What’s in the Fog?
The Adventures of Millie and Sandra
It had been an odd few weeks since the fires. The girls had been staying with their aunt during school holidays, and strangely, Sandra was participating in Millie’s magic lessons. Aunt Millie was teaching them protection and warding spells, and the coven had detected something old surrounding the girls. They were also unsure if the Dybbuk had been, could be, killed.
“It might’ve run off to lick its wounds,” Judith said at their last meeting.
The twins learned some advanced magic to ward off threats. They’d even sat in on a coven meeting. They were the youngest ladies to attend. Sandra claimed she couldn’t remember anything, and the coven didn’t let on that they didn’t believe her. The advanced magic lessons were to see if the coven could get a peek at that old thing. Sandra proved herself to be adept at magic. She was better than Millie.
On one rare afternoon when Sandra wasn’t around, Millie and her aunt were sitting at the kitchen table podding peas.
“What’s happening to me?” she asked, “and when did Sandy get all powerful? She doesn’t even call it the oogity boogity anymore!”
“Really?” her aunt asked. “She called it that?”
Aunt Millie podded another pea and smiled at her quip, but Millie was having none of it. The boundaries of her self-control were crumbling, and her frustrations were seeping through.
“You’re right, Millie,” she said, “We’re all worried—”
“The coven. We think something moved in with Sandra when she was in that house.”
“Yes… it’s as if something forced its way into her body—”
“Don’t think so.”
“Then what?” Millie asked just as Sandra walked in the back door.
She’d been down at the creek, and the two Millie’s didn’t know what she’d been doing, but her feet were bare, and her clothes were covered in mud.
So unlike Sandra, young Millie thought.
“Then what what?” she asked.
Millie looked at her aunt, who put down her pod, turning to face her.
“Oh, nothing,” Aunt Millie said. “Find anything interesting down at the creek? You took your time. We’ve almost finished.”
Sandra had a putrid spectral heat emanating from her since the fires.
Could be mum? Aunt Millie thought, Gods, hope not.
Her dead mother’s powers were dark, and it frightened them both, Tess and Aunt Millie. Tess denies her powers, and, because of it, she’s clumsy and unsure. Suppressing a natural part of ones-self leads to a life where the person cannot function because they’re divided.
“Found this,” Sandra said, holding up a large square silver, tin, “I was lazing on the grasses next to the creek. My hand was in the stream, and its coolness flowed between my fingers, and something made me look down This was sticking out of the bank.”
Sandra was holding an old silver biscuit tin, and a wave of fear overwhelmed Aunt Millie.
“Can’t wait to open it,” Sandra continued. “Bet it’s a tragically divine love letter sent from somewhere upstream a million years ago— ”
“Anzac Biscuits,” Millie said, reading the words in the pressed tin lid.
“What?” Sandra asked.
“Anzac Biscuits. It’s right there,” Millie said, pointing to it, smirking when Sandra bit her top lip.
She only bites her lip when she’s angry or disappointed. Millie couldn’t tell which, but was experiencing a moment of smug satisfaction.
“It’s mine,” their aunt said, taking it from Sandra.
Once out of her hands, Sandra turned to look out the kitchen window. The two Millie’s shared a glance as they wondered what she was doing, when suddenly Sandra rose from the linoleum to float in the air. Millie gasped, and her aunt began a silent, warding chant, but to no avail. Sandra floated towards the table, and her eyes had rolled into the back of her head.
“The tin is mine, Millicent,” she said, and whatever had forced its way into Sandra had layered her voice with many others.
She reached for the tin, but Aunt Millie, shocked by the full use of her name, kept her wits about her, holding on tight.
“Sandy?” Millie screamed, and with the sound of her sister’s voice, whatever had Sandra, let her go and she fell to the floor in a dead faint.
“Get away from her,” her aunt said. “Has she done this before?”
“When the present—”
“Not then,” her aunt snapped. “Since the house?”
“When’s your dad out?”
“He and mum—”
“Not mum, your dad.”
“Um, tomorrow. Yes, tomorrow is Friday, I think—”
“Yes, yes, dad goes out with friends after work on a Friday.”
“Good. Tell your mum we have to meet tomorrow,” Aunt Millie said. “Tell her it’s family business. She’ll understand.”
“But is Sand…”
Before Millie could finish that sentence, Sandra moaned as she woke.
“What… Why am I on the floor again?”
Aunt Millie looked freaked. They helped Sandra to her feet, and that’s when they saw it. Outside the kitchen window, a dense fog was covering the creek bed, and the foggy water had begun a slow creep towards the house.
“What is that?” Millie asked.
“Not sure,” Aunt Millie said, picking the tin up and sliding it under a newspaper on the table before Sandra remembered it.
“I’m going home,” Sandra said, holding her head in her hands. “You comin’, Mill’s?”
Millie looked at her aunt and she nodded but pressed her index finger to her lips, and spoke to her psychically, “Don’t mention the tin.”
When they reached the front door, their aunt called, “I’ll stop over tomorrow… bring some tea.”
When the door closed, Aunt Millie tried to think what to do while she watched the foggy water getting closer.
It’ll be at the back door by morning, she thought. Best let the coven know.
After sending a psychic message to the coven, she finished podding those peas with nervous zeal. She was worried about her talk with Tess. She and Tess had made a blood pact the day their mother died.
“If she ever comes back, we’ll deal with her once and for all,” they’d promised.
“Come on, Tess,” Aunt Millie said the next day, clearly exasperated by her sister’s defiance. “It’s mum. Surely you feel it—”
“Stop,” Tess shouted. “Just stop. She’s dead and never coming back!”
“Maybe for you,” Aunt Millie said. “You turned your back on your family—”
“My fam… I did not! You made it impossible for me to stay—”
“Bull,” Aunt Millie said.
“What did you just say?”
“Bull. I said, bull—”
“How dare you, Mil’s. You’ve no right to judge me,” Tess said, holding back tears. “You’ve no idea what that woman did to me—”
“I know, because she did it to me too.”
Tess’s words failed her as a painful lump rose in her throat. Aunt Millie felt bad, but the situation with Sandra was only going to get worse. Either their mother reached out to her niece, or the Dybbuk had taken up residence?
“Sorry, Tess. I really am, but I’m worried about San—”
“Sandra. Why? You’ve already got Millie. Now you want to take my Sandy too?”
“Take?” Aunt Millie whispered; her words cut like a knife. “I never took, Millie. If you remember rightly, you begged me to teach her how to focus her power after the incident with the minister’s wife and the sofa… when they almost went up in flames. Would you like me to continue?”
“I beg you to stop,”
Tess took a moment and sat down at the table and a bubble of laughter erupted from her taught lips.
“What a night that was,” Tess said. “You know I think she thinks the house is haunted by the debbil.”
Aunt Millie laughed, and the mood lightened, it’s the word they use when they were the twins’ age when the coven convened, “The debbil is comin’ here tonight,” Aunt Millie would say and they’d laugh, then find a comfortable spot on the stairs to listen to the meeting. The twins were upstairs, listening to their argument, and laughed at the thought of them listening in.
“Just you wait,” Sandra said. “Any minute now mums going to bring up the—”
“Then there was the incident with the postman,” Tess said.
“Too late,” Sandra said with a smile.
Aunt Millie was doubled over.
“I don’t know how Millie did it… I mean, she was only three,” Tess said, and Millie was laughing so much, she was having trouble speaking.
“I know,” she finally said, dabbing her eyes. “It took a month of Sundays to strip that memory from his mind.”
“Right?” Tess said. “don’t think he’s got many brain cells left after that little expedition.”
“Reckon,” Aunt Millie said, “I mean, how many brain cells does it take to deliver mail?”
With their mum and aunt reliving old times, Sandra begged Millie to tell her the mailman story. No-one ever had, and she’d been dying to know.
“Come on, Mill’s,” she said, “give it up. What did you do to the postman?”
“All right, but mum thinks I’ve forgotten,” she said. “You know how she is with the whole oogidy boogidy stuff.”
“Okay, you know how we used to wait by the front door for the postman, with Peppy—”
“Yeah. I guess I got over excited one afternoon, and instead of waiting for the postman to put the mail in the box. I used my powers to open the door, flew outside, and landed in his postbag.”
“Absolutely delicious,” Sandra said, awe struck by the story. “You have such divine stories, I wish I could get my own. We could have a scar comparison weekend when we get older… do you think mum and aunty have scars? I bet they have. They’ve been witches forever.”
“It wasn’t delicious… and you know ‘bout mum?” Millie asked.
“Course she’s a witch. You are, I am, and aunty is, how could she not be? The biggest question is, what is dad?”
They both went quiet and pondered that question.
Nah, thought Millie.
“Anyway,” she said. “The mailman started screaming because, you know, how the hells did I get there? Mum started screaming because she thought he was trying to kidnap me. You started screaming because Peppy got out—”
“And we haven’t seen him since.”
“And I was screaming because everyone else was. When Mum reached for me, I disappeared from the mailman’s bag and reappeared next to you in the house. I was trying to make you feel better when she found me.”
Sandra was rolling around on her bed laughing.
“I wonder what Aunty did to fix that?” Sandra asked. “And I never get tired of hearing about the minister’s wife and the sofa. Fried chick indeed.”
The girls stopped laughing when they realised their mum and aunt had stopped.
“Tess,” Aunt Millie said, “I never wanted to take your daughters from you—”
“That devolved fast,” Sandra said.
“So, the reason they run to you… why they tell you everything instead of me, that’s because you’re cooler than me, their mother?”
“Cooler?” Aunt Millie asked and laughed again, but Tess’s eyes sparked a flash of anger, and she knew she had to fix it right there and then before it became a thing, like Tess running to her room and throwing herself on her bed.
Know why Sandra’s so dramatic, Aunt Millie thought.
“Tess,” she said with a much calmer tone in her voice, “They love you, but you turned your back on your heritage —”
“Heritage?” she spat.
“Okay,” Millie said. “Bad choice of words. All I meant was, the girls have questions you don’t have answers for. And I do it for you, so the wrong person doesn’t.”
Tess sat at the table nursing a cold mug of coffee. She knew her sister was right, but she’d sworn she’d never teach, let alone tell, the girls about any of it, and Tess certainly didn’t want Sandra to fry the minister’s wife.
Just to see if she could—”All right, what do you need from me?” she asked.
“Well, some little debbil—I think you know who—has set a thick fog over the creek,” Aunt Millie said, moving in closer to Tess. “It was at the backdoor this morning. I dread to think where it might’ve spread by the time I get home.”
Tess was laughing.
“Have you noticed Sandy behaving oddly, or… strange in anyway?” she whispered.
“How do you mean, strange… er?”
“Up until last month, Sandy denied even the possibility she had powers, she’s just like you,” Aunt Millie said, pausing for a moment in case Tess wanted to have a go at her but she giggled. “When does Bruce get home?”
“Around ten, and it’s Brian,” Tess said, all the giggles had passed, “are you getting to some kind of point?”
“Sandy denied her powers, it didn’t mean she wasn’t a powerful witch—”
“Don’t say that,” Tess said.
“The W word.”
“Witch? Did you know she actually calls it Millie’s oogidy boogidy.”
Coffee shot out Tess’s nose and hit up against Millie’s face, which only served to make her laugh louder.
“I’ve no idea where she gets that from,” Tess said, still laughing while her sister wiped the coffee away.
“Anyway,” Aunt Millie continued, “something happened about a month ago and—”
“Never mind,” she said, “it happened, and I think something has body jacked her.”
“What? Like a car jacking?”
“Yes. Just like that,” Aunt Millie said, then took a deep breath before continuing. “I think it’s mum.”
“No!” Tess said. “Not that! Not my daughter. How could you let this happen, Mil’s?”
Millie took a moment and a sip of cold coffee to prepare herself.
Just say it, Mil’s, she thought.
“There was a gift sent to the girls around their birthday… they didn’t mean to… and you know what Sandy’s like… but it was sent to them, and from the moment they opened it, that gift put the twins in danger… the kind they can’t run away from.”
“Oh, sis,” Tess said, flopping her head onto the table.
She moved it from side-to-side and quietly groaned. Mil’s knew she was having a panic attack so went to work on calming her down.
“It’s okay, sis,” she said and ran her hand over her head from front to back. It always calmed her when things became too much. “Deep breaths. That’s right. I’ll make us a fresh coffee. You concentrate on your breathing.”
All Tess could muster was a low groan. Aunt Millie boiled the kettle, tipped out the cold and rinsed their cups, but when she looked back at Tess, she caught sight of the tin sticking out of her bag.
That’s not good, she’d just thought when the twins walked in.
“Hi Aunty,” they said.
“We’re just going out the back,” Millie said. “Don’t Mind us.”
“Getting too hard to hear us, is it?” Aunt Millie asked.
The twins laughed as the fly screen door slammed behind them.
Aunt Millie made the coffee, looked out and saw the girls sitting on their old swings, and for a second, she could’ve sworn she’d seen a low-lying fog moving towards them from the drainage ditch along their back fence.
“Tess?” she whispered after placing a coffee on the table, and took a seat next to her.
“I’ve gotta show you something, and you’re not gonna like it.”
Tess’s head popped up, and she sat staring into her sister’s eyes.
“Come on, let’s just rip this Band-Aid right off. I haven’t waxed in a month; how bad could it be?”
“Bad,” Millie said, and pulled the corner of the tin from her bag.
Tess’s eyes opened almost as wide as her mouth.
“Put that away,” she said, “thought you buried it?”
“I did,” Millie said. “Where no-one could find it.”
“Well, someone found it and now you’re carrying it around?”
Suddenly, the back door flung open. Young Millie screamed, “Aunty,” as Sandra floated into the room.
“What the,” Tess said, kicking her chair over as Sandra neared them.
Her eyes had rolled into the back of her head, her body was limp, though upright, as if someone were carrying her.
“Mine,” she growled, then screamed at Aunt Millie, creating an invisible force so powerful it picked her up and flew her across the room. Sandra reached for the tin when Millie took charge.
Make this vessel true and fast
Break its hold on my sister’s heart
Feel my touch as I reach in deep
Know my grasp, it’s time to sleep
Sandra fell to the floor in a dead faint, and Tess rushed to her side.
“The tin,” Aunt Millie yelled.
Tess grabbed it and threw it at her.
“Get out,” she screamed. “How dare you bring this into my home?”
“It’s not her fault,” young Millie said.
“Get out of here,” Tess screamed.
Millie grabbed her bag and limped home. She’d know Idea of what to do with the tin.
Can’t let it fall into Sandy’s, anybody’s, hands.
By the time she got home, her house was surrounded by fog and water.
“What’s going on?” she muttered as a wall of fog rose in front of her.
It took the form of a human, and her breath caught in her throat as she stepped back. It reached out and took hold of the corner of the tin in her bag.
“Give,” a multitude of voices said.
“No,” Aunt Millie screamed long and loud enough to create a vortex of wind to push them away. But it didn’t work.
She fought, but the thing in the fog was too strong. Something grabbed her by the ankles, and pulled her to the ground. The last thing she would remember was a sickening squelch as her head hit the bricks.
About the author
I write primarily, Urban Fantasy, but because my style sits on the cuff of several genres moving into paranormal fantasy was an easy step. I became a Vocal+ member to provide interactive access for my readers.