Don’t Break the Oath is the fourth women of horror anthology put forth by Kandisha Press. Look no further for your summer read, guys! There is a lot of awesome horror within these pages written by many seasoned authors along with a few debuts, including yours truly. My little ol’ witch story is included and is the origin story for my most favorite character I’ve ever created, Jehenne de Brigue. Okay, I didn’t totally create her, she can be found amongst the wealth of historical knowledge regarding the witch trials in Europe which persecuted innocent women so many centuries ago.
“The Trial of Jehenne de Brigue” synopsis: (Spoiler Alert!)
The “Trial of Jehenne de Brigue” is the origin story of an herbalist healer who is destined to become a powerful leader among the Italian witches, known as Strega. She would have been lost in obscurity if it weren’t for the ruthless persecution of women by the Catholic church in 14th century France, but with a little help from a son of perdition, she would not only survive those dark times, but eventually become The Last Strega.
Revised ending to “The Trial of Jehenne de Brigue”:
“Stop crying,” Jehenne cooed, smiling at the hysterical woman.
Haus then appeared between them just as the executioner began lighting the pyre. Macette screamed. Haus ignored her and placed his hands on Jehenne’s shoulders. Haus smiled down at Jehenne. She looked up at the demon and returned his smile.
Macette screeched, “But Haussibut, my lord, my love, why do you only take her?! Why have you forsaken me?!”
“She has proved her loyalty to me.”
“But she betrayed us by confessing!”
“No, you set the wheels in motion by betraying Jehenne to your husband! You sealed your fate!” And with that, Haus vanished, taking Jehenne with him as the pyre burned.
So, I am totally excited about my first officially published horror story! It’s so cool to see my name on a cover like this, well pen name, Lol. But the initials, C.C., do stand for my real name at least. 🙂 My short story is included along with the writings of much more accomplished Women of Horror than myself, so I am proud and honored to be included. I hope to one day achieve as much success of many of the women included in this anthology.
The synopsis for, “The Trial of Jehenne de Brigue”:
The “Trial of Jehenne de Brigue” is the story of an herbalist healer who lives in 14th century France during a time when women who indulged in medical pursuits were highly scrutinized by society and the Catholic church. It is a story of betrayal, revenge, and a woman who is willing to fight until her dying breath to have the right to live as she chooses.
Reed placed his hand on his brother’s arm, “Jack…”
But Jack jerked his arm from his brother’s grasp, strode toward their mother and repeated, inches from her face, “What truth, Mother?! What’s going on?!”
Jehenne walked to the kitchen counter, grabbed a tissue, and wiped the spittle from her face. She then smiled at her son and said, “Say it, don’t spray it, Jack.”
Jack’s face reddened. “You’re going to joke?! With everything that’s happening?!”
“Jack, calm down,” said Reed.
Jack swung around to face his brother, “No! I won’t calm down! This weird shit probably doesn’t faze you because you’ve always lived in the fringes anyway! But I have a bright future! I’m a winner! I have big plans and I need the world to go back to fucking normal!”
Amir turned to Jehenne and said, “I told you that you should have trained them in our ways when they were young.”
“I wanted them to have normal lives, Amir. Adita grew up too fast.”
“Better to be prepared. You knew they would come back one day,” answered Amir.
“It’s been centuries, time doesn’t pass the same way for them. You sound like one of those Jesus freaks, thinking it’s time for the second coming, which if it ever does happen, it will be long after we’re all gone. And, we closed the portal, remember?”
“Well, how do you explain all that’s been happening lately? And, we’re immortal, remember?” asked Amir.
“It’s just a glitch between universes, Amir. It happens from time to time. And we are long-lived, but not immortal.”
“She’s back and you know it,” said Amir.
“Who’s back?! I want some answers!” shouted Jack.
“You need to calm down, Jack,” said Jehenne, turning to face her son.
“Calm down?! People are disappearing, weird houses are popping up out of nowhere with strange doorways that lead to nowhere or some crazy Alice in Wonderland fucking places!” Jack shouted.
Now Jack had Jehenne and Amir’s full attention. “What are you talking about Jack? What have you seen?” asked Amir.
Reed stepped forward and said, “We both saw it.”
All eyes were now on Reed, and Jehenne said, “Tell us what you saw, Reed.”
When Reed finished telling them all that had transpired earlier in the day, they were all silent for a moment and then Amir asked, “So you did see a woman?”
“More like a monster,” said Reed.
“Did you not listen to the description?!” interjected Jack.
“Yes, yes, but that may be just how she appeared in that world,” said Amir.
Jehenne turned toward Amir, “Do you really think it was her?”
“I don’t know, but if it was, we have to stop her from getting into our world.” Amir turned toward Reed and asked, “Where is the house? We need to destroy it.”
“Destroy it? We can’t. We have to get the object,” said Reed.
“Why is the object so important to you, son” asked Jehenne.
“I don’t know exactly. I just have a feeling,” said Reed.
“A feeling?! Seriously?!” Jack bellowed as he grabbed his shorter brother by the shoulders and spun him around to face him. “You’re enjoying this aren’t you?! You love this fucking shit!”
“Stop!” shouted Amir.
Jack dropped his hands from Reed’s shoulders and turned to face Amir and shouted, “Shut up old man! You don’t even care about your own daughter! Just some stupid fucking house!”
Amir was in Jack’s face instantly and even though the younger man towered over him, with his six-foot tall, athletic frame; the older, shorter, Indian man, knocked him flat on his back with one swift punch to the jaw.
“Not bad for an old man,” Amir said, looking down on Jack who was sprawled out on his back on the linoleum floor. Amir reached out his right hand, Jack took it and Amir easily lifted him to his feet. “You need to show some respect to your elders, boy,” the older man said.
“Yes sir,” said Jack.
The four of them rode in silence in Jack’s car heading toward the outskirts of town where the brothers had found the old house. Jehenne rode shotgun while Amir and Reed had settled in the back seats. Jack looked straight ahead, face stern. Jehenne reached over and placed a hand on his leg. He glanced at her for a moment, eyes liquid with emotion, and then faced forward again.
Jack drove through the center of the town and then pulled onto a side street that ran along the outer edge of the town. When he reached the end of a row of wood-framed houses on the fringes of the city limits, he pulled over to the curb and parked the car.
“Why are you stopping here?” asked Jehenne.
“This is where the house is…was,” answered Reed from behind her.
“So, the portal is closed. Good, then the worst is over,” said Jehenne.
“With the disappearances that have been happening, I doubt that was the only portal,” said Amir.
“Well, this was the one where she was spotted and it’s closed now,” said Jehenne.
“First of all, we don’t know if it was her and second of all, just because it’s gone, that doesn’t mean she didn’t come through before it closed,” said Amir.
“Jack, Reed, did you boys see the woman again after you re-entered our world?” asked Jehenne.
“No, I came back alone, or was thrown out,” said Reed.
“Did you see anyone, Jack?” Jehenne asked.
“No, Reed and I were alone when we left the house,” Jack answered.
“That doesn’t prove anything, Jehenne. She could have entered our world after they left,” said Amir.
“Amir, she’s not here! The boys said the door slammed shut after Reed was thrown through it. And the house is gone now.”
“Look Jehenne, I know you’re scared…” began Amir.
“Scared?! I’m not afraid of her!” Jehenne was shouting now.
“Really? You know how powerful she is. She’s the one who…”
“Taught me, I know. And that’s why I know her tricks. If she is here, we’ll defeat her again and this time, I’ll destroy her!”
“Well, be that as it may, let’s get out and check this area for any portal remnants, just in case,” said Amir.
“Portal remnants? Is that a thing?” asked Reed.
“Sometimes a small bit of the interdimensional gateway remains open, lingers around a bit,” said Jehenne.
“This just gets better and better,” said Jack as he turned off the engine and then stepped out of the car. “And what about Adita? Don’t you even care that your daughter is missing, Amir?”
Amir stepped out of the car and faced Jack, placing a hand on his shoulder. “Of course I care, son. I’m worried too, but she has trained for this all her life. I have faith in her.”
“Trained all her life?”
“You need to have faith too, Jack. There is so much you don’t know,” said Amir.
As the four of them headed to the former location of the mystery house, Samuel James appeared as if from out of nowhere.
“Dad!” Reed and Jack said in unison.
“How did you get here?” asked Jack.
“Samyaza, you’re here. Finally,” said Amir.
“I had some business to take care of, old friend,” said Samyaza.
“Business, what business is more important than what is happening here?” asked Amir.
“There are other realms besides this one, Amir,” answered Samyaza.
Jehenne walked over and embraced her husband. Even at her height of 5’8”, his 6’3” physique towered over her. He lifted her chin with his right hand, his ebony skin contrasting with her lightly tanned skin, reached down and lightly kissed her on her mouth. He then looked up and said to the group, “The portal is closed.”
“How can you be so sure?” asked Amir.
“Have you forgotten who I am, Amir?”
Amir and Samyaza stared at each other in silence. Amir looking up at the much taller angel, glaring.
“You two need to stand down. We need to take a ride to Antonia’s. She’s been searching for a dreamwalker. Hopefully her search has been successful,” said Jehenne.
“She’s right,” said Amir.
“Alright, my love, I’ll meet you there,” said Samyaza to his beloved before vanishing.
“What the hell?!” said Jack.
“It’s okay,” said Reed.
“Did you know that our parents weren’t who they said they were, Reed? I don’t understand.”
“No, I didn’t know exactly. It’s hard to explain.”
“Well try,” said Jack.
“Boys, we need to head to Antonia’s ranch, Kuhaylah Arabians. There is much to tell you,” said Jehenne.
“Much to tell us? That’s an understatement,” said Jack as he dutifully headed back to the car with the others. But then he stopped and turned toward his mother. “Why did you say Antonia’s ranch and the name of it? Why would you say both?”
“For the reader,” said Jehenne.
“The reader? Have you completely lost your mind, Mom?!”
Jehenne laughed, “Jack, when extraordinary events happen throughout the cosmos, there is always a historical record.”
“Yeah, but not exact dialogue, word for word as such.”
“You never know who’s listening son,” said Jehenne as she turned and headed toward the passenger side of Jack’s car.
Jack stepped into the driver’s seat and started the car, but before pulling off, glanced back at Reed, sitting behind their mother and their eyes locked for an instant. Jack was overcome with a feeling of calm, then faced forward again and pulled out onto the road.
“Reader,” Jehenne began. She smiled and waived her hand indicating the others, “Don’t worry, only you can hear me. I am much older than I look, and I’ve learned to never take life too seriously, just simply sit back and enjoy the ride. That’s what I’m hoping you will do as you watch these events unfold. Time is not linear for me nor for many of the creatures who are slipping back into our world through crevices that had been closed for millennia, so pay close attention reader, this adventure will be exhilarating to say the least. And one more thing, reader. I might not speak directly to you for a while, but you’re always in my thoughts.”