PROLOGUE: COUNT DOWN
Most of the population across the globe held their breath, counting away the seconds at the turn of the millennium. Some were afraid for their very lives after rumours surfaced of a millennium-bug capable of destroying the world’s highest technological advances. This computer glitch was expected to reverse all the good that computers had done in the world; shutting them down so that any facility, company or individual that relied on computers would falter.
Internet and email that connected people internationally with growing popularity could potentially become inaccessible. Banks could lose all soft copy records of exactly how much dough was stored in each account: the rich could become poor and the debtors cleared. Traffic and street lights could become nothing but stakes in the ground waiting for unsuspecting drivers, plunged into darkness, to wrap their cars around. Television, radio, mobile phones and other communication devises could be nothing but useless shells ready for the scrap heap.
Preparing for the worst case scenario meant preparing for worldwide anarchy. Many families had bought years of tinned food supplies and other resources in case this superbug brought the world to its knees. Others withdrew large sums of cash, hiding it in an underwear drawer for the impending disaster.
But this five did not care. This five had never used a computer or mobile phone in their lives. Not that they refused to, it was simply unnecessary for them at this point in time. And any sort of anarchy that might result from the millennium-bug, would only work in their favour. While others were vulnerable, they would take a stand. If the world was turned upside down, they would gladly add to the destruction. While the world looked left, they would ambush from the right!
Not that they needed this millennium-bug to help them. The people of this world were blind enough without having to turn the physical lights out. But the time for war was fast approaching. And when that day came, the millennium-bug would pale in comparison to the upheaval that awaited the unsuspecting billions.
The five witches stood like the points of a pentagram; hands clasped in such a way as to form the shape of their prized astrological symbol. They chanted around a fire in the South Australian bushland, where there were no fireworks to celebrate the New Year; only dark skies with diamond stars shining down on them.
In the flickering firelight, their faces looked quite normal. Female only. Undeniably gaunt; but not unattractive. In fact, some were more attractive than others. One with eyes the colour of a blue lagoon; another with eyes that mysteriously changed shades from dark to light: browns, blues and greens. Their heights varied and they were all exceptionally thin. They did not have unusually long, pointy noses, warts, or unwanted hair follicles. They were just women. But they were not just any women.
They wore black from head to toe. Black dresses with skirts that touched the ground and sleeves that extended with jagged ends to the fingers. Black shoes and stockings tucked beneath. Long, black hair – whether dyed or naturally dark – extending past their shoulders. Black eye liner and mascara with dark burgundy shades of eye shadow and lipstick – the colour of dried blood – for those who chose to wear it. Black fingernail polish.
They were chanting to Beelzebub, prophesying a future that had not yet come to pass. A new day was dawning! Not just a new year or a new century or a new millennium; but a new period in history when the world would come to see the powers that surrounded them!
It was now time for them to emerge from the distant suburbs of South Australia and rejoin the society of Adelaide City. The city where Kelta still lived: the young woman who was going to lead them into power!
Kelta would be eighteen in a few more years. By that time she would be ready and so would they. But for now, sacrifices needed to be made. Blood needed to be shed. Identities needed to be redefined and personalities remoulded.
Two of the witches hadn’t killed in almost nine years. Nicia’s last assignment was to murder a little girl by the name of Bronwyn Leach in 1991; Dido’s was to kill Jennifer Patterson that same year. Calypso had killed more recently; her own mother in fact, in 1994.
But this would be Pleuro and Venus’s first time: the final step toward their initiation into the Undercover Satanic Witches’ Coven.
Pleuro was technically Calypso’s adopted sister. Nimbus had taken her in, nine years ago. She’d referred to the girl as ‘Princess Pleuro.’ Princess because there was something special about her, and Pleuro because she was the plural. Like the ‘s’ on the end of a word, she was the add-on; extra: Nimbus’s back-up plan.
However, when Calypso relieved her mother from her duties to the coven, sentencing her to whatever eternal plan Beelzebub had devised, she scrapped the ‘Princess’ reference. It was tacky. The girl was no more a Princess than she was. Pleuro may be important, but, not at this stage, irreplaceable.
Pleuro, who had just turned thirteen, showed enormous potential. She had passed several tests: ingesting the blood of a human being; skinning a rabbit and eating it raw; and stabbing herself through the wrists and ankles, to create false stigmata wounds as her act of self-mutilation.
Venus, on the other hand was not Calypso’s adopted sister, but her adopted daughter. A year ago Calypso had followed in the footsteps of her mother and taken in the orphan who was at that time, eight and a half years old. She too, now appeared to be ready. Venus’s early days of bed wetting and hysterical crying had ended eight months ago on the day that she’d first slaughtered a sheep, after her life had been threatened by starvation. Now Venus had come to accept her purpose in life as a Satanic witch.
Another orphan Calypso had adopted the year before, had actually starved, although the autopsy report cited a cerebral haemorrhage resulting from a car accident as the cause of death. ‘What a shame.’
As the witches chanted, Calypso could hear the whispers of the demonic forces around her. She was given four names. In a matter of time the people who went by those names would be dead. They would have a new residence for their coven. Three of the witches would have new names and new roles under these identities so they could blend into the world around them for a few years.
The sigh of relief over the superbug false alarm, would soon be drowned out by the mass hysteria of a world at war. And nobody would suspect a thing until it was too late.