Casting His Shadow, Weaving His Spell
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The faint light of the 5 candles at the center of the room cast flickering shadows against the stone walls. Two shadowed figures sat near the candles with their heads down, eyes closed, and while muttering the same three words repeatedly.

"Om, Kal, Thom."

Then, as if struck, one of the men stopped chanting.

"Alexa, turn the basement light on."

"Ok." A robotic voice from near the wall called out.

The other man looked up just in time to see the overhead light turn on and both men winced at the sudden brightness. The floor here was dirty, the walls were stone and cinder block and the metal supports that ran along the bottom of the house hung above them both.

The man who'd turned the lights on looked up at the other man. "Look maybe we should talk about it."

"How about we don't, Howard."

"Phillip, I'm just saying that maybe…"

"Fuck you Howard. I said I didn't want to talk about it."

Howard shook his head. "How about we do because I'm the head cultist here not the bitch cultist."

"There's just two of us." Phillip shot back.

"And I'm in charge." Howard paused for a moment and softened his tone. "Look, all I'm saying is maybe you're supposed to wear the robes."

As their eyes finally adjusted to the bright light, their outlines became more clear. Howard wore a set of black robes with a pointed hood and Phillip wore a pair of blue jeans with a Black Sabbath T-shirt.

Phillip shook his head. "You said I didn't have to wear robes for this if I didn't want to."

"It's been an hour and a half. We're definitely doing something wrong. Have you ever seen someone do a ritual without cult robes on before?"

"I mean no, but I've never seen a real ritual either. Look man. Does the book say I have to wear robes or not?"

Howard cocked his head to the side and lifted the book in front of him up. The front of the book depicted a pentagram, while the back cover bore the stylized initials of MC&D. "Draw a pentagram on the floor with chalk, lower the lights and place 5 candles at the points of the star. Surround the pentagram with a circle of salt. Create a spiral of gunpowder beginning from the center of the pentagram and going outward until it reaches the salt circle. Then…" Howard trailed off.

Phillip's eyes went slightly wider. "Wait there's more?"

Howard shook his head quickly. "What? No."

"Ok but you said 'then' and stopped talking."

"I was reading the wrong thing."

Phillip stepped around the circle and towards Howard. "Give me the book. I wanna see."

"No. It's mine."

"Give me the book!"

Phillip reached for the book as Howard pulled it away. Phillip slapped at Howard's arm, who tried to use his free hand to push Phillip away. The two of them remained engaged in slapping and awkward pushing until Phillip lost his balance and fell backward, dragging Howard with him. Howard dropped the book as he fell and when they landed Phillip scrambled over to grab it. He started to read as the basement door opened.

"Howard?" An older woman's voice called down.

"Yeah grandma?" Howard answered.

"I heard a commotion. Are you and your friend rough-housing?"

"No grandma."

"You sure you and your friend don't want something to eat? I could make something."

"No. Thank you grandma."

"Ok. I'll be in the den watching Wheel of Fortune if you change your mind. I got the Tivo so I can pause it if you want something."

"We're fine grandma thank you."

The door shut slowly and Howard remembered his book. He looked over at Phillip who was still looking at the pages.

"'Then apply the blood of a close friend to the center of the circle.' You son of a bitch."

"Look, I was hoping we wouldn't need to get that far. I'm not…" Phillip closed the book and slapped it across Howard's face. Howard's nose immediately began to bleed. As the blood fell on the gunpowder in the circle it ignited and began to burn along the spiral.

Howard reached up to close his nose off and stepped back. "Oh shit."

The burning gunpowder reached the center of the spiral and a small explosion of energy erupted from it. The two men's eyes went wide as the ground beneath them began to rumble slightly, then the ground beneath the circle fell away. The smell of sulfur filled their nostrils and a dark cloud of smoke with two red eyes rose up from the hole.

"I AM HR'ASM'KAL OF THE SIXTH CIRCLE OF WHY IS THAT GUY WEARING A BLACK SABBATH T-SHIRT?"

Howard used his free arm to elbow Phillip in the ribs.

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