Nine Candles of Deepest Black
Matthew S. Cox
Published by: Curiosity Quills Press
Publication date: September 15th 2016
Genres: Horror, Paranormal, Young Adult
She saw it coming. She knew it would happen―but no one believed her.
Almost a year after tragedy shattered her family, sixteen-year-old Paige Thomas can’t break free from her guilt. Her mother ignores her, doting on her annoying little sister, while her father is a barely-functioning shell. He hopes a move to the quiet little town of Shadesboro PA will help them heal, but Paige doesn’t believe in happiness anymore.
On her first day at school, a chance encounter with a bullied eighth grader reawakens a gift Paige had forgotten, and ingratiates her into a pack of local outcasts. For weeks, they’ve been trying to cast a ritual to fulfill their innermost desires, but all they’ve done is waste time. After witnessing Paige touch the Ouija board and trigger a paranormal event, the girls are convinced another try with their new fifth member will finally work.
Once the darkness is unleashed, it’s not long before they learn it will give them exactly what they asked for―whether they want it or not.
Paige looked up from the paper. Mackenzie held a small bottle of blood, adding to her painted symbols with an eyedropper. Renee fidgeted, as if worried or guilty. Sofia looked sick. Santana seemed on the verge of curling up on the floor and going to sleep from boredom.
Mackenzie fiddled with a few more runic symbols and pictograms, taking small bottles of various colored powders, herbs and ground up who-knows-what from the satchel.
“Geez, Kenz, where did you get all that stuff?” Paige blinked.
“New Hope’s like an hour and a half drive away. Awesome stores there.” She finished off a symbol and smiled. “We’re good.” She gestured for everyone to stand and took a ten-inch dagger out of the satchel. “This is going to work this time since we have all five people. Plus, Paige is our channeler to the spirit world.”
“Relax. I know you’re a virgin, but there’s no sacrificing here. This is an athame. It’s not for cutting anything. It’s a focusing implement.”
“I know…” Paige fought back her embarrassment. “I did read a little bit about this stuff online a while ago.”
Mackenzie held the knife in both hands and pointed it at the floor. “Everyone hold hands. Sofia, you and Renee put your hands on my shoulders to make the circle.”
The girls did so.
“We’re going to walk around in a complete circle three times, then sit,” said Mackenzie. “Air starts. Then we go around, and end with Paige.” She stared at the Celtic knot engravings along the flat of the knife, seeming lost in her thoughts. “Picture a circle existing between our world and the spirit world. Picture it existing where the silver paint cuts through reality and bridges the worlds together. Visualize the spirit energy welling up from the earth, powered by the air and fire, and guided by water.”
Mackenzie lifted her left foot, and the girls moved in unison, walking in a sideways shuffle clockwise around the pentacle. A glimmer raced over the paint on the floor, startling a twitch in Paige’s back. Did I imagine that? None of the others seemed to react to the flash. Leaves and twigs crunched. Mackenzie stepped on a few, but showed no reaction to a rock that should’ve hurt her bare foot. She kept the knife pointed at the circle, lost to her focus.
After the third rotation, they stopped.
Mackenzie held the athame toward Sofia, point aimed down. “Sofia Anderson, I invite you to this circle. How do you enter?”
Sofia stood tall. “In perfect love and trust.”
Mackenzie shifted left a few degrees. “Paige Thomas, I invite you to this circle. How do you enter?”
Paige felt a little cheesy, but said, “In perfect love and trust.”
“Santana Ruiz, I invite you to this circle. How do you enter?”
“In perfect love and trust.” Santana didn’t sound too enthused.
“Renee Morris, I invite you to this circle. How do you enter?”
“In perfect love and trust.” Renee bowed her head.
Mackenzie waved the athame as though she re-drew the pentacle with a laser beam projecting from the point. She sat cross-legged at her star tip, and the others followed suit. After using a match to light the stubby red candle, she held it out to Santana.
Santana stuck the tip of an incense cone into the flames and waved it around. “I call upon the Element of Air to aid our circle.” She grasped a few feathers and tossed them over her shoulder.
Renee cradled the acorn in two hands and held it up. She lowered it with reverence, placed it in the bowl of dirt, and buried it. “Element of Earth, empower our circle. Stabilize and ground us. Give us strength.”
Mackenzie reached in to her oversized white angora top and pulled a folded-up piece of notebook paper scribbled with ballpoint pen ink from her bra. She held it to the red candle’s flame until it caught, and dropped it in a small metal bowl. “I beseech the Element of Fire to come and aid us. Passion, Love, and change.” She raised her hands over her head. “The symbol of pure magic, infuse our circle.”
Sofia poured the water from the mason jar into her bowl, dipped her fingers in it, and spritzed droplets onto the pentacle, and at each one of the girls. “I call upon the Element of Water to purify us.”
Paige took a deep breath at the pregnant silence indicating it her turn. She grasped the white rope and held it out. “Spirits, we call on you to hear us, to bring us balance.” Taking the rope in her other hand as well, she tugged on it. “The Aether binds us to each other and to the world. Empower our circle.”
Something in the room changed. An alteration of light, an increase in the fragrance of woodlands, a drop in temperature. A sense of presence filled in, exuding from every wall.
Paige swallowed the last of her doubts. Whoa.
Born in a little town known as South Amboy NJ in 1973, Matthew has been creating science fiction and fantasy worlds for most of his reasoning life. Somewhere between fifteen to eighteen of them spent developing the world in which Division Zero, Virtual Immortality, and The Awakened Series take place. He has several other projects in the works as well as a collaborative science fiction endeavor with author Tony Healey.
Hobbies and Interests:
Matthew is an avid gamer, a recovered WoW addict, Gamemaster for two custom systems (Chronicles of Eldrinaath [Fantasy] and Divergent Fates [Sci Fi], and a fan of anime, British humour (
He is also fond of cats.
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