tagErotic HorrorThe Night Zoe & Michele Raised Hell

The Night Zoe & Michele Raised Hell


"Children, be afraid of going prayerless to bed, lest the Devil be your bedfellow."

-Cotton Mather


"Zoe," Michele said, "I don't think we should be doing this."

A draft blew through the basement as both girls crouched on the concrete floor, still wearing bits and pieces of their trick or treat costumes. Zoe was dressed as a witch; Michele was her black cat. It was almost midnight.

They were supposed to be asleep hours ago, but Zoe's mother had gone to a grown-up Halloween party with her boyfriend, and as soon as their car pulled away the girls crept down here like they'd planned, with Zoe in the lead and Michele dragging her feet behind her, fighting the urge to turn back with every step she took.

She gobbled another Hershey bar from her plastic pumpkin bucket now; she'd left a trail of empty wrappers all through the house. Meanwhile, Zoe laid out everything they'd need on the basement floor: the black candle, the knife, the bell, and her special book, giving teach of them an expert look before nodding and judging them fit.

"We have to do this," Zoe said, opening the book and thumbing to the right page. "Halloween is the very best night to do it. It won't work as well any other night."

Picking up the colored chalk that Michele had helped her steal from school, Zoe drew a kind of funny circle on the floor. Michele hugged her pumpkin bucket tighter as she watched. The circle took a long time, since Zoe had to keep checking the notebook to add the squiggly letters around it.

"Perfect, I think," she said when she was done, wiping chalk dust on her witch's skirts. "Does it look right to you?"

"Let's just stop," Michele said again. "I'm tired from trick or treating."

"Quit being a baby," Zoe said.

"I'm not a baby, I just don't want to do this anymore."

"Well tough, this is my house and I'm in charge, so if you're going to stay here tonight you have to do what I say. Now get the blood ready."

Michele sighed. The blood was in a purple Tupperware container that she'd kept in the back of the fridge all week and smuggled over here in the bottom of her trick or treat bag.

Of all the things they needed for tonight it had been the hardest to find, even harder than the black candle from the funny smelling store on Cole Street. But Zoe had insisted they needed blood for the magic to work right, so Michele talked her mother into buying some from a butcher, saying that it was part of a science experiment for school, which she decided was probably only half of a lie.

Now, at Zoe's insistence, she peeled the plastic lid back. The blood looked cold and icky. Michele poured most of it into the chalk circle so that it made a dark, disgusting puddle; Michele hated the way her own reflection looked in its glossy surface, but Zoe appeared pleased.

"Perfect," she said again. "Put the rest in here."

She offered a cup for Michele to deposit the remainder of the pig's blood. Michele held her nose as she did.

Outside the basement windows the streets were dark and quiet, the other trick or treaters all back home by now. Zoe shut the basement door and lit the black candle; it made just barely enough light to see by. Then she said, "Are you ready?"

"No," said Michele, mumbling around a mouthful of Kit Kat.

Zoe rolled her eyes. "This was all your idea, remember?"

That was sort of true. Michele had seen a rerun of "Bewitched" on TV and told Zoe they should grow up to be witches and that it would be a fun way to fix their problems.

It was supposed to be a joke, but Zoe hadn't laughed. Instead, she'd started making plans...

"It's stupid," Michele said now. "Magic isn't real anyway." She'd made this argument several times in the past few weeks, angling to portray Zoe's plan as kid's stuff and therefore beneath them at this age. (Eleven for Zoe, 11 and a half for Michele.)

Problem was, Zoe had impressed herself by securing what she called "grown-up magic," copied from a book at the library that they weren't allowed to check out. She spent an entire afternoon laboriously reproducing important pages in her school binder.

This kind of magic must be real, she insisted. Otherwise why would anyone write a book about it?

"We can call up whatever we want with this," Zoe said, showing the pages to Michele. "And it'll give us anything we ask for."

"But what do WE have to give to IT?" Michele had asked. Zoe just shrugged the question away.

Now the flickering candlelight turned the pages of Zoe's notebook fiery orange in the dark basement. As she traced the letters of the spell with the tip of her finger she said, "Look, you know what an asshole Eddie is. He's going to be my stepdad if we don't do something about it. Do you want that?"

Reluctantly, Michele shook her head. She'd never liked Eddie any more than Zoe had, though she'd tried for all of the 11 months that he and Zoe's mom had dated.

"Well this is how we're going to stop it," Zoe continued. "I'll wish for it tonight and then it'll happen. And your wish will come true too." All that Michele wanted was help with school. She'd almost been held back last year, and the threat of being in a different class than Zoe terrified her.

They fought all the time, but they'd been friends since age four. The idea of being apart was scary. Even scarier than black magic.

So when Zoe declared it was time to start, Michele took her place outside of the chalk circle despite her shaking knees. She tried to tell herself again that only babies believe in magic. It was just like Santa or the Tooth Fairy. Just a story...

When Zoe gave the signal, Michele rang the bell. Its tinkle sounded much louder than it should in the dark, silent basement. Then, throwing one hand over her head to create a dramatic shadow on the wall, Zoe read:

"In nomine Dei nostri Satanas Luciferi excelsi."

She'd spent all week practicing how to say it. Neither of them were sure what it meant, but it sounded cool.

Zoe read on:

"In the name of Satan, the Ruler of the earth, the King of the world, I command the forces of darkness to bestow their power upon me!"

The house creaked. Michele jumped, then felt stupid. Nothing is going to happen, she reminded herself...

"Open wide the gates of Hell, and come forth from the abyss to greet us as your sisters and friends. Answer to your four names by manifesting our desires!"

Then it was Michele's turn, but at first she panicked because she couldn't remember what to say. Zoe had forced her to memorize the four special names, but suddenly her mind was blank. If she couldn't remember the names there was no way they could keep going...

But then just like that they popped back into her head. Reluctantly, she said them one by one, ringing the bell after each:









A noise came from the corner and Michele glanced over her shoulder. Nothing was there, of course, but the basement was so dark that it was hard not to imagine things. She wished they'd had enough money for more than one candle...

"Now drink," Zoe said, passing the cup of leftover blood. They'd mixed it with water so that it wouldn't be as bad, but it still smelled dark and gross. The candy in Michele's stomach curdled.

"Drink," Zoe said again. "You only need to swallow a little."

Forcing down a sip, Michele crammed in two Jolly Ranchers at once (sour apple and cherry) to cover the taste. Zoe almost emptied the cup when it was her turn, although Michele could tell it made her sick too. It was a second before she was able to say the next part:

"Oh great lurkers in the darkness, oh guardians of the way, present yourselves to us who believe and are stricken with ad-ver-sa-tees."

"Zoe, somebody's upstairs."

"No they're not."

"I hear them moving. I think your mom is home early."

"That's just the house. Now shut up, you're not supposed to talk at this part."

The candle flame seemed to shrink. The shadows moved closer. Michele tried to hold Zoe's hand but Zoe was too busy holding the book and the knife. She gestured with the blade while she read:

"Succor us through fire and water, earth and air. Strike dumb our ad-ver-sare-ees. Allow no misfortune to allay our path, and restore us to unending dominion. This we command in the name of Satan, whose mercies flourish and whose sus—susti—sus—"


"And whose sustenance will prevail! Hail Satan!"

Zoe nudged Michele in the ribs. "Hail Satan," Michele said.

"As Satan reigns, so shall we. Zoe May Carter is the vessel who flesh is as the earth. Life everlasting, world without end."

Next she turned to look at Michele, and her eyes held every expectation in the world. Michele was old enough to know what a look like that meant: It said, "Don't let me down."

So, swallowing her fear, Michele said: "Michele Ocampo Bautista is the vessel whose flesh is as the earth. Life everlasting, world without end."

Looking satisfied, Zoe nodded. Michele said, "Now what?"

"The most important part," said Zoe, producing a folded piece of notebook paper. "On this we write down our wish: Whatever we want in the whole world. Everything we'd give our souls for."

"I don't want to sell my soul."

"You don't even believe in souls, dummy. You've never even been to church except with your crazy alcoholic aunt."

"Yeah, well you and your mom go to church every month."

"We're Unitarians, that doesn't count. Anyway, I wrote your wish for you: You'll get good grades and always pass tests no matter what. And we'll be friends forever," she added. Michele perked up a little at this part.

"And my mom will get rid of Eddie, and never bring another stupid guy around who wants to be my stepdad," Zoe continued. "And my nightmares will stop. In fact, I'll never have another dream again."

This part made Michele curious. Zoe had never mentioned nightmares.

But before she could ask about it Zoe put the corner of the paper into the candle flame, and when the whole thing was on fire she threw it into the magic circle. The burning paper fluttered and flared, and then the embers burnt out in seconds. Silence descended. Michele counted to ten in her head before asking: "How do we know if it worked?"

The sound of riffling pages filled the basement as Zoe flipped through her notes. "It doesn't say. I thought, I don't know, that we would just know." She paused. "There's one last part. Maybe—"

And then the basement door flew open with a bang, and light from the hall framed a figure on the stairs. Both girls screamed and grabbed each other. The candle blew out.

The person on the stairs began walking down one step at a time. Michele and Zoe backed away.

"That's not your mother," Michele said.


"Is it Eddie?"

"It's definitely not Eddie."

The man (thing?) was halfway to them almost before they knew it. Michele tried to remember any prayers her crazy aunt had taught her, but her mind was blank. The closest she could get was the ABCs song, and she almost blurted that out instead.

Just as she was about to curl up in a ball in the corner and hope for this to all turn out to be a dream, Zoe surprised her by letting go of her hand and stepping forward. Michele was even more surprised when she saw that Zoe was smiling.

"Wait a minute," Zoe said, bouncing up and down in sudden excitement. "Michele, don't be scared. Don't you get it? We called him and he came; the magic worked!"

"No it didn't!" said Michele, backing away even more.

But Zoe said it again. "It worked. Can't you tell? Just look!"

Michele looked but couldn't see anything; the man on the stairs was just a black shape. Zoe's eyes shone, but Michele couldn't see whatever it was that made her so excited. Only shadows.

The man in the dark reached out and Zoe took him by the hand. The dark man kept his other hand out but Michele didn't want to take it, and fear latched onto her heart. I just want to go home, she thought. Please, please, please, just let me go home...

"Come on Michele, you'll ruin it," said Zoe.

"I don't want to," Michele said, as loud as she dared.


"I don't want to! I...I just want to go home!" Michele said. And she screamed and screamed and covered her head with her hands, and then...

It was morning. Michele opened her eyes and sat up in her own bed. Her costume from the night before and a bucketful of Halloween candy were both spread all over the floor.

There was no sign of Zoe. Or of...anyone else.

What happened, she thought? Was I dreaming? The golden light of morning was already blurring and fading her memories. Rubbing her eyes, Michele crawled to the candy pile and shook a box of milk duds into her open mouth. Chewing, she tried to remember what had happened last night.

She was supposed to sleep over at Zoe's after trick or treating, that much she remembered How did she get back here? The last thing she could recall was going down to the basement.

No, that wasn't quite true: She remembered the black candle, and the blood, and Zoe reading from the book.

But after that...nothing.

At breakfast, Michele's mother put a hand to her forehead. "You look sick, but you don't feel hot. Everything all right?"

Prodding at her Count Chocula with a spoon, Michele tried to remember last night again. The longer the morning went on the harder it was. "Everything's fine," she said. "Too much candy is all."

"Well hurry up and eat, you don't want Zoe waiting for the bus alone," Mom said.

But Zoe wasn't at the bus stop. In fact, she wasn't in class at all. Michele called her house that night to see if she was okay and her mother answered. "Zoe's been sick in bed all day," she said. "Too much candy I think."

"Oh, is that it?" said Michele. "I thought..." But she didn't really know what else to say, so she just said thank you and hung up.

When she went back upstairs, she threw the rest of her Halloween candy away. It tasted sour all of a sudden. And the sight of it made her afraid.


"Michele? Michele?"


Michele turned around, blinking at the afternoon sun streaming in through the dorm room window. She stood with her purse open, having just swept an armful of things off the top of a dresser and into it. Bulging, she struggled to get it zipped shut.

From the other side of the room, Malcolm (who was sitting on her suitcase in an attempt to get it closed for) was still looking at her. "You spaced out for a second," he said.

"Sorry, I was thinking about...something from a long time ago. What were we saying?"

"You don't like Halloween."

"Oh, right. Yeah, ever since I was a kid. It's just not my thing."

She looked around again at the disarray of the dorm, trying to get her bearings back. She was supposed to be sorting things she needed for the weekend from things she didn't, but now she decided to just plain give up and take whatever would fit into her bags easiest.

It was Thursday. Two of her Friday classes had cancelled tomorrow, so she was skipping the third and leaving campus to take a long weekend back home. That was her plan, anyway; Malcolm was making a belated attempt at luring her into his roommate's Halloween party this weekend instead.

He finally got her suitcase to close with a snap and then bounded up in triumph. "So what's wrong with Halloween?" he said, handing it to her.

Shrugging, Michele pretended to be busy looking through a stack of bio books and notes from organic chemistry, next to a plastic vase with fresh flowers Malcolm had delivered himself the previous day.

"It reminds me of bad things is all," she said. "You know: death, monsters, childhood. The worst of the worst."

Malcolm put his arms around her waist and kissed her ear. She turned to look at him; he was a freshman and younger than her by three years, but since he was taller and was growing in a beard he looked older, like he was getting ready to graduate in the spring. "I think Halloween is sexy," he said. "You'd look hot as hell in a nurse's costume."

"I'm going to be wearing a nurse's uniform for the rest of my life, why do I want one on Halloween?"

"Something else then. A cat costume. Or a witch."

Michele choked, then feigned clearing her throat to cover up for it. "Nice try, tiger," she said, turning and giving him a kiss. "This is one thing we're just not going to see eye to eye on."

"Okay then," Malcolm said, and got on his knees. She laughed.

"Look, I'd come to the party make you happy, and I'd EVEN wear the nurse's outfit if you're good," she said. "But it's Mom's 50th birthday this weekend, so I have to be there."

This was a lie; Mom's birthday wasn't until March, and she'd be 48. But the real reason she was going would have taken longer to explain. And would have led to questions she wasn't ready to answer yet...

"Are you sure you don't want me to come with you?" Malcolm said. He was still on his knees, taking advantage of the low angle to stroke her calves. "I mean, I should meet your family and see where you grew up, right? If we're really serious about the future?"

"Yeah, of course you should. It's just..." Think fast. "This isn't the best time. Mom's a little self-conscious about the birthday. It'll be better if we wait. Besides, I wouldn't want you missing the big party just to hang around my boring old hometown."

Discovering that she'd almost forgotten her toothbrush she ducked into the bathroom, then came back and pointed it at Malcolm, shaking the bristles as she talked. "Now no running off with any nurses at that party," she said. "Or witches. Or—"


She giggled. "You ass."

"Is that not what you were going to say? Ah well..."

And then he grabbed her. Michele shrieked and batted at him. "You'll make me late," she said.

"No I won't, we'll use protection."

"That's not—OH!—what I meant. I need to...I need to..."

"You need to what?" Malcolm said, kissing her neck. Her eyes rolled in her head as his teeth grazed the soft skin near her collarbone. Michele dropped her bag.

"Oh, fuck it," she said.

"That's the spirit."

She pounced on him, pulling down for an open-mouthed kiss. Michele's roommate was still in class so there was no need to leave a hangar on the door; without looking, she gave the door a solid kick to make sure that it was closed. It was an old building and sometimes that door would pop open on its own at the worst possible time...

Michele forced Malcolm back until he almost tripped over the bed, then pushed him down to it and hopped right on top, stripping off her shirt and tossing it on top of her nearby suitcase so that she wouldn't be more late trying to find it later.

Malcolm was about to say something but she clapped a hand over his mouth playfully, then grinned as she pulled his belt off. Outside the window someone shouted to someone else from across the quad. Michele held Malcolm's wrists down and then looped his belt around them before securing it to the bed frame.

He squirmed a little bit. "Hey!" he said.

"I've got to give you something to remember me by while I'm gone for the weekend, right?" Michele said, pulling his shirt up and kissing his abs. He had a swimmer's body and did laps obsessively but said he never planned trying out for the team because "It's not fun if someone is making you do it."

"Besides," she added, "you're the one who started this. No fair wimping out now."

She cinched the belt tight and, once she was sure he wasn't going anywhere, unhooked her bra and leaned over him until he strained to get his mouth at her naked breasts.

Giggling, she ran her fingers through his hair and bent down to let him have a taste a little bit at a time, always pulled back before he could get a real mouthful. He responded by tickling one of her nipples with the tip of his tongue until she squealed.

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