“Bothwa,” I smiled, “I offer this woman, Sara Abate, as a sacrifice to you as a sign of my devotion and gratitude for all that you have done for me.”
“Oh!” Sara cried as the black candles around her flared into flaming columns. She struggled to sit up, but Bothwa was already on her. I watched with detached fascination as the deity toyed with Sara. Her pale eyes grew wide with terror and I wondered in passing if she could actually see him.
Sara lasted longer than most and it looked, for a moment, as if Bothwa was trying to possess her. A tinge of fear rippled through my gut. I’d never dealt with an embodied god before.
“Ahh!” Sara gurgled and curled into the fetal position. The sharp tang of blood wafted into my nose while the candles dissolved into puddles that dripped onto the floor.
“I thank you for accepting this offering,” I said. Slowly, the cold subsided and I could sense Bothwa was pleased. I turned to Keisha, who looked like she’d shit her pants several times. “Call 911”
“What?’ Keisha asked, her eyes wide and glassy.
“Call 911,” I repeated, “I think she had a seizure.”
“Yeah, um ok,” Keisha said catching on. Her trembling hand groped for the doorknob, but her eyes were still on Sara’s crumpled body.
The paramedics arrived quickly followed by the police and then the detectives. They moved uneasily in and out of my ceremony room as if they were not sure what they were seeing was real.
“So she came to you for a spell to get a job?” the lead detective asked for the fifth time. His voice was just as skeptical as it had been the first time he asked the question. I nodded and kept up my mask of concern. “And she didn’t tell you she had seizures?’
“Correct,” I furrowed my brow and placed a trembling hand over my mouth.
“And you sold her this service?”
“No,” I said, keeping my eyes down, “she was an old friend of mine from high school. I did it for her for free.”
“Mrs. Holden are you aware of the laws of our state?” another detective asked, fingering the cuffs dangling from his waist.
“Laws protect the customer’s money, but they cannot decide the customer’s faith,” I gave him a proud look and turned to Keisha.
“Those laws don’t apply, detective,” she countered, “nothing of value was exchanged for the service.”
The detective opened his mouth to speak again, but was silenced by a most unearthly screech. We all looked over at Sara . She had thrown off the paramedics and was trying to wriggle her way out of the gurney’s restraints. At first the noise coming at her mouth sounded like nonsense, but soon I realized she was speaking Spanish, backwards.
I jumped to my feet, my eyes riveted on Sara.
“We have to get out of here,” I whispered to Keisha.
“If she dies we’re taking you in, miss,” the second detective said gleefully. He mistook my fear for guilt.
“It’s standard procedure,” the lead detective stated. His voice was calm, but his green eyes moved frantically around the room, absorbing all of the details.
“Where are you going?” He asked, noticing our retreat.
“She is not safe,” I said, continuing to back out of the living area. At my words, Keisha turned and flat out ran for the ceremony room.
Suddenly, Sara stopped yelling and I ran for it, too.