The Voodoo Priestess
Abigail slept surprisingly well, free of the usual nightmares. But she would not let it get to her head. She proceeded downstairs to loot the ice chest for breakfast. Billy had provided breakfast sausages and boiled eggs. Not bad. Abigail set to work putting it together.
After breakfast, Abigail found herself unsure of what to do. Billy would be hard at work with his swamp tours. Mary had said that she would accompany him, babies in tow. Jill had just started kindergarten. Abigail turned on the TV.
She started with the morning news, browsed soap operas, and then landed on a horror movie. It was a B-movie, but watchable. Abigail gave it a chance, but her attention diverted when she got an idea. She lowered the volume and grabbed her phone to call Mary.
“Everything alright?” Mary asked when she answered the phone. A baby was sobbing in the background.
“Is Michaela in town?”
“Why do you want to see her?”
Mary sighed. “She’s trouble.”
“She’s out there in the swamp, same old hut as always. She comes and goes from time to time, learning, honing her skills, but her boat ain’t docked. If you want to see her, all you have to do is knock.”
“Thanks, Mary. I’ll talk to you later.”
“For God’s sake, be careful. And good luck. We’re praying for you, sweetie.”
They hung up. Abigail immediately got dressed into shorts and a t-shirt and set out for her boat. She started the engine and set out across the water. Her eyes did not leave the La Roux plantation until it had disappeared behind the trees.
The wind felt nice in her hair. It just always did. Kept her cool, too.
“Where are we going?” the heinous voice of Ire asked. Her voice echoed softly in Abigail’s ears.
Abigail’s heart jumped at the sudden intrusion. She shook her head, ignoring the question.
“I am still here.”
“That movie gave you an idea. Do not mind me, I will just be in here, digging into your thoughts.” Ire laughed, and a headache struck Abigail. She squinted and rubbed her temples.
“Do I have your attention now? Who is Michaela?”
“She’s going to help me get rid of you.”
Ire chuckled. “Now this, I have to see. Do not keep me waiting too long.” Her presence faded, as did Abigail’s headache.
Abigail huffed and sped the boat forward. She was on the water another half hour before the trees thickened. She had to slow down and snake between obstacles. The sunlight faded behind the foliage. Noon may as well have been early evening.
But Abigail was undeterred. She continued her quest until she reached a small pier, about the compact size of her own. An airboat was tied to it. Abigail parked opposite it and tied her own craft down before taking a dirt trail deeper into the swamp.
The walk into the shadowed swampland started out about as nice as a swamp walk could. But then Abigail spotted the first effigy.
It stood directly in the middle of the path, a crow on a stake. The half-decayed carrion bird was set about five feet in height. Its wings were spread, and it faced Abigail, like the nastiest kind of security camera. The worst part was its smell. Abigail got a mouthful of rot when she passed. She gagged but kept her breakfast down as she walked faster. One of the crow’s brethren cawed overhead. Abigail looked up and spotted at least ten more crows. They did not move, only watched, as Abigail moved along. One cawed a final time, then the ambience of the swamp returned.
Another effigy appeared, this one a squirrel, also rotting. And then another, a frog. There were more after that, all stakes with small swamp critters, all decaying, all putrid. The smell grew unbearable as the number of effigies increased. Abigail was forced to run forward, still determined to reach her goal.
And then she did! Abigail rushed past the final effigy and was met with a raised single-story shotgun house in a clearing. Purple-petaled flowers grew in front of its porch on either side of the front walk, which consisted of old planks. The house itself was old and decrepit as well. Its paint was faded, and half had peeled off, revealing grey wood underneath. The front porch was crooked, as was the front door and roof. The building looked like it should have fallen over years ago.
Abigail was just glad to be away from the smell of death. She ascended the groaning steps to the front door, upon which she knocked. There was no immediate answer, so she peeked though a dusty, cracked window. The shades revealed nothing.
Locks began turning and clicking inside. Abigail centered herself a few steps away from the front door, through which a rather plump black woman emerged. For someone who lived in a swamp, her glimmering brown dress was very clean. Her hair was bundled up, and she had the perfect amount of makeup on.
The woman looked Abigail up and down. “Abby? Little Abby?”
Abigail smiled. “That’s me!”
“I’ll be damned.” Michaela set her hands on her hips. “You grew up!”
“Sure did. I’m a police officer now.”
“Oh, a lady of the law. Well, why don’t you come on inside? I can’t believe you ran the gauntlet to see me. Most wanderers give up at the very first crow.”
The two had gone inside and Michaela closed the door behind them. The front room was lit by sconces that hung from every dilapidated wall. A small, round wooden table occupied the center with several chairs around it. A crystal ball sat upon it, and a deck of tarot cards sat before a cushioned chair that Michaela clearly favored.
“Which is it? Do you read palms or do voodoo?” Abigail asked.
“You know I do voodoo. That’s my side business in the city.”
“And other places. Wherever I’m called.” Michaela pulled a chair out for Abigail and sat in her own. Abigail sat. “So, you want an exorcism or what?”
Abigail was caught off guard.
“I saw your video. It’s all over my message boards.”
“I tried that. Didn’t work.”
“Hm, I see. If it didn’t work that first time, I don’t know what I can do about it.” Michaela reached under the table and pulled out a shoebox. She opened it, scanned its contents, then pushed it aside.
“What are you doing?” Abigail asked.
“Let’s take it from the top. You ready to get mystical?” She shuffled the deck of tarot cards.
Michaela grabbed Abigail’s hand before flipping the first tarot card. “The Tower. Disaster.” She drew another. “The Devil. We’re really hitting the nail on the head here.” She shook her head and drew another. “Judgement. Okay, now this one is good. It means resurrection, which means you can get out of this in one piece. That’s up to you, though.” She set the rest of the cards aside. “When I get better with those, I’ll tell you more.”
“Just warming up?”
“Exactly. Now let’s try the ball.”
Michaela kept her light grip on Abigail’s hand as she set the crystal ball in front of herself with the other. “Results vary with this bitch. Now let’s see…” Michaela let her fingertips barely touch the ball’s surface as she stared into it. She was silent for about a minute before finally saying, “You know its name. Ire? It’s a demon of wrath.”
“Demons of wrath spawn from anger, as the name suggests. You’ve been having anger issues.”
“It exploited that weakness and seeped in. It helped your anger grow, making itself stronger in the process. It’s not your fault. That little devil on your shoulder used all the right tricks. But now I know what we’re dealing with.” Mikaela pushed the ball away.
“Can you help me?”
“Pardon the clichés but before I can help you, you must help yourself. In order to beat this demon, you have to overcome your own demons. My advice is as commonplace as it is effective.”
“How do I do that?”
“I know what happened to you. I know the source of your anger. So now you have to go there.”
Abby took a deep breath. “It’s the La Roux plantation, isn’t it?”
“Yep. Don’t make that face. You chose to come here. Now. What will you do?”
Abigail stood up. “I’m going to run the gauntlet again, I guess.”
“Smart girl.” Michaela stood as well and went to a cupboard where she retrieved a surgical mask for Abigail. “I doused this with essential oils. It should keep the smell at bay.”
Abigail accepted the mask and put it on. “Thanks. And thanks for seeing me.”
“You lucked out. I’m heading back to New Orleans in two days. I don’t plan on coming back here for a month after that.”
“Not a lot of money to be made here?”
Michaela chuckled. “Let me see you out, baby.”