Conjured, p.1Chelsea Luna
New England Witch Chronicles Series
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used, reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without the express written permission of the author.
Copyright © February 2012 by Chelsea Luna (Bellingeri)
Cover art created by Rahul Philip (http://www.rahulphilip.com)
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.
For more information, please visit: http://www.chelsealunaauthor.com
Follow me on Twitter: @Chelsea_Luna_
To my Grandpa Luna - who would
patiently listen to the wild stories of an
aspiring eight year old author. I miss you every day.
Table of Contents
“And all my days are trances
And all my nightly dreams
Are where thy dark eye glances
And where thy footstep gleams-
In what ethereal dances
By what eternal streams.”
Edgar Allan Poe
To One in Paradise
“Grandma Claudia is dead.”
It took a full minute for his words to seep into my brain. I couldn’t comprehend their meaning. Then it hit me. My knees buckled. Peter grabbed me before I fell to the porch.
“We have to call the cops,” Peter said. “She was murdered.”
Murdered. Dead. Grandma Claudia.
Peter held me, but I slid to the porch anyways. We huddled together on the ground. The winter air whipped around us. Peter pulled me close to stop my violent shaking. Dead. Dead. Dead.
My chest heaved under the heavy coat and, suddenly, I couldn’t breathe. Bursts of breath exploded in vicious spasms. My head was spinning. My throat constricting. Everything was out of focus.
“Breathe, Lex, breathe.”
The snow on the porch whirled upwards into dozens of tiny snow tornados. The porcelain flowerpot rattled. Scooby ran in circles. The porch light exploded and tiny cascades of glass fell to the ground beside us.
“Lex, relax. Take a deep breath.” Peter’s arms engulfed me to quell the shaking.
Grandma Claudia. Dead. Inside.
And then it was over. I deflated like a balloon. The snow fell to the porch. The flowerpot stopped shaking. Everything was calm.
“I have to see her,” I said into Peter’s chest.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
“I have to.” I shot to my feet like a bottle rocket and pushed past Peter. I hesitated at the door terrified of what I’d find, but I had to go in. I needed to see what happened to my grandmother. My hand hovered over the brass doorknob. I took a deep breath and tumbled into the house.
My nose was immediately assaulted. A metallic, rusty smell invaded my nostrils. Blood. The vibrant redness was shocking. It was everywhere. The floor. The coffee table. Her favorite rocking chair.
And there she was.
Sprawled in a pool of blood. Emerald green eyes opened in shocked surprise. The large silver mirror, which usually hung on the wall behind the couch, sat on the floor oddly propped against the recliner.
I sank to my knees.
Peter was right. The cops were needed, not an ambulance. There would be no saving her. No miraculous recovery. I smoothed her dark hair away from her face. The long strands were fastened back in her customary bun, but it was disheveled. Messy. She’d put up a good fight.
Peter crouched beside me. “What do you think it is?”
I wiped the tears from my eyes. “What?”
“That.” Peter pointed.
I reluctantly looked away from my grandmother to the floorboards in front of her. My intake of breath echoed in the quiet room.
I don’t know how I missed it. Perhaps the shock and horror of my grandmother’s death wouldn’t allow me to see anything else. In between Grandma Claudia and the silver mirror was a drawing on the floor. A circle, two feet in diameter, etched in blood. Numbers, Greek letters, stars, phases of the moon, and what could only be described as Hieroglyphics or Cuneiform - some type of ancient writing - filled the inside of the circle.
My grandmother’s slender hand, the fingertip still covered in bright red blood, lay in the middle of the intricate design.
I stood up to get a better view.
Why on Earth would Grandma Claudia draw that? What was she doing? What did it mean? Why was the mirror on the floor? The positioning of the frame in front of the symbol gave the entire scene a sinister feel.
I fumbled in my coat pocket until I found my cell phone. Why would she draw this in blood? I leaned over to get a better angle and snapped a picture of the horrible bloody symbol.
“Lex, what are you doing?”
I shoved my cell phone back in my pocket, tore off my jacket and flung it towards the door - out of the way of any blood - and pushed up my sweater sleeves.
“Go into her bedroom. There should be a brown leather journal on the bedside table. Grab it.”
“Her journal. Get it and hide it in the trunk of my car. Please.” I didn’t wait for Peter to answer. I fell to my knees and started smearing the bloody drawing with both hands.
I expected the liquid to be warm, but it wasn’t. It was cool and sticky. Congealed. The smell was making me lightheaded. The grain of the hardwood floor was smooth under my fingertips. I tried to focus on breathing through my mouth and not on what I was actually doing. If I thought of the blood, I was going to lose it.
Peter hadn’t moved. He stood frozen, watching me in open-mouthed horror.
Tears filled my eyes. “No one can see this, Peter. Please. No one can know.”
Bright blue eyes pulled away from my stained hands and moved to my face. Peter licked his lips. “I’ll get the journal.”
“Thank you. And please make sure the door under the basement stairs is shut and covered with boxes.”
Peter turned on his heel and ran to the back of the house.
It vaguely dawned on me that I was destroying a crime scene. Evidence the police would need to solve my grandmother’s murder. But what was my other option? Let them see the symbol? Let them read her journals about witchcraft and magic? Let them discover her secret room filled with spell books and an altar? I could only imagine the field day reporters would have with that one. Especially here in Salem.
No one would ever know about this.
I’d protect Grandma Claudia’s secret. My family’s secret.
*** Two Weeks Later ***
The rental car would do for now.
I raced through downtown Salem, covered in the latest December snowfall, and carefully ignored all the tourist traps. The witch industry was a three hundred and sixty-five day a year fiasco. And after what I’d been through, there was no need for any reminders about the supernatural.
Grandma Claudia’s street appeared and I numbly turned down the familiar road. Ever since her murder, the sight of the small brick house in front of the ocean made my heart clinch, like I was having a heart attack. I placed my hand over the struggling organ, waiting for the beating to resume.
I shook my head. I didn’t want to think about clinching hearts.
The autopsy report claimed Grandma Claudia’s heart was literally squeezed to death, like someone squishing a tomato in their fist. Pulverizing the vital organ. But here was the kicker - the exterior area of the skin around the heart was completely untouched. How could an organ be crushed with no outside physical wounds? I wasn’t a doctor, but it didn’t seem humanly possible. Which probably meant that it wasn’t humanly possible….
The Medical Examiner concluded that Grandma Claudia suffered a severe heart attack and fell violently to the ground, cutting her head and arms. Her palm was split during the fall and she severed her arm’s main brachial artery on the edge of the coffee table. Apparently, that was the cause of all the blood.
Their theory was a bunch of bologna, but what could I say? Sorry, Mr. Medical Examiner, she sliced her own palm so she could get enough blood to draw some witchcraft symbol on the floor. But hey, don’t worry about it. I hid all the important evidence, but I’m still not quite sure exactly how she died. Have any ideas?
The Salem Police Department also didn’t find any evidence of a break-in. No footprints. No hair. No DNA. The only fingerprints found at the scene of the crime were Peter’s and mine.
Of course, Peter and I were interviewed. My official story was simple: I panicked. I ran to my grandmother’s body and slipped on all the blood, smearing it across the floorboards. I even had proof - there was blood on the back of my sweater and jeans. It’s strange what we’ll do when crap hits the fan.
I banged my palm against my temple. Stop thinking about the crime scene. If only I could physically knock out all of those thoughts and images.
Grandma Claudia’s house came into view. Someone had thoughtfully shoveled the gravel driveway. Probably that leech of a realtor. The house sold a few days ago and we had until December 31st to remove all of Grandma Claudia’s belongings.
Of course, I was completely against selling the house, but my mother, Emma, wanted no part of living in Salem and my Aunt Vanessa lived in New Orleans. Since we had no other family, we had no choice but to sell the house.
I walked up the sidewalk and noticed that it, too, was shoveled. It was like walking through the snow version of the parting of the Red Sea. I fished my set of keys out of my purse, unlocked the door and walked inside.
The stacks of boxes in the living room were still a shock. I was so accustomed to seeing Grandma Claudia in her rocking chair in front of the enormous stone fireplace. There was no comforting smell of cinnamon and coffee - only dust from packing.
I forced my eyes to the ceiling. I didn’t want them to wander down to the dark hardwood floors in the middle of the room. Of course, it was to no avail. They immediately fell to the shiny floorboards. Obviously, I enjoyed inflicting pain and misery on myself.
The familiar scene appeared again. It didn’t matter if my eyes were open or if they were closed. I would never stop seeing the grisly image. Every detail was the same. Every drop of blood in the exact spot. I was living a never ending nightmare.
“Alex, is that you?”
I tore my eyes away from the phantom vision. My mouth was dry and I had to swallow a few times before I could answer. “Yes, I’m coming down.”
“Bring that duct tape from the table, will you?”
I grabbed the roll of silver tape, walked through the kitchen and down the cement stairs. The basement frightened me when I was younger, but that was before I realized how terrifying real life could be. The scariest nightmare I could summon didn’t stand a chance to what I’d seen in the past few weeks.
Artificial light flooded out from my grandmother’s secret room under the basement stairs. I stepped inside. Just in time to see a large object launching through the air towards my head.
My hand reflexively rose to defend the assault and protect myself, but then just as instinctively, another part of my brain switched on. I pointed my palm at the five-hundred page volume hurling through the air. With a twitch of my fingers, the book’s momentum halted and froze mid-air, hovering five feet above the ground. I flicked my wrist and the book lowered itself to the edge of the table.
Oh, by the way, if you didn’t already know or hadn’t figured it out yet, I’m a witch. Well, technically, I won’t receive my full powers until I’m eighteen – ten months from now. But I’m already pretty powerful for my age because I’m a full blooded witch and, according to everyone who’s in the know, purebloods are pretty rare.
“Very nice,” Aunt Vanessa said. “You stopped it just in time.”
“It’s a good thing, too, seeing how I like my head where it’s at on my shoulders.” I tossed the duct tape to her.
“I knew you’d be able to do it in a pinch. You have good instincts.”
“I’ve been practicing.”
Vanessa made a face. “I’m sure your mom loves that.”
“I don’t practice in front of her.”
“Good. We don’t need Emma freaking out any more than she already has.”
Vanessa’s wavy blonde hair was pulled back into a ponytail. She was tall and slender and looked similar to my mother. She was only three years younger than Emma.
I sat at the old table and pulled out a stack of books from a cardboard box. Vanessa was packing Grandma Claudia’s life-long collection of journals and other witch paraphernalia. I’d sifted through most of the bookshelf, picking through what I intended to keep. Whatever I didn’t want was going to be shipped to Vanessa’s house in New Orleans.
A few stacks of books still needed to be sorted. I wanted to keep the obvious ones. My grandmother’s spell books and journals from our direct line of witch ancestors. But there were so many others that I thought were fascinating. It was getting difficult to choose which ones to keep.
“Is your mom doing any better?” Vanessa asked.
Emma was in what most people would call a fragile state of mind. It wasn’t unwarranted. She recently had to deal with: (1) the death of my grandmother; (2) the revelation that I was a witch; (3) my stepfather, Victor, was a witch hunter; (4) other witch hunters were after me; and, (5) her long lost love - and my biological father’s - body was missing from the Hazel Cove Cemetery. It was a lot to digest for anyone.
“I don’t think she’s getting any worse,” I said. “She still hasn’t had a drink, so that’s something positive.” Oh yeah, my mother was also a recovering alcoholic.
“Sure it is.”
“It’s like she checked out of life. You know? Every day she sits on the couch and stares off into space.”
“She needs time,” Vanessa said.
“I think she’s scared Victor might come back. She obsessively checks the locks on the windows and doors.”
Vanessa folded a flat piece of cardboard into a box. “A locked door isn’t going to stop Victor or the Gamma fraternity.” She grimaced. “Sorry. I don’t mean to be insensi
“Don’t worry about it. I know there’s a big red bull’s eye on my forehead.”
“That’s not what I meant.”
I put up my hand to stop her apology. “It’s okay, really. Besides, I’m looking for that spell you mentioned. The one that guards a house from people with ill intentions. Hopefully, I can find it soon and put it into place.”
“Oh. Right. It’s in one of those spell books. It’s called, Il Gaurdenarium. I can’t remember the spell off the top of my head.” Vanessa blushed slightly. “I never had to use it before.”
“What? You never had a fanatical fraternity of witch hunters after you?”
“Can’t say that I have. I’m not that important.”
“You don’t want to be important to Gamma. Trust me.”
I picked up Sarah Ross’ journal. She was an ancestor of mine on my grandmother’s side - my Ross side - from East Lothian, Scotland. The journal covered two years, from 1622 to 1624. The handwriting was neat and small. Every page – front and back and top and bottom – was full.
“Is Emma still screaming out Ethan’s name in her sleep?” Vanessa asked.
“Yeah. I think she’s having trouble determining what’s real. Once she starts screaming, I have to run to her bedroom and wake her up. She hasn’t mentioned Ethan to me, but I know he’s on her mind.”
Ethan, my biological father, was kidnapped by the Gamma fraternity when my mother was pregnant with me. Gamma killed my father because he was a witch and my mother – though not active – had witch blood. It’s against witch laws to conceive a full blooded child. Who knew witches had laws, right?
Emma was upset because of what was discovered the night Gamma tried to kill me in the cemetery. Gamma wanted to put me in my father’s coffin. But when they opened the casket, it was empty. No one knew what happened to Ethan’s body because the previous leader of the Gamma fraternity – Jonah Van Curen – killed my father. And, unfortunately for me, Jonah died a few months ago. So, no one knew the location of my father’s remains.
Conjured by Chelsea Luna / Young Adult / Fantasy have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes