'Kidnapped' was clearly a stronger word choice than necessary.
Carter went home with them against his will, but it was a good time. Alice brought him inside while Erica stayed in the car, and Carter got to see the house. It was old, but the parts of the house that were used were well-tended. The kitchen was clearly the home’s center, it was messy but everything that someone could need was easily within grabbing reach. Herbs hung from racks above the sink or sat drying on the windowsill. Candles and books cluttered the shelves, as well as a small bowl of crystals on the table by the door. Each serving utensil had a symbol on it that Carter didn’t recognize and was scared to ask about. A newly started game of cards sat on the table waiting for its players to return. A large pot full of some kind of vegetable stew simmered on the stove and Carter tried not to think of a cauldron. It smelled good and well seasoned, like the meals he remembered from when he still lived with their mother as children.
The living area of the house was primarily clustered in its furnishing. Too many chairs stuffed into the sitting room with no television: clean, cozy rugs and pillows and doilies covering all respective appropriate surfaces. Not a single overhead light was on nor a window uncovered, but the desk and floor lamps lit the home with warm yellow light, as well as the light from the fireplace. Carter stared at the fire wondering if he’d ever in his life seen a hearth like this that actually worked. He wasn’t just introduced to the house, he also got to meet the coven.
They weren't bad either, just weird.
Most families Carter had met were, you know; a mom and dad, some kids, and maybe a dog or something. The coven was different, led by a middle-aged woman and inhabited by people who were mostly unrelated. They acted like a family, however, living together and disliking each other's antics. They laughed a lot and Carter found himself sticking to walls and corners so as not to be in the way of their fun. When Alice introduced him he was met with more suspicious looks than anything else.
"So, you're a friend of Alice?" A woman, taller than himself, asked less-than-politely. He nodded nervously, heart sinking at being called just a friend. The woman looked him up and down before letting out a heavy breath. "I guess you aren't big enough to cause real harm, stay where we can see you." She dismissed before returning to the kitchen.
She approached the others where they were picking back up their cards at the kitchen table, making sure to shoot him a last glare after sitting down. He swallowed, and a chill crept over him. He was unwanted.
By all but one, of course, a small touch on his shoulder made him jump clear out of his skin. He spun quickly to find himself nose to nose with Alice. She yelled in an unladylike manner and stumbled backward.
"Ah, I'm sorry I didn't mean to scare you or...stand so close."
"It's fine." He wheezed the response as he tried to catch his breath from the heart attack she had just given him. "So are all witches so suspicious?" He asked eventually. Alice grimaced but quickly schooled her expression.
"Are they acting distrustful? That's not like them. No, it's not a witch thing." She answered a little too quickly. He peered back into the kitchen where the others were more engrossed in their card game than before.
"They seem suspicious of me but you just seem suspicious in general." He said, turning back to her. She pursed her lips lightly before responding.
"I think you’re thinking about this too hard, college man." She said slowly. Carter looked at his boots in thought. She was probably just embarrassed her coven-family-unit was being weird.
“Uh wasn’t there a reason you brought me here?” He asked. If Alice was relieved by the change of subject then she didn’t show it.
“Right, we should go meet back up with Erica.” She said quickly, leading him again through the kitchen and out the door.
“Want us to deal you two in, Al?” a relatively kinder woman, who couldn’t have been much older than them, asked as they passed, Alice stopped walking.
“Oh, no, thank you but that’s ok. We’re going to go cast a spell with Erica.” She said, hand frozen on the coat hanging from the coat rack.
“Erica?” The kind lady repeated. “Is she ever gonna come back to the house? This feud is so silly…” She trailed off at a sharp look from the leader. “Well have fun out there,”
“and Alice?” The tall woman from before stopped her as she had finally taken the coat from the rack. “Stay close to Erica with a stranger among us. Especially in your condition”, She shot Alice an unmistakable look. Alice didn’t even nod as she finally threw on her coat and dragged him outside.
They hung out in the van for about an hour, listening to Erica's frankly daunting CD collection and eating chips. The atmosphere was much more welcoming even as Erica was getting solidly on Carter's nerves.
“No waxing is a growing moon and waning is a shrinking moon, come on man, wax on wax off.” She made the famous hand motion and Carter groaned, rubbing his eyes. “For a college guy, you’re not very quick on the uptake.”
“Waxing moon is growing but then there are quarters and crescents and the suns on a cycle too, Scientology has less to keep track of.” He hissed angrily and she whacked him with the giant novelty foam finger reading ‘Elsewhere Ferrets #1’ that had been wedged between the back left seat and the door.
“Don’t ever make that comparison again or it’ll be crows, not foam.” She said calmly while Carter rubbed his head and pouted. He'd been curious about the workings of witchcraft, but he found it hard to focus with such an urgent question on his mind.
"One of the...other coven members? Uh, she said something about Alice that made me wonder." He spoke carefully, Erica didn't respond while she bonked the finger on the passenger seat repeatedly. He didn't get to finish his thought as Alice returned to the car from where she was gathering things in the house.
“I don’t like this list you gave me,” she says quietly, pulling Erica into the front seat to have a more private conversation. This didn’t stop Carter from being able to eavesdrop.
“Yeah? So, we need diamonds to do this.” Erica defended herself.
“We don’t have any diamonds, and I’m not….” Alice trailed off and Erica threw an arm around her.
“Look Al, I know it’s stealing but we’ll put it right back when we’re done so no harm.” She said softly, but Alice shook her head again.
“It’s not right, besides we don’t want those kinds of energies involved.”
“‘Energies’? You’re overthinking this, it's just one little spell. It’ll take like five minutes and then we’ll put it back like nothing happened. These spirits understand intention better than anything, right?”
“And the others? what they don’t know can’t hurt us.” She pressed, and Alice didn’t answer. “Listen, sis, If I take over then you can bring people over without worrying about those catty witches making you look bad.” She elbowed Alice playfully and a grin finally broke the younger sister's stern refusal.
“Erica shut up.”
“What? You want that right?”
“Alright now go nab some earrings and get back here.” She encouraged Alice as she climbed back out of the car. Carter's heart beat fast, now they were stealing from the other coven members? He didn’t understand their craft very well but his gut was telling him this was a horrible idea. Yet he didn’t say anything against it when he sat alone with Erica and waited for Alice’s return. He didn’t speak up when she came back and gingerly showed off the fruits of her crime. The two tiny diamond-like raindrops in her hand.
If in some way this crazy magic mumbo jumbo could put Erica at the head of their family, he could see Alice without suspicion. It wasn’t something he’d ever tried to deny, he earnestly liked Alice, even with her unnamed 'condition' he didn't care what it was. She was simple and kind yet impossibly mysterious and intelligent. Even after getting kidnapped by her crazy sister and being thoroughly outcast by her actual coven of a family, he still really liked her. Here was his shot to show her he could roll with all…this… and he wasn’t going to let a little gut feeling mess it up.
A new coven, forming under a gathering storm. Three young adults, each battered by the complicated injustice of a modern world, seek to take control over their own lives through the otherworldly power of The Craft. Can they keep resolute in the face of otherworldly horrors, intense physical torture, and the mystery of a cosmic crime on their hands?
This one has a real slow build so stick around and subscribe to help me grow the series.