The silence woke her. The same dream again. The circle that she could not escape, the faint flickering of candles, shadowy figures looming over her and the drums… oh god, the drums. They were so loud, deafening yet… silent. It was something she couldn’t quite understand but still she knew it frightened her. Everyday for the past 3 weeks she struggled to escape the dread that followed her around, sitting on her shoulders like a mischievous pest. A constant reminder of what waits for her at the final ritual…
Esme had been acting rather strange for the past 3 weeks. No longer does she hang out with the group, meet up for their cosy weekly coffee or even return phone calls at the best of times. She’s always withdrawn and quiet, her eyes appear sunken, encased by two deep purple semi circles and you can’t help but worry. It’s not the Esme you know. Everyday, she finishes work in a silent hurry and makes the tube journey to the edge town, walking straight to the abandoned church on 48th street. It had been abandoned for many years now, falling into a steady state of disrepair. There had been reports of noise disruptions and lights coming from inside but the police assured everyone it was just the neighbourhood kids being a nuisance. Whatever it was, people tended to avoid the building all together. You wondered what she could possibly be doing in there all by herself, but offers to accompany her are sternly rejected. It wasn’t until she came into work one day with a strange navy blue tattoo on her right forearm. It looked like it had been done with a makeshift needle, the scabs were large and there was dried blood around the edges. It had obviously been done the night before and seemed to take the shape of a horned goats head. The horrific sight of this self mutilation was when you decided that you needed to find out what she was doing in that church. And you needed to find out tonight.
You waited patiently until she finished work, tidied up her desk and put on her emerald green coat. You couldn’t miss her in that coat if you tried! Following her at a steady pace, careful not to be seen, you made the trip across town and towards the tall, lonely church. You watched from a safe distance as she ducked into a cellar door around the back of the church suspiciously, looking all around her. She was completely out of sight but you knew that you had to wait. Tapping your toe impatiently, you stared down at the gravel longing for things to be simpler. The ground was wet and soggy, the leaves a brilliant mixture of beautiful maroons, bronzes and ambers. It was just a shame the October damp had spoiled them. A quick glance towards the building wasn’t the most inviting sight, but you decided it would be time to venture in anyway. You strolled cautiously across the green and down, through the door. You were quite surprised to find a little stone hallway and an old wooden trunk. Inside were several black cloaks and some masks. You didn’t really understand what these could be for but in any case, if Esme caught you then it might shelter your identity somewhat. You gently slipped into the attire, took a slow, deep breath and calmly pushed open the door. The sight that met you was certainly a startling one. Twelve darkened, hooded figures stood in a semi circle at the far end of the room. They were gathered around a crimson alter of some sort, cream candles and cinnamon incense burned lavishly around the room, the spice prickled your nose and you resisted an immense urge to sneeze. You had to squint your eyes to really take in the room, the only source of light being several lanterns lining the wall. The centrepiece of the room was a blood red pentagram adorned with melted candle wax and dried flowers. You stood deathly still, your breath nonexistent and studied the hooded figures. Close inspection revealed emerald green cuffs poking out of the sleeves on one of the cloaks… Esme! They appeared to be performing a ritual of some description. There were pictures on the wall of faces and a thick wine coloured liquid spelled out the words ‘You’re Next’. You inhaled a sharp, quick breath as your eyes wandered over a picture of a girl. It was a face you recognised. Esme.