Hekate’s body jerked awake to the sound of her alarm clock. As her eyes adjusted to the light, she realized she was still in her clothes from the night before. Even her make up was still caked onto her face. Her hands reached to rub her eyes, destroying the eyeliner that was there before sighing.
Her mind raced as she tried to piece together the memories of the night before. At first, she attempted to convince herself it was just a nightmare, but the smell of sulfur that fumed from her clothes and hair told her otherwise. Not to mention the lack of memory of how she got home.
It wasn’t a dream.
The voice echoed inside of her head, as Hekate’s whole body stiffened at the sound. Her hands moved from her eyes to run through her hair as she groaned.
“You’ve got to be kidding me. I won’t get used to another voice in my head,” she mumbled.
“Apology not accepted, ghost possessing my body,” Hekate grumbled.
Climbing from her bed, she was afraid to look at her reflection in her dresser mirror. Considering she was still in the previous night’s clothes and she had just rubbed her eyes, she was certain she looked like a drunk raccoon. Taking a deep breath, she exhaled and looked up. Her face had patches of black soot that went all the way down her body. Her hair was in knots, and her clothes were shredded from behind. There would be no explaining this to her mother.
Behind her reflection, Hekate noticed an unfamiliar shape sitting on her bed. Turning, she saw nothing. But looking back at her reflection, there Moro was, just staring at her. “Why are you in my mirror?”
I’m part of you now. I can be seen when I choose to be seen. But you will always see me through reflection. It’s always been a gateway to the other side.
“Cool, that made no sense.” She noticed her torn shirt again. “With all your powers, you can’t fix my clothes, can you?”
Her mother’s voice from downstairs made her muscles stiffen. “Hekate! Are you awake? It’s already past ten!”
“I’m up!” she yelled.
Hekate took one last look at her reflection. “Where are the wings?”
They’re still apart of you. When you are in need of them, they will appear. For now, they’re in a dormant state. I wouldn’t suggest calling upon them whenever you want. It isn’t a painless process.
Her tongue pushed against her cheek, tempted to try it. But the memory of the first time the wings appeared forced her to ignore the urge. Instead, she stripped her smelly, destroyed clothes and grabbed a pair of jeans and a t-shirt before heading to the shower. It took two shampoo scrubs to get the smell out entirely.
Feeling clean, she threw her wet hair into a messy bun as she slipped into her clean clothes. Before she hit the last step of the stairs leading to the kitchen, Hekate took a deep breath. The last thing she wanted was to have last night’s events plastered all over her face. Or accidentally have her wings appear, even though she wasn’t one hundred percent sure how to make them appear. Leaving her room was a risk.
Her mother was sitting at the kitchen counter. She must have moved her sewing machine while Hekate was asleep because there it was on the counter in front of her mother. That thing was not the quietest to move considering how old it was.
“Why are you sewing in here?”
Her mother looked up from her project and through a pair of glasses. “I needed a change of scenery. I have to get these repairs done before Monday, and the back room was beginning to feel like a cage.”
“Fair enough,” she said with a mouth full of Cheerios. She felt her mother’s eyes follow her as she moved to stand across from her. “What?”
She pulled her glasses off and studied her daughter. “I don’t know. There is something different about you this morning. What time did you get in?”
“It was around curfew. I wasn’t really paying attention to the time once I started driving home. But I know I left the club on time.” In her defense, only half of her excuse was a lie. She knew she had left before curfew, but she was unaware of the time when Moro brought her back. Her sense of time while at the Gates had been nonexistent. She prayed the car was in their driveway, or else her mother would call her out without hesitation.
Her lips pursed before finally nodding. “Okay. I trust you.” Thankfully, her mother seemed content enough to change the subject. “What are your plans for today?”
Hekate set down the empty bowl as she thought about it. “I’ll probably go to Marcia’s house. I need to take her car back to her. She let me drive it home last night.”
“How did Marcia get home?”
“One of our classmates was there to take her,” she said.
“If you plan on taking her car soon, be prepared to find her sleeping. Her mother told me she wouldn’t get out the bed before noon, no matter how hard she fought with her.”
Hekate chuckled, “That sounds about right.” Quickly, she placed her dirty dishes in the sink before turning to leave. “I’ll be back later.”
The rumbling of the sewing machine began, making it difficult for Hekate to hear her mother’s goodbye. “Have fun!”
Hekate ran back up to her room to grab her tennis shoes. She shut the door behind her before speaking again to the voice in her head. “What are my chances of the car being outside?”
The car is here. The keys are on your dresser.
After tying her shoes, Hekate jumped up to see the keys sitting on top of her jewelry box. “If anything, I guess I should thank you for that.”
Grabbing the keys, Hekate ran back downstairs, and outside to find Marcia’s car parked beside her own. She waited until she was safely inside the car before asking a question she wasn’t sure she wanted answered. “Why me?”
Why you, what?
“Why did you choose me? Of all people? I’m not grateful, or super religious, or anything like that. If anything, I’m bitchy.”
Hekate could hear Moro beginning to chuckle in the back of her head. Her eyes glanced into the rearview mirror to see Moro laying down in the back seat. When their eyes met, Moro sat up. We chose you because you are strong. Your mind and spirit have a strength that not many have. You can handle me, the demons, everything. Even Death itself. Not every human has survived the summoning. Many have died when they were blessed with their abilities. But you not only survived but attempted to go straight to battle.
Hekate couldn’t let go of the first part of her explanation. “How did they die?”
They couldn’t take the pressure. Their body gave out when the powers were being bestowed.
“Comforting. So I could have died from a heart attack,” Hekate commented, unamused by the idea.
But you didn’t. And that’s what matters. Just keep your guard up, and you’ll stay alive. After seeing you last night, I have confidence in your abilities.
She thought back to the part after the wings grew from her back. Her memory of it was fairly hazy, but she remembered seeing the demons as they charged. She had done something to the Gate a Horseman was attempting to escape from, but she wasn’t sure what.
Although Hekate had more questions, she remained quiet for the remainder of the car ride to Marcia’s house. She pulled into the driveway, next to another car. Marcia’s mother opened the driver’s door and stood on her tiptoes as Hekate rolled the window down. “Morning.”
“Hey, Hekate. Can you do me a favor, and pull Marcia out of bed? She needs to learn to wake up at a decent hour. If I didn’t have to get to work, I’d do it myself.”
The black hair that matched Marcia’s fell, causing her to curse before pulling another hair thing from her wrist. Hekate chuckled. “Sure thing. You can count on me. Have a good day.”
When her hair was back into the bun she intended, she looked back up at Hekate and smiled. “Thanks, sweetie! Have fun!”
With that, she climbed back into her car before rushing off. Hekate walked into their house and made her way to Marcia’s room. Although they had only been friends for a few years, it was long enough for Hekate to learn the layout of Marcia’s house. Her room was in the back, instead of upstairs like her mother’s. She chose the bottom floor when they moved here ten years ago. Her mother said it was because it was the safest if there was a fire. Hekate still believed it was so she could sneak out easier in the middle of the night.
Hekate pushed her door open to find Marcia passed out on top of her bed. She was still wearing her clothes from the night before, not even bothering to take her shoes off. It was highly possible she had gotten home only a few hours ago. Because her mother was a nurse, her hours were always different, making it easier for Marcia to pull that kind of thing.
Looking around the room, she found an old alarm clock that probably hadn’t been touched in years. Marcia liked to collect odd things like this from antique stores, so finding it wasn’t out of place. As quietly as she could, she cranked the alarm so it would go off in one minute. She placed it on Marcia’s nightstand before taking a few steps back and waited.
This isn’t very kind.
Hekate shrugged, without saying a word. When the piercing sound went off, Marcia jerked so hard, the entire bed shook underneath of her. “What the hell?”
She reached over and picked up the alarm before tossing it across the room. Hekate began to laugh, causing Marcia to jerk violently around, searching for the voice. When she realized it was Hekate, she groaned. “That was mean. Bitch.”
Reaching for the still ringing alarm, Hekate switched it off. “Your mom told me to wake you up. She just didn’t say how.”
She glared at me before climbing out of bed. “It should be a sin against humanity to be out of bed before noon on a Saturday.”
Hekate jumped onto her bed and crossed her legs. “Did you want your car back, or not?”
Marcia merely grunted before disappearing into the bathroom.
That would be an odd sin to commit.
“She wasn’t being literal.”
Of that, I am certain. It was an errant thought.
Since she had to wait for Marcia to finish showering anyway, Hekate decided to take advantage of their solitude. “How do I make my wings appear? Or even use powers?”
They won’t appear without intention to use them. It’s all about your will and the power of your spirit. When you need them, they will appear. Your powers will be strongest on the nights of the full moon.
Hekate’s face squished together in confusion. “What? Why? How?” She could hear Moro chuckling to herself again, causing her to feel slightly irritated.
Moro could feel her annoyance. Calm down, I’m not laughing at you. It’s simple, my power stems from the light of the moon. I’m a spirit of that energy that chose to appear in the form of a wolf. I’ve had charges in the past who couldn’t contain the energy I accumulate during a full moon and ended up having their wings sprout randomly all night. Or they suddenly couldn’t control their powers.
“What happened to them when that happened?” Hekate asked, afraid to hear the answer.
Moro was silent for a moment, before continuing. Most of them were fine. Some were killed.
Well, if they were fighting a demon and couldn’t control their powers in battle, the demon took advantage. They were strong but unable to focus the power properly. While some were accused of being a witch by other humans.
The image alone left Hekate cold. “Great. I’ll be burned at the stake.”
We’ve done this a few times to know what to look for in a host now. I am certain you will have no trouble controlling my energy.
Marcia opened the door, releasing a cloud of steam. “Who were you talking to?”
Hekate blinked as if she were confused by the question. “Uh, no one? I was waiting for you.”
Marcia shrugged, pulling the towel from her head, revealing wet, black curly hair. She ran her fingers through them as she looked at me through the mirror. “So, last night was interesting after you left. Erik wanted to meet up for some coffee this morning. Want to go with?”
Instantly, Hekate glanced at Marcia’s alarm clock. “Meet for coffee this morning?”
She rolled her eyes. “You know what I mean. He told me to text him when we were headed over.”
“So you just assumed I would agree to go, I see.”
She turned, her eyes now pleading. “I said we were going last night. So now he expects us both to show up. Come on, please! You know you’ll have fun.”
Groaning, Hekate stood up from the bed. “I guess I didn’t have any better plans for today.”
Marcia made a sound that I was sure caused Moro to flinch. “Yes! Good, because I already texted him. Come on! You drive. I want to fix my make up.”
By fix, she meant taking her entire arsenal with her and putting it on in the car. Hekate drove in silence while Marcia babbled on about how she and Erik danced all night and how he wouldn’t let her go. She was surprised Marcia was even able to talk while she applied all of her make up. It looked like quite the process.
By the time they had arrived, Marcia looked like a new woman. Her curls were dry, yet contained and her face had been contoured perfectly. She had a skill Hekate was jealous of. But at the same time, Hekate wasn’t willing to put the time or money into figuring out how to do it. Despite being the first ones there, they both walked inside and order a cup of coffee each. Marcia ordered something flavored, while Hekate stuck with black. She was hoping the bitter taste could rid her of the taste of sulfur she couldn’t seem to shake.
It was only after they sat down when Hekate noticed it. They chose a table on the patio, and that’s where she saw it. A faint red glow that hovered over the ground. She didn’t even realize it was there before, but now, she saw it.
As if to answer her thoughts, Moro’s voice echoed in her mind. A demon was here recently.
Marcia suddenly jumped up from her chair and started waving, causing Hekate to break her gaze. Erik was walking towards the coffee shop. He simply waved, before heading inside, to get a drink of his own. When Marcia sat back down, she noticed my eyebrow cocked up. “What?”
“Could you be more obvious?” Hekate asked.
She rolled her eyes. “I’m not the one playing the games here. I’m just trying to get this thing going.”
Leaning forward, Hekate took a sip of her coffee. It was more bitter than she expected but still better than the sulfur flavor that lingered. “You’re both playing games, and it’s stupid. I wish you would just do it and get it over with.”
Marcia winked at me. “It’s not like I haven’t been trying.”
Hekate didn’t have a chance to come up with a witty retort. Erik appeared behind me and pulled up a seat between us. “I’m surprised you texted me so early, Marcia. I figured you’d be asleep for a few more hours. We didn’t leave the club until at least 3am.”
“3am? Geez, what the hell were you guys doing for that long?” Hekate asked.
Marcia blushed. “We were just dancing!”
Erik’s lips lifted into a slight grin before glancing back at Hekate. “I take it you’re the reason she’s awake?”
“Put an alarm clock by her head,” she said triumphantly.
Erik chuckled. “Nice. Glad it worked. What are you guys doing for the rest of the day?”
Marcia began this long story that was a mixture of shopping and homework. Hekate lost interest quickly and looked for the aura again. It hovered over the sidewalk as if it were trapped in place. From where she could see, it led around to the back of the coffee shop. Her curiosity was beginning to itch at her when she noticed Marcia’s hand waving in her face.
Erik shook his head with a grin. “You kind of zoned out for a minute. You okay?”
Hekate’s lips formed a hard line, she intended to look like a reassuring grin. It wasn’t working. “I’m fine. I’ll be right back. I have to go to the bathroom.”
As Hekate walked away, she heard Erik ask Marcia if she had eaten anything to make her sick. Ignoring his question, she made her way inside, only to leave again from the side door. She was hoping no one would notice.
The red fog became thicker as she made her way to the back of the shop. “Should I keep going?”
Yes. You must.
“Technically, no I don’t,” Hekate grunted, annoyed at Moro’s words.
I guess you have a point. But is it worth the risk to just let it go?
The trail continued past the dumpsters to the park that was across the street. Figuring Marcia wouldn’t mind the time along with Erik, she continued to follow the red fog as it thickened. As soon as she stepped into the park, she regretted it. The fog split into four different directions. “Son of a – ”
Do you want my help?
Trying to keep her temper in check, she asked. “How would you be able to help?”
“I can follow the freshest trail,” a familiar voice said from behind her.
Hekate jumped and turned quickly to see Moro standing behind her. “Since when can you do that?”
Moro simply walked past her. “You’ll want to follow this trail.”
For a few minutes, Hekate followed the white wolf, wondering why there was no one else in the park. On occasion, she would see the random person walking their dog, or a homeless person choosing a bench for their bed. Other than that, the park was practically abandoned.
“It’s because they can sense it,” Moro suddenly said.
Moro stopped following the trail and met Hekate’s gaze. “Humans may not be able to know demons when they see them, but they can feel uneasy. It’s in their instincts to feel nervous or afraid around demons. They may not know why, but most know to stay away from here.”
“Oh.” Ignoring that fact that Moro was answering her thoughts, Hekate realized she was right. There was something deep down that was telling her to leave, but she didn’t know why until now.
Hekate froze in place. Moro’s fur on her back rose as she bared her teeth. Marcia caught up with them quickly. “Why did you run away like that? That was rude. And where did this dog come from?”
“Marcia, what are you doing here? Where’s Erik?” Hekate asked, eager to get her friend to leave.
When she noticed Moro’s barred teeth, Marcia took a step back. Her eyes never left the giant wolf. “He had to go back to work. What is up with this dog?”
Hekate turned. Moro was staring at Hekate. Behind Moro was a man. He was dressed in old, ripped up jeans and a shredded pull over. His blue baseball cap was so faded, she couldn’t tell what the logo used to be.
He stopped as Moro turned to growl at him. “You shouldn’t be out here. It’s dangerous times, young lady.”
Hekate’s arm slowly reached out behind her, slowly pushing Marcia behind her. “We’re fine. Thank you.”
“Hekate!” Moro screamed.
Before anyone had time to react to a wolf talking, the stranger revealed a sharp grin as a gust of wind threw the three of them back. Tumbling to the ground, Hekate fell on top of Marcia, causing her to get knocked out as her head hit the ground. She looked back at her friend, before standing. Moro was charging at the man, but he was faster.
Suddenly, a sharp pain Hekate was familiar with began to ripple through her back. Her hand quickly covered her mouth, muffling her cries so she wouldn’t draw attention to herself. The pain seared as the wings grew. This time, however, it happened much quicker. Her muscles split, making room for the new bones as they pressed their way through her skin. Soft gray feathers covered Hekate when she was able to stand straight again.
Glancing up, she took in the current situation. Marcia was still passed out. Moro was pinned down, chomping at whatever limb she could reach. The man standing on her neck, finally noticing me. “Those won’t save you.”
No longer thinking, Hekate let everything go and followed her instincts. At a speed she didn’t believe possible, she charged at the man. But it wasn’t her feet carrying her, it was her wings. They shot her across the park. An energy filled her as rage leaked from her very pores. Ducking her head, she slammed into the man hard, her hands grabbing his shirt and tossing him into the air, before shoving him into the nearest tree. Her strength grew, allowing her to toss him as if he were nothing but a rag doll.
The man…demon looked at her with glowing yellow eyes, unable to move. “Heh. It matters not. No one can escape Death.”
Hekate stepped closer to the man before squatting in front of him. “Maybe not. But I’m not going to die without a fight.”
He jerked forward to grab her arm, his grip burning. Hekate attempted to pull her arm away, but he was squeezing as hard as he could. She could feel his hand burning into her skin and in a panic, she pulled back with her other hand. As it began to have a slight sliver glow, she shoved it forward, slamming it into his chest, remembering doing something similar only the night before.
His hand released her as his head fell backward. The sound reminded Hekate of the Gates. She jerked her hand back, pulling his heart with it before crumbling it in her fist into ashes. As the heart fell to the ground in a pile, his entire body cracked like stone before shattering.
Hekate stayed there for a minute, mentally catching up on everything she had just done. The ashes of the demon began to get pushed away by the oncoming wind. But they didn’t go far. The ashes swirled around Hekate, flying through her hair, her clothes, and finally to her wings. She glanced sideways and watched as they speckled her wings before fading into them, darkening them permanently.
The last thing she saw or heard was Moro walking towards her and Marcia screaming her name.