Lilith: Mother of Witches
With the room free of witnesses, Madelyn, the Great White Witch, confronted the comatose India with mirth at first. It was difficult for her to believe that this adolescent with an infantile face had been such a powerful witch. Walking over and dabbling with India’s life support system, Madelyn mumbled under her breath, “Let’s try this first! A dead witch is a dead spell. Everyone knows that!”
She remembered, at that point, a paragraph from her Witches’ Manual about witches spells being undone by their deaths, but then also filed in her vast knowledge of the occult was a warning in the Wicca Handbook about this procedure too.
“Aye, the problem is,” she stood there thoughtfully appraising the machinery, “her demon must be vanquished while she’s alive in order to send it back to hell. Otherwise, if she’s killed before it’s expelled, I’ll have unleashed a powerful demon upon the world.” “No,… it would be so simple,” she concluded, looking down at India Crowley, “but I can’t do that.”
“Oh, Christian God—Jehovah, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost,” she mumbled, looking up at the vacant ceiling, “why do you have such abominable rules?”
Dropping down upon her arthritic knees, Madelyn prayed feverishly, trying to recall the words from an exorcism she had seen in a movie. Rising up finally with inspiration, she called out in a rasping, crone-like voice: “Infernal spirit depart! In the name of the Savior, Jesus Christ, who is God, leave this woman at once!”
Just then, as if on cue, India woke suddenly, her eyes popping wide, as if she had just awakened from sleep, which, in fact, was true.
“Oh my God, that was quick!” cried Madelyn, making the sign against the evil eye and backing away from the bed.
A death rattle emanated from the tracheotomy in India’s throat. Her death-glazed eyes widened in terror, as if she had at last seen her mortality, which was also true. Madelyn watched in fascinated horror as her demon departed his dying host and rose phantom-like from her body toward the offending witch. Clearly, the ghostly specter knew what Madelyn was. Immediately abandoning everything she had in her bag of tricks, she confronted the demon with a plain, unshaven wooden cross. She looked down to India and boasted to the dying woman: “This was blessed by the Pope when I was a nun!”
Waving the cross at the specter, she ordered him to depart from the room, since he had no more need of India Crowley now. But Madelyn knew she would need help this time.
“Oh Lord,” she cried out pitifully, “remove your warning to me about calling Lilith forth. I need her now. Do you want India’s demon to inhabit me to do the devil’s will.” “You don’t want me working on Satan’s side,” she said threateningly. “I’ll make this adolescent look like Mary Poppins!”
With that dreadful threat to the Almighty, Madelyn waited breathlessly as the demon emerged fully from the woman and circled the room: a willow-o’-the-wisp filament of orange light, shaped like a biped but without eyes, nose or mouth—the most dreadful specter Madelyn had seen in her long, controversial career.
“You, daughter of darkness, dare to use a priest’s exhortation on me?” he whispered icily. “I’m Nebo, chief servant of Abaddon, no garden variety demon. This mortal witch did something you would never dare do: she called upon me in the Circle of Lights. She has greater power than you!”
“I don’t serve Satan. I serve the Most High,” Madelyn replied, hoping and praying that the Lord might change His mind. “India Crowley traded her soul for her power. Without you, she would be no match for me. My spirit, who is Lilith, the mother of all witches, is greater than you!”
“What kind of witch are you who calls upon God, not Lucifer, for her magic, then mentions Lilith in the same breath? I don’t believe God will send Lilith to you. Lilith is one of us. You think you’re a powerful witch Madelyn, but with me you’ll be the queen of witches. Think of it Madelyn, unlimited magical power and riches beyond your fondest dreams!”
Madelyn was genuinely tempted, but she held up her wooden cross as would a soldier holding up his sword, knowing that another soldier with a battle axe was going to chop her in two: “Stand back Nebo,” she cried out. “You have no power over me!”
“He-he-he,” Nebo’s laughter filled the room.
“Lord Jehovah hear my supplication again,” she cried out desperately as the great demon hovered over her head and began blowing his foul breath into her face.
As Madelyn held her ground, Nebo began circling the room, as would an eddy in a stream, with Madelyn, herself, as the vortex. A mouth formed in Nebo’s formless face. The arch demon blew out a foul gust of gas that clung to her momentarily as green haze and made her gag, but it was not strong enough to blow her across the room.
Madelyn waved her cross and threw a warning at the specter: “Spirit of darkness, spirit from hell, you are now free-floating without a host. Depart these environs before the Lord, Most High, sends his minions to vanquish you!”
But Madelyn’s words were designed for ordinary evil practitioners, not for someone with Nebo’s powers. As he swirled around her, Nebo now blew a great stream of yellow gas across the room at her wincing face. Madelyn was able to dodge the slowly moving gas. When this failed to daunt her, Nebo, now a streaming vortex, himself, of sickly green smoke, took on momentum, his outer walls buffeting Madelyn then closing in gradually, causing the witch to stagger this way and that as she tried keeping her balance. When the vortex rose up suddenly as tornadoes do, Nebo blew directly from its formless mouth. Madelyn tumbled back and landed heavily against a wall. Badly shaken, with the wind knocked out of her lungs, she scrambled across the floor on all fours. Reaching into her bag successfully this time, she withdrew another bizarre object (an Egyptian ankh symbol with an eye inset below the loop) and called upon the she-demon witch Lilith to fight Nebo, India’s personal demon, now freed by her immanent death. It was a desperate move since she knew very well that it was against God’s will.
“Lilith, dark angel, consigned to walk the earth to undo your mischief against the first man, come forth to do battle with your old enemy and one time colleague Nebo, arch demon of Abaddon, servant of Lucifer, Prince of Hell.”
After this blasphemous appeal, as she waited for Lilith to respond, she broke into prayer.
“Lord,” she cried, looking at the ceiling, “I would rather it was you canceling this mischief. Added to my spell-reversal, your power will make it work. Grant me clemency if I perform this rite. Please forgive me for what I must do.” As she waited for acknowledgement of some kind, the Lord remained silent, the silence signaling disapproval in Madelyn’s crowded head. After the way she had flaunted God’s will, she wasn’t surprised. She had spent a lifetime disappointing God; this moment should be no different. Yet all her spells and incantations couldn’t possibly work in this situation without Lilith’s help.
Once again, using the same invocation, she called upon the mother of witches; and once again, she felt great misgivings, this time reciting prayers of the Rosary: the Apostles Creed, Lords Prayer, and just for good measure, she began mumbling feverishly, “Hail Mary full of grace. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb…” Suddenly, to make sport of Madelyn during this crisis, Nebo transformed into a winged gargoyle who immediately grabbed her wooden cross and, in the palm of his clawed hand, set it aflame.
“That is an unhallowed cross, witch!” he said, lifting her up by her armpits and throwing her across the room. “Let’s see how powerful you are now!”
Sensing that her end was near, Madelyn made the sign of the cross and uttered a feeble prayer as she began flying across the room. The interval between Nebo’s attack and this moment in time had been infinitesimal, and yet she felt as if she was flying in slow motion now. Just when she thought she would smash against the wall, something inexplicable caught her in mid-flight. She could see nothing but the swirling images of walls, ceiling, and floor, and yet a warm, invisible presence grabbed her gnarled body and held her firm.
“It is I, Lilith, Mother of Witches,” a whispery voice informed her, as she was set trembling upon the floor.
Nebo again hovered as a disembodied spirit over India’s body, his orange translucent body moving out amoebically in all directions, as a great infection around and beyond India’s hospital bed.
“Back away daughter,” Lilith ordered Madelyn, her ghostly imprint on the shadowy room contrasting the sickly miasma reaching out to her now.
Obediently and fearfully, Madelyn scrambled to the farthest corner of the room. Already, the old woman felt as if something had been broken inside her. Now that her life and very mortal soul were in danger, she discarded completely her witch’s pharmacopoeia and mental inventory of spells, dropping to her knees in simple prayer. For the first time in her long and controversial mission on earth, Madelyn Fontaine had reached two milestones in her career: she had confronted a chief demon, who called himself Nebo, and she had summoned Lilith, the mother of witches. And she was still alive!
It would be, she observed fearfully, a battle between incorporeal energies. Nebo settled over Lilith as would an amoeba around a morsel of food, until she was encased in the miasma and it looked as if, in Madelyn’s hysterical state of mind, she would be digested into Nebo’s infernal guts. She realized now, after hearing the pounding on India room door, that the door was securely locked against the outside world and no mortal would ever see it or intervene in this incredible war. It was the apex of her career and her one chance to meet the great Lilith, but she would trade it all now for the chance to be a simple nun again and on good terms with God.
“I-I have damned myself!” she wailed.
Though she offered up several excuses for turning to Lilith and the natural world, she felt condemned now and therefore doubly imperiled. Not only her physical body but also her mortal soul was at jeopardy at this point. To add to Madelyn’s torment, Nebo seemed to be digesting her mentor and life-long icon before her very eyes. Undoubtedly she would be next. When it appeared as if Lilith would disappear forever into her archenemy’s insides, Madelyn had seen enough. Forgetting her own physical and spiritual destruction completely, she vaulted forward, calling out every prayer stored up from her days as a nun and as a Christian but also relying on her gnarled little fists and pointed shoes to beat and kick the offending spirit’s shell. Then, however, as her fingers brushed the incorporeal substance and her shoe was poised to kick at the slime, Madelyn again froze in terror and shrank back into the room.
“I can’t do it!” she wept, wringing her gnarled hands. Both her spiritual resolve and physical strength were again slipping away.
Suddenly, breaking through the massive green cyst, Lilith’s pale hand appeared. Madelyn reached out shakily, her lips trembling mutely now.
“Yes, that’s it daughter, take my hand,” Lilith’s silken whisper broke into her hysteria, “let us unite our powers to demolish this evil foe.”
“No, I can’t go in there!” Madelyn cried. “It’s my soul I fear for, not my life. I know Lilith that I will be damned!”
“Don’t be afraid, child,” Lilith insisted, as the witch shrank away, “take my hand.”
“I can’t consort with ungodly spirits,” Madelyn managed to utter clearly as Lilith’s arms now reached out for help. “I was told by God in a dream not to call upon you. Now, if I work with you inside an infernal spirit, I’ll surely be lost!”
“Then we’re all lost!” shrieked Lilith. “This demon will be let loose upon the earth!”
Lilith’s voice immediately steadied as her form pressed against Nebo’s inner wall. He was totally amorphous at this point. It reminded Madelyn of someone pressing their face and torso against a shower door.
“Satan, himself, is controlling this demon,” Lilith reassured her in a surprisingly calm voice. “I need your energy Madelyn. You’ve lived your life and so have I. What about those bewitched souls who will remain forever cats? Do they not deserve to live? What about the unfortunate mortal who will become his next abode? If you are still alive when Nebo has destroyed me, it could be you!”
“You would ask me to give up my soul?” Madelyn stared at her in horror now.
“I’m not damned Madelyn,” Lilith explained, her cold fingertips touching Madelyn’s palms, “I’ve been called a she-demon and the first witch, but I’m being punished as are all earthly spirits not consigned to heaven or hell. I can only do good, not evil, on earth. If I’m not damned Madelyn, how can you, who have never died, be so?”
“No,… I’ll die…. I’ll be damned,” Madelyn mumbled, shuddering at the thought.
Nevertheless, in incremental steps at first, she came forward that instance, her footsteps halting when she realized that Nebo was inviting her in too. He wanted to bag them both. The very idea made her light-headed and physically ill. But then, when she remembered her terrible burden and how many souls depended upon her now, she found her feet moving faster and faster until she was again at the threshold of the cyst.
“All right, Madelyn,” groaned Lilith, “time’s running out. Don’t hesitate—now!”
What came about from her efforts to physically reach out and grab Lilith’s hands, was that her hands and then her entire body were immediately covered with Nebo’s inexplicable slime as the demon encircled her too. Inside a vortex of swirling glints of light and green goop she began to reel with Lilith, herself, whose presence she could only feel now that she spun and swirled in all directions inside the cyst. For the moment, the only sound in her ears was her own screaming voice.
“Now daughter,” Lilith shouted finally, “muster all your spiritual energy as would a swimmer’s last gasp before she goes under the waves, and then share my ride!”
Forces of nature,
we witches applaud,
we now combine our forces with God.
As supplicants bow
to the Ultimate Magician,
when confronting evil,
the Son of Perdition.
Great Wizard, Almighty
divine our path;
humbly we seek your heavenly wrath.
Humbly we ask you
to destroy this demon.
We pledge in return
our souls to your kingdom.
After this introduction, which Madelyn thought was absurd, Lilith, who had just confessed the primacy of God, launched into a whole battery of ungodly imprecations and invocations while pounding Nebo’s innards with her fists. Madelyn simply pounded her little gnarled fists on the wall and uttered, “Save me!” and “Get me out!” prayers, having no lofty meaning except to herself. In the end she found herself in a state of full-blown rage against Nebo, her own mental inventory of spells and imprecations spilling out blasphemously inside the cyst.
To a science fiction or horror movie buff it might have appeared as if two bipeds, trapped inside a transparent green cyst, were being slowly digested as they tried to escape. Indeed, Madelyn was certain she had made the greatest mistake of her life. Fearing that the end was indeed near, she returned to prayer as a means to save them now. But Lilith, who was also praying furiously, began making headway with Madelyn’s help. Together, by joining their spiritual and physical energies and by beating on one specific area with maniacal fury, the pair broke finally through the cyst.
A hemorrhage appeared in the wall, followed by a tear and then, with a startling suddenness, the substance gave way. Upon arriving outside the cyst, exhausted and covered with slime, Madelyn looked askance at Lilith, who quickly shed the slime from her glowing self. The mother of witches never looked more beautiful then. Her long, ghostly white hair was arrayed around her radiant white face like a lion’s mane. Not a trace of slime sat on her flowing white robe. The demon, whose amorphous body changed back into its original translucent form now confronted her less confidently now.
“The Christian God has given me power over you!” she announced in a shrill voice. “You can’t inhabit Madelyn Fontaine nor, when India dies, inhabit this mortal witch. You are a free-floater, like myself, but I believe that I can destroy your incorporeal body and send you back to hell.” “In His infinite wisdom,” she pointed to Madelyn, “the Christian God has found favor in this witch. Beware demon least you bring down His wrath.”
Nebo attacked her immediately, without words this time. The yellow miasma, contrasting greatly with her silken form, attempted to tear at her face and hair but Lilith’s long white arms, acting as both shield and weapon, whipped around and hammered Nebo in such rapid movements that Nebo was gradually but perceptibly molded by the action into a flat yellow form resembling a pizza. Madelyn now laughed hysterically yet heartily as Lilith tossed Nebo up in the air several times, as would a pizza tosser, until finally, after shaping him into a small, compact ball, threw him at the window. The sound of glass shattering was accompanied by a low howling wind-like noise as Nebo was evidently sent back to hell. The gaping hole in the window, allowed the natural breeze to blow upon the countenance of Lilith, whose ghostly shape began to disappear before Madelyn’s eyes.
“This battle has drained my energies,” she confessed to Madelyn now, “but I’ve come closer to earning my place in heaven. You have that chance too, Madelyn, sooner than I. You must get this woman to awaken before she dies and perform the Christian Mass.”
“I’m not a priest!” Madelyn shook her head weakly. “Would God listen to me?”
“You don’t need be a priest, Madelyn,” Lilith replied, as her presence began fading in the light, “you were once a nun. You must use the power of mortal prayer to summon India back. She must not die a witch; she must embrace the Christian God. In that fact lies your salvation.”
Madelyn, whose bodily energies were almost gone, had to sit momentarily now in a nearby chair, her shrunken frame looking even smaller than before. Her one good eye looked up in disbelief at the vanishing countenance of Lilith.
“How can I, a witch, perform the Last Rites?” she asked in a constricted voice.
But Lilith had, within this last question, vanished completely, leaving Madelyn alone with India in the room. The departure of the mother of witches also appeared to unlock the door, for suddenly, though hesitantly, Doctor Wiggins and then several nurses entered the room. In the foreground members of the Spell-Reversal Team entered afterwards too. It was as if another spell had been thrown over the group, for no one spoke yet as the small, misshapen witch rose up on crotchety legs, walked over with great effort and looked down at the stricken woman.
It was a worn and shaken Madelyn that her teammates saw. The eerie light streaming through the shattered glass and the inexplicable ambience of the room gave even the hospital staff pause. Madelyn again prayed, but this time standing on her wobbly legs, her knotty arms raised in supplication as she prayed to the Christian God. Nothing could be done with India unless she awakened once more from her coma. For this miracle, Madelyn needed to return totally to her past life. The transformation wore on her almost as much as she and Lilith’s battle with Nebo. She asked the Lord God of Hosts to awaken the woman one more time so that she had a last chance at salvation. This prayer reworded and asked again over and over became a chant and almost a mantra. Sweat poured profusely from Madelyn’s brow, though the room remained frigid in spite of the whole in the glass. All her joints ached for rest, her breath grew labored and her heart beat violently as she poured out her spirit to God.
And then suddenly, to only Madelyn’s good eye, there was a tremor in India’s thin hand. Her eyelids fluttered and her lips moved faintly around the tube in her mouth.
“What is going on here?” the doctor finally found his voice. “The window’s broken…. What is that smell in the room?”
“Madelyn has battled with a demon,” Blaze said in awe.
“It looks as if she has won,” Mortimer concluded moving across the room and positioning himself next to Madelyn’s side.
“Leave me, priest,” she motioned irritably to him. “I must do this myself.”
“But I can give her the Last Rites,” Mortimer offered lamely, as he caught her cold stare.
“You, a defrocked priest, give her Last Rites?” Madelyn spat with a snarl. “I think not, father. Lilith has assigned me this chore. This is my last chance for salvation.”
“Lilith the Mother of Witches?” Blaze almost laughed.
“I want you all to leave this room at once!” the doctor stomped his foot.
One of the nurses mumbled to herself that she was going to call the police, but Elijah and Blaze stood in front of her, their arms folded, with resolution on their haggard faces.
“Why don’t you stick around and finish watching the show?” Blaze asked the frightened nurse.
“Do you repent your alliance with the devil?” Madelyn now asked India in a gravelly, witchy voice. “If you repent your sins and wish to be received in the Lord’s graces, give me a sign and then go to sleep my daughter so we can reverse the terrible thing you’ve done!”
It was not the Last Rites, but the most simple of ceremonies. Miraculously it seemed, however, India was able, through the momentary opening of her eyes and trail of tears down her cheeks to ask for forgiveness and receive Madelyn’s simple blessing.
India lie peacefully now, a faint smile on her ashen face as her last breath left her lips. India Crowley, the Shadowbrook Witch, was dead. The spell was broken. Madelyn Fontaine had given more of herself in the last hour than she had in her entire life. Though battered and internally shaken, she was still alive as she crumpled in her black dress onto the floor. As the doctor and nurses hovered over India Crowley, a third and fourth nurse arrived on the scene and turned their attention to the stricken witch.
“She can’t die too!” Blaze cried out in disbelief.
“Her pulse is low and her pupils appear cyanotic,” a male nurse announced, shaking his blond head.
“This is 1B,” the attractive black female nurse called on her cell phone, “we need a gurney here and trauma team lined up—stat!”
In spite of the obvious damage done to her frail body, Madelyn was smiling faintly and there was, the sorcerer also noted, a look of peace on her misshapen face.
“I will give her the Last Rites,” Mortimer said, reaching into his coat and pulling out a small black book.
“I will say a prayer,” Elijah announced, holding Alice’s trembling hand.
“I will pray too,” Blaze looked back at the others, a look of great reverence in his dark eyes “but for my own soul, not Madelyn Fontaine’s. Madelyn has made her peace with God!”