If Oceanside was a peninsula of the mainland, Land’s End was the peninsula of a peninsula. It wasn’t terribly big, a large steep hill atop which the old lighthouse stood, with a small shore around it. Parties were often held at low tide and bonfires were a common thing. During the tourist season, there were often a few hawkers hanging down there hoping to score some easy money.
In early may however, it was mostly just teenagers and some local fixture of the boardwalk although I didn’t really know any of them at the time. We stepped down the wooden steps right next to the one leading to the lighthouse, which I remembered was supposed to be haunted, I briefly considered checking if it was real or not, but opted not to. One supernatural mess was enough to deal with.
“You ever been to a bonfire party?”
“No.” I answered.
“I’m sure you’ll like it. Alessa’s hosting tonight, so it’s bound to get a little intense.” He said. “Just don’t panic, okay?”
That didn’t reassure me… But I liked his presence. He took my hand and I couldn’t help but feel flustered. I wasn’t sure if that meant anything or if what was just a random gesture. The bonfire was rather close to the carved rocks of the hillside, since it was low tide, the beach stretched pretty far. In a beach chair there was a woman, she wasn’t that much older than us, maybe eighteen or nineteen. She wore long flowing colorful clothes that were more like semi-transparent sheets. Her dark brown hair flowed in very voluminous but neat curls down to the middle of her back. She stood there, watching the party, her eyes lost in the celebration. Part of her looked otherworldly, more like a fairy tale character than a person. Appropriately; she wasn’t human.
Around the fire people danced, many wearing very little despite the chill of the evening. The music from a large boombox filled the air, playing a mix of electronica, nobody seemed to notice us, lost in the trance of the festivity. Further in the dune, I could see couples laying down…
There was something weird about this situation and I didn’t like it.
“I’ll get us something to drink, I’ll be right back.” Kaleb said, leaving for the woman in the chair.
Although I tried to remain calm, the party’s ambiance and the nature of Kaleb’s inhumaness was gnawing at me. As he walked away, I started reviewing the different options in my head. He wasn’t a vampire, that I knew. He could be a shifter, but they could smell vampiric heritage and had a long standing grudge with vampires which meant that if was one, he was playing dumb and luring me into a false sense of security… I preferred not to consider that option.
He could have been a Talent, although I didn’t know what kind. Talents were a broad category, ranging from simple mediums to someone who could set fire to things with his mind or being unable to die regardless of what happened to them.
There there were Faes, who had something to do with emotions. But I didn’t feel anything beyond mild anxiety and what I refused to admit might have been a crush.
Boogie men were horrors, not people. Unless he was a dark stalker, the very incarnation of the archetypical serial killer… Again not a train of thought I wanted to pursue. He wasn’t a construct either.
That only left magicians, which was a category as broad as Talents, but it was a reassuring thought. Magicians were the closest to human beings there was, their power was from a cosmic trade they performed…
Let’s see… Witches are slow and steady kind of magic, low-risk/reward… Diabolists are high/risk reward and quick… Alchemists aren’t much in term of magical powers, but a real danger if they have equipment at hands… Adepts are self-destructive one-trick ponies, powerful, but limited… and avatars are playing a role in the cosmic masquerade in exchange for a handful of parlor tricks… I made the list mentally, it didn’t help much... Until I would see some of his power in action, I wouldn’t be able to get the right idea…
I could have just asked but that seemed unwise… Plus it would advertise the fact that I was initiated too. Playing dumb until I knew what was going on was much safer as a course of action.
“There.” Kaleb said, interrupted my train of thought. He handed me a plastic cup. “Do you trust me?”
“What is it?”
“Wine, honey, hallucinogenic mushrooms, a blend of herbs and E.” A voice said, I turned and saw it was the woman. “A recreation of the mixture shamans used through history with some modern improvement.
“Alessa, meet Lauren.” Kaleb said. “Lauren this is Alessa, she’s… A friend.” He chose his words carefully.
“Do you trust me? Nothing bad will happen to you, I promise… I just want to show you something amazing.”
“You can stop it at anytime.” Alessa said.
His insistent stare got the better of me. I’d been subjected to several hours of ‘too cool to do drugs’ stuff from middle school to high school, but right now, peer pressure got the better of me, I didn’t want to risk losing the only person who’d been friendly toward me in years… I drank the cup all at once, ignoring the odd taste. I saw Kaleb did the same.
“How do you feel?” Kaleb asked me.
“I don’t feel any--” I didn’t finish the sentence that the moon behind him exploded in a rainbow of colors. He took my hand and it felt like our flesh melded together. I didn’t know anything about drugs, but I was pretty sure they did not set in that fast.
“Everything will be alright.” He said, his voice was twisted. “Just listen to my voice.” I didn’t just listen, I could see it. Words pouring out of his mouth.
The veil of Maya is ripped away.
I heard the words but nobody was saying them. The voice was familiar… Alessa’s? I felt so hot. I went to remove my vest but it was already gone. I felt the sand on my toes, my shoes were gone too.
Black stars collide with the mind.
We were next to the fire. We danced, his hand held mine. I could feel the warmth of the fire, the smell of the sea, of the burning driftwood, the pulse of his heart accelerating.
Opening new dimensional frequencies.
All around I could feel the tension, the energy built up, like a spire rising above the bonfire. Streaming from altered consciousness.
We are standing at a threshold.
I felt like I was on fire. That I’d only ever been half living before and now I could finally breathe. Every cell of my body burned ever brighter, even the predatory rush of vampiric blood did not compare. It was nirvana… The beach was gone, only stars and the basking light of a beacon remained.
The living Temple... We are transitioning.
I was something... More... Greater… Higher… Trapped within flesh… I was… I needed to… I… I...
“Enough!” I screamed my lungs out and the spell broke. I was on the beach again, everything was normal, the music died down and everyone around seemed to wake up from the trance as the rising tide soaked our toes.
I was out of breath. I couldn’t understand what had just happened. I felt like It couldn’t have just been drugs. Then I saw Alessa, she wasn’t human and I knew what she was; She was Fae… I found my vest and shoes scattered around the beach in a panic.
“Lauren are you alright?” Kaleb asked.
“Need….air.” I squealed, resorting to cave woman grammar.
“It’s okay, walk with me.” He took my arm and dragged me softly to the stairs where I sat down. I didn’t know how long I’d been under the fae’s spell, but I felt drained. By the water levels, it had probably been at least an hour…
“The first time is always intense.” He explained calmly. I wasn’t sure I wanted a second time.
“I was… I… I felt... “ I tried to speak, but I couldn’t even begin to describe the experience in coherent sentences, with a little distance it was like time and space had imploded and I was all and nothing at the same time...
He hugged me. “You’ll be alright.” I hugged back, letting myself calm down.
“Do you want to go home?”
“I… I…” I was still too shocked to answer.
We stayed there for a while in an embrace, I didn’t care that he was sweating as all hell. I just enjoyed being in the the proximity of another person for once.
“I think I’m alright.” I whispered after maybe five minutes.
“That’s good.” He said with a smile. “Do you want to-”
“Kaleb, I’ve been looking for you.” Some bitchy sounding woman had just spoken. I saw her at our feet, grease blonde hair, thick musculature and a sneer on her face. She was wearing a loose football jersey and baggy sweat pants.
Kaleb rose straight up and froze.
“Fuck me.” Was all he said.