What do you get when you perform a dangerous pagan ritual on christmas eve?
|“Who in their right mind would get themselves into this sort of situation, hanging around a mortuary at 2 am?” John asked himself. He smiled in a way a child looks up at the cookie-jar, sizing up the risk. He licked his lips. Somehow the dark and pungent amalgamation of rotten blood and bile effused over the cadaver before him reminded him of his first sip of red wine. He took in a deep breath and tried to recall his biology lessons. Was the heart located on the left or right side of the chest? “Well, I’ll just have to try both”, he said to himself, a bit surprised at how loud his words came out in the empty room.|
On the floor, a diagram was drawn with rudimentary chalk. It was an elaborate one. There were two concentric circles circumscribing a pentagon in the middle. The arms of the pentagon had ancient symbols inscribed on them along with chants written in cursive roman font. It took John one hour of painstaking labor to complete this. There were five black candles at the vertices, all burning with blue flames. “If this doesn’t work, I can always kill myself and end this eternal nightmare”, John thought to himself as he pulled out the heart and separated it from the large blood vessels surrounding it. It strangely reminded him of the heart and kidney pie his mother used to make.
He put the human heart in a jar and then removed his gloves. He then went over to his laptop and scrolled down to the instructions. He thought hard. The text was difficult to interpret. The elements had to be offered. Earth of course referred to the feet – you use your feet to walk and feel the earth below you. Water was easy – blood. Air was of course the lungs. He would remove them next. Fire took John a long time to crack but he finally did it. Fire meant burning or oxidation. Oxidization of food took place in the stomach, so that was needed too. The last piece of the puzzle was the hardest. He couldn’t exactly decipher the word, but its closest meaning was soul. Now, did the soul reside in the heart or the head? That was a tough choice to make. A mistake was unacceptable at this stage. If the summoned being didn’t get what it wanted, it would reward John eternal damnation.
He would have to finish the ritual before the candles went out. That was the only way. The soul, the soul…. John closed his eyes and stood still trying to meditate. Meditate…. Of course. The third eye. That was the location of the soul – between the two eyes. He opened his web browser. It was working. There was signal even here… for whom? For the dead? John chuckled at the thought. He searched for the term third eye and found a curious nugget of information. The part of the brain actually contained an important hormone-producing gland. Medical professionals even had a name for it. The name wasn’t important, only its location. “Damn”, John swore pumping his fist on the table. It was inside the skull. John would have to drill through the forehead of the body. That had never occurred to him. He did not have any instruments for that. “Think logically”, John said to himself. Yes, the skull has a few holes – two for eyes and one for the nose. An eye would be the closest. If he could insert his knife through the eye and lever it upwards in the right way, he could scoop it out.
The five parts of the human body lay on the circle and the candles still burned bright. This was it – the moment of truth. John sat down next to the circle and joined his hands in prayer. He then uttered the chant verbatim from the website.
ascensor currus solis.
Quaero datum tuum
et tuam elementum.
veni veni veni
John waited for a few seconds. Nothing happened. Imbued with rage, he lifted his knife to kill himself when he felt a cold chill across his spine. He was sure he heard something like a whisper. His insides rumbled leaving him sick. He looked up at the clock. The hands stopped moving. Time had stopped. It could mean only one thing. The ritual was going in the right direction.
Then John saw something that scared even him. The severed body parts the lay on the circle began to waver. They moved, then levitated over to the cadaver. The body opened his eyes as the parts along with blood rejoined him leaving him as if untouched.
As John gingerly moved over to the body, he noticed the eyes were pearl-white, having no eyeballs. It opened its mouth and a voice came out of it though the mouth never made any movements to produce it and remained still instead.
The deep growling voice laughed and said in a disembodied voice, “Merry Christmas to you too. You did a good job making me slide down the chimney into this man. However, you forgot my milk and cookies.”
“I offered you the five elements”, John said impassively, “just like the ritual says, Father Christmas.”
“No, stupid. You offered me only four. The soul has to be that of the caster. I need you to give me your soul so that my reindeers and can feast on it. How else do you expect them to fly?”
“Fine. Whatever. Take my soul. What do I have to do to offer it?”
“Nothing really. You just have to hold up your stockings and ask for what you want. When the pact is sealed, your soul will become mine. State your terms. What do you want to be your Christmas miracle?”
“I…. I want people to….”, for the first time is his life, John was scared – scared to bring to his lips what plagued his heart.
“You want people to love you? Care for you?”, Santa Claus said, “You were alone right from the beginning, weren’t you? Naughty boy. You wouldn’t hurt a living fly, yet you have mutilated this meat-suit without having second thoughts. Let’s see. First, your soul…. Wait a minute. There’s something wrong. You don’t have a soul. You are like a doughnut with a big hole right in the middle. Sorry, no deal. This year you will get only coal.”
“Then I’ll kill myself”, John declared and lifted his knife and sliced his own throat apart. Nothing happened except minor bleeding that stanched itself almost immediately leaving behind only a faint scar.
“Ho ho ho. That wouldn’t work. Since there is no soul to come out from your body, you cannot die. You are an immortal. Now it makes sense why you repel all humanity. You will live forever shunned by everyone. Eternal loneliness……”
A tear rolled down John’s cheek.
“…. or you could come with me.”
“Come with you?” John repeated, his eyes sparkling with the thought of a new possibility.
“Why yes, as my elf. There are a lot of elves like you up there who help me make pacts with little children and give them gifts. You will fit right in and perhaps make friends too.”
“Yes”, John said without hesitation.
The next day, the newspaper showed two headlines. One – John Sparkle, a twelve-year old orphan was missing. The authorities at the Holly Orphanage reported that he was last seen heading towards the mortuary after stealing a laptop from the office. The said laptop was found at the mortuary along with signs of a satanic blood ritual corroborating the facts. Two – A large number of families have reported an influx of mysterious gifts for their children last night. Our town is blessed. This is a true Christmas miracle.
Word count: 1305