I woke later and immediately pulled at ropes binding my wrists and ankles. They didn’t give; the knots simply drew tighter.
I looked down at my naked body to Estrella standing and smiling at the foot of the bed. “Okay, joke’s over, Stella. Don’t make me break these bindings.”
She replied, “Try as you might, you won’t break them. They were wound with sacred hemp and the hair of virginal Wiccan High Priestesses. They have since been layered and steeped in magic for hundreds of years. All of it leading up to this one moment. All just to bind Hate in his place.”
“What are you talking about? Let me up, Stella, or I will get angry.”
Stella smiled even wider.
“I no longer need worry about your childish tirades or your uncontrollable anger. You gave yourself over to me and now the spell is cast.”
I felt my chest tighten and push a lump up into my throat.
“Was this fear?”
“What spell? What are you talking about?”
Estrella ignored me and opened my toy box, my beloved strongbox. She sifted through the contents for a minute, then pulled out a short whip and my very old cat-o-nine tails.
She held the cat up and giggled. “I haven’t seen one of these in such a long time. Tell me, Dinlas, where did you get it?”
I tried to remain calm as she swished it through the air several times.
“I got it from an officer in the British Royal Navy. He gave it to me about three hundred years ago.”
“How delightful,” she responded.
“Stella, I’ve had enough,” I warned, “untie me at once.”
“Enough? Why, my dear, you haven’t had any yet,” she replied.
I looked at her closely. Her face was gleeful, yet twisted and suddenly evil. A wave of anger swept over me. With all my strength I pulled down with my arms and up with my legs to break these ropes. The ropes creaked, the bed groaned, but nothing gave way. My divine strength was no match for this black magic.
Estrella laughed. “Did you not hear me? You won’t break these bonds.” She then walked to the side of the bed and crawled up onto it with me. The whip and the cat she laid across my chest. Estrella leaned forward and kissed me roughly on the mouth. At the same time, she reached below my waist and grabbed me. I gasped and she began tonguing my mouth violently. I tried to turn or pull away, but there was no getting away from her. She continued to squeeze me harder and harder until I finally jerked free and called out.
She let go of me and broke our kiss. She stared down at me for a minute, then leaned in close. In that moment, as I stared, her face flickered for an instant. I wasn’t sure if I imagined it or not, but just for a horrible second, she changed.
“So you saw it?” she whispered. “Do you have any idea how old I am? I have waited for this opportunity for over five hundred years. Finally, you came along. You willingly touched me, took me, and lay with me. Finally, you gave yourself over to me. That was how the spell was cast. It was through the energy of your own lust, desire, and rage.” She now stood next to the bed and unbuttoned her satin robe. It fell to the floor and exposed her infallible ivory form. Again she flickered. Her true self was revealed. A hideous and deformed crone.
“By Zeus, Estrella. What is happening?”
Estrella smiled a wide, mostly toothless, grin. Her face was wrinkled and leathery. Her hair, grey and patchy. It hung in strings, greasy and unwashed. Her skin, so ivory, taught, and unblemished before, was now gray and sagging. Her entire body was covered in pock marks and sores. Some were crusted over, but many were open and oozing a yellowish fluid. She reached out her hand to me, her fingers twisted, her knuckles large and deformed. I turned my head to try and avoid her touch.
“Look at me,” she hissed. “You will not turn away from me now. This mouth has taken you in and brought you pleasure, these hands, this womanhood, has been all you can think of for months.” I glanced back at her. She was still standing next to the bed, but now she was moving in a rhythmic motion, as if dancing to a slow tune only she could hear. Estrella sensually caressed her own body. Her hands glided down and around her folds of leathery skin, her open sores, and her sagging misshapen breasts. She smiled again at me.
“Do you still like what you see?” she asked. “Don’t you want to ride me? For me to taste your love again?” She leaned over me and ran her fingers through her hair. I could see patches of dead skin flake off and fall onto my clean satin sheets.
“Get away from me, Witch,” I growled as I attempted to twist my hips away from her.
She threw her head back and cackled. “No matter, Dinlas. You’ll take no more pleasure from this body. Tonight you die, and in doing so, your death will bring forth Ankou.”
“What the fuck is an Ankou?” I said, trying to sound defiant.
Estrella purred, “He is my love, my reason for being, and my true master. He rules death and will raise an army of the dead to command. It will be he who rules this world. Certainly not that pathetic rabble of fornicators and slackards who came down off the mountain with you. It was for him, for Ankou, that I submitted to your grotesque defiling of me.”
I looked at her toothless mouth and misshapen body. I couldn’t help but think it was I who’d been defiled.
“You can’t kill a god. This is pointless, let me up now.”
I yelled for my girls. “Jealousy! Hate! Come quickly.” I could hear them whining from a distance, but they didn’t show up.
Estrella laughed. “Really? You thought I wouldn’t take care of those two bitches first?”
“What have you done to them? Are they hurt?”
“Not yet, love. Just restrained for the moment with a pentagram. That’s the problem with magical creatures; they can always be confined in magical prisons. Once you told me they weren’t really divine, then I knew they would be no problem to control.” She smiled and leaned back over me. “But don’t fret, after you’re gone, I will joyfully kill those two bitches as well. If either of them still has a soul, then you can all get reacquainted in the Underworld.”
“Estrella, this will never work. Even if Ankou is your master, you can’t kill me.”
Estrella ignored my comment and continued.
“Ankou can only return with two things. Pain energy and a teardrop from pure Hate.”
Worried, I asked, “What is a teardrop of pure hate?”
Estrella picked up the whip and snapped it once next to the bed.
“You’re about to find out,” she cackled.