Neil and Cynthia are woken the morning after their wedding, by a creepy guy pretending to be a UPS delivery man. Neil slams the door on him and calls Heath and Jackie. Every available Circle member arrives and they do a thorough cleansing of the property, as well as Neil and Cynthia.
They all gathered outside near the fire pit. The ritual was short and to the point. Neil and Cynthia were bathed with blessed salt water and dried with wind that the others conjured. Afterward, they dressed in fresh clothing. The other garments were taken for cleansing as well. Every inch of the house, all their possessions, were given the same treatment. Satisfied they had done what they could, everyone went home. Left to their own devices, Neil and Cynthia snuggled on the couch.
“This is insane,” he said.
“I think now we should break out the books and do some cramming, like we did for tests back in school. I recognize what I’ve forgotten; virtually everything, I learned.”
“You had no need for it,” she reminded him. “It’s not like you were going to whip up a sandstorm or anything.”
“Can you imagine what a group of us could do for the war effort?” He shook his head, awed.
Neil got out several books of rituals, as well as a laptop with hundreds of other files that they might find necessary. He had no idea where to start, so he closed his eyes, waiting for inspiration. His left hand tingled and he laid it on something without opening his eyes. Relaxing his hand, he felt a large, leather volume. Opening his eyes, he saw a book he couldn’t remember ever seeing before.
“It’s something Miles loaned me. Very old. The Encyclopedia Magicka. It’s all on disc, but he felt we needed to have the actual book as reference. He doesn’t know how old it is, but I found a few references made in the margins by Luminous Cayce.”
“You’ve read it?”
“Not by a long shot. You have to handle it with cotton gloves.” She handed him a pair. Shuffling a stack of notebooks, she picked one up. It was three inches thick and heavy. “This is the scanned copy. There is one thing I want to show you, though.”
She lifted The Encyclopedia Magicka carefully, turning to a page marked with a red satin ribbon. “Here.” She pointed with her gloved finger.
Neil turned the book so he could see it. “Should the time come when the Circle must be repaired, let it be quickly. Let them that make this repair move swiftly to breach the gap lost souls create.” He shook his head. “What does it mean?”
“Just what it sounds like. This is talking about us. I hope we’ve moved swiftly to repair the gap, but I’m not sure about breaching the gap. We did the ritual.”
“Yes, but I think we missed something. This wasn’t in the ritual.” He pointed to a bit that was written in the corner in faded, blue ink.
Cynthia peered at it, squinting. Rising quickly, she dug in the desk for a moment and brought out a magnifying glass. “That’s not English.”
Neil looked at it. “No, it’s not. I don’t recognize it. How do we translate language we can’t identify?”
The laptop was already open and Cynthia typed diligently into a translation program, hitting the Recognize Language button. After several seconds, the text box popped up, “Language unknown.” She copied and pasted the words into a search bar and hit enter. Several more seconds passed, then the page responded. Only one box came up.
“Old Gaelic? How old?” Neil asked. “If it were Farsi, I could have a prayer of figuring it out. How do we get a translation on something like this?”
Cynthia flipped open another notebook, looking smug.
“Sweet. I love you, you know,” he said, giving her a kiss.
“I know. I don’t know who put this together, but it’s been very helpful translating things. Most notes are written in Old Gaelic. I imagine it’s to prevent the wrong person from getting the information. What does it say?”
Neil scowled. “Honestly, the translation isn’t much better than the Gaelic. It doesn’t make sense. I think it’s a recipe of some kind, giving me proportions?”
“We need someone else to look this over.”
Someone knocked at the door. Surprised, Neil peered out. This time, it wasn’t a creepy, pseudo-UPS guy or any other stranger. It was, however, not someone he expected. Smiling, he opened the door.
“Captain Curtis, this is a surprise.”
Captain Curtis, his C.O. from the Marines, stood on the porch like a pillar of stone. Suddenly, his hand lowered to his weapon. He had it out and pointing at Neil’s face before the younger man could react. Neil could see his friend fighting something. His face contorted and the muscles in his hands tightened, though he kept his finger off the trigger.
“Help,” Curtis whispered hoarsely. “Help me, Neil. I don’t want to kill you.”
“It’s okay, sir. Let me take that.” Neil reached for the weapon, slowly and carefully. “Baby,” he called calmly to Cynthia. “Bring the holy oil.”
© 2018 Dellani Oakes
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