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Acceptance is Everything.

The day I killed my best friend, I was pretty nervous, but as I plunged the knife through her throat, I decided killing someone was a lot easier than I’d thought. As terrible as it sounds, I never really set out to be a murderer. It was just necessary.

Becca and I had been best friends for about a couple of years, and by all outward appearances, we were like oil and water. She was a bookish person with frizzy brown hair and thick glasses who loved to read, while I preferred to wear my hair short and dyed jet black, which complemented the many piercings in my ears, eyebrow, and nostril; very well. Rather than being a bookworm, I was good with computers. In fact, I considered myself to be a sort of amateur Lisbeth Salander.

As different as we were, Becca and I only had a couple of things in common. First, we were school outcasts, and this bound us together most of all. She was a constant target for bullying, and when I moved to town, I kinda took pity on her. But because of my appearance and attitude, I was soon declared just as unwanted. Eventually, our tentative acquaintance turned into a genuine friendship. We saw in one another what everyone else at school refused to.

The other thing we held in common was that no matter how much we denied it, we both desired to be accepted by our peers. Unfortunately, we were who we were, and because of how small and tight-knit our school was, nothing would ever change our standing in it. Or so we thought. One evening, as Becca and I were hanging out at my house, we discovered something that would eventually change everything.

Becca had come over so that we could study for a test, instead, she had her nose in a book, and I was on the internet. The deep web had recently become a fascination for me, and I spent most of my free time searching it to see just how twisted it could get. While we each pursued our respective endeavors, an old movie called The Craft played on the TV. Because I was so far down the rabbit hole, I wasn’t aware that Becca had closed her book and had become completely invested in the movie.

“Zoe, do you think someone could actually do something like that?” I heard my friend ask.

I’d been watching a video of a girl cutting herself, and initially thought Becca was referring to that.

“It’s right here on the screen,” I told her. “Look for yourself.” She shook her head.

“I’m talking about the movie,” she said, pointing at the TV. “Do you think someone can really use witchcraft to change things for themselves?”

Because I considered myself an atheist, the belief in God or the supernatural was not something I put much faith in, but Becca, who’d grown up in a devout Baptist family, was one hundred percent a believer. This difference in religious ideologies was a constant point of contention in our friendship, and after countless arguments about the subject, we now avoided it altogether. This time though, I knew why she’d brought it up, but didn’t really want to get into it.

“I don’t know, Becca,” I told her as I turned back to the computer screen. “You know how I feel about that stuff.”

Becca shrugged. “I know,” she said, annoyed. “But Zoe, what if?”

Staring at the computer, I knew I shouldn’t even entertain the idea, but I knew why Becca was interested, and maybe deep down, a part of me wondered the same thing.

“Fine. I’ll see if I can find something, but don’t act all disappointed when it turns out to be a load of BS,” I told her firmly.

As I closed the video I’d been watching and did a search of the deep web, Becca grabbed a spare chair and settled in next to me. At first, the results I got were crap, but then I found the webpage that would change everything.

Across the top of the page was the title The Black Grimoire: Online Edition, with the word warning underneath in red letters. What followed was a long paragraph that told the history of the book on which the site was based, and how dangerous the information within could be if used unwisely. As I read the page, I couldn’t help but think about how the writer had a great flair for the dramatic. At the bottom of the paragraph was a single link labeled enter. With skepticism, I looked at Becca and then clicked it.

The next page was an index of spells and rituals. After looking at a few of them, it was obvious whoever ran this website either had a twisted sense of humor or needed immediate psychiatric help. Nearly every spell required blood of some sort, and a few even asked for a full-on sacrifice.

“I don’t like this, Zoe,” Becca said her face growing pale as I read aloud.

Annoyed, I stopped and looked at her. “This was your idea,” I told her sharply.

“I know,” she whined. “But this stuff is so dark.”

“It’s witchcraft, Becca,” I told her, rolling my eyes. “Did you think it was going to be like baking a cake?”

She shook her head. “No, but…”

Without giving her a chance to finish, I instead turned back to the screen and continued looking through the site.

After a time I came across a spell for luck. “This one doesn’t look so bad,” I told her. “Here, look.”

Becca gazed tentatively at the computer. The spell consisted of a short incantation in what looked like Latin, and the materials needed were mostly herbs. Only one drop of blood was needed from each participant.

“Well?” I asked her impatiently.

“I guess it’s not too terrible,” my friend said wearily. “But why does it need blood?”

My frustration was starting to grow. As much as I loved the girl, she had no backbone.

“Becca, I don’t even believe in this shit,” I told her while not even trying to hide my aggravation. “But it was your idea, and nothing will ever change if you’re not willing to step out of the box.”

She sat there and just stared at my computer for a while. “Okay, Zoe,” she said finally looking at me. “You’re right. I have to put myself out there. I’ll do it.”

I grinned at my friend, proud that she had asserted herself for once, and then went about the business of finding supplies for the spell. After a little bit, I found another website that sold everything we would need, and once everything was ordered, we were all set.

“If anything, we’ll be out of a little money,” I assured Becca. “But if it works, it’ll be worth it.”

She looked at me with unsure eyes. “Maybe,” she said quietly.

The supplies arrived a few days later, but because the spell required it to be a full moon, it would be another week before we could attempt it. In the meantime, Becca and I went about things as usual, and neither of us mentioned the spell or the website to one another. In the meantime, I continued looking at the Black Grimoire website on my own.

Even though I felt like it was all fake, it was still kinda interesting. There were spells for almost everything, but nothing for acceptance or popularity, specifically. Of all the stuff on the website, there was one ritual, in particular, that gave me chills. It was one of the ones that required a blood sacrifice, and it supposedly summoned a demon. After reading through the ritual once more, I decided I’d had enough for the time being. The stuff might have been bullshit, in my opinion, but the idea that anyone would even want to summon a demon, real or not, was insane. Even more so, the fact that something had to be killed to accomplish the ritual, really unsettled me. With a shudder, I pushed the thought out of my mind, and then closed the page.

The night of the full moon came, and Becca met me at my house. There was a fairly large wooded area on my parent’s property, and we’d decided that would be the best place to perform the spell. With the supplies in hand as well as a print-off of the spell, we found a good clear spot in the woods and began.

With something called mountain ash, we made a large circle on the ground, lit black candles, and placed them at five equal points on the perimeter of it. Becca had brought a stainless steel bowl, and inside it, we mixed the herbs—lighting them on fire afterward. Then, when the herbs were nothing but smoldering embers, we took the ritual knife, called an athame, and poked our fingers. We each added a drop of blood to the bowl while reciting the incantation; inhaling the wafting smoke in the process. Finally, we were to sit quietly in the circle as the five candles burned completely out, and it was during this part that we were to focus our energy on what we wanted to happen. This part ended up taking most of the night, and it was late when the two of us returned to my house.

Neither Becca nor myself talked about the ritual afterward, and even though I still didn’t want to believe any of it, a small part of me wondered what if. My desire had been to ace my upcoming tests, among other things, and if that could happen… Most likely it wouldn’t, and as I drifted off to sleep, I pushed the whole thing out of my mind.

Things were more or less normal for the next few days, and my interest in the whole thing quickly waned; until I took my tests. When I sat down that class period, I felt my normal aversion to tests surface, but as I wrote my answers, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelming confidence hit me. As usual, I was the first one finished, and when the teacher called me to her desk, I was sure I had failed miserably. Turns out I made a perfect score. The teacher couldn’t believe it, and neither could I. She was positive I’d cheated somehow, even though she didn’t come right out and say it. I thought it had to be a fluke. Maybe I’d made some amazing guesses. When the same thing happened on my other tests, I started to wonder if there might be something to the ritual after all.

When my luck continued in regards to other things, I finally began to admit the spell could be legit. I had to know if Becca was having the same outcome, and when I caught up with her that afternoon I told her about what had happened with my tests, but she just gave me a disgusted look.

“You were right, Zoe,” she said with contempt. “That spell was BS.”

I was taken aback. “But it worked, Becca,” I told her enthusiastically. “You know how much I suck at tests, but this time, I made perfect scores on all of them.”

She scoffed. “Well, nothing happened for me,” she shot back sharply.

I shrugged at her. “Maybe you just need to try again and focus harder next time,” I urged.

Becca looked at me angrily. “There won’t be next time,” she said flatly. “It was wrong and we shouldn’t have done it, to begin with.”

I stared at her incredulously. “It was your idea,” I told her as my own agitation grew. “You can’t be mad because it didn’t work for you. What did you expect to happen?”

Becca looked away. “It doesn’t matter,” she said quietly. “It’s not like it worked anyway.”

Why had the ritual gone wrong for Becca? It had worked for me, to the point that I now believed in it one hundred percent. If Becca was going to give up because it didn’t work, then so be it—I wasn’t going to force her. Instead, I left her there fuming and walked to my car.

As I drove home, I couldn’t help but think of the irony in the situation. Previously, I’d been the skeptic and Becca the believer, but now things had switched, or so it seemed. In actuality, I was fairly certain she still believed, but because it hadn’t worked for her, Becca was running away. Oh well. If she was going to give up, I’d let her. Besides, I was more than willing to accept the possibilities the grimoire offered, and over the next few months, I did just that.

Each full moon after that, I repeated the luck spell, and in between, I tried others. One such spell supposedly drew money to the caster, but it required a good bit more than a drop of blood. I’d had to come up with a damn good excuse to explain the large gash on my hand to my parents, but it was worth it. Subsequently, it seemed like everywhere I went, I found money, or was offered opportunities to make it. While I initially tried to keep the continued use of The Black Grimoire from Becca, my friend easily took notice of its effects on my life.

“You have to stop using it, Zoe,” she told me one day after school.

I looked at her coolly. “Becca, what are you talking about?”

She looked around, making sure no one was close enough to hear. “You know what I’m talking about,” she spat defiantly. “Those spells are dangerous and wrong.”

A wave of sudden anger hit me. “I didn’t think you believed in them,” I retorted with venom before continuing. “Oh, that’s right, it was just an act because it didn’t work for you. Becca, you’re just jealous because I am benefiting from it, and you’re not.”

She stared at me open-mouthed. She knew I was right, but she wouldn’t admit to it.

“I’m not jealous,” she said finally. “I just don’t want you to get hurt.”

I rolled my eyes at her. “I think you’re just trying to bring me down,” I told her flatly. “And you’re not going to do it.”

With that, I walked off, leaving our friendship strained to the point of breaking.

After the fight with Becca, I poured more of myself into the grimoire. There were so many spells for so many things, but eventually, I grew bored with the simple ones. As much as I had gained from them, there was still one thing they didn’t do, and I’d only come across one ritual so far that would give me what I most desired.

One afternoon, I sat down at my computer and opened the summoning spell. Looking at the materials needed, I quickly ordered what I didn’t already have. But the most important ingredient—I would have to find that myself. One evening when I knew my parents wouldn’t be home for a while, I began driving around town. Soon, I found exactly what I was looking for.

The dog was definitely a stray. Its coat was matted and uncared for, and the bones of its spine and hips poked up under the skin due to malnourishment. It gratefully got into my car when I offered it something to eat, and when I returned home, I led the animal into the woods and tied it to a tree. This spell was to be performed on the night of a new moon and it was still several days away. In the meantime, I waited for my supplies to arrive while I fed and watered the dog back to better health.

Finally, the night was here, and once my parents went to bed, I grabbed my stuff and left the house. I refreshed the circle of mountain ash, but this time I had to add to it, making it into a full pentagram. With that done, I lit the candles and placed them on the points of the star. Next, I took the new ingredients out of the box and began mixing them in the bowl. The spell had called for some pretty gnarly stuff, but thankfully I wouldn’t have to inhale the fumes this time. The ingredients now mixed and burning, I turned towards the dog who greeted my attention with a tentative tail wag.

“It’s ok,” I assured the dog as I walked over to where he was tied.

Loosening the leash, I led the animal into the circle. As soon as the dog crossed over the mountain ash, he went crazy, doing everything he could to run away. I strengthened my hold on his collar with one hand as I drove the athame into his throat with the other. Blood went everywhere as the dying animal thrashed about, and I had to scramble fast to catch enough of the warm liquid in a cup I had brought. With what I hoped was enough, I stood in front of the smoldering bowl, letting the smoke waft around me as I recited the incantation. Once finished, I poured the still-warm blood into the bowl. My expectation was that the liquid would put out the embers in the bowl, but instead, it was like pouring gasoline on a fire. Unearthly flames erupted from the bowl, and the candles flickered violently. Now I waited.

It was a long time before anything happened, and because I was getting sleepy, I started to think about giving up and going to the house, but then I felt a presence. Noticing movement off to the side, I turned to see the dog’s corpse get to its feet, and except for the gaping hole in its neck, the animal looked just like it had when it was still alive. Its shadow told a different story. It revealed the true shape of the body’s new inhabitant. I watched with horror as the thing padded casually over to where I was, and then sat down on its haunches.

“For what reason have you summoned me?” a dreadful voice asked from the dog’s dead mouth.

Frozen with fear, all I could manage was an incoherent mumble.

“SPEAK,” the demon bellowed. “Or else.”

I didn’t have to be told twice. “I w-want more,” I stuttered.

“Ah,” the voice said with satisfaction as a malicious grin settled across its dog face. “So you’ve grown bored with the wonders I’ve given so far, and now desire more,” it said chuckling. “Humans are so greedy.”

I sat in silence as the thing shook its head.

“Now,” it continued finally. “What do you want?”

“I want to be accepted and respected by everyone,” I answered, trying to compose myself.

One of the dog’s eyebrows rose. “You ask for much, but yet all you offer me is this paltry whelp?” it asked with genuine disbelief, to which I had no reply. “You have summoned me in vein, fool,” the demon said with annoyance. “For this, I shall drag you to hell.”

As the dog stood, the inhuman shadow attached to it stretched forebodingly towards me.

“Wait,” I choked out in fear-tinged panic. “What will it take? I’ll do anything.”

The shadow stopped. “Anything?” the demon asked inquiringly.

I nodded in assent.

“For what you ask,” it said smiling once again. “I require more than what this pitiful creature can provide. I need a soul.”

Staring fearfully at the thing, I had no doubt about what it was insinuating. In order to get what I wanted, I’d have to kill a person. But could I do it? An image of Becca’s face popped into my mind, and I instantly felt overwhelming disgust.

“I’ll do it,” I told it firmly.

The abomination considered my words for what seemed like forever.

“Yes, I think you will,” it said eventually. “But, if you fail, I will take your soul instead.”

An incredible feeling of dread settled over me, and I had no doubt about the demon’s warning.

“Now,” the thing said retuning to its haunches. “Since you summoned me, is there naught else you desire?”

“Why didn’t any of this work for Becca?” I asked the demon.

“She asked for too much, but offered little.” the thing scoffed. “But you asked wisely, and for that, you were favored. Anything else?”

I shook my head.

“Very well. I have answered your query,” it continued. “Our business is done for now, but I will not wait overlong to finish it completely. One way or another, I will come back to collect my price.”

With that, the fire and candles were extinguished, and the demon’s presence was gone, leaving only the dog’s dead body lying on the ground. With a combined feeling of terror and relief, I walked back to the house and thought about how I was going to save my soul.

As I drove to school the next morning, I thought about what the demon had said about Becca. It was so typical of her to squander such an opportunity, just because she didn’t have the sense to understand the rules. With finality, I decided I wanted nothing more than to be done with her, but the demon had its price, and I had a month to figure out how to pay it.

Over the next few weeks, I replenished my supplies and planned the ritual. It would have to be perfect, and I would most likely have just one chance to get it right. Becca would be the only challenge. If I didn’t get things right with her, not only would it ruin the ritual, but I could be screwed for good, so I couldn’t take any chances. On the night of the full moon, I performed the luck spell and begged for success with Becca, hoping it would act as an insurance policy. With that accomplished, I bided my time until the day of the new moon, and then I put everything into motion.

“Becca, I need to talk to you,” I insisted with feigned desperation as I approached her in the hall.

She looked at me with skeptical eyes. “Oh really?” she asked with contempt. “You haven’t talked to me in weeks, Zoe. Why now?”

“You were right,” I told her humbly while displaying my best look of shame. “Using the grimoire was a mistake. Something bad has happened and I need your help to fix it.”

Becca shook her head vehemently. “No way,” she said defiantly. “I don’t want any part of it.”

I reached out and took her hand. “Please. I need you, Becca,” I pleaded with her. “I don’t know what else to do.”

She stood in silence for a good moment, a look of indecision on her face. “What would I have to do?” she asked finally.

“You don’t have to do anything,” I told her. “I just need a witness who is pure of heart.”

Becca gave it some thought. “That’s it?” she asked with caution.

“Yes,” I said nodding my head. “That’s it.”

Her shoulders sagged as her resolve faded. “Okay,” she said with defeat. “I’ll help you, but this is the last time, Zoe. Promise me.”

I did so as I mentally crossed my fingers. “When it’s over, I’ll even burn everything,” I swore, before filling her in on the remaining details.

That evening, I went out to the woods to get set up. When I had everything ready, I called her.

“It’s time, Becca,” I told her.

“Okay Zoe,” she said wearily. “I’ll be there in a few minutes.”

Everything was going just as I’d planned, and as I awaited Becca’s arrival, I lit the bowl of ingredients. Shortly, I heard her walking through the woods.

“Zoe, I’m here,” Becca called. “Where are you?”

“Over here,” I replied from the shadow of a tree. “In the clearing.”

From my hiding place, I watched as my former friend entered the circle and looked down at the rotting corpse of the dog.

“What is all this?” she asked with shock. “Zoe, where are you at?”

Taking a firm hold of the athame with one hand, I silently stepped out from behind the tree and then walked up behind her.

“I’m right here Becca,” I said quietly as I plunged the blade into her throat without even giving her the chance to be surprised. Her knees went slack, and I pulled the cup out of my waistband and filled it with her warm blood. While she lay dying in the circle, I wasted no time in finishing the ritual.

Afterward, when the demon appeared wearing my dead friend’s corpse, it was more than pleased with my new offering. It gladly granted my request, and because of how pure Becca’s soul had been, it granted a second one as well. The demon would remove all traces and memories of my former friend from the world. The only catch was that since I’d killed her, I would be exempt from forgetting, as Becca’s death was of my doing. It was a fair enough trade, after all, there was no way I was going to haggle with a demon.

Like I said before, I didn’t necessarily want to murder my best friend, but I had to keep my own soul out of the fire; so to speak. If I hadn’t summoned the demon in the first place, probably none of this would have happened. But, it is what it is. Besides, Becca and I could have been in this together, and it wasn’t my fault that she lacked what it took to get things done. If anything I did her a favor. It takes a lot of work to be popular, and she’d have just given up when it proved too hard for her, so I feel like I saved her a lot of pain and misery.

Over the following days, as I relished my newfound acceptance, I decided it had all been worth it, and I had Becca to thank. She’d made the ultimate sacrifice for our friendship, or rather I made it for her if you wanna get technical. But what friendship isn’t give-or-take?

Recommend0 Simily SnapsPublished in Horror

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