, they were trying to survive.
“Which boat was the boy on?” Jolene bellowed, her eyes not on me, but on the water, staring at it with a maliciousness.
“The second one, still upright.” I answered through gritted teeth and my eyes moved down to it, barely making it out through the water in the sky. No figures were out on the deck anymore, they were all inside. She began to mumble an incantation I had never heard before, her intent solely on Rhys boat,
“Mom, don’t. Let me try…”
Raising her voice at the pinnacle of the incantation, she raised her arms up above her head, and I looked to the water at the boat nearly a half a mile from us off the shore.
With the raising of her arms, the boat lifted clear out of the water and I looked to my mother in horror as she raised the easily twenty ton boat. Her voice was filled with fury and desire, this was what she came for, to kill the boy that sent Ewan running. The boat continued to lift and her eyes and her voice never faltered.
Above her head, Jolene’s hands made a rolling motion and the trawler, now 30 or 40 feet above the stormy ocean mimicked them, rolling upside down. From the cliff, I saw a body or two fall off and into the water, neither of them garbed in the bright orange. Rhys was inside the cabin. Her voice escalated beside me and in my peripheral, her hands were forcefully brought down to mimick a smash, the boat thrown back down to the water below. I could almost hear the breaking of its bow. The keel bobbed in the water, a clean break showing in the underside.
My heart palpitated with the sight. There was no way anyone was walking away from that. It was a sobering sight and my mind flashed back to the last kiss I had given Rhys before he left to die.
The last bolt of lightning over the water struck particularly close to us on the cliff and I focused my glazed over eyes from the haze of fury I was stuck in to see the state of the boats. Most were wrecked, either on fire from lightning, or had been capsized from the waterspouts. None of them would return to harbor.
Debris was everywhere in between, floating on top of the rough white peaked waves and the destruction was sobering. My wrath immediately dissipated once I saw several bodies floating, and the spouts and lightning evaporated with it.
It was too much, the power the death stones had given was too much. The anger my mother stirred in me only added to it. Dead men were starting to float to the surface, bobbing up in the choppy water everywhere as it began to calm slightly. The sight nearly made me heave, and my chest started to constrict with panic.
I was lost in the graphic scene below and my knees buckled on the cliffside, clutching my chest. In and out, Kel, I repeated my mantra, but my chest tightened even further and began to spread, seizing my torso and beginning to flow down my body.
Jolene grabbed my hand and she looked over to me with a grand smile just as she tipped her head back to the sky and laughed with joy, a buzz forming in our handhold. She was also clutching her chest and electricity was now surging through my veins. Mother fucking Christ, what was happening? I fell onto my hands, and the plethora of dead men below us and Jolene’s victorious laugh clued me in.
The men, the dead men below, either drowned or electrocuted. The transfer of energy the Jolene spoke of, there were tens of dead men down there, we had killed them. I had killed them. I hadn’t wanted anyone dead, just the boats destroyed. Did one mean the other?
I tried to breathe through the current flowing until everywhere was tingling in a strange sensation. As if my whole body had fallen asleep and I was getting the pins and needles to wake up.
After a few moments, it subsided and I opened my eyes, hoping to see men swimming to shore.
But there was none, just figures drifting with the tide.
It was over, I looked over the ocean and up to the sky, seeing the ceiling of clouds now calm. Another last look down at the watery grave and I stood to turn my back on the storm, stalking back to the car in disgust. A light rain started to fall as I walked, hair plastering my face and the silk dress clinging to my skin.
I slammed the car door behind me and deeply exhaled, still electrified from all those deaths in the water below.
Fuck, what an umwelcomed rush. How many men were down there? Twenty boats? I had no idea how many men would be on a boat, but probably more than three each. So maybe sixty men? Fuck fuck fuck.
Jolene lied. Again.
Transfer of energy, bullshit. That felt wrong, too much power for one person. That much energy couldn’t be healthy. Couldn’t be ‘good’.
Driving the thoughts away, my mother got into the driver’s seat next to me, her red chiffon dress now thoroughly drenched and her perfect hair long gone. She looked exhilarated, alive, and most of all cheerful. I stared at her in confusion at the clearly happy woman. Scores of men just died because of us, a large portion of a goddamn town, and she was grinning ear to ear.
I brushed the tears and rain from my eyes and I had to look away from her. None of it in the grand scheme of things made a lick of sense and I was starting to wear down in body and soul.
“What was this all about, Jolene? Was it ever really about helping Iona, about stopping bad people doing bad things with the Jones’ money, with Ewan's memory?”
The happiness left her face and she replied incredulously,
“Of course it was darling! That’s what we do at the company! What we have always done! Bad people do not deserve these gifts."
I frowned at her and continued to stare out the front window. Still lying. The witches at the commune weren't anything like the Maddock pack, and certainly didn't deserve for a kill squad to show up at their celebration. I didn't voice my thoughts, but instead asked,
"Back on the farm with David and the help."
I stilled at the mention of Arawn with my baby cousin, remembering my own little treachery with Jolene’s calendar now a few weeks ago.
My mother was quiet and I turned to see she had a curious look on her face,
"The baby is fine, of course. Honey, I know..."
I couldn't take another word out of her mouth at this point and cut her off from another lie.
“We are going to go back to the commune and will confront Gran. But after that you and I are done. Understand?”
I looked her dead in the eyes, keeping my expression emotionless. It sobered her up from her from whatever elation she was still feeling from the storm. Her face now settling in an unamused manner.
“We are going to bring Gran and anyone else to justice, if it is needed and then you’re going to leave the commune, and I never want to see you again.”
She opened her mouth to protest,
“Got it, Jolene?”
She closed her mouth but gave no indication either way. I highly doubted my mother was satisfied with my ultimatum. She had her own ideas of revenge and a future that had been uninhibited by an ungrateful daughter for 14 years. But I was done being a pawn, and I had already set my own tactics onto the board.
But for now, she and I let it go as the car started up to drive back to the airport in an uneasy silence. I gave one more glance to the now calming ocean, briefly wondering how long it would take rescuers to find the body of Rhys Maddock and if it would be as beautiful in death as it was in life.