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An Ye Harm None

Be Careful What You Wish

By Kenny PennPublished 4 months ago 14 min read
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Photo by Anastasiya Leskova on Unsplash

A quick foreword: Writing (and reading) spooky coven stories is fun, like watching a cool exorcist movie. In reality though, there isn't a priest on every corner sending Dr. Dingaling the dastardly demon to time out in hell, and witches don't summon him back. In other words, they're just stories. This is one extremely loosely based on some Wiccan lore, but in no way, shape, or form represents Wiccan religion or beliefs. If you'd like to actually learn about the Wiccan faith (and you should, it's fascinating), I suggest you talk to a practitioner.

Thanks for reading the above and I hope you enjoy my entry to the coven challenge. It's good! I promise!

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“Dread Lord of the shadows, god of life and the giver of life. Open wide, I pray thee, thy gates through which all must pass.”

From the diary of Anna Davis:

November Eve, 2022

Tonight’s Sabbat ritual was likely jinxed before we started. Too many things were different or went wrong. It takes planning and coordination to get the spells right, so when the Goddess decides to throw in the proverbial wrench, well, things go bad sometimes.

Bad. That seems an inadequate description. What happened to me was horrible. IF it happened. I think I may have imagined it. I mean, most of this stuff isn’t real, anyway.

I’m getting ahead of myself. We typically perform the Sabbat Rituals outside. Supposedly, this allows us to be more in tune with the energies of Mother Earth and the Universe. But it rained all day today, and weather forecasts predicted it wouldn’t let up all night.

So, we were forced to complete the ritual in Vikki’s home. You’d think we could have used Olivia’s, with her being the high priestess, but she’s in the middle of renovations and doesn’t have enough space to draw the Circle. Vikki’s house isn’t meant to host all thirteen of us, but we made it work. Her living room was just large enough once we moved all the furniture out.

The November Eve Sabbat, while one of our most sacred, is among the simplest. The Circle is drawn, we invoke The God and Goddess, call upon the Mighty Ones guarding the four corners, and ask them to bless our departed loved ones. Easy as breathing. But that’s not how things went.

I could tell Olivia was exhausted. She was sweating, her hand trembling somewhat as she chalked the wooden floor. I was watching her work, impressed, as always, by Olivia’s grace, even when tired. That’s the only reason I saw it happen. Right before the final lines touched, Chloe sneezed. Olivia sort of jerked and the chalk came up in her hand. Only a hair’s width gap kept it from being a complete Circle. You had to be looking right at it to notice.

Maybe I should have said something, but I felt bad for Olivia. Besides, does it really matter? Let’s be honest, it’s not the Circle, the candles, or the chants that make the spells work. I believe in the Goddess to an extent, but it’s mostly psychological. We feel good and do good because we’re together, uplifting each other with positive emotion.

Storms can get pretty bad in Miami, and tonight was a perfect example. By the time we started the ritual, rain battered against the windows in droves while wind bent the palm trees outside. It made me think of this spooky Danish apocalyptic series I started watching on Netflix last night.

Once the ritual finished, Katie was first purified with the scourge and then entered the Circle. She’s been having a bit of poor luck lately and we agreed to do a fortune spell for her. As she laid down spread-eagled in the center, my mind strangely turned to my ex-husband, Mark. There is without doubt an element of provocativeness in many of our rituals. As it should be, for the Goddess represents beauty and fertility as well as strength and power. Perhaps Katie’s beauty reminded me of Mark because he only ever cheated on me with the most beautiful women.

I found myself hating him all over again. I should have banished him from my mind, I know. Katie deserved my full focus, but I couldn’t help myself. I thought about how many women Mark slept with over the years and wondered if he’d ruined their reproductive organs with chlamydia too. Because of him, I’ll never know what it’s like to bear a child.

Why don’t men suffer from the viruses they give us? He deserves to be infected with the worst of them. A lot of men do. I almost wished I could be the one to give it to him. I wished I could give it to every filthy, cheating male out there. Better yet, a virus wouldn't be painful enough. I wished I could make Mark catch fire and burn alive.

That’s when it happened. I think. I’m not sure. Amidst our invocations, a shadow passed over my candle flame and I felt a terrible chill come over me. It was like someone had filled a bathtub with water from a glacier and threw me bodily into it. Painfully cold, it pierced my skin down to the bone marrow. I screamed, interrupting the ritual and silencing my sisters, who all stared at me in silent shock.

But as quickly as it came, it was gone. The more I think of it, the less certain I am that it actually happened. I mean, something happened, sure, but pain, cold, a shadow? Come on. That’s fairytale nonsense. I must have zoned out and startled myself somehow.

Embarrassed, I apologized to Katie and tried to assure everyone I was fine. I told them I thought I’d seen a palmetto bug. They bought the lie, but I felt really bad for Katie. She’d have to wait for the next Sabbat in three months to try the spell again.

I’ve got to get more sleep.

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November 3, 2022

Something strange happened today. I woke up around 4 this morning with this awful premonition, like something terrible was about to happen. I got up and walked around for a bit, trying to calm myself down, but I couldn’t shake the feeling.

So around 10 this morning, I started making some calls. I started with Emily, then Chloe, Katie, and Victoria. Each told me the same thing: They’d been experiencing varying degrees of nauseousness since yesterday. Victoria thought maybe it was heartburn since she kept burping up sour air.

I’d felt nauseous too, but I attributed that to lack of sleep and the bad juju I’d been feeling. Anyway, I called Sophia next, and that’s where things got awful. I could tell right away she’d been crying.

“Hello?” Sophia answered, her voice cracked and hitching.

“Hey Sophia, it’s Anna. Is everything ok?” I hate when people ask me that when it’s obvious I’m not, but I couldn’t think of anything else to say.

“No, Anna, I don’t think it is?” Her voice broke at the end, almost making her statement sound like a question.

“Ok, what’s wrong?”

“It’s Lizzie, she has cancer.”

“What?!” I exclaimed, shocked. “How?”

“Advanced stomach cancer. Lizzie woke me up around 5 with awful stomach pain. I had to help her dress because she hurt so bad. We’ve been together for eight years now, and this is the first time I’ve ever seen her cry, Anna. You know her, Lizzie’s tough as nails. I - “ she broke with a fresh bout of sobs. I waited in silence, not wanting to interrupt her. “I think that was the worst part, Anna, seeing her cry like that. She’s my rock, ya know?”

“Yeah, I do.”

“Anyway, Doctors ran some tests, did a CT scan, x-rays, and a whole array of different stuff. Gave us the bad news 30 minutes ago.”

“But, advanced stomach cancer? Are they sure, Sophia?”

“Yeah, it’s terrible. Seems to have come from nowhere. Doctors said she should have felt pain months ago and come in to have it checked out. But Lizzie says this morning was the first time she ever felt it. Doctors are baffled.”

“It’s treatable though, right?”

“They think so, yeah.”

“Well, there’s some good news, thank the Goddess.” I hope I sounded more positive than I felt, because my premonition was still with me, as though this wasn’t the bad news I’d been expecting.

I promised to visit them and hung up. Called the rest of the coven and confirmed they’d all felt nauseous since yesterday. What is going on? I realized I’d forgotten to ask Sophia if she and Lizzie had felt it too, but there’s no point.

This can’t have anything to do with me, can it? No, of course not. Whatever I’m feeling, it’s just a symptom of anxiety.

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November 4, 2022

I’m starting to freak out a little. Maybe a lot.

This morning I woke up with that chill again. It wasn’t as bad this time - no pain in my bones - but I could have sworn I saw a shadow pass in front of me as I poured myself a cup of coffee. Only a moment, but it creeped me out anyway. I would’ve gotten over it, maybe even forgotten it happened, except -

You know how they say bad news travels in threes? Well, it’s true. First I mess up Katie’s fortune spell, then Lizzie ends up in the hospital with cancer, and next what happened at the hospital.

I’d been feeling that strong sense of premonition since yesterday and decided to go visit Sophia and Lizzie at the hospital. The doctors are supposed to be letting Lizzie go home today, but I figured a little cheer couldn’t hurt, and maybe they could help alleviate the bad feeling.

Only, when I arrived at Jackson Memorial, the feeling intensified to the point I was shaking in my car. I all but ran to the entrance, sure I was going to find out Lizzie had taken a turn for the worst, but it wasn’t Lizzie.

I was at the nurse’s station, desperately trying to get a visitor pass when an ER Team arrived in an ambulance. They brought two women in on stretchers. I’ll never forget how they looked, even if I live to be a thousand years old, like victims straight out of a Saw movie. Natalie’s cheekbone had been caved in and there was blood soaking through the bandages on her face. Madison - No. I don’t want to describe it. I’m already going to have nightmares.

Hot tears spilled down my face as I ran to them, shrieking. Madison and Natalie are twins and the youngest members of the coven. They’ve been with us for less than a year, but the whole coven loves them. Sweetest two women I’ve ever met, both to each other and everyone else.

They'd been in a car accident apparently, I overheard one of the ER guys talking about it. I don’t know all the details, but he told one of the nurses there was no other car involved. But the way they looked - it seems impossible to me.

Madison opened her eyes and looked right at me. Her eyes widened and she mouthed something. I couldn’t make out what she said, so I leaned in close. Then she said, “He won’t stop, Anna. Not until he makes you believe, and you pay for what you did.”

An electric charge zapped through me. My face went cold as I clutched Madison’s arm. “What do you mean, who told you that?”

Too late. Madison closed her eyes. As far as I know, she’s still in critical condition with her sister in the ICU.

Madison’s words have left me shaken. I think I’m going to call Liv and tell her everything. I know it sounds crazy, but I’m beginning to think maybe there’s something more than psychology to witchcraft after all.

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November 5, 2022.

Just finished having tea with Olivia. It went about as well as I thought it would. Actually, perhaps a bit better.

After I finished telling her my story, she kind of just gave me this incredulous stare, not saying a word until beads of sweat ran down between my shoulder blades. Very uncomfortable. Then she threw up her hands and said, “I don’t know what to say, Anna. How could you let something like that happen? Have you forgotten the Wiccan Rede?”

“Of course not!” How could I ever? The Rede is one of the core tenets of my faith, the reason I converted in the first place. “An ye harm none, do what ye will.” After what happened with Mark, I’d clung to those words like a piece of driftwood in high waters. “Weren’t you listening to me? It’s not like I did it on purpose!” If I did anything at all, I’m still not completely convinced.

“You actively wished harm on someone during a magical ritual. What were you thinking?”

“You’d wish harm on that son of a bitch too, if he’d done to you half of what he did to me. I don’t know, it just popped in my head.”

"Ok fine but why didn’t you tell me the Circle wasn’t complete?” She said this to me as if reprimanding a willful child.

“I don’t know, Liv! I guess my mind just wasn’t in the right place.” I paused, not wanting to tell her the whole truth, but then, why did I call her over here if not to tell her? “Besides, I don’t believe in the negative spirit stuff. At least, I didn’t then. Not so sure now.”

Under Olivia’s heated glare, I trailed off to little more than a mumble. She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Ok. We’ll deal with your beliefs later. I’m not blaming you, Anna, but something bad is happening here. We need to call an emergency meeting and purify the coven.”

I couldn’t agree more. As she spoke, I saw a shadow move behind her. This one humanoid. I’m afraid I’ve been very naive.

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November 6, 2022

This may be the last entry I ever make. Olivia’s visit yesterday left me feeling hopeful, but after what I just saw -

I’m definitely a full believer now. If I die, and one of my sisters finds this, please know I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for any of this to happen. Let the God and Goddess hear my sincere prayer. If I must atone for my errant thoughts, then let it be so, but please protect my sisters from the evil I’ve summoned.

Couldn’t sleep so I got out of bed around 5. I was sitting in my living room, watching the news, when I saw him through the window. He appeared to me as a man with horrible burns on his hands and face, wearing a bloody suit and top hat. Underneath the rim, two small horns peaked through his forehead from either side. He smiled at me, and his teeth were pure white spikes of ivory piercing his bottom lip. By far the worst feature was his black eyes, like polished coals mined from the deepest pits of hell.

I found my breath and screamed, pleading for protection from the Goddess. He stayed for a moment longer, his grin deepening as if to show me She had no power over him, and then he turned sideways and disappeared.

I immediately ran to my room and picked up my phone to call Olivia, but my cell has no service. I’m here, alone, with no way to call anyone. I pray the Goddess will have mercy on my soul. May She ble -

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From the local news section of the Miami Herald.

Sunday, November 6, 2022

A bizarre scene greeted Miami PD in the hour before dawn this morning, a scene police chief Nathaniel Greene can only describe as, “baffling in the extreme.” Police were called to a home in North Miami Beach by a neighbor who reportedly said he’d heard, “stomach curdling screams”, coming from the home.

Police were forced to break in when they heard 42-year-old Anna Davis calling weakly for help inside. When they found Ms. Davis, she was laying on the carpet in her living room, suffering from apparent first degree burns to her face and neck and much more serious third degree burns to her right arm and torso. Ms. Davis was taken to Jackson Memorial where she is being treated and is in stable condition.

When asked what caused the fire, Ms. Davis stated there’d been a power outage. As she made her way to the garage where the breaker box is, she smelled something like rotten eggs and went to investigate the kitchen. Once within a few steps of the stove, the candle she’d lit turned into a ball of flame, setting her dress on fire and coating her right arm in flames.

Fire chief Donald Johnson, in collaboration with Florida Public Utilities, confirmed there was a tiny gas leak from the stove line.

“Unlucky.” Chief Johnson said. “She would have had to walk right into it with the candle flame in order to cause damage like that.”

“That’s not the strangest part,” a source in Miami PD stated. “This poor woman catches fire in the kitchen, right? Immediately loses her mind, batting the flames from her dress and her arm while running toward the living room where she eventually collapses, still on fire. But nothing else caught. Not even an ember man. When the medics pulled her off the floor, there wasn’t a burnt fiber. Neighbor didn’t spot a wisp of smoke.

So was Ms. Davis unlucky, or fortunate? Only time will tell. We'll follow up on this strange story as more information becomes available.

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About the Creator

Kenny Penn

Thanks for reading! I enjoy writing in various genres, my favorites being horror/thriller and dark/epic fantasies. I'll also occasionally drop a poem or two.

For a list of all my work, and to connect with me, go to www.kennypenn.com

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  1. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

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    Original narrative & well developed characters

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Comments (8)

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  • Claire Guérin4 months ago

    Wiccans have only rule to live by, and here's what happens when they don't follow it. A great cautionary tale, with a good dose of vivid and chilling scenes, as always. Well done, Kenny!

  • But this was so not fair! Mark was the cheater! He should be the one to have bad stuff happen to! I mean yes, Anna did wish him harm but he's a cheater! Cheating is something that I would never tolerate. But for the sake of an arguement, let's say we're supposed forgive and forget and let karma deal with people, then only Anna should be punished, am I right. Why were the rest of the coven so severely harmed as well? I'm sorry, please don't think I'm bashing your story because I'm not. If a story can get me worked up like this, then I know it's a fantastic story! You nailed this challenge!

  • Addison M4 months ago

    Excellent yet again. The journal format worked really well with the escalation. The final bit about the befuddled rationalization of the authorities felt very appropriate. Enjoyable story. Keep up the good work.

  • S. A. Crawford4 months ago

    This is really great - I love the way you use diary entries to create an unreliable narrator that we can really empathise with. Plus, the spooky element is right up my alley. 10/10! Good luck with the competition!

  • Donna Renee4 months ago

    I really liked the way you built this story, Kenny!!!

  • Alex H Mittelman 4 months ago

    Amazing work and very well written! Truest incredible!

  • Naveed 4 months ago

    I am also impressed by the way you handle the sensitive topic of cancer. You do a great job of conveying the emotional impact of the diagnosis on Lizzie and her loved ones. a very well-written and enjoyable story. I would definitely recommend it to others!

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