The Craft: The Book of the Movie
Chapter 10: Just Desserts
Rochelle always got a "wormy" feeling in her stomach when passing by Laura Lizzie and her cronies at swimming practice; she absolutely hated the bleach-blond for turning what was otherwise a depply pleasurable & relaxing experience into one to be dreaded. But this morning 'Chelle felt a peculiar sense of confidence, one that she fully didn't recognize until she walked out onto the diving board, Laura's eyes on her person & the crisp sensation of cool damp wood under her feet.
"Don't hit your head on the diving board!" Lizzie bellowed out to her favorite target. With her yellow locks covered by a wrinkled rubber cap and a limp towel over her body, she didn't look so intimidating anymore. Pale wet skin covered in gooseflesh...mean eyes. Hmm, something told Rochelle: hmm, that girl doesn't know what she's talking about, she has no idea. Hmm, that girl...that girl, you don't have to worry about that girl anymore.
'Chelle didn't question the voice in her head; it sounded enough like her not to be alarming. She merely returned her rival's spiteful gaze with one of steely confidence.
Laura's attention left the corkscrew-haired girl and focused instead on post-swim grooming. Hurried, thoughtless fingers pulled the black swim-cap off her head; and with the cap, a thick, wavy rope of her own hair.
"O-oh my...God!" Now her hands flailed in a panic through her mane, strands of hair falling out left and right. "Oh my God!" If she could have seen the back of her head--a courtesy that a hairdresser might perform via the strategic placing of mirrors at the more fashionable salons--the girl might have become even more frantic than she was. Her scalp was scaly, blistered, and an angry red hue.
"What's going on!" a Laura-ite inquired in horror as she witnessed the shedding.
"I-I don't know! What does it look like? Oh...gross!"
And far above the concerns of mortal women stood 'Chelle--tall, proud, vindicated, and not the least bit confused or clueless over the commotion under her. She merely flashed a tight, sharp smile, threw her arms up, and made a flawless double-flip and clean dive into the serene chlorinated blue below.
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With all the monitors, overhead lamps, and sharp electric pokey-things the examining room appeared to be something out of Frankenstein...but to Bonnie, it was just "another pass."
The youngish looking doctor with the severe page-boy finished undoing the back of the girl's polka-dotted robe and turned to Mom as if the patient wasn't there at all.
"Now I want you to remember that we might have to make several passes before we can see any results."
Bonnie ducked her head in frustration, avoiding the faces of all in the room. It's like I don't even exist, she muttered in her thoughts; nobody really sees me in school, and nobody sees me here. She had done such a good job covering herself up and becoming "part of the background"--which was much more preferable to being the center of ridicule--that nearly made herself pop out of existence in the world.
Another voice spoke inside the confines of her skull: but what you really want is to be noticed, don't you? You want to be the center of attention...you know, just like Laura Lizzie. You always say that Laura is a slag, but secretly you want to be just like her. Don't you?
The voice sounded too much like her own thoughts to give her any pause.
"Is it any better?" the girltimidly asked, two huge monitors displaying the ruined, pink skin that the doctor began to reveal with the careful pulling-off of bandages.
"I can't tell yet, dear," her mother answered with a sigh, the concern on her face giving the fearfulyoung womanher answer.
Bonnie held her breath, looked to the left--stared at some nondescript piece of medical equipment--and seethed silently as the icy rounded part of the doctor's scissors traced an invisible line down her back. Images from the healing with Sarah flashed in her mind, memories of how sure she was, up until about two mintues ago, that it really was going to come true. But that was crazy to even hope for. Insane.
Insane to think that things could work out, for once...
A tiny bud of a tear started to well up in her right eye as the nurse's camera kept whirring and snapping.
"What does it look like," the freckle-faced girl asked Mother warily.
"I-I don't know yet...I don't know..."
But unless the monitors were faulty, it seemed as if the latest Procedure--much like the 12 or so others--hadn't "took." Poor Bonnie-Baby, Mother thought...and she was so happy lately, with her friends (even though the three girls were a little "weird"). Mother was afraid that this latest failure would send Bonnie spiraling into another depression, causing the girl to lock herself up Rapunzel-like in her tower...
And then the unexplainable happened.
The rough, misshapen skin that had been a part of the young woman's life since she was a little girl and almost died began to...give way. It wiped away clean under the untreated gauze the doctor was gingerly dragging across her patient's back. Wiped away like some mess that merely needed to be cleaned up.
"I can't believe it," the doctor said in a trance. The nurse suddenly became too distracted to continue photographing, and the metallic noise from the camera ceased.
And below Bonnie's injured dermis, the purest, sweetest skin imaginable shone radiantly, like that of a newborn child.
"W-what?" the patient asked in initial terror, primed to expect the worst.
"It worked. The treatment worked!"
The girl's neck almost incurred whiplash as she turned around to see for herself.
In less than 30 seconds Yesterday's Bonnie died, the path of her life altered forever; and such a change, though not a part of the actual, physical spell, was a bit of magic in itself.
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"Yo dude, seriously--if you don't stop, you'll go blind."
Mitt and Trey were obviously making the most of Art Appreciation class, and sharing none of the concern of the three Bitches of Eastwick who noted the usually punctual Bonnie's absence with anxiety. Their friend's latest hospital stay had come to an end the day before--and with it, the results of her latest skin-graft. But only they knew it was more than about the graft. If Manon was going to help her, it had to be yesterday, it was the crucial Window of Opportunity. And of course everybody was jazzed about Laura's heartbreak of scalp-scabbies, but they still were quietly of the opinion that erasing the horror of third degree burn scars was just too much for the Big Guy In The Sky to handle. And fragile Bonnie...how could she take it...
Sarah craned her neck and whispered urgently to Rochelle.
"She was supposed to come back today, d-did you talk to her?
Rochelle fidgeted with her necklace nervously and shook her head. Nancy was about to chime in when She burst into the classroom.
"Whoa..." Sarah intoned as all three girls--and the rest of the class, excluding the humorless grey-haired nun--felt their jaws drop open and hit the desk.
"Homeroom starts at 8:45 sharp!" the nun chided the statuesque, gorgeous girl who strutted into class and whipped off her jacket to reveal a low-cut top and an ample bosom.
"Sorry," Bonnie said cheekily as she took her seat amongst her Sisters, "my pedicure ran late!"
"Bon-nee!" Rochelle said in congratulations. "Holy Shit!" screamed Nancy. And those two weren't the only one taking notice...
"Hi, Bonnie," Mitt said sheepishly, turning around in his desk to gawk at the stunner and waving at her.
"Hey Bonnie, howsitgoin'?" added Trey.
And though she had been the butt of the cruel heartless jokes of these boys--as well as so many others--Bonnie's first thoughts were not of the "how shallow!" variety but of sheer egotistical exhileration. She had never gone to a dance, never gone on a date. Never been kissed. But now, frankly, she wanted to boff the world, no questions asked. And she loved the attention, ate it up like it was ice-cream...or heroin.
And all three of her "bestest friends" were, apparently, so very happy for her. But Nancy couldn't stay too happy for others very long, not while she remained unloved, powerless, and Hungry. And when she caught Bonnie giving Sarah a hug and thanking her for the "healing", the short black hair on the back of her neck, just above her spiked collar, stood ramrod-straight.
So, the petite goth growled to herself as the quartet headed out to the campus green. The bitch did magic behind my back, did she? Trying to undermine my work?
And, a reaization far more painful--the only magic that worked seemed to come from Sarah. Look at what happened with Chris. And 'Chelle--it was Sarah who wove the hair, who made the chants. And now this...this deviousness with Bonnie. It was obvious. It was all very obvious to Nancy.
Sarah was more powerful than she was.
The angry girl sat on a bench visibly apart from the others, who were spread out on the grass clucking about their miracles and attracting the eyes of every horny boy who passed. She pretended she was to busy listening to gothic bands on her headset to care, but her steady, emotionless eyes smoldered.
"You look so beautiful," Sarah said admiringly to Bonnie, slapping one of the soles of Bonnie's high heeled shoes. "I can't believe it!"
The freckled-faced girl stopped laughing and looked back at her friend with a serious, heartfelt expression.
"It was you, Sarah--you did it."
"N-no, I, I didn't do it..."
"No you did," Bonnie insisted.
"No, I, I helped..."
"You totally did it, " piped in Rochelle. "C'mon--you made Chris love you (you totally own him)." The dark-skinned young woman smiled wickedly. "You made Laura Lizzie's hair fall out: you have to see her, she has to wear a hat every day now..."
Nancy suddenly slung her backpack over her shoulder and left in a huff, ducking her head and ignoring her friends.
"What's the matter with Nancy," Sarah asked in sincere concern.
"Oh, I don't know," 'Chelle replied, "I don't think her spell's working."
It had suddenly occurred to Sarah that after all this time Nancy never did articulate what she wanted from Manon. Oh, there was that "all the power of Manon" jazz during the first ritual, but that was pretty vague and the girl figured she said it for "show."
"I don't know...something about not being white-trash anymore. And I told her: you're white, honey, just deal with it."
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As Nancy sits before her carefully-constructed altar of collages, candles, trinkets, knives, and varous somesuch items, it might be helpful for you the reader to understand something about the magic she practiced.
It was not Wicca--dig?
It was never really Wicca, though she went through her own nascent period of the Craft where she thought she was Wiccan. The very first book she read on magic proper was Amber K.'s "True Magick", an inexpensive paperback that laid out some Wiccan fundamentals and referred her to other works. From there she quickly poured through Scott Cunningham's "Wicca for the Solitary Practitioner", Marion Weinstein's "Positive Magic," and some lovely-looking books with Celtic knots on the cover design. But the Wiccan tenets of treating others as she would like to be treated and "harm none" didn't seem to jibe with her version of reality. And to be fair to Nancy Downs, life was not always (or even often) rosy for her. Perhaps, when she was five or so, she treated others as she wanted to be treated and harmed none. And she was harmed for her trouble. Often.
Long story cut short--the "hug a tree" version of Wicca just could not cope with the simmering cauldron of hate and resentment that had been stirring inside the girl for her 16 years. But she soon found out--thanks to Lirio's library of lovingly-stealable tomes--that there were other forms of magic.
Hence the old-fashioned illo of the Devil that hung amongst the dragons, goths, and mystical symbols on the wall of her altar. Oh, she never talked about Ol' Scratch with the others in her little coven--didn't want to freak 'em out. Didn't want to share Him. So she invented a substitute--some "god" that could not be found in any book or bible. Some god she "discovered". Some god only she could call. She based Manon loosely on "Manannan"--Celtic god of the ocean. But she didn't really take it too seriously, it was just something to reel the others in. The Others--they would expend their magical energy focusing on this bogus "Manon", and meanwhile she had just cut a deal with Ol' Scratch to harvest that energy and serve Him. It was brilliant.
Only--now the petite gothic girl wasn't too sure that Manon wasn't real.
She hedged her bets and chanted in tongues under her breath, by that infernal altar, to both--Manon & Devil. Perhaps they really were the same. Honestly, she couldn't believe there was truly a benevolent god floating out there...not when there was so much suffering in the world. A benevolent god would not have let her been born into what she was born into.
And so Nancy chanted near-silent under her breath until her throat became raw and her mouth dry, chanted in indescipherable words for her very life.
I need a ssssacrifice, said the voice in her head. It wasn't the first time she was asked this, but it was the first time she actually did more than gloss over it and pretend it was just her own thoughts talking to her.
"I can't..." another thread of her mind answered. "I'll get in trouble..."
Sssssacrifice to me! Those who worship Me indeed have nothing to fear!
But it was beginning to sound more and more reasonable...
Sssssacrifice to me and I will bring you gold!
Come now, pretty one...certainly there are thosssse on your foul plane who are more than desssserving of the fate?
No, you ninny, not Ssssarah! Not yet! I need all of your prana!
"I...I want to help you but...I don't know...what to do..."
And the chanting continued long after the dialogue ceased; and when she was finished she opened her eyes, felt tremendously hungry, and thought nothing further regarding her little "chat." The "voice" sounded so much like her own that she figured she was simply talking to herself.
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The highlight of Mrs. Downs' sad, alcohol-soaked life was making pop-tarts and drinking up cheap store-brand beer with her husband-slash-boyfriend (it was never very clear) Stan. She stood there in the cramped "kitchenette" of her trailer in ratty leggings and a gaudy sequin-studded t-shirt, her hair platinum and straw-like from too many botched Miss Clairol treatments. Her balding, greasy-haired "knight in shining armor" meanwhile sat slurping on a "tall boy", his fat stomach preventing him from getting too close to the table. His eyes perked up at the sight of Nancy emerging from her room in a silk Asian bathrobe and opening the fridge door.
"Oooh, I can almost see through this thing," he said in an oily voice as he lifted one corner of the robe.
"LEAVE ME ALONE!" Nancy screamed, hitting his hand away.
"Jesus," her mother said, not so much in alarm as annoyance at anything or anyone disturbing her perfect night with the pop-tarts. "Stan, you're supposed to act like a father to the girl..."
The man sneered. "I ain't her father..."
"Thank God!" Nancy shot back, washing her hands in the sink for no reason. Heck, maybe if she washed hard enough it would remove Stan from her, remove the whole horrible way he felt whenever that bastard did crap like this. She always wanted her mother to be the hero and get so upset that she'd throw him out: "you can't treat my daughter that way!" she would cry. But it never happened. Grace was never really like a mother to her--more like some dumb school-friend she didn't want but was stuck with.
Stan took a drag on his cigarrete and chuckled.
"Oh yeah--her dad is the guy who paid you 50 bucks for a quick bang in the back seat!"
"Hey!" Mrs Downs said, bopping her significant other lightly on the head. Nancy would have felt vindicated by the action but she knew that in her mother's mind, they were all teenagers horsing around in the playground. Pathetic.
But the man in the stale undershirt did not see it as horsing around--he leapt out of his chair and took a swing at the woman.
"You bitch," he yelled as he grabbed Grace tightly on the forearm, making her cower in fear, "don't you ever raise a hand at me..."
And so now the Beatings would begin. Just another night in Trailer Town--only Nancy just couldn't take it anymore. She couldn't take any of it--her spells failing, her humiliation at being branded the "poor trash slut" of St. Benedict's...the mother who failed to protect her, the men who abused her, her own self-hatred...everything...
Nancy threw her hands up in the air and screamed.
"Don't you touch her...stoppppppp!"
A surge of electricity inundated the appliances in the pathetic little room...the light blew in a shower of sparks and the microwave door slammed open in flames.
"What the..what the hell was that!" Grace exclaimed, running to her charred pop-tarts.
But it was the formidable figure of Stan who seemed to be in the most shock at the sudden electrical anomaly...he felt a pain slowly shoot up his leg...
"You pig," Nancy hissed, focusing her blazing blue eyes at him. It was funny--she always had a hard time looking directly at the bastard, maybe out of fear or disgust or both. But now she had no such problem...because starring at him was necessary...
"You pig..." she repeated, as Stan's eyes bulged and he clutched his heart in pain.
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The paramedics almost succeeded in bringing Stan back with the paddles...but Nancy, who was riding in the speeding ambulance alongside her grieving mother, made sure it would fail.
You ssssee, the voice hissed just behind the girl's eardrum, it'sss not ssso hard...