Chapter 1 Part 1
Driving through the darkness with only the glow of the headlights leading the car down the highway, Ariana left her home in Coolidge around 7 AM in order to be in Sedona by 10 AM. Tonight begins the All Hallows Eve Event. She smiles to herself as she remembers that most Mundanes would call it Halloween. She makes the trip every year to Sedona to honor her parents at the Red Rock Cemetery. She remembers the promise she made to them to have each one buried at this cemetery. So one by one as each passed away they were transported to their special place and buried in their appropriate spots. First her father passed and she and her mother made the arrangements together. Then four years later her mother passed and she was tasked with making those same arrangements all on her own.
Finally making it to the base of the city and as with each previous year, her eyes widen and her expression goes from long exhausting drive to awe inspiring management as the town comes into view and then those ever popular reay colored mountains. The Sedona mountains are gorgeous during the Summer but breathtakingly beautiful in the Winter. She drives through the town heading to a familiar restaurant to have breakfast and then to the hotel to check in and get some rest. She planned on sleeping for a few hours and then heading over to the cemetery.
After a three hour nap and a long hot shower, Arianna makes her way to the Red Rock Cemetery. Driving through the black metal gates, making her way through the little winding road to where the other cars were parked. She sits in her car for a few minutes mentally preparing herself for the events coming up. She usually does these types of things on her own. Being a Solitary witch affords her the ability to stay hidden in the shadows but something about tonight has her on edge. She’s been having dreams again and she’s being pushed to go outside of her comfort zone and work with other people and she’s not quite sure how to feel about it. But the Goddess would never stir her wrong.
Looking at her watch she finally decides to get out of her car and grabs her supplies and items from her trunk. She begins the trek up the hillside, looking around and realizing how the darkness makes the trees look like shadows. She finally reaches the top of the hillside looking over the cemetery in awe as she takes in the beautiful site of the gravestones and the way the lights and candles illuminate this sacred ground. People are scattered here and there cleaning and decorating different graves. Making them presentable to the spirits of their deceased loved ones. Some sections are packed with people and their decorations surrounding the graves. Food prepared and placed in front waiting for their ancestors to appear and enjoy the night's festivities. To the normal world this would be odd behavior and even to some a disgrace to the dead but for Pagans this is how we honor our passed family members and friends so they are never forgotten.
Arianna finds the two graves that mean the most to her. There’s really not much to clean since she was just here a few months ago, which gave her more time to decorate and put her offerings out just the way her mother had taught her. She sat the flowers in the front of the stones and the little tea lights scattered all over, with the grave candle and abalone shell right in the middle. The offerings were placed just in front of the shell. Ariana takes in a deep breath as she closes her eyes letting all the memories of her parents flow through her mind as she slowly closes her eyes and goes into meditation. All those days from long ago, when she was little, playing in the woods, learning about the herbs and flowers with her mother, lazy days by the waters edge, fishing with her father. She can feel the tears start to well up in her eyes and slide down her cheeks one by one with each memory that drifts through her mind. And then all at once her eyes pop open and she knows that it is time for the ritual to begin. She starts by lighting the candles and incense, feeling that her parents' spirits are so close and the connection is ready.
And so her ritual begins -
“Vela Samhain cadunt,
Hoc lumen, audi vocationem meam;
Beati mortui in terrenis sepulchris;
Tua memoria i me abloom”
As all are in their sacred space and starting their own rituals they never realize how dangerous their night has become. Like a lion stalking his prey, he stands just outside of ear shot as he watches her every move. From the way she laughs, to how she sways through the crowd of people He had noticed her as soon as he came through the cemetery gates. He purposefully grabbed a headstone site that was close but not to close for her to notice him. He begins to clear and clean this little gravesite but never taking himself away from his prey. He can hear her giggles as she talks with her friends. He begins to envision how it will be, what it would feel like to move his fingers down her body. Envisioning the way her face will be as he slides his knife into her chest and watching her life slowly fade as he takes her essence, her mortality and absorbs it for himself. A noise from his left brings him back to reality and now he can't wait to fulfill his needs.
Ariana comes out of her meditation, slowly opening her eyes trying to focus on her surroundings and remembering where she is. She has always loved the types of rituals where she can get lost in her own mind and lose track of time. Those are the ones that refresh and renew her - mind, body, and soul. It’s like taking all the negative energy from the year and sending it back to the ground, back to the earth, back to where it originally came from. After words, she always feels reborn and ready to take on the world again. She takes a few minutes to gather herself mentally and then begins the cleanup process. She smiles as she picks up her items remembering her mother’s words, “Make sure you leave the area as if you were never there”. As she looks around at the other’s finishing their own rituals and cleaning up she feels this night is different. The air seems charged with more energy than usually but she can’t seem to quite pen point what she’s feeling.
Chapter 1 Part 2
She finally made it home, feeling the effects of the ritual starting to hit her hard. Her eyes are so heavy and she barely makes it into her house. She drops her items on the couch in her living room planning to deal with them tomorrow. All she wants to do is climb into her bed and let the darkness from sleep take over her body.
Ariana is standing in the middle of a dark road. She’s confused, not sure how she got there. There’s a thin layer of fog in the air and she realizes she’s no longer in her house laying in her bed but looking down this long deserted road… no cars…no people around. She notices the little glow of light coming from the woods. She follows the light and comes across this blonde female in a dark cloak. A small fire burns next to a tree stump as Ariana moves closer she notices the items on the top of the stump; a silver knife, glass bowl, statues, candles, flowers, and herbs. She realizes that she’s looking at an altar. The blonde female has knelt down in front of the makeshift altar atop the tree stump. She can not make out what the blonde witch is chanting but her attention is suddenly shifted to movement and sees a dark figure standing behind her. Ariana’s body stiffens, sensing the figure is dark and evil. She screams to the blonde female but she never looks in Ariana’s direction as she continues with her ritual having no idea that this dark figure lurks just behind her. Ariana continues screaming at her but the blonde female never looks her way or even acknowledges she see’s Ariana. Suddenly the dark figure moves toward the blonde female pushing her down to the ground jumping on top of her and hitting her over and over until she stops struggling. He grabs the silver knife from the altar and slides it with ease through her skin giggling it around a bit. As he is carving the knife through her upper body he suddenly pulls out something. Ariana can see some type of liquid dripping from the object and down his hand and to her horror she realizes it looks like that woman’s heart. The dark figure then begins a chant of his own and a white glow from the blonde witches body begins to rise and slowly drift, disappearing into his body. Ariana looks at the lifeless body on the ground, it’s turned pale and her eyes are glossed over white. Ariana screams and begins running for her life through the woods faster and faster, never daring to look back but she can feel the dark figure just behind her. She falls hitting her knees on the ground screaming again holding her hands up trying to shield herself from the on coming assault of this evil form. He passes through her sending a cold feeling over her entire body and she shivers and continues screaming as she wakes up tangled in her bed sheets.
Ariana looks around her bedroom making sure she is actually in her bed and not in the woods “That was so real”. She slides her shaky fingertips over the left side of her temple. This dream has unnerved her emotionally and she decides blessing and clearing her house was what the witch ordered”. She gets up and walks out of her bedroom and over to the extra bedroom that she has made into her Alter Space. She kept the walls white but painted a black pentagram on the floor. She always feels safe in this room. She walks over to the closet and opens the doors. All of her supplies are in there and she’s pretty proud of herself for putting the closet organizers together so she could put all her stuff in there. She spots the Sage bundles and grabs one, her lighter, and the Abalone Shell she received as a gift from a friend. She places them on her Altar and says a prayer to the Goddess to help her clear and bless her house. She lights the Sage bundle and holds the shell in her hand as she chants the blessing to protect her home from any evil. She walks in every room chanting this blessing clearing her home and her mind. Making it safe and protected from all that wants to do harm to her. It takes her an hour and a half to go through all the rooms including the garage but when she is done she feels much better and at peace. She looks at the clock on her living room wall “5 am really!”. She sits on her couch relaxing as her eyes get heavier and heavier and she falls back to sleep hoping her dreams are more pleasant, maybe of her future soul mate.
“Hey come on throw the ball” a blued-eyed boy yells out to his friend. The other boy throws the ball as hard as he can, sending it flying through the air and through his friends fingers. They both watch as the ball bounces into a bunch of bushes and disappears. The boys run over to the brush and look at each other, not sure if it’s worth going through all the trouble for the ball. “Come on”, the blue-eyed boy says to his friend. “My sister will kill me if I don’t bring her ball back to her”. Both boys are hesitant but make their way through the brush to the other side. “What’s that smell?” the blue-eyed boy turns to his friend, pinching his nose with his fingers. The other boy just shrugs his shoulders, not sure of anything. They both walk forward through the creek bed and notice someone sitting off to the side. Their ball has finally come to a stop just a few feet away from the shadowy figure. The boys slowly walk over to their ball while keeping a close eye on the person still sitting just in front of them. The Blue-eyed boy looks at his friend as he starts to walk towards the figure. The other boy shakes his head in disapproval but the blue-eyed boy keeps moving forward. He has a better look of the figure the closer he gets realizing that there is long blonde hair coming out of the cloak. He takes a deep breath and quietly says “Hey lady you ok?” but there is no answer from the lump on the ground. The blue-eyed boy looks back at his friend and daringly moves closer to the lump “Lady you ok?” but still no answer. He holds his hand out and moves ever so closer to the lady on the ground and taps her on the shoulder. No movement and he becomes scared but pushes her shoulder a little harder and her body already slumped down falls to the side landing just in front of the boy’s feet he sees her white eyes and the boy screams running back to his friend and they both make their way back up the side of the creek bed through the brush and to their home never looking back.
A frantic call comes through the 911 line from an agitated female. She very loudly and dramatically tells the police dispatcher that her son and his friend have found a dead body in the woods across the street from their house. She is demanding that someone comes and deals with this inconvenient dead person. Chloe is listening to this distressed female on the other side of the phone complaining about how this discourteous person had the nerve to just “die there”. Finally able to speak, Chloe reassures the lady someone was on the way. Chloe keeps the lady on the phone as she hits the mic on her console and dispatches a couple of officers to the area to look around. Chloe takes in a slow breath believing those kids had a very creative imagination. She rolls her eyes knowing that this particular month was going to be interesting. Laughing to herself, October is always the worst time of year for law enforcement.
***Chapter 2 will be available next Thursday and Friday.***
Officer Allison Masters has been on the force for five years and would be considered a homegrown police officer. She’s seen her share of dead bodies so this would be just another day at the office for her or so she thought. She pulls up to the house looking around at the wooded area across the street. She looks through her rear view mirror seeing the other officer pull up. “What’s up?” Officer Adams says as he closes the door of his patrol unit. “What’s going on Adams?” Ally looks over at him and smiles. Officer Adams looks at the house they parked in front of and laughingly says “So do you really think these kids saw a dead body?” Officer Masters walks past him and up to the front door “Who knows!” as she rings the doorbell. After about 30 minutes of listening to the two boys tell their stories and the frantic concerns of the mother, both officers leave the house and make their way to the wooded area to look around.
The two officers make their way through the wooded area and past the brush where the boys said they had gone through, coming to the creek bed. The officers begin walking along the bed and looking around. “I don’t see anything”, Officer Adams whines. “Those kids were playing, thought they saw something and got scared” he looks at Ally hoping she was going to tell him “Let’s go” but instead he watches as she slides her fingers together and uses them as a cover over her eyes, squinting looking further down the creek bed. “Look” she points “there’s something down there” and the closer they get Ally realizes the more the atmosphere seems to change around them as if death himself has come to visit these woods. Officer Masters can see something crouched on the ground and cautiously moves closer. “Hello” she calls out but no answer. They get to the lump and Benjamin looks around as Ally bends down and pulls the lump back so she can get a better look. She gasps in disbelief at what she’s seeing. She gets up quickly and backs up into Officer Adams “Oh my god” she shouts as she puts her hand to her mouth. “What” Officer Adams looks over and in his own disbelief can not believe the site. It is a woman, her eyes white as snow and wide open almost frozen in place and her skin is pale white. The front of her blouse had been ripped open and to the officer’s shock there was blood everywhere and a hole in her chest which made him feel a little squeamish. “What the hell?” he looks at Officer Masters, “There’s a hole in her chest!” Ally pushes down the button on her hand held and takes a deep breath calming herself before she speaks “P62”. A voice over the speaker comes back “P62?”. Ally cautiously looks around the wooded area as she responds “We have a confirmed 901”. The dispatcher in her own disbelief replies in more of a question rather than a statement, “Copy confirming 901?” Ally is scared at what she is witnessing but unfortunately for the dispatcher she comes off a bit annoyed. Probably from being in the same area as this creepy body replies “Yes confirmed 901! The hole in her chest where her heart was confirms it for me” and there’s silence over the radio for several minutes before the dispatcher finally answers “10-4 P62”.
Chloe can’t believe what she just heard, a dead body with a hole in her chest! James Wyler Sergeant-On-Duty walks through the dispatch door with purpose in his eyes “What the hell did P62 just say?” Chloe looks up at him still shocked herself replaying Ally’s words in her mind “A dead body and I think she’s literally missing her heart”. “What the fuck” Sergeant Wyler puts his hand on his head “I’m heading out there” call in one of the detectives for crime scene. “10-4 Sarge” Chloe says as Sergeant Wyler heads out of the building to the parking lot. “What the hell is going on in this town”. He sighs as he gets into his patrol unit “I hate Halloween” and heads to the crime scene.
Marcus Danvers walks up to the wooded area and notices caution tape strung across every bush out there letting everyone know something bad has happened. He speaks to the officer keeping watch flashing his FBI Badge and watches as that officer strollers down to the makeshift command center. This is the part of the job that Agent Danvers hates the most. Walking into a new department and trying to explain what it is he does for the FBI. He was called in because a female was found in the area and her death was similar to the ones from the last town he was in and just as gruesome as they were. Stabbed in the chest and her heart removed from her body. Skin turned pale white and the eyes glossed over a white color like she had a bad case of cataracts. Agent Danvers remembers the pictures of the women thinking it was like their souls had been sucked out of their bodies. This was his type of case, something unexplained and why he was hired by the FBI. His experience and skills were unmatched by anyone so far.
Officers Masters and Adams have begun to rope off the area with their crime scene tape. Making sure no one can get through and contaminate the scene. Sergeant Wyler makes it to the location as he walks to the edge of the wooded area he has a strange feeling he’s being watched. He looks around but doesn’t see anyone out of the ordinary, just a uniformed cop walking in his direction. The cop tells Sergeant Wyler an FBI Agent Danvers is at the edge of the woods wanting to see the person in charge. Sergeant Wyler walks over to where the FBI Agent is standing giving him a once over and reaches out his hand, “I’m Sergeant Wyler I guess you can say I’m in charge of this mess” . Agent Danvers greets him and shows him his badge and Sergeant Wyler pulls up the caution tape and motions for Agent Danvers to follow him. Both men walk down the brush and come to the creek bed as they hear voices they start walking toward the direction of the sounds. Sergeant Wyler see’s Masters and Adams standing around but the look on their faces are apparent that something terrible has happened. Ally hears movement behind her and turns to see her sergeant and an unknown man dressed in a suit coming up the creek bed path. She starts walking toward Sergeant Wyler, her face as white as a sheet. “Sarge’’ she greets him and Sergeant Wyler introduces Agent Danvers to both cops. Ally greets Agent Danvers cautiously and turns back to Sergeant Wyler, “you’re not going to believe this” she walks both men over to the body. “Other than the hole in her chest I can’t really see any other trauma” the coroner says, “But I can’t explain the pale skin or white eyes.”. Wyler looks the body over, pulling the cloak away to see the gaping hole carved out in her chest. “It looks like the assailant used some type of sharp object to cut her heart out….Instant death” Agent Danvers decides not to say anything at that moment about the body but then notices a cup on the ground just beyond where they are standing. And then a bowl and he motions in that direction to Sergeant Wyler as he yells “What the hell are those” as he starts walking toward the items. Adams and Wyler follow him through the brush and up the hill and they see the rest of the items all over the ground. “It looks like there was a fight or something” Adams says as he looks around. Wyler carefully walks over to the tree stump and see’s the blood on the side of the trunk and soaked into the ground next to it. Agent Danvers looks over at Wyler, “I think we found were she was killed” and Wyler shakes his head in agreement as he looks at the bloody mess in front of him. Sergeant Wyler turns to Officer Adams and tells him to call in all the detectives they’re going to need them to do this second area crime scene.
Agent Danvers takes off his suit jacket and rolls up his sleeves. I’ll help him and Sgt. Wyler starts looking around at this second crime scene, placing numbered placards everywhere. Danvers comes across a bag, looking inside discovers this must be the victim’s purse or bag. Her personal items were inside. Wallet with money and credit cards still inside. He finds her driver’s license, Piper Davis, 20 years old and a student. He sighs, just a child barely an adult. Wyler comes over and Danvers hands him the wallet and license but continues to look through the bag. He pulls out the folded paper, a flier from the night before for an All Hallow’s Eve Event at the local cemetery. He hands that over to Wyler looking at him, “We need to check this out and Wyler looks it over and at Danvers, “Really”. “Yes”, Danvers continued. The way she was killed and this flier from the night before, it can’t be a coincidence. Wyler looks at Danvers for a second thinking to himself there’s more to this situation then he is being told. Why does he feel like there’s something Danvers is holding on to? Wyler looks the flier over again, “Well the event coordinator is listed on here let’s start by giving her a call”.
After leaving several messages and not receiving a call back from Sasha Cromwell, the events coordinator, Danvers decides to head to Flagstaff to speak with her personally. Danvers can’t shake the feeling that this has something to do with the murders from Seattle. Like it’s all connected somehow. Wyler decides to tag along hoping to get some insight into this murder and maybe press Danvers for more info. The drive from Coolidge to Flagstaff was pretty uneventful. Marcus spent most of the time dodging questions from Sgt. Wyler. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to share but rather how does he explain all this to a normal man who doesn’t even know what he’s getting himself into by going to a New Moon Ritual event. They finally make it to Flagstaff and decide to head to the hotel first to check in and drop their bags off and then go to the Ritual Event to speak with Sasha Cromwell. They go to the address listed on the flier. It’s an old warehouse that was remodeled to be used as a rental space. Pretty good size too, lots of room for individual rituals and a huge space in the middle where the main ritual would take place. Danvers finds a staff member and asks to speak with Mrs. Cromwell. The staff member walks them over to a table setup with literature and a sign-in section. “Mrs. Cromwell”, the employee calls out. A petite, red headed, 40ish something female turns around and smiles, “Yes:. The employee advises, “These gentlemen are here to see you”. Sasha, knowing full well that they are cops and why they are at her door, plays her part well, “Merry Meet gentlemen”, she extends her hand out to shake each one of theirs. “How can I help you?”, she turns and begins walking away. The two men follow behind trying to keep up with her. “Mrs. Cromwell”, Sgt. Wyler begins by pulling out a picture of the victim, “Do you recognize this person? Sasha stops and turns around just long enough to take a scan of the picture real quick, “No, Sorry she doesn’t look familiar to me” and begins walking again. Sgt. Wyler continues, “We believe she was at your event in Sedona two nights ago”. Sash stops to talk to an employee, “Make sure the canopies are all secure. I don’t want one of them flying across the room and knocking someone out”.
“No, that would be a bad thing”, a man comes into the tent. Sasha looks over her shoulder at her most trusted and good friend, Elijah as he comes to her side. “What’s going on”, he says to her as he looks the two men up and down. “Apparently someone was murdered the other night after leaving our All Hallow’s Eve event”, She responds, “and Agent Danvers and Sgt. Wyler, " she continues pointing their way as she tries to remember their names, “are inquiring about that night. But as I informed them I don’t recognize the young lady.”
Sgt. Wyler takes out the picture again showing it to Elijah, “Do you recognize the young lady?”. Elijah takes the picture in his hand looking at it intently, “How sad, she is very pretty but no I don’t recognize her”. He hands the picture back to Sgt. Wyler, “Sorry”, he says in a sad tone but turning over to look at Sasha, “The main area needs your inspection before we can move on.”
Wyler leaves and heads back to his hotel room but Danvers decides to stay a little while longer. Walking around the event area again paying closer attention to the people and what’s going on. That’s when he spots a group of ladies around a small fire pit. Each has their own supplies; paper, pen, clipboard, water, candles, and herbs. Without even realizing it he has been watching this female just ahead of him, conduct her ritual. She is sitting cross legged on the floor with her eyes closed most likely in some type of meditation. After about ten minutes she takes in a large breath and as she lets out that breath opens her eyes and he can’t help but stare at these beautiful, deep brown eyes. For a moment they just stare at each other almost like time has stood still. The female suddenly blinks and the trance is lost. Another female calls to her and her attention is diverted.
Ariana noticed this guy just watching her every move. She’s not sure how to feel about it but she’s in the middle of her New Moon Ritual so she turns her attention to the items in front of her. She looks forward to each month’s New Moon because it’s another chance to share her intentions and what she hopes to accomplish for the new month. She looks over at her friend Olivia and smiles at her, “Are you ready?”. Olivia nods her head excited to be doing this ritual with her new witch friend. They met a few months ago at another event and they hit it off from the get go. She watches as Ariana picks up her clipboard with the pen and paper attached, turns around to look at her and begins explaining, “When I do a New Moon Ritual I always set my intentions for the new month”. Olivia watches her with curiosity. She’s never watched another witch do a ritual so when Ariana invited her to participate with her during her New Moon Ritual of course she said “Yes”.
She watches her friend as she takes the pen and paper and begins writing down everything she would like to accomplish for November. Ariana then folds the paper in half three times. Holding it in her hand once again closes her eyes but this time she meditates on her intentions. Visualizing each one coming true and opening her heart and mind, letting each desire’s light dissolve into her skin. Feeling, as one by one, her desires become enveloped with her body and she can see in her mind’s eye as the light from each one disappears into her body. She takes a deep breath in and as it’s released she can feel the energy rise in herself. And at that moment she knows it is time for the ritual to begin. She picks up her sage bundle and lights it letting the smoke become thick. She waves it around herself and her surrounding area, clearing it of all negative energy. She can feel the sensation begin. It’s like this electrified power that forms in the tips of her toes and slowly moves up her body energizing her as it moves forward. She begins with a chanting to cleans her body of any negative energy or feelings.
“In hunc fumum dimittam
Omnes vires quae non serviunt
Omnes negativity qui circumdant
Et omnis metus qui finibus
-So Mote Est Be”
Ariana places her glass of water so it faces North and then places the white candle just in front of it and lights it. She once again closes her eyes and begins thinking about her intentions that she wrote down. Mentally reciting them in her mind, one by one. Once she has finished she takes a book of matches and creates a small fire in her mini cauldron. She then takes the paper she wrote her intentions on and places it into the mini cauldron watching as it burns and the smoke begins to rise and slowly waves across the air. It glides to the open door and slides to the outside waving into the wind as it spreads across the night sky and takes her desires into the world. She finishes her ritual and cleans up her space not realizing that Agent Danvers was still there watching her intently. Olivia walks over to her excited about everything that has occurred. “This was so great Ariana”, she says through her smiling face. “I could feel the energy. It’s like the atmosphere is energized.