“I’m glad we’ve finally had a chance to meet in person, Nancy,” Serena said. Nancy turned around to see her. She was holding a large book. “I’m Serena, the woman your brother and his friends gang-raped almost a month ago. Thank you for helping me get my revenge on him.”
“You BITCH!” Nancy screamed, slashing the air with the knife in an arc, trying to cut Serena in the belly. Serena dodged back and out of the way.
“You mean witch,” Serena said with a smirk, then with her book opened to the right page, added, “Haluma makh-toh.”
The knife slipped out of Nancy’s hand and flew back into the kitchen.
“I can get all kinds of aid from my spirit friends, thanks to this book. What made me bring it here, I have no idea. I certainly don’t need it here with me. But anyway, the spirits help anyone who has been terribly wronged, the way I was by your brother and his friends. That’s why he had to die. Try to understand, Nancy, and take comfort in the fact that, by helping avenge a rape victim, you’ve helped bring about justice.”
“Justice?! You made me stab my own brother to death! Justice would have put him and his friends in jail.”
“Justice is culturally biased, Nancy. In many cultures, the punishment for rape is the death penalty. In our culture, those boys’ defence attorney–had they been charged with rape–would have cross-examined me, asking me what I was wearing, and making the rape out to have been all my fault. You’re a woman; you know this. My spirits, though, guided me to find the right justice for those gang-rapists.”
Serena absent-mindedly put her open book on the floor by Nancy’s feet as she said those last words. Then she continued:
“Yes, my spirits have helped me every step of the way.” Serena walked away from her book, looking instead at the three Sirens by the door. “They always help in the avenging of victims, helping the most helpless.”
The Sirens smiled at Serena and began singing.
The book, still open at Nancy’s feet, showed a sea of black print, all in an ancient language incomprehensible to her, but in Roman script so at least the words were legible. A phrase among them was in glowing red, seeming to beckon Nancy to recite them.
Is this Deanna’s help? she wondered. It’s a little late, but at least I can avenge Eddie and stop Serena from using the Sirens on me. “Peloki ha-teva!” Nancy chanted over and over again in an angry, sobbing voice.
“So, Nancy thinks she can use the book’s power on me, does she?” Serena said with a proud smirk. “I don’t think so. You see, Nancy, the Sirens are loyal to me, far more a victim of injustice than you could ever be. Tekarei hi-ko!“
Nancy saw an apparition of not only Eddie’s spirit, but also that of their long-dead mother. Both of them hovered by her head in a glow of almost blinding golden light.
“Eddie? Mom?” Nancy sobbed. “I’ll avenge you, Eddie. I’m so sorry for stabbing you. It wasn’t my fault. That bitch Serena tricked me into doing it. Here: Peloki ha-teva!“
“You don’t need to avenge him, Nancy,” her mother said in a soothing voice.
“I don’t blame you, Nancy,” Eddie’s spirit said. “I got what I deserved. Here in the spirit world, we understand things in ways we can’t in the flesh.”
“Peloki ha-teva!” Nancy continued chanting, over and over.
“You don’t need to chant that, Nancy,” their mother’s spirit said. “Just let it go. Come with us, and find peace.” Her voice had a sing-song quality, as did Eddie’s.
Nancy was torn between the near-melodious allure of the spirits’ voices–as well as her urge to be reunited with her lost loved ones–and her suspicion that these apparitions were Serena’s doing. Though she felt herself intoxicated by them, being lulled out of her apartment while seeing a vision of a path between grassy fields on a sunny summer afternoon, being led up a hill and closer to a cloudless blue sky, she resolved to continue chanting “Peloki ha-teva!” in an angry growl.
Meanwhile, Serena kept gazing at her singing Sirens. “Yes, you, my good friends,” she said between grinning teeth, “you saved me in my darkest hour, when I limped home, my clothes half-torn off my body, my bruised, come-stained body. Deanna sold me that book of spells and incantations, and you three became my friends.”
Nancy continued ascending that hill while chanting “Peloki ha-teva!” in that angry, hoarse voice, with tears rolling down her cheeks as she beheld the spirits of her brother and mother.
“Tekarei hi-ko!” Serena chanted while gazing at her Sirens with a grin.
“Forgive her, Nancy,” her mother said. “She’s suffered enough. Give yourself some peace.”
“Just follow us,” Eddie’s spirit said. “Join us in heaven, and all your pain will be gone.”
Nancy was about two-thirds of the way up that hill, at the summit of which was the glowing, fiery sun. (Actually, she was outside at night, walking up an incline on the sidewalk–in the direction opposite the one leading to the pub and the apartment of the gang-rape–at the top of which was a house that had just caught fire.)
Serena, too, was being led off, but into Nancy’s kitchen. She sat at the kitchen table while the Sirens’ singing continued. Some paper and a pen were lying there. She picked up the pen, clicked it, and said, “Tekarei hi-ko!“
Nancy was nearing the top of the hill. The sun felt so close to her, it seemed a mere mile away. “Peloki ha-teva!” she grunted with an eternal frown and teary eyes.
“You don’t need to chant that, Nancy,” Eddie said. “I’m not mad at you. Just let go. Join Mom and me.”
“You’ll have peace, Nancy dear,” their Mom said. “We love you.”
“I love you, too,” Nancy sobbed. “And I forgive you, Eddie, for raping Serena.” She kept walking closer to the heat.
“That’s good, Nancy,” her mother said. “You can stop chanting now.”
“You’re such good friends, my Sirens,” Serena said while writing on the paper, always smiling in her ecstasy. “You helped me get satisfaction for the outrage done against me.” Her writing was automatic; she didn’t seem to need to pay attention to the words she was writing. “I’ve received justice, true justice, not the fake justice of the courts of law that get rapists off by making the victim feel as if she’d ‘wanted it,’ so it ‘wasn’t rape.’ Those men got what they deserved.”
The vocal harmonies continued, and she kept writing, with tears rolling down her cheeks. Her hand shook as she wrote.
Nancy was standing at the top of the hill. She felt as if she were standing right in front of the sun. Actually, she was now standing in front of the burning house. The sirens of fire trucks could be heard far off in the distance, but she couldn’t hear them over the sing-song voices of ‘Eddie’ and ‘Mom.’ No people were anywhere in the area to notice her and stop her from going in the house.
“Go inside,” ‘Mom’ told her. “It’s OK. We’ll all be together in heaven. This is the House of God.”
Indeed, Nancy now saw a huge church door before her.
“I wanna be with you, Mom, I really do,” Nancy sobbed. “But you aren’t real.”
“What do you mean, I’m not real?” ‘Mom’ asked. “That hurts me to hear it.”
“You aren’t real, either, Eddie,” Nancy sobbed. “I’d like you both to be, you aren’t. Peloki ha-teva!“
Serena, her face soaked in tears, finished writing her note. She stood up. “And now that I’ve had justice,” she sobbed, turning around and facing an old oven in the corner of the kitchen, “I can die in peace. I’ve murdered my rapists, but I can’t go on living with the memory of what they did to me.” She spoke these words like an automaton, as if almost reluctant to say them.
The Sirens’ singing continued as she walked with trembling legs towards the oven. She clicked on the gas with a shaky left hand, and with an even shakier right hand, opened the oven door.
“Tekarei hi-ko!” she groaned, then slowly pushed her head in.
Nancy struggled to keep her legs from taking her to the hot door of the house. The fire truck sirens were getting louder. Her feet dragged forward shakily, her shoes scraping against the pavement.
“Don’t doubt us, dear,” ‘Mom’ said melodiously. “We’re real. We want to help you.”
“Of course we’re real, Nancy,” ‘Eddie’ said in harmony with the voice of their ‘Mom.’ “Go inside and find peace.”
“Peloki ha-teva!” Nancy screamed.
The vision disappeared. She was an inch or two from the door. She coughed from the smoke. The only sirens she heard now were from the fire trucks, which were several blocks away. Her feet felt rooted at the spot.
Serena lay dead with her head in the oven. Her suicide note confessed to her having manipulated Nancy into stabbing Eddie. The stench of the gas filled the entire apartment.
Good work, Nancy, Deanna’s calm voice buzzed in Nancy’s ears. You not only helped Serena achieve her revenge, you also killed her for me. Too bad you allowed your chanting to be so heated with your anger, for now the bad karma is on you, and you must die for your sins. Tekarei hi-ko.
Nancy felt compelled to grab the scorching hot doorknob and open it. She screamed in pain as she did so. Then she took two of the most reluctant steps ever inside.
You see, Nancy, Deanna’s eerily calm voice continued, I used to frequent dance clubs with Serena, but your handsome brother and his even more handsome friends always preferred her curvy figure to my great big, roly-poly shape, so I got envious. Still, unlike you and Serena, I knew how to keep my cool. So I manipulated the boys into thinking Serena wanted them to gang-bang her, and they raped her, thinking she wanted it, and never hearing her cries of ‘No!’ and ‘Stop it!’ Then I sold her the book of spells to kill them, and I goaded you into killing her by having her make you kill Eddie. I made you all feel the sinful emotions so I wouldn’t have to. And you have to take the bad karma for her death, so I won’t. You see, Nancy, I may have hated Serena, but she was also my sister.
By the time the firemen got to Nancy, she was already a screaming pillar of flames.