The Daughters of Baal
Amy lit candles and Becky arranged them in a circle on the coffee table. Outside the balcony doors, on the street below, people were arguing. Neither girl heard them. Amy began to chant the words as she read them from a leather-bound book.
‘The daughters of Baal’ is what she called herself and Becky, which made Becky laugh. From emo fangirls to daughters of Baal. Under Amy’s direction she burnt a little wooden cross in a pewter dish. Rejection of the new God, embrace of the old.
Amy and Becky had known each other since they were children growing up on an estate much like this one. No escape, that was the legend of their lives. They’d avoided, at least, the heroin habit that had claimed their parents. Comparatively speaking they were good girls, which was a bitter irony for Becky in particular, ever since she’d been driven out of school and her community for the crime of trusting a boy with an intimate picture of herself.
That was seven years ago, but the shame still clung. It was Amy, however, who brought them to religion. Not the religion which their school, St Anne’s Secondary, was supposedly founded on. Rather it was a religion which Amy had been introduced to by a small-time musician she went with, one of those guys who wore eyeliner and used a tombstone for a bedstead.
For a while it had just been dumb fun for Becky. ‘Getting high, listening to music, pretending we’re witches? More fun than queuing up at the job centre.’
‘You really do feel things, Becks... it’s like I went my whole life not knowing shit, just letting people do stuff to me, and then something in my brain sparked.’
Probably the acid, Becky thought, but soon enough she felt what Amy had described. You could be in a grotty little flat, but with the right atmosphere you’d feel sand between your toes, and ahead of you a pyre on which all your enemies were burning. When Becky stood in that strange desert, the person she saw burning was always that boy, the one who shared the picture and got her branded a slut. His clothes turned to ash and, before the agony destroyed his mind, he felt what she had as a fifteen-year-old girl. She sprinkled some salt in the pewter dish, then jerked her head towards Amy when she heard the book hit the floor.
What exactly caused the fire that burned them alive couldn’t be ascertained, but the heat was intense enough to shatter the French windows and unleash a plume of smoke into the world. A whiff of brimstone permeated, and the screams of the damned could be heard from within. No Christ with his golden cross would walk through that doorway to retrieve the daughters of Baal.
A man on the street below swore he saw two black-winged and transparent creatures fly from the flat to the sky, but as he was a known partaker of hallucinogens, no-one took him seriously.