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Crone’s Moon

M. R. Sellars

When the moon is high and new, kiss your hand to her times two.

When the moon rides at her peak, then your hearts desire seek.

When the moon turns to the Crone, in Saint Louis, don’t walk alone…

Couplets #5-6, The Wiccan Rede

Thursday, January 10

Three days prior to the new moon

10:00 A.M.

North of Granite City, Illinois

PROLOGUE:

Her jaw is hurting.

It isn’t the only part of her body that is aching by far, but at the moment, it is in the forefront of her mind. She can tell she has been grinding her teeth. There is no doubt about it, because she always does when she sleeps.

Bruxism, that’s what her dentist calls it. Pain, that’s what she calls it; especially right now. She has a plastic mouth guard she sleeps with that is specially designed just for the affliction, and it helps; but, she knows that considering the amount of pain she is experiencing and the fact that she can’t feel it in her mouth that the appliance must not be here.

Thinking about it doesn’t help much.

She is beginning to take notice of the laundry list of aches plaguing her body. Her head, her chest, her wrists, her ankles… hell, there isn’t an inch of her that doesn’t hurt. There are just some parts that are screaming louder than the others.

She starts to move, then flashes on a distant memory. She’s not supposed to move? She shouldn’t move? She can’t move? She tries anyway and finds that option three is apparently the winner. She doesn’t know why she can’t move, but she decides not to think about it. It just seems easier not too.

It is odd to her that she can remember the word bruxism, but for some unknown reason she can’t recall much else. She has no idea how long she has been here. A day? A week? A month? No clue. But what does it matter? She doesn’t know where ‘here’ is.

Come to think of it, she doesn’t even know WHO she is. Confusion seems to be the order of business, and she has absolutely no idea why. The only thing she knows for certain is that it is dark, cold, smells odd, and she is hurting.

She lets out a sudden whimper as a glut of visceral fear gives her stomach a hard twist. She has no idea where it is coming from, but it blindsides her. The terror starts winding its way up from her gut, driving along her spine, and rushes into her brain. She catches her breath as the flush of warmth spreads over her face. She thinks she is going to vomit and swallows hard. She feels a wet tear streaming across her cheek.

A moment later, the fear passes with the same urgency and no more warning than when it had attacked. Again, it seems easier to just forget than to try analyzing it. The question ‘why’ seems so moot.

She decides to move.

“Oh, that’s right,” she thinks to herself. “I can’t move.”

She wriggles her hands, but that only serves to make her wrists hurt more. She tries to move her feet and they hurt too, but there is something more.

She moves her feet again and hears the splashing sound of water. She can feel it against her skin, but it isn’t the soothing sensation one would expect. It actually feels as if her feet have been soaking for days.

“Why are my feet in water?” she wonders to herself and then answers the query within the same stream of thought. “Good question. Where am I again?”

She moves her feet and listens closely. Other than the sound of the water, it is quiet.

It’s almost too quiet.

She doesn’t like that at all. She wishes it wasn’t so still. It can’t be this quiet.

She stops moving and listens.

Distant footsteps.

Heavy. Deliberate.

She’s not so sure she likes that sound any more than the quiet. But she keeps listening.

She feels the fear welling in the pit of her stomach once again and tries to focus on something else.

“Who am I?” she wonders aloud in a barely audible whisper.

Her brain feels scrambled, and even the past few moments seem like a washed out memory from another lifetime. She forces herself to concentrate and begins whispering whatever she can grasp from the disjointed thoughts.

“T…”

“Tee?”

“Tuh?”

“Tay?”

“Two?”

“Two, what?” she wonders.

“Two. Two times one is two. Two times two is four. Two times three is six. Two times four is twelve… Twelve? That’s right isn’t it? Of course it is. Two times four is twelve. Two times twelve is sixteen… Wait… Sixteen? No… Wait… I’ll start over. Two times two is eleven… No, that’s not right… What was it I was trying to remember again?”

She gives up. It doesn’t seem worth it.

She notices that her mouth tastes funny- strangely metallic.

“That’s weird,” she murmurs. “Hmph. I can remember what metal is, so why can’t I remember what time it is? It sure is dark. Maybe that’s why. There’s that sound again. Like a motor or something. I wonder what it is?”

The sound grows louder for a moment as a dim light falls across the floor in an ever-widening swath. The luminance chases away just enough of the darkness for her to see the grey concrete floor. A pair of heavy black lines snakes across the filthy surface. She doesn’t know what they are, but there seems to be a familiarity about them. She thinks she should know what it is, but she just can’t make the connection in her befuddled mind.

Familiar or not, she knows for sure that she doesn’t like the look of them.

She hears a low creak of hinges that are in desperate need of oil, and the faint light slowly disappears as the motor-like sound is muffled once again.

A noise comes from above and behind her, and she immediately identifies it. The heavy footsteps are back, but now they are loud. They begin descending into the darkness, coming closer with each deliberate thump.

The cold terror returns, and this time it doesn’t go away.

Friday, June 7

Three days prior to the New Moon

7:32 A.M.

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