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Instead of continuing, Auntie Ashleigh took her lapel between thumb and forefinger and fanned herself with it, remarking, “Fuck me, it’s hot.”
Lynette rose from her seat, walked across the room and opened the doors on no cue from Auntie that I could see. Stevie also noted this, as had Auntie Kathleen and Sheila.
“I wonder if we wouldn’t like to have some ice cream sent up?” she asked, unbuttoning her see through blazer.
“I’d love ice cream,” I voted.
Sheila and Auntie Kathleen agreed while the big goof in the corner waved off the opportunity in favour of visiting the wet bar. He had a very thoughtful look on his face as he dumped whiskey into his glass and I noted how good he looked in those dress pants, shirt and tie. I wondered when I started liking that look on a man, noting further that he could really use a haircut when I remembered he was a piss-head and that I hated him for ruining everything with Gina.
Lynette had moved back behind Auntie’s chair by then, drawing the long, red, heavy curtains to open the tall windows that looked out over the front courtyard. Once a slightly cool breeze started through the room, we all sighed relief and gave Lynette our orders while jerk-face looked on with his drink. Leaning against the wall beside the bar, he finally spoke after Lynette exited the room.
“So, Michelle had been influenced.”
“That’s what I got,” Auntie Ashleigh confirmed.
“Both she and her mother,” he continued, adding, “That’s what Roche meant when he described Michelle as being addled. He wouldn’t have known it, but that means she was never put back to rights before they had to run for it.”
“Speculative, but reasonable.”
“So, Seraphine definitely must have been going around,” he surmised. “She was influencing them, conditioning their minds without them even knowing it, but there were enough people who she either didn’t get to in time, or who slipped her control, to finally try mounting a resistance of some sort.”
“One that apparently didn’t work out in their favour,” Auntie Kathleen said.
“No,” Stevie toned in agreement as he swirled the ice in his glass, looking vacantly out the parted drapes. “It’s pretty chilling. Imagine a life and death struggle with people you thought you knew that ends in having to abandon your house in the middle of the night. Imagine running for your life with a pack of howling, mindless fanatics of Seraphine’s ghastly little personality cult chasing you through the woods for two fucking da-“
“We get the picture, sweetie pie,” Auntie Ashleigh cut him off, a little annoyed.
“But, how come they didn’t just go to Toronto for help earlier?” I asked.
“Probably because they wouldn’t have known what to tell anyone,” Auntie surmised. “In addition, they would have had to make the trip on foot, probably with others for some safety against the very real threat of natural predators. Again, I remind you that this wasn’t today’s Toronto and there were no taxis, busses, or even direct roads to hasten progress, rather a foot trail through the woods. As it was, it took the fleeing settlers two days to reach Lakeshore, and that was hurrying along.”
“I keep thinking of Marie,” Sheila told us.
We all quietly agreed on what a tragic figure the poor woman was, all except for my asshole cousin, who ambled back towards his chair with his eyes on the carpet. He seemed to be ignoring me and it pissed me off to no end that he could, but I was distracted by his thoughtful demeanor as well as his sex appeal.
“Is there any detail at all to her claim of being ravaged by the devil in the fields?” Sheila asked, her eyes glancing at Stevie for an instant.
“No,” Ashleigh replied, shaking her head with a frown. “But I find it interesting that Michelle’s mother would have related that claim among all the other wild claims Marie must have been making. Apart from spending time with her imaginary husband out in the fields, nothing else of her delusive claims were related. At least nothing deemed memorable enough above her demonic assault.
“Also, I point out again the unwillingness on the part of the other settlers to do anything when things started to get weird. Because of the reliance these families would have had on each other, I seriously doubt this was because they were minding their own business. They were afraid. Yes, I think they became aware on some level that there was something very different about Seraphine. Both Rebecca and I look at Marie’s claim of being ravaged by the devil seriously because it certainly seems the settlers did, but only once Seraphine got old enough.”
“But,” I injected, “just because society in general had mostly stopped believing that crazy people are possessed and stuff doesn’t mean that these people did. I mean, this was back in the woods and they might not have seen things that way. It might have been only natural for them to think any weird stuff with Seraphine would mean she was a witch, or possessed.”
“An excellent point,” Auntie commented. amatör porno “I’d considered that, but they seemed tolerant of Marie. Too, I tend to give the pioneers more credit than that. They may or may not have been university educated, but it takes a lot more than that to hack out a life where they were trying to do it and under the conditions they were trying to do it under. Pioneering was not for the ignorant, or those who couldn’t think progressively and adapt.”
“Yeah, and you’re right about Marie,” I agreed. “Yet, they did seem convinced that something beyond insanity was going on with Seraphine.”
“Right,” she said. “And from what we all know from our own personal experiences, the account points to her as… special since birth. I’m inclined to think they’d know the difference between a mental disability and something… other.”
“And,” I threw in, taking it farther as I got up to freshen my own drink, there’s how Marie tried to kill Seraphine before she was born, but only after she said she’d been ravaged by the devil.”
“Exactly, Auntie Kathleen contributed, “Up to then, there’s no problem, just a crazy young woman with a baby on the way, but nobody ended up abandoning their homes to run for their lives from her, did they?”
“Yeah,” Sheila said, “but the story’s missing something.”
We all looked at her, thinking this was an odd thing for her to say. She was expressionless, staring at Stevie.
” … Huh?” Auntie Ashleigh asked.
The eldest of us was looking from Sheila to Stevie, back to Sheila as he only gazed back at his little Aunt.
“What’s this now?” Auntie prodded further, sitting straighter, paying curious attention but wanting an answer.
“There was a problem with the pregnancy,” Sheila explained in a slightly hollow voice as she and Stevie continued to stare at one another. “Marie was down… prone in the fields one day. Seraphine was dead in the womb and Marie was in trouble, too.”
” … What?” Auntie Ashleigh asked, her expression now beyond curiosity and trained on her sister until Stevie spoke.
“That’s when it got in. It occupied Seraphine and then saved Marie’s life in order that she could be it’s… incubator.”
” … Okay, what’s going on?” Ashleigh almost demanded, standing and revealing her sexy, high cut red panties beneath her short, translucent business skirt.
“Have you ever looked another Burchell in the eyes during simultaneous orgasm?” Stevie asked her.
“Yes, flying. I did it with Mum and Grammie; it’s the only way to bond.”
“Well…” he suddenly hesitated, glancing at me with worry as he explained, “I’ve gone flying with Mum, but Sheila and I experienced…”
“We experienced what we just told you,” Sheila finished, Auntie Ashleigh’s astounded eyes rounding on her again. “We were there. Well we weren’t, but…”
“But we were,” he finished for her in turn.
“I… I was going to get into flying later on,” Auntie Ashleigh imparted.
She wasn’t quite so thunderstruck now, but still plenty interested as she remained on her feet, leaning over with her hands spread on her desk.
Stevie, his eyes having a pretty good time with Auntie’s body, shrugged and told her it was a recent event before her astonished gaze returned to Sheila, as though for confirmation.
“It was pretty trippy,” Sheila admitted. “I mean, one minute I’m moving into one of those orgasms that you just know is gonna be a really good one… then it’s like I’m being… sucked out of… this,” she tried to convey, gesturing around her with her arms, “and then I’m…”
“Weightless and rushing with the wind,” I helped.
“Yes,” she said, looking and pointing at me. And I was there with Steven, but he was…”
I knew what she wanted to say, but I couldn’t finish for her this time. I suppose it still bothered me a little that he’d been sleeping with her and not me, that he was now having important experiences with her that he might be having with me. I needn’t have bothered anyway. Auntie Kathleen, with a blush and the same hesitant glance around the room, finished Sheila’s thought for us both.
“You’re individual, but a part of him.”
“Yes,” Sheila said, now focusing on Auntie Kathleen while I scowled at her son. “It was like… vodka and milk.”
Auntie Kathleen smiled at this. It was certainly a good analogy to how it felt with me and Auntie Ashleigh, but I preferred to heap silent hatred on the big ruiner/bleeding fuckwart just then.
“And that’s what you saw?” Auntie Ashleigh asked her.
“Well, I didn’t see it. I experienced it.”
That’s when Lynette returned bearing a tray loaded with glass dishes of ice cream that nobody seemed particularly interested in anymore, save for me. After our blonde servant put the tray down, I alone got up to get a dish of the cold, refreshing stuff while Auntie Ashleigh processed this new information. Walking across the room, I dumped mine in Stevie’s lap, spinning on my heel afterward with a triumphant anal porno smile as he howled a sudden curse, all startled eyes now on me.
Politely, I asked Lynette, “I’m sorry, may I please have another?”
Mounting belief that I deserved this abuse from Kitten didn’t help me to quell my anger over her childish stunt. Restraining myself from firing her right out the window was done with award winning personal will as Mum rushed over, clucking as though it were an unfortunate accident as she tried to clean it up. Ashleigh’s response was to use Kitten’s name with a tone that almost scolded while Sheila pointed at me and laughed her pretty little face off.
On the way back to the den, after having changed into the third set of clothes that day on account of my freakishly retarded cousin munchkin, I still fumed about it, only returning at all because I had to. It seemed that most everything I did as of late was because I had to and, with another half pint of whiskey inside me since I’d returned to my apartment, I wasn’t much liking that.
“She called me what?” Sheila laughed as I neared the open doors of Ashleigh’s den.
“She said that at least you were a competent disaster,” Kitten giggled, to which all the god-damned crazy Burchell women laughed uproariously.
“So fucking glad you’re all enjoying yourselves,” I almost seethed upon entry, glaring at Kitten.
“Oh, boy,” Ashleigh said as though it was a joke.
“Sweetie pie, please curb your language.”
I presented myself with another mental award for not throwing Mum out that window in place of Kitten.
“I don’t see why he even has to be here at all,” Kitten spouted with a venomous little expression. “Why can’t he sit in another room with one of those closed circuit TV mon-?”
“I’m sure you don’t see why I have to be here,” I retorted, “and if I didn’t have to be, partially for your sake, I sure as hell wouldn’t be!”
“Stev-,” Ashleigh started.
“Waddya mean, my sake?” she demanded, unfolding her legs as though getting ready to spring from the chair.
“Steven!” Ashleigh warned.
“The only thing you’ve ever done for my sake was to ruin my relationship with Gina!”
“You were ruining your relationship with Gina, you little fuck!” I suddenly thundered, stepping forward and standing right over her as I pointed angrily at her. “I tried to tell you about how people we care about get fucked up, but you only wanted to have a good little fuckin time with-!”
“Steven, Shut the FUCKUUUUPP!!!”
It was Mum. She sat there with one of those expressions she used to have after I’d get myself into trouble at school while we all stood stunned. It wasn’t just the near glass shattering pitch, but the fact that she’d actually said the ‘F word’ like that. Kitten had frozen in the act of finally rising from her chair, and Sheila looked as though the best part of her was on the ceiling. Ashleigh was the first to move and, the next thing I knew, I was being rushed out of the room by her.
“Do you think you can keep a hold of yourself in there!?” she angrily hissed.
We were at the second floor railing that surrounded the chandelier that hung where Rebecca used to, another chilling reality of our past that didn’t fail to impress something upon my sarcastic reply.
“Yes, god dammit, I think I can! But it’d help a fuck of a lot if you kept that little freak on a leash whi-“
“Keep your voice down, you idiot!”
“-while I’m doing that,” I continued, angrily growling at her volume, “because there’s only so much I can put up with if you actually want me in there!”
“Of course we want you there, but we had her calmed down! She promised not to do that stuff anymore, and if you hadn’t come in acting like such an asshole, I’d have told you that she’d agreed to be civil for the rest of the meeting! Really, Steven, try to contain yourself!”
With my heated reply still in my throat, finger raised to help make my point, she quickly walked away from me, back to her den where her suddenly diplomatic tone addressed Kitten. After presenting myself with a third award for not tossing her over the railing and to her death, I swallowed some pride, chased with an equal measure of anger, and followed.
Inside, the little tard refused to so much as look at me. This suited me just fine as I went straight for the wet bar without looking at any of them. Sometimes it seemed as though nobody was on my side except for, of all people, my mother’s other son. With a strong glass of whiskey and water, I returned to my seat, skirting Kitten and moodily flumping into the uncomfortable cup chair while I kept my eyes on the carpet in front of me.
“(Ahem) where, uhh…” Ashleigh dithered, forcing a smile as she took the seat beside Kitten, possibly so there’d be a referee between us. “Where was I?”
“Sheila and Steven’s experience,” Mum answered with a slightly subdued tone in the aftermath of mine and Kitten’s blowup and her sudden, shrieking anal breakers porno profanity.
“Right you are, o pretty one with the lungs. However, that’s something I’d like to get back to when we can all give it some more, uh… practical attention. Before that, I’d just come to the end of the pre Markham settlement, hadn’t I?”
“Yes,” Sheila said, her tone a little like Mum’s, “but you ended with a ‘however’.”
“Okay, yes,” she said as Lynette walked in.
Presumably, our semi mindless servant was just back from having returned a tray of empty ice cream dishes, eaten while I was changing again. That’s when I noticed everyone’s glass was attended and took a deep breath, frowning over another mouthful of my disgusting drink as I settled in for the next installment of the backstory on why my life was fucked.
“It’s funny,” Ashleigh started, “how I’ve often envied Rebecca’s opportunity to interview witnesses and their descendants, but it turned out that as much as this was the case, she’d have envied my search advantage, that being the almighty internet.
“Rebecca’s family timeline picked up again at about eighteen-forty in Miramichi, New Brunswick with Coby Leger,” Ashleigh informed as Lynette rose and took another sheaf of papers, handing out a map of New Brunswick to each of us, “however, she couldn’t trace Coby any further back than the Miramichi region. She knew she wasn’t born there, rather in a different French settlement which, according to the small amount of information she’d had, was supposedly ‘nearby’. The sixty odd years since events in pre Markham were a total blank, and her search of every community near the Miramichi turned up no leads to remedy that gap in time.
“Then, along comes me and my computer. Sometimes, whether out of a serious effort or just to take my mind from other things, I’m apt to sit here, often late at night, researching things having to do with our family history. See, one learns to look at it as a sort of historic jigsaw puzzle, or maybe like discovering all the books of the bible. Each component or ancestor tells her own story, but it all relates to the overall picture and once one becomes familiar with the framework of the puzzle, it becomes like this… interest. Like a hobby, but more.
“So here I am one night seven years ago, bored to death with porn, looking through historical New Brunswick sites for a possible birthplace for Coby, and that’s when I trip across a site dedicated to Acadian folklore. The site itself was pretty low quality and done in French, so I was about to exit out when a phrase leapt off the page at me. Thanks to all my previous research experience, I’d become fairly familiar with the language, so this phrase got my attention. It was, ‘la sorciere de riviere’, and that translates as, ‘the river witch’.
“Reading as well as I could, I was able make out that it referred to a beautiful witch who lived somewhere on the Miramichi and, according to the folklore, was interacted with on occasion to varying degrees of results. I ran the whole thing through a translator program I have, but I also printed off the original article and had the copy translated by an actual translator because, as handy as the program is, it often misses certain nuances of human language, and Acadian French can sometimes be a bit peculiar unto itself. I’m still looking into everything I found stemming from that web discovery, but here’s the meat of what I’ve got so far:
“The legend, according to the twenty three separate accounts I’ve collected to date, starts with sightings in the early seventeen-eighties that continue on until the late eighteen-sixties. They describe a young, very beautiful, black haired woman with ‘entrancing’, bright hazel eyes. Moreover, this woman stayed young and beautiful throughout most of this approximately ninety year time span. Even into the early eighteen-fifties, when the descriptions no longer included the word ‘young’, she was never described as old, rather just a strikingly beautiful woman.
“Every encounter takes place on the Miramichi River, usually in the Southwest system, which is where people generally thought her to be from, although nobody actually claimed to know exactly where her residence was located. She travelled the river itself in a large rowboat, always being rowed by at least two men who never spoke.
“Sitting in the prow, her attire was always described as ‘indecent’, ‘whorish’ or something of the like. Reading the accounts, this was obviously her lure and once men were close enough to see her beauty, they’d assumedly be locking eyes soon after.
“Again, these interactions often had different outcomes to the extent that, were it not for certain other corresponding key details, I’d have thrown the whole legend out. Seraphine, for this is almost surely who ‘la sorciere de riviere’ really was, sometimes interacted to do business on the river, trading potatoes or the like with others who transported their yield via the water ways. On other occasions, she would take people. Both men and women would simply get out of their boat and into hers as their peers watched. Some hours later, long after Seraphine was gone, it would start to dawn on them that their friends or family members have been taken, but by then it was far too late.
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