"Children, be afraid of going prayerless to bed, lest the Devil be your bedfellow." -Cotton Mather *** "Zoe," Michele said, "I don't think we should be doing this." A draft blew through the basement as both girls crouched on the concrete floor, still wearing bits and pieces of their trick or treat costumes.
Zoe was dressed as a witch; Michele was her black cat. It was almost midnight. They were supposed to be asleep hours ago, but Zoe's mother had gone to a grown-up Halloween party with her boyfriend, and as soon as their car pulled away the girls crept down here like they'd planned.
Or like Zoe had planned anyway. Michele gobbled another Hershey bar from her plastic pumpkin bucket. She'd left a trail of empty wrappers all through the house. Meanwhile, Zoe laid out everything they'd need: the black candle, the knife, the bell, and her book. "We have to do this," Zoe said, opening the book and thumbing to the right page.
"Tonight's the very best night for it. It won't work as well any other night." Picking up the colored chalk that Michele had helped her steal from school, Zoe drew a kind of funny circle on the floor.
Michele hugged her pumpkin bucket tighter as she watched. The circle took a long time, since Zoe had to keep checking the notebook to add the squiggly letters around it. "Perfect, I think," she said when she was done, wiping chalk dust on her witch's skirts.
"Does it look right to you?" "Let's just stop," Michele said again. "I'm tired from trick or treating." "Quit being a baby," Zoe said. "Get the blood ready." Michele sighed. The blood was in a purple Tupperware container that she'd kept in the back of the fridge all week and smuggled over here in the bottom of her trick or treat bag.
Of all the things they needed for tonight it had been the hardest to find; even harder than the black candle from the funny smelling store on Cole Street.
But Zoe had insisted they needed blood for the magic to work right, so Michele talked her mother into buying some from a butcher, saying that it was part of a science experiment for school (which she decided was probably only half of a lie). Now, at Zoe's insistence, she peeled the plastic lid back. The blood looked cold and icky.
Michele poured most of it into the chalk circle so that it made a dark, disgusting puddle. Michele hated the way her own reflection looked in its glossy surface, but Zoe appeared pleased. "Perfect," she said again.
"Put the rest in here." She offered a cup for Michele to deposit the remainder of the pig's blood. Michele held her nose as she did. Outside the basement windows the streets were dark and quiet, the other trick or treaters all back home by now.
Zoe shut the basement door and lit the black candle. It made just barely enough light to see by. Then she said, "Are you ready?" "No," said Michele (around a mouthful of Kit Kat). Zoe rolled her eyes. "This was all your idea, remember?" That was sort of true. Michele had seen a rerun of "Bewitched" on TV and told Zoe they should grow up to be witches, and that it would be a fun way to fix their problems.
It was supposed to be a joke, but Zoe hadn't laughed. Instead, she'd started making plans… "It's stupid," Michele said now.
"Magic isn't real anyway." She'd made this argument several times in the past few weeks, angling to portray Zoe's plan as kid's stuff and therefore beneath them at this age. (Eleven for Zoe, 11 and a half for Michele.) Problem was, Zoe had impressed herself by securing what she called "grown-up magic," copied from a book at the library that they weren't allowed to check out. She spent an entire afternoon laboriously reproducing important pages in her school binder.
This kind of magic must be real, she insisted. Otherwise why would anyone write a book about it? "We can call up whatever we want with this," Zoe said, showing the pages to Michele.
"And it'll give us anything we ask for." "But what do WE have to give to IT?" Michele had asked. Zoe just shrugged the question away. Now the flickering candlelight turned the pages of Zoe's notebook fiery orange in the dark basement. As she traced the letters of the spell with the tip of her finger she said, "Look, you know what an asshole Eddie is. He's going to be my stepdad if we don't do something about it. Do you want that?" Reluctantly, Michele shook her head.
She'd never liked Eddie any more than Zoe had, though she'd tried for all of the 11 months that he and Zoe's mom had dated. "Well this is how we're going to stop it," Zoe continued. "I'll wish for it tonight and then it'll happen. And your wish will come true too." All that Michele wanted was help with school.
She'd almost been held back last year, and the threat of being in a different class than Zoe terrified her. They fought all the time, but they'd been friends since age four. The idea of being apart was scary. Even scarier than black magic… So when Zoe declared it was time to start, Michele took her place outside of the chalk circle despite her shaking knees.
She tried to tell herself again that only babies believe in magic. It was just like Santa or the Tooth Fairy. Just a story… When Zoe gave the signal, Michele rang the bell to signal the start. Its tinkle sounded much louder than it should in the dark, silent basement. Then, throwing one hand over her head to create a dramatic shadow on the wall, Zoe read: "In nomine Dei nostri Satanas Luciferi excelsi." She'd spent all week practicing how to say it.
Neither of them were sure what it meant, but it sounded cool. Zoe read on: "In the name of Satan, the Ruler of the earth, the King of the world, I command the forces of darkness to bestow their power upon me!" The house creaked. Michele jumped, then felt stupid. Nothing is going to happen, she reminded herself… "Open wide the gates of Hell and come forth from the abyss to greet us as your sisters and friends. Answer to your four names by manifesting our desires!" Then it was Michele's turn.
At first she panicked because she couldn't remember what to say; Zoe had forced her to memorize the four special names, but suddenly her mind was blank. The look on Zoe's face grew increasingly pointed as she waited, and Michele writhed. It occurred to her that if she couldn't remember the names there was no way they could keep going… But then just like that they popped back into her head. Reluctantly, she said them one by one, ringing the bell after each: "Satan." Ring.
"Lucifer." Ring. "Belial." Ring. "Leviathan." Ring. A noise came from the corner. Michele glanced over her shoulder. Nothing was there, of course, but the basement was so dark that it was hard not to imagine things. She wished they'd had enough money for more than one candle… "Now drink," Zoe said, passing the cup of leftover blood.
They'd mixed it with water so that it wouldn't be as bad, but it still smelled dark and gross. The candy in Michele's stomach curdled. "Drink," Zoe said again. "You only need to swallow a little." Forcing down a sip, Michele crammed in two Jolly Ranchers at once (sour apple and cherry) to get rid of the taste.
Zoe almost emptied the cup when it was her turn, although Michele could tell it made her sick too. It was a second before she was able to say the next part: "Oh great lurkers in the darkness, oh guardians of the way, present yourselves to us who believe and are stricken with ad-ver-sa-tees." "Zoe, somebody's upstairs." "No they're not." "I hear them moving. I think your mom is home early." "That's just the house. Now shut up, you're not supposed to talk at this part." The candle flame seemed to shrink and the shadows moved closer.
Michele tried to hold Zoe's hand but Zoe was too busy holding the book and the knife. She gestured with the blade while she read: "Succor us through fire and water, earth and air.
Strike dumb our ad-ver-sare-ees. Allow no misfortune to allay our path, and restore us to unending dominion. This we command in the name of Satan, whose mercies flourish and whose sus—susti—sus—" "Sustenance." "Thanks. And whose sustenance will prevail! Hail Satan!" Zoe nudged Michele in the ribs.
"Hail Satan," Michele said. "As Satan reigns, so shall we. Zoe May Carter is the vessel who flesh is as the earth. Life everlasting, world without end." Next she turned to look at Michele, and her eyes held every expectation in the world. Michele was old enough to know what a look like that meant: It said, "Don't let me down." So, swallowing her fear, Michele said: "Michele Ocampo Bautista is the vessel whose flesh is as the earth. Life everlasting, world without end." Looking satisfied, Zoe nodded.
Michele said, "Now what?" "The most important part," said Zoe, producing a folded piece of notebook paper. "On this we write down our wish: Whatever we want in the whole world. Everything we'd give our souls for." "I don't want to sell my soul." "You don't even believe in souls, dummy. You've never even been to church except with your crazy alcoholic aunt." "Yeah, well you and your mom go to church every month." "We're Unitarians, that doesn't count.
Anyway, I wrote your wish for you: You'll get good grades and always pass tests no matter what. And we'll be friends forever," she added. Michele perked up a little at this part. "And my mom will get rid of Eddie, and never bring another stupid guy around who wants to be my stepdad," Zoe continued. "And my nightmares will stop. In fact, I'll never have another dream again." This part made Michele curious. Zoe had never mentioned nightmares. But before she could ask about it Zoe put the corner of the paper into the candle flame, and when the whole thing was on fire she threw it into the magic circle.
The burning paper fluttered and flared, and then the embers burnt out in seconds. Silence descended. Michele counted to ten in her head before asking: "How do we know if it worked?" The sound of riffling pages filled the basement as Zoe flipped through her notes. "It doesn't say. I thought, I don't know, that we would just know." She paused.
"There's one last part. Maybe—" And then the basement door flew open with a bang and light from the hall framed a figure on the stairs. Both girls screamed and grabbed each other. The candle blew out. The person on the stairs began walking down one step at a time. Michele and Zoe backed away. "That's not your mother," Michele said. "No." "Is it Eddie?" "It's definitely not Eddie." The man (thing?) was halfway to them almost before they knew it. Michele tried to remember any prayers her crazy aunt had taught her, but her mind was blank.
The closest she could get was the ABCs song, and she almost blurted that out instead. Just as she was about to curl up in a ball in the corner and hope for this to all turn out to be a dream, Zoe surprised her by letting go of her hand and stepping forward. Michele was even more surprised when she realized Zoe was smiling. "Wait a minute," Zoe said, bouncing up and down in sudden excitement. "Michele, don't be scared.
Don't you get it? We called him and he came. The magic worked." "No it didn't!" said Michele, backing away even more. But Zoe said it again. "It worked. Can't you tell? Just look!" Michele looked but couldn't see anything. The man on the stairs was just a black shape. Zoe's eyes shone, but Michele couldn't see whatever it was that made her so excited.
Only shadows. The man in the dark reached out, and Zoe took him by the hand. She kept smiling. The dark man kept his other hand out, but Michele didn't want to take it. Fear latched onto her heart. I just want to go home, she thought.
Please, please, please, just let me go home… "Come on Michele, you'll ruin it," said Zoe. "I don't want to," Michele said, as loud as she dared. "Michele!" "I don't want to! I…I just want to go home!" Michele said. And she screamed and screamed and covered her head with her hands, and then… It was morning.
Michele opened her eyes and sat up in her own bed. Her costume from the night before and a bucketful of Halloween candy were both spread all over the floor. There was no sign of Zoe.
Or of…anyone else. Rubbing her eyes, Michele crawled to the candy pile and shook a box of milk duds into her open mouth. Chewing, she tried to remember what had happened last night. She was supposed to sleep over at Zoe's after trick or treating; how did she get back here? The last thing she remembered was going down to the basement. No, that wasn't quite true: She remembered the black candle, and the blood, and Zoe reading from the book.
But after that…nothing. At breakfast, Michele's mother put a hand to her forehead. "You look sick, but you don't feel hot.
Everything all right?" Prodding at her Count Chocula with a spoon Michele tried to remember last night again, but the longer the morning went on the harder it was.
"Everything's fine," she said. "Too much candy is all." "Well hurry up and eat, you don't want Zoe waiting for the bus alone," Mom said. But Zoe wasn't at the bus stop. In fact, she wasn't in class at all. Michele called her house that night to see if she was okay and her mother answered. "Zoe's been sick in bed all day," she said. "Too much candy I think." "Oh, is that it?" said Michele. "I thought…" But she didn't really know what else to say, so she just said thank you and hung up.
When she went back upstairs, she threw the rest of her Halloween candy away. It tasted sour all of a sudden. And the sight of it made her afraid. *** "Michele? Michele?" "Huh?" Michele turned around, blinking at the afternoon sun streaming in through the dorm room window. She stood with her purse open, having just swept an armful of things off the top of a dresser and into it. Bulging, she struggled to get it zipped shut.
From the other side of the room, Malcolm (who was sitting on her suitcase in an attempt to get it closed for) was still looking at her. "You spaced out for a second," he said. "Sorry, I was thinking about…something from a long time ago.
What were we saying?" "You don't like Halloween." "Oh, right. Yeah, ever since I was a kid. It's just not my thing." She looked around again at the disarray of the dorm, trying to get her bearings back. She was supposed to be sorting things she needed for the weekend from things she didn't, but now she decided to just plain give up and take whatever would fit into her bags easiest. It was Thursday.
Two of her Friday classes had cancelled tomorrow, so she was skipping the third and leaving campus to take a long weekend back home. That was her plan, anyway; Malcolm was making a belated attempt at luring her into his roommate's Halloween party this weekend instead.
He finally got her suitcase to close with a snap and then bounded up in triumph. "So what's wrong with Halloween?" he said, handing it to her. Shrugging, Michele pretended to be busy looking through a stack of bio books and notes from organic chemistry, next to a plastic vase with fresh flowers Malcolm had delivered himself the previous day. "It reminds me of bad things is all," she said. "You know: death, monsters, childhood. The worst of the worst." Malcolm put his arms around her waist and kissed her ear.
She turned to look at him; he was a freshman and younger than her by three years, but since he was taller and was growing in a beard he looked older, like he was getting ready to graduate in the spring. "I think Halloween is sexy," he said.
"You'd look hot as hell in a nurse's costume." "I'm going to be wearing a nurse's uniform for the rest of my life, why do I want one on Halloween?" "Something else then. A cat costume. Or a witch." Michele choked, then feigned clearing her throat to cover up for it. "Nice try, tiger," she said, turning and giving him a kiss. "This is one thing we're just not going to see eye to eye on." "Okay then," Malcolm said, and got on his knees.
She laughed. "Look, I'd come to the party make you happy, and I'd EVEN wear the nurse's outfit if you're good," she said. "But it's Mom's 50th birthday this weekend, so I have to be there." This was a lie; Mom's birthday wasn't until March, and she'd be 48. But the real reason she was going would have taken longer to explain.
And would have led to questions she wasn't ready to answer yet… "Are you sure you don't want me to come with you?" Malcolm said. He was still on his knees, taking advantage of the low angle to stroke her calves. "I mean, I should meet your family and see where you grew up, right? If we're really serious about the future?" "Yeah, of course you should. It's just…" Think fast. "This isn't the best time. Mom's a little self-conscious about the birthday. It'll be better if we wait.
Besides, I wouldn't want you missing the big party just to hang around my boring old hometown." Discovering that she'd almost forgotten her toothbrush she ducked into the bathroom, then came back and pointed it at Malcolm, shaking the bristles as she talked. "Now no running off with any nurses at that party," she said. "Or witches. Or—" "Pussies?" She giggled. "You ass." "Is that not what you were going to say? Ah well…" And then he grabbed her. Michele shrieked and batted at him.
"You'll make me late," she said. "No I won't, we'll use protection." "That's not—OH!—what I meant. I need to…I need to…" "You need to what?" Malcolm said, kissing her neck. Her eyes rolled in her head as his teeth grazed the soft skin near her collarbone. Michele dropped her bag. "Oh, fuck it," she said. "That's the spirit." She pounced on him, pulling down for an open-mouthed kiss.
Michele's roommate was still in class so there was no need to leave a hangar on the door; without looking, she gave the door a solid kick to make sure that it was closed. It was an old building and sometimes that door would pop open on its own at the worst possible time. Michele forced Malcolm back until he almost tripped over the bed, then pushed him down to it and hopped right on top, stripping off her shirt and tossing it on top of her nearby suitcase so that she wouldn't be more late trying to find it later.
Malcolm was about to say something but she clapped a hand over his mouth playfully, then grinned as she pulled his belt off.
Outside the window someone shouted to someone else from across the quad. Michele held Malcolm's wrists down and then looped his belt around them before securing it to the bed frame. He squirmed a little bit. "Hey!" he said. "I've got to give you something to remember me by while I'm gone for the weekend, right?" Michele said, pulling his shirt up and kissing his abs.
He had a swimmer's body and did laps obsessively but said he never planned trying out for the team because "It's not fun if someone is making you do it." "Besides," she added, "you're the one who started this. No fair wimping out now." She cinched the belt tight and, once she was sure he wasn't going anywhere, unhooked her bra and leaned over him until he strained to get his mouth at her naked breasts.
Giggling, she ran her fingers through his hair and bent down to let him have a taste a little bit at a time, always pulled back before he could get a real mouthful. He responded by tickling one of her nipples with the tip of his tongue until she squealed. Sliding down the front of Malcolm's body, Michele stuck her hands down his pants and squeezed. Malcolm groaned and rolled his eyes in approval; the rest of his body was hot but his balls felt cool in her hands.
Pulling his pants down to his knees she kissed the side of his cock, then licked it and coiled her tongue around the shaft, teasing it until she heard him suck a hard breath between his teeth, following up by licking around and around the tip until he jerked and tugged at the belt.
She laughed. Slipping his entire cock into her mouth, Michele watched his chest swell and contract as his breathing picked up. Seeing Malcolm shirtless always made her wet; it used to make her feel shallow, but now she figured fuck it.
Sucking her way down him, she wrapped her lips around his cock as tight as she could and gave two or three firm tugs with her mouth until he was practically writhing, then closed her eyes and paced herself. The wet sound of sucking filled the small room.
After a while she slid him back out with a satisfying popping nose, then said, "Now it's your turn." Wriggling out of her shorts and her panties and tossing them both on her suitcase she shimmied up Malcolm's body (letting his smooth, supple skin caress the insides of her thighs…) and then, before he could say anything else, sat down on his face so that her wet pussy pressed onto his pretty mouth.
Immediately dutiful, he kisses her slippery lips and pushed the tip of his tongue right inside, licking up and down her slit. Every nerve in Michele's body stood up and sang. "Ohhh shit," she said, squirming herself now.
He was still trying to get his hands loose. She slapped at them until he stopped, riding his face all the while as his sweet lips licked and sucked at her until she was absolutely dripping. Biting her thumb to keep from screaming, Michele swiveled around and dropped back down so that she lay face down on top of Malcolm with his cock stuffed into her mouth even while she spread her legs and continued feeding him her pussy, swiveling her ass in the air as he went to work.
He came so hard and fast that Michele risked choking, but she pulled back just enough at the last moment and got a hot mouthful. She let it dribble over her tongue until the salty taste touched the back of her throat, then swallowed it down and wiped her mouth on the back of her hand in satisfaction.
"You'd better hurry up and finish me off too if I'm going to leave on time…" she said, sitting up again. "I'm working as hard as I can," Malcom said—or tried to say, his voice muffled.
Michele made a tsk tsk noise. "Are you sure about—" Michele said. But that was all she could say, because at that moment she looked down and almost screamed. Instead of Malcolm, splayed out on the bed she saw the dark figure of a man with no face, or rather with a face that she couldn't see, hidden as it was in the shadows.
But even though she couldn't see him she still couldn't shake the idea that she recognized him from years ago… And then she blinked and it was gone, and it was just Malcolm on the bed again. Michele hadn't quite screamed, but he must have been able to tell that something was wrong because he tried once again to sit up—so hard and so fast that he nearly broke the belt—and put a comforting arm around her shoulder as soon as she untied him.
"Baby, what's wrong?" "Nothing," she said, clamping her mouth shut as soon as the lie was out. "You looked like you'd seen a ghost." "Oh no," Michele said, forcing herself to smile as she reached for her clothes.
"I just realized how late it's getting. I really have to go. I'll see you again Monday. Have fun without me, but not TOO much fun, okay?" "All right…" Malcolm said, letting her kiss him. She hurried to leave before he could ask anything else. She'd told enough lies for one afternoon already. *** It was still late by the time she got on the road, and the highway was pitch black once she got up into the hills.
She'd forgotten just how dark things were once you got away from the city lights. Down there it was still sunny and warm, but up here in the mountains winter had practically already started. Why does anyone still live out here, she thought? Then she scolded herself: Just because I don't like living in the boonies doesn't mean it's not good for anyone else.
Mom still loves it up here, she reminded herself. And Zoe… Ah ah, she thought, no dwelling on Zoe. Plenty of time for that later.
She realized she was speeding and made herself slow down. The flicker of her headlights passing over the reflectors at the side of the road made her think of candle flames. It was nearly a quarter to eleven by the time Michele rolled in; at a distance, town and forest looked almost indistinguishable except for the narrow strip of streetlamps along Main Street. Here and there the yellow square of light glowed behind the blinds of some neighbor who dared court town gossips by being visibly awake past 10 PM on a weeknight.
Michele's mother had just moved to a smaller place ("No sense paying for a lot of rooms I'm not going to use," she'd said over the phone). She was still up when Michele arrived, with bathrobe on and late-night gin martini in hand. They hugged one-armed so that it wouldn't spill. "Sorry I'm late," Michele said, putting her bags down in the hall. "Your loss, I already ate all of the fatted calf. Are you hungry, by the way?" "A little bit, but I brought dinner: macaroni and baked potato, your favorite, as best we could manage in the dorm kitchenette anyway.
It just needs the microwave now." "Well if I can't feed you then how about a drink?" Mom shook her half empty martini glass. "I shouldn't…actually, yes that sounds great." So they ended up with martinis and macaroni by the fire as autumn wind shook the trees outside. Michele listened to the whistling through the pines and felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand up with delicious remembered fears from childhood.
"I like the new place," she said. "It's cozy." "It's cheap. So what's the occasion?" "Occasion?" Mom leaned back in her easy chair. "You're here out of the blue. I'm not complaining, but I figure there's a reason." The wind picked up. Michele took a drink to hide her face in the glass. "I just missed you.
And home." "Me I'll believe, but this place never. I've never seen somebody as quick to get out of her hometown as you were at 18, and we've seen you back here all of three times in three years.
I figured you must have had some fight with that boy, what's his name?" "Malcolm. No, everything's fine with us. More than fine, actually. Two of my Friday classes cancelled and I just wanted come back for a long weekend here. Is that so hard to believe?" "Maybe I'll believe it easier with another round," Mom said, rising.
Listening to the sound of the martini shaker from the kitchenette, Michele counted to ten in her head and tried to sound casual when she said, "As long as I'm here I thought I'd look up Zoe. She's still around, right?" "Sure, I see her all the time. She's a bartender over at the Eastside." "Seriously?" "Uh huh. She started out at the Club but they fired her." There were two bars in town: the reasonably respectable, slightly hip one on Main Street called just the Club, and then the Eastside, where people who wouldn't afford the Club—or had achieved lifetime bans from it—went to drink instead.
"Can't remember why Charlie let her go," Mom said, returning. "Not going down on him on payday like he asked, maybe." "Mom!" "Oh, that man would try to stick it in a vacuum cleaner if it gave him the time of day.
Mind you he was plenty good looking once." "I don't need to hear this." "Here's to covering your ears then," Mom said, clinking their glasses.
"She asks about you all the time you know." "Zoe?" "Uh huh. I tell you're doing good, getting ready for nursing school. She says she'll call you but I guess she never does. You two were so close as kids. Up until you weren't anymore, I mean. I don't think she's got much in the way of friends these days. She'll be happy to see you, I think." That night, Michele stood at the mirror on her mother's bureau, brushing her hair.
(Mom insisted on letting Michele sleep in her room and took the couch herself, despite Michele's protestations.) It was the same antique mirror where she and Zoe had played "Bloody Mary" on Halloween night in first grade and scared themselves silly.
Would Zoe really be glad to see her after all this time, she wondered? She couldn't be sure. She had trouble remembering the last time they talked. Michele had, she was aware, been avoiding this town more or less as a means of avoiding Zoe, treating one as a proxy for another.
Finished with her hair, Michele set the brush on the dresser but paused before turning away from the mirror. The sound of the wind reminded her again of previous, long-lost Halloweens, and she smoothed her nightgown out before looking her reflection in the eye and saying, almost tentatively: "Blood Mary…" The lamp went out. The entire room became black. Michele jumped. It was just a power outage, of course. Wires blew down around here all the time.
Still, she couldn't help looking over her shoulder, expecting a dark and faceless man to be waiting for her… But nothing was there.
Even so, she crawled into bed with the covers over her head and wished suddenly for trick or treat candy to stress eat before nodding off. Some things never change, she thought. *** The Eastside bar was dim, the bottles faded, the TV only half-functional, and the walls covered with hunting trophies from a previous century, antlers bristling like a phalanx of spears trying to prod Michele away. It was noon exactly, and Zoe was the only one working, tying her curly hair back with a scrunchie and wearing a black tank top despite the cold weather.
She'd grown curvier and more full in the face since Michele saw her last, but still mostly like her old self. Michele approached the bar but didn't sit at first, waiting for Zoe to see her and register surprise.
But she didn't look surprised at all. She just turned from the tap she'd been pouring—Sierra Nevada Nooner Pilsner, Michele's favorite—and slammed it down right in front of Michele with the foam still streaming down the side and said, "You're here." Sitting on a stool, Michele held her purse between her legs.
"Yeah, I'm here. Surprise." "I was expecting you." "Mom told you I was coming?" "Nope. Just expecting you is all. This first one's on me.
Celebration for your big homecoming. Come here and let me see you." Zoe reached across the bar and cupped Michele's face, turning it left and right to inspect, and Michele was so surprised for a second that she didn't object. "You look good," Zoe said. "I was kind of hoping you wouldn't. Less pressure on me, you know? That means you're buying the next round." She poured herself a Blindfold Ale, her arms snapping the tap on and off with machine-like precision.
When she was finished she half-raised her pint in a toast. "Here's to good reunions," she said, and drank half of hers in one go. "You're not drinking?" "It's barely noon." "I know, but I've got to stay buzzed to keep ahead the hangover from last night." Then she smiled, a quick white flash that moved her entire face, and for a startling second made her look exactly like she had when they were ten.
Leaning across the bar, she hugged Michele—not a casual, single-armed hug, but a big, full embrace—and Michele found herself smiling and hugging back. "You do look good," Zoe said.
"Your mom said you were doing okay and now I know she's not lying. You sure stayed away long enough." Sipping her beer, Michele said, "I've been back a few times. I just—" "Didn't see me. Yeah, it's okay. I wouldn't see me either, and I am me." She paused to pour a beer for someone else "You gonna want another one?" "I'm not done with—" "I'll start a tab for you.
Since you're never coming back you'll never have to pay it. Works out." She smiled again, but this time she didn't look so young. It got later. They had a few more drinks. They talked about friends from high school—or more accurately, about Michele's friends, since Zoe had few to speak of—and strained to remember stories from childhood.
Zoe asked about Michele's classes and looked genuinely interested in the answers. At first Michele was surprised by how natural it felt for the two of them to be talking again. But after a while she forgot to even bother with surprise. Neither of them left when Zoe's shift ended, instead retiring to a corner table with a pitcher that seemed to refill as if by magic. "So he fired me last year," Zoe was saying.
"But anyway, he'd do it with a vacuum cleaner if he got bored enough." "Oh god, that's what Mom said too," Michele said, snorting. "She knows 'em when she sees 'em. So tell me about this guy you're fucking?" Blinking, Michele sat up straight. "Malcolm? He's my boyfriend. We met over the summer. It hasn't been that long but we're…kind of engaged?
Sort of thinking about being engaged?" She put a hand on her head, they'd gone through too many pitchers for her to be sorting through the ins and outs of her relationship now. Shaking her head, Zoe said, "No you're not.
Come on. You're, what, barely 21? You're not going to marry some guy now. Stupidest thing you could do." "Not now. Just, you know, sometime." Michele gestured and knocked the pitcher, but it didn't fall over.
"I'll believe it when I see it," Zoe said. "And I'm not coming to the wedding, so I'll never see it. I'm not big on weddings. Not the marrying type." "You're the type to spit out a guy's bones and bury them in the yard." "Uh uh. I never spit. Always swallow." Michele laughed again. Now Zoe leaned back too and looked at her sideways. "How about you tell me why you're dropping in all of a sudden?" she said.
"Huh?" "I mean, catching up and all is fine. Plus, drinking with you for an afternoon counts as socializing, instead of drinking alone, which only counts as a problem. But you're up here out of nowhere on a weekday during the school year and suddenly you want to see me. So what's the deal?" Geez, do I really seem so suspicious, Michele thought? She wanted to get defensive but realized she couldn't. "I…" She let the word linger for as long as she could, then changed the subject.
"You expected me," she said. "Yeah." "How?" "Just got a good feeling. You're not going to tell me what's up? Guess I'll have to get you even more drunk than you are now." "I'm not drunk." "Stand up." As soon as she did Michele stumbled.
Zoe caught her. The bar had filled up a bit, and some people looked. Steadying herself with a hand on the wall, Michele almost lost a finger to a pair of low-hanging antlers.
"Ohhh shoot," she said. "I can't drive home now. To Mom's, I mean." "You're not going home," Zoe said, slinging Michele's arm over her shoulder like a wounded soldier being carried off the battlefield. "My place is just behind the Safeway on Jackson, we can walk it. Your mom knows you're staying over." "She does?" "Yeah.
Come on, upsy-daisy, one foot at a time." They half stumbled to the parking lot. Michele was stunned to see that it was night already.
"How long were we in there?" "Long enough. Fucking hell, is this fastest you can walk?" "I don't like to drink that much…" "Could have fooled me." The walk home took a while.
Zoe's place was on the ground floor of the Garden Homes apartments. It was a two bedroom apartment, but it looked like she lived alone. Michele saw that the extra bedroom was closed with a heavy padlock on the outside, but as drunk as she was she didn't bother asking why. As soon as they were in the door Zoe broke out the hard liquor. Michele knew she shouldn't have any, but she couldn't say no. A few more drinks and she wouldn't be able to say anything at all… They drank screwdrivers on the couch.
Nothing but a string of white Christmas lights lit the living room—"Cheaper on the PG&E bill," Zoe said. Michele watched the contents of her glass as she swirled it. "I think I needed that," she said. "This I mean. What we're doing." "Drinking on the couch?" "No, just…" She fumbled. "I missed you." "Careful, I'll get teary." "Cunt." "You love it." She paused. "I missed you too though. Even before you left.
You know, back when you got all weird and stopped talking to me." "I didn't get weird, you got weird." "I was always weird. You got normal. And that was weird." "It wasn't that. It was…" Zoe sat forward.
"Ohhh, now we're getting to the interesting part. Finally feel like spilling what's been on your mind?" Going to take another drink, Michele found that her glass was empty. She put it down. "Halloween is Sunday. Day after tomorrow." "Yeah." "Do you remember…I mean, when we were kids, ten years ago.
Do you remember when we…" "Called up the devil?" "No. I mean, yes, that's what we wanted to do." "And we did it. You don't remember?" "I remember…" For a second Michele had a vivid hallucination of a man whose face she couldn't see walking down the darkened basement steps.
But she batted it away almost instantly. "I don't remember what I remember. But I know we did something we shouldn't have. It scared me. And it didn't scare you, and that scared me worse." Zoe put her own glass down. It was still sweating. "That's why you came back? Halloween?" "I…yes. I've been thinking about it a lot lately. So I came here to ask if we can, you know, undo it? Whatever we did. If that makes sense?" Michele searched Zoe's face, expecting confusion, amusement, or even mockery.
What she saw instead surprised her: absolute shock, laced with genuine hurt. "Are you kidding me?" Zoe said, almost standing up.
"That was the best thing that ever happened to us!" Blinking, Michele said, "It was?" "Of course you idiot. Didn't you ever realize?
Look, you're doing premed now? I bet you barely study for your tests but always gets A's, right?" "I'm smart." "But what did you wish for on Halloween?" "I don't know, you wished for me." "That you'd always get good grades no matter what.
And you always did." "Okay, but—" "And what did I want? No more Eddie, no more boyfriends for mom. A week later Mom dumped Eddie, and there was never anyone else." "Yeah, okay—" "All the good stuff in life is because of what we did that night," Zoe said, plowing on.
"What about the bad stuff?" "Who knows? All I know is—fuck this, I need shots. Come on." In the kitchen, Zoe splashed tequila into plastic shot glasses. She tossed hers back right away and signaled with a rotating finger that Michele should do the same, then slapped her on the back as she coughed afterward.
"Why is this coming up now anyway?" Zoe said. "Holy shit, this isn't something about that guy, is it? Mark?" "Malcolm. Yeah, I mean, that's part of it. But the real reason is I never liked it. I never thought we should do it. I want to get rid of it finally. And also I've been…seeing things. Sometimes…" They stared at each other for a long time. Michele thought about the North-Going Zax and the South-Going Zax, stuck looking at each other forever because neither would budge.
But Zoe broke the stare down first by rolling her eyes. "You sure that's the real reason you came? Don't you want something else?" "Like what?" Michele said. She was trying very hard not to sway on her feet. Zoe propped her up with an arm around her, then looked her straight in the eyes. "Like me, maybe?" Zoe said. Michele choked again.
"Excuse me?" "Come on. You're not fooling me. Don't tell me you never thought about it?" "I…that's none of your business," Michele said, twisting away so that Zoe couldn't see her blush.
She felt Zoe's eyes on the back of her head. "None of my business, huh?" the other girl said. And then she swept the plastic glasses into the sink. "If you say so. But why are you back here then?" "I told you why." "I don't buy it.
I think the real reason is you can't get me off your mind. You're crazy about me. Right?" "No!" Michele wanted to leave the kitchen but Zoe was in the way. The kitchen light behind Zoe's head framed her in shadow.
She moved in close now, smelling like tequila and perfume. "Prove it. Give me one kiss and tell me you don't like it." "Why would I do that?" "For old time's sake?" Michele realized she was staring at Zoe's lips.
"I'm drunk," she said. "You're drunk." "Perfect excuse. Kiss me." Their lips were only a few inches apart. Michele recognized the look in Zoe's eyes; it was a look that said, "Don't let me down." "Zoe…" And as they both leaned in… That's all Michele could remember.
*** It was morning. Michele opened her eyes and sat up, not in her own bed. There was no sign of Zoe…no, wait, there was the sound of the shower, and steam coming from beneath the bathroom door. Putting her hands over her face, Michele groaned. Oh my god, she thought. What happened last night? The last thing she remembered was—no, she didn't want to remember the last thing she remembered. Her head was killing her. And her stomach… "Oh no." Bolting out of bed, she kicked the bathroom door open and just barely made it to the toilet in time, throwing he arms around it like a ship's mast in a storm and sticking her head in the bowl.
Peering around the shower curtain, Zoe watched. "Good morning, sunshine," she said. "Guess this means a morning quickie is out of the question." "Die," Michele said, slumping next to the toilet. She felt marginally better now, although it was a low bar. Zoe pulled the shower open wider, inviting her in. Michele wanted to wash away the gross feeling, but didn't want to get in while Zoe was still there. Her face must have given it away, because Zoe glowered. "So that's how it is," she said, turning the water off.
"You're a piece of work." "Me? You got me drunk and—" "You got yourself drunk, I didn't force you. What, are you ashamed?" She threw the towel at Michele. "Self-loathing lesbians are really boring you know." "I am not self-loathing. I don't loathe anything." "Canned pears." "Anything about myself." "Why the attitude then? Shit, give me that towel back, I'm dripping on the floor." Throwing the towel, Michele kicked off her panties (the only thing she'd put back on last night) and got into the shower.
"The problem is—this water is freezing!" "Jiggle the right handle if you want it hot." Zoe's voice came from the bedroom. "I get it: You're upset about your boyfriend or whatever. But he's not here, right? Out of sight, out of mind." "That doesn't make it okay.
Wait, did we really…?" "Really what? Fuck all night?" "Yes, did we really—holy shit, now the water's scalding!" "There's no pleasing you. Are you really telling me you don't remember?" Wiping soap out of her eyes, Michele squirmed. "No," she admitted.
Zoe, standing in the bathroom door, began laughing. Michele blushed even harder. "It's not funny! I blacked out." "It's so funny you wouldn't even believe it. It would serve you right if I never told you what really happened last night…but oh, all right, you can stop worrying, I'm just messing with your head. Nothing happened. You passed out first." Sagging with relief, Michele leaned against the shower wall.
"But you definitely wanted me," Zoe added. "I could tell." A denial was on Michele's lips before she was even done hearing what Zoe said. But then Zoe yanked the shower curtain aside, startling her.
The other girl stood fully dressed and looking shockingly alert for a woman who should have been in an alcohol-induced coma after the last 24 hours. "Hey," she said. "What you said last night, about how you wanted to know if there's any way to undo what we did as kids? If you really meant it, I think there's something we can try." Michele looked up from drying her hair off. "Are you sure? Last night—" "I said it was a terrible idea, and yeah, it is. But if it's what you really want…" "You'd do that for me?" "Kiddo, I'd do just about anything for you.
Why do you think I started all of this in the first place?" For a second Michele was speechless. Then Zoe grabbed her wrist and said, "Get dressed. Follow me." Across the hall was the second bedroom, with the padlock on the outside.
Now sober enough to be properly curious about it, Michele peered over Zoe's shoulder as she fumbled with the key. She wasn't prepared for what was on the other side.
Right away Michele recognized the magic circle painted on the bedroom floor. The wood was stained such a deep red that it was nearly black from having blood poured on it again and again.
Books of every shape and size filled the shelves, some so old their spines had cracked, some so new they still smelled like a bookstore stock room. Other shelves held all sorts of bells, cups, knives, statuettes, bones, bottles, bowls, and even stranger objects. And all manner and shape of candles, most of them black, but some white, red, and deep purple too. On one side of the room, on a dais made from milk crates covered with a black cloth, sat a gold-colored statue of a figure with wings and horns almost as tall as Michele, its eyes seeming to wink whenever the light hit them.
Letters inscribed on its base spelled: "URIAN." Turning in a circle, Michele looked at everything and said, "What…IS all of this?" "Grown-up magic," Zoe replied, picking a book from the shelf and leafing through it. "Don't step in the circle." "How long did it take you to collect all of this?" Curious, Michele touched a flat brass knife, then picked up a heavy silver bell to give it a small test ring.
"At least this long," Zoe said. "Do you remember what the phase of the moon was ten years ago? Never mind, I'll look it up. Hey!" She snapped her fingers.
"Pay attention." Michele blinked. She'd caught herself staring into the eyes of the winged statue and for a second hadn't been able to look way. Turning, she looked at the page of the book Zoe held out to her. "Is this the…magic…we want?" "I think so," Zoe said, nodding.
"If you're sure you want to do this?" Swallowing, Michele said. "Yes. I'm sorry if it hurts your feelings. I never realized you did all this for…anyway, yes, I'm sure." Closing the book, Zoe nodded. "Then we can do it tonight." "Wouldn't tomorrow be better?" "Tonight's Devil's Night. That's the best time. But we shouldn't do it here. Outdoors will work better. You remember Cemetery Hill, on the east side of town?" Michele nodded.
"We'll meet there just after sundown. Sound good?" Michele nodded again, even though she wasn't entirely sure that it did.
Still reading, Zoe looked at her out of just the corner of her eye and added, "And Michele?" "Yes?" "I'm sticking my neck out for you here.
Don't let me down." *** Brushing her hair out of her face, Zoe knelt on the cemetery grass while Michele kept watch. "Tell me if anybody is coming," Zoe said again. Beds of dead, gray leaves crunched under Michele's feet whenever she moved. The grassy hillside had grown patchy over the years, and the taller headstones had started to tilt, and it seemed nobody was keeping the place up anymore. It had been at least 100 years since anybody was buried here.
Michele said, "I don't mean to complain—" "And yet…" "But do we have to be here?" "You can't do these things just anywhere," Zoe said.
She was tracing a wide circle in the ground with the point of a knife, her brow furrowed as she worked to make the characters around the perimeter just right. "Outdoors is best. Isolation is best. And a place with ceremonial importance is best. Can you think of anywhere else?" "Last time we did it in your mom's basement." "Last time I didn't know what I was doing. A lot's changed since we were eleven." Not enough, Michele thought, as she handed Zoe a Tupperware container full of blood.
She imagined it looked like the same purple container from when they were kids. But of course it couldn't be. Any moment now Michele expected someone to catch them in the act, but there was nothing around except leaning trees and the spokes of the cemetery's iron fence. Tomorrow night this place would be full of teenagers, but now it was curiously empty, as if somehow everyone knew they would be here. Pouring the blood into a wooden chalice, Zoe filled the rest with water and a splash of vodka ("You can barely taste it after that," she explained), then poured everything else into the circle.
The hungry cemetery dirt swallowed it up. "This place always creeped me out," Michele said. Zoe shook her head. "Not always. You used to love coming here to play hide and seek, remember? We got in trouble once because you hid too well for anyone to even find you." Michele blinked. She had forgotten about that.
Once she really had loved places like this, and Halloween, playing Bloody Mary, and scary movies on late night TV. Zoe was the one who would always get scared, even though she acted brave beforehand.
It wasn't until that Halloween night in the basement things changed. "Are you ready?" Zoe said. She held out a book; Michele recognized it as the same one they'd copied in the library ten years ago, although this version was bigger and heavier.
She found pages toward the back marked for her. "This is it?" "The whole thing. Hey, you okay?" Zoe touched Michele's chin and lifted her face up from the book.
"We don't have to do this if you don't want to. If we back out now, it's all the same." The suddenly soft look on Zoe's face calmed Michele's pounding heart. "Yeah, I'm okay," she said. "Thank you for this. Really." Zoe smiled.
"You do my part this time," she said, pointing to the book. "And I'll do yours. Ready?" Michele nodded. A dozen candles glowed around the circle and Michele knelt to spread the book on the grass. The letters on the page came into sharp relief. "In nomine Dei nostri Satanas Luciferi excelsi. In the name of Satan, the Ruler of the earth, the King of the world, I command the forces of darkness to bestow their power upon me…" The words came easily, as if she'd been practicing them for years.
Zoe recited the four names and rang a black bell that she'd prepared specially for tonight. Then she sipped from the wooden cup and gave the rest to Michele, who drank it in one go. The hard burn of the alcohol covered up the sludgy organic flavor of the blood. Suddenly she realized something. "Damn it, I didn't write down my wish!" "You ditz." Zoe produced a piece of lambskin parchment folded over twice and closed up with wax.
"I took care of it. I even sealed it for you. It's better that way." Wind rustled the pines, and somewhere the cemetery gate creaked on its hinges, like an old movie cue.
Michele took the paper. "What about yours?" "I don't need one. Tonight is all about you." The candle flame lapped at the edge of the parchment as Michele held it out, and it curled at the corners, the smoke trailing up into the night air. Here goes nothing, she thought. The parchment flared and burned and turned their faces orange in the darkness, and Michele tossed it into the circle so that the ashes mixed with the spilled blood, and then they waited.
Somewhere in a nearby yard a dog was going mad with barking, and if Michele strained she could hear the rattle of it running to the end of its chain and back.
"How long is it supposed to take?" she said. "It depends." "Isn't there one more part? Maybe we should—" "Just be patient. If it worked, I'll know. In fact…" She paused, as if listening for something.
"Yeah, okay. It's time." She turned back to Michele. "Step into the circle." Michele blinked. "But you always said—" "Do you want to do this or not?" "If you're sure…" Michele hesitated with one foot in the air before breaking the circle and then stepping all the way in.
The candles all blew out. She jumped. The burnt remains of her wish swirled around her feet, whipped up by the breeze. "Now what?" she said. "Now nothing," said Zoe. "You're stuck." Michele blinked. "What does that mean?" "Just what I said. You can't leave the circle. Don't believe me? Try to step out again." Michele tried. She couldn't. For some reason every time she came back up to the line she was able to put a foot across it. In a few seconds she was red faced with the effort. "What the hell?
What did you do to me?" "You did the whole thing yourself," Zoe said. "I was over way over here." She leafed through the book again, planting a finger on it when she finally found the page she wanted.
Michele tried again to walk away but still couldn't do it. "Zoe? Zoe! Hey! What are you doing now?" she said. "What's gotta be done, kiddo." Very, very carefully, Zoe erased some of the markings in the circle. "You remember the other part of the wish I made for you back then? I wanted us to be together forever.
Now that you're finally back, I'm not letting you go again." "Let me out of here!" "No." "I hate you!" "You love me," Zoe said, stepping almost gingerly through the gap she'd made in the circle, careful not to let her body pass over any intact part of the line. "You've always been in love with me. Aren't you tired of denying it?" Standing up straighter, Michele said, "Believe whatever you want, just let me go." "I'm not keeping you here.
I told you, you did all this yourself. You've always done it yourself." "That's such bullshit." "Kiss me and I'll set you free," Zoe said. Michele hesitated. "If I kiss you I can leave the circle?" she said. "I didn't say I'd let you go, I said I'd set you free." Zoe brushed the hair away from Michele's face.
"We both know the real reason you came back here." "I came back because I want to reverse the spell we cast as kids." "But you don't even believe in magic. You never did." "I…" Zoe cupped Michele's face in her hands. Again Michele found she had a hard time looking way. "Come on, kiddo. Just a kiss. Don't you want to?" "I…don't know what I want.
You always told me, ever since we were kids." "We're all grown up now. Here's your shot. Decide." Zoe's lips looked cherry-red. Michele imagined them tasting sweet and fresh, and somewhere in the back of her mind a key turned. Leaning in, she took Zoe by the face too and pressed her mouth to hers.
Zoe melted into Michele's arms. They both still tasted like the blood potion, but Michele didn't mind; when Zoe's tongue danced against hers it made her think of sweet chocolate and fresh fruit and dark rooms.
The kiss only lasted a second or two but Michele came up from it panting and red in the face. She waited for the world to end. It didn't. Zoe beamed at her, the biggest and most unembarrassed grin she'd had since they were kids. "I really did that, right?" said Michele. "It's not magic?" "You always told me magic isn't real," Zoe said. They kissed again, slow and sweet, then hotter and faster.
Zoe tangled her fingers in Michele's hair. The wind settled down, the leaves and the trees becoming as quiet and respectful as the graves around them. This really is a beautiful place, Michele decided. Why was I ever scared of it? The grass in the circle seemed soft and comfortable as she lay down, pulling Zoe with her. Zoe's skin was smooth and soft too. She kissed a spot underneath Michele's ear that drove her wild, and Michele giggled and kicked. "How'd you know I like that?" she said.
"Word got around in high school," said Zoe. "So did you." "Bitch." "Cunt." "I love you." "I know," Zoe said, kissing her again, lying on top of her so that their bodies fitted together like hand in glove.
Michele was aware suddenly that she was lying in the bloody spot they'd made in the grass, but she figured the hell with it. She saw too that the black candles were all blazing again; maybe they'd never really blown out? She let Zoe take her top off. The bare ground felt good against her naked back. So did Zoe's mouth as she kissed her way down the front of Michele's body, teasing the spot between her breasts as Michele sighed, content, lacing her fingers at the back of Zoe's head and licking her lips as the other girl's trailing hair tickled her naked skin.
"Slower, slower, slower," she whispered. "All you like to do is wait," Zoe said, but reduced her pace, painting Michele's body with sweet, sensual kisses while her fingertips traced her up and down, back and front. Every few seconds Michele grabbed her and pulled her up for another kiss and then released her, breathless, to continue exploring, crawling down to where she tugged Michele's jeans off and deposited them over a nearby tombstone for safekeeping.
The night air felt good on her body. Everything felt good, as a matter of fact. Eager goosebumps covered her from head to toe and Michele groaned in gratification every time Zoe kissed them. When Zoe's mouth finally closed on one of Michele's breasts and gave it a long, sucking kiss she pushed upward with her entire body and groaned so loud that she worried someone might hear: "Ohhhhh fuck…more." Zoe's mouth was wet and hot.
The breeze picked up and Michele almost couldn't stand the war between the heat of Zoe on top of her and the chill of the night air. Her fingers tore at the cemetery grass, digging furrows into the lawn. Her tongue dancing across Michele's flesh, Zoe sucked her friend's breasts one at a time, filling her mouth with Michele's body.
Michele rocked and ached and stammered. She pulled at the other girl's clothes, nearly tearing them in her haste and flinging them away without attention to where they landed. The feeling of their naked skin touching made her throb deep down inside. Zoe pushed Michele's hair back again. "You don't know how long I've been waiting for this." "Yes I do," Michele said, clasping Zoe's hand. "I'm sorry I was afraid." "S'okay.
I'm a scary girl." "Not to me." "Just wait." Keeping the pressure light but firm, Zoe put her hand between Michele's legs and rubbed her warm, wet pussy through the fabric of her panties, taking Michele's breath away immediately.
"Oh, oh, oh…" was all she could say as she hung onto Zoe's shoulders for support and reminded herself to breathe. "Still want it slow?" Zoe said, her smile flashing white in the dark. "Maybe just a little faster…just a little more." Despite the cool night, Michele became damp with sweat.
Zoe kissed her thighs and Michele flopped back, writhing on the cemetery grass. As Zoe kissed higher up her legs and flicked the crease where her thigh joined her body with the tip of a tongue Michele suddenly started laughing and found she couldn't stop.
"What's so funny?" "I just remembered," said Michele. "Last time I fucked Malcolm I ran off without letting him finish me. Now it kind of feels like you're swapping in for him." "Not so worried about mister boyfriend anymore, huh?" Zoe said as she slipped Michele's panties down.
"Well, like you said, I don't see him around." Michele threw her arms back and enjoyed the sheer awfulness of what she'd just said. "Besides, this is special. This is more than—OH!" "What were you saying?" Zoe said, pausing before pressing her mouth back down to between Michele's legs.
"Nothing," Michele said, stammering. "Don't pay attention to what I say. Just keep doing it. Oh, oh, please, please keep doing that." Tangling Zoe's hair in knots with her fingers, Michele put her legs up and dragged Zoe in closer.
The fire of the candles glowed in the dark pools of Michele's eyes as she cried out, the sweat of the two girl's clinging bodies dampening the grass underneath them. The trees seemed to lean in and cover them up, like giant, sheltering hands blocking the rest of the world out so that it didn't dare see.
The delicious feeling of Zoe's mouth and tongue on Michele's pussy filled her up from head to toe. I don't ever want this to stop, she thought. Not even for one second for the rest of my life. She'd started to wish they'd made the magic circle around a tombstone or a tree trunk so that she'd have something to brace her back against and push into Zoe even harder.
Head swimming, Michele pulled Zoe down to the ground and rolled her onto her back, then lowered herself down to grind her pussy against Zoe's mouth as she sat down over her face.
With nothing else around to grab onto Michele hugged her arms around her own body, pressing her breasts as tightly against herself as she could. The wild animal smell of sex filled her nostrils. The sound of Zoe's lapping mouth drove her wild.
Michele's head lolled to the side and her hair hung down her naked back as she bounced up and down. Just a little more…just a little more… When Michele's orgasm finally hit she nearly fell over.
Her body spasmed and she felt like she was burning away like the wicks of the candles, melting into a pool like the burnt wax all around them. She fell on top of Zoe and they panted together, then kissed until they were breathless again and then it started all over.
Michele lady her head on Zoe's shoulder and murmured, dreamy, almost half asleep already from the unreal, dreamlike night she'd had. What a strange thing to think that I'm still the very same person who woke up this morning, she thought.
Or am I? Maybe I was never even really that person at all. A rustle in the leaves interrupted her thoughts, but she didn't look up until Zoe said to. "Hey," she said, nudging Michele.
"Pay attention. This part is important." "Hmm?" Confused, Michele looked up. Then she screamed, but clapped a hand over her own mouth when it was barely out. The dark man with the shadowy face stood over them. He was at the eastern tip of the circle, looking at where both girls lay sprawled in each other's arms. The boughs of the trees seemed to shift again to provide enough shadow to keep his face hidden, and the rest of him was just a silhouette against nothing, like a shape cut from black construction paper.
The blood left Michele's face. She tried to speak but all that came out was one word: "No." But Zoe just smiled, and took the black man by the hand. "It's okay kiddo," she said. "There's nothing to be afraid of.
He wants to meet you finally is all." "It's not supposed to be real," Michele said, unable to speak much higher than a whisper. "It was always real to me," said Zoe. "Just like you and me. Come on; what are you afraid of?" Michele tried to shrink away, but she was at the edge of the circle again.
The candles burned higher, much higher than they should have been able to, turning the cemetery lawn into a ring of Hell. "It'll be okay," Zoe said, holding her own hand out. "Don't you trust me?" "Yes, it's just…why can't we see his face?" "Because you're not really looking," Zoe said. "Try again." Still confused, Michele tried to look away, but something in Zoe's voice made it hard to say no.
Bracing herself, she looked at the shadowy fully for the first time, and… It was Malcolm. Malcolm, with his beard still growing in, and his clothes off showing his swimmer's body.
He stood hand in hand with Zoe, naked in the circle. But no, she quickly realized, it didn't look exactly like him. Something was off. It was the eyes; they were gold, and they glittered, and he never blinked. His face never changed at all, in fact, maintaining one smooth, mask-like expression, like the surface of a lake on the stillest day of the year.
And then, confusingly, it changed. Suddenly the man with the golden eyes wasn't a man at all; it was Zoe, a perfect copy standing next to herself. And then Michele gaped when the figure became herself instead, an almost perfect mirror image, and then another person after that, and another.
"What's going on?" Michele said, whispering. Zoe made an impatient gesture. "Stop being so afraid of everything," she said. "Just come on already." Amazingly, Michele didn't feel afraid anymore. The light in those deep golden eyes made her feel safe. Stepping up, she took the dark figure's hand in hers.
A feeling of relief settled on her, like she'd just scratched an itch she'd had her entire life. "What happens now?" said Michele. "Now he wants to give us everything we've ever wanted," Zoe said. "And what do we have to give to him?" "Only what you want to. When we were kids I just gave him my Halloween candy." "Really?" It was so ridiculous that Michele barked a laugh.
Zoe nodded. "Now that we're all grown up though, I have something much sweeter in mind." Zoe went first, wrapping the man with the golden eyes in her arms, kissing him and then letting him take her right on the lawn, bent over on all fours as he fucked her from behind while she made animal noises.
Michele watched as if in a dream; the dark man looked like Malcolm again, and she discovered that she liked the sight of him fucking Zoe. Her body flushed with a blush of arousal. But it didn't look like Malcolm when her turn came. Lying down underneath the shadowy figure and spreading her legs, she found that it looked like Zoe again. Zoe, wearing a still mask of her own face.
Zoe, with beautiful golden eyes. Zoe, somehow pressing a hard, bulging cock between Michele's legs and entering her, fucking her with hard and insistent strokes on the ground even as the real Zoe pillowed Michele's head in her lap, laughing and holding her as Michele cried out again and again. Her vision of the man/woman/thing blurred. It wasn't dark at all, she realized. It was all made of gold, glistening from head to toe, and it unfurled the most beautiful wings over both of them, so beautiful that she couldn't stand to look at them.
Closing her eyes, Michele looked at nothing instead, turning the whole world as dark as a candle flame that's just been snuffed out, and for the rest of the night all she did was feel.
*** It was morning. Michele opened her eyes and sat up in her own bed. When she rolled over she was briefly surprised to find Malcolm next to her. For a second she even gasped, and the sound woke him up. "What's wrong?" he said, sitting up on one elbow. Michele gathered the covers to herself. "Nothing," she said. "I had a dream.
Are you—" She was about to ask "Are you really you," but it was such a bizarre question and she had no idea what it could mean, so she stopped.
Although it was dark, she could see she was in her own room at school. Just a dream, she thought again. A dream about Zoe. She'd had them before, but never quite like this. Shivering, she huddled against Malcolm. "Are you okay?" he said an arm on her bare shoulder. "What were you dreaming about." "I…don't remember," Michele said. Then: "I'm going to the bathroom." Once the door closed she locked it and turned to the mirror, examining her nude body front and back.
She didn't really know what she was looking for, but there was nothing out of the ordinary. Leaning over the sink, she washed her face. Get a hold of yourself, she thought. Malcolm knocked on the door. "Are you okay?" "I'm fine. I just—" When Michele looked in the mirror, Zoe was standing behind her.
The other girl's smile nearly split her face in two. Michele tried to scream but it stuck in her throat.
Zoe gave a little wave and smiled even wider. But when Michele turned around no one was there. Pale and shaking, she looked everywhere around the tiny bathroom, but of course it was empty. Malcolm knocked again. "I'll be out in a minute!" she said.
Got to get a hold of yourself, she thought. When she turned back to the mirror Zoe was still there in the reflection. She blew a kiss and then whispered in Michele's ear. Michele heard the voice: "I told you: We'll never be apart now." Zoe touched Michele's hair. "Even when you don't see me you'll know that I'm always with you. Like a good friend should be, right?" Then Zoe gave her a long, lingering kiss. And when Michele opened her eyes again nobody was there.
She was alone. Except, of course, she wasn't.