Humor me for a moment. Imagine that you've just come home from a day of... well, of working on projects that required your complete concentration. Imagine that your girlfriend has been working at her job and studying for a new license, because she unexpectedly had to change careers. Imagine that you came home, had a nice dinner together, and maybe had a couple of glasses of wine or scotch, or whatever you prefer, while you're at it. Imagine that you're taking a well-deserved and long-overdue opportunity to get reacquainted as a couple.
Under those circumstances, what is exactly the absolute, worst possible moment for the phone to ring?
That's right. That's exactly when Kate decided to call me.
No, I wasn't annoyed by that at all.
In Russia there is an old woman. She isn't one of our Elders, but she's that kind of old and they consider her a peer. Whatever's going on with this group of Wiccans, she noticed it. That's right: she noticed it from wherever she lives in Russia. Quite possibly, she noticed it before it actually started happening. So she sent us a letter.
That's why we're only just now receiving it: it's taken weeks for paper-in-an-envelope to get from her remote little corner of the globe to our major metropolitan city. She could have sent an e-mail, but she predates the entire concept of the Internet by centuries... and maybe that wouldn't have been secure enough, who knows? She didn't use more esoteric means, either, and I don't know why not. I know they exist, but maybe she doesn't know them or doesn't trust them.
Apparently she knows - she has known - exactly what this little local coven made contact with. And it's... bad. Not they're-out-of-their-depth bad, not this-could-go-horribly-wrong bad, but something more like if-this-isn't-stopped-immediately-all-life-on-the-planet-is-extinguished bad.
This old woman in Russia, she says the High Priestess' husband is dead. She says that after he died, this woman dug out an old, old text... something the High Priestess inherited and maybe only partly understood... and used its instructions to prepare him for burial. And sure enough, three days later he came back to her. Or rather, something else came to her in his body.
I don't know how much the High Priestess knows. Hell, I've been watching them for weeks, and I didn't realize that her husband wasn't a living human male. But the people she's brought in, the older members of the coven that she's convinced and the new ones they've recruited, have all undergone something that's supposed to be a ritual death and rebirth. Instead, they really die; and the entity that occupies her husband's body occupies theirs as well. They aren't reanimated individuals; their corpses are all finger-puppets for the same entity. Except, not even fingers. Hairs would be a better analogy: the finest, tiniest filaments of its existence, intruding into our world.
The old woman in Russia said that the Church was involved in this, or would be soon, but they wouldn't see the problem well enough by themselves. All of the host bodies had to be destroyed, as thoroughly and immediately as possible, and the source text had to be found. We had to act.
Kate was calling to see if I could confirm or deny any of this. I didn't do much of either; I hadn't been aware of the nature of the problem, and I didn't dare admit to knowing anything about why the Church might be involved. That omission might be damning if anyone witnessed my, um, interference, but confessing everything immediately didn't seem like a very good strategy either.
I mentioned last week that one of the coven members had grown fearful, and that I put her in touch with Father Peter - the semi-retired Catholic priest whom I suspected of knowing more than he should. Well, guess what? He does know more than he should. The girl - Anne, let's call her - got in touch with him. And the first thing he did was pass me a letter as Claire and I were leaving church last Sunday. It had a picture of the High Priestess, along with her name and address; it suggested that she was doing things that she shouldn't be doing, things that I might want to tell certain sorts of people about.
The coven is supposed to meet again for a major ritual on Tuesday. If the old woman in Russia is right, about two-thirds of them are all the same being. I've told Kate my opinion - that we should recruit Anne, and obliterate the rest - and I think she's making things ready. There's some possibility of Church interference, and possibly intervention from other quarters as well. I told Claire about the situation, and she's informed her people; war or not, if they have any sense at all they'll want to coordinate with us on this. Reanimated corpses will be hard enough to deal with. If The One Who Walks In Death extends more of itself into our reality, it could be the end of everything. We have to keep that from happening.
Even if it means exposing ourselves to the Church, and/or other groups of believers? I'm not sure what our official position is, but I think so. Secrecy does us no good at all if all life on Earth - or in our galaxy - is wiped out and taken over. Still, we'll keep our involvement secret if we can.
Reflections of a Deranged Cultist is a work of fiction. No extradimensional contacts or blasphemous cults were consulted in the writing of this entry. Seriously, the FBI would be far better off to spend its time elsewhere.