The Coven (Prelude)

Back in January, I speculated on whether there was a story in Alan Rickman and David Bowie’s death. I managed to find a way to link it up, so I had homework completed for the writing group I now attend, which I have previously talked about. I thought I would share what I read out.

Hopefully, this will interest some people.

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She looked around, the black and white sleeveless dress with the symbols from playing cards adorning the knee-length edges, twirling and swirling at her knees. She swallowed hard. Was she dreaming, or was she awake? She never knew when it was like this…

Dark, gloomy night wrapped around her. She decided to run again, ignoring her knee, to escape them. She didn’t know who they were really, but she doubted that she was really being chased by Alan Rickman in his Snape outfit, or David Bowie, his head bandaged around his eyes. How did she know what he looked like? A large part of his face was covered up, silvery short spikey hair showing in tufts above his bandages. How could he see? All there were for eyes were buttons sewn onto the bandages, like he was a twisted rag doll. Snape was easy to understand, with just black spheres for eyes. The skin stretched over the skull and boney body, as if mute testimony of the grave. Both men were dead, so it should be a dream… but she had already scraped her knees when she had fallen over earlier. She could feel the blood starting to get sticky and hard.

If it wasn’t a dream, then who was chasing her? She didn’t know. She felt like she didn’t want to know, either. But where was she? The streets looked more and more Victorian, and not at all like the London she had lived in all of her life. Thick, swirling fog was sifting around, too. She quickly looked down, regarding the Gothic Alice in Wonderland costume she was wearing. Why? How? When had she put it on? If it wasn’t a dream, she would remember… right? But she couldn’t. Then again, she had blanks in her memories. She had worked it out a couple of years ago, though hadn’t dared tell anyone. She brushed a few stray strands of her dark hair out of her face, and back to the rest of her bob-cut locks. She looked about nervously, wondering if the dead men – or whatever they were – had followed her. Nothing. She started to run, twisting around to look ahead properly-

Colliding into a black robed figure. She shrieked in shocked panic. she tumbled to the floor, staring up at the dead Harry Potter actor. He… or it looked down on her.

“Love is more powerful than all of my magic,” the being intoned, then broke into a terrifying, rictusesque grin, the teeth stained and dirtied, like long inhabitants of the grave. She scrambled to her feet, and then started to run like crazy, heart pounding fiercely and forcefully, her lungs raw from the excessive oxygen usage, hands feeling tender from being scraped and scratched as she fell to the floor earlier. Pressing them to the floor to get up had only reinforced their tenderness, the pain locked away after years of experience. You didn’t cry in her family…

It took her several minutes to realise she wasn’t in any streets. She paused, to twirl around to take in her surroundings. Of course. She knew where she was. After all, Highgate Cemetery was at her doorstep, so to speak. She started to run, trying to get to a familiar part. Assuming she was in the right part. The Eastern Cemetery was further away from her home, whereas the Western Cemeteryif she went the right direction – would end at the junction that pretty much faced the Victorian gatehouse that allowed her to get home.

“Pretty Bella! Pretty Bella!” sang out a voice. She turned, swallowing hard. Revolving on a plinth was a horribly familiar bandaged man, grinning proudly as he held out a battered book with a black star on it, somehow revolving round and round, seemingly on display. Below the plinth were shuddering juddering, shaking figures. Thin and dirty, seemingly grave-raised. They moved forwards in a jerky dance-like style.

She looked up, seeing that it wasn’t really night. It was the sun, completely eclipsed. She fumbled, and took out a golden pocket watch. Four past ten… She looked up, and the Undead Alan Snape Rickman being was next to her.

“Fear is the mind killer, Pretty Bella.” It stroked her hair, as she stood, fear-frozen, the fingers on the strands making her feel tingly and wanting to shiver from the teases of electrical pulses being sent along her nerves. She swallowed, trying to get her heaving breathing into order. It gripped her by the chin, and then adjusted her head to make sure she was looking up, and into his eyes. The black pits of nothing that showed that this wasn’t a man, it was… she didn’t honestly know, but she knew that it was no man, whatever it really was. She just stared, suddenly enthralled by it. It kept on touching and stroking her hair, the corpse-cold hands making her shiver as much as the stroking. The pulsing and pounding in her head and ears made it feel all the more real, in a swaying, jilted way.

“Don’t fear… hate. Hate with all your black heart. Do and be what is your nature. Be the Pretty Isa, to prophesise the coming of the Harbinger of the Light-Bearer,” it said as it held a hand forwards, giving her something. A knife, with a handle made of… she felt like vomiting when she realised what she was holding. She started swallowing hard, to try and remove the acid taste in her mouth. The handle was so cold and smooth, though one look made it clear why it was so, and the curves and ridges that were a part of it’s nature. She dropped the spine handled blade, stomach churning further. She wanted none of what actions she knew she was being directed to do. Suddenly, she was pushed to the ground, arms splayed outwards as her hands were pierced with long, square nails.

“Suffer for your virtues!” Sang out the Bandaged Preacher. “Bella Isa, purify yourself! Anti-Anointed!” it sang out. She was gagged before she could scream, being carried on the wooden object she had been pinned to. Searing heat came from her side. She didn’t want to know what it was causing that. Suddenly, she could see a tower looming up from the horizon, electricity sparking and showing from the top, arcing and striking the clock that was set into the structure…

“I have to tell you about the future!” sang both the Bandaged Preacher and Undead Tutor-Mage. She blinked. How did they end up inside the tower? And there were robed, masked figures… and a rather large dog… she started whimpering.

“Happy birthday to you!” They all sang as the dog leapt forwards-

And she realised she was bolt upright in bed, screaming her lungs and throat raw, cold sweat streaming from her shaking body. The night light was streaming in, the curtains never closed. She was too scared to be in the dark. Especially when she had just come back from a family get-together. Being part of the Denby-Ashe family meant obligations and duties, even if you were the pariah in the family. Not only that, but she was feeling bruised and scratched, and unable to remember much of the weekend just past. As was usual, she reflected sadly.

The girl with the bob-cutted hair reached under her pillow, and pulled out her rainbow covered dream book. She had discovered a few years ago that if she wrote down the dreams and nightmares, she then could sleep again, having forgotten about them. She put on the desk lamp, quickly scribbling away in a neat, precise script that had been beaten into her as a child. Sloppy handwriting was not allowed in her family. No matter how much you were the black sheep of the flock…

It took her little time for her – her mind was still stuck on the name Bella, which was only half her name – to put down all of the details meticulously. Years of expert punishment had ensued she would always be meticulous in detail.

Bella…

She hated that name, because it made her think of Twilight, and she didn’t want to be connected to those stories. Why her friend Fleur loved them… To her, it seemed that Bella was choosing between necrophilia and bestiality. Neither was appropriate to her. Love should be with someone you… well, loved. You need to know that person, understand them. She much preferred the older stories, like Austen, Gaskill and Eliot. It also helped her positive feelings that she had read the tales from books that were either First Edition, or near enough. One thing she loved about the wealth of her family, which was a rather short list, indeed…

She put the book back under her pillow, and then switched off the light. Writing it all down had helped to calm her, ready for sleep. She was looking forward to it as well, the day at Sixth Form. She was up to date with all of her work, and had figured out ways to needle her tutors. And being at one of the families’ many estates had meant access to a lot of useful material. For example, reading from a three hundred year old edition of Shakespeare, memorising the texts, knowing how the differences translated to the modern letter renderings. Not only that, but she had used the library of the family estate she had stayed at to look for any books on Shakespeare and the occult. Not to impress her tutor, but to find anything that could serve as intellectual torment for him. And that book written in nineteen hundred and nine, by Theosophicals… whoever they were, was a perfect place to start, too.

As she closed her eyes to sleep, she thought up little schemes to wind her English tutor up, the arguments to use and try to infuriate him with… all the while silently watched by three owls, perched on her windowsill, looking in…

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