The cold finally drove Jill out of the attic. As the night progressed, her hands lost all feeling and she could no longer hold the book she was reading. Wrapping the books in the protective cover of black material, she sought refuge in the warmth of the kitchen. The light was dim here, and she thought this would afford the brittle pages some protection. Either way, she had to take the chance, or risk catching pneumonia. There was a side table that in the past was used for storing the enamel bowls full of cream. These were later used in the making of butter. But now the table stood forlorn and empty. It would make an ideal desk, and it was big enough to take all four of the books. Once they were spread out on the top, Jill closed her eyes and whispered a prayer of protection for her son. No matter how hard she tried, her mind kept straying back to his distress. Still, she knew his life depended on the words before her, and she would have to try and concentrate, or all would be lost.
It was difficult to read in the light from the lone ceiling bulb, so she threw more sods of turf onto the fire, and its cheerful blaze gave her tired eyes some relief. The clock on top of the dresser told her it was now 3 am, the dead of night. She shivered and tried to brush aside her unease when she looked towards the window. Sometimes she imagined death itself waited outside, warning her with its presence of what was to be. Despite her determination to be strong, her eyes were drawn again and again to the dark curtains, sure that if she were to part them, the dark spectre would be standing there. She saw its shape in every shadow. It lingered over by the outbuildings and glided along the ditches as she walked the land.
Stop it, she admonished herself, this is doing no one any good. Wiping her eyes, brushing away the tears that had fallen, she went back to work.
By morning, just as the first rays of light cut through the darkness, she knew what she had to do. The act she would perform was beyond all human comprehension, but she would do it, nevertheless. The only thing standing in her way was her conscience, and she wondered if she could trust Tom enough to tell him of her plan. Of course, he might be appalled at the idea and threaten her with all sorts of legal action, but it was worth a shot. She really needed his support. She knew Paul would have her arrested if she told him what she planned. There was nothing for it, but to tell Tom and hope he would back her. It was not an easy decision for her to make. After all, she was going to try and raise his wife from the dead.
There are times when the very soul calls out to heaven for help, and such was the case for Jill, as she waited for Tom to arrive. She had eaten very little, as the book warned she must fast for the spell to be performed correctly, but despite her meagre meal of dry toast, she still felt sick. Dark moths ran riot in her stomach, which didn’t help to quell the rising nausea, and she thought she’d throw up, when she saw his car drive into the yard.
“Morning,” he said, his eyes sad, despite the smile. “Have you been up all night?”
There was no denying the bags under her eyes, or the dark circles that only helped to draw further attention to them.
“I got caught up in the book I was reading,” she helped him out of his coat. “And before I knew it, it was morning.”
“You must be exhausted,” he followed her into the kitchen, and was surprised to see the books laid out on the tabletop.
“The attic was too cold,” she explained. “The light is not great here, so I thought they would be okay. I’ve left the curtains closed. I was able to pull the table closer to the middle of the room, so between the bulb and the fire, I managed to see all right.”
“What have you learned?” He glanced from Jill to the books.
“Quite a lot, really,” she had no idea how to approach the subject with him, so instead skirted around it. “Have you eaten? I could make you something.”
“I had breakfast before I came out,” He sat opposite her at the kitchen table
“Is something bothering you?” He sat opposite her at the kitchen table.
“I found a way to find Toby.”
“Jesus, that’s great,” his eyes lit up. “What is it?”
She looked down at the wood, not daring to look at his face as she explained what she learned. The silence in the room once she finished speaking was so heavy, she felt she could have reached out and touched it.
“Let me get this straight,” Tom said, and she heard how hard he was trying to control his emotions. “You’re planning to try and raise someone from the dead to help you find your son?”
“Yes. It’s called a Wraith, an avenging spirit.”
“Are you out of your mind?”
“Yes,” she said, and jumped up. She walked over to retrieve the book she was reading. “Maybe I am.”
Placing the book on the table in front of him, she pointed to the chapter where she learned what she must do.
“Read it,” were her parting words, before she went outside to feed the dogs.
While she fussed and petted the animals which were grateful to be free, her eyes strayed back to the house.
Over half an hour lapsed before she finally got up the courage to go inside. He’d finished reading, and now stared into the fire. His face was ashen, even in the gloom. If he heard her come in, he gave no sign of it, but continued to watch the leaping flames. She sat at the table, and waited, and waited.
“It’s disgraceful,” he said, his voice echoing in the stillness. “It’s against the laws of God.”
Jill started to cry, big silent tears at first, then racking sobs that could not be quieted. He let her cry and offered no words of kindness or support, until she was sure she had lost him.
“I’m sorry,” she gulped, wiping her eyes on a dish towel. “I want to find my son.”
“So, do I, but not like this.”
“Then tell me how to do it,” she said, starting to get angry. “Tell me how to find him, before it’s too late.”
He didn’t reply.
“I thought so; you’re like all the rest, full of good intention, but lacking when it comes to real courage.”
“You call this courageous?” He jabbed his finger into the book. “You think you are some sort of God? That you and you alone, can raise the dead?”
“I can try.” She stared at him.
Every fibre of his being warned him he should run; leave this place and have nothing more to do with her. Yet, he saw reflected in her eyes the same hopelessness he was forced to witness in his wife’s, and he knew he would stay, despite the risks.
“Let’s look at this again,” he said, and started to read the words aloud.
Jill had memorised them and her lips moved as he read. In the past, she found it impossible to remember a speech she had written and was at pains to recite poetry in school. Yet the words in the book were engraved on her brain, almost as if she used them before, in another time.
“Okay,” he was finished. “According to this, we need something called the Triangle of Solomon, which sounds like an instrument of sort and a book called the Key of Solomon. Have you got either?”
“The cupboard,” Jill pointed towards the ceiling, recalling her grandmother’s letter.
“Let’s just say these things are up there,” he continued. “You would need a black cloak, candles, incense and human blood!”
“That’s easy enough. I can buy the incense and candles and use my own blood.”
“Do you have a black cloak?”
Now she wasn’t sure if he was serious or making fun of her.
“No,” she tried to control her anger. “It shouldn’t be too hard to find one.”
One of the books on the side table fell to the floor with a resounding thud. Jill ran to rescue it and stuffed back in the pages that fell out.
“How did that happen?” Tom stood next to her.
“It probably slid off the material.” She stood and pulled the dark cloth from underneath and handed it to him.
“Coincidence or what?”
She turned around and saw he held what she had thought was some old material. A hooded cloak draped from his hands. She reached out and touched the cloth, hardly able to believe her eyes.
“It must have belonged to my grandmother,” she said, and smiled at the softness of the cloth.
“Still, it’s a bit weird the book called your attention to it.”
“Now, who’s being paranoid?” She took the cloak and draped it around her.
Though the material smelled old and musty, there was something comforting about the weight of the wool on her shoulders.
“It fits you,” Tom said, as she twirled around.
“It’s a cloak; it would fit anyone.”
“What next?” He asked, resigned to helping her now.
“Let’s go up to the attic and see what we can find.” She walked towards the door.
As he followed her up the stairs, he tried not to think about the act she was willing to perform to save her son. This was the sort of thing you only ever read about in some horror novel. It would be laughable, if she were not so serious about it.
The cupboard, her grandmother wrote about stood beside the trunk. This too was guarded by a stout lock, and she didn’t have to look very far for the key, as she had left the ring beside the trunk. Moments later it was open, and she stepped back to get a better look. Jill was now so used to the room she no longer needed the lamp to find her way through it, but Tom lit it and held it up in front of her. They examined the assortment of figures and drawings the cupboard held.
“Take this,” Tom passed her the lamp and knelt.
She watched as he rummaged at the back of the cupboard before pulling out a wooden triangle. It was painted black and measured about 3x3x3ft.
“See,” he traced his fingers along the words written on each side. “It’s like the book said, the three sacred names of God.”
“That must be the Triangle of Solomon,” Jill put the lamp on top of the trunk and started to look through the shelves.
“I bet this is what we’re looking for,” he said. The old book was heavy, the covers held together by an ornate clasp.
There was no key on the ring that fit, and they had to resort to breaking it open.
“Yes,” Jill gasped, as the first page came in to view. “It’s the Key of Solomon.”
“Let’s take them downstairs,” Tom suggested. “It’s too hard to see up here.”
They spent the next few hours studying the book and learning its use.
“Do you think it could work?” Jill asked when they were finished.
“Maybe, with a serious practitioner, someone who believes in all this, and knows what they’re doing.”
“Not a novice like me?”
“Do you really think a spell can raise the dead?”
“I think it’s like my grandmother said. It’s impossible to disturb one who lies in restless sleep.”
“Like whom, for instance?” He was getting tired of this nonsense.
“I don’t know,” Jill bit her lip, and was reminded it had still not healed. “Someone with unfinished business, perhaps.”
“Go on, say it,” his face was set hard. “No, then I’ll say it for you. Like my wife. That’s what you mean, isn’t it?”
“I wasn’t necessarily thinking along those lines.” She hoped he didn’t notice her blush. “I was just thinking out loud.”
“No, you weren’t,” he said, shaking from temper. “You were thinking about Marie.”
“Tom, please,” she touched his hand, but he sprang back as though her touch burned.
“Get that out of your mind, right now,” he said and stalked into the hall. He grabbed his coat off the peg. “I should have listened to my instinct, and left hours ago.”
He was about to slam the front door, but she caught it before he could, and threw it open.
“I’m going to do it,” she screamed, and ran after him.
He was already in his car, the door locked, when she tried the handle.
“Listen to me, Tom,” she beat her fists on the glass. “I am going to find my son, with or without your help, and I’m doing it tonight.”
He wound the window down, his face transformed from the gentle man she had come to know to one barely able to contain his rage. He was spitting as he spoke.
“You stay the fuck away from my wife’s grave, I’m warning you.”
“Is Marie at rest?” she ran to keep up with the car, “or is she waiting for Rachael to come home? Ask yourself that, Tom is she still waiting? Will you deny her the chance to find her daughter?”