A Brush With Darkness

A Short Story request from a follower and one of my dear friends, Krystal. May your light always shine brightly for the world, for we would all be less without it.

Krystal sipped her glass of wine as she waited for her next client to arrive.  The salon was slow that day.  She actually had a few minutes to herself to rest her tired feet and eat a quick dinner.  This next client was a new one, just requiring a basic men’s cut.  It should be an in-and-out situation.  She would get him done before her next color client came in.  Coloring hair was her favorite.  There was no greater artist than Krystal Sage when she had a bowl of color and a brush in her hands.  It was one of her great callings in life, second only to her natural born spell caster abilities. 

Krystal was deep in thought, considering the color of her next client’s hair, when Richard walked into the salon.  As he inquired at the front counter about her, Krystal already knew he was there for her.  She felt a pull toward him so deeply that it startled her.  It wasn’t a sexual pull, but a mystical one.  Something she very rarely felt, since there were so few people like her left in the world.

He approached her and sat in her chair as they exchanged pleasantries.  He seemed nice enough but something about him disturbed her.  She actually hesitated to put her fingers through his hair, something she usually loved to do because it allowed her to feel a person’s energy.  She even had the ability to pull energy from someone or give them some of hers, although the latter always exhausted her for several days afterward.  She saved that one for her loved ones or people who she deemed worthy of the personal cost.

As she placed her fingers in this stranger’s hair, though, she felt an immediate pull on her energy, as if he was taking it from her without her permission.  She didn’t even realize that was possible until touching this man’s hair.  She also felt his energy, negative to its very core.  He was a taker.  Giving, sharing, helping, kindness.  Those were things this man knew nothing about.  His presence was so foreboding that she jumped slightly after plunging her hands into his hair and quickly yanked them back out.  Her eyes immediately darted to look at his face in the mirror.

This man was already looking back at her through the mirror, staring way too deeply for her comfort.  Richard’s look conveyed a smirk of sorts, as if he’d just found something long lost to him.  Krystal’s look was quite a contrast to his.  She was shocked by so many things.  How did he pull at her life-force the way he did?  Did he come here because he already knew about her?  What were his intentions?

Krystal faked a phone call and stepped out for a moment to gather her thoughts.  She did feel disturbed by Richard’s energy but she also knew herself.  The last person to cross her was taught a hard lesson that day.  This man would be no different.  Krystal closed her eyes for a moment and summoned a protection spell before re-entering the room.  If he did know that she was a witch of light, she wondered if he also knew her linage.  A long line of witches ran through her veins.  If he intended harm on her, he had better be one damn good warlock. 

Krystal held his uncomfortable gaze as she walked back into the room.  He was, no doubt, trying to intimidate her.  He obviously didn’t know her as well as his crooked grin suggested.  She thanked him for his patience and plunged her hands into his hair once more as she asked what style cut he would like.  This time, it was Richard who suddenly took on a look of surprise as her hands ran through his hair.  She knew he felt blocked from her energy and she was glad.  Now, it was Krystal who smirked at Richard.

He explained a simple trim and Krystal went to work, wondering if he really intended to leave his hair there with her.  Any witch or warlock worth their own salt knows you don’t let someone get a lock of your hair.  So much can be done with hair.  That’s probably why Krystal had always gravitated toward it.  Hair held a magical imprint of a person, their energy forever in its cells.  She fully intended to keep some of his.  Just in case.

He continued to make eye contact with her as she worked.  When she finally looked directly into his eyes without the mirror, she heard his deep male voice as if he was speaking loudly for all to hear.  He wasn’t.  His mouth didn’t move.

“How long have you known?” was the first question he asked her within her own mind.  Krystal debated if she would answer him back.  Ultimately, she decided he already knew of her abilities and responded.

“Since birth.  You?” Krystal replied in the same way he communicated, with her mind.  Richard took on a look of greed, which also coursed through his hair and tingled her fingers in the most unpleasant of ways.  She would definitely be keeping some of his hair.  As she kept his attention with the mental conversation, she motioned with her foot and a clump of hair slid under a nearby cabinet.  She would collect it later, when she was sure he was no longer present.

“Same.  You are a light witch.  I can tell.  Can you read me?” he asked, while never moving a muscle in his face but still making steady eye contact.

“I can.” was Krystal’s simple reply.  She wanted him to know who he was messing with.  There was a slight pleasure in knowing that someone was about to underestimate her.  She definitely enjoyed proving people wrong. 

“Good.” Richard said as he finally broke eye contact with Krystal and grinned much larger now.  What a prick, she thought.  He’s the kind of jackass that loves to control women.  He thinks he’s the universe’s gift to everyone.  Krystal had a feeling she would be ruining that world view for him in the near future.

With the hair cut finished, Richard rose and tossed a $100 bill on her counter.

“This should cover it.  Lovely meeting you, Krystal.  Until we meet again.”  Richard walked out of the salon as if he owned the place.  He really wasn’t very good at hiding his retched personality.  Even the other people in the salon got a bad vibe from him. 

“What was that guy’s deal?” Alex asked as he cleared the doorway and walked away.  “Seems like a real dick.”  Everyone had a good snicker at the play on words with his name, too.

“Yeah, I don’t know.  There are weirdos everywhere, I guess.  Don’t book him for me again, if he calls.  Tell him I died.” Krystal said as everyone laughed and continued about their business.  Krystal wasn’t at all surprised to see the hair that had once covered the floor was gone.  She swept anyway so no one would notice, even though she knew he’d done this so she wouldn’t keep any hair.  He, however, had already underestimated her.  Probably his first of many times.  She’d transferred some into her pocket by magic and shielded it so he wouldn’t sense it.  The hair she’d moved under the furniture was a decoy.  A very effective decoy, it would appear.  Even this little lock of his hair gave off the worst energy.  She was anxious to get it home and properly contained.  Krystal hated it being so close to her body. 

Karen arrived just as Krystal was finishing prepping her station.  Karen was one of Krystal’s oldest clients, although they were roughly the same age.  Krystal threw her arms around Karen for their typical greeting and immediately knew something was wrong.  Her energy was all off.  Krystal pulled back quickly and whispered, “What’s wrong?”

Unable to hold back, tears rolled down Karen’s cheeks as she told Krystal all about her husband’s sudden illness and the fear that he may not survive.  Krystal lovingly listened as she softly ran her enchanted fingers through Karen’s hair to calm her and give her a bit of peace.  While doing so, Krystal could see that part of Karen’s hair was thinner than it normally was.  The stress her dear friend was consumed with was causing her hair to fall out and this broke Krystal’s heart.  Even though she knew she needed to reserve as much of her energy as possible, in case she met with her new foe again, Krystal couldn’t help but to transfer some of her positive energy to Karen.  She couldn’t bear to see the ones she cared about in pain.  It was her gift, and her curse.

As the color and style continued, Karen appeared to slowly perk up a bit.  Any outsider might assume that just getting out of the house and away from her troubles was helping but Krystal knew the real reason.  She was steadily transferring her energy to Karen and it showed.  Although Krystal couldn’t help Karen’s husband without having him there, physically, she could at least help Karen feel a bit more energized to get through whatever lays ahead.

By the time Karen left, she was feeling much more positive about her situation.  She even commented about how much better she always felt after a visit with Krystal.  Thankfully, Karen was Krystal’s last customer because she felt considerably drained and needed to get home to rest.  It would probably take her a few days to feel fully charged again.  The fact that this Richard guy was out there in the world somewhere gave her a sense of urgency to recuperate. 

Walking in her front door after a long day at the salon, Krystal kicked off her shoes and immediately went to the bonus room in her basement.  That’s where she felt most attuned to the earth and able to enjoy her craft.  There were windows at the top of the basement walls that were specifically placed so the moonlight could shine in through them.  Moonlight felt almost as electric to her as sunlight.  She often saved her most important spells for the full moon. 

The room was the size of an average bedroom and had a small bathroom attached.  There was a mini fridge for the spellcasting ingredients that need to stay cold or frozen and a large cabinet held most of her dry ingredients.  There was a circle on the floor where the moonlight usually fell so she could do her chants and spells in it if she needed to.  In the far corner of the room, she’d installed an old, wood burning stove with wood stacked next to it that she, herself, had cut down.  It would never do for someone else to cut it down.  They would not give it the respect and offering that Mother Earth demanded.  Negative energy inside wood you are using to create potions is never an acceptable thing.  Not to mention the fact that it needed to be free of any chemicals that might be present in the wood bundles bought at gas stations or hardware stores. 

The last element of her spellcasting room was her table.  It was set to one side of the room and contained all that she needed in the way of stone bowls and incense and her spell book.  That book was her pride and joy, passed down from generation to generation in her family.  Not only did it contain every spell her ancestors had ever cast, it also contained their energies.  Each of them had turned those pages at one time.  Each one of them had placed their hands on the cover and thanked the light for shining in them.  Just touching it was a privilege and an honor that she fully understood every time she used it. 

Krystal quickly took the terribly uncomfortable hair out of her pocket and placed it on the table before going straight to open the basement windows.  Direct moonlight was always the best moonlight.  Feeling that ever familiar vibration under her skin as the moonlight hit it was invigorating, as always.  A full moon was due the next night so there was quite a bit of moonlight to help her.  For a few moments, Krystal simply sat on the floor in a tank top and let her skin soak in the moon’s energy.  Karen’s troubles weighed heavy on her and this light helped to clear it out and reconnect her with Mother Earth. 

Once she was feeling like she could face the energy waiting for her on the table, Krystal stood and looked at the clump of hair.  It still pulled at her, even without its host present.  She lit some sage and let it waft through the room, filling every corner.  Krystal then put on her favorite crystal charm necklace that she had recharged in the last full moon.  As she sat down at the little table to address the hair, it actually shifted slightly, as if there was a more physical pull than she’d originally thought.

Mother Earth, Father Time.

Hear me as I speak.

Protect me now from what’s within.

Keep its power weak.

Krystal chanted the words over and over as she held her hands above the hair, feeling its pull lessen as she continued.  After a few moments, the pull of negative energy was barely noticeable and she felt comfortable moving on. 

Krystal felt an urgency to discover who this man really was.  She could sense that he was a danger and needed to know to whom, why, and when.  She was very aware of the full moon the following night.  Her meeting with him may not have been accidental.  If he did mean her harm, he could be planning to do it tomorrow night.  Krystal would have to take extra precautions not to be followed into the woods for her normal full moon meeting.

Now that the hair’s energy was dampened, she felt more comfortable handling it.  Slipping the lock of hair between her fingers, she began a new chant.

Father Time, Mother Earth.

Let his thoughts come forth.

It only took three repetitions before she was overcome with thoughts that were not her own.  They were his.  Richard’s.  She didn’t know exactly where he was but she could hear his thoughts as he was thinking them.  Richard was with a woman.  A young lady over 18 years old but only just.  He intended her harm but not yet.  He had been playing the long game with this one.  She really seemed to trust him as he gently seduced her into his arms.  He whispered sweet nothings into her ear as he held her.  Sweet nothings were all they were. 

Krystal came to a sudden realization while listening to his wicked thoughts.  This young woman is a virgin.  Richard is a Warlock of darkness.  Negative energy and virgins are their prized ingredients.  There is much that can be done with the blood of a virgin.  Krystal suddenly felt a responsibility to protect this girl.  The girl obviously had no idea the danger she was in. 

Krystal grabbed a small bottle of oil with herbs suspended in it and dotted the oil on her forehead where her third eye is. 

Open his eyes.  Let me see.

Open his eyes.  Let me see.

Open his eyes.  Let me see.

She repeated the words until she opened her eyes and could see what he was seeing.  They were in his apartment, she assumed.  The girl’s purse was hung on a hook by the front door.  The two of them were sitting on a couch in front of a fireplace.  Richard was telling her how beautiful she was and how he admired her decision to wait for marriage before being intimate with someone.  She was giggling and snuggling up tight in his arms.  He began to kiss her lightly and Krystal knew this girl was completely smitten with him.  Richard had played his game well.  He stopped and told her they must not break her promise to herself as he released her from his embrace and pretended to be torn about the situation.  She looked a bit disappointed at the idea of stopping but followed his lead.  He was definitely prepping her for something and it was probably planned for tomorrow night’s full moon.

After excusing himself to the restroom as this young woman gathered her things, he waited just until he closed the door to address Krystal.

“I know you’re in there.  How clever you are.  However, you are not invited on this date.  You’ll have to wait your turn, sweet Light Witch.”

With that, Krystal felt thrown back into herself.  The jolt sent her flying out of the chair she was seated in.  Laying, shocked, on the floor, Krystal gathered herself and took her seat once again at her table.  How did he know she was there?  He shouldn’t have known.  She had to assume he, too, came from old magic, as his level of skill implied, and must be handled with caution.  Krystal decided the first thing she needed to do was find him.  Her best opportunity to do that would be under direct moonlight.  She hurriedly gathered what supplies she thought she’d need in a satchel and changed into some more comfortable, loose fitting clothes.  The floor length skirt and loose white shirt were perfect for a meeting with Mother Earth and Father Time.  She didn’t like to feel restricted when calling upon them.  Energy flows better when the host is free to move.

The drive to her favorite hiking trail felt considerably shorter than normal.  Her excitement about connecting with the primordial energy mixed with her anxiety of finding this warlock made the thirty minute drive seem like ten.  She’d already planned a meeting tomorrow night, when the moon would be full, but she felt the meeting could no longer be postponed.  She needed help finding him in a way that he wouldn’t detect.  The only thing capable of that was the primordial energy.

As she pulled into the empty parking lot of her county hiking trail park, Krystal saw the park ranger who normally patrolled here.  She had no reason to fear getting kicked out by him.  She’d placed a spell on him long ago that allowed her to move about without him ever noticing her, as if she and all her belongings were invisible.  Quite a handy spell, indeed.

She gathered her things, removed her shoes, and headed down the trail.  It would never do to approach a meeting with Mother Earth while wearing shoes.  Such an insult would not be rewarded with the help Krystal needed.  Besides, she quite enjoyed the forest energy pulsing through her feet.  The energy she gave to Karen would likely be restored after this meeting, thankfully.

After walking about ten minutes, she came to the small opening in the brush and trees where she took a hard left turn and headed another fifteen minutes deep into the woods.  The entrance was well hidden by her spell so no one ever bothered her there.  The clearing was just as she’d left it, complete with a fire pit in the middle and bare dirt only within the large circle.  Grass was not ideal for making a connection to Mother Earth.  Bare earth was the purest connection and the one Krystal desired.

She laid her belongings down just inside the large circle clearing and pulled out the kindling that contained sage.  Krystal used it to start a fire in the pit, which lit easily and required little fuss.  Krystal let down her long, jet black hair and let it be tossed by the breeze.  The energy in this place was electric and filled her with love.  Being a witch of light has its advantages.  One of those was the beautiful connection to positivity and nature.  There was no other feeling like it in the universe.  A one-ness with the earth, trees, and flowers, flowed through her.  She inhaled deeply to breathe it in and felt as if she was home.  Home amongst her family.  Her kindred.

The breeze picked up a bit and twirled her skirt around her body, revealing the delicately curved figure hidden beneath it.  She lifted her arms as the flimsy white shirt that had draped over her body lifted off and landed several feet away.  She unhooked the waste of her skirt and let it fall to the ground as she walked slowly toward the fire.  Now, Krystal approached the Primordial Energy just as intended, pure and clean as the day she’d been born onto this earth.

She stood facing the flames, lifted her hands toward the stars and moon, and opened her eyes, a deep brown with a depth of color one would not expect from such brown eyes.  It was as if the earth, its self, could be found in her eyes, sparkling with all the life held within it.  She looked up to the heavens and spoke.

Witches of my past, be with me. 

Witches of my past, guide me. 

Witches of my past, protect me.

A sudden gust of wind seemed to clear the entire circle of all movement and sound, as if she now stood in a vacuum.  Even the fire was frozen in place, defying the laws of nature that man had decided nature must abide by.  Nature made no such agreement.

Knowing she was in the presence of her ancestors now, Krystal lowered her hands and fell to her knees.  As she raised her face and looked just passed the now still fire, Krystal saw her family long since passed but now standing before her. 

Before she could utter a word, a witch she’d never known in life stepped forward and addressed her.

“You have met your foe.  He will be your match and take your spirit, if you let him.  He is sly and convincing.  He will use the darkest magic to persuade you.  He knows your value.  Don’t let him in.”  As she finished speaking, a light began to glow on the old witch’s chest, growing brighter and brighter until it floated in front of her.  “Take my light.  May it be protection from the darkness.”  With that, the ball of light shot from the old witch to Krystal, absorbing directly into her own chest and disappearing. 

Another witch stepped forward.  She was younger than the rest and her clothes smelled of fire.  Krystal knew exactly who this was.  Janet Boyman.  She had been a healer, probably the witch that contributed most to Krystal’s ability to heal others by giving her energy to them.  Janet was burned for witchcraft in 1572, a great loss to the world.  Her most heinous crime had been caring for others more than for herself.

“I can see your sweet energy.” She began, while gesturing toward Krystal.  “You will not be rewarded for it.  You must find the reward within yourself, that feeling of true and deep love that is released when you give of yourself for someone else’s benefit.  I can see that you know it well.”  A light began to shine all around Janet as she spoke her final words to Krystal.  “Take my light.  Let it feed your kindness so you may spread it throughout the world as I did.”  The light that glowed all around Janet moved across the unmoving fire and settled on Krystal, seeping into her skin until it was gone.  She’d never before felt so energized.  Nothing like this had ever happened previously during a meeting with her ancestors.  They must have sensed her coming meeting with this dark warlock.

As the second witch’s light finished absorbing into Krystal, a third witch stepped forward.  This one, she knew.  This was her grandmother, Sarah Sage.  In life, she was kindhearted and generous, but also a force to be reckoned with.  Powerful and wise, she had been a great influence on Krystal and the witch she’d become.  Her grandmother spoke now with authority and purpose.

“Rise, my sweet granddaughter, and face me.”  Krystal stood from her kneeling position and met her grandmother’s gaze.  They were the same height and very similar looking.  Their long black hair was a family trait, although her grandmother’s had long since turned gray with age before she passed away in her sleep several years ago.

“You have my strength and my strong will.  I taught you this long before I left you.  Remember those lessons now.  You cannot save the girl but you can save the world.  From him.  He is not a trifle to be dealt with easily.  He is your match in power but his magic is dark and light will always defeat darkness.  He has not been taught this lesson.  Teach him well, my child.”  Sarah reached out her hands, placing one on Krystal’s chest and the other on her forehead.  A brilliant light burst from her hands as soon as they made contact with Krystal’s skin.  This light was so bright that it forced Krystal to close her eyes for a moment.  When the light faded and she was able to open her eyes once more, all of the cloaked witches were gone and the fire was crackling again.  A faint wind kicked up a few leaves on the ground and moved them across the clearing.

Krystal felt completely rejuvenated and ready.  For what, she wasn’t quite sure.  Maybe this man intended to take her for his own and drain her power from her, slowly crushing her spirit under his great darkness.  He could greatly increase his own dark power in this way, which would definitely put others in danger.  If he really had such a task in mind, Krystal could definitely understand why he was collecting a virgin to recharge him for the job.  She suddenly remembered the innocent young woman and her grandmother’s warning.  Krystal felt overwhelmed with sadness for her and fell to the ground and wept.

Once the emotion had subsided, Krystal stood and clothed herself.  Her meeting was done and had been extremely helpful.  She was nervous but she was ready.  The hike back to her car was filled with thoughts of what her ancestors had revealed to her.  She ran each of their words over in her head like a song on repeat, trying to glean all she could from them.

Her car shown in the moonlight on the other side of the parking lot as she made her way toward it.  It wasn’t until she was twenty feet from it that she made out a figure standing beside it.  A male figure.  Krystal froze in place.  How could it be that he found her out here?

“Speak your purpose.” Krystal said with a stern voice. 

“Relax.  I come in peace.” He said with a sigh.  “I feel drawn to you, Krystal.  Can you not feel it?” Richard said as he took a step toward her.  “We are strangers and yet, we aren’t.”

“Keep your distance.” Krystal warned.  She lowered her bag to the ground to free her hands.

“I haven’t stopped thinking about you since we met earlier.  The girl I was with when you visited me was no one.  She is no comparison to you.”  Richard stepped closer still.  With each step he took, Krystal could feel the pull between them growing.  It felt even stronger than in the salon.  Even through the darkness, she could see his eyes glowing a slight hazel green color.  Pulling her in.  She began to whisper a chant of protection as her hands started to glow softly until he interrupted her.

“You don’t need to do that.  You’re in no danger tonight.”  Two more steps toward her and he was now close enough to reach out and touch her cheek.  “You are enchanting in this moonlight.  My body can hardly resist touching your skin.”

“You will resist or you will discover that we are not evenly matched and regret your miscalculation.”  Krystal fought hard not to reach out to him.  He was right about the draw between them.  She’d never experienced anything like it.  For a moment, she feared she might actually step toward him and be lost in him forever. 

“I can see you struggling with it, too.  The magnetism is almost palpable, isn’t it?  There can be no light without darkness to contrast its brilliance.  And so it is with us.  Let me be the one to show your light to the world, Krystal.”  He took another step and reached his hand up to her face.  His touch felt like static on her skin.  Her eyes closed quite against her will and she leaned toward him, stopping just short of the step she feared she would take just a moment earlier.

He brushed his thumb over her lips and her hands lifted, glowing so brightly that she couldn’t even look at them.  Krystal thrust both hands toward him, launching him backwards.  He flew almost the full twenty feet that he had crossed to be in front of her.  He seemed to expect her move, however, and landed on his feet just past her car. 

Do not touch me.” Krystal shouted, slowly and with authority.  Richard was obviously not used to being declined.  His face gave his arrogance away.  His scowl turned soft once again, though, and he began to walk backwards as he spoke.

“We are a match, you know.  You aren’t quite ready and that was my miscalculation.  You are correct about that, at least.  You’ll be ready soon.  Power like ours cannot be separated forever.  Once we are one, we won’t be contained, either.”  He turned and walked with a brisk pace into the darkness of the night.  “Until we meet again, sweet Light Witch.” was his final call into the night.

Krystal stood by her car in the lone parking lot, shaken by the encounter she’d just had with a formidable warlock.  As unsettled as she felt, she knew a lot about his plans now, though.  He hadn’t done a very good job of controlling his mouth.  He spoke volumes about her struggle for control while he let his own falter greatly.  She wondered if he was back in that apartment, kicking himself for giving away too much.  Probably not.  He seemed far too cocky and arrogant for that kind of insight.  That’s just as well.  She would be ready.  No doubt, his plans likely included tomorrow’s full moon.  His power would be at its peak then but so would hers. 

Her bed was a welcomed refuge that night.  She felt energized by her ancestors but exhausted by her meeting with him.  She wasn’t sure how that was possible but it was.  After casting a protection spell over her home, she fell fast asleep.  Her dreams came swiftly and wildly.  They say your mind tries to solve problems while you sleep and Krystal’s was hard at work.  Her mind wondered through every possible scenario the next night might bring, one after another. 

Around 3am, Krystal’s dreams took a turn.  A hard left into uncharted territory.  She was in a field of wheat that blew like ripples in the ocean with each early morning breeze.  Talking could be heard above the sound of the wheat rustling against its self.  Following the voices, Krystal came upon Richard standing in the middle of the field with the young woman lying on the ground in front of him.  Krystal gasped but neither of them seemed to hear her.  The young lady was completely naked, awake, and staring straight up at him.  Krystal might have thought the girl was there willingly except her stare was entirely blank, as if her eyes were open but she was no longer there.

Richard knelt down beside her and drew a dagger from the belt of his jeans.  Even in the midst of her dream, Krystal knew exactly what she was witnessing and she was powerless to stop it.  Why would her ancestors allow her to see such a thing?  They’d warned her that the girl couldn’t be saved but Krystal had hoped Richard had abandoned acquiring virgin blood.  She was markedly wrong. 

Krystal looked on as a single tear fell from the young lady’s eye while Richard held the dagger against her throat and pressed.  A steady flow of blood emerged and only then did Krystal notice the bowl on the ground beside her neck.  Richard was careful to catch the blood in it with one hand while he wiped her tear with his finger and placed it on his tongue.  Such a grotesque sight.  A warlock hovering over a young woman, stealing the life from her before her life truly began.  His eyes glowed with greed and pride, a light green glow encircling the iris of each eye.  Krystal was watching true evil at work.  Even in her dream state, she knew this was really happening.  She woke up sobbing for the young lady and couldn’t stop for several minutes.

What did he have planned for this virgin blood?  She assumed he would be drinking some of it right away, for its mystical properties.  There are many spells that can be achieved with virgin blood and none of them are good.  Krystal had to be prepared for anything.  Her main decision now was if she would stay in her home or go into the woods for the full moon.  She would undoubtedly be stronger in the woods, of course, but so would he.  She knew he planned to take her power into his own.  Ever the controlling prick.  She knew there were a few ways to accomplish this but she imagined his domineering spirit would most enjoy achieving that through an act of passion.  An act like the joining of their bodies.  She would have to be a willing participant for that to work and she wouldn’t be.  So, maybe that was off the table.  But only if he realized he couldn’t manipulate her into his arms.  She didn’t think he had enough insight to think he might not win her over.

As she thought things through, the clock in her living room chimed for 8am.  The hours had slipped by as she’d contemplated Richard’s next moves.  Krystal needed to get to the salon for her first client at 10am.  After a long, hot shower, she was feeling more rejuvenated than earlier but still grieved the loss of the young lady, whose body she imagined still lay in a wheat field somewhere.  She would find this girl and make sure she was discovered and received a proper burial. 

Krystal got through her morning of hair appointments pretty easily and enjoyed a lunch break with Alex.  The two friends chatted while they munched on Krystal’s homemade pot-roast leftovers.

“That weird guy called this morning.  You know, the asshole from last night.” Alex said between bites.

“What did he want?” Krystal asked, trying not to look too concerned but failing.

“I told him you died.” Alex said as she burst into laughter.  “He didn’t buy it but it was still fun saying it.”

“Oh my god!  This is why I love you, girl!” Krystal said, laughing and nudging her friend with her shoulder.  “I should hire you as my bouncer.  You can keep all the creeps away.”

“No need, girlfriend.  I’ll do that shit for free!  Crushing dreams and taking names!” Alex laughed again and took a drink of soda.  “Seriously, though.  That guy creeps me out.  Have you got some mace on your keychain or something?  If not, you should consider it.  You tend to attract the weirdos.”

“I can hold my own.  Why?  What did he say?” Krystal was very curious since she had just spoken to him the night before in the parking lot and then witnessed him murder someone overnight.  What on earth could he be trying to do by calling her work?

“When I told him you died, he paused for a moment and then mumbled something about still being able to feel you.  Then he hung up.  Creepy as crap, if you ask me.”  Alex was being completely sincere now.  The concern she felt for Krystal showed in her eyes and Krystal was thankful for it.  It’s hard to find true and loyal friends these days.  People who would genuinely drop everything to support you without ever expecting anything in return are a rare find, for sure.  Krystal assured her friend that this guy was just a tad obsessed and would move on in a day or two.  Krystal knew they were just empty words but Alex looked slightly reassured and that’s what mattered.  It wouldn’t help anything to tell Alex the truth anyway.  There’s nothing she could do to help Krystal and may even end up hurt or worse if she tried.  Witch against Warlock.  That’s how it had to be.

Krystal finished her final client around 6pm, just as the daylight was beginning to dim.  She hurried home and gathered a few things in her satchel, although she had all the essentials on her person for ease of use.  A fully charged crystal around her neck, a small bundle of sage in each of the two pockets in her skirt, and the light of her ancestors inside her.  She was as prepared as she’d ever be.  She opted to go into the woods as she had the night before.  Although it was a bit more in the open than being inside her home, she would have more freedom of movement and be more energized standing on the dirt, under the bright full moon.  It’s where she felt most comfortable. 

Krystal pulled into the parking lot as the sun was just beginning to kiss the earth in the distance.  Once again, she removed her shoes and walked, this time at a brisk pace, to her place in the woods.  She normally considered it to be very secure but, after last night, she had no doubt that he would easily find her there.  She got situated in her clearing, started her fire, and waited.  Krystal took the extra time she had to sit in the newly emerging full moon light and soak in the electricity it provided.  Lying flat on the soil with her hands out by her head and her skirt pulled slightly up so more of her skin could take in the moonlight, Krystal felt completely connected to Mother Earth and the vibrations of nature all around her.  This wasn’t just something she did because it felt good.  She also did this because it allowed her to feel all the living energies around her, from quite a distance away as well. 

When she felt the first twinge of disturbance in the positive energy around her, she knew he was approaching.  The dark negativity around him was such a pull on anything positive that it caused a ripple effect that could be felt for miles around, when one was really looking for it.  And she was.

Krystal put a small kettle of water on the fire to boil.  From her satchel, she pulled a small bag of tea leaves she’d grown in her own garden.  These were not just any tea leaves, of course.  They were exotic leaves that she had fed her positivity to throughout the growing process.  This tea would help her maintain a connection with Mother Earth, even in the presence of such a negative energy like Richard.  As she poured the hot water over the tea leaves, Krystal felt him break through the barrier of the trees and approach the edge of her clearing.

“I’m constantly surprised by how invigorating it is to be in your presence, my innocent little Light Witch.  I find myself counting the moments until we can be near each other again.” Richard stared intently at Krystal as he spoke, as if his stare alone could pull her into his arms.

“I am constantly surprised by the efficiency with which you drain all positivity from your surroundings.  Your presence is exhausting.  I find myself counting the moments until you will leave me be.” Krystal stared just as intently at Richard.  She watched for any indication that he was making a move, any move toward his end goal of taking her.

“You know I can’t do that.  Your power is like none I’ve ever encountered.”  Richard now looked as if he were a lion, ready to pounce on its prey at any moment.

“Then, get on with it.  I’m tired of this back and forth.  Or have you realized that this is a futile effort on your part?”  Krystal was indeed growing tired of him.  She could feel him pulling at her energy, slowly but steadily.  Without breaking eye contact, she took her cup into her hands and sipped the tea.  Something wasn’t right.

“I’m not sure I’d call it futile.  On my part, anyway.”  With that, Richard lifted his hands to waste level and Krystal felt as if he held every part of her body all at once.  She tasted the metallic taste of blood in her tea and knew her mistake.  Richard moved one of his hands slightly and Krystal put the cup of tea down.  He then stepped over the circle and toward her, something he shouldn’t have been able to do. 

“I’m so glad you chose to have your tea tonight.  I was a bit concerned with how I might get virgin blood into you but you made it easy.  Now, the same virgin blood is contained in both of us.  We are one, you and I.  At least, we can be now.”  Richard took another step toward her.  Krystal felt completely frozen in place.  Rushing through all the remedies she could think of, Krystal struggled to find one that would free her.  Richard took another step forward and shifted his hands, causing Krystal to lay on the ground. 

Now flat on the soil, Krystal had the most contact with Mother Earth and nature’s constant hum of energy.  With nature’s energy from below and the moon’s energy from above, Krystal surged with power.  Richard seemed to realize his own mistake just as Krystal’s hands and forehead began to glow with power.  Now purified with the power that surged through her, the virgin blood in Krystal seemed to help her instead of hinder her as Richard had intended it to.  Krystal could feel the young woman’s spirit with her.

Richard shot backwards, now repelled from Krystal’s circle.  He struggled to stand up, a look of defeat and fear on his face.  Krystal floated up off the ground and hovered just above it, hands and forehead glowing so brightly that Richard could hardly look at her.  Just as he managed to get to his feet, she pointed both of her palms at him.  Richard rose off the ground and spun around to face her once more.  He could hear her softly chanting but couldn’t make out the words.  His chest began to burn, as if he’d swallowed hot coals.  He realized she was using the virgin blood against him, causing it to boil within him.  He tried to counter her spell with his own but couldn’t get the words out.  Choking on his own blood now, his body went stiff, hanging above the ground like an overcooked piece of meat.  Still, Krystal continued her chant.  At first, he began to glow like a hot ember in a flame.  Then, a blackness slowly overtook him as he burned from the inside out.  When his body began to turn to ash and sprinkle the earth below him, Krystal finally felt relief from his terrible energy.  Now just a pile of ashes, this warlock of darkness would not be harming another soul.

Krystal poured her tainted tea into the fire, out of respect for the woman whose blood it contained.  She then sat on the ground and focused hard on the woman, envisioning her body and then expanding out until she could see where the girl was located.  She saw a farmer not too far down the road from her.  Krystal pulled the man to the girl.  She knew he had no idea why he felt like walking into that field but it was terribly important that he did.  Krystal allowed him to feel that.  Once he saw the poor girl, he sprang into action and Krystal left him.

Krystal continued her work at the salon, being the positivity that this world so desperately needed.  Every now and then, she stumbled upon a negative individual but none quite as evil as the warlock who thought he could steal her from the world and keep her for his own.  A light like hers can’t be stored away.  It shines because that’s all it knows how to do.  It just shines.


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