Shadowy Corners

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Fantasy Fiction: Back to Life-Chapter 58

You would think after everything that transpired in one day: being under a spell, getting hexed, dying once and being attacked twice, I’d never be able to sleep again. The opposite is true. I was so mentally and physically exhausted that sleep overtook me, as soon as Plum turned off the lights and left the room. Thankfully, no nightmares came. I didn’t stir until Plum came in to check on me a second time the next afternoon. All of my muscles were so stiff and sore that I could barely move, which was probably for the best since movement of any kind caused my wound to throb. With her help, I sat up in bed, propped up with pillows. She smiled and told me that I had visitors, before letting Kimberly, Carrie, Shanice and Crystal into my bedroom. They lined up around my bed gazing intently at me. Suddenly self-conscious, I gave Plum a questioning look. She laughed and patted my shoulder reassuringly.

“Don’t mind them sweetie. They’re just in awe. It’s not every day that someone comes back from the brink of death, right before your eyes. So much happened last night, it all seems like a dream. They just wanted to see with their own eyes that it was real and make sure you are still alive.”

Shanice spoke up, asking the question on all of their minds. They wanted to know what it was like to die. Taken aback, I needed a few moments to think about it. Everything happened so fast, I hadn’t given it much thought and found myself speechless. How could mere words convey the intense horror and despair brought on by the sensation of my life ebbing away? What word could adequately describe the rush of fear, helplessness, rage and desperation that washed over me…wanting to live, but being powerless to hold onto the life that was rapidly draining away with the blood pooling on the floor around me? In order to explain all of that, I would have to allow myself to experience it again. I wasn’t ready to go back to that dark place. Just the thought of it made me feel anxious and panicky.

I know they wanted me to say. People who have near death experiences always talk about the white light and getting to see loved ones who have already passed on. That didn’t happen to me. All I saw was darkness. Maybe, they brought me back from the brink of death, before I reached that point. Then again, I had been doing a lot of bad things. So maybe my soul was going downwards and not upwards. If that’s the case, then the whole coven was in the same leaky boat. Plum saw me struggling and intervened, chastising them for their ghoulish curiosity. She shooed them away, admonishing them to get on with their duties and leave me in peace. I reached out and grasped her hand gratefully, conveying with my teary eyes what I didn’t have the strength to say. Plum patted my hand and bustled off to fix my lunch.

When Plum told me that a witch doctor was coming to examine the wound left behind by the curse tablet blade, I balked at the idea. She explained that a regular doctor would take one look at it and insist on sending me to the hospital. That wasn’t very reassuring. I started thinking that maybe I should get dressed and go to the hospital. Then Plum pointed out that intrusive questions would be asked about my stabbing. Doctors and nurses are mandated reporters, which meant the police would be contacted. The sudden memory of Delilah’s body impaled by my dresser brought my protests to an abrupt halt. What had they done with the body? That shut me up. I thought more about it and supposed that since it was magic that brought me back to life, it was fitting that a witch doctor be the one to ease me along the road to recovery.

When he arrived, I was surprised and admittedly a little disappointed to see that he was just a slim, regular nondescript looking guy carrying a little black bag. A melodic African accent was his most distinguishing characteristic. Yet, I felt a power emanating from him. He gazed keenly into my eyes, and it felt as though he was looking into my soul. I was transfixed. To this day, I cannot recall anything he said to me or what I said to him. Of course, that may have something to do with the strange concoction he gave me. After my examination and interview, he had consulted with Plum in the next room. I was more than a little unnerved that they chose not to discuss the state of my health front of me. Was it bad news? If it was, I didn’t want to know. I didn’t think I could handle one more problem. Not, in my fragile mental state.

They returned and he began setting up a makeshift altar on my dresser, putting down an animal skin first to serve as a barrier against bad juju. On top, he placed some sort of statue carved out of ebony stone. No matter how hard I stared, it was impossible to tell if the thing was a saint or a demon. Around it, the witch doctor arranged red candles, animal bones, smooth stones and vial of murky dark green liquid. In the center of the altar, he placed a silver chalice. At least that was all I could see from my bed. I tried to ask Plum what was going on and she shook her head, putting a finger to her lips and imploring me with her eyes to be quiet. The witch doctor began to chant, his words rolling out in a low rumble which was impossible to understand. Plum closed the curtains and I swear the dimmed light slowly seeped out of that room.

It was so dark that I couldn’t make out my hand right in front of my face. The only illumination emanated from the candles. He unstopped the vial of liquid, which flared up and glowed in the darkness. I swear the flames on those candles grew taller and brighter, as he poured it into the chalice. He held the chalice up to the statue, seemingly entreating some unseen force residing within the ebony figure to activate the potion. Bowing with the chalice above his head, the witch doctor slowly backed away from the alter, turning to me.

I hesitated with the cup at my lips, looking to Plum for guidance. I couldn’t see her face. She was silhouetted in candlelight. Plum nodded encouragingly and I drank. The potion was so bitter that I gagged a little. I wanted to stop, but the witch doctor tilted the chalice. It burned my throat as I gulped it down. The burning sensation slowly spread throughout my body, until I was writhing in agony. The wound felt as though it were on fire. I don’t know if I fell asleep or fainted. That’s all I can recall from that ordeal.

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