A Witch's Spell
It was time to visit Gabriel. Feeling nervous, Trina slipped through the door to the private ward.
Gabriel was gazing out of the window, but he turned at the sound of her footfalls. The sunshine lit up his perfect, freckled face and glinted off his chestnut hair. He smiled. "Hi there."
To see him with his arms wrapped in bandages caused sadness to well up in her. She felt tears prickling the back of her eyes and she badly wanted to take her in her arms to comfort him and tell him it would be alright.
Instead she smiled and took a CD case from her bag. "It's for you." She could feel herself blushing.
He smiled at her. "Wow. You're an expert in finding rare CDs."
"Not an expert. Just lucky," she said with a smile. "I can find what I'm looking for. Dolly Parton's Jolene."
She slipped it into Gabriel's tiny DVD player.
"Want to listen as well?" Gabriel asked.
"If you don't mind." Trina put one earphone in Gabriel's ear and the other in her own.
"Dolly gushes over Jolene, huh?" said Trina. "And her flowing locks of auburn hair, ivory skin and eyes of emerald green. You'd think she fancies her. Or she's insecure about the way she looks. I can relate." Trina touched her nose. "My nose is snubbed. Wish it would grow longer."
"Pfft. It's cute," said Gabriel.
He was so sweet, that Trina wanted to hug him. But she couldn't because of his injuries. It was so frustrating. But she had to lighten his mood.
"Aw, thanks," she said out loud. "Well I haven't got flowing locks of auburn hair. Mine's the colour of old tea. So I dye it."
"The bright blue does match your eyes," said Gabriel.
Trina knew she ought to be comforting him in a useful way about his injuries, but how could she when he might not recover?
Trina was pondering this question the following afternoon in the public. She was frustrated with herself, because she didn't know how to comfort Gabriel. And couldn't something be done for him? What was wrong with medical science that the injuries he got in a car crash couldn't be fixed. She had told him she was good at finding things, so couldn't she find a solution.
Wasn't there anything on the medical shelves? She scanned them and then noticed something odd. There was a switch on the wall beside them. Trina flicked the switch, and to her surprise, the bookshelf groaned and swung inwards, revealing a hidden staircase. Trina stepped down the creaky wooden stairs into a small room with bare floorboards. The room had the fusty reek of an old cellar. Trina switched on the electric light. A bare bulb hung from the ceiling that barely illuminated the dusty place. There was a bookcase at the far end of the room with a sign above that said OCCULT SECTION.
Trina scanned the shelves. There were a few books with titles in gibberish, or an unknown language, but one tome bound in purple leather said: "How to heal the body."
Trina flicked through the pages until she came to a page which said 'How to heal the body of another.'
Sounded good. Trina read on:
The following spell is dependent on a conjuration. Any witch can perform this, even a rank amateur. But she must transform first. Then she must recite the spell of conjuration.
Trina read on. The instructions were somewhat bewildering. They said she had to go to a nexus point in the sewers. There was even a map of a route from a disused coal cellar near Central Avenue. But could it still be in date? Was any part of this serious? Was she dumb for asking herself that? The instructions said that she had to go to a place in the sewers, then recite a chant to become a witch, and another to conjure a spirit. Right.
Trina slipped the book into her bag. She didn't have time to read the whole thing now. She had to find another recording for Gabriel in the music section before the library closed.
"Heyy, angel!" Trina returned to Gabriel's ward with a big grin. She had found a recording of Tartini's Devil's Trill Sonata. Trina stared down at Gabriel, because she couldn't get enough of his freckled face, or his soft brown eyes that made her want to gaze into them. Then she realised she was staring and felt her face grow hot.
The two of them listened to the Sonata.
"Imagine your sleep paralysis demon saying, 'hey, listen to this cool solo,'" commented Trina.
"This soloist's interpretation of it is amazing," said Gabriel.
Trina thought back to when she had first heard Gabriel play on stage. She had stared at him spellbound… "You play better," she blurted. "Like an angel, not like a devil."
"What's the matter?" asked Trina, feeling her stomach twist with anxiety.
"I'm never going to be able to play again," he told her, and his brown eyes shone with tears. "It's torture… They say medical science has no answer!"
"Medical science may not have an answer," said Trina, her voice trembling. "But don't give up hope."
"Why not?" said Gabriel bitterly. "You think magic and miracles exist?"
"I don't know yet…" said Trina. "But I'm going to find out."
That evening, Trina followed the map in the library book to the disused coal cellar. The place was empty, but there was a thick layer of coal dust on the rough stone floor. She hoped it wouldn't get on her clothes or in her hair, then realised she was going to go in the sewers. In the floor of the coal cellar there was an open drain with the rusty grate removed and dumped nearby. Trina slipped down into the hole. It was only five feet deep. It opened out into a passage that led straight onto a ledge in a high subterranean tunnel, through the middle of which a thundering river rushed. Trina wrinkled her nose at the fetid stink that rose from the river. This was the sewer then. The instructions in the library book were simple enough. She just had to turn left and then left again. She shone her electric torch into the gloom. The light filtering through the ceilings via the storm drains above was too feeble to see by.
The directions led into a bare stone chamber with little holes in the brickwork. Trina shone her torch onto the page.
These were the weird instructions:
To become a witch, a girl or a woman must invite dark power into herself. Then she will become green skinned and accursed to the eyes of common folk.
The chant is as follows.
In my darkest hour, I crave the power,
Let me be transformed!
A magical being, in darkness seeing,
Before whom all will cower!
This must be recited three times at the nexus point. The recipient of the dark power will be transformed into a being of magic. Side effects will be noticed at once. The recipient's skin will change to vivid green and she may give off a musty smell.
Sounded charming. Trina didn't really believe any of this, but she had come this far. She would try anything if it would heal Gabriel. She began to recite the chant, slowly and clearly. Three times.
When she had finished, she paused. Nothing had happened. Just as she thought.
But then her vision was overwhelmed with blinding, dazzling green light. She felt her blood boil. She dropped her torch and doubled up. Pain, as though her very bones were on fire… A burning smell… And then suddenly it all stopped, leaving her gasping. What had happened? Surely she hadn't imagined that?
Then Trina realised she could see, even though her torch had gone out. The darkness was not so oppressive. Instead it was a silvery grey. Had something happened? She reached for her torch, then stared at her hand. Was her hand bright green? She picked up the torch and switched it on again and shone it on her hand. Yes, her hand was bright green. And out of the corner of her eye, she could just about see that the tip of her nose looked green as well. Her heart was thudding in her breast. Had magic happened? Was this real? It didn't feel like a dream. Well if it had, then she had to help Gabriel and she had only just got started.
The next stage of the book's instruction was to repeat a different chant three times:
Spirit I bid thee rise,
What I seek will be our prize,
That which nature's law defies,
For what is truth and what are lies?
Trina recited it three times.
There came a sound of squeaking and the pattering of many tiny feet. Rat shaped shadows came pouring from the holes in the walls. Trina gave a little gasp. The shadows rushed together to form the outline of a huge rat that towered above her. It was a rat made up of shadows, with glowing red eyes.
"Who calls upon the Rat King?" it spoke, and it's thin voice echoed. "What secret can you offer?"
"Secret?" said Trina warily. Could the freaky thing hear her heart pitter patter in her chest?
"What secret made you call on the Rat King?" the shadow demanded.
Trina sighed. "Rat King… I called on you because someone I love is very badly hurt. He's in the hospital now, and medical science can't help."
"Ah… you entreat me to heal his body, witch?" said the Rat King.
"Yes." Trina narrowed her eyes at him. "Did you call me a witch?"
"That is what you are," said the Rat King. "Your green skin marks you out as a cursed witch." He began to giggle, a thin, piercing sound that echoed about the chamber.
Trina folded her arms. "Right. Well come to the point. What can you do to help?"
"Let's slink into the hospital together and I can show you," said the Rat King. "I can cast a spell of darkness. Of invisibility. The fools above won't see us, because their eyes will be bewildered by my stealth."
Trina was wondering what she had got herself into. This had better help Gabriel. If it did, it would make the Rat King bearable.
The emerged from the sewers, the Rat King urging her forward. He was a shadow she could barely pick out as the evening shadows lengthened. The mass shadows of the rats that comprised their king surrounded Trina as she crept through the automatic doors of the hospital and up the stairs to Gabriel's ward, where the door swung open.
Gabriel was asleep. His face looked wan and pale and this almost made her cry. She badly wanted to touch his cheek.
"The witch has set the terms," muttered the Rat King. "Now your body will heal so fast it will baffle the medical idiots, with all their insularity."
A red light flared around Gabriel's bed for a spilt second and then died away. Feeling a stab of anxiety, Trina ran forward and leaned over him. His brown eyes were wide open, but he was motionless. Could he see her?
"He'll think he has sleep paralysis. How droll," said the Rat King.
"I love you. Sweet dreams," said Trina. She leaned forward and kissed his forehead.
"Aw, you spoiled the moment," said the Rat King. "You could have spooked him out. What sort of witch makes night terrors saccharine?"