Title Copper Pennies
Author Carrie D. Miller
Genre Dark Contemporary Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Publisher FiveFold Press
Magda stands in the moonlit cemetery waiting for the spell to work, for her lover to return. But what’s done can’t be undone, and Magda will learn she should have left him in the ground.
When twins Avery and Chloe Parsons receive a cryptic letter and a sinister-looking book filled with illegible scrawls from their grandmother, the sisters set out for Prague to check on her.
Drawn to a cracked crystal ball in a curiosity shop, Chloe discovers it harbors the spirit of their grandmother, who tells them a horrific tale of lust, naïveté, betrayal, and… demons.
Armed with a book of dark magick they can’t read and a cracked crystal ball, the twins must stop Magda’s resurrected lover before he releases an unstoppable force that will consume the human world.
Across continents and nearly a century, follow the adventures of three strong-willed women: one seduced by evil, one struggling to withstand the lure of power, and one trying to save her family—and the world.
The young woman bent over the emaciated corpse. She studied his dirty face with soulful eyes, and didn’t flinch as a flea jumped from his hair. Pankrác Prison had not been kind to him, nor should it have been.
With her comforting smile lost on the dead man, she removed the tatters of his prison uniform. Under the gentle eye of Father Kose, she washed the man’s filthy body and dressed him in clean clothes donated to the church, although this type of man didn’t deserve such care.
Magda hid her true feelings under a veil of compassion and the hymnal tune she hummed as she slowly went about her good work. Father Kose turned away at the sight of the nearly skeletal man, murmuring a prayer to God for his soul.
“What is she doing, Father?” a young nun whispered as she turned to follow the priest, one step behind.
“God’s work,” the priest said, matching her low tone. He stopped, half turning back to the door of the undercroft, hands clasped behind his back. “Mrs. Nováková came to us some months ago. Distraught, destitute. Begging for the mercy of God. Her husband had committed the gravest sin, you see. He had taken his own life.”
The nun’s hands flitted to her mouth, covering her gasp before she crossed herself.
“She felt tainted by his sin and sought absolution here. She said God wanted her to care for the most wretched of men, to wash her clean of her husband’s sin, as she washes clean the unloved.”
Magda’s mouth twisted at their whispers.
“But where do they come from, these men?” The nun’s voice was barely audible.
“Pankrác has sent their unclaimed dead to us for years,” Father Kose said. “They are given the respect in death denied to them in life, no matter their sins. We bury them in the church cemetery although sometimes we do not even know their names. But God knows, and he forgives.”
Without another word, the priest turned toward the stone steps, the young nun on his heels.
As their footfalls carried down the long stone corridor, Magda continued her solemn hum, waiting to hear the iron gate at the top of the steps close. The sharp clang of the heavy metal echoed in the oppressive silence of the basement crypt.
She straightened, securing a fallen wave of her thick black hair in her tight bun. She scowled at the despicable man. She’d learned he’d been imprisoned for performing horrific acts on children. He was no different from the others; there seemed to be an endless supply of those she needed.
You deserve this.
Magda drew two dirty copper coins from her apron pocket. Black earth filled the jagged marks scratched into their surfaces. She laid a coin on each of the man’s eyes, whispering sibilant sounds in a language that cut her throat. Accustomed to the pain after many months, she ignored the blood in her mouth and did not choke as she’d done so often in the beginning. She secured the coins in place with clean, white gauze as she murmured the phrase once more.
After the small ritual was over, she expelled the blood into a handkerchief. Magda inhaled a deep breath through her nose, no longer noticing the ever-present stench of death and decay lingering in the stagnant air.
She continued with the remainder of her self-imposed duty, bundling the body in fresh, white linen and sewing the edges closed with unhurried stitches. She gathered his tattered uniform into a basket for the furnace and left. No more bodies would come today.
Once home, she stoked the embers in the wood stove, watching the flames slowly come to life. She leaned back in her chair, cradling a small wooden chest in her lap. She fingered the remaining coins inside, pushing them around in the thin layer of earth that still smelled of the grave. His grave.
Only eight more and the spell would be done. The edges of her mouth quirked upward, the muscles in her face not used to smiling.
Soon, my love.
In a former life, Carrie was an executive in the software industry. Her career in the technology world included software product management, website design, training, and technical writing just to name a few. At the age of 45, she decided to chuck it all to become an author which had been a life-long dream.
When her nose is not in a book or in front of a monitor, she can be found inventing cocktails, hanging out at the dog park, or in the kitchen making dog and cat treats.
At present, she lives in a suburb of Tucson, Arizona, with her long-time boyfriend and two rescues, a semi-feral cat and derpy German Shepherd.
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