Copyright 2017 Evelyn Zinn.
All rights Reserved.
I don’t know how I ended with always having Fridays off but I was not about to complain…other than my favorite spots always being too crowded to bother with. Between my favorite used book store and hipster craft joint in the snob side of town, Friday’s were the day I retreated to my refuge. I wasn’t alone today. Maxine asked to see the chest.
I wasn’t entirely sure it it was wise but I invited her out anyways. There was a joint buy not long ago that I got in on. I say not long ago but it’s been damn near ten years. I was seventeen and a small trust fund that I wanted to spend on something practical and I… became a part of a joint buy. Eighty acres of land with 7 other entities. Over time I’ve bought out all but two and we’ve pretty much laid out boundaries and a common area. I was sitting on twenty acres at this point and okay yeah, my cottage out there was the most stereotypical damn witch cottage on the planet. Right down to the field stone walls.
I spent a summer building this by myself. Sweating, bleeding, cussing and wondering. It was an amazing little cottage that I managed to make completely off grid by sheer dumb luck. An estate auction for the solar panels, a good friend in town for a few months for the wiring and another who was bored for the plumbing. I had it set up just right. Including a few chambers for things that needed…. sealed off by earth and rock and only to be lit by lantern and candle. However, I had another place of safety that I could put overly dangerous items. It frustrated the local game and fish department because they could never find the burning objects that appeared on the dam’s cameras.
Such was this chest. There was very old magic tied into it. It was made from Black Forest woods and painted with Italian oils. The hinges of metal were new compared to the wood, probably added after it reached North American shores. It was what was in inside that made it so valuable to the knowing eyes.
I watched as Maxine touched the lid reverently and whispered ancestor prayers. Her families ancient tongue never bother me like Rosscoe’s did but there was still something awful about standing there hearing it. Maxine had three children, but they all had grown up in the community. They knew the drama and preferred to be solitaries. Even then, I still got along with all of them and they had stuck this one on me. In exchange for working for me at the store for three weeks straight so that I could go see Glacier National Park finally. Her husband though had vanished into a world even more shadowy than that of the pagan community. She had woken up one day to find a box of paperwork and found out she was a rich woman. She never asked how and that has always been for the best in my opinion.
On the inside of the chest one could begin to see an age. There were runes. Pict spiralgraphs and hieroglyphs of an even older age. If you were like me, you could feel the working someone had done to start wearing down the chest just so that they could find it. They grabbed the wrong damn book though. I had to keep that mantra in my head. If I didn’t, I would become consumed with finding the lost book. The other journals were the important things. The keys.
One of the most poignant lessons an astute practitioner learns is to hide things in plain sight because you never know when the tides will cause the current to turn against you. I watched Maxine pull each book out and name it. I watched out of the corner of my eye as she made sure I spelled each name right. I watched her wrap each journal gently and gracefully in silk.
We had waited years to find this chest. I had taken each segment of the maps’ path a month at a time so as not to trigger any traps or let anyone know what I was doing. It wasn’t enough. I fully expected to scolded within an inch of my life.
Maxine with the last book turned and looked at me.
“You were right.”
I remained silent.
“The pieces needed will be in those remaining though. I’m confident in your abilities.”
I raised an eyebrow.
“My abilities? I’m not the one who wanted it found. I’m not the one whose been…kept in the dark… to the greater world surrounding our tourist town.”
Maxine sighed as she placed the bound volumes into a large duffel bag.
“It’s for your own good. This is the town that you will find needs the help the most right now, but in the future… once you’ve perfected your technique… you can let all this go and let it rest like it deserves.”
We pushed the very brittle and dry canoe out into the water with the chest. I lit it on fire and shoved it hard. Tomorrow the news channels would be a lit with the news of a flaming object off of the Army Corps of Engineers dam but none of the security cameras were working that night. How odd.
Friday wasn’t over yet for me. I got back to the studio apartment I live to find Marcus and his bottle of absinthe waiting. Marcus was the contact for the Voodoo group in this town. Me… I was the mutt. Everyone else talked to me and the Voodoo did too, only because they had to. Which in my mind, made me think them stuck up.
He offered me absinthe and I gave him information. The Voodoo had a stake in what was happening just as much as the Native spirits and ancestral spirits and gods did. It was okay that I was hated by some. I had stopped caring after a particularly blunt lesson in what I needed to be worried about.
“What all is there?”
“Pieces I don’t think were ever believed to have existed. Pieces no one human believed had been figured out.”
He looked at me over his goblet.
“Seriously. There are pieces here that if I said too much around anything, would get us both killed and even that little bit has me concerned.”
“Can’t be that bad. You’re an under the radar kind of gal.”
“Sometimes. There were family names that have been extinct for at least a hundred years. The amount of time and work it’s going to take to properly and respectively destroy these journals is…daunting.
“You’ll be fine. That said, are you still going through with it?”
“Hmmm? Oh hells yes. The balance of the spirit world is in danger and this could well be the only damn way to rectify it. Can we stop talking about this? I need to get a night of relaxation in.”
Marcus nodded and poured the rest of the bottle out between the two of us.
“Then we shall play games until dawn and drink until sober.”