The Thirteenth Sacrifice Online - Debbie Viguie

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Everywhere she looked there were shadows. Somewhere far away a man was chanting in a deep voice, and with each word a new cut appeared on her arms, until she was bleeding from a dozen wounds. The blood rolled down her arms and dripped off the tips of her fingers to land in pools on the floor. She began to shake.

“Turn!” It was one of the grown-ups, the one with the pale blue eyes.

She spun slowly, the blood continuing to drip onto the floor, forming a circle around her.

She stopped when she had gone all the way around. She began to feel faint and the smell of her own blood made her sick.

“It must be unbroken.”

She looked down at the floor, at the blood spatters that formed the circle. Except it wasn’t perfect; there were three spots where the line was broken.

The man stopped chanting and a moment later several women started a different chant.

“Close it—now.”

She stared down in terror at the breaks in the circle. The circle kept her safe. The circle protected her from what was outside, but only if it was unbroken. A sulfurous smell filled her nostrils and she could hear screams nearby. She began to spin in a circle again, trying to drip blood on the gaps, but no matter how hard she tried, the blood went everywhere but where she wanted it to go.

She started to get dizzy and she thought she was going to fall down, but she had to stay inside the circle and she had to finish it. The screams grew closer and she didn’t know what made them.

“You will die!”

She began to scream herself, trying to block out the other screams. She dug her fingernails into her arms, tearing at her skin until the blood flowed faster and fell all around her. Two gaps left.

She heard the sound of claws scratching the ground, running toward her.

One gap left.

Growling and snarling, they were upon her, on every side. She shook her hands, watching her own blood fly through the air, covering her, the ground, the things beyond the circle with red eyes, and then the last gap was closed.

And something hit the circle and sent shock waves through the air and the screaming got louder.

Samantha Ryan shrieked and sat up in bed. Sweat covered her and she could still smell the blood from her dreams. She switched on the lamp on her end table and saw that she had scratched several deep grooves into her arms, and her sheets were bloody.

She wrapped her bleeding arms around herself and began to rock back and forth. “Just a nightmare, just a nightmare,” she told herself over and over again.

Only she knew it wasn’t a nightmare. They never were. It was another repressed memory from her childhood, bubbling to the surface to haunt her and shatter the peace she had tried so hard to achieve and hold on to.

Finally she got up and made her way to the bathroom and did her best to stanch the flow of blood. The scratches were across the insides of her lower arms. Cat scratches—that’s what she’d tell anyone who asked. Scratches from a phantom cat who didn’t exist, who got blamed for a lot she didn’t want to have to explain.

Once she got the bleeding stopped, she applied Neosporin to the cuts. As her fingers stroked the scratches, she fought the urge to mutter a healing incantation over them. The pain was great but not unbearable. Far better to feel the pain.

She reached up to touch the cross she wore around her neck. It wasn’t good to wear it to bed. She risked injuring herself while she was unconscious. Still, she couldn’t bring herself to remove it. Her arms began to throb and she said a silent prayer as she swallowed some Tylenol.

She straightened and looked at herself in the mirror. Green eyes that looked far too old to belong to her stared back. Her shoulder-length red hair was damp with sweat and she ducked her head under the faucet, letting the cold water wash away the last clinging tendrils of the nightmare memory.

A few minutes later she toweled her hair dry and walked back into her bedroom, where she looked at the clock. It was almost four in the morning. She knew from experience that she wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep, and that even if she could, she wouldn’t like what she saw. She stripped her bed, dumped the sheets in the washing machine,