First published in the horror anthology, Nothing Ever Happens In Fox Hollow, Vol. II
It was Connie’s idea. She said all we had to do was obey the rules, that’s how you get command over the water. What’s the worst that could happen? We could do all the conjuring ourselves, but we would need the well water to do it. Trouble was, well water is only for drinking. It was a rule from way back. Not written law or anything, something much more powerful than that. The Sacred Law; the Understanding. The Knowing. We all profit from it, but there are a few who profit a bit more. Connie said we could be that couple.
It’s the kind of water you drink to ward off the ills, the fitful dreams. That water wills the best parts of your blood forward toward your sincere desires. It builds upon the lusty bits of our hearts and whittles at the space between. It’s the kind of water doctors sip during surgery, ball players drink on the field, drivers in a race. It’s purity, clarity, alacrity. All the things you wish to be, the well gives it to you.
So, we filled a bath. Five trips of 10 gallons each. It crushed us, nearly a mile round trip. We were drenched in sweat by the time the first half was full. Slowly, through midnight, we traipsed. We had to be ready by 3am, the witching hour.
We boiled a few gallons to bring the temp up of the whole. She burned sage, I dropped laurel in the water; the subtle oils calmed our expectant nerves and we de-robed. I took off my charm bracelet and let her kiss it before dropping it in. Its leather quickly broke apart leaving the dozen secrets to churn in the water. Connie removed the pendant last and eased it into the bath. A vibration emanated from the crystal when it met the well’s bounty. A flicker sparked within and built to a glow of soft blue light. The water was luminous, it beckoned. We joined hands and entered the bath.
I’d always wanted to be a witch. Not some broomstick bimbo, but a proper man-witch. One with brooding horrors, infinite knowledge, and crafts of the darkest ilk. Connie could be the sorceress she’d always dreamed. Full of healing light with a cunning tongue. Enough with the Dollar Store cashier, enough with the inflatable bounce houses. No more carnivals; let us make our own circus.
Thanks to the incantation the water was roiling, hotter than I could stand, but I pushed through. Connie was soft, yet firm; we slid in and out of one another. We swam in each other’s eyes and let the water toss us about. The tub seemed to increase so that we were now in a modest pool but still in our bathroom. The space widened, liminal bliss invaded our every move. For hours we enjoyed the sensation of wet skin and tasted every part of the bath.
The ingredients were now well seasoned and once we finished pleasuring ourselves only one thing remained. The rules of the well water must be obeyed. Even after the first cup we felt the effects. If the dope from earlier didn’t set us up for an adventure, this surely would. Connie said we should use cups, to keep track. We stopped counting after the second time we vomited. Connie thought it would be best if we did it in the yard, for swifter transfer to the worms, but I had to use the sink a few times. Hours we drank and puked and drank and puked the now tepid bathwater.
I could feel the change happening. The churning of old memories within my blood, the instincts that brought us out of the forest were coming back online. I could see it in her eyes, she was drawn to animals and yearned to collect small things. We were finally happy; excited to sacrifice. The sun was well up by the time we finished; the world appeared crisp, but now I could see the disease under the façade of life. We stood in the empty bath just listening to our breathing; oxygen is a spell all its own. My mind told me I needed rest, but my body was energized by the night’s events, so we got dressed and went into town for a meal.
Newts were all I could think of to order but I settled for the house brew. When the waitress set our cups down, she brushed my hand and her entire life flashed behind my eyes. Connie could tell we shared a moment, and I could feel her jealousy ignite. I told her to relax, but I could hear her locking doors within her chest to keep me from finding secrets. Furtive glances from Connie to the waitress were the beginning of the end for us. We spoke no words, we didn’t have to anymore; the grounds at the bottom of my cup told me we were broken.