While I was chilling at home with absolutely no fucks to be had or given, an acquaintance calls me. He’s participating in an on-site group ritual and their contracted seer called them with a last second extortion attempt raise in price that was above and beyond what the group was willing to pay. If I were to be paid the original amount (a sum that caught my attention for sure), would I be willing to drop everything and come over to be the seer for the night?
“Before I let my greed completely blind me… that’s a lot of goddamn money for a one-night show that’s not even guaranteed. What are you not telling me?”
“Eh… Well… Because of how the ritual is set up… there’s a non-trivial chance that whoever is ‘seer’ might possibly be possessed during the ritual. If it does happen there is a protocol in place to take care of it! However, it’s the goal to not have it happen… but there it is. Full disclosure and shit.”
“Might. Possibly. Be. Possessed. So, are we talking an elephant hanging off a cliff with its tail tied to a dandelion kind of chance, or a you already know this is going to happen for sure so let’s call the one person who won’t be further traumatized by it happening. AGAIN!”
“Eh… [Original sum] and a personal favor from me to you? A favor that you can call for any reason and the only limit being that you may not demand my death?”
“My therapist is going to get the money, but if I can have your personal debt to me in writing by the time I walk in the door, signed by you, and signed and witnessed by everyone there at the ritual… that will be great. What is the address for this personal hell I’m headed to?”
“Um… about the signatures… does it have to be legible?”
“It could be a goddamn X for all I care. If your attendees are legit, all I need is a mark, because each of their marks will be a link in the chain I’m going to whip your ass with if I am betrayed tonight.”
He sighed, agreed, and gave me the address. He asked me to wear as much black clothing as possible and to remove all stone jewelry. Leaving the opal pendant behind was strangely difficult. I felt like I was cutting a phone line.
I arrived. Dressed in black from head to toe and even wearing black underwear. A black scarf was crudely tied on my head, and I had removed all of my jewelry, stone or not. I refused to step inside the door until the written agreement was presented to me at the threshold. His signature was large, embellished with sigils and symbols, and laid with a heavy hand. He didn’t so much sign the paper, as engrave it.
Each attendee to the ritual had also signed or marked the paper. There were a great number of Xs in a line under his flamboyant signature. Each X was made with a different hand or pen. But under that were other signatures. Some names were street names, some names were obviously not street names, some were sigils, and two were tiny drawings (A flower and a sword).
“This is your last chance to allow me to walk away clean. I know damn well your ritual didn’t call for a ‘seer’, and that it required a possession in controlled circumstances.”
“… Yes. What gave it away? I didn’t tell you anything about it.”
“You called me. You know damn well I’m not a ‘seer’. I don’t see environments, I enter environments. And you also know that if I can touch a thing, that thing can touch me. I just want to know one last thing before I step through. Was there another or did you make that shit up about another seer?”
He glanced behind him to the shadow obscured witnesses. “Yes, there was another we had contracted with before I called you. And he came tonight and was told the details. And he demanded a lot more money than what we had agreed to continue.”
I recognized the game. “If he quit on the spot, he’d be on the hook with a personal debt owed to you for backing out. But if he raised the price and y’all didn’t pay, he could walk away free and clear. Makes sense.”
“So. Either you keep talking shit and we miss our window, or you get in here and get to it.”
He handed the envelope of cash over the threshold. I stood on the door mat and counted it. Satisfied, I placed both the cash and the written debt in my purse.
“I am here to perform the services you have contracted me for, and none other. Am I to enter to fulfill my contract?”
He bitched under his breath. “Yea. You are. Enter and keep to our agreement.”
I entered and time in the dream accelerated even though my understanding didn’t.
I was asked to remove my shoes and socks, allow my feet to be washed and dressed with oil before having clean black slippers placed on them. My hands and face were also washed, and a damp fragrant cloth was wiped over my head. I was then blindfolded and led into a room.
The moment I passed the threshold to the room, my instinct overrode my reason and I jerked away from the hands that held me. I forced myself to stop the blind retreat and stand still. “Gimme a bit. Y’all in for a treat if my instinct is to run now.”
Placing my trust in my unspoken and unrevealed failsafes, I extended my hands forward. “Okay. I have a contract to fulfill. Lead me.”
The last clear memory I have is the sound of the door closing after I have been seated on a squat, round, wooden stool.
Then there is cold deeper than a walk-in freezer expanding in my chest, and something heating my bones from within to counter it, and an echo of my voice speaking a language I don’t recognize, and someone screaming in pain and/or fright, and then silence.
[Horatio] unspeaking in the darkness. “Boundaries will be enforced with the same measure you attempt to break them.” Oops. Someone tripped a failsafe.
Silence and unknowing.
Light. The seat under my ass is cushioned. Someone is holding my hands while my hands are holding something warm and hard. There is liquid in it.
I feel the command before I hear the word. “Sip.”
I taste weak unsweetened tea on my tongue. I grimace at the unpleasant taste. “Eww.”
“I knew that would wake you up. You like tea strong enough to tan leather. Welcome back.”
My acquaintance smiles at me. I see my handprint on the right side of his face. I raise an eyebrow to ask without words.
He releases my hands and rubs the still bright welt. “You… or something in you… misinterpreted my touch and…”
Forgetting the mug held weak tea, I sipped it to keep from laughing. He laughed instead when I handed the warm leaf water back to him. “So that makes two failsafes triggered. Do I want to know what happened, or is it better for the inevitable lawsuit that I don’t?”
He smiled sadly. “It said you were not to be told. Because what happens now is not your fault and you are to have no part in it.”
“Oh.” I stretched on the couch and felt too many muscles complaining about the movement. What went down had a physical component for sure. Noting which muscle groups were declaring themselves done with the night, I felt reasonably sure that I was not assaulted. Held down and restrained, perhaps. But not assaulted. I can accept not knowing anything else. “Okay.”
[Horatio] appeared standing at the front door next to my purse. His manifestation was too vivid and detailed for me to see if I was conscious. I understood then that I was dreaming the entire encounter. I opened my hand towards him. At the silent command, he picked up my purse and brought it to me. My acquaintance was surprised to see the purse suddenly in my lap.
“So. I don’t know how much of this happened nor how much of this is whose wishful thinking. Instead, I’ll just note that taking blind assignments can leave me exposed to shit I’d rather not have to live with. A lesson gently learned this time. I’m very sure that you are no mere figment of imagination, but I don’t have the ability to cut through the layers of illusion and desire between you and me. Instead, I’ll just remind you that you did agree to a debt, and I can recreate this environment at any time to call it.”
I extended my hand to [Horatio], who quickly came to take it and help me to my feet. “This dream ends now.”
And it did.