The Maiden, the Mother, and the Crone
There were four days until the ritual would begin.
My sisters, Mary and Edith, and I, had been in preparation for months. Smaller rituals, collection of assets, and preparation of space. It was a long progress to get as far as we have.
After quite a few years, we had finally found a suitable location to occupy us, and to our benefit, it was a small storefront with a housing unit above. Along with our building acquisition, we also acquired roughly four acres of land when we purchased our property.
Wellshore was a small town, and the townspeople were very set in their ways. Upon our arrival, we were cast out before anyone even took the chance to get to know us. It really didn’t matter to us in the end - we weren’t looking for friends or companions. All we needed were pawns in our game. We sure did get some curious looks, but no one dared to ask. Women didn’t earn money - that was for the men to do. So how did we have such a bed of wealth?
As one did in a town like Wellshore, we turned our four acres into farmland. We grew sage and rosemary, along with other varieties of produce, and had all the sheeps and chickens you could imagine. Black Cockerels were our specialty. With the surplus of animals, herbs, and a store front, we did the smart thing and opened a butcher shop.
Eventually people calmed down, and some of them even began to open up to us - tried becoming our friends. It was to their detriment. We would entertain some, but we were selective. Since most people in town didn’t like us too well, we had an awful lot of time to observe since we lacked social interaction. We only chose to entertain those who had little to no intimate connections within our small town. So… when they happened to go missing… no one would notice. And they surely wouldn’t have suspected us of doing anything.
We did not rush the process. We were slow, steady, and methodical. Edith, my eldest sister, was the first to enact the beginning series of rituals. It was the easiest of all the steps, and in particular, would bide no suspicion whatsoever. We needed thirteen chicken skulls stripped clean, buried in tainted salt, and basked in the light of the moon for thirteen nights - starting at the dark of the moon cycle.
We had been tending our chickens and roosters with the utmost care. One night, Edith called out to me.
“Yes, sister.” I answered obediently, at attention.
“Tonight is the night. You need to be cleansed, to purify your essence. I’m sure you’ve noticed that it is the darkest of nights tonight - the moon has gone to sleep.” she said.
Mary entered the coop, drying her hands on her apron. “All of the buckets are clean, Mary. I’ve dusted the insides with dirt from a fresh grave. It was still a little moist, so it will surely go nowhere.”
“Did anyone see you?” Edith asked, alarmed.
“No - I wore my soiled long pants and chimbley cap while I walked the graves. Even if anyone had seen me, they’d only have assumed me to be the groundskeeper.” she clarified.
Edith smiled - a rarity. “Excellent.” She turned her attention back to me. “Now Wendy, darling - you need to be cleansed as I’ve said, and it seems fitting to me that your first cleansing be done in accordance with our first ritual. Tonight, at the devil’s hour, we shall slaughter the chickens by beheading, and you will bathe in their blood, in the moonlight.”
We all moved to get to work. Edith gathered thirteen of our largest, fully feathered Black Cockerels, and led them to the back of our property. There was a well there. Mary gathered the thirteen grave soiled wooden buckets, and filled them with sea salt. I tenderly stripped myself of all my clothes, and made my way to the ceremony.
Edith wielded a large, shining butcher’s knife. She roughly grasped one of the chicken by the throat, choking out any crooning it may make. She lifted both tools of calling toward the night sky. “By the blood in my veins, and the bones in my hands, I sacrifice this life, to summon Satan to this land! May he walk amongst the honored, bypassing this faintly crone - we ask him here for Wendy - may he beckon the antichrist home!”
She rapidly withdrew her hands from the sky and slashed the animal’s throat. She thrust the blade so harshly, the head detached in one clean swipe. She rushed towards me, squeezing the dead carcass above my head. Blood came pouring down onto me - hot, warm, and sticky. I could smell the bitter fragrance, sweet almost. The more heads that rolled, the more blood that poured… and the more intoxicated I felt. I began swirling my fingers through the red streaks running down my arms. I could feel my hips starting to sway. I felt a deep burning growing inside me with each new ounce of blood that overtook my body. Soon I was drenched and no longer able to contain the hunger growing inside me, I let out a momentous moan. My sisters stared at me, in awe.
Eventually, Edith spoke. “I do believe he has accepted our offer.”
Still naked, with blood drying onto my body, I laid down in the grass. My sisters got to work quickly defeathering, scrubbing and cleaning all the skulls. Eventually they were bone dry, and submerged deep into the buckets of salt. Just as Mary finished placing the last bucket into the attic for safe keeping, it began to rain. I let the natural water rinse my body clean of all the sacrifice.
Edith spoke again. “Not only do I believe he has accepted, I believe he is pleased. Eager, even.”
We worked late into the night, deconstructing the remains of all the chickens. Our sage and rosemary crops had also recently produced a great harvest. We hung some to dry. The rest we put up to sell in our shops, along with the lavish amounts of meat we now had.
Over the next few weeks, we were prosperous. The herbs, meats, and eggs we always had to offer kept business steady. We had even begun to garner a steady repertoire of customers. Months passed and it was growing colder outside. One man in particular came by every Wednesday, after he left the lumber mill.
“Well hello, miss Wendy. He said with a crooked grin. “You’re looking mighty beautiful today.” He was quite an unkempt man. His clothes were never clean, and they didn’t fit him properly. His hat was threadbare, and he had the most rotten, yellow teeth I’d ever seen.
“Well thank you Mr. Buckner. What can I get for you today?” I said, in a sing-song kind of voice. The men mostly bought from me for my beauty - I played up to them to help fill the till.
“Actually, miss Wendy…” he stammered. He took off his hat and began to ring it in his hands. “I was wondering if you’d like to join me at the pub tomorrow evening? They’re having a fish fry, and a lady as pretty as yourself deserves to be courted now and again.”
I contemplated his proposition. “Let me check with my sisters. I don’t know what they have planned for the after hours work tomorrow.” He nodded politely as I scurried out of the room.
My sisters hadn’t been expecting me as I rushed in. “I found him!” I exclaimed. “I found the perfect selection for the next part of the ceremony.”
Edith seemed skeptical. “Oh you did, did you?” She gave a curt nod to Mary, who went out to the front of the store. She returned fairly quickly. “Oh yes, Edith - Wendy is very correct.”
“What makes him so perfect?” Edith asked.
Mary smirked. “You should see his teeth, Eddie. They are as yellow as the mustard at the stadium.”
Edith actually laughed out loud. Again - a rarity. “So what’s the plan then, baby sister?” she asked me.
“He asked me to join him at the pub tomorrow evening for a fish fry. You’ve seen how the townsfolk here treat him - no one will notice if he’s gone.”
She sighed. “Okay, sister, I trust in you.” and then she returned to her work. I made my way back to the storeroom.
“Well, Mr. Bucker, I think I just may join you. My sisters said they’d be able to manage without me for one evening.”
He blushed profusely and a broad smile spread across his face. “Alright then, miss Wendy. I’ll pick you up around six o’ clock tomorrow evening.”
My sister Mary and I laid the plans for the following day. I had a sneaking suspicion that this endeavor was Edith’s way of testing our loyalties, as she made no effort to be involved. The following days work passed quickly and I grew anxious as the evening grew near.
Finally, Mr. Buckner arrived, just a few minutes past six. He had a bouquet of yellow Marigolds that he’d clearly picked from a fellow farmers land in hopes of warding off the deer. I gladly accepted - they were the perfect shade. He wasn’t too much of a conversator. It was clear he was nervous. We headed into the pub, and a few people silently appraised us, but we were quickly dismissed. No one cared about him, and I was by no means the most liked person in our stead.
The evening passed well enough. We ate, and we even danced a bit to some irish sounding musicians. Night had fallen. As he was escorting me home, still rather silent, I gave a pathetically innocent sigh and took his hand. He was very excited. When we arrived back at our property, I offered to show him our land since he’d never seen more than the storefront. At least that’s why he thought I was doing so.
We had found ourselves once again in the back of the property, in the glow of the moon, near the well. This time it was a full moon - his request fell at the perfect time of month. It was early January, and was snowing lightly. I didn’t notice the cold, but graciously accepted the offer for his hat and jacket when he mentioned it. Less for us to worry about later on. We crossed near the well. Before he had time to lift his head from peering into the deep chasm, Mary had emerged from the shadows, large metal shovel in hand, and cracked it across the back of his head. He slumped forward.
Mary and I made quick work of getting him out of his clothing - she was excited to have more to wear around town. I, too, stripped of my clothing. Edith finally lending a hand helped to lift him, so that when Mary sliced his jugular, the deep crimson waterfall of what was once his life cascaded down onto my body.
Edith dropped her involvement at that point and the man hit the ground pretty hard. She walked back inside our homestead, and Mary laughed at the sound of some of his bones breaking when he hit the ground. I, naked and bathing in his blood, felt an electrical current through the air. I could tell that our Master was aroused.
Mary got to work with her tools, prying each and every decaying tooth from his mouth. Yellow and black to the core. I set about roasting the petals of his marigolds, ever just so they wouldn’t burn, and wouldn’t lose their color. When Mary finished with all of his teeth, we heaved him down to the bottom of our well. She baked his teeth low and slow for a long time, solidifying them.
We waited for another moon cycle to pass. Only Edith worked in the shop that day. Over the course of the few weeks it took for the moon to cycle through, she had grown cold and distant. She didn’t care to speak to us about the coming events, and the more preparations that Mary and I made, the more angry she became. Mary was eager to prove herself to our Master. I was delirious with pleasure at the thought of granting him my greatest gift - the loss of my own life meant nothing.
It was February 3, 1936. Mary had taken our finest horse and hitched our largest cart on to it, setting off to the local cemetery. Although I was admittedly the weakest of the three of us, I retrieved our mortar and pestle and diligently began deconstructing the flowers and teeth. It was a sickly, disgusting mustard yellow. I cranked, crushed, and churned until I had no strength left.
I wandered the grounds for a while in search of Edith. I finally found her at our ceremonial altar, located at the highest floor of our building. She was dusting the fireplace, which held vials of our blood, braids of our hair, and nails long since bitten away.
“Edith, sister.” I called gently. She hadn’t noticed me. She turned, almost dropping her broom. The look of fire and fury that crossed her face for only the briefest of moments was so troubling, I almost abandoned everything. What had angered her so? “I just wanted to let you know what Mary will be back soon with our thirteen children.”
Saying nothing, she stowed away the broom and we went back downstairs. Over the months we had been slowly gathering white candles. Edith began some pots boiling. Setting metal basins over them, she equally distributed the white candles into them, melting them all down. I divided our fine yellowing powder into each bowl. When Mary returned we carried all the bodies of the children up the stairs, one by one, arranging them in a large circle in the center of the room. Each had its head facing the center of the circle. As Mary cleaned up any evidence of having left, Edith poured the now mustard yellow candles into molds. She used thin, skinny braids of the children's hair as the wicks.
With all preparations set, we went to sleep.
The next day, February 4, 1936, I was in no condition of interfacing with the public. I was too energized, erotic, and frienzied. I resolved myself to sit in the center of the earthly childish bodies, knelt at the altar, and chant. “Oh Master, I am ready. Take my body and use it for your will. I desire nothing, I need nothing, I fear nothing. I am filled with your spirit, and soon your conception. The antichrist shall rise, and you shall walk again amongst the living.”
Finally, after months of preparation, we three sisters were ready. Edith lit each of the thirteen candles, and set it next to their peaceless faces. I stripped my clothes, and waited patiently. As the candles burned, Edith stepped into the center of the circle. “I no longer bear Edith as a name. I am but a crone who passes my long life into that of the coming child, who shall restore order to the earth, under his father’s everlast wisdom. Let the blood I shed spread the knowledge I possess, that both the new and the returned are wise and ever learned.” She pulled out a blade, and sliced both her wrists open. Walking slowly around the circle, she let the blood fall and didn’t stop until a perfect circle, free of emptiness, had been crafted just inside the span of the children’s heads. She stepped aside, lighting a fire in the place at the altar.
Mary stepped into the center of the circle. As the flame grew, she spoke. “I no longer bear Mary as a name. I am but a mother, who ended their offspring’s chance at a long life - of becoming nothing but a wasted space intended for our new king, under the father’s everlasting strength. Let the blood I shed infuse the brutishness that I possess, that both the new and the returned are exemplary and vigorous.” She also bleed her wrists, walking about the circle in the pattern of a star, letting her blood fall until there was no emptiness in any of the lines. She stepped aside, picking up the candles near the children. One by one she poured pools of the melted wax onto their foreheads. You could hear the hiss as Edith placed the chicken skulls into the pools of wax - one by one, with each child.
I stepped into the circle. Mary to my right, and Edith to my left, just inside the boundaries of our summoning. They tilted their heads away, exposing their throats to me. I sunk my teeth into Mary first, feeling her pulse against my tongue. She did not flinch, nor cry, nor move. I then bit deeply into Edith, feeling her vitality sink away as I ripped the flesh and tendril away from her neck. She staggered, and whimpered, and glared. Gathering herself, she and Mary stepped to the east and west of the circle, just beyond our established boundaries.
The altar was at the north, and I turned to face it, feeling the power growing inside me. I took the deepest of breaths, and bellowed. “I NO LONGER BEAR WENDY AS A NAME. I AM BUT A MAIDEN, WHO SHALL END MY INNOCENCE NOW, AND EXTINGUISH THE FUTURE THAT ONCE EXISTED. I WILL BECOME NOTHING MORE BUT A VESSEL TO BRING FORTH THE ALL POWERFUL RULER OF CHAOS. LET THE BLOOD I HAVE TAKEN INFUSE ME WITH ALL THAT I LACK, SO THAT BOTH THE NEW AND THE RETURNED SHALL BE THE KEEPERS OF ALL.”
Mary and Edith returned to the circle. We all faced the south - where the door leading to our landing was. We took each other's hands, and began to chant. “We are the maiden, the mother, the crone, and we surrender ourselves completely. No longer shall we be free to independence, but to the beck and call of Lucifer, and soon, his son. We are no longer the maiden, the mother, the crone. We are nothing but his loyal subjects. Come forth, Lucifer. Come forth, Lucifer, come forth, Lucifer…”
We chanted for hours. The candles near the children had pinched out, and the fire was little more than glowing coals. But we kept chanting. Edith suddenly broke our physical connection. Opening the closet door where she had previously stowed the broom, a dog stepped forth. Without hesitation, it lunged at Mary, dragging her down the stairs. The last I saw of her was a wailing, stark white woman.
Edith ruined everything. We had failed.
She stalked ever so slowly towards me and shoved me from the center of the circle. Using the blade she had on her wrist, she slashed at her clothing until it was in pieces at her feet. Naked, drooping, and trembling, she shouted. “I have done your will, Master! Rejuvenate me! Revitalize me! I shall bear your son with pride, and together we shall have all of humanity begging at our feet!” She began laughing hysterically as she raised her hand to the heavens.
The dog approached me. Instead of feeling fear, I felt invigorated. It licked my face. As I reached out to tug it’s ear in thanks, it lunged to Edith. He eviscerated her body to the point of non-recognition. The room quaked. I was filled with ecstasy beyond my wildest dreams. The dog was nowhere to be seen, but I heard a voice.
“I need not servants, but a queen. My son will thank you.”
I felt a flutter in my stomach, and I smiled as I saw the final moment of life drain from Edith’s forgotten face.