by Anantinee Mishra
‘Et suspectior ad magica, et gloria, et maior est tanto in pretio exhoribant,’
The darker the magic, the greater the glory-and the more exhoribant the price.
Learn the lesson well.
The old Egyptian monk who had given him the spell had taught him the ritual, had spoken these words of caution on their parting. He wanted him to forget, to move on. He thought that this was an old dark pit, attractive and alluring.
Lethal and dangerous.
He said that once he got in, he would never be able to get out.
Didn’t he know? Viktor had been in a long time.
Excitement and fear in equal measure were surging through Viktor as he took his allotted place in the seemingly complicated combination of cut circles, triangles and runes. He was going to do it. He was really, really going to do it.
He was going to bring his wife back from the dead.
He had spent years. Wandering from civilisation to civilisation, cult to cult, ritual to ritual, all in hopes of finding something, anything that could help him bring back his beloved. Anything which could be an alternative to what he was going to do.
His family had shunned him. Deemed him mentally unstable. They thought that he was deluding himself, that he was in denial. There was no such thing in the world, which could bring back the gone.
For the first time, the feeling of being victorious rushed through him, making him dizzy. They had been wrong. He had proven them wrong. He had reached it, he had reached the world beyond, where you can do the impossible, where you can bring them back. From whatever existed beyond the walks of this life.
But there was no stopping the slither of doubt that had crept up sometime during his mad obsession and had quite comfortably nestled itself in a corner of his brain, a corner of what was still left of his soul.
Could he do this? Should he do this?
There was no going back once he added few drops of his blood into that carefully created concoction, along with precisely two inches of one of his wife’s shawls. There was no place for last-minute regrets, or change of hearts once he whispered the holy incantation, as he had times uncountable before this.
Once he did this, he would completely let go of whatever humane was left inside him. He would trade away whatever left of his conscience.
A deal with the devil himself.
What if he failed? What if he succeeded?
‘Tell me what to do.’ He begged. To her spirit, her essence, to whatever was left of her on this earth. ‘You always knew what to do. Tell me.’
Yes, yes, yes, the wind seemed to whisper.
He took a deep breath and flexed his hands. It was now, or never.
He took the silver knife, his fingertips brushing the faint cravings on its edge. Very carefully, he cut a clean, practiced cut on his forearm, measuring exactly thirteen drops of the red liquid, before tipping it in the potion set aside.
The pashmina shawl reminded Viktor of a happier time, but he refused to let himself be swept up in nostalgia. The two inches of the soft fabric was next, and the potion glowed brightly for a mere second, before turning a dark red.
He swallowed heavily, picked up the goblet, and placed it in the very center of the holy circle.
Even after months of repeating them a habit, and years of anticipating speaking them, the words felt unfamiliar on his tongue.
The earth suddenly rumbled under his feet, causing him to sway and nearly lose his balance. Doves of birds abandoned the trees of the nearby forest hurriedly, their departure to the dark sky above leaving a wake of panicky squawking.
His eyes immediately-spontaneously, almost-went towards the holy circle. The lines and runes were glowing a light blue, flames erupting on the side-lines, causing a multitude of smoke. A whirlwind of smoke and ash was forming in the direct middle of the circle, rising higher and higher.
It was working, wasn’t it?
His heartbeat increasing, all he could hear was the blood pounding in his ears.
He whirled around to the place where he had laid her body, dug out of the measly grave she was buried in. His heart gave a painful leap in his chest as he watched his still statue come to life with his own eyes. The sculpted dress became a gauzy, flowing silk, the lifeless and dark tendrils across her face becoming wet with the moisture. Colour flooded into those honeyed cheeks, as a soft and tired sigh emitted from those pink lips.
He spoke her name in a disbelieving, awed whisper, a crazy hope galloping through him.
‘I am here, my beloved.’
For a long while, all he could do was stare as she became more and more of the beautiful woman he remembered, and less and les of the lifeless corpse he had become accustomed to. He was amazed to the ends of the earth.
‘Vikto-ah, it hurts!’ Her features twisted in pain and agony as she bent over, clutching her stomach with those long and pale fingers. ‘Send me back, Viktor!’
‘It worked!’ He shouted, too caught up in his own triumph of having successfully executed what he wanted to. ‘You are back!’
‘My belly aches!’ Esmerelda grabbed her throat with the hand which wasn’t squeezing her stomach, as if to prevent herself from choking. ‘I am hungry, Viktor.’
He dropped to his knees beside her, one hand at her shoulder. Hungry? There was nothing about sudden hunger or thirst in the hundreds of pages and manuscripts he had read about this ritual.
There was an unnatural growl to her voice. He watched, confused, as her features whitened, and her pupils dilated, her lips achieving a purplish hue.
Her hand reached out and grabbed his wrist with a speed as fight as lightning, so fast that he couldn’t even comprehend it.
She smiled, but not the sweet and shy one as his memories said, but a sinfully wicked smile. He watched a white fang descended her lips.
Unadulterated fear shot through Viktor. He had made a mistake of epic proportions. The Egyptian manual and monk hadn’t been talking about bringing back the dead as human, but as a vampire!
‘Feed me, my love.’
Before he could stop her, Esmerelda had pushed him to his back on the grass. Her mouth was at his pulse a moment later, as the fangs pierced the skin of his neck, and the sounds of slurping took forward as his wife drained his life out of him.
It didn’t take him long to start feeling light-headed, as dark and sardonic humour took over. For years he had fought off the wish to simply join Esmerelda in the arms of death, but now she herself was delivering him that blessed, dark salvation.
The darker the magic, the greater the glory-and the more exorbitant the price.
It was a strange last thought, but Viktor realised that such a thing could only be said about love.
About the Author:
Anantinee ‘JHUMPA’ Mishra is a prodigy author, poet and TED speaker. She is twelve years old studying in std.8th at Apeejay School, Saket, New Delhi. She has published two books and many stories and articles in magazines and journals. At the age of ten, she published a 21,000 worded anthology of stories called ‘Treasure of Short Stories’. Last year her debut Novel ‘Manhattan to Munnar’ got released. Recently she has been conferred with a title ‘PRODIGY AUTHOR’ and an ‘HONORARY DIPLOMA’ by the Hon’ble Vice President of India Sh. M Venkaiah Naidu.