A Magician Performs

If Christopher found anything strange about inviting a colored girl into his home, his behavior revealed nothing of it. Patty, on the other hand, was baffled.

"You expect me to serve her," she asked when Christopher pulled her into the kitchen after sitting Angeal at the dining room table.

"Yes."

"Master Christopher, your father would absolutely have a fit if he knew what you were up to now, bringing that girl in here and letting her drink and eat off our good dishes."

"Which is why you will not tell my father about this. Now please, serve the lady some tea and whatever sweets we have," Christopher mused, "And don't let mother come down from her room."

Patty was about to protest, but Christopher was already leaving the kitchen. Angeal looked exceedingly uncomfortable, sitting ridged in the chair Christopher had placed her in and looking around with pursed lips and furrowed brows.

"I won't keep you long, Angeal," He said, taking the seat across from her and studying her face again.

"What do you want from me? I told you already, I didn't steal nothing out of that barn."

"You intend to defend that same story even after I saw you stuff something into your knapsack?"

"Sir, with all due respect, this doll belongs to my family. It was taken from us, and I was just getting it back. It never belonged to you," she whispered, locking her eyes with his. She was mouthy, this one. The corners of Christopher's mouth twitched, but he managed to hold back a grin.

He pondered what she had just told him. His father was honest in his work at the very least. But thievery, especially from people like Angeal, was not beyond his character. In fact, it was right up his alley.

"Let me see the doll," He commanded, holding out his hand.

Angeal hesitated but relented, passing him a dirty cloth doll with a colorful beaded pattern around its torso. Christopher estimated that it wasn't worth too much of anything. Why would his father bother taking it?

Patty bustled in, looking flustered and agitated as she sat tea and cake in front of Christopher and Angeal. Angeal's eyes widened, but she sipped the tea politely.

"You don't even know what this is, do you," He asked Angeal, studying the pattern on the doll.

"Its… well, it's my sister's doll. We've had that doll in the family for a few generations. I don't understand why you took it," She said coldly.

"It's an African cloth doll. There's some history behind these, and a little value. Can you read?"

"Of course I can read," She said, indignant.

"Let me show you something."

And with that, he stood up and walked toward the main hall. Angeal, looking confused and unsure of herself, stood up and followed him.


"Is this it?"

Viktor was walking around the table with Angeline on it, studying her with blatant curiosity. Christopher had half a mind to tell him to back away from her, but he realized it would be a ridiculous demand. Instead, he coughed and dabbed at his brow with a handkerchief.

"Yes, this is her," He murmured, reaching out to touch her face.

Patty stood near the doorway with a strange mixture of fear and vigor contorting her expression. Her mouth was slightly open, revealing the clenched teeth inside. Her brows were drawn together with worry. She crossed her arms with great dramatic flair and tapped her left foot impatiently.

"Oh, young Master Christopher…" she whispered earnestly, but both Christopher and Viktor were consumed with the task at hand.

Viktor was pulling a small pouch from beneath his belt and scattering a thick white powder in a liberal circle around the table.

"I will need an item of hers," He said gruffly, using his feet to even the edges of the circle. Christopher had expected as much. He reached beneath the table and picked up a cloth doll caked thick with dirt and crusted blood. The nausea that struck him was immediate. The memories of her demise were like a slap to the face, and he cringed. Somewhere through the vivid images of Angeal dead in his arms, her organs spilling out of the great rip in her torso and the bones jutting out the stained skin of her legs and arms, Christopher could hear Viktor asking him how Angeal had died. Christopher opened his mouth as if to speak, but managed only a breathy sigh.

"Car accident," Patty said, taking the doll out of Christopher's iron grip with some force and handing it to Viktor.

Viktor placed the doll on top of Angeline, and motioned for Christopher and Patty to move outside of the circle.

"Viktor, sir, what exactly are you doing," Patty asked, holding Christopher tightly outside of the circle.

Viktor smiled, drawing attention to the small, decaying teeth set evenly in his jaw. His beady eyes glinted with pleasure.

"Do you believe in hell?"

"No," she lied, taking no pleasure in his toying with her.

"Well, I shall make a believer out of you yet," He boasted, stepping out of the circle. "For your safety, I suggest that you do not, under any circumstances, enter the circle."

Viktor knelt down before the lining of the circle and placed his hands on top of the powder, lifting his face to the rafters and sighing heavily. Slowly, he closed his eyes and bowed his head. He sat that way for several seconds, silently bowing before the circle. Patty was fidgeting with anxiety, but Christopher was transfixed. He watched with quiet curiosity as Viktor suddenly broke the silence with a wild torrent of incantations. The words, Christopher thought, were beautiful. If they were tangible, they'd be black butterflies in moonlight.

But out of nowhere, the words almost imperceptibly changed. They went from being mysterious and intoxicating, to brutal and wet. Blood filled Viktor's mouth and ran down his beard, falling outside of the circle, and then, to Christopher's astonishment, crawling into the circle.

Patty gasped, but she was not looking at the ugly display of Viktor's animated blood. Above Angeline, a bright light was growing, almost dancing. Christopher didn't have to ask Viktor what he was seeing. He knew he was seeing Angeal.

He fell to his knees, shaking his head in wonder. Angeal was so beautiful. So perfect. Tears streamed down his face as he watched that bright star of joy, but he remained silent and stationary.

In fact, he was so engrossed with Angeal that he didn't pay attention to Viktor's blood gradually pooling beneath the table where Angeline was laying. He didn't notice a great wheezing shadow crawling from that vicious puddle of blood, contorting its broken body this way and that. The shadow was so misshapen, that it could be nothing less than a crude construction of left over body parts beneath a veil of its own agony and misery. An arm protruded from its chest, reaching one way and the other uncontrollably. Where arms would be on a normal creature, long tentacles dangled. The tentacles slithered up the legs of the table, gripping the corners and hoisting the rest of its bulky body up.

Christopher realized he was too late when that wild arm reached up for Angeal, his beautiful Angeal.

"No!"

He was on his feet in a heartbeat, pushing Patty away from him and rushing into the circle. It was in its hand now. The lovely little light was twinkling in the claws of the Shadow. Christopher swung wildly at it, his eyes tight with rage. To his horror, his hands slipped right through it. Like any shadow, it was untouchable. The Shadow watched him first with a look of interest, and then with exceeding wickedness. It grinned an enormous snarl taking up its entire face. And right in front of a devastated Christopher, it consumed the light, and crawled into Angeline.

An explosion of light hit Christopher, drowning out his howls of agony. He flew into the back wall of the barn and sank to the floor, unconscious and silent.


Author Note: Thanks for the reviews guys, they are really encouraging and insightful. I hope to post more regularly once finals week is over. Best of luck to you all! (: