©2011 The Media Desk
Shichon Family Journal
As is the way of things, we were drawn into an unbelievable situation by a casual acquaintance, the situation then took over and even threatened to overrun our entire lives. And not only that, it may ultimately endanger our immortal souls.
And I don't see any way out of it.
Near an abandoned brickworks
Somewhere in the Pinelands
An elderly woman wearing a long heavy robe was standing at one point of a star inside of a circle that had been drawn in a sandy forest clearing raised her face and arms toward the sky and spoke in a loud clear voice. "We gather our strength at the traditional hour to re-incant the containment of the evil that lives in this land."
Several people in similar robes were scattered around the circle, including four at the other points of the star then raised their arms and repeated the phrase, "contain the evil."
The leader left her arms raised but looked toward the center of the pentagram. "I demand that you show yourself and acknowledge our supremacy over you."
The others began to chant softly, "show yourself.... show yourself.."
The fires atop a circle of oil fueled patio torches behind the people around the people just inside the clearing began to flicker and dance even though there was no wind.
The chanting continued.
In a few moments a dark shapeless mass began to congeal just to one side of the pentagon in the center of the star as the flames of the torches suddenly leaped wildly.
"Show yourself in your physical form," the leader demanded as the others chanted.
The small dark cloud suddenly erupted into a nightmarish form about the size of a large dog but had the general shape and manners of a person. It had several protruding fangs, malformed clawed hands that ended in wicked looking claws, and fiery blood red eyes that were full of malice. The rest of the beast was no less terrifying with uneven and disproportionate wings along its back that ended in scaly feathers that shimmered in the torchlight. The creature's body was as malformed as its head and ended in a long thin tail that appeared to have been broken at some time. There were open wounds in several places that oozed a reddish slime every time it moved.
It opened its mouth and its chest heaved.
Then a split second later the people heard a wheezing roar that made the hairs of their necks stand on end.
The leader didn't flinch. She'd seen it before, and she knew she'd see it again. "We control you."
The creature bristled and in a second they heard another snarl from it.
"We control you," the group around it echoed.
For the first time it looked at the people around it, its eyes flashed with hate, and it raised its claws, but it couldn't breach the diagram on the ground.
"You are bound."
"You are bound."
This time the sound of its snarl was even more delayed as it sulked and glared at them.
The leader lowered her arms and pointed at the ground under its feet, "Return to your cave," she ordered.
It stood up and defiantly spread its wings and showed its fangs to the leader.
"We control you, you are bound, return to your cave," The group around the circle began repeating, "we control you, you are bound, return to your cave."
The demon in the circle showed no signs of obeying them, instead it bristled and snarled and swiped its claws at the leader and the others.
The leader repeated the order and pointed emphatically at the ground.
The contest of wills was obvious to all as the beast gnashed its teeth at her and pressed itself against the barrier of the pentagram.
The leader shrugged off her robe and raised her arms back toward the heavens. Now nude and angry she spoke in a very loud voice, "I am as I am. And I control you. And I banish you once again from the world. Return to your cave!"
The creature reacted violently, and became even more violent as one after the other the rest of the group followed suit to stand nude and repeated the order. Yet it could not break out of the pentagram.
The fires leapt and sputtered. There was the sound of rushing wind and gurgling water followed by a clap of distant thunder.
With one last delayed roar and an impotent swipe of its clawed hand at the leader the creature vanished.
The leader didn't move for a long moment. Then once she was certain that the thing was indeed gone she let her arms drop and took a deep breath. "It's done," she said softly.
Then she turned and picked up her robe and wrapped it around herself against the night air. Where she had looked confident and full of power, now she looked old and sick. Her voice was thin and her steps were faltering. "It worked again," she said to a couple of the others.
"Yes. It wasn't too bad this time."
"No. Thank goodness."
Everybody in the circle felt weakened by the confrontation. Some became physically ill or had to sit on a nearby log and rest before they could walk back to their cars.
"So, what do you think of our little outing?" The leader asked a couple that had stayed in the background and watched silently.
"And you do that every three or four months?" Jerry asked wiping sweat from his eyes.
"Yes, without the renewal of the containment spell, the demon will break free."
Jerry shook his head and fought down another round of nausea. Even though they hadn't participated, they could feel the effects of what had happened.
"And if it does get out?" Elaine asked.
"There will be another chapter of the history of the New Jersey Devil," the leader took a deep breath, "and we will be in for a battle to get it back in the grotto."
One of the other members was nearby and nodded, "it almost got away last time, and..." he paused, "and bad thing happened."
"Bad things?" Elaine said.
"What sort of bad things?" Jerry asked.
The leader frowned and rubbed the side of her face, "Let's go home, and I'll tell you all about it. If you want to hear it." Then she looked back at the pentagram that other members were smoothing out and covering with brush and weeds removing all trace of the sacred space. "Some things are better left unmentioned too close to the source of the vortex, especially at night."
Jerry stared at where the symbol had been, "Vortex. OK."
Shichon Family Journal
I want to do what is right, and I know Jerry will support me, but I don't think I'm cut out to be a witch.
Well, maybe I can be a witch, but I don't know about one that has to control a demon and keep it in a cage like Miss Lynn does.
Miss Lynn's house.
A subdivision near Hammonton, NJ
"OK, now we can talk about what happened in the circle," the leader of the group, Miss Lynn, said as the morning sun poured into her dining room. She sipped from her cup of tea and pushed the plate that had held her breakfast away. "And we can start with what that was."
"You said it was the New Jersey Devil," Jerry said.
"It was," the older lady nodded, "well, the current one. There's been several, but they're all more or less like you saw there."
"But it was hideous," Elaine said remembering what it looked like.
"Yes, they've been getting worse as they go. From what I've been told, the one that was here during the Civil War wasn't as bad, but they're all nasty brutes and will do terrible things when they get out."
"Since we moved here I've read about the New Jersey Devil. Isn't it supposed to have been a baby that turned into a monster?"
Miss Lynn shook her head, "There's several legends as to where it came from. But I believe that it has always been here and that it is an Earth Spirit that hates people."
"You mean it was here before people were here? Even the Indians?" Elaine asked.
"Yes, they may be as old as the planet."
She was fascinated by the idea, "Then how can you control it?"
"We use a power that is even older," she looked up.
"After a fashion, the Universe itself is the source for all energies, and if you wish to call that source 'god', that's OK with me."
Jerry shook his head, "I can't deny what I saw last night, and how I felt after it vanished, but it's going to take a lot of believing for me to believe that you ordered a demon to go away. But how you did it by..." he raised his hands over his head.
"If my Aunt Thelma has pneumonia and the doctor doesn't think she's going to make it, and I pray to God for her to get well... How is asking a Higher Power to intervene in her illness any different than asking the Power of Creation to intervene the way we did?"
"I... I don't know. But that was a... I don't know."
Miss Lynn's smile was as gentle as her wisdom, "Then you tell me, what did happen out there?"
"I don't know. Really, I don't know. It's like something from a movie, or that late night radio show they listen to at work. I don't know."
Miss Lynn looked at Elaine, "You wanted to know why we all had to undress at the end."
She nodded and blushed slightly.
"Sometimes we don't have to do it. And we begin a ritual that way, never mind what you see in the movies. When we're unclothed we are at our most powerful because nothing is hidden, there is no barrier between us and the power, and it can flow unrestricted through us. If we started the rite naked it would be like playing your best trump on the first trick."
"Trick?" Jerry asked.
"I'm sorry, sometimes I forget that not everybody plays bridge."
Elaine had another question, "You said that we could help you, how?"
"Your husband may not like this either, but I can see auras," she raised her right hand and moved it through the air to outline Elaine's head and neck, "it comes with the job. Anyway, I can see in yours that you have the ability to do what I do."
"But what about the others that were there?"
"Some of them may develop it over time, but you have it now. And I can't go on doing this much longer."
"But I don't know...."
"I will teach you everything you need to know. How to speak, where to draw the power from. What the figures mean, how to draw them," she drew a star in the air, "and all of that," she smiled, "you already know the most important part."
"That it is real."
Elaine's eyes got wide for a second, "Yes, I never doubted it."
Jerry nodded, "she was even saying the things the others said."
"Good, good. And it helped. I know it did. I could feel the extra strength in the circle."
"But do I have to become a witch to do it?" Elaine asked.
"No. Because I am not a witch in the usual sense of the word. I think of myself as a Magician, a true one, not one like you see at the casinos that turn a pretty girl into an elephant or something. We use Magik, with a 'k', to control the spirit."
"That's sorcery," Jerry said.
"No," Miss Lynn answered immediately. "Sorcery is usually defined as using magical spells and charms to harm or to control others for one's own purposes. We are using it to protect people from harm. Some would call it White Sorcery, but I dislike that term."
"You hate to have to differentiate between people's preconceived notions and what you do," Elaine said softly. "If you were evil, you would release the spirit."
"Exactly," Miss Lynn smiled, "see, you know about it already. Instinctively."
Jerry looked at his wife with raised eyebrows.
"I don't know how I knew that, but I did."
Miss Lynn was still smiling.
Shichon Family Journal
I still don't like it. We're Baptists for crying out loud. Everything about this says it is wrong. But if that Thing that we saw the other night was turned loose and could have helped to stop it. Well, if El could have helped to stop it. I don't know. I said that a lot this morning, that I didn't know, but it was true. Nothing the pastor ever said in class ever prepared me for this. We were always told that while evil was real and in the world, it was always something in Africa or someplace, the old brick factory is less than twenty miles from our house.
She wants us to join their group and for El to take over for her, and for me to be El's consort and ground her, whatever that means.
If that thing were to get out and kill somebody because we did something wrong, or because I doubted her or something.
But if we don't do it and it does.
I don't know.
The Shichon home
"Until yesterday, I wouldn't even want that book in the house," Jerry said.
"I'm not sure I do now, but I need it." Elaine turned another thick page and looked at the woodcut prints showing how to make an amulet for protection from allies of the demon. "I'm supposed to make my own medallion and use a totem of my family as my symbol." She looked up, "What would that be?"
Jerry thought about it, "your family all worked for the railroad, so maybe a train or something."
She nodded, "you'll need one too."
Jerry laughed, "my father was a mailman, before that they worked in the mill."
"You all like football," she nodded toward a trophy he had won in high school as team MVP. "I think that'd be good for you."
"What are we supposed to make it out of?"
"It said brass or bronze if you can't afford gold."
Jerry laughed, "I'll run right out and get some gold. What'cha think, a quarter pound for each of us?"
She ignored him and pointed to the diagram, "We'll have to engrave our initials and symbol on the back of it, and these symbols on the front of it."
"OK. I've got that security engraver in the basement. And I think there's a couple of old souvenir coins down there too. How do we tell if they're bronze?"
"I saw that," she flipped through a couple of pages, then stopped to read, "you won't like the answer."
"The coins or tokens will tell me." She held her hand out flat like she was holding them.
He didn't answer. Instead, he went downstairs to look for the engraver and the souvenirs.
Shichon Family Journal
Miss Lynn is amazed at how quickly and easily I have learned the things she wanted to teach me. She said that I'm better at pronouncing some of the old words in Latin and Aramaic than her own teacher had been.
She also said my aura is just glows with energy when we talk. And I can feel it, and now, I can see hers and it does the same thing.
I've always felt that I was here for a purpose. And now, I believe, I've found it. Or it's found me.
Early evening in the Pinelands
Miss Lynn got out of the car slowly and stood for a second to stretch her back before she said anything. "Can you feel where the vortex is manifesting today?"
Elaine looked around at the trees and low brush. "I think so," she answered, "That way?"
They walked down a narrow trail for a short distance, then Elaine stopped and looked one way then the other. "It's moving."
"It'll do that. But it will be centered over the cavern."
"OK," she stood silently, "I can almost hear it."
"Good. The energy swirls around it, sometimes going up, sometimes going down, and sometimes, it just swirls around."
Elaine pointed out into the trees, "It's going that way, we can meet it when it crosses the path."
"Very good," Miss Lynn said, "We need to check to see how strong it is."
"It's what is keeping the Devil in his cave, isn't it."
"Yes. It is also why our grimoire will only work here. Everything we do is tuned to this vortex and the energy paths that feed it. You might be able to do some things in other places, but they may not work as well." Miss Lynn paused to catch her breath. "Even here, we have to make adjustments from time to time."
"And for things like the moon phase and tide."
"Yes. So you did read it."
Elaine shook her head, "not all of it. It was like I'd already read it years ago and was just remembering it. But that's impossible. I'd never heard of things like this before."
Miss Lynn just smiled for a moment. "Which way is the cavern?"
Elaine didn't hesitate at all, "that way," she pointed down and to the left, "I can, see, the cavern, and that thing in it, it's curled up... sleeping." She had to shake her head to clear the vision. "Is there a chance that somebody will find it?"
"Not really. There is no outlet and it is in the park so it's not likely that anybody will do any drilling or well digging." She chuckled, "they had to move the Devil about sixty years ago when it was up by Medford. They drilled a new water well right through the cave it was in."
Elaine winced, "that wouldn't be good."
"No. It wasn't."
They waited for a few moments then Elaine pointed to some rustling leaves and a ripple in the air, "Here it comes."
It was almost imperceptible, there was a ripple along the ground and a gentle swaying of some leaves and branches. It moved across the path and through the brush on the other side.
"What do you think of it?"
"It is very powerful."
"Yes, that's good, we won't have to come back out for another month or more. If it gets weak, the Devil will start pushing to get out."
"That's what happened when we came out with you."
"Yes. When it is weaker, he is stronger," Miss Lynn looked at her with a very serious expression on her face, "You don't want it to fail."
Elaine paused, "Is the Devil a he or an it? You've called him both."
"I'm sorry, it's an 'it'," she emphasized the word. "Some of us even call it she. It's the Devil, I don't think it has a sex."
Elaine grinned, "'He' just sounds better."
"I think so too."
They walked back to the car and then Elaine drove them back to Miss Lynn's house.
"I'll do one, or maybe two, rituals with you, then I'll step down," the older lady said.
Elaine knew there was no point in arguing with her.
Shichon Family Journal
El's not the same. She's.... I know it is going to sound terrible, but she's more than she used to be. She's more aware of everything and can do things like tell the weather without looking at the TV. She even ordered a skunk to stay out of our neighborhood, and I think it's doing it.
I still love her, but she's not El anymore. She's Miss Elaine, and it fits her.
Near an abandoned brickworks
Somewhere in the Pinelands
The Devil stretched and snarled at the leader of the group. Then it paused and its eyes flared brightly.
"You. Not same." It said in a guttural voice that the others only heard as snarls and hisses.
Miss Elaine stood tall in her long robe, her face radiated confidence as she stared at the thing, "I am Miss Elaine. I am your new master."
Its upper lip actually formed a sneer as it spoke again to her. "You. A child."
"I am your new master. I control you. You will obey me."
"No power." It answered and stretched itself against the barrier.
"I have greater power." She shed her robe and extended her hands toward the sky. "And I command you to return to your cavern and sleep."
The creature howled and shrieked. It clawed at the barrier and flapped its wings. Then it was gone.
Miss Elaine took a deep breath and stared at the ground, through the ground. Deep inside the Earth the creature flailed against the walls of its prison, then it stopped and collapsed to the floor. But instead of going to sleep, it was glaring back at her, its eyes full of fire.
She was not going to engage in a stare down contest with a demon, she ordered it to go to sleep, then she broke the contact.
"I'm so proud of you," Jerry said to her as she turned from the pentagram.
"Let's get out of here," she said as she panted to catch her breath.
Shichon Family Journal
It went too easily. I know Miss Lynn warned me that the demon would test me, and I expected it to do it this time, with her just outside the circle as backup. But it had other ideas. I know it's just biding its time, waiting for me to be just a little off. That is why Miss Lynn retired, she couldn't keep up the front any more.
I wonder how long I can keep it up. To prevent that thing from escaping.
[NOTE: The REAL New Jersey Devil was not harmed in the writing of this story.
All characters, places, events, and businesses/organizations are FICTIONAL. NO inference to REAL anything is to be made. No similarities to ACTUAL anything is intended. This Piece Is FICTION, enjoy it as such.
Thank You the Author. ]
The Fiction Index
Back to the Desk