by Louise Dragon
Quietly, so as not to wake her sleeping teenage son, Gail tiptoed to the back of the house, as she had done countless times before.
The previous owner of the house had been a taxidermist. His workshop, a large room with small windows, was Gail’s workshop now. Approaching the door, she stooped to slip her fingers under Kip’s collar and secure a shiny silver key. Shivering slightly in the chilled night air, she entered, black cat at her heels. The room always kept an aura of warmth and stillness. It was pitch black, but Gail walked to the center as if guided by radar.
Placing a lit match to the white candles on the four corners of her work table brought shadows leaping to life on the pale green walls. Old taxidermy shelves now held bottles, jars, vials, parchments, candles, and a hideous display of tools, their uses known only to Gail. Dried plant flesh and other slabs of unrecognizable material decorated an entire wall. Color-coded strings fixed these items to a series of hooks and nails along the wall. A dry musty smell, like an old unused hayloft prevailed.
Gail lit a fire in the deep old fireplace. Kip stretched his graceful form before the leaping flames, his radiant green eyes alert and watchful.
Three squat incense burners stood in a row on the table, like antique soldiers waiting for commands. Curls of aromatic blue smoke wafted lazily from the burners.
An oval tray, its polished surface reflecting the flickering candlelight, became Gail’s next focus. She withdrew a tiny vial marked ‘POWER’ from an array of like objects. Anointing her forehead, Gail began to feel the power of the oil course down through her body until she was completely filled with its glowing white heat.
Gail took a deep breath and went to work.
As she constructed the little doll, filling it with hair, blood, and nail clippings from her intended victim, Gail conjured up an image of the girl. She knew she must be careful to keep her feelings at bay – too much hate or emotion could do serious damage. She only wanted the girl to go away. She didn’t want to hurt her . . .
“Mom, this is Tara,” Rick had said proudly, his tan smiling face begging her to accept the girl.
Not able to refuse her son anything, Gail had forced a smile and held her large smooth hand out to the girl. “Tara, what a lovely name. And Rick, such a lovely girl. Wherever have you been keeping her?”
Gratitude sparkled in Rick’s copper-colored eyes, so much like Gail’s own. Her heart went out to him. She knew Rick needed friends of his own.
As she clasped her hand firmly over the small, heavily ringed hand of this Tara-girl, however, Gail’s heart skipped a beat. Outwardly she kept on her sunny smile, while inwardly – at the moment of contact – the destructiveness of this sweet-looking creature played itself through Gail’s mind like a video. Possessiveness, deviousness, and chaos would follow this girl -- would cause her beautiful boy worry and heartache – make him grow old before his time.
This girl would be trouble!
With a heavy heart, Gail had watched the new romance flourish . . .
She pulled her attention back to the work at hand. Carefully she sewed the little golden strands onto the poppet’s head and glued bits of broken red nails to its tiny hands. The inside was stuffed with blood soaked bits of cotton, graveyard dust, henbane, mandrake root, the dried brain of a rat, the blood of a bat, and a few other snippets too disgusting for her to think about.
Little blue beaded eyes and detailed embroidery almost succeeded in bringing the little Tara doll to life. Gail would do just that at midnight – the witching hour!
Right now it was time to think about the doll’s disposal. It had to go far away by one of the four elements: fire, air, water, or land. Fire was out. This would only kill the girl in some gruesome fiery death.
Much too strong.
Gail struggled to pull back those strong images.
There, she thought taking a sputtery deep breath, air, then, or water, or maybe even land?
* * *
“I’d like to mail this package airmail to the Chamber of Commerce in Bermuda.”
“That’ll be twenty nine ninety five, ma’am.”
Smiling, Gail passed the money to a young man with cherub cheeks.
“When will this go out?”
“Should leave Portland tomorrow night on a freight plane. Oh, prob’ly five or six o’clock.”
“Thank you.” Gail flashed the boy a winning smile and floated out of the post office.
* * *
The cherub cheeked young man watched the huge woman glide out, shook his head – which suddenly felt like it was filled with sawdust – and found himself standing there clutching a small package. The package was wrapped in what looked like black tar paper, the address scrawled in bright red paint, or nail polish.
The man gave the box a cautious shake. A dank, rotten, and repulsive odor wafted to his nostrils. With a shudder, he tossed the package into a bin marked ‘AIRMAIL’ and went to wash his hands.
* * *
Gail paced in her workshop. Rick and Tara were in the living room, probably necking. In a few minutes that package would be leaving by air, flying over water, AND landing in Bermuda. Air, water, AND land, she wasn’t taking any chances.
Once the package was in Bermuda, even if it were thrown out, it would never find its way back. Tara would be leaving soon. Leaving for good.
“Why don’t I feel good about this?” Gail asked her cat.
* * *
At seven P.M., over the Bermuda Triangle, a freighter carrying a load of cargo hit an unexplained patch of turbulence. In the cargo hold a spark from the friction ignited. When the flames reached the fuel tanks, the plane exploded into a fireball of yellows and reds.
* * *
Tara never even had a chance to scream. In seconds she was reduced to a brittle black shell of her former self. Rick, however, was not so lucky. When Gail found him in his lover’s arms, he rolled his lash less eyes at her and screamed.