Chapter Two: Shudders Down The Spine

KALI HATELYN COULDN'T SHAKE OFF THE FEELING that something was watching her, as she peeked out of her blinds at a figure she saw shift in the stillness of the shadows. Something moved; she was utterly sure of it. Something . . . or someone.

The feeling had followed her all the way home from Club Zen. She had never felt the hairs stand on the back of her neck before, but now she knew for certain what it did feel like.

Twilight cloaked the street in front of her two-story house, making it impossible to see if there was indeed a man or some unnamed creature standing outside of her house, hidden behind the rustling bushes.

But she had seen a change in the shadows, a sudden action transpiring in the deadness of the night.

Something already draped in darkness had moved.

She squinted her bright amber eyes to see, but she knew it would be impossible for her to see in the darkness. After all, she was no vampire.

A mocking smile spread on her naturally crimson lips. She laughed softly in her mind, but could not find the voice to laugh out loud.

Gotta stop being so paranoid, Kali, she told herself for the five billionth time. She did seem to have a reputation for being a worrywart. She supposed it was because she was overprotective.

Just over the summer, she was waiting for her best friend, Juliet Adams, to arrive at one of their best friend's, Melanie Torrance, new house after giving Juliet the wrong directions.

Juliet had appeared late and in the meanwhile, Kali had imagined already three hundred scenarios as to why Juliet was late. One included that she was in a car accident, which could have been avoided had Kali given her the correct directions to Melanie's recently bought house.

When Juliet did appear, she was without a scratch.

Kali smiled once again for that fond memory of the wonderful summer days she had enjoyed with her best friends, Juliet, Melanie, and Amanda Stefan.

Kali backed away from the blinds and crossed over to her room where her desk was positioned underneath a wall that she deemed her "Goddess Shrine." There were pictures torn from magazines, printed from the Internet, drawn by her artistically gifted best friend, Juliet, arranged in a much disorganized pattern that seemed to come together and alive with splashing colors and spiraling designs.

Drawings of what Juliet thought the goddesses of several different world cultures—Greek, Roman, Hindu, et cetera—looked like were Kali's favorite items.

Above the drawings of Artemis, Morrigan, and Venus, was Kali's most treasured portrait: the one of the Indian deity Kali, the mighty and fearless Hindu demon killing goddess for which she was named after.

Kali was customarily regarded as a dark, black and brutal goddess of death. Those who didn't understand her assumed that was evil.

Being of neither good nor evil, Kali was the beast and brute, mother and friend of the earth and humankind.

She often took the hideous appearance of a fanged warrior woman with a sword through one hand and a dagger in another. This was the way Juliet drew her, doing a fine job of depicting everything to the last and smallest detail, from Kali's gleaming sword to her black eyelashes. She has also been shown as having five heads and is usually seated within a lotus blossom.

Her four heads represented the four Vedas and the fifth head represented the Almighty God. In her ten hands, she held all the symbols of Lord Vishnu and was another consort of Lord Brahma.

Her monstrous appearance is only a physical manifestation of what she really represents and she is often misunderstood. Kali is a fierce protector, above all things, to be invoked only in times of danger when the need is desperate.

Kali is known as the Ego Slayer, destroying egos with her sharp knife which slices through the illusions of the world and humankind. Above all, Kali Hatelyn feared her ego would one day become bigger than her judgment.

On occasion, Kali whispered a prayer to the demon killing goddess when she felt her life was threatened. Tonight, Kali's safety felt imperiled.

The words escaped her lips before she could even think them.

"I invoke thee, the goddess Kali, the fierce and all-compassionate mother, for protection."

It was a prayer that she had invented two years back, shortly after her mother had abandoned her and her father.

Kali moved away from her Goddess Shrine after kissing the figurine of the Ego Slayer and Goddess, Kali. It was a figurine that she had purchased at a local magick shop called The Moon's Gifts. She rode on top of a tiger as ferocious and awesome as the goddess herself. It represented Kali standing with two legs; five arms on each side with each hand carrying a weapon of some kind except for one hand on the right had a lotus, and only one head. Kali's wavy hair undulated in a waterfall of black ink. A garnet decorated the center of her forehead, where it is believed that the third eye is rested.

Although this ten-inch figurine was a frightening statue to behold, it was nevertheless colorful and comforting, a force to be reckoned with in a time of need.

Kali leaned on her bed and nestled snugly underneath the folds of her black satin sheets and her matching pillows that blended in easily with the rest of her bed.

She closed her eyes and tried to think of happy memories, ones she had before her mother had left them.

Tonight was Sunday and on Tuesday, she would start her first day as a freshman in the four-year high school Lakewood.

An overwhelming feeling of sadness submerged Kali in a vivid and glowing recollection of her mother.

Her mother had left right before Kali had started seventh grade.

It was painful.

Just when Kali needed her most, she had abandoned her with no word of goodbye and any reason or explanation.

That was when Kali had started researching about the Indian deity who appeared evil, but was a misunderstood protector, a guardian. She turned to Kali and found some remnants of the hope she had lost when her mother left.

Dreaming of Kali battling the many demons comforted her and she fell into a peaceful slumber—although not for long.

A black cloud swirled around them, suffocating them. They fell to their knees and put their hands around their neck, trying to pry the immaterial shadow choking them.

"Isaura! Freeze it!" Naiya shouted across the black room, hoping that her message could be heard.

Isaura slowly rose to her feet and threw up her hands, but the shadow cloud only laughed darkly, malevolently. "I can't freeze it!" she called back.

"Phaedra! Where are you?" Adamina sought out. Her feet slowly lifted from the ground and now she stood at the ceiling of the desecrated temple of their mother, above the cloud. Her eyes searched the room for her fallen Sister. "Phaedra!"

"We need to merge with the moon!" Isaura insisted, her fingers groping the ground until she found Naiya's hand.

"Adamina, come back down here!" Naiya urged her.

Adamina gradually sunk back to the floor where her Sisters were. They joined hands and recited in unison, "Darkness of mind, lift your shadows! Leave here, we command you!"

The shadow cloud laughed diabolically at them again. "Foolish witch goddesses. I will kill you all!"

And from out of the darkness, a strong voice arose: "Not if I can help it."

Phaedra pushed her palms close together, but left about five inches of space in between. Summoning up her power of the element of fire, she conjured a fire energy sphere in between her hands and she hurled it at the shadow cloud.

It left a trail of sparks as it roared past the shadow cloud. The shadow cloud parted in the center to make room for the fire energy sphere lunging at them.

It gave Phaedra the moment's advantage she needed. She could see her Sisters on the other side. She sprinted for them and joined hands with her Sisters, merging with the full moon surely on their side. Now, all four of them, together, stronger, powerful, enemies to be feared, they invoked all four elements to aid them in vanquishing the shadow cloud.

One by one, they called out their elements.

Phaedra yelled, "Fire!"

Isaura followed with, "Air!"

Next was Naiya, shouting, "Water!"

Finally, Adamina finished it off with, "Earth!"

The shadow cloud was struck with the combined power of all the elements. A burst of flames somehow managed to cling onto the immaterial shadow form. A strong gust of wind shoved the shadow cloud back and further away from the Sisters. Long, sharp ice shards stabbed the shadow, causing it to retreat, its power being reduced when it was not together in one form. Finally, the earth trembled underneath them and cracked open a pit of burning lava. The cloud seemed to open its eyes and glanced down at the pit it floated directly above.

"Now it's time to finish you off," Phaedra declared.

"The power of the full moon on our side. Powers of the elements we summon to destroy any harm to good! We invoke the power of the Queen of Witches, Hecate! We cast out this evil into the Underworld!"

The shadow cloud cried out one last time in defeat before it was sucked in the fiery abyss of Hades' Underworld.