Nothing’s happening.

Max paused for about twenty seconds.

This is stupid. I should have never believed it. I am just standing in a closet. This is a joke.

He leaned forward and reached for the doorknob, but there was nothing there. He took a few small steps forward, hands out, and still no door.

If Max had been familiar with the saying, “Walk quietly through Hell and the Devil might not notice you” he might have gone unnoticed. He was noticed.

The blackness was complete and utter absence of light, yet in the darkness, something darker began to stir. Large globules of super darkness began to rise from what we assume was the floor into hideous tentacled pillars.

 Something must have went wrong. I gotta run!

 As he started to bolt, a grotesque tentacle enveloped him, immobilizing the petrified pre-teen. Suddenly there were hundreds of these tentacle-waving creatures. As if things couldn’t be more terrifying, they all blinked open sets of crimson eyes in headless torsos. Max screamed a deafening, horror-movie, blood-curdling scream. The beings all waved a tentacle containing oozing mouths lined with rotted stumps of teeth and screamed in return.

Stronger men would have fainted. Warriors of history might have voided their bladders, but Max thrashed and fought. When the creatures’ wailing ended, a monster a few yards ahead held out a sliming arm, but in contrast to the sanguine red eyes, the eyes on the tentacle were a normal set of dark brown human eyes.

A slimy, serpentine feeler slinked in front of his face and spoke in a sensual female voice that seemed impossible to have come from a rotten-toothed mouth, “Please stop struggling. We recognize your courage and we will cross you.”

It’s a good thing he didn’t know that had he struggled one iota less, they would have absorbed his life force like eating wheat thins and easy cheese. They would have unmade the Mighty Max. Instead, they laid the tentacle with the human eyes on top of Max’s eyes, which he has squinched as tight as they could go.

Hundreds of miles away in the Caribbean Island of Jamaica, drums beat out a hypnotic rhythm. A voodoo priest dressed in a pair of cut-off jeans with his body painted in black and white skeleton bones over his ebony physique danced across the lines of the floor. A criss-crossing matrix of lines were painted on the concrete that mimicked the lines Max had seen in the closet. People sat around the ceremony chanting and beating those drums. In the center of the sigil was a young black woman on an old ladder-back wooden chair.

During a voodoo ceremony, first, a small pot containing the participant’s hair and fingernails is placed on the altar. The idea is that the participant’s body will act as a vessel that a spirit from the beyond will occupy. When the new spirit enters, their spirit will be bound to the pot so they can return when the spirit leaves. A possessed body will do things no human body will attempt. The first spirit called forth in a voodoo ceremony is Master Legba, god of the veils between the worlds.

The young girl fell from the chair and went into a fit that could only be described as epileptic. Her green eyes rolled back in her head as she stood, surveying the room through white globes. She picked up a glass of rum that was meant as an offering to the gods and downed it. Then she turned her head from side to side to survey the now silent crowd as if to dispel their disbelief as to whether or not she was possessed. Her body bent over completely backward with her head almost touching her butt and crunched the glass, now empty of rum, between her teeth like it was a graham cracker.

Back in the closet, the attractive woman’s voice that didn’t match the mouth said, “Master Bernos, before you open your eyes, we will need the price of crossing.”

Max, who was trying to ignore both the slimy tentacles and the feeling of eyeballs moving on the other side of his closed lids, didn’t respond.

The voice said, “This might hurt.”

Max’s right hand burned like he’d plunged it into lava and he was about to scream out until he realized what they were doing. They were taking the spider. The pain from the entities prying the angel ink from his hand was not enough to override the relief from knowing another one was gone. Then as fast it began, the pain was over.

“Open your eyes, little traveler, and pass.”

Julian’s words echoed in his head – my momma didn’t name me little.