It seems there are other conflicts in the group, other than between Chase and Marissa. Brian tells them to air the differences before the ritual, since he’s the one who will be on display.
The others, all of whom had never gotten past kissing and some exploratory groping, were mortified. Ginnifer blanched, staring at Louisa.
“Are you kidding? That’s weird!”
“Maybe so, but you’ll excuse him once you try it. Trust me.”
“Moving on?” Marissa said, her voice high pitched and squeaky.
“Sorry, Marissa. Had to clear the air,” Brian said. For the first time, he felt sorry for the overly religious girl. She couldn’t help it that she was the product of a couple frigid, uptight Jesus freaks. “We can’t let something as inconsequential as Sweet’s love life get in the way of this.”
“Thanks, dude. Thanks a lot for making light of it,” Sweet grumbled.
No one stuck up for Sweet, they all sided with Brian.
Jordan had compiled everything they’d found about the ritual and the Peddler. It wasn’t much, but they hoped that their contacts in other groups would have more. All of them had heard the legend of the Peddler, but apparently, he hadn’t appeared anywhere but in Miracle.
“This is the most complex ritual I’ve ever seen,” Louisa said. She was the most adept at casting a spell. She had been given the job of assisting Miles and Jackie. She read through it, familiarizing herself with the words of power.
Jordan reviewed the list of ingredients needed. “This has some weird stuff in it. Tears of a baby. That’s easy, we’ll just wait until Elise cries.”
“If it calls for blood of a virgin, we’d have that covered, too,” Chase teased.
“Yes, we’ll use yours,” Jordan snapped.
“Burn!” Sweet chortled.
“Don’t push your luck, Osric,” Ginnifer chided.
“Now you know why he goes by Sweet,” Andre said. “Lighten up, y’all. Brian’s right. This is important and needs to be done asap. So, let’s knuckle down and learn our parts. Bri, I found choreography for the dance you have to do.”
Brian stared at him blankly, eyes narrow. He frowned. “Oh?”
“Seriously, man. Would I make something up?”
“Yeah, you would, just to mess with me.”
“Not when it’s important. Look.” He pointed to the computer screen. “This is from our pal Dwight in Australia. He’s an Aborigine and his father is a holy man in their tribe. Doctor Meru’s got a lot to say about the Peddler. Apparently, we were wrong. He’s made a visit there, too. His dad said he’d find what he could in their records. Most of it’s word of mouth, but at one point, some of the tribal elders agreed to be recorded so that the stories could be preserved. His dad is an historian at some big college down there. He’s been pushing to preserve their culture before it dies out.”
“Good for him,” Jordan said.
“He’s screening stuff about the Peddler now and should have some information for us by tomorrow morning. They’re sixteen hours ahead of us, so it’s like two o’clock in the afternoon right now.”
Brian wasn’t really paying attention. He was looking at the dance. It seemed simple enough, but he wasn’t exactly light on his feet. “Oh, oh! Yes!” Both fists pumped in the air. “Oh, I love you!” He kissed the screen. “Listen to this. Though this dance and accompanying ritual are traditionally performed in the nude,” he made a wry face. “Modern practitioners agree that the state of nudity isn’t important to the ritual. They do suggest natural fibers and that the dancer wear as little as possible, but he or she need not be—nude.” He raised his arms, flashing the rock on sign as he head banged. Too happy to contain it, he improvised a little dance based on the summoning steps. He ended in a Moonwalk, which was, quite honestly, the only real dance move he knew.
His friends joined him, dancing and chanting. Sweet drummed on the table. Andre thumped on the sofa cushions and the others stomped their feet. The door at the top of the stairs opened and Heath trotted down.
“Starting the ritual early?”
“I don’t have to be naked!” Brian whooped and cheered.
Heath laughed loudly. “Glad to hear that, son. I wasn’t really looking forward to that either. How did you find out?”
“Our buddy, Dwight’s dad,” Jordan said, turning the laptop so he could see it. “Dr. Bindjali Meru.” She severely mispronounced the first name, making Heath laugh.
“Bin-ja-li,” he said slowly. “Yes, I know him. We’ve met at a few conferences.”
“Y’all have conferences on this shit?” Andre interjected.
“Yes. In fact, there is a network set up for people like us.”
“And why are we just now hearing about it?” Andre asked.
“Because you’ve been setting up a network of your own. It has to be that way. You have to see the patterns for yourself. If you don’t, you won’t understand.”
“Patterns—plural?” Brian said. “No one mentioned more than one.”
“Each person weaves his or her own,” Heath replied, leaning against the wall. “So, in this room, we have nine patterns. Each pattern is entwined with the others. It’s like an intricate Celtic knot. In fact, those knots are based on the interpersonal patterns. There are a few among us who can see them and they know how we’re all connected.”
“Please, don’t tell me that’s another of my jobs,” Brian whined. “I’ve got enough.”
“No, but it’s in your family.” He pushed off from the wall, starting up the stairs. “Your father sees them.” He trotted up the stairs.
© 2017 Dellani Oakes