Hi wow sorry I missed yesterday, we didn’t have internet access on the road.
We’re in Texas. We stopped in Amarillo yesterday to eat at the Big Texas. I bet Julian he couldn’t eat the whole 72 z steak expecting him to be too civilized to engage in a food eating contest, but he totally took the bet. He made it look heckin easy. Ate the whole thing slow and steady, wiped his mouth, high-fived the people watching, and out we walked. It was disgusting but pretty fucking impressive.
I know you’re not here to hear about Julian Hawthorne’s disgusting steak eating capabilities.
Alright, I can’t promise that I’m going to tell you the whole story today, but I can at least start it.
Sheriff Marlow picked me up at 11, just like he said he would. Neither of us spoke until we were in the woods, and then he only asked if his daughter knew what I was doing.
“No,” I said.
He took a long breath. “Good.”
We didn’t go to the homestead. Instead we hiked right out to the place in the woods, the place I’d woken up in September, the place Tilly and I did the spell.
The others were already there, and the ceremony was already set up. The circle was drawn, the elements invoked. At the center of the pentagram: a stone bowl. I knew what it was for instinctively before I understood it consciously. I began to shake.
“Welcome,” said the pregnant one, Angelica Mission. She was already wearing her long black robes and she was smiling at me. “Are you ready?”
Hahahahahahaha I was so scared I was near incontinence
I said, “Let’s just do it.”
They gave me a robe and I put it on and undressed under it. Sheriff Marlow did the same. The clearing was lit by torches, which smoked and threw shadows.
“Your hand,” Angelica Mission said and though every fiber of my being screamed not to, I offered her my palm.
She must have had the dagger in her sleeve cuz it seemed to come from no where. One moment my pale palm face up in the scant, flickering torchlight. The next, a quick, thin pain. My palm darkened as it filled with blood.
Cult girl Angelica dipped her fingers into it and drew a small plus on her forehead. Then she dipped a second time, opened her robe and drew a second plus on her swollen belly.
My whole body rolled with nausea.
“It will all be over soon,” Angelica said, and though her voice was gentle her eyes glinted with torchlight and excitement.
I didn’t watch the others dip their fingers into my blood and draw the crosses on their foreheads. I looked at my own feet and thought of Madelyn locked in the cellar. I thought of her going to see the coven. I thought of her nightmares. My palm spilled over, splattering the top of my pale foot.
“Alright, Shiloh,” Mr. Herman said. His voice was friendly and reassuring. My instinct was to trust him — he was my teacher after all. Not just any teacher, but one of my favorites. I let myself be soothed. “It’s time for you to step into the circle.” Angelica Mission had dipped her fingers into my palm a third time and was drawing some symbol in the bottom of the stone bowl. “We’re going to call the creature now,” Mr. Herman said. “And then it will be time. Are you ready?”
Yeah Shiloh, u ready to be a ritual sacrifice to some unknown monster in the woods hhahahahahahahahaha
“How will you do it?” I asked. It took a few tries to get the question out on account of my voice.
Angelica Mission answered the question. “You’ll kneel here,” she said indicating a place before the stone bowl, facing the arches. “The creature will arrive and then I will cut your throat over the bowl.” She said it with the procedural calm of a doctor and my knees buckled. Mr. Herman had to catch me.
I thought, so much for getting shot in the woods, Madelyn.
“I can’t help you into the circle,” Mr. Herman said. “You have to step inside on your own.”
I thought, if I come out of this with the power to raise the dead, I’m gonna need to bring u back twice Madelyn Sexton because I’m going to kill u. Then I set my jaw.
The moment I stepped into the circle I began to feel the hum.
I faced the arch in the trees. Around me the New Black Lake Coven took their places at each point of the pentacle. They began to speak, but I didn’t understand the language. The hum began to rise. I could feel it vibrating my bones. It roared in my ears and began to warp my vision. It took everything in me to stay standing.
When the shimmer appeared under the arch I thought I was imagining it at first. I squinted, but it did not become clearer.
“It’s time, Shiloh,” Mr. Herman said.
I stared at the shimmer, blinking, trying to make my eyes focus.
“Kneel,” Angelica Mission commanded and I did so, still trying to understand the shimmer before me. I thought it was a formation of light, gathering, growing stronger, struggling to become solid. But slowly it became clear that no — it wasn’t gathering, it was coming closer. It was walking towards us.
I was so intent on the creature that I didn’t notice the knife until it was right against my throat and the panic hit me all at once. My hands closed on the rim of the stone bowl, smearing it with blood. I didn’t know if I was going to scream or vomit.
And then, behind us in the trees —
“This is the FBI put your hands up!”
The knife froze on my throat. For a moment no one moved and nothing happened. And then one of the agents fired a warning shot into the air, cutting through the hum and everything became suddenly very real again.
The knife fell into the stone bowl and I spun on my knees as Agents Steva and Mulligan came into the clearing, handguns drawn and pointing at the us.
“Sheriff,” Agent Steva said coolly. “I suppose there’s a rational explanation for this?”
Her tone was deliciously ironic, as if referencing a conversation I had not heard.
“Agent Steva,” Sheriff Marlow said, struggling to keep his voice calm. “I’m going to ask you to lower your gun —”
“Yeah you’d like that, wouldn’t you,” Agent Mulligan said. “I don’t think that’s going to be possible. Everyone lay down on your bellies with your hands behind your head —”
“We’re gonna do everything you ask,” Sheriff Marlow said. “But it’s very important that you don’t have your weapons drawn right now.”
He was glancing frantically over his shoulder, towards the place where the light was getting brighter and I understood instinctively: you shouldn’t have weapons before this creature. They were going to ruin the spell. They were going to ruin everything.
“Please!” I cried. “Drop your guns!”
“Miss Tamblyn we’re going to get you out of here,” Agent Mulligan said very kindly, not lowering his weapon at all.
“No please you have to listen to me —” I said, scrambling to my feet.
“On your knees!” Agent Steva shouted, facing me full on, hand gun pointed directly at me.
I watched the moment she noticed the creature behind me. Her expression changed from fierce, even-keeled determination, to dawning wonder right before my eyes. She dropped her gun onto the forest floor.
I turned slowly.
It was smaller than I imagined, maybe the size of a goat. It was white, with knobby knees and cloven hooves. It had blue eyes with strange, alien sideways pupils. On it’s forehead was one single horn, which twisted like a narwhal’s.
Yeah, yeah, I know — motherfuckin unicorn. All I can say is that the preteen girls were right. Unicorns are heckin transfixing.
I can’t explain what it felt like. It was like the world, out of whack for months since Madelyn vanished, finally fell back into orbit. I understood everything completely.
And then, just as everything fell into place, a man with a gun to ruin it again.
Agent Mulligan, seeing Agent Steva drop her weapon, panicked and turned, gun swinging to point at the creature. I knew what was going to happen before it did.
I screamed and stood, just as the gun went off.
The bullet hit me in the left eye. I died almost instantly.