News at Five is part of the series Tinder Sacrifices by Vanessa Levin-Pompetzki; a amazingly majical and weird look into the lives of a coven of witches living in modern times. As an added bonus, it fits our food theme. Read on, my friends, if you dare.
It was on the news at five.
Another man went missing today…
Jade looked up from her phone and her eyes flashed silver. “Not good,” she said, voice low.
“What? I thought this was Selene’s last catch,” Rowena said, looking up.
Officials say he is middle-aged and of caucasian descent. He marks the ninth in a string of disappearances.
“Nope,” Selene said, eyeing the TV, then going back to her phone. “I do have a date tonight, though. Seems promising.”
“So, who took this dude?” Persephone interrupted, intrigued enough to put her phone down.
… may be connected to a woman named Merywen…
The silence tasted like blood.
“Rival bitches,” Jade spat. “They’ll be here soon.”
Ariadne turned to Jade. “Does Yadra know?”
Jade nodded. “She made them, too.”
Anger and hazy pain rose in Selene’s lungs, like the searing of a cigarette in icy winter. “Does she know about you?”
“Yes. That’s why they’re coming. That and your carelessness,” she added, raising at eyebrow at Ariadne.
Ariadne ignored the jab, turning to Selene. “Go get your boy.”
Selene nodded, her thumbs moving in a blur over her phone, asking him to move their date forward by just an hour, just enough to give them a bit more of an edge.
The doorbell rang as Selene was stripping her clothes off. The others were already naked, waiting and ready. She swung the door open slowly, tilted her head so a lock of hair fell over her collarbone. This one was young, face round and eyes wide at the sight of Selene’s nipples and the patch of dark hair between her legs.
“I’m Selene,” she said.
“Uh… uh… David.”
She smiled wide. “Hi David. I’m glad we’re finally meeting.” She reached out and shook his hand, which trembled in her palm. “Would you like to come in?” she asked.
“Uh… uh yeah,” he said, and she stepped backward. He followed, his hand nearly missing the door handle as he closed it behind them.
As soon as his body cleared the entrance, he was theirs. Selene yanked him into the living room, where the others, also stripped naked, watched him. It wasn’t as dark as usual—there were black curtains drawn over the window, but the sunlight still edged its way in.
“Um—” he said, but before he could get out anything else, Selene shoved him. He fell, one of his knees cracking when he hit the ground. Hands swung him to the center of the pentagram, and Rowena held him down with a knee over his neck. Ariadne tied his ankles and then his hands above his head. Jade sewed his lips together with a rasping word. Selene fingered the long, slim knife in her hand. Persephone lit the candles with a wave of her hand, set the herbs smoking. It was the first time they’d done a sacrifice with the sun still up, and it felt wrong. Less powerful.
“Hurry,” Jade said, her voice calm and low. The girls linked hands and began to chant, Selene stepping inside of the pentagram.
As the boy whimpered something slammed against the side of the house—Selene’s head whipped toward it.
And then the sound of shattering glass.
“Ahh, fuck,” Selene said. She hefted the knife in the hand, and the others grabbed weapons—a scythe, a kitchen knife, a long piece of metal glowing red hot.
The other coven was in their house. They were clothed and they held magicked weapons. They were dark, too, eyes black and lips curled into sneers.
The boy strapped to the floor made a noise, a squeak. Selene stepped deliberately on his chest as she ran.
Ariadne gutted the first witch who rushed them. The witch screamed and fell, blood squirting onto the wood floor. Selene was speaking, no time to be careful, words cutting her throat. The witch who rushed her fell, stumbled, and Selene stabbed her knife into her back, two careful stabs, and she was up again—
One of them swung an axe. It sliced through Rowena’s neck, blood spurting onto the dark leather couch. Selene’s chest hurt, for just a split second, and then she was throwing her knife to her right. It slammed into a forehead.
Ariadne screamed. Selene turned—it was the first time she’d heard anything that resembled fear spill from Ariadne’s lips. A witch had her by the throat, had punched a strengthened arm through her chest. She yanked her arm out and Ariadne crumpled.
Persephone was facedown on the floor, blood leaking from her head. Calypso’s eyes were open, her throat a red gash. Jade stood to her left.
There were four of them left, and Selene knew that they were stronger than her. She spoke, strengthening her hand, her nails growing out into thick claws. Blood filled her mouth and dripped down her chin from the words. Right as Jade was turning to her, to kill her she was sure, Selene slammed her hand into Jade’s chest. The stone was where her heart should have been—as soon as her hand wrapped around it, Jade went limp.
Selene yanked it out and pressed the bloody stone against her own heart, pushed it through skin and muscle until it moved on its own, snapping through bone. She cried out, her stomach rolling from the pain. The four other witches watched, fascinated, as her skin healed back over the stone.
Oh, this is better, the stone said.
Selene’s eyes flashed silver.
It was just her and them, now. Their leader stepped forward, blood coating her arm past her elbow, dark clothes wet. Her hair hung long and damp, makeup smudged down her cheeks. Black eyes met silver.
“You with us?” the witch asked.
Selene heard her voice though she didn’t speak. “I am.”
“He’s your kill,” Zenobia said. She pressed the knife into Selene’s hand.
The boy on the floor shook his head rapidly, no no no. The women began to chant. They clasped hands. Blood from the dead slipped over the floorboards, slowly seeping down the crooked floor, sizzling when it hit the pentagram and setting her eyes aglow. The chant beat a rhythm into Selene’s skin, brought her power to the very edges of her veins.
She pressed the knife into his chest, and began to slice him open, cleanly, careful, so they could be sure to get all of his best bits. She paused to lick her hand.
His blood tasted like honey.
Vanessa Levin-Pompetzki’s favorite thing to do is weave together imaginary worlds (often with magic), but she also frequents used bookstores and enjoys a good cup of tea. She lives in South Carolina with her husband and a very inconsiderate cat. You can find her on Twitter at @vanessalevpom
Here’s a list of all the excerpts in the series Tinder Sacrifices now in sequential order, for your reading pleasure