The Witch Bridle

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Chapter 47

KC was barely conscious when Oona and Trixi found her. Oona helplessly looked on while Trixi unfastened the ball gag and gently untied her wrists and ankles. KC’s eyes were swollen when she beheld her friend. Then, after a brief shriek of horror, the women managed to cover their friend in her favorite robe and bring her out to the car.

Still barely conscious when she arrived at the medical center with Trixi and Oona, KC was rushed to the ER to stabilize her battered body. She had five broken fingers and toes, two broken ribs and others were bruised. KC sustained deep cuts to her wrists and ankles, bruises, and other injuries. Violent rape by various objects had occurred, and indicated most likely a female rapist. When KC stabilized and had calmed down, she would not disclose a description of the attacker to her caregivers, and left a strong impression that she was a victim of severe domestic violence.

Once they were alone and KC came more fully to her senses, she accepted that Oona’s doppelganger was responsible for the assault. And while KC claimed she believed their story – that Oona and Trixi had been together the night when she was raped – Oona feared that her relationship with KC would never be right.

KC hypnotically followed the lure of Oona, but it was Lucia who raped her. What was it about Oona that made her so seductive?

“You must trust me, love me. Please,” Oona pleaded. “Trust me; love me.” KC’s healing would be slow. Oona could no longer dally. KC had been brutally raped and needed time to recover from her injuries. Oona was pained in many ways by the rape of her beloved KC, and before that the evident loss of the affections which they once had abundantly between them. Now Oona feared she would lose any semblance of even a platonic love.

“Could KC ever really trust me or truly love me?” Oona asked Trixi. “I have been wounded as well, cheated of my treasure, KC, who has been utterly violated and robbed of her majesty.”

Trixi was also badly wounded, and struggled to keep a brave face while her true love spoke so eloquently of her love for another.

“We are dealing with a very powerful spirit,” Oona said to Trixi and KC who was in bed beside her in the Observation Room. “Lucia, is a sociopathic spirit who must be destroyed,” Oona sneered. “The Black Witch tricked and harmed from miles away and it tricked and harmed in Westbridge as well. Miles away in Salem and in Boston. Lucia could strike anywhere. Her reach has extended north to Danvers and south to Westport, which I know of, and with various tricks and harm’s play all in between.” After a quick breath, she added, “And I shall defeat her!”

“But how?” Trixi asked innocently. She held firmly to Oona’s hand, while KC looked on through swollen eyes, in imaginable agreement with her friends.

Oona stood up at the foot of KC’s bed and conjured her faces to the four directions: north, south, east, and west. She chanted in what sounded like Haitian Creole. Oona’s guide was Erzulie and they all heard her stir. And with a jewel studded dagger Oona pricked her finger and let drops of blood fall onto the floor, arranged specifically in the shape of a letter “L.”

“For you, the Dark Witch whom I shall destroy,” Oona vowed.

“Quiet!” cautioned Trixi. “Other patients are just beyond the curtain,” she pleaded. “Shush!”

KC nodded with a broken smile and extended her bandaged hand.

“Can either of you completely trust me to do the right thing against Lucia and her use of sustained magic at home and over great distances?” But can I be trusted?

“We trust you,” Trixi and KC indicated.

And that was what Oona needed. Still with the blank sense of loss and all the defeats, Oona’s resolve emerged stronger than before the rape.

In the relative security of her private quarters, Oona pored over her Gran Liv. After considerable review, Oona’s cherished book revealed certain charms and incantations that Lucia had likely invoked to provide for her calamitous twenty-first century return to the land of the living. And sadly she conceded that similar tricks and charms would not defeat Lucia; only something far greater would. After much internal debate, Oona was left with one workable solution. With the perilous Time Trick, Oona could plausibly prevent Lucia’s final incantation from ever happening; she could condemn the witch to her eternal doom, with no means of return from Oblivion, by keeping the Spell for the Devil from ever being spoken. Depriving Lucia of her spells and potions, and whatnots, Lucia shall be forever condemned.

Oona studied the Time Trick in Gran Liv. It required a battery of special potions and incantations to allow for her body – her being – to time travel to the past. From what she determined so far, the Trick would take her spinning around the world in reverse, clockwise and faster than the Earth’s natural rotation, over and over and over again, until she reached her destination. Oona assumed – and how she hated to assume anything – that she would work the Trick similarly to return to her present day.

“We must be bold in our response to Lucia,” Oona announced to KC and Trixi one cold Saturday morning. “And whatever the reasons for her presence, this is what we must now confront.” Oona’s hot Blue Mountain blend steamed at her side. “I believe there is no way other than the Time Trick to remove this abomination.”

There was only a look of puzzlement on their faces.

“The Time Trick will make me vulnerable, surely, perhaps helpless in my new surroundings. And should I survive the Trick, and I have every intention of doing so – and should it work – I will obliterate this despicable witch from the face of history.” The twinkle in Oona’s eye showed brightly when she said, “With a careful combination of spell and potion, powder and charm, and incantations, of course, from my beloved Gran Liv, I shall send this witch to hell forever…and ever.

“The Trick will only work in complete years, so the day and time I leave in this time, 2011, will be the same day and time I arrive in 1692, plus exactly one minute.” She smiled and added, “That is what the Trick says. And with the more modern day adjustments I will calculate, owing to calendar changes, daylight saving time and such, and if the Trick works, barring unknown historical changes to the calendar which would scupper my mission and quite possibly cause me obliteration, I will soon arrive in that witch frenzied year of 1692.”

That is, if the Time Trick worked!

“I have learned through Gran Liv I may only launch my Time Trick adventure at midnight. And under cover of darkness, I will arrive somewhere else in time, at 12:01AM. To defeat Lucia by using the Trick, I will make it as if she had never said the spell.”

Not sure it will work.

“It will be as if she had never returned to the world of the living; to make as if Lucia had never been conjured.” Oona sighed a deep breath of expectation. “The risk of discovery is small in the wilderness at night and, worse than discovery, I fear landing in a bad place, such as in the inside of a tree, or in the middle of a deep lake, or under the earth a few dozen feet or so.” Again, Oona forced a small smile. She was totally unarmed. “How has the earth shifted over the last 300 years?” she asked. And not waiting for a reply she said, “I do not know; I believe the risk is real but small.”

With her driver’s license returned after three and a half months, Oona could now conduct her research thoroughly in Cambridge and Boston. The Harvard and public libraries were within easy reach by mass transportation as well, and Oona would find whatever existed for background information and clues; anything that was on record for Lucia. Though history was not her passion, as some other disciplines were, Oona was quite comfortable when she had to be buried in books or in stuffy reading rooms. She brushed up on the local, period history and manner of speaking. And in all her massive studies and research, and as drowsy as she was in her perpetual malaise, she pulled out old history books and shriveled up maps; she scrolled through reams of internet sources. Oona researched the term “midnight” itself, to be certain of any difference in the past from what it was in the present.

“Dear God, I need to review my Early Modern English,” she contemplated late one night. “I shall purposely speak it sufficiently flawed, in earnest for, say, a young Spanish or foreign woman to use. Or perhaps I should be a quadroon from English Jamaica?” she smiled. Fortunately, languages had always come easy for Oona Neeci, with her already expansive knowledge of mostly modern languages.

“I must ensure that my manner of speaking does not betray me. My skin tone, my hair, et cetera: all must match the person. And that is only if I am able to get through with the Trick. I must also study the Algic languages of the seventeenth century Indians, in case of any encounters with Native Americans. Sadly that will tax my abilities!” She smiled again. “Fortunately the English language is what binds our nation and makes us Americans.”

Whatever scant evidence she could collect on Lucia would just have to do. Oona relied on vague language and obscure records to establish or, more accurately, surmise when Lucia met her end. She could not pinpoint the carrying out of her sentence. How can I precisely calculate one? Even the dates on the calendars seemed to follow no firm structure. Had there been an actual historical rendering of the event? She still did not know. Oona acknowledged that more research was necessary to reveal whatever additional hints she could collect, and she would make as best an educated guess as possible when necessary. Oona grew confident of success but only if she arrived early enough in the past. She was doomed to failure if she could not reach Salem in time for Lucia’s execution.

Oona learned that recorded dates from that time in 1692 appeared in the “Old Style” Julian calendar, when the year began on March 25. And though their contemporary almanacs used January first as the start of the new year, they were eleven days behind the “New Style” Gregorian calendar which was adopted by England in 1752, much later by the colonies and, fortunately, well after Lucia’s time. With her mind on the dates December 31 through March 25, which showed multiple years in the old and new styles, Oona painstakingly derived estimates of Lucia’s demise from the scant records and from the Gran Liv.

Oona counted on the Trick to get her to that time in 1692, in spite of the differences in how the times of past centuries were measured. In order to be successful, Oona needed to be right at that time, just as a surveyor needed to mark her focal point. And though midnight in the wilderness would most likely be near black once she landed, Oona wanted to determine the moon phases for night travel. She could not know for sure, and she would wait at least until she had concluded her other preparations. And assuming she landed safely, Oona had to navigate north and use the stars as long as she could see them.

“I must leave on my journey as soon as possible,” Oona said to KC one evening, “Though I still need adequate time to prepare, at least several weeks more. Proper preparation, research and work efforts will allow for a chance to execute a successful if awkward arrival in the past.” Oona did not know if anyone in history had ever succeeded with the Trick. She knew of no one who said they had.

“Upon my departure, Thankful and my beloved Gran Liv must go far away. We shall plan that together, KC,” and she took her hand. “I will protect everyone with the discreet use of small and precious pink charms.” She explained no further, as if KC knew of what she spoke, or that she tired of what she was promised. Then, as her mind grew increasingly cluttered with the mounting difficulties of multiple challenges, Oona became intensely animated and driven.

“These are the waning days of winter and I cannot wait longer than is absolutely necessary.”

And how do I find the North Star? Oona supposed she also needed to “brush up” on her star gazing.

How am I ever going to do all this?

KC was astounded by her friend’s clarity of purpose, and her command of the various elements of what was surely a vast undertaking. Most of all, KC appreciated her spirit.

“Early spring, as in this modern day, is cold and damp, rainy and generally nasty. And though not as severe as a New England winter, an early New England spring will be no picnic either. I must select the firmest date possible of Lucia’s execution. And then I can set the date for the Trick.” Oona did not expect a reply.

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