I was sitting on my bed looking at my most prized possession - a sepia-tinted photograph of seven pirates. My eyes focused on the human woman, my mother. She looked so young, no more than five or six years older than me ( I’m fifteen years old ). If only I could have known her, had a few more years with her and my father; but fate decreed otherwise.
I heard the clock chime, it was late; but HE would be awake, for the Undead never need rest. I rose from my bed, left the house and strode down the beach to the cave where Old Scratch had made his Sanctum. Before I could announce my presence, Old Scratch called out.
“Come in, Captain my Captain, I an’ I been waitin’ for you.”
I pushed back the buffaloon hide that covered the cave entrance and looked around, at first I couldn’t see Old Scratch, but my eyes adjusted to the gloomy cave and I noticed him standing by his cauldron.
“I be thinkin’, you have questions for I an’ I.”
I cleared my throat, this was going to be hard for me.
“Is it true, what you told us tonight, that there are times when the barriers between the living world and the spirit world are thin and it becomes easier for a spirit to cross and communicate with the living?”
“Yes, Captain my Captain, it be true. And All Hallows Eve be de best time for dis. I saw your face as I an’ I spoke to de odders, me thinkin’ you want me to work me art for ye.”
“All Hallows Eve is tomorrow. I want, no, I need to talk to someone. My mother.”
Old Scratch sighed. Did he look at me with pity? It was hard to tell, his skeletal face had no expression.
“I an’ I be thinkin’ dis not possible, Captain my Captain.”
“Why not? You have called spirits for me before – Captain Gunn and that poor Monquistan near the wreck of the Cornelius...”
“Captain my Captain, at dat time I an’ I had de bodies of de dead to call dere spirits fort. Forgive I, but we don’t know where your mother is buried.”
I hung my head and choked back a sob.
“But where de need is great, dere is always a way. I an’ I will need sometime to prepare a ritual, come back tomorrow at sundown, den we will try.”
Sundown came and the glorious colors faded into a soft indigo, twinkling stars studded the twilight sky. I made my way down to Old Scratch’s cave. He was waiting outside the entrance.
“Come, Captain my Captain, an’ walk wit I an’ I. It be not wise to attempt dis ritual in my Sanctum. It will be makin’ a hole where many tings may crawl tru. Den I an’ I must be makin’ a Banishment Ritual.”
He finished explaining this as we came to a clearing surrounded by old pines. His cauldron was already set on a fire, and there were glyphs painted around the clearing.
That afternoon I had received a message from Old Scratch requesting that I bring certain items with me and I laid them out on the glyphs as the old houngan directed me; the wheel of my mother’s old ship and a crystal from the Cave of Many Voices.
“Now, Captain my Captain, I an’ I need de last item, de old photograph.”
I hesitated, then pulled the photo from my jacket and handed it to him. My fingers brushed against his bones and I could barely repress a shudder. He looked me sternly in the eyes.
“In dis ritual I an’ I will need your blood. For Blood calls to Blood and your mother, she carried you in her body and shared her blood wit yours.”
He took from his sash a small obsidian blade, cut my finger and squeezed a few drops of blood on the photo. He then turned and quickly tossed the photo into the cauldron. I cried out a protest. It was the only picture of my mother I had and now it was destroyed!
Old Scratch ignored me and muttering a string of half garbled syllables, danced a strange pattern around the cauldron. Then he called out.
“By de Power of me Art, I an’ I call you, Spirit of Deirdre Devereaux, come fort!”
A wind sighed through the clearing, rustling the pine needles overhead, and a door ripped open above the cauldron; it seemed to be made of shadows and a coldness seeped from it – a cold so bone chilling, so icy I had never felt before. Then I heard it, a faint voice, slowly growing stronger.
“Esperanza, my daughter...”
A silvery mist swirled through the spirit door and took shape. She was not much taller than I, in a few years, I may be taller than she. Our features were similar; but her hair and eyes seemed darker than mine. I say ‘seemed’ because the figure had no color, just the silver mist. She smiled and held her arms out to me. Oh, she was so beautiful! I stepped forward.
“Beware, Captain my Captain, somting be not right here!”
I ignored him, my desire to be with her took control of my actions. She smiled again and I stepped within her embrace.
Hands as hard and strong as iron fetters clamped down on my arms. With a horrible, shrieking laugh, the specter drew me closer. The cold intensified and it felt as if something was being drawn from me.
“Back into de Shadows, Spirit, by de Power of me Art, I an’ I command you!”
She paid him no heed but continued her draining of my life force. I was growing weak and on the verge of fainting. A new voice rang out.
“Unhand my child, you Succubus!”
That THING dropped me. I fell to the ground and looked up. There she stood, she had color and dimension. She also had a pair of the most wicked blades I ever saw.
The succubus leapt upon her, but she twirled, feinted a high cut to the head, then struck low at the midsection. It was no contest – in a matter of seconds the evil spirit was vanquished.
She walked over to me and raised me from the ground. A pure warmth radiated from her embrace and I felt my strength returning. I looked into her beloved face, scanning her features eagerly. Yes, her eyes and hair were a dark brown; I must get my fair hair and green eyes from my father.
“Shh, rest, Esperanza.”
She turned to Old scratch and her eyes flashed, angrily.
“Close the Spirit Door and take her home, Witchdoctor. Do not try this again, or I will personally take you apart bone by bone!”
She looked down at me, “Sometime soon there will be time for your questions, you will find us, your father and I. In the meantime take this,”
And she slipped a silver charm from around her neck and placed it into my hand.
She kissed my forehead, then she gently let me go, stepped back into the spirit door and vanished.
I looked down at the little silver charm in my hand, etched on the disc was my own ensign; the mermaid with a trident. How did she know? I guess those who love us, even if they have died, still care about the ones they left behind. I slipped the charm around my neck and walked home, comforted by this thought.
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