By: Scott Pendergrass
The fire roared and burned brightly in the midnight air. The full moon gleamed high in the sky and illuminated the circle of teenage girls who waited eagerly for their mistress. Three girls from the most well-to-do families of the village sat and tried to warm their cold, clammy hands.
Alexandra was the doctor’s daughter and had hair that shined like the sun. Her cream-colored skin was unblemished, making her the choice among the available bachelors. Anne was the lawyer’s daughter. She was small, meek, and rarely spoke out of turn. Sarah was the minister’s daughter. Her eyes seemed to have the power to peer into the soul of every person she encountered. Just like her father, she thirsted to have a grasp on the lives of people.
Their eyes darted to all corners at every sound, every snapped twig, and every rustle of leaves on the ground. Finally, in the distance on the path leading back to the servant's settlement, a flickering light appeared. Jendayi had arrived.
Jendayi was from the mayor’s staff of servants. She arrived two months ago from Barbados and was bought almost immediately. She approached the circle carrying a large sack full of all the necessities for her teachings. Her voodoo practices had sparked the curiosity of Alexandra, the doctor’s daughter, while she was doing her daily chores. She passed by the barn and saw Jendayi cut the head off a raven and drain its blood into a pot. Tonight would be more eventful; Jendayi had promised.
"All you girl know, you and Jendayi get big trouble if tell," she cautioned them. "You can no tell no one. Ever."
All three girls nodded in agreement and swore not to tell anyone of the conjuring that would take place this night.
Jendayi placed an iron pot on the fire and filled it with a green liquid. As she waited for the liquid to boil, she pulled a butcher’s block from her sack, along with a chicken, a bat, and an assortment of plants. Alexandra and her friends looked at the instruments and ingredients that lay before them and trembled. Perhaps this was a bad idea, Alexandra mused nervously. But it was too late now.
The strange concoction in the pot was now at a full, rolling boil. Jendayi slowly undid the wrapping on her head, revealing a shaven skull that glistened with sweat in the moonlight. There was a strange glow in her eyes that sent a sinister chill through the girls. As she mumbled some strange words in her native tongue, the language of her people in the Caribbean, she reached into the wooden box and removed the bat. Laying it on the butcher block, she palmed a dagger from her sack and pointed the blade to the sky.
"Mistress, you wish have favored man’s heart for your own?" she asked.
"Yes…yes, Jendayi," she struggled to reply.
"And you, girl," Jendayi shot her gaze to Sarah, "you wish be beautiful like sunrise." Sarah remained catatonic for what felt like an eternity. Jendayi grew impatient. "GIRL?!"
"YES! Please," she finally blurted in response.
Jendayi’s gaze now turned to the last girl, Anne. She began to have a small sinister grin. "And you", she said in a low growl, "you wish have knowledge. You wish have power and rule."
Without hesitation, Anne looked at the voodoo priestess and grinned, "Yes, witch! Give me knowledge so I can rule."
With that, Jendayi looked to the sky and began to chant:
"Mana ti manga moka tika won
Mana ti manga ta ika kalamanda
Uta mi wondu hukum bai lananda
Al onga manti unga mandi natiba"
Turning the dagger, her hand plunged down through the body of the bat. A shriek rang in the small circle as the bat met its end. She then sliced the wings off and handed them to Alexandra Sarah. She handed the carcass of the bat to Anne.
"You girls," she pointed to Alexandra and Sarah, "bite wing and chew."
The girls brought their wings to their mouths and hesitantly bit into them. The chewing was difficult as they attempted to chew through the small bits of bone. They fought back the urge to vomit as the small patches of fur swirled in their mouths.
"Now spit in pot," the witch ordered.
As the girls spat, they both vomited into the pot. Jendayi knelt in front of them and gave a grave stare at Alexandra. She then turned to Anne and motioned her over.
"Squeeze blood in pot. All blood," she ordered.
As she squeezed the bat carcass, Jendayi crushed a handful of roots in her hand and added them to the pot. She continued chanting in her native tongue as she reached for the chicken. Her chanting soon turned into wailing screams in some strange gibberish. She began circling the fire, dancing and twirling with the chicken in her hands. Three times she circled the fire before stopping at the butcher block again. With one final scream into the night, she stuffed the chicken’s head into her mouth and bit it off. The moon illuminated her face, blood dripping down her chin; the head still in her mouth. She squeezed the chicken’s body in the direction of the girls, spraying them with the red fluid. Finally, as if in some sort of trance, she spat the head into the fire.
"One more ting," Jendayi murmured in her possessed state, "cut lock of hair and trow in fire."
One by one, the girls cut locks of their hair and threw it into the fire. The fire began to grow more intense as the content of the cauldron began to glow a bright red. Jendayi placed a drinking gourd in Alexandra’s hand and ordered the girls to drink.
Alexandra choked down the disgusting red fluid. Sarah did the same. Anne reached for the gourd but was stopped. She observed as the horrified faces of the two girls began to twitch. Their bodies began to convulse wildly as the girls gasped for air. Struggling to let out cried for help, they fell to the ground and attempted to crawl away from the fire. Jendayi walked to both girls. She plunged the dagger into Alexandra’s back and smashed Sarah’s neck.
The witch’s eyes began to glow a dark orange. After rolling the now lifeless bodies of both girls, she cut out Alexandra’s tongue, so as not to tell any secrets even in death. She then went to Sarah’s body and sliced off her ear, so as not to hear any more of Jendayi’s secrets. She then handed them to Anne.
"You still wish power," her voice now echoed, "you eat dese."
Anne put both in her mouth and chewed slowly. She began to fall into a trance as Jendayi approached her. She felt the witch’s hand on dress, exposing her full breast in the moonlight. In a small burst of ecstasy, a surge of fire flew through her veins as she felt the witch’s teeth pierce her plump nipple.
Coming out of her trance, she opened her eyes and to her dismay and horror, a man stood before her. His physique was sculpted to perfection and his face strong. His eyes glowed the same dark orange color and a fresh trail of blood ran down his chin.
"Girl," he growled in a tone that seemed to tremble up from the earth, "you belong to me now."
She turned to run but he grabbed her by her throat. Turning her back to face him, he pulled her close to him and kissed her trembling mouth. Digging his teeth into her lips and forcing his tongue into her mouth, he plunged his fist into her chest. In a panic, she tried to push him back as he clutched her beating heart and pulled it from her body.
Letting her still-twitching body fall to the ground, he stood over her and grinned with a gruesome, blood-stained smile. He gave one final look to the bodies surrounding the fire. Looking down to Anne’s heart, still beating in his hand, he brought it to his mouth and bit into it as he started down the path back to the village.