in motion

It’s done.

Well it’s not done done, but it’s in motion now.

I went to Mr. Herman’s class. He was obviously surprised to see me. He was more surprised when I approached his desk after class.

I handed him Madelyn’s letter. I said, “don’t rip it up, I have photos of it.”

He read the whole thing with this careful, even look. Then he said, “this isn’t proof of anything.”

And I somehow restrained myself from strangling him. I said, “maybe not. But I’m not trying to put you in jail.”

He looked up at me with a veiled expression. “What do you want?”

I said, “I want to save Madelyn.” He looked confused, but I didn’t let him say anything. “I’ll meet you at the homestead after school. Bring everyone, or I’ll make this letter public.”

I was the last one there because I had to dodge Tilly. She spends so much time with me I didn’t have any acceptable excuses to get away from her. I told her I needed to talk to a school adviser about my truancy and she said she’d wait and drive me home. So then I had to say I was going by the Circem Street house after and she said she’d go with me. So then I sorta panicked and was like “I just need some space Till jesus!” and stormed off. I am the BIGGEST asshole of all time. But like I’m sorry this has to be done.

I saw them all waiting for me in the windows of the Black Lake coven house and it went against my every instinct to walk up the porch steps and knock on the door. My knees were literally knocking. I considered running away. Like I have Feather Dog, I’m not really afraid of anyone anymore.

But then the pregnant one (very pregnant now), Angelica Mission, opened the door and there we were, looking at each other.

“Shiloh,” she said. She stood aside.

I went inside, and now there’s no going back.

“Alright Shiloh,” Sheriff Marlow said. I could tell he was furious and barely containing it. “You got us all here. What do you want?”

I wish I could report that I was totally calm, ice in my veins and shit. But of course not. My voice literally wobbled as I said, “I want to take Madelyn’s place.”

Everyone was quiet for a long moment. Then Mr. Herman said, “You… want to do what exactly?”

“You were going to kill Madelyn so that she’d have magic powers right?” I said. “A sacrifice, or whatever. I’ll do it.”

There was another long silence. “What Madelyn agreed to do,” Angelica Mission finally said, “it wasn’t easy. It will take a great deal of bravery and a great deal of faith.”

Look, I don’t have either of those things. What I do have is a lot of rage and a can-do attitude.

I said, “I can do it.”

They were quiet for a while, considering. I said, “What choice do you have? It isn’t like there are a great number of girls volunteering to be sacrificed to a monster in the woods. Who are you gonna pick instead? Georgia?” I paused and looked at Sheriff Marlow. “Tilly?”

He couldn’t meet my eye.

“She’s right,” the waitress, Melinda said. “She’s volunteering.This is everything we could ever ask for. Who are we to turn away a willing sacrifice?”

Mr. Herman sighed, shaking his head. “Shiloh, what are you doing here? What’s your game?”

“I want the magic,” I said. And then, “ and I want Madelyn back.”

“You’re not going to be able to bring Madelyn back,” Mr. Herman said. “Her body —”

An image of what they didn’t let me see on that slab in the mortuary exploded into my head and my mouth filled up with spit like I was gonna throw up. I swallowed it down.

“It isn’t ideal,” I admitted. “But we’ll dig her up. She won’t be in that coffin long.”

I think I hadn’t realized what I was asking for until that moment because when I said coffin I had a weird moment of vertigo and had to grip the back of a chair. “That’s how it works, right?” I said, to cover the panic. “I sacrifice myself to this creature and it gives me magic and the ability raise the dead?”

I think it was also the moment they realized I was serious though.

“It would have to be tonight,” Angelica Mission said. “This is the last night of the new moon.”

K yeah that kinda threw me. “It has to be a new moon?” I squeaked.

“Dark deals under dark skies,” said Ms. Baker, the edgiest librarian in WA.

For a moment the panic started to well up — honestly the panic’s starting to well up again as I write this. I’m scared absolutely shitless k? I mean I’m piss myself terrified. But this must have been how Madelyn must have felt for months. She saw me die every night in her sleep. If she can do it for months I can do it for one evening.

Long story short they agreed. Mr. Herman didn’t like it, and neither does Sheriff Herman. He almost put his foot down and didn’t let it happen. But then the waitress reminded him that the creature hadn’t let anything they sacrificed stay dead yet.

Thing’s ya girl does not want to know: what else those fuckin lunatics have sacrificed in those woods.

Sheriff Herman’s going to pick me up at like eleven and then it’s time to die hahahahaha I’m fine everything’s fine

Oh fuck Neal just called me. Obviously I didn’t pick up but he’s calling again.

K I ignored it but he’s calling a third time. Fuck bro now I don’t want to talk to him and he won’t leave me alone. So typical. Tilly and Georgia and even Warren have been calling me all afternoon but like w/e I know why they’re freaking out. I’ll make all this up to them when Madelyn’s back. But Neal wouldn’t be calling over and over without new info right?

I picked up.

He said, “I just got a really weird call from Tilly.”

Where the fuck did she get his number from?

“She seems to think you’re going to meet up with that psycho cult. Which I told her was crazy. You know better than to go messing around with amateur witches, right? Surely you’ve seen enough to know better than that.”

“Yeah, totally,” I lied. You know. Like a liar.

And he said, “oh for fuck’s sake Shiloh.”

So I insisted that I wasn’t going to do anything stupid and that Tilly was mad because I snapped at her earlier and that I’d clear it up. And look, that should have fuckin worked okay? I’m a garbage person but I’m a garbage person who’s really good at lying.

Neal exploded with a lot of truly impressive cursing, which ended with “— you can’t lie to me, you idiot, what in the fuck are you thinking?”

So I shouted back, “I’m gonna bring her back, okay?”

I think he was dumbfounded by the quality of my stupidity then because he was quiet for a long moment before saying in a deadly calm voice, “don’t leave your house. We’ll be there as soon as we can.”

I hung up on him. I’m doing this.

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