Horror Fiction – Guest post by Stacey Turner
Jinni Mae Tremaine waded through the shallow waters of Dead Man’s Creek heedless of the jagged shards and larger rocks that cut her feet. Not even the icy chill of the water distracted her. Jinni was a woman on a mission, intent on reaching her destination. Worn down by the weight of the pack she carried with her, she trudged slowly up the hill. Silently, she rehearsed the upcoming ritual. This was the most important night of her young life. Everything must be perfect.
She reached the ancient cemetery on the hill and came upon the fallen oak tree her Granny had told her about. Although it was nearing midnight, the moon was full above her and cast plenty of light to serve her purpose. The ancient and crumbling tombstones stood sentinel in the moonlight. There was an odd hum of energy in the air and she shivered as a faint breath of wind caressed her cheek. The ground was covered in moss that felt soft and wet against her bare feet. It soothed the cuts she gotten crossing the creek. Again she shivered. Jinni wished briefly that she was wearing something more then her thin flannel nightgown but Granny had been clear on that subject. She intended to follow Granny’s instructions to the letter.
The fallen oak made a perfect natural altar to practice her craft. She began removing her supplies from the pack and setting them up. Besides her usual magicking tools, there were the special things for tonight’s spell. She set two coal black candles, an incense burner containing a charcoal brick, and finally a lock of bright red hair she had taken from the intended, on the altar. Then she took four more candles out and set them to mark the compass points of North, East, South and West. A green candle marked North and the element of Earth. She placed a yellow candle at East to represent Air. Red, representing the Fire element marked the Southern spot. And finally, a blue candle for Water went to the West. She glanced around once more to be sure she was alone. She knew that this was unnecessary. No one in town would dare to come here. Everyone knew that this place was haunted and to come here, at midnight no less, most certainly meant death. That was what Jinni was hoping for- death, though not her own.
If you believed the old wives’ tales, merely standing in this place could bring your death. She didn’t believe them. She knew they were just that- tales told by old wives. Her Granny was one of those who spread them. The tales had been told to others to scare them away from a place of power so the wives could practice their magic in secret. She didn’t think she was courting Death by standing here but she was pretty sure death might be less of a punishment then her Ma would dish out if she ever caught on. Ma was hell on magic, a born again Christian to the bone, she’d renounced witchcraft and everything to do with it. But her fear of her mother wasn’t enough to deter her. No, she knew that for this to work her intent had to be pure, and it was. She’d come to the graves by Dead Man’s Creek in the name of love.
And be sure, love had a name. It’s name was Jimmy Joe Mason. Jimmy Joe, who at this very moment was sleeping peacefully in his one bedroom trailer beside Eva Sue Tremaine- Jinni’s own sister. Jinni could imagine the two of them lying there together. Jimmy’s dark tanned arm thrown over Eva’s pale white stomach, the colors of their skin a stark contrast yet somehow sensual. Jinni hated Eva as much as she loved Jimmy Joe. Jimmy Joe belonged to Jinni. They had been a couple ever since the sixth grade. Right up until this summer, when Eva’d come prancing around in her shorty shorts and thrown herself at poor Jimmy. Eva, who’d blossomed this summer, filled out in ways no baby sister had a right to. That girl’d spent the summer paradin’ herself around town in front of all the men folk, till she’d set her cap for Jimmy Joe. Jinni hadn’t even gotten mad then. Jealous maybe. But that was only natural considerin’ her own stick thin body. But not mad. Not then. She’d been confident that Jimmy Joe belonged to her. No, she didn’t get mad until she’d caught the two of them wrapped up in each other at Larry’s Lake. At first she’d been hurt, devastated. How could Jimmy Joe have done this to her? His betrayal had been like a knife in her gut. Didn’t he love her? And Eva runnin’ round with that smirk on her face. That had been almost more than she could take. Finally, after lots of thought, the answer hit her. It was the only thing that made a lick of sense. Eva had used magic. She must have cast a love spell on poor unsuspecting Jimmy Joe. How else would she have turned him against Jinni? But oh, had Eva ever made a mistake. Eva might be strong enough to cast a simple love spell but she was no match for Jinni when it came to witchery.
Granny Tremaine was reputed to be the most powerful witch in these parts. She was feared and respected, but mostly feared, by the people of the town. And nearly everyone in town was indebted to Granny in some way or another. Why even the Mayor’s scrawny wife came runnin’ when one of her youngins was ailing. That’s why it didn’t make no never mind what that new preacher said on Sundays- nobody was gonna go against Granny. Granny was getting old though. No one knew exactly how old, it seemed like she’d been around forever. And it wasn’t as though her magic was weakenin’, no Granny was stronger then ever. But her old body was gonna give it up soon. And someone had to take her place.
Jinni and Eva had started going out to Granny’s cabin round the time Jinni turned ten and Eva seven, just the same as all the Tremaine girls before them. And Granny’d taught them things. Simple things at first, like which herbs did what and where to find them. She taught them to listen with more than their ears and to feel the power all around them. And Jinni had learned her lessons well. But Eva had always been restless. Always pesterin’ Granny for more than she was willing to give. Granny said everything had a time and place but Eva wanted everything and NOW. Finally, she stopped goin’ out to Granny’s at all. That was fine by Jinni. She loved havin’ Granny all to herself and she loved her lessons. Looking back, she thought it was kind of funny that round the same time Eva stopped coming, Granny started teachin’ the good stuff.
The last straw with Granny and Eva had been the day the Perkin’s boy had hollered at Granny last time she’d come into town. He’d hollered obscene things and called her an old hag. And Eva had just stood there beside him and laughed. Well, everybody knew it wasn’t no mountain lion that had torn up Johnny Perkins, but no one knew what it had been. And everyone knew who’d called it. But Granny’d refused to touch Eva. She said she’d leave that to Jinni.
Everyone in town had been sure that Granny would hand down all her secrets to Eva when she passed on. Eva had the red hair and looks of her ancestors about her. She was a pretty thing and could charm the pants off a preacher if she set her mind to it. But most folks never saw the other side of her. She had a fiery temper and a mean streak to rival the devil himself. Jinni thought it was funny that people thought she was the evil one. Just because her hair and skin were dark and she was quiet. She just didn’t have much use for other people, ‘cept Jimmy Joe of course. But Jinni had the power. She’d been born strong in the magic and that, more than anything else, made her Granny’s heir. And the townsfolk should be mighty happy about that. She knew she’d be much more merciful when they came to her than Eva would have been. And make no mistake about it, they would come. There’d been a Tremaine woman in power in these parts as far back as anyone could remember. Jinni was gonna be next and it all started tonight.
She readied herself and raised her arms high above her head. It was heady, but a little bit frightening, the power of both the full moon and this sacred spot coursing through her. For just a minute she felt a frission of fear at what she was about to do. Messing with the darkness was a tricky thing. Every witch knew the rule of three. And she was sendin’ out some powerful bad magic. But everything she might suffer in return was worth her revenge. She’s pay any price to have Jimmy Joe back where he belonged. And Granny would help her. There was no way to escape payin’ for her spell but Granny might know a way to lessen the cost. Swiftly, she drew down the moon and cast her circle. She invited the elements, one by one, and then went to stand before her makeshift altar. Carefully, she carved the ancient symbols Granny had made her memorize on the black candles. Jinni placed the lock of hair on the charcoal brick and lit it. At this point, she’d normally invoke her Goddess, but not tonight. Tonight’s magic was something altogether different. She whispered a chant for protection. Then, she stiffened her spine and began the ancient litany. Her voice rang clear and true in the cold night air. The secret words flew from her lips. She invited something old and powerful. Something infinitely dark. As she chanted, the sound of her words carried into the nearby woods, scaring night creatures and causing others to shiver in their sleep. As she continued, a dark shadow drifted over the moon. The wind rose and sent dead leaves racing around the outside of her circle in cyclone fashion. The leaves whirled faster and faster as Jinni chanted. She could feel the awesome power that the darkness brought. Suddenly, the wind seemed to gather itself and then it shot down the hillside toward town, the leaves it had suspended trailing in it’s wake.
Down on the outskirts of town, the night was pitch dark and still. Suddenly an icy wind blew down from the hillside, circling a beat up old trailer. It rattled the windows as though seeking entrance. Inside, Eva Sue Tremaine gasped. She couldn’t breathe. She could feel cold hands upon her throat squeezing, choking her. Her eyes flew open and her hands flew to her throat. She scraped at her neck, frantically scrambling to untangle the invisible hands that clutched her throat. There was nothing but air. Nothing to grab. No way to fight what was happening. Her struggles grew weaker as icy fingers pressed harder and harder against her windpipe. Finally, her struggles ceased. As she lay there still, seconds from death, she knew. She could see Jinni’s face in her mind. She could almost hear her laughing. And with a clarity that only comes in those final moments, there was no doubt in her mind who had been responsible for her fate. This was Jinni’s doing. Payback. And then it was over. Her struggle had lasted less than three minutes. Beside her Jimmy Joe slept on, thanks to Jinni, completely unaware of the horror that had wrestled the life from the girl in his arms.
They held the funeral on a bright sunny morning two days later. Nearly the whole town turned out. Jimmy Joe dropped a rose on the casket as he stood beside the grave. Jinni Mae slipped her hand quietly into his an tugged. She stumbled a little, still trying to get used to her newly acquired limp. But a twisted leg and streak of grey through her jet black hair were small prices to pay for having her man back. As they turned to leave the cemetery, Jinni felt Granny’s eyes on her. When she looked back, the old lady winked and nodded briefly. Jinni raised her eyebrow in return. She hid a small knowing smile behind the handkerchief she’d been using to wipe away her make believe tears. She lifted her head high, ignoring the furtive glances cast her way by the townsfolk. Oh, they knew alright. The county coroner may have been baffled, but the townsfolk weren’t. Jinni could see the naked fear in a few faces and even sensed some in the man beside her. It didn’t bother her a bit. Neither did her Ma’s hateful glare. Oh yeah, Ma knew. She’d yelled at Jinni all day after Eva’s death. Jinni was sure that if Ma hadn’t been scared of her, she’d have tried to kill her. Instead, she’d told her to leave and never come back. And Jinni had packed her things and moved them all to Jimmy Joe’s trailer. It was time she took her rightful place in Jimmy Joe’s bed and in this town. She was willing to bet no one would ever try to steal her man again.
She is the Editor for Angelic Knight Press, a freelance editor and proofreader, writes a blog about her absolutely ridiculous family and writes fiction. You can find Stacey: