Smart Phones and Black Cats

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
A Halloween story.

Submitted: November 18, 2014

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Submitted: November 18, 2014

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It was Halloween Eve and Ambrosia Delacroix was very busy.There were so many preparations to make.
She moved back and forth slowly from pantry to kitchen, gathering the things she needed for the event planned later that evening. 
She set the necessary items out very precisely, for after all, everything must be just right.Besides, Ambrosia was a bit of a perfectionist. A fussbudget, if you will. 
Ambrosia thoughtfully considered the objects placed on the butcher’s block.  Now for those special ingredients, which were kept locked upstairs in the armoire.Best to review her recipe again, she reasoned.  So many people deviated from the recipe, something which Ambrosia had never understood.  Ambrosia firmly believed in following a recipe to the tee.  It appealed to her meticulous nature. 
She stepped over to an open book on a wrought iron display stand.  The volume was large and possessed an odor of age and something more unpleasant.  The yellowed paper crackled beneath her fingertip as she ran a finger gently down the page.
After her careful review, Ambrosia rested a bit with a cup of tea at the kitchen table in the windowed alcove.  The windows revealed the blackness of the night outside.  As she watched, the clouds parted to reveal the moon, yellow in its fullness.A contented smile touched her lips. 
After one more sip of tea, she set the cup down and rose carefully.  Her black skirts trailed behind her as she moved into the dining room.  A large, ornately framed mirror above the long walnut buffet reflected her passing image.  Ambrosia paused to consider her reflection and then grimaced in disgust.  Getting older had its rewards, she mused, but it was distinctly unkind to one’s appearance.  Ah well, for everything gained, there was a sacrifice to be made.  She chortled a little at the thought.
The soft meow of a cat drew her attention to the coal black animal that seemed to have appeared from nowhere.
“Ah, Edward, there you are.  I’m so excited about tonight.  Tonight is a very special night, you know.”  Edward did know, but made no comment.  He merely regarded her with unfathomable yellow eyes.  Ambrosia briefly admired the sleek coat of the cat before saying, “Come along Edward, we need to gather up just a few more things.”
Ambrosia ascended the elegant oak staircase very slowly, her gnarled hand holding carefully onto the polished bannister. 

 

************************************

 

It was Halloween night and Katy Thompson was very busy.  Tonight was a costume party at Tanner Flynn’s house.  Katy was going with Amber Hollis who had been her best friend as far back as she could remember anything.
Katy laid out the clothing for her costume on the bed.  She un-wrapped packages of makeup and spread everything out onto the small vanity.  What was she missing?  The shoes!
She dug around the jumble of boxes and bags that littered the floor of her closet and found the bag she was looking for.  She dumped the contents onto the bed, spilling a box containing a pair of gold platform sandals out.  What else was there?
Amber was helping her with her hair.  She might as well get started on her makeup.  Katy sat down at the vanity and considered the face reflected in the mirror.  It was a pretty face with smooth cheeks that were flushed with color from the warmth of the room.  Katy picked up a makeup brush and began to apply gold glitter shadow to her eyelids.As she slowly transformed herself from a teenage girl into a disco diva, Katy’s thoughts were on Jake.  That was nothing unusual.  Katy thought about Jake Fremont often. In fact, he was almost all she thought about lately.
Katy had known Jake since Kindergarten and the two had always been friends, but in the past year or so, Katy’s feelings towards Jake had changed.  Unfortunately, Jake seemed to regard her as just a friend.  The girl he’d known forever, the girl who was a good listener, the girl who gave him advice on problems with other girls.  Even worse, the girl who was just like one of the guys.  It was maddening.  Amber had told her it was because she was too nice, too prim and proper. She’d advised Katy to do something more daring to get Jake’s attention and make him see her as a girl and not just a friend.  Amber said she needed to make the first move.  Katy wasn’t exactly sure how to go about doing that.  It was a conundrum, all right. 
 A knock on the bedroom door interrupted her pleasant daydreams of Jake.Amber Hollis popped her head in.  “Boo.”  She stepped into the room and twirled slowly around, displaying the silver-sequined mini-dress and legs encased in white go-go boots.
The two girls had decided to go as 70’s disco chicks.  Katy wanted to appear especially attractive this evening and had settled on gold lame hot pants with a glittering gold-sequin halter top.The outfit would be more daring than anything she had ever worn.  She wanted to look sexy and not nice.  Maybe Amber was right.  She was too nice. She was the kind of girl who did volunteer tutoring.  She donated her time to visiting elderly people at the various rest homes in the area.  She helped out at the local animal shelter.  Yes, Amber was right; she was a genuinely nice girl. 
“Wow! You look amazing!” Katy said in sincere admiration. 
“I know, right?” Amber smiled, and then wandered over to the bed to look over the garments laid out.  “Nice.” She commented, picking up the hot pants. 
“Let’s get going on your hair.”  Amber had a knack for styling hair, while Katy had a difficult time managing a simple braid.
As Amber worked on her hair, the two girls chatted.  Amber was relating her work adventures at the local pizza place, when Katy broke in, “I forgot to tell you, the weirdest thing happened yesterday” Katy began, “Or did I tell you?”
Amber just raised her eyebrows questioningly, “Nooo….tell me what?”
“I got home yesterday and when I was changing, my underwear had the words I love Jake written on them with a heart.  I mean, what the eff?” 
“Whaaaat?” Amber said.  
“Obviously it happened while I was in the shower after P.E.  Gee, I wonder who?”  Katy made a face.
“Jana.” Amber nodded sagely.  “That girl has it out for you, big time.”
Katy just shook her head.  “I can’t believe I didn’t notice. Talk about being unobservant.  Geesh.” 
“You better be careful, that girl has claws.”  Amber said.
“And fangs, too.” Katy agreed. They both laughed.
Inexplicably, Jana Jeffers seemed to have taken an immediate dislike to her.  Jana was new to the area.  Jana’s father was an executive at the nearby oil refinery.  With her good looks and designer label wardrobe, Jana was instantly popular.She’d already gathered a group of followers in the short time she’d been here. 
She seemed to go out of her way to antagonize Katy and even worse, she seemed to have set her sights on Jake.  
To Katy’s consternation, Jake seemed flattered by Jana’s attention. Jana, Katy hated to admit, was indeed a very pretty girl. She looked like a girl who had just stepped out of a Victoria’s Secret catalog. Long legs and lots of blonde hair. 
For a dismal moment, Katy wondered if she was deluding herself, thinking she had a chance for Jake’s affections. 
She told herself to quit being such a defeatist.  She knew Jake.  Tonight Jake would see her as he had never seen her before.  Maybe after tonight, things would be different.

 ********************************************* 

Ambrosia wheeled the elegant brass tea trolley into the kitchen.  She had to transfer the contents on the butcher block to the trolley.  She supposed it would have saved more time to have placed everything on the trolley to begin with.  She sighed irritably, cross with herself.She despised inefficiency. 
Edward sat nearby, observing. At her sigh, he meowed questioningly.
“My mind isn’t what it used to be, Edward.  I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to tomorrow.  I certainly hope you picked a good one, dear boy!”
Edward gave her a reproachful look and meowed again.
“Now Edward, you know I trust your judgment implicitly.”
Edward began to clean a paw almost disdainfully. 
After she had carefully conveyed everything onto the tea trolley, Ambrosia pushed it through an open doorway off the kitchen that led into a narrow, elongated hallway.  As she moved down the hall, she noted the left rear wheel had a slight squeak. She made a mental note to oil the wheel.
Squeak, squeak, squeak went the wheel as Ambrosia slowly made her, finally arriving to a door at the end.  The door seemed strangely out of place in comparison to everything else around it.  The edges were blackened and charred as if from a fire.  The door handle and plate were green with age. 
She opened it and went into a windowless room.  A low wooden dais that was rarely used was at one end.  Along the wall stood an ancient oak sideboard that had been in the family for ages.  Centered in the room was a black marble topped table. 
Ambrosia began to light the multitude of candles arrayed on the sideboard. 

 

*********************************************

Amber and Katy arrived at Tanner Flynn’s house to find that the party was in full swing. The two-story Colonial overflowed with costumed teenagers and the walls were practically shaking with the sound of Maroon 5’s song Animals. 
“I see everyone is doing the Walking Dead thing this year.” Amber had commented, gazing over the crowd at the numerous zombies present.
“Yeah.  Ew.  That one’s pretty gross.”  Katy said as a zombie with a peeling face lurched by.
Katy had picked Jake out of the crowed immediately.  He was dressed in camouflage and wearing a fake beard.  Katy guessed he was supposed to be one of the guys from Duck Dynasty. 
Katy and Amber had mingled and Katy had managed to make her way circuitously over to Jake.  She didn’t want to appear obvious!
Katy had been gratified at Jake’s look of masculine appreciation as he took in her costume. 
When she’d looked at herself in the mirror earlier, she’d hardly recognized herself. The hot pants were form fitting and short!  The gold platform sandals made her legs look long and the halter top was flimsy and hid very little.  Amber had teased and curled Katy’s red hair and it looked like something you’d see in a Guess jeans ad.  The make-up made her look very different from her everyday self.  Older and far sexier.
Now, seeing Jake’s reaction, Katy was fiercely glad that she hadn’t chickened out and shown up in something more conservative.
“Katy.”  Jake said, appeared almost bemused, “You look good.”
“Thanks, you too.” She’d replied, casually.  “Duck Dynasty?  She asked.
“Yeah.” He nodded. “Me, Connor and David did the group thing.  They’re here somewhere.”  He gestured out over the throng.  He swung his head back to look at her.  “So, what are you supposed to be?”  His dark eyes were traveling up and down the length of her. 
“70’s disco chick.” Katy said. 
Soon after that, the conversation took an amazing turn as far as Katy was concerned.  Jake was flirting with her!  He was treating her like a girl and not a buddy. 
Even the sight of Jana Jeffers entering the room dressed as The Black Widow couldn’t deflate her.  She was on top of the world. 
Just as Jake was leaning in close to her playfully, saying he had to tell her a secret, Katy felt a tug on her arm.  She turned her head away reluctantly. 
Amber stood there, her blue eyes serious.  “Uh…I need to talk to you, like, right now.”  She glanced around. 
“What?  About what?  Can’t it wait?” Katy said.
“Uh no.” Amber grabbed her by the arm and practically dragged her away. 
“Amber, what the eff?” Katy exclaimed. To Jake, she called, “I’ll be right back!” As they passed through the crowd, Katy noticed people watching them.  Some kids were laughing.  A lot of them were looking at their phones and then at Katy and then bursting into laughter. 
Amber finally stopped in the hallway.  “This better be something good, Amber, I was having the most amazing conversation with Jake…..”
Amber cut her off, and said. “Look at this.”  She whipped out her pink Iphone.  On the display was a photo of Katy with her naked back facing the camera, her head turned in profile and wearing nothing but pink underwear emblazoned with the name JAKE in black marker.  The picture had clearly been taken in the girl’s locker room. 
Katy gasped. She looked around wildly, noticing that everyone seemed to be looking at her and a large number of them were laughing.  They all seemed to have smart phones in their hands. 
Feeling sick, Katy looked over to where Jake was standing and saw that Jana was next to him, showing him something on her phone.  Something very amusing, no doubt, judging from the smile on Jana’s face. 
Jake happened to look up and see Katy looking at him.  He gave her an uneasy look and then looked quickly away. 
Katy leaned back against the wall.  Amber was looking at her helplessly and sympathetically.She touched Katy’s arm tentatively.  Katy could hear Amber talking, something about group texts, she was saying something but Katy couldn’t focus on exactly what she was saying.
She wanted to sink into the wall, the floor, anything.  Katy just wanted to disappear. She darted away from Amber and forced her way blindly through the crowd.  She heard Amber calling after her but kept going. 
By the time, she reached the sidewalk, the tears started to flow.  Katy walked fast, trying not to think about what had just happened but thinking about it every second. It was all she could think about and probably all she would be thinking about for some time to come.
She had no idea how she could show her face at school ever again.  Everybody would be talking about her and she cringed when she remembered the look on Jake’s face.  She didn’t know how she could face them.  One thing she did know; she hated Jana Jeffers from the depths of her soul.  She knew that much.

 

 

********************************************
 

Katy raised her head groggily and looked around, confused.  Where was she?  She tried to recall what had happened.  The last thing she could remember was walking away from the party and then seeing a black cat suddenly appear on the sidewalk in front of her.  She remembered wryly thinking that it was just her luck a black cat would cross her path.  That was the last thing she could recall with any clarity.
She blinked and observed she was in a dimly lit room without windows.  She tried to sit up and found that she was unable to.  She felt strangely weak.  What was happening to her?  Had she been in an accident?  Her eyes felt unfocused for a minute and everything was blurred.  She realized she was on a hard surface of some sort and as she looked blearily around, she saw a narrow wooden table against the wall with a multitude of candles upon it.
A dark figure moved into her line of vision.  The figure spoke, “Good evening, my dear.”
Katy’s vision sharpened, taking in the appearance of the figure.  A very old woman clad in black stood there.  A black cat sat next to the edge of her trailing black skirt. The cat was very much like the one she had seen on the sidewalk.
The woman had an incredibly wrinkled face with black beetle eyes.  Those eyes observed Katy benignly. 
“Who are you?  Where am I?” Katy asked slowly, finding it difficult to speak at first.
“My name is Ambrosia, dear girl and you’re in my home.”  The old woman moved closer and peered more closely at Katy.  One age spotted hand reached out and lightly touched Katy’s cheek.  Katy flinched back. 
“What happened to me?  Was I in an accident?  Why can’t I move?  How did I get here?” Questions poured out with increasing rapidity as Katy struggled to recall what might have happened.  She tried vainly to move her arms and legs.  She discovered she could only move her head and only with great effort.
“Well, let’s see.  Where to begin?  I summoned you here.”
“Summoned?” Katy tried to grasp that and was unable to, “Was I in an accident?” She repeated.
“Oh no, you weren’t in an accident. You’re just fine, dear. ” 
“Why can’t I move then?” Katy asked, her voice rising in fear.
“Because I’ve cast an immobilization spell on you.  I’m pleased to see that I haven’t lost my touch.”  Ambrosia cast a delighted look at Edward. 
“A what?” 
“Well, I can’t have you moving about.  I need you to be very still for the Sacrament of Iuvenis.”
“What’s that?” Katy asked fearfully.  It didn’t sound good.  The words made her think of church or a cult or something.
“It’s a ceremony that I’ve been waiting for many, many years to perform.  All of the portents are finally favorable and tonight’s the night.” Ambrosia turned her back to Katy and stepped over to a small cart, “It’s a ceremony that will restore me to what I used to be.  Oh, I was something, wasn’t I, Edward?”  She looked down at the black cat.  “With your help, of course.  I certainly couldn’t do it without you.  Did I mention that you have very lovely skin, my dear?”
She turned around holding an ancient looking and extremely large dagger.  The hilt was a fantastic display of workmanship with the leering face of a gargoyle; the gleaming blade appeared incredibly sharp. 
Katy screamed.
“Now, now, none of that.  Nobody can hear you, dear girl, so you might as well stop that nonsense.”  Ambrosia said chidingly.  “I can assure you, your sacrifice will be greatly appreciated.” Ambrosia said earnestly.
Katy continued screaming.  Her head thrashed back and forth as she tried with all her might to move. 
“Please don’t do this!  I don’t want to die.  I don’t deserve this!” Katy pleaded with tears in her eyes.This had to be the worst night anyone could possibly imagine.  First the humiliation at the party and now this!  This couldn’t possibly be happening.  Maybe she was dreaming?  Was this woman some delusional nut job thinking she was a witch or was she really a witch?  Either way, Katy didn’t want to die.  She pleaded. “Please, I’m begging you, please don’t kill me.  I don’t want to die.”
Her dark eyes momentarily indecisive, Ambrosia hesitated for a moment.  Katy took note and her mind raced frantically.  There had to be some way out of this, some way to convince the old crone to let her go.  “I know there’s someone else out there you could use, some criminal or something.”  Katy said frantically.  Katy opposed the death penalty but there had to be someone more deserving of such a fate. There were some really messed up people out there.  Was it just last week that the local news channel had a story about some loser who had bludgeoned an elderly couple for twenty bucks?  And what about those kids in that Knockout Game that had been all over the news recently?  Her mind raced wildly.  There were all sorts of really bad people out there!
Head still tilted, Ambrosia contemplated her silently for a moment.  The girl had a point and in these situations, she really would prefer to use someone less likeable, someone not so nice.  Ah, but that skin.  She hated to let that go. 
She looked down at the black cat sitting silently at her feet.  “What do you think, Edward?  Is this girl a good girl or is she a bad, rotten thing?  So many girls her age are, you know.” 
Edward did indeed know.  He stared intently back for a moment and then meowed. 
“Hmm.  I see.”  She said.  She appeared thoughtful and then spoke.  “I’ll tell you what, my dear.  Edward tells me you are a good girl, doing local charity work and the like.  A rare thing these days, I grant you.  I will let you go, but on one condition.”  Ambrosia paused for effect.  “You must choose your replacement.”  Her black beetle eyes considered Katy brightly. 
Would the girl have the stomach to actually choose someone else to take her place, knowing what was going to happen?Ambrosia continued. “Furthermore, it must be someone that I find acceptable in appearance, so choose carefully, my dear girl.  If I don’t find your substitute acceptable….” Ambrosia’s voice trailed off meaningfully and then she continued, “Well, then we both know what will happen.”
“I will give you five minutes.” Ambrosia said.  She glided over to an array of hour glasses on a shelf and took down a very small one with a bronze base and then tipped it upside down.
Katy sat there for a minute, unable to believe her good luck.  She tried desperately to recall the names from the news report, but couldn’t.  She didn’t know the names of any criminals.  Not just that, but it evidently had to be someone who met her requirements….of what?  Being young and pretty?  She had to pick someone who was young and attractive and that deserved to die?
Who did she know that deserved such a fate? 
Jana Jeffers’ beautiful, laughing image came into her mind then.  Jana humiliating her at the party, Jana standing next to Jake. 
Katy’s face hardened imperceptibly.
 

*******************************************

 

The standing marquetry clock in the dining room struck midnight. 
Ambrosia Delacroix raced up the stairs like a young girl, her long black skirts flying. 
Edward watched her indulgently from where he sat near the foot of the marquetry clock.
Once upstairs, Ambrosia flung open the double doors leading into her bedroom with dramatic flair. She paused for a moment to admire the feminine opulence of the room and then seated herself on a plush stool in front of a gilded vanity. 
She reached for a silver hand mirror and held it up to her face.  She regarded the reflected image approvingly.  She touched the smooth, unblemished skin with a youthful hand.
Oh, how wonderful it was to be young and beautiful once again.  The girl Katy had really picked a more than suitable replacement, Ambrosia concluded.
When the girl had told Ambrosia she could show her an image of the replacement, Ambrosia had been instantly suspicious, suspecting it might be a trick in order to escape.  
However, her curiosity had been piqued in spite of herself.  Ambrosia did have the curiosity of a cat, you might say.  She relented and released her immobilization spell on the girl.  Katy had reached within her purse and pulled out a cellular phone. Ambrosia had never been one to keep up with current technology and had commented on the appearance of the phone.
“It’s a smart phone,” Katy had explained.  She began to touch the screen and soon she was displaying images of a girl for Ambrosia to look at.
It was a link to Jana Jeffers’ Facebook page.  There were numerous photos of Jana, all of them displaying the beautiful face and figure to advantage. 
Ambrosia had been more than impressed and had quickly agreed that Jana would make a more than sufficient replacement.
She had performed her most powerful summoning spell and after she’d had the replacement girl properly restrained, she’d allowed Katy to go on her way.  Everything had gone smooth as silk after that. 
Now, just after the witching hour, as Ambrosia continued to gaze admiringly at the image reflected in the mirror, she thought again of what an amazing gadget that smart phone was.  Really! She just might have to get one for herself.  It was almost magical, she thought whimsically. 
Ambrosia felt something brush up against her ankle and looked down to see that the black cat had rejoined her.  “What do you think Edward?  Wouldn’t one of those smart phones be wonderful fun?”
Edward, however, did not reply. 


 

********************************************


It was just after midnight and Katy Thompson bolted awake.She was momentarily confused to find herself at home.  She couldn’t recall getting home and into bed.  The last thing she remembered was her utter humiliation at the party and leaving.
She thought that was very odd, to not remember anything after leaving the party.  Had she been drunk?  She didn’t remember drinking that much. 
However, she could recall in great detail the strange dream she’d just been having.  She’d dreamed that a witch had been about to kill her for some strange ritual but had killed Jana Jeffers instead.
Now that would be wonderful, Katy thought.  Ding dong the wicked witch is dead, she thought randomly for no apparent reason.  She glanced over to the night stand where her phone was sitting and reached for it.  She noticed a text from Amber, sent earlier.  She would talk to Amber in the morning.  She really didn’t want to communicate with anyone right now.  She knew she would have to face the world tomorrow and that would be soon enough, thank you very much.
She dreaded going to school on Monday.  She dreaded facing Jake.  Katy was sure that she would be the one thing everyone would be talking about.
Katy fell back to sleep and this time her sleep was dreamless. 
Katy was wrong, however.  On Monday, everyone was talking about the mysterious disappearance of Jana Jeffers. 

 

 

 

 


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