The Thing In The Fog
The Adventures of Millie and Sandra
On the cusp of unconsciousness, Aunt Millie heard the unmistakable aussie twang of Judith’s voice.
“Victoray de reed,” Judith commanded, and the fog receded.
Judith, an Empath, knew the fog wasn’t finished with Mil’s the elder, and she’d trained long and hard to silence the voices screaming in her head. But in that moment, with the sight of her friend lying in a pool of blood, she telepathically reached into the fog, took it by its ethereal throat and squeezed until it retracted in fear.
She knew she’d hurt it; it felt like taking hold of a physical entity, and although the fog retreated, it was still too close to Millie. Having only wounded it, Judith didn’t have time to get Mil’s away.
“Victoray de reed,” she commanded again.
White sparks, like static electricity, moved at speed until it connected with the fog. This time, it shot back. Before she knew what’d happened, Judith was flying backwards, only coming to a stop when she hit a tall hedge dividing Millie’s house from the neighbours.
Winded, Judith crawled to Millie. The excruciating pain had debilitated her power. She knew she had to stay alert… had to protect her sister.
“Sorry, Mil’s,” she said, touching digits, “gotta borrow your power.”
Pain radiated through her body as she cursed the fog again.
“Victoray de reed spart,” she commanded, and a bolt of electricity shot into it.
She felt the moment it connected, and the fog receded further back towards Millie’s front door. Judith knew it wouldn’t stay away for long and she’d depleted their energies with that last blast. If their sisters didn’t find them soon, Judith would succumb to the thing in the fog.
“Mil’s?” she cried, taking her hand in hers. “Mil’s. I’m sorry.”
Judith’s mind-numbing fear had sparked the ether. A slight tremble of the earth alerted the covens seer, Sam, to their predicament.
“You’ll be right now ,” Judith whispered.
Resting next to Mil’s the elder, Judith tried to keep the fog at bay, but an otherworldly laugh filled the empty spaces in her head. It caused so much pain, she thought it would explode.
What was that? she thought, as a statewide psychic panicked call for an en masse gathering of sisters covered Tasmania.
Aunt Millie warned the coven about a great a power that had made its way into their sacred spaces.
“Mil’s,” Judith whispered, dragging herself across the pavement to where she lay bleeding, and with the last of her strength, she lay next to the unconscious Millie. It was there, right next to her friend, that she passed out. With her defenses down, Judith became an open book to every seer in Tasmania, maybe the nation.
Judith’s fear did reach every power within distance of cooee, and Mill’s the younger, who’d been lying on her bed scrolling through TikTok on her mobile, felt a little green. Then she was paralysed.
Aunty, she thought.
Stiff as a board, she could only move her eyes and groan. Sandra, who’d been Duck Duck Going through some very naughty pages full of black magic and spells, heard Millie’s constricted groan. When she looked up, she thought her sister had died.
Huh! She thought, that’s interesting.
She put her phone down and walked to her bedside. Sandra poked Millie in the ribs to see if she was alive but got no response. It took several more minutes for the unaffected Sandra to hear rattling in Millie’s chest.
“Kartcha tay, wake!” She said, exerting only a fraction of her borrowed power—thanks gran.
You’re welcome, Sandy, the thing presenting as her grandmother, Meryl, whispered.
Just as fast as she was paralysed, Millie was free.
“Aunty?” She shouted, sitting bolt upright.
“What do you mean, aunty?” Sandra asked.
She was sitting on her bed but was too busy to look up. She was scrolling through her search results.
“What’s wrong with you?” Millie asked.
Sandra sighed, put her phone face down on the bed, picked up her hairbrush, and turned to face her.
“Nothing’s wrong with me, Mill’s” she said, brushing her hair up into a ponytail. “Is aunty on an adventure without us? Is it some kind of delicious game where we have to guess the answer with just our powers? I bet it’s something divinely devious, designed by the coven to see if we are…”
“What? Shut up,” Millie said, holding her head in her hands as it pounded. Her inner ears were dancing to a distorted pulse of blood thumping its way through. “It’s aunty. Something’s wrong with aunty. Can’t you feel that? It’s a call—”
“Yeah, nah. What’s the big? She can look after herself,” Sandra said, going back to her search.
Millie, having heard Judith’s panicked call, was extremely concerned.
Surely Sandy would’ve heard it? She thought, what’s she doing?
She took a quick peek and saw Sandra was Duck Duck Going again.
Hm! Wonder what she’s lookin’ for?
Millie knew her aunt had asked her to not let on something was wrong, and she’d kept that promise. But since that day, the thing inside her twin had been behaving oddly. It was like the words divinely, or delicious, were only used when she saw Millie looking at her as if she was trying to work her out.
Did you have something to do with auntie’s predicament? Millie thought, and lay back on her bed.
She pretended to be watching TikToks, but what she was really doing was listening to the Northern Witch’s hot-line, and damn it was hot.
Sam lost contact with Mil’s the elder, and a thick dark haze shielded Judith’s mind from her sight. The coven didn’t know if they were dead or alive but knew where they were. The darkness had grown in power since the fires. They feared the possibility their sisters had fallen victim to its thrall.
Peering into the ether, Sam delved deeper into the darkness than she ever should have. Nearing the outermost reaches of her descent, was being guided by those seers and travelers of the many who call Tasmania home. It was Judith’s call that had alerted them all.
In the darkness, Sam’s call for Millie and Judith played out like the song of fairy wrens building their nests in the reeds, and out of the din of voices, one rose above them all. A shudder shook the very fabric of the ether and captured in its echo, was that maniacal laughter.
“Who is that?” she asked. “Who’s there? What do you want?” she asked then called for Mil’s and Judy hoping to find them there.
“We seek the one who bears the mark of darkness in your midst,” a horrifying voice whispered so close to Sam. An icy breath touched her, making the hair on the back of her neck stand on end.
A sudden image of the twins flashed into Sam’s mind. She felt as if she was on a rollercoaster, because she was suddenly looking at the twins in their bedroom.
“Murderer,” a deeply distorted voice pierced the connection, and an image of Sandra became a focal point. She was floating in the ether trying to talk, but something had a dark grip on her, and all she could do was mouth the words, “Help me.”
The twins were on their mobiles, Sam knew Mill’s the younger could sense her, but was listening to WWW, so didn’t know Sam was there. By remote viewing, Sam was looking in from the ether. She believed herself hidden until Sandra twisted her head around and looked her in her eye.
“I see you, girl,” Sandra said telepathically, “Murderer’s all of you. You and your children shall pay. Sandra is mine. Millie is next, even if I have to kill everyone she loves... starting with you, Sam.”
At that, Sam jolted back into the darkness and was deeper than she’d ever gone before. That’s when she saw them. In a hidden valley was a graveyard of essence. Witches, all of them, had been drained of their power. Some had died of old age, others were still fighting for life. It was as if they were put in stasis, with no way to escape.
The bodies, hundreds of them, were floating as if in a great ocean and a type of seaweed bound their feet. Sam saw Judith and Mil’s the elder. They were holding hands and floating with the others. Lost to the shocking realisation of their predicament, that ethereal seaweed began to twine itself up along Sam’s legs. She didn’t want to leave, and feared her sisters would be lost. So, she helped them.
They’ll never find their way home, she thought and in that moment; she felt the tears of Mil’s the younger and she untangled herself. Sam was all set to leave, when a familiar sound stopped her. It was like rushing water over moss and rock.
Just like Mil’s creek, she thought.
Sam turned to look at Mil’s and she was able to speak.
“Mil’s,” Sam said and moved closer.
“Twins,” she whispered.
“The twins?” Sam asked, “what about—”
“Millie… only Mil… can… help,” Mil’s stuttered. “Sandra… is… key.”
“I know,” Sam said, pointing into the dark. “Sandra, the real Sandra is here with you.”
Sam sensed the reach of those hands grounding her become urgent. They were losing their grip.
“Have… hand… Jude… no light… stolen…” Mil’s the elder said, but before Sam could hear the entire message, her sisters pulled her out of the transmundane, and grounded her to the mundane before she became lost to them.
“Mil’s,” Sam said, as rich dark chocolate cake was shoveled into her mouth. “I saw her. She’s still got her light, but Judith’s is gone… Oh! And there were so many, sisters…”
Sharon and Stacy had been sent to Mil’s house and found their sleeping bodies on the driveway. Mil’s was lying in a pool of blood, but Judith had no external wounds because she wasn’t in her body.
“Launceston Gen for Mil’s?” Stacy asked when she helped Sharon put their sisters in the car. They lay Millie on the back seat—Judith was in the front—and Mil’s head lay on Sharon’s lap.
“Yeah. She’s not looking good,” Sharon said, “not even the good doctors at LGH could help Judith. Go to mine. You take Mil’s to LGH. I’ll take Judith to the coven.”
“K,” Stacy said, trying to choke down the distress and horror of their situation.
“What was that fog, Stace?”
“Dunno. Mil’s got that creek out back. Could be that?”
The strange fog and the water was only inches from Mil’s legs when their sisters found them. Sharon looked at Mil’s, and pressed a towel against her head to stem the flow of blood, but it was when they passed through the well-lit suburb of Mowbray, when she noticed two large handprints burned into Aunt Millie’s ankles.
“What the?” she gasped.
“What the what?” Stacy asked.
“Burns,” Sharon said. ”Mil’s got burns around her ankles.”
“Some things had its hands on her,” she said. “I think whatever was in the fog did this to Mil’s.”
“Still goin’ LGH, or what?” Stacy asked.
“Same plan,” Sharon said, “but gonna need backup. Someone’s gotta stay with Mil’s.”
Stacy tuned in to WWW Radio, the Wild Witches of Waverly, and knew anyone who was anyone was ready to do what it would take to get their lost sisters back. Covens around the world had felt the rising darkness, and Mil’s the elder had kept all the high priestesses in the loop, telling them, “We think an old enemy is back.”
The witches all knew who that old enemy was. They’d all worried about the day it would return.
“Don’t worry, Mil’s,” Sahlah, high priestess of the Western Walls of Jerusalem coven, said. “We’ll make sure all the covens are ready… thank goddess she’s bound to Tasmania. Hate to think what she could do if she could cross water… bad for us though. Oh well, guess if someone was going to have to deal with her, better it be on an island.”
With Aunt Millie safe and being cared for at LGH, nurses traveled to Launceston from all over the state to make sure nothing could get to her or her nieces. They put every warding they knew in place, with the Southern Oatlands coven working on the fog and water. No-one had approached the twins, though they could speak with Mill’s the younger to see what Sandra’s body snatcher was up to.
Mill’s the younger had to be told about what’d happened to her twin, and if she needed them, a few witches had driven their RV’s to a local park just down the road from her house.
“The beast inside your sister’s body,” Millie was told, “is no danger to you at the moment.”
At the moment?
“Yes. It doesn’t feel threatened,” Margret said. “But we’ll keep you up to date. You can’t let on you know anything.”
Then, for Sandra… or the body snatcher, Margaret’s voice reached into their minds, “Attention twins,” and they looked at each other, “Your Aunt has had to go to Hobart for a minor medical procedure. She said she’ll see you when she gets back.”
“Is she okay,” Mill’s said to the roof, but got no reply.
“You're funny,” Sandra said.
“Margaret isn’t on the roof—”
“I know that—”
“And aunties not in Hobart—”
“What?” Millie asked, and pulled her hair to one side of her face to hide her emotions.
“I mean,” Sandra began.
Millie didn’t know what Sandra was about to say, but feared she knew, she knew."Mean what?"
“I mean, couldn’t we just pretend aunties gone on some magnificently fantastic adventure, where she’ll meet a handsome man—and then we’d have an uncy and an auntie—then we could tell our friends that Aunt Millie is a world traveler? I mean, wouldn’t that be divine?”
“Um… sure. We can play that game… if you’d like? Sounds boring though,” Millie said, as light and banteringly as she could make it.
Her aunt was in the hospital, and Judith was being cared for by the coven. She wasn’t in her body, but neither was her aunt. Millie knew whatever was in her sister’s body had magicked up that super creepy fog from the water of the creek, and something in it was hurting witches.
They turned their light off around ten that night, and Millie rolled onto her side to feign sleep. She waited for the oh so subtle snorts from the other side if the room to get a rhythm going. Turning back to face Sandra, she tried to peek at what was inside her sister, but her mind was so open, Millie fell straight into it.
“Getting a good look at what’s under the bonnet, girl?” the thing in Sandra’s head said, and sounded very much like her long dead grandmother.
But she’s dead?
But not forgotten, girl, the voice said, and she pulled out of Sandra’s mind so fast, she tore into, and devoured, a chocolate bar or two to ease her nausea.
Millie didn’t sleep a wink. School holidays were over, and she was glad. After school, instead of gymnastics, Millie made sure she got lost in the crowd. She had a meeting with the coven and the corridors turned into a subway at peak hour at end of day. She successfully blocked any direct thoughts Sandra might’ve picked up on.
Millie was thankful to join the coven. When she walked through the wards, a comforting relief washed over her. They were worried about what’d taken up residence in Sandra’s body. No-one knew where Millie the younger’s grandmother had sourced her magic, but it was evil, vindictive and unpredictable, and no-one knew what would happen next.
The coven told Mill’s the younger everything, then let her sleep. Rhianna, mistress of blood magic, took a tiny drop of Millie’s blood and dropped it on the tip of Delilah’s tongue, the coven glamouress. With Mil’s the elders, and Mill’s the youngers blood combined, Delilah was able to glamour into Millie the elder. Once they were convinced she could pass as Mil’s, Delilah picked up the phone and dialed Tess.
“Tess?” Delilah said into the receiver, with a perfect imitation of Millie the elder.
“What is it now?”
“Just bumped into Millie and we got to talking—”
“And? What’s this to me?”
“And we were wondering, if it was all right by you, if she could stay here tonight,” Delilah didn’t stop to take a breath. She pushed on while the others chanted in the background.
Sleep night, sleep tight,
Don’t wake in this fight.
Sugar the fool with showers of pain,
Dazzle those eyes,
Those lips that tell lies,
Frost each lid of your inner sanctum,
Say yes, sleep well, you and your Sandra.
“Of course, she can stay,” Tess said. “She can stay the week if you’d like?”
Some in the coven giggled, then stopped. They so rarely got to play those sorts of games… any more.
“Why thank you, Tess,” Delilah said, “We’ll do that then… okay, bye for now and sleep tight, not your fight, sugar the fool, dazzle those eyes, sullen sweet lips, spill secret lies, sleep well young Tess, young Sandra too, sleep well in this fight, from us to you.”
By the time Delilah was finished, Tess was yawning, and Sandra was complaining.
“She’s not even home,” Sandra yelled. “I want to go to aunties too.”
“Yes,” Tess said. “You go to bed too.”
Sandra stomped down the short hallway to her bedroom. By the time she reached it, she’d stopped her complaining. When her head touched the pillow, she fell into a deep sleep, and the moment Sandra fell asleep, the thing imitating Meryl woke.
“Put a spell on me, witch?” the coven heard. “I’ll eat you for dinner and use your bones to pick your flesh from my teeth,” it raged into the empty, sounding eerily like Meryl, so every witch could hear. It had a captive audience and a fresh young body, Sandra. It knew they wouldn’t dare harm her. “Do your worst, witches, murderers, I’m coming for you all.”
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