Copyright Kat Gracey
“What you are doing is wrong? It’s an abuse of your powers,” Geraldine hissed as Petra hurried to answer the door.
“Shut up, you nag. If you want to keep a roof over your head, you’ll shut up and let me work.”
She paused to check her reflection in the mirror by the door. Her dark hair was neatly swept back in a bun, her make up looked presentable.
Time to earn some cash.
Taking a deep breath, she opened the door to their guest.
“Welcome to our home. We are so sorry to hear about the sad departure of your loved one, but hopefully, we can connect you with them once more.”
Petra led the young man inside, a smile plastered on her face – somewhere between welcoming and sympathetic. The man, who was no more than twenty, entered the house warily. His eyes darting everywhere.
“David. My name is David,” he said.
He was well built, tall, with black hair and a beard. He had seen a lot in his short life, Petra would bet money on it.
She led him into the parlor, where the Ouija board was waiting for them. As they took their respective seats, Petra saw her sister, Geraldine, hovering in the doorway. She waved her away.
Geraldine didn’t approve of contacting the dead for money, but she didn’t have to worry about the upkeep of the house. Besides, she had certain gifts, those that hadn’t vanished when she…transitioned, so she might as well use them.
“Now, can I have the name of the departed please?” Petra asked.
David stared at her. Finally, he said, “Jane.”
Petra nodded, placing her fingertips on the planchette. She closed her eyes, tuning into the spiritual plane. It came naturally to her. As a member of the Anuri clan, she was a gifted witch. Or at least, she had been.
“Jane. I call upon you to cross over and make yourself known. Please give us a sign that you are here.”
They sat in silence and all Petra could hear was the ticking of the clock behind her. Some of the spirits took time to come through. She called for her again, and again, but no spirit appeared.
“I’m sorry, this doesn’t usually happen. Were you close to the deceased? Sometimes if the connection isn’t strong…”
“She was my mother.”
“Oh. I’m very sorry for your loss. Let me try again.”
“I don’t think that will be necessary. She would never show herself to the likes of you.”
Petra bristled, what did he mean by that? Was he calling her a fraud?
“I’m not sure what you mean? I assure you, I am completely capable of contacting the departed.”
“Oh, I know that. Your sister is proof of that,” he said, tipping his head in her direction.
“You can see her?” Petra asked.
“Yes, I can. She’s been dead, how long now? A hundred years.”
Petra glanced at Geraldine, who was frantically gesturing to get him out of the house.
“How do you know that?” she asked.
“I know all about you. Petra of the Anuri clan of witches. That was until you were turned by a vampire. Haunted by your first victim, as all bloodsuckers are.”
It was true. Geraldine was her first victim, before she knew what was happening to her and before she got a handle on her urges. They had come to an uneasy truce over the last few decades.
“That was a long time ago. I learned how to control it, I don’t harm humans.”
David, if that was his real name, didn’t look as though he believed her. “Who are you?” Petra asked.
He removed a silver stake from his jacket sleeve, and it became obvious. “You’re a hunter.”
“I have been tasked with stopping the spread of creatures like you.”
Petra felt fear flutter inside her, but it wasn’t for herself. “You can’t. I mean, you can’t kill me now. I am the keeper of the Anuri knowledge. I have to pass it on to the next priestess.”
David glanced to Geraldine, who nodded. “It’s the truth, sir. If she doesn’t then the clan will fall. You know how important they are in the fight. Do you want to be responsible for their loss?”
He sat back in the chair and sighed. “I have worked with the Anuri in the past. They are necessary in the fight. I will allow you to pass on the knowledge.”
Petra let out a breath. “Thank you. It should only be a few more years before…”
“No, you misunderstand. You may pass on the knowledge today, then I will have to destroy you.”
“No, she’s too young,” Geraldine said, wringing her hands. “Having all that knowledge implanted in her brain, it could drive her mad. They are supposed to receive it when they come of age.”
“That is my only offer. Take it or leave it.”
Petra weighed her options. The knowledge had to survive. Her own life didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Besides, once she was vanquished, Geraldine would be set free. She had carried tremendous guilt over the death of her older sister. They had been so close as children and Geraldine had been the only one to try and help her once she transitioned. It meant her death, but Geraldine would never have turned her back on her.
“Agreed,” Petra said.
“Petra, don’t,” Geraldine begged.
“No, I have to do this. She is a strong girl, she can take it. A deal is a deal.”
The hunter would not stop in his quest and if he managed to stake her before the knowledge was passed on then the clan would fall. She couldn’t allow that. He was being more than generous.
They left the house, taking the hunter’s truck and drove to a farm, some fifty miles away. The girl had lost her parents a few months ago. She had been sent to live with her aunt, although the woman had no Anuri blood in her veins. There were arguments amongst the clan leaders about where the child should go, but they had no legal right to her. I would have loved to have taken the girl in, but I was an outcast. Unclean. They only tolerated me because of the knowledge.
David parked his truck on the edge of the cornfield. A girl ran through the stalks, her brown hair flying out behind her. She looked happy, which considering all she had been through, was a blessing.
They got out of the truck, while Geraldine lagged behind them. It was part of the curse, she could never go further than thirty feet from Petra. They were joined together, for better or worse.
Petra walked toward the girl, feeling the weight of her actions weigh heavily upon her. It was so much to put on her.
“Alexis?” she called.
The girl stopped running. “How do you know my name?” she asked.
“I knew your mother. She wanted me to give you something, if that’s okay.”
The girl nodded slowly. David stayed back while they walked a little way into the cornfield.
“I have a gift for you,” Petra said.
“For me?” the girl looked excited, but she had no idea what this gift would entail.
Petra crouched in front of her. “You know that your mother was very special?”
“Well, you are special too. Very special. You will grow up to be a very powerful young woman.”
David watched the exchange, waiting for Petra to try to run, but so far, she was keeping her word. Her sister stood nearby, looking worried.
“You won’t have to worry much longer. Soon you will be free,” he said.
“Is that how you see it?” Geraldine asked.
“Your sister murdered you.”
“She was not herself. When she came to her senses, she was horrified at what she had done. She has worked hard to ensure our clan survives, you have no idea what you are doing.”
“A vampire is a vampire, no matter who she was before. They are made to kill. Sooner or later, she will give into that impulse and a human life will be taken.”
“She could do so much good.”
David tightened his grip on the stake, which he kept hidden at his side. “You still see your sister. But I have faced vampires, my village was plagued by them as a young boy. They killed my mother and my sister. From the age of eight, my father raised me to hunt them. It is only because of hunters and the witches that help them, that they haven’t taken over the world.”
Geraldine was silent. He knew she could not argue with that. The first vampire was discovered in a cave, almost 500 years ago, frozen in ice. He was thawed out and it soon became clear that he was still alive. Efforts were made to keep him locked away, but he escaped and started creating more of his kind. If a hunter had taken him out, vampires would not be an issue. And he would have grown up with his family, had a normal life. He mourned his mother and sister every day, but he knew that the hunt must go on until every last vampire was extinguished.
Some may claim to be good, to have stopped their evil ways, but it was a lie. Whether it was a lie to him, or one they told themselves, didn’t matter. Sooner or later, they would face a situation that they couldn’t escape. They would feed, and once blood started flowing, it didn’t stop.
He watched as Petra placed her hands on the child’s face. After a few seconds, her eyes rolled back into her head and she started to convulse.
“She’s too young,” Geraldine said.
When Petra finished the transfer, the girl sank to the ground and lay still. Petra came back to them, tears falling.
“She survived the process, but I don’t know what it will do to her mind.”
“You shouldn’t have done it,” Geraldine said.
“I can’t risk dying and losing the knowledge. Hunters don’t stop, you know that.”
David raised the stake.
“Wait,” Petra said. “Promise me you will take the child home and that you will make sure she is okay.”
David glanced at the girl. “I will keep an eye on her, until she comes of age and into her powers. You have my word.”
Petra nodded. “Thank you. Well, sister. In case this is it, I am sorry for everything.”
Geraldine shook her head. “No, sister. I forgive you. We’ll be together in the afterlife.”
“I hope so.”
She spread her arms, waiting for David to strike.
“May God be with you,” he said, then he drove the silver stake through her chest, piercing her heart.
In seconds, her body turned to dust, a sudden breeze blew her apart, scattering her across the cornfield. Geraldine gave him one final look before she faded away.
David tucked the stake back inside his coat and checked on the girl. She was still unconscious, but the shaking had stopped. He scooped her up and walked toward the farmhouse to return her to her family.
The front door lay open. “Hello?” he called.
A woman appeared. When she saw Alexis, she yelled for her husband.
“What have you done?” she snarled.
“I have done nothing, ma’am. I was passing, and I saw her lying in the field. I couldn’t wake her.”
Her husband appeared. “What’s going on?”
David handed the girl off to him. “I hope she is okay,” he said.
He walked away, leaving them to deal with it. After a good night’s rest, he was sure the girl would be okay. He would check in on her again in a few weeks. He had to deal with a nest a few hundred miles away. He would stop in on his way back.
He would keep his promise to Petra, for the woman she once was. He would ensure that the Anuri clan survived. Without them, he was sure that humanity would fall.
About the Author:
S. K. Gregory is an author, editor and blogger. She currently resides in Northern Ireland.
“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”