The candles flickered in the chill breeze. The leaves rustling were the only sounds to be heard. It was as quiet as the grave otherwise. The dirt beneath their feet was hard-packed and the persistent wind sent the few fallen leaves scuttling across the ground around them. They were nervous, this was the first time they had ever attempted anything like this, but it seemed to be the only logical means of closing the case.
They were desperate. The police had failed so far and with no new leads on such a high profile case, there was pressure coming from all sides to finally give the family some closure.
So they had called her in. Starlight Ravenchild. A self-proclaimed witch and practitioner of helpful services. She had assisted other precincts on other cases, and apparently she was 100% accurate, even with knowing only specific names or dates. She never seemed to need much information and despite her unconventional methods, she had proven results. The family of the missing child were all for it, anything to recover their precious heiress.
The chief had snorted about it, claiming it to be some newfangled new-age B.S. that only the rich and gullible fell for. The chief was a born-again Christian and would have no part in any of this devilry.So he sent McGill and Tomashino to sit in on this one, godless heathens he had said. McGill laughed and pointed out, behind their boss`s back, that he was Irish-Catholic but would do it anyway.
The cops had met up before the designated time to secure the area, again. They didn’t really think that anyone would try anything, it had remained very hush hush and besides, this was a kidnapping for ransom, not a mob trial or something that required constant media attention. Despite the family being rich, they weren’t celebrities and they certainly didn’t act like some other heiresses did.
Ravenchild and the parents arrived at the same time. They were all pale, but the cops suspected that Ravenchild did it on purpose. She wore all black under a white robe emblazoned with black stars and crescent moons. It was a lovely outfit, perfect for the Hallowe’en season. The cops exchanged glances, not really sure how they felt about this whole thing after all. Starlight Ravenchild stopped in front of the police officers and gave them both a critical look.
“You are the ones in charge of protecting us tonight?” She asked, her voice heavy with a Romanian accent that reminded McGill of a bad Hollywood gypsy.
“Yeah, from any human threats.” McGill replied gruffly.
Starlight nodded. “Good. But you will need to join us in the circle first and foremost. No one will be here to harm us.”
“Sure, lady.” Tomashino said with a brusque nod.
“Follow me.” Starlight trilled, chanting as she walked past the police officers towards the cleared patch of ground just beyond the last row of gravestones.
The missing girl’s parents followed immediately but the police officers gave each other skeptical, worried looks.
“I don’t like this, McGill.”
McGill nodded. “I know, Vinnie. The whole thing smells like Phooey, but honestly, what else can we do?”
With a resigned sigh, the detectives followed suit. They found Starlight drawing on the ground with chalk she seemed to produce from nowhere. The rich parents held each other tightly as they watched with wide, teary eyes. Starlight continued to chant, her voice rising and falling and ululating in a foreign language no one understood. Clearly, she had performed this very ritual before.
“The words are complete.” Starlight said, standing. “And the circle is drawn and cast. Now, all of you, hold hands, complete the circle with your minds and bodies. Pour your energy into finding this poor young girl.”
“Natascha.” The mother said. “Her name is Natascha.”
Starlight nodded and began to speak again in her strange tongue. McGill and Tomashino glanced at each other and clasped hands, McGill holding Starlight’s hand and Tomashino bravely taking Natascha’s mother’s hand.
They felt like they had been there for an hour, listening to Starlight chant and Natascha’s parents weep. Every now and then an English word would slip through and McGill and Tomashino would exchange skeptical glances. It was useless, they agreed silently. It was all hokey and no one was going to get any answers tonight.
Just as McGill was ready to call the whole thing off, the wind began to pick up moving clockwise around them, and only around the little circle. It began to gust violently around them, growing stronger until it was whipping Ravenchild’s robe around her body. The roar of the wind became almost unbearable and only Starlight’s shouts of ‘don’t break the circle!’ kept McGill at his post.
Suddenly, a pale, ghostly light began to ooze from the ground in the circle. White and shining it leaked out of the ground like water, pooling in the center of the circle and slowly building up on itself until it was a shapeless blob of glowing light.
“Spirit!” Ravenchild called out above the roaring wind. “We are here tonight to ask you about these grieving parents’ child. Natascha has been stolen from her bed! The human law enforcement can not find her! We are here to ask you to show us the way to find this poor innocent child! Show us your true shape so that we may look upon the truth of what you tell us!”
The blob of light and energy began to shift, taking shape of a vaguely humanoid figure. It was too tall to be Natascha’s ghost, the girl was young, this was the spirit of a full grown person. He growled under his breath, all his instincts working against him. It was unnatural, inhuman, dead, even! He tried to block out the words and the hallucination, but he couldn’t.
And then it was over.
McGill felt himself drop to his knees, shaking and weak. Natascha’s parents were clutching each other and sobbing. Ravenchild was chanting again. Only Tomashino seemed to have his wits about him. He was on his radio.
“All units, she’s alive she’s being held captive at…”
McGill passed out.
He awoke in the hospital, shaking still and disoriented. His partner was sitting next to his bed, but there was something odd. Like a shape floating next to him, glowing and white.
“What..?” McGill tried to ask.
“We found her.” Tomashino replied. He looked gaunt, like he’d lost ten pounds very quickly.
“How long have I been out?” McGill asked, focusing only on the white blob floating by his partner’s head.
“24 hours.” Vinnie assured him. “But we found her.”
“Yup.” Vinnie nodded. “Alive and unbroken.” He added.
McGill squinted. “There were others, weren’t there?” He asked.
“Yeah.” Vinnie paled a little more. “But they’re all safe now.” He stood up. “I gotta get some coffee, okay? I’ll be back in a bit and we can uh… Debrief. Or something.”
“Okay…” McGill mumbled watching the shining object follow his partner out of the room.
Moments later, Starlight Ravenchild appeared in the doorway. “You see them now too, don’t you?” She asked mysteriously.
“See what?” McGill demanded.
“So what if I’m still hallucinating?” He replied defensively.
Ravenchild smiled through her red lips. Her pearly teeth showing slightly. “You will accept them in time. And they will help you more and more.” Her smile turned seductive. “You will ask for my help soon. To understand.” And with that she left.
McGill laid back against his bed, staring at the growing number of hallucinations on the ceiling. All white and fuzzy and glowing. All silently crying out for his help…