All Her Wounds Excerpt 8

As Camilla fawned over the black magic offerings, Vivian’s heart fluttered with trepidation. What was this feeling that made the hairs on her skin stand rigid like barbs? Vivian’s eyes stretched in alarm when a face appeared out of her peripheral vision. She spun on her heel as her heart hammered through her ribs.

No one stood there. That did little to alleviate the spastic pounding in her chest, leaving her aching for a confrontation. Almost as if her muscles moved to another creature’s will, her head turned toward a shadow-drenched doorway. A tattered length of fabric draped over the entrance.

The low yawn of a stringed instrument emanated beyond that phantasmal shroud, jarring her nerves. She glanced at Camilla, but she was too engrossed in the demonic altar to take notice of the disturbance. That being said, Vivian wouldn’t be missed if she slipped away. She felt insatiably drawn to whatever lurked on the other side of that thin partition.

There it was again, that feverish pitch in her pulse that tugged her in the direction of horrid discoveries.

She wasn’t disappointed by what she found. Vivian blinked in surprise at the objects hanging from the ceiling. Boar teeth. Amulets carved from bone. Doll heads lavishly ornamented with curled eyelashes and real human hair, acting as vessels for child spirits.

Skulls inscribed with hexes in chalk and ink waited temptingly on shelves next to statues of demons and Hindu deities. Vivian spotted a bottle of dark oil on one such shelf, labeled “love potion.” She leaned in close, detecting a hint of sandalwood and rose. If only such trinkets could solve the age-old dilemma of the human heart. She chuckled and hastily returned it to the shelf. The walls were lined with mandrake roots in the shape of humans and cat amulets that supposedly attracted good fortune. There was an aura of mysticism about every item that Vivian’s fingers flitted across. Each object harnessed a memory from a previous owner. They longed to whisper their dark secrets to Vivian if only she would stop to listen.

A shrill noise sliced through the silence of the spirit house. Vivian almost burst out of her skin at the sound of her cell phone. She looked down and recognized a number she knew all too well.

The morgue was calling.