Lisal must have gone home the regular route. However, when Nick returned home, she wasn’t there. He was getting frustrated and nervous. He could feel the adrenaline pump in his stomach. Something definitely didn’t feel right. He knew he would have heard from her by now. He saw her cell phone on the counter, so he knew he couldn’t reach her with that. He could hear the broken door on the back of his house bang loudly from the wind.
He walked over to the refrigerator and grabbed some wine. Next he sat down at the table he was at earlier when watching Lisal prepare for the guests and sipped away at the wine, which began to ease his stomach. Lisal had prepared some crackers and cheese from earlier, so Nick decided to snack on those while sipping wine. Only fifteen minutes went by, and he had already drunk one large glass. After two glasses the room began to spin, but he continued to drink. He had an unfortunate habit of drinking too much when overwhelmed with stress, especially at night time. He picked up this habit during his college years, because he was often overwhelmed the night before an exam, and needed a way to get to sleep. It was not a habit Lisal particularly cared for, and she often expressed her concern to him, but it was a very difficult habit to break.
Just before 1 a.m., he hobbled into their bed and passed out. He figured he would see Lisal beside him in the morning…or at least that is what he had hoped.
* * *
He woke out of his sleep at 5:30 a.m. to find half the bed still empty. He was not going to attempt to get more sleep. Something was wrong. He did not need to shake the sleepiness from his head since his adrenaline took care of that. Thirst overtook him, as he could feel the dryness in his mouth from the alcohol dehydrating him. The wind outside seemed to have slowed down.
He called his mother-in-law, Jane, hoping against hope that Lisal had stopped by and decided to spend the night. He felt like he was definitely grasping, but he was desperate. Jane was not his favorite person in the world, so he wasn’t looking forward to talking with her.
The phone rang for what seemed like forever. Finally, Jane picked up. “Hello,” she said in a muffled but irritated tone from just being woken up.
“Hi Jane? Sorry to wake you, but Lisal never came home from church last night.”
“Now what have you done to her?” Jane questioned accusingly.
Nick should have known. Jane and him didn’t get along and every little thing he did wrong, Jane would jump down his throat. Many time, Lisal had to reassure Nick that her mother would go off the deep end sometimes and to just ignore her. Nick was not in the mood for an argument, especially now. He already sensed that Lisal wasn’t there. “Nothing, I just wanted to see if Lisal was there. I guess not. How are the kids?”
“They are sleeping,” she snapped.
“OK, I’m going to go look for Lisal, and hopefully we’ll be over this morning to pick up the kids.”
“OK, bye,” she said, and hung up before he could take another breath.
Man, what a rude woman. I sometimes wish we could find a better babysitter, Nick thought.
Before he was done talking, he saw that there was a message on the answering machine. Excited, he pressed the “play” button only to hear his own voice from the message he had left the night before. He was surprised he had not noticed there was a message the night before. Passing it off as stress, he got ready to search for Lisal.
He put on his hooded jacket and went to his car. It was a warm May morning, and the smell of freshly cut grass filled the air. It was impossible for Nick to sense the serenity he usually felt when hearing the birds chirp. He drove past the church, the houses of some friends, and anywhere else he could think of…nothing. He had never been this worried about his wife. He did not understand how her car could be at the church, and then suddenly vanish completely. It was as though she left town.
Nick recalled the time Lisal had an affair on him. It was a one-time event, which happened four years prior. They were going through a down time in their marriage. The assistant pastor at Lisal’s church had been counseling her to get through this period of time.
Nick thought nothing of it, until one day when he got into an intense argument with Lisal. She ended up breaking down in tears, and confessed how one of the meetings with the assistant pastor was actually held at his house. Halfway through the session, they began kissing, which led from one thing to another.
At first, Nick was devastated, but he found a stronger attraction to her. Maybe it was his jealousy or just seeing that she had a wild side, but his longing for her grew. She stopped her meetings, and not too long after that, the assistant pastor left the area.
Nick remembered the man because after the one-time incident, the assistant pastor became obsessed with Lisal. He sent her E-mails saying that she needed a solid Christian man in her life. Lisal wrote back once saying, “Leave me alone! I’m happy with the one I’m with.” She ended up getting fed up and showed Pastor James the messages.
Immediately Pastor James took the assistant pastor’s position away. He even came over to visit Nick in order to apologize, and counseled Lisal some on the whole event trying to help ease her guilt. He offered consultation to Nick, but Nick turned down the offer. Pastor James, despite his quirks, was one of the few church leaders he could trust.
He had heard several stories of how church leaders would preach one thing, then turn around and do another. One of the reasons Nick avoided church was because it was not all that different from the bar scene, only there was no alcohol. His fear rose at the thought of Lisal having another affair on him. He tried to convince himself that Lisal had changed, but the thought stuck in the back of his mind. He figured she wouldn’t pull something this extreme in order to have an affair. Nick would prefer her to have an affair on him than have harm come to her.
Fortunately, it was Saturday, and he didn’t have to work. It would give him more time to search for Lisal. He called up everyone he knew to no avail. His mother-in-law was not happy when he asked if she could watch the kids for the day, but it would have to do.
There was one time he stopped in at the police station, thinking that maybe they heard something. However, nothing was reported. Officer Staggart, an overly short guy who talked very rapidly with his nasal voice, took down a report. However, no search could be started until she was missing for at least twenty-four hours. Frustrated, Nick went home. His worry was eating at him to the point that he couldn’t drive.
As he arrived home, he decided he was going to put his Pagan beliefs to use and cast a spell of protection for his wife. He went to his altar out in the garage. It was a black round table no more than two feet in diameter. On it was a silver pentacle, several candles, a censor, a black handled blade also called an ‘athame,’ a bowl of water, a bowl of salt, a few crystal stones, a wand, and a feather among other items.
First, he cast a circle to create a sacred space, so he could work the spell. He took incense which represented fire and air, and salt water which represented water and earth, and went around the circle with the athame while visualizing a whitish blue light coming out of it and creating a circle around him. He thought how ridiculous people were to think that he was somehow worshiping the devil by doing spells. He would never use a spell to bring harm to another person. Unfortunately, words such as “witchcraft” and “Paganism” had gained negative connotations among many people.
He remembered being taught that when the King James Version of the Bible was translated, Exodus 22:18 which stated, “Thou shall not suffer a poisoner to live,” was changed to, “Thou shall not suffer a witch to live.” Apparently, King James ran into a storm on a voyage back to Scotland from Denmark, and believed witchcraft was used against him to raise up the storm. Several people were accused of this, including a healer and midwife by the name of Agnes Sampson. Torture was used to bring about confessions from these people. Not long after this incident King James wrote the book “Daemonologie,” which supported witch hunting. Most of the accused during the witch-hunts were likely not witches. Those that were witches, probably were not using their practice as a means to harm others. Nick thought it was sad that witches have been misunderstood for so long.
Next Nick summoned the elementals; spirits from the four cardinal directions. He began facing East and called in Air; then turned South and call in Fire; third was West for Water; and last he called in Earth while facing North. He invited the Lady and the Lord or as some referred to them, the Goddess and God. Nick was drawn to the Egyptian pantheon, so he called in Isis and Osiris. Many who practiced Neo-Paganism would call upon different pantheons while practicing their rites. Some believed that these were all different faces of the same Supreme Being who was known as “The All.” According to this belief, the Supreme Being was found in everything including people, animals, plants, rocks and so on. This was one reason why those practicing Paganism viewed the Earth as being sacred along with all life forms.
He decided he was going to use the element of water in his spell to receive psychic energy and intuition. He recited his prewritten spell and meditated on it for a while. As he relaxed, he could feel himself drift into the world that lies between consciousness and sleep. He found himself visualizing a door. Something was behind the door, and Nick felt like whoever or whatever it was, was in danger. Nick said a quick spell over the door for protection and visualized a pentacle on the door. The pentacle, also known as an encircled five-pointed star, is a symbol sacred to many Pagans and is often used for protection.
He came back to consciousness and took his circle down. He knew that his vision was something important, but he did not understand it. He put away his ritual tools and went back into the house. He felt in tune with the spirit, and hoped he would be able to figure things out a little easier. He was naturally a skeptical person so he had his doubts, but he tried to put them aside and give himself some hope.
He realized that he hadn’t eaten all day, so he ordered pizza by delivery and pulled out some wine. While drinking, he put in the stereo a band called Lunatica.* It was another one of his and his wife’s favorite bands and caused him to think of her. They would attempt to do the duet on the ballad “Fable of Dreams.” He was glad that his wife had a similar taste in music.
Suddenly the CD player began to act funny. It went right from the talking introduction to track two without finishing the introduction. Nick thought maybe it was a glitch on the CD, so he didn’t go over to fix it. Then the tracks started to skip from song to song. He pulled out the CD to rub off any dust, and as he looked up in a mirror placed above the stereo he jumped and the CD flew out of his hands. In the mirror, Lisal stood behind him, looking like she was about two feet away. Excitement shot through him. He was relieved to finally see his wife. Spending the entire day worrying over her had worn on his nerves, and here she was at last. As soon as he turned around, she was gone.