My mother clicked her nails and said, "You are witch doctor."
I remembered the first time I saw Beauty and the Beast. The way that I understood it was that Belle was a sacrifice to the Beast. I used to think how really fucked up that was. Didn't anyone look at this and say what did Belle do to deserve that? Doesn't anyone care what Belle wants? No.
"Micko. You are a witch a doctor."
Don't look at me that way. I know the way you are looking at me. You are thinking this is one of those stories again. How could he had not known that I was different? Of course I always knew something was different about me. I figured it was the fact that I was gay or something. Usually that would have been enough but that wasn't exactly what was going on here.
Could you believe my mother would break this news to me when I told her I was going off to college? You would think she would be excited for me but she wasn't. She never really was.
"Come again?" I asked her.
I'd like to say that is how my story began and in a way it was.
"You are a descendant of witches. Our family is the Boss family of Moreen Island. We are one of five families in a coven of witches doctors. In my culture the witch doctor is a medicine man with powerful abilities to heal and also abilities to destroy."
Many people would have felt a sense of shock and to a point I did feel surprised. That was normal right? I was always one to believe in supernatural events even though I never saw any of this coming. I didn't have anything strange happen to me growing up. I hadn't developed any strange abilities. I didn't see dead people. Hell...I was the most boring kid around. There were no signs of what she was going to tell me until she told it to me.
"Why are you telling me this?" I asked.
My mother never had a sense of humor. It was almost as though she was looking right through me as she talked to me. Did she care? Hell no. That wasn't a surprise though. My mother never really seemed to give a damn and the more she talked the more I realized why.
"You are an offering to the head family. The leader of the coven is Genesis Bah. Our family must make their offering like the other families. You are it."
The more I think back now the more I realize my mother was always very detached from me. I was never her son to her. I was it. I had no idea back then exactly what IT was. I remember now the days I would come home with bad grades. I remembered showing them to her and just seeing the indifference in her eyes. I remembered the nonchalant acknowledgment she gave me when I came out of the closet. It was a soft, "Oh." She had turned and continued to fold her bedsheets. She had found her bedsheets more interesting than an confession of her oldest son's sexuality. When I had found out that the opposite of love was indifference I knew that my mother didn't love me. I had always known my mother didn't love me. I'd wonder why so many nights.
It was on my 18th birthday that I realized why.
"Do you have any questions?" she had asked that day.
Her nails clicked on the side of the table.
"I got accepted into Penn State."
I know it wasn't a fucking question. I'm not stupid. I felt stupid though. I felt useless. Her face didn't have any sort of expression to that. Maybe she thought I felt stupid. I wouldn't blame her. She had never found interest in my academics. She never seemed to encourage me to apply. She had showed up at my graduation lazily as though it was some sort of duty. There was no excitement in her eyes. I used to think she was fucking nuts. Seriously. I thought she had some sort of mental problem.
"Listen. You don't belong to me. You don't belong to yourself. You belong to the coven. You belong to Genesis Bah. You can go to him willingly or he can come get you. If you deny him however I feel as though he would hurt me and probably kill me because that was my promise to you. I don't want to die. You may have many questions but I don't think I should be the one to answer them for you. There's nothing we can really do. We don't have a choice. Still, I feel like it's only fair that I ask you again if you have any questions."
She kept saying the name Genesis Bah as though it was something that I should have always known. It was the first time she mentioned the name.
Again it wasn't a question and again she gave looked right through me. At the door my little brother stood. She gathered herself from the kitchen table and went over to him holding him close to her in a way that she had never held me. My brother belonged to her in a way that I never did.
She nodded, "I see. Well...I left your luggage and instructions on how to get to the island. What goes on there is between you and him. Please be sure to lock to the door before you leave. You left it open on Saturday and there was a cold draft."
That was the last time I saw my mother.
There was something sick about Mr. Bah. I stood one of seven that had taken a short bus ride here from a ferry. Before the ferry I had taken a plane. I stood one of seven. Most of the others were related in someway but I was alone. I stood in the back as though hoping to conceal myself from Mr. Bah. There was something sick about him though. It turned my stomach. He was supposedly much older than he looked. His face was handsome and cold. He didn't grimace or anything like that. He wore regular clothing. There was nothing that should have been horribly terrifying about him but he was just that. He was terrifying.
"Where are we?"
I had remembered the boy's name from the bus ride over here. His name was Rio Wright. He was directing his question at the boy who stood in front of us. The man who called himself Genesis Bah was no more than a boy who seemed about our age but something was completely off about him. Something was very different. I looked around at the other six young adults that had come with me. They had various looks on their faces. Some looked afraid and some looked angry. Others seemed to have this undeniable look of betrayal on their faces.
Had their parents sent them here to meet this boy against their will like mine had? Every part of me shook when I thought about it. How could my mother send me away to this strange place alone?
"Shut her up," Genesis Bah ordered.
I hadn't even noticed what he was talking about until I turned to my right and saw Angelica Atwood crying in tears. There were three people with the names of Atwood. They all wore tags that separated them from everyone else. They all looked very similar. She seemed the youngest out of them and even if she wasn't she had an innocent look on her face that made you think she was the most innocent. There was a unique whimpering coming from her that I had never really heard before. It reminded me more of some annoying animal that a human. A part of me was kind of happy that Genesis wanted to shut her up. What was the point of the crying now? I had cried on the way here like a few other of the others on the quiet bus ride there.
The bus ride there was the most awkward experience that I had ever imagined. The island seemed inviting enough. I remembered feeling a little comforted and even welcomed when I saw the sign outside of the bus. When I walked on the bus the three Atwoods were in the front and three others were in the back. The oldest Atwood I later would discover her name to be Melody. Melody gave me the worst look. It was almost as though she fed off of my fear. I couldn't look at her for long. Next to her were the brother and sister pair who I'd notice as Victor and Angelica. Victor was a strong faced boy who seemed to wear his past struggles on his face and Angelica was such an innocent looking angel. She wouldn't stop that crying though.
On the back of the bus were a pair of twins. Mason and Rio Wright. They at not far away from a strange looking boy named Brandon. Rio gave me a nervous smile and Brandon nodded as though acknowledging me. Mason ignored me almost completely and seemed more concerned with his phone.
"You must be Boss offering," Brandon stated, "I'm Brandon. This is Mason and Rio."
Rio shook my hand.
His hand was wet with sweat and it seemed to betray the comforting smile that he wore. Rio was just as nervous as I was. You couldn't fool me.
"Offering? I don't know about that. I'm Micko Boss."
Brandon nodded, "I figured. Why would your mother choose to run away from Moreen Island. There is no where to go. No one runs away from Genesis Bah."
No one else on the bus seemed to share his expression. The welcoming smile from Rio faded into a sigh. Captioned on Mason's expression was forced temper.
The twins were attractive I had to admit in very different ways. Why should I be worried about how attracted I was to them in a situation like this? I wasn't dead was I? I could still uncover my sexuality through a gloom realization and they both were my type. Mason had long curly hair and seemed the most like an island boy. Rio was different. His hair was cut short exposing long ears. They both had structured handsome faces. The kind of faces that one could fall in love with if you looked at long enough. I wanted to fall even at that moment. A distraction was what I would have loved.
"You scared?" Rio asked me.
I didn't answer.
"You a quiet one. What's the matter? You don't talk?" Brandon asked, "You like those Atwood kids."
"Maybe he's not like those fucking weird ass Atwoods. Why don't you give him a fucking chance to talk?" came the curly haired angel beside me named Mason.
Mason looked at me. His eyes pressed onto mine as though studying me. All three boys were studyign me at this point as though trying to figure something out. I didn't know what. I didn't know what was going on.
So that's what I said. I admitted it, "I have no idea who Genesis Bah is or what is going on."
"I figured that's why your Mom left the island. I guess you were lucky. She kept you from this for that long. Wish we were so lucky. We always knew we would end up here. All of us...even the Atwood kids."
"Those are the Atwoods?" I asked looking up.
"Melody, Victor and Angelica," Rio said, "They were homeschooled so we don't really know them. They don't talk much."
"Fucking weirdos," Mason said.
I turned to Mason. He still was in his phone but somehow managing to comment. He had a cool about him. He had a self confidence that his brother didn't seem to have. He seemed the least nervous on this bus really.
"They are in the same boat as us now. Like it or not we are all we have," Rio stated.
It was then that I noticed how far out of the loop I really was. Everyone knew what was going on. Could you imagine coming into a world where everyone was prepared except you? All of them also seemed to recognize their position in all of this as well. They seemed to know that they were in for something. I wondered how much they knew.
"Where are we going?"
Brandon answered, "We are going to see Genesis Bah."
"Who is Genesis Bah?" I asked.
Rio turned away. He looked uncomfortable with the thought. He turned to the window glass and looked out of it. He seemed to disappear in his own mind at that moment. I didn't even know at that moment how the use of one name could instill so much fear into someone.
Brandon had a different kind of fear though. It was the fear a devout Catholic would feel towards God. It was a fear that a small puppy would feel towards his owner when it rolls onto its stomach as you approach. There was some sort of idealization in his eyes as he spoke.
"He's a witchdoctor. Some say he controls nature. He is the last hope for us. He can save us. That is if he doesn't sacrifice us. He can do with us whatever he likes. It doesn't really matter. I heard he can't grow old. I heard he can't die. He controls people's minds and if you stare at him long enough you turn into stone. And he come demons from hell..."
"Enough Brandon," Mason said.
"I'm just preparing him."
"I said that was enough. Now turn the fuck around and shut the hell up."
I was shocked when Brandon actually listened to Mason. My heart had been beating the entire time that Brandon was talking. I wondered if Mason could tell. Maybe Brandon was scaring Mason as well. I wasn't really sure what it was. After Brandon shut up about Genesis Bah the bus got quiet again. A part of me wanted to look outside of the windows and take in where I was but another part of me wanted to just disappear. So that was what I tried to do. I closed my eyes and laid my head back. I felt as though I was someone who was afraid of heights but about to board on a plane. I tried to keep composure but in the back of my head I knew that fear was coming.
The whimpering of Angelica Atwood didn't help at all.
"She's just afraid Mr. Bah," her brother said.
We had finally met up with Mr. Bah in front of a run down resort. Mr. Bah looked at us as though we were insects. Never mind the fact that Victor and the twins were taller than him. Victor seemed to be on his guard when it came to his sister. He had a protective stance. The idea that he was calling this boy who seemed almost our own age Mr. Bah was strange to me but it seemed to make sense. I had met him on the bus earlier as well but managed to only say a few words. They were right. The Atwood family seemed to keep to themselves and when I spoke to Victor I got an evil stare from Melody that made me immediately want to stop.
"Shut her up...now," Mr. Bah stated.
Victor put his hand over his sister's mouth and the whimpering stopped. His movement was immediate and surprised me. He was holding tightly so tightly that she seemed to struggle at some point to shake loose but he held her still. Was it fear that had caused him to act so quickly? He had been so gentle with her on the ride over but all of a sudden with an order he became a strong-armed zombie grasping at her devoid of consideration.
"Where are we?" Rio Wright asked.
It was a fair question.
We had been lead away from the beat up looking resort in the front. We were in the back now.
Mr. Bah shook his head, "Your families offered you all to me. My name is Genesis Bah and I am the leader of your coven. You were chosen because you are of age and you are descendants of the same witch doctor named Fatima. From now on you forget your last names. You are descendants of the same family. You are the Moreen Coven."
"As opposed to what? Are there other covens?" Rio asked.
"You are asking too many questions. Questions that I will answer in time. If you all will follow me."
"Follow you where? Our bags," Rio said.
He looked uneasy but he wasn't the only one.
The woman who was with Genesis named Catalina wasn't the most attractive woman I'd ever seen. She was an older woman but seemed to be wrinkle her face just enough to seem somewhat idyllic and contradict Bah's cold demeanor. Genesis Bah showed us to a water source. The water was a very clear water almost see through. Genesis looked at Ms. Catalina who was sitting there. She walked forward.
"In that water is your fate and your future," Mr. Bah stated, "In a moment I would like each of you to dive into that water and hold your breath until you can't hold your breath any longer."
"Suicide?" Rio asked.
That's what I was thinking too. I could piss my pants in that moment and I wasn't at all afraid to admit it. What the fuck did Bah just ask us to do?
Bah again ignored him, "Catalina demonstrate for us how it is done."
His assistant headmistress Ms. Catalina walked up from behind us. She had a painted smile on and seemed almost happy to do as she said. My head looked at her and I was confused by what she was doing. Her wrinkled demeanor seemed to not only accept Bah's command but welcome it. She didn't look back at us as she walked into the pool of water in front of us. The depth of the water showed almost instantly as she sunk in it and it enveloped her entire body. At first there was nothing then a little bit of a struggle and then bubbles. Then...nothing...
Her body seemed to have disappeared.
"Where did she go?" Rio asked.
Genesis shook his head, "Why don't you follow her and find out."
"Hell no," his brother Mason stated, "You got us completely fucked up at this moment. There is no way we are just going to dive into a pool and commit suicide."
These twins were something else. Rio seemed to be a question box and Mason seemed to be a daredevil. Didn't he feel the presence on this Mr. Bah? Mr. Bah looked at both the twins and smiled.
"I'll go first," a voice said.
I turned to the side to see one of the boys on the bus walk forward.
"Brandon Ferris," Mr. Bah stated, "I am not surprised you would go first. I knew your brother. God rest his soul. He was brave."
Mr. Bah knew his brother? What puzzled me more was the acknowledge that Brandon's brother was dead just like my sister. I had remembered how Brandon spoke about Genesis Bah on the bus ride. He had seemed somewhat excited to be here. I should have been at Penn State right now. I should have been living the college life. Instead I was about to drown myself in a pool because some weirdo said so? Brandon smiled as though honored or something. That was when he started walking forward. As soon as he did I couldn't help myself but to run after him and grab his arm.
"Wait! You can't do this. You're going to die if you do that!"
I didn't know what came over me. Maybe it was the fact that I knew if he went I would probably have to at some point. I wasn't even aware that I was so afraid until after I had done it. The others looked at me. It was almost as though I was reaffirming what everyone else was thinking...everyone else but Brandon however.
This was suicide.
"Get off me," Brandon said shaking his head, "You seem to think we have a choice in the matter. He can MAKE us drown ourselves...don't you get that?"
What did he mean?
I tried to say something else to him but this Brandon boy pushed me off. He was strong and I fell backward. I reached out to him but it was pointless. By the time I looked back at him his body was enclosed in water and he was gone just like Catalina.
"Whose next?" Mr. Bah asked.
My knees had given up underneath me and I ended up falling on the floor. What the fuck was wrong with the boy Brandon? What the fuck was up with him? How could he let someone just order him into taking his own life?
"The Atwood family is ready," the relatively quiet looking girl with dark hair stated, "My name is Melody Atwood. These are my cousins Victor and Angelica."
Mr. Bah didn't seem half as interested in who they were as she did. She seemed to have this pride for some reason that made me think even she knew more about what was going on than I did. Her cousins stepped forward after her. The brother seemed to almost be dragging his whimpering sister behind him.
The brother and sister seemed hesitant but Melody almost dragged them into the pool of water at that point. They struggled slightly but not much. It was almost as though they knew it was something that they had to do. I'd never forget the look on Angelica's face as she went into the water. No one was there for her. No one would protect her. She was a lost soul and in that moment it was like she had given up on life completely.
"I'm not doing it," Mason stated.
Finally someone with some sense. You don't know how much I wanted to kiss Mason at that point. He was an asshole but he was an asshole who made sense. Why should a sane man walk into water?
"You don't have a choice."
"Because what you are God?" Mason asked shaking his head.
"Mason stop!" Rio stated and turned to Mr. Bah, "Will we be safe if we go in there Mr. Bah? Can you at least tell us that?"
"Go in and find out," Mr. Bah stated.
He said it in a blunt uninterested way. He hadn't even cared enough to look back at Rio. Rio didn't seem to concerned with me. He was more concerned with his brother who was slowly seeming more and more like a little firecracker going off every moment he could.
I sighed heavily. I felt as though I was the only one truly afraid. Rio was more curious than afraid and Mason seemed to just have an issue with authority. Why was I the only one truly afraid at this moment? I was on my knees completely given up.
"I refuse," Mason stated.
"Look me in my eyes," Mr. Bah stated, "Enter...that...pool..."
The three of us looked at him.
When I looked at him something gave way. I didn't know what it was but it was almost as though my willpower had left my body. I had this complete involuntary action in my body. It was the feeling falling asleep...except my eyes were still open. However I had lost control of my body now. I seemed to no longer be myself. Why?
What the fuck had happened?
Why could I not control myself?
Those questions entered my brain and it was all that I could think about as my body disobeyed me. I felt betrayed as it got up to its knees. I wanted to shout at my body. I wanted to stop myself! There was no use though. My body no longer belonged to me. It belonged to Mr. Bah. Now I understood what Brandon was saying. I didn't have a choice. Mr. Bah could make me do this whether or not I wanted to in the first place.
And regardless of whether I wanted to I was walking into the water. I felt my body plummet into the cold water. I could feel it surround me. I could feel myself trying to hold my breath as long as I could but my body wouldn't allow me to swim back to the top of the pool.
And all of a sudden I couldn't hold my breath any longer!
All of a sudden I let go and I felt the water entering my mouth and filling up my nose. I could feel the impending death all around me. I could feel myself giving up.
"You're alive...you're alive."
I woke up to one of the twins over me. I hadn't known which but quickly realized it was the one with the short hair. It was Rio. I was cold...shivering and I was in some sort of a room.
I was wet...completely wet on the floor but there was no pool around me. The room was empty and smelled like polished wood. Mason was huddled up on the other side of the room. He was shivering cold as well.
There was another thing.
I was naked.
"Oh my god!" I said screaming as I got up, "Where are my clothes?"
Rio shook his head, "We woke up like this. Butt-ass naked in this room. You have been passed out for a minute or two."
Rio wasn't naked now though. He had somehow managed to wrap some sort of cloth around his waist. I looked over at Mason. He was huddled up in a corner but he was naked as well. His toned muscles were well defined. I didn't see anything to strange but our eyes connected in that moment. He wasn't saying anything. His eyes seemed to almost crawl over my body slowly. Was he sizing me up? No...he couldn't be. Even if he was, why the fuck was I worried about something like that in a situation like this?
"Are you ok?" I asked across the room, "Your name is Mason right?"
His eyes darted away from me.
"Worry about yourself."
He definitely seemed distant.
His brother seemed to be the one to apologize at that moment, "Ignore him. He's a dickhead."
"Thanks," Mason said from the corner, "Nothing like brotherly love."
Rio shook his head, "It's because of your big ass mouth that we couldn't go into the pool on our own freewill like everyone else...we were forced."
"How?" I found myself asking
"How did Mr. Bah do that?" I asked.
"Magic," Rio stated.
"What?" I asked shaking my head.
For a moment I was hoping all this was some bad ass nightmare. I'd wake up on my way to Penn State. My mother would kiss me on my forehead and hand me Gladware for my dorm. That was what I wanted. But I was naked in a room after committing what seemed like suicide but was actually someone mindfucking me into drowning myself in some kind of liquid deathtrap portal.
"What matters is that we are alive," Rio stated and touched himself at that moment.
"What makes you so fucking sure we are alive smart ass?" his brother said.
"Looks like we killed ourselves if you ask me," Mason stated, "This could be hell."
"Why not heaven?"
"Did you skip our family history lesson?" Mason asked, "We are descendants of a witch. We would end up in hell."
I sighed. Everything was scaring me at this moment. I looked over at the walls. I wanted to cuddle up like Mason was but I didn't.
"You're scaring him Mason," Rio stated.
Rio looked over at me.
I hadn't even noticed that I was shaking.
"I'm not scared I'm just cold," I said.
Mason got up at that moment as though completely forgetting about the fact that he was naked. He crossed the room, "Good. I was hoping you aren't soft like that Atwood girl. I couldn't take another crybaby."
He stood in front of me with all his glory. So he really wasn't shy at all. No. He was probably huddled in the corner because he was cold. Now that he had warmed up he seemed almost to stand in front of me like some kind of bronze statue. His manhood swung in front of me swinging from side to side as he walked. He cross his arms, stretching his sculptured body when he got to where we were.
He was perfection.
"I'll...be fine," I stated.
Mason nodded, "Yeah, I'm sure."
He didn't seem too convinced. Hell I wasn't convinced either so I couldn't blame him. Mason had this tough boy demeanor about him. He just rubbed me as the biggest asshole. I could tell the relationship he had with his twin brother was somehow strained.
"Where is everyone else?" Rio asked.
Almost as though there was a beckoning or something the door opened and in walked Ms. Catalina. She had on her fake smile as usual. In her hand were hangers and on those hangers were clothes. I was surprised to see her in general but I didn't mind.
"Orientation is going to begin shortly," she stated.
"What kind of orientation"
"The master will explain everything to you. Please hurry. You are running late. Here are your clothes."
She left the clothes and walked outside of the door. I had never been so excited to see clothing in my life. I quickly ran to the clothes and grabbed what I could find. It wasn't long before I realized that there was not much there as far as clothes anyway.
"Is this it?"
I held up a very small pair of red trunks and what looked like some costume jewelry. There was actually more jewelry options that actual clothing.
"Mr. Bah has a sense of humor," Rio stated laughing at the outfit.
I put the shorts on quickly realizing they barely fit. I turned quickly surveying the room hoping that there was some sort of top to go along with this. I had no luck though. What I did find was Mason's eyes surveying me once again.
This time I couldn't help but to call him out on it, "Can I help you with something?"
He was looking at my ass. I KNEW he was looking at my ass. I probably wouldn't have called him out if he hadn't been an asshole to me this entire time. He had a two second nice moment on the bus ride over but that didn't last very long. This boy was a dickhead and I was going to embarrass him.
"Just trying to figure out how one manages to get past puberty with a bird chest like that," Mason stated sharply.
He laughed at his own joke as though he had said the funniest thing in the world.
Rio shook his head, "Why do you keep messing with him?"
"Because I can."
Rio shook his head, "Mason, things will probably go a lot smoother here if you stop being such a dickhead."
"But then I'd be boring as fuck...like you."
Rio rolled his eyes.
I stuck behind Rio as we walked outside of the door. Just as we opened the door someone ran past me. It was a boy about our age that I hadn't seen before. He bumped into me and tripped. His books fell on the floor and immediately I bent down to help him with them.
He was a strange looking boy. He wore black robes that covered his entire body. He was dark skin but he had white hair. He was young as well. He looked up at me with these hazel eyes.
"Sorry, I apologize for that," he said.
I helped him pick up his books. That was when I read the the title of the book. Divination and Hexes. What kind of book was that?
The voice quickly called after him. In a minute someone came up from behind us. It was a girl who was dark as well but had gray hair just like his.
The boy Corey shook his head, "Sorry had a little accident."
"Well keep it moving. You know we aren't allowed to talk to any of the other families."
Corey nodded and followed her down the hall. They were running as though they were late to something. I didn't understand what was going on.
Rio was the one who actually helped to dust me off.
"You ok?" he asked.
"Yeah. Where are we?"
"You are in the In-Between," a voice said.
I turned to see Mr. Bah. He wasn't alone. Next to him was Ms. Catalina. Also Brandon Ferris and the three Atwood kids were there with him as well. They were all wearing red. How Mr. Bah had managed to get here and look so composed before us was unknown to me.
"The what?" Rio asked.
"It's a place where that witches to learn magic. Our ability is magnified here," Mr. Bah stated, "For generations the Moreen Island Coven neglected coming here. Our blood line has grown weak while the other covens grew stronger. All of that is about to change however. We will use the In-Between to strengthen the Moreen knowledge of magic and be reborn into the world."
I couldn't help it, "Mr. Bah. I can't kick this weird feeling. This may sound a little stupid and I'm sure there is some logical explanation for all of this. But I just need to know. Are we still alive?"
He turned to me and sighed. He still had that uninterested look on his face.
He was so indifferent.