Jade’s Stone 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, fitting our theme of feminist horror perfectly. Click here for the first parts, News at Five and a Bump in the Night and Yadra.
“Where did you find that?”
“Basement. Pretty cool, right?” Jade held it up to the light. The sun shone through the deep green stone, illuminating cracks and fissures. It was big, the size of a small grapefruit, and strangely heavy—enough to make her arm ache.
“So cool,” Rowena said, looking up from her phone to peer closer. Jade lowered the stone and set it down on the kitchen counter, but as soon as her hand left the stone, pain shot through her arm. She yelped, clutching it and hissing through her teeth, the pain creating shimmering spots in front of her eyes. She looked at the stone—it sat innocent. Her arm ached and stung. She picked the stone up again.
The pain vanished.
Rowena took a step back from the stone.
“What happened?” Jade asked, fear ripe in her voice.
“I dunno. That’s fucking weird.”
She looked at the stone, peering into its depths—it was such a deep color, and the way that the sun shone into the room made it cast an eerie green over her hand. She hesitated, but then set the stone down again. The pain was more immediate this time, swooping into her arm and shoulder: a thousand tiny, stabbing knives, hot lava in her blood. This time she screamed, and the others came running.
She stepped away from the stone, gritting her teeth, but the pain was too much. She snatched the gem back up. “It’s the stone,” she said.
Ariadne looked at it curiously, her face devoid of panic. Just having her there calmed Jade’s pounding heart.
“Hold it out.”
Ariadne spoke grating, rasping words, the chant starting a familiar rhythm in Jade’s bones. But it mixed with her fear and it hurt, scraping across her skin. The stone grew brighter, like years of slime wiped off.
“Put it down,” Ariadne said.
Jade did, but the pain was back, in both her arms this time, setting her jaw clenching and her body shaking. She was being eaten from the inside out. A scream ripped from her throat and she picked it up again. The respite from the pain was cold relief.
“What’s happening,” she said, her voice catching, her hands starting to shake.
“Oh, calm down,” Ariadne snapped. “It’s a powerful stone that’s been hexed, but I can’t see it doing much damage.”
“It hurts,” Jade said, anger spilling out her throat, but quickly regretting it when Ariadne’s eyes flashed.
“You feel any different?” Ariadne asked, choosing to ignore Jade’s anger.
“Would you just relax and check, please?”
Jade sighed and leaned back against the counter, letting her eyes flicker closed. She focused on her body, felt for her magic in the cavern that was her chest, found it all there, hot and pulsing. Normal, everything was normal. “I feel fine when I’m holding it,” she said, opening her eyes.
Rowena gasped in surprise, then leaned in closer to Jade’s face.
“What, what is it?”
“Your eyes are silver,” she said.
“What? Silver?” She put the stone down on the counter, but this time the pain was blinding and it was everywhere. She screamed, spasming up against the counter, her elbow knocking the stone down. It shattered on the kitchen floor, and the rest of them leapt away from the shards, Ariadne using her magic to direct them away, none of the pieces touching flesh.
Jade had fallen onto the shards and had stopped screaming.
“Jade?” Rowena said, her voice calm and curious.
Jade’s head rose, slowly. She began to laugh as she dragged herself upright. There was a shocked little gasp from behind Ariadne, and another as they saw the large chunk of stone that had embedded itself in Jade’s chest. Blood dripped from it, falling onto the old, yellowed kitchen tile. Jade’s eyes were silver and they were glowing.
“What are you?” Ariadne asked, curious, a thread of excitement weaving through her voice.
“Just a girl,” Jade drawled, her voice pitched low, “waiting for the right time.”
Ariadne was silent, but she could hear Persephone’s whisper behind her. “It’s an evil spirit.”
“No, it’s a fairy, trapped in the stone,” Selene said sarcastically.
“It’s Jade gone weird,” Calypso muttered.
“Shut up,” Ariadne hissed, and they fell silent. “It’s the Goddess.”
“Well,” Jade said, running a finger over her dripping blood. “Of sorts.” She placed her palm on the fragment of stone stuck in her chest, her face contorting in pain as she pressed down. Black smoke curled around the edges of the stone, and when Jade spoke in a harsh, mechanical voice all of their hands flew to their own throats, tasting blood. The stone sunk into Jade’s chest and her skin healed neatly overtop of it.
Ariadne’s throat was on fire. The Goddess—Jade—had taken words from her. She fell to her knees, a thrill rising in her body that reminded her of the time she’d taken her first man. This was something new, this was something with power she had never experienced.
The Goddess’s eyes dimmed, becoming the same black that Jade’s had been, before.
Ariadne bowed her head, and the others followed suit, thumps of their knees hitting the floor resonating, their heads bowing low.
The Goddess stepped forward, the other shards of the stone digging into her feet, disappearing into her flesh. Her veins glowed green and pulsed to her chest, where her heart—the stone—thrummed and shone, then faded, not a single remnant of the stone remaining on the floor. She left bloody footprints as she walked, her hands skimming Calypso’s hair, pausing to touch Selene’s shoulder. “You have been strong, dear ones,” she said, and now her voice was low, low like a chant, and it made Persephone’s throat throb.
“I am here to make you stronger.”
She put a hand over Persephone’s mutilated eye, slammed her backward into the floor. The others did not flinch, did not look, did not move—
When Persephone rose, she had two eyes once more, and one of them shone silver.
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