parallax background


April 30, 2019
May 2, 2019
This story is turning out to be more effort than it’s worth, she thought, crouching through a barbed wire fence. She wasn’t sure why Tim had assigned her this story; she’s a beat writer. Not gonna complain about a feature, though. She has to cross a barbed boundary onto private property. Breaking and entering. New territory for a straight-laced journalist.
The house looms over her, blocking out the sun. She can hear voices coming from inside. Thank god she thinks, at least this won’t be for nothing. She quietly pads into the foyer, past the crumbling staircase, and through to the parlor where it becomes clear the voices are chanting. They have to be meeting here, she thinks. As she peeks through into what seems to be a formal dining area, she spots them.
They’re naked! She recognizes some of the women; high-powered business women and at least one politician. This is gold; Tim, remind me to thank you for your weird assignment. She begins furiously documenting the ritual.
As they swirl and dance, they sing words in an unfamiliar language. She tries to scribble down everything. Suddenly, all of the women line up, facing her. She ducks out of the half-opened doorway, but it’s too late. They’ve seen her. Shit.
“Someone is out there!” The witches scramble to find her as she scampers out the way she came. She finds a spot in the bushes and waits, trying not to breathe.
“Come out, trespasser!” One of the witches is close. Tala closes her eyes and holds her breath. Just before the naked woman’s hand lands on her head, another witch calls out: “Leave it be! We will curse the trespasser and no one will ever know. Back to the ritual, sisters.”
Tala lets out her breath only when she can no longer hear any movement on the grounds. She makes her way out and back home, writing through the night to meet her deadline.
“Tala, this is gibberish.” Her editor, Tim, is refusing to publish her piece.
“Tim, I’m telling you! I saw them last night. You sent me there for this story!” She’s getting heated now. Why is he doing this? Was this all some joke?
“Tala, we can’t publish unsubstantiated rumors about these people. We’ll be a laughingstock. I can’t believe you’d even come to me with something like this. Throw it out and get me something newsworthy or I’ll start questioning why you even work here!” He threw the article on her desk, untouched, and walked away. Her only thought was: I’ve got to get more proof.
Deep into the night Tala furiously researches the mansion, witches. It’s got to be here. Something. Frustrated, she drops her head to her hands. “I’m gonna get fired,” she says to the air. But it’s worth it.
“There, now. Don’t fret,” a sweet, feminine voice says from behind her. Tala turns to see one of the witches from the mansion. “You’ve passed the test, dear. You’re one of us.”



Elizabeth Shuler was born and raised in Cody, WY where she was the weirdo pantheist/pagan. After graduating from The University of Wyoming with a Master’s in Counseling, she decided to travel the world and work with adolescents. Shuler currently works as an international school counselor, writes in her spare time, and is still a pantheist and a wierdo.