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Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Horror/Scary · #2214642
Somehow Google News and a great prompt morphed into this...
SCREAMS!!! Entry 3/2/20
Theme: Seduced into a Ritual
706 words

I’m not sure why I clicked on the article in the first place.

For some reason, I just had to know the juicy details of a relatively uninteresting and completely meaningless family drama about royalty in some other country that had absolutely no impact on anything in my life whatsoever. It didn’t involve sex, violence, or even any luridly interesting gossipy tales. It was just some prince who wanted to live his own life or something. Why were there still royal families in democratic countries anyway? Wasn’t it a little outdated? Or, like, a lot outdated?

But I clicked it anyway.

As I skimmed the article, bored by the details of how the prince would lose his royal paycheck due to his actions, I noticed an ad at the side of the page.

Do It Yourself Online Course in REAL!!! Magic!

I knew it was a scam. I clicked it anyway.

Apparently I had a hidden, subconscious desire to know about fake magic, just as I did about royals.

As I read down the page, the site made clear that it didn’t charge anything, and it made seductively tempting promises of spells that would give wealth, power, beauty--whatever I wanted. Licking my lips, I clicked on the first spell, quickly clicking the OK button through the approvals and windows that continued to pop up. The spell was designed to give me wealth, and I was eager to see whether there was anything to it.

I drew a pentagram on the floor exactly as the site showed, lit the candles, then chanted the incantation.

Nothing happened. No crackle of lightning. No crash of thunder. Not even a breeze that fluttered the flames on the candles. Disappointed, I flopped on my bed.

Grabbing my phone, I checked my bank account. I knew I shouldn’t bother, but I couldn’t help it. I opened the app and saw the number… as well as all the zeros that came after it.

Omigod! It worked! It worked!!!

As I attempted to jump up, I felt the cord around my neck from behind. It zipped tight against my throat, collapsing my larynx with a loud crunch as strong hands pulled it tight. I struggled and gurgled until my vision dimmed. As my brain began to shut down, I couldn’t help but think:

It would… have… been nice… to have seen… the benefits… of… all… that… money.

***

My consciousness appeared in another place, at another time. I was in a room with two men. A dark-haired man sitting before a computer and a light-haired man standing near him. I could see them, but they couldn't see me. I remembered dying. What was I now? A ghost?

The two men were speaking. I decided to listen.

“Yeah, we laundered it through the mark’s accounts. Now, I’ve got a program running to make a zillion purchases of varying amounts at our online stores. It’ll look like she went on a complete spending spree with that royal money. And since she’s dead now, there’s no one to correct that impression,” said the dark-haired man at the computer.

“But won’t they trace it back to the stores?” said the light-haired man hovering behind him, looking at the screen.

“Sure! But what are they going to do? It won’t appear that we’ve done anything wrong. She’s got a pentagram on the floor and a whole bunch of the royals’ money still sitting in her bank account. We’re only taking about 10% of it—one Swiss account's worth—still a fortune. Still, they might go after store refunds or something...”

The light-haired man smiled.

“No, they won’t. Harassing a bunch of shop owners who did nothing wrong will just drag things out. They’re going to be embarrassed enough when I leak the cyber-theft to the news. They won’t want things lasting any longer than absolutely necessary. If they recover 90% of everything, they’ll almost certainly just claim victory and move on.”

“How do you know so much about how they’ll react?”

“Let’s just say that I’m familiar with how they operate.”

I watched the light-haired man leave the room. He looked familiar somehow. My eyes—or whatever I was now seeing with—darted back to the news article that I had seen on the dark-haired man's screen. It was the same article I had been reading when I clicked on the magic ad.

That man looked an awful lot like the prince who was causing the royal ruckus—could it be...? That’d be too crazy to be true…

...right?

I felt a surge of anger wash through me, watched the hairs on the back of the dark-haired man's neck rise in response. He shifted uncomfortably in his seat as he felt my rising wrath. I smiled darkly with incorporeal lips, pondering what I would do to these men with my new status as a vengeful apparition.

Or, more accurately, I pondered how much agony I could put them through before they joined me...
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