Tinder Sacrifices is part of a series by Vanessa Levin-Pompetzki; a amazingly majical and weird look into the lives of a coven of witches living in modern times. And, it fits our ‘not a pussy’ theme quite nicely. Click here for the first part, Tinder Sacrifices.
She was braiding her hair when she heard it. A loud bump, a thump, like someone had slammed their head against a corner.
“What was that?” Rowena asked, sitting up straight from where she’d been thumbing through her phone. Ariadne finished tying her braid, wrapping an elastic around the end. The girls were silent, listening, their shoulders tensed.
“I don’t know, probably nothing,” Jade said, sinking back into her chair. She flipped one leg over the other and resumed browsing through her phone.
But Rowena’s neatly plucked eyebrows rose in a question, and her lips turned into a sweet little pout. Ariadne sighed and stood up, the wood floor cold under her feet.
“I’ll check,” Ariadne said. She left the girls in the living room and headed to where she thought the bump came from—the kitchen.
It was dark, since they never bothered to turn on the light. She whispered a few quick words, rasping against her throat, and then she could see everything. She could see the crumbs that River had spilt on the counter earlier, the swipe of grease she’d missed while cleaning the stove, the stars winking in through the window and the shadows that the crescent moon cast over everything.
Jade was probably right, but Ariadne knew that if she didn’t check everything thoroughly that Rowena would scold her and remind her that carelessness came with a price.
There was a tick, like someone had thrown a pebble at a pipe, to her left—her head whirled, but there was nothing. It was an old house, and it made noises. She sighed, padding through the kitchen and peering out the kitchen door window. The back lawn hadn’t been mowed in months, and it was starting to brown in the cold fall nights. It looked gray in the blue moonlight, swaying gently in the wind.
She opened the deadbolt with a click and stepped out onto the lawn. Her eyes swept to the left and back to the right—there was a noise behind her, a footstep, and she whirled.
“Hands in the air!”
Ariadne raised her hands, slowly. A police officer, young and female and quite ordinary, had her gun raised to Ariadne’s head.
“Is there a problem, officer?” she asked, lacing her voice with a touch of magic. She watched as it hit the cop, swaying her slightly, but she shook her head, tightening her grip on the gun.
“I know you have something to do with the missing boys,” the cop said. Ariadne stretched her ears, hearing the slightest, barest tremor.
“Missing men,” she corrected. The cop hefted the gun. “What’s your name?” Ariadne asked.
“Officer Roy. What’s yours?” The cop’s voice was placating now, soothing, hoping she could get her to cooperate.
“Ariadne. And I meant your first name,” she said, keeping her hands in the air.
“It’s Kelly. Get down on the ground.”
Kelly. That would have to change. “You know, it’s odd that you’d come here without backup, without a warrant… I’m pretty sure that’s not allowed.”
“Shut up,” Kelly said, her tone shifting. She hefted her gun up, putting it dangerously close to Ariadne’s head.
“I thought you wanted me to talk?” Ariadne asked coyly, looking up at the officer through thick, dark eyelashes. She began to lower herself, carefully, to the ground, the grass tickling her bare legs. Kelly eyed her suspiciously, glancing down at Ariadne’s bare feet and black-painted toes while Ariadne evaluated the curve of her breasts, the roughness of her hands. Perfect.
Ariadne moved instead, slamming her arm up and knocking the gun into the grass. Kelly grunted, lifting a knee to connect, hard, with Ariadne’s face. Ariadne moved fast but not fast enough—pain bloomed. She spoke quickly, before the pain overcame her, words so low and guttural they cut her throat.
When the words hit Kelly, she collapsed onto Ariadne, pushing her into the ground. Cold began to seep into her flesh as she struggled to get up, pushing the officer up and off of her. She spat red onto the grass. Careless.
Ariadne whistled, three sharp notes, and waited for the rest of the girls.
“Sacrifice?” River asked, rubbing her hands together.
The officer lay in a pentagram burnt into the wood floor, surrounded by flickering candles and the sweet, musky scent of burning sage.
“Member,” Ariadne said, grinning.
Jade let out a laugh.
The officer moaned, shifting, eyes flicking open. She saw them, counted them, and set her jaw in a determined line. “You gonna kill me, Ariadne?” she asked.
“Not quite.” Ariadne knelt, a knife in her hand. She put its point over of Kelly’s heart. “I need you to pick a new name.”
“A new name?”
To her credit, Ariadne couldn’t detect a single waver in her voice. She raised her eyebrows, waiting.
“Not good enough,” Ariadne said, and she pressed the knife into her skin. The girls clasped hands and began to chant. The chant pushed against Ariadne’s skin, like the soft blanket she took to bed. Kelly began to squirm.
“No.” The knife pressed in, through skin and into muscle, and Kelly screamed. The chanting continued, wisps of black beginning to make their way up her legs, around Ariadne’s feet. They felt cool and gentle, her mists. Ariadne waited until they had wrapped around the knife, had turned it swirling black, and then she thrust it down and listened—she could hear the punctured lung, Kelly’s rasping breaths. She wanted to help Kelly, but the woman had to pick a name herself. It was how it was done.
“Pick a name,” Ariadne said. Her voice sounded loud to her own ears, like her voice was separate from her person. Power flicked through her fingertips, and she stopped Kelly’s dying, just for a moment, just enough to hear the words on her lips—
“Calypso,” she whispered.
Ariadne gripped the handle of the knife and grinned. “Perfect.”
Calypso’s eyes darkened until they were empty.
She turned, having forgotten for a moment that her name was supposed to be Kelly Roy. She smiled, tucked a lock of newly cut dark hair behind her ear. “Hmm?”
“Just wondering about your secret mission last night. The old Wentworth mansion?”
“Oh, nothing there. Abandoned like Captain said it was.”
He nodded, face fallen.
“It’s pretty cool, though. Wanna come with me tonight?” Her lips turned up in a smirk, a hand tugged at her uniform above her chest, the skin beneath smooth. “As a date?”
“I thought you didn’t…” he trailed off, shaking his head. “Uh, well yeah, of course.”
“I’ll pick you up.”
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