Best Witches Issue 14
It’s easy to get up early when you are camping. As soon as the sun rises and hits the tent, it becomes a sauna inside. The dew of the night and morning steaming away in the trapped heat. With three of us in the same tent, we all awoke gasping and clambering to get out of the tent.
Peyton did a cleansing spell over the three of us since we wanted to take off as quickly as possible. Within moments it was as if we had just stepped out of a steaming shower. We all piled into the car, leaving the campsite intact since we planned to be back that night, and headed out to the kayaking shop on the edge of the lake.
Surprisingly we were not the first ones there. Someone had already taken out a few of the kayas, but there were still plenty. It was coming up to peak season, and they had to be ready if they got flooded with tourists early. We feigned being those tourists and checked out three kayaks for the day. We threw our things and food into watertight bags, grabbed our paddles, and were off like a herd of turtles.
None of us had very much experience kayaking. It was none of our first times, but it had been a good long while. Finley gave up and put a spell on hers so she could lazily paddle but still keep up with Peyton and me. I thought I might have to use the same spell by the end of the day if we didn’t find the dagger right away. Which hells knew it might take us a few days of coming out here to find it.
We had pinned a location on our phone that seemed close to where the book showed the site of the dagger, so that way we didn’t have to drag the book out before it was absolutely necessary. With my luck, I’d dump it in the lake and accidentally kill all the animals in it. That would definitely not be my shining moment. So, every hour or so Peyton grabbed out her phone and checked where we were headed.
It was a cave, or so we assumed, on the southwest edge of the lake. Once we figured we were at least close, we backed off the speed and finally took a look around enjoying the beauty of the day. The water was cold and calm. Making zen-like, lap-lap lapping noises against the hulls. I thought about maybe taking a nap out here after lunch with the gentle motion rocking me to sleep. The sun was warm, and the water was chilly a perfect combination for the hard work-out we were giving our arms and core. Peyton was in much better shape than Finley or myself so she led the charge. Whenever I felt too overworked or exhausted, I would just dip my hand into the lake water and feel the chill bring me back to myself.
Finley was humming softly to herself. It felt like it might be an affront to the stillness around us to break out the little portable witch radio. So, we just listened to her as she hummed and then sang. Her voice radiated off the upcoming cliffs and outcropping of rocks.
“This looks like it might be close, let’s check this one,” Peyton called from the front.
“Let me head in first, it looks too skinny to be able to turn around if it dead ends,” I said, not wanting any surprises for the girls since this was my crazy adventure. Peyton paddled backward and out of the way, and I moved into the cave.
It wasn’t it, the first three we tried even weren’t. We all took our turns slipping in and seeing the beauty of what a steady presence of water could do to pure rock. Finally, I beached myself on the side of the lake and took out the book. The pages flipped and opened again to the map. This was more focused than the one before, not showing Illinois or Nebraska at all. It was showing just our little area on the edge of the lake. It looked like we were about 100 yards off. I recalibrated with my maps on my phone and tucked the book away.
The sun was already high in the sky, so we camped out for lunch and tried to keep the sand out of our drinks and sandwiches. We weren’t wholly successful, but it was still edible.
Peyton and Finley flopped down on the sand great sighs of contentment escaping my friends. I joined them, laying my head on Peyton’s stomach and twining my legs with Finley’s. We just sat for maybe an hour basking in the sun, running the sand through our fingers, napping a bit here and there.
“Well if we get dumped in, we shouldn’t cramp now.” Peyton finally said batting the sand out of her hair.
“Might as well get back at it before. I don’t want to be stuck in the middle of the lake when it gets dark. Who knows what still lurks under these waters that humans don’t know about?” Finley chimed in.
With that we packed up, making sure not to leave any trash on the beach. There were some near misses of ending up in the water instead of the kayak, but we all made it back into our watercrafts relatively unscathed.
It wasn’t long before we pulled up to the cave and I could feel it was the right one. Something inside was tugging me towards it.
“Let me go first again,” I said to the girls. “This is it.”
As I paddled my way into the darkness of the cave, so much darker than the others, I snapped my fingers, and a light appeared towards the ceiling. The walls of the cave lit up with drawings in what looked like it might be dried blood.
Looking around the next bend, I found out where those other kayakers from this morning had gone. We were not alone.
Thank you, Sean Eike, for the image this week.