“You did WHAT?”
J.J. Redick smiled apologetically. “It’s not a big deal. Voodoo’s just a bunch of phony baloney anyway, so it’s not like that lady’s gonna cast a curse on me for stealing her potions.”
“But you believed in voodoo enough to steal the potions in the first place,” Zion Williamson pointed out. “J.J., I’m honored that you want to help me out with my knee soreness, but this is way over the top. I’m scared, man. You did a bad thing last night.”
J.J. was secretly just as scared as Zion was, but he tried not to show it. He was supposed to be the cool and calm vet who could navigate any situation with ease. Not the loser vet who stole a bunch of voodoo supplies from a woman who could do horrible things to their souls. “Well, what matters is that I got these potions and this skull, so now we don’t have to worry about your degenerative knees setting the franchise back a decade.”
Zion still didn’t look convinced. “But you don’t know the first thing about casting a voodoo spell. Without that knowledge, those potions are useless.”
Withdrawing the blue-glass bottle of liquid from his bag, J.J. looked at it as if instructions on its use would be written on the side. Of course, there were no instructions. Madame Lasquier had the instructions, and the price she would charge for them was very steep indeed. However, now that he had the healing potion in his possession, it seemed wasteful to not even try to use it. “Okay, how about this. I’ll Google some voodoo healing spells tonight and we’ll meet at the arena tomorrow to try them out.”
“Why the arena?” Zion asked.
“I know a good spot where we won’t be interrupted,” J.J. said.
Zion sighed. “Okay, man. I’ll trust you. My knees hurt so bad.”
Sitting in the locker room waiting for his teammate to arrive, J.J. was getting in some last-minute research on his phone. The internet had been full of detailed descriptions of purported voodoo rituals, but many of them had been obviously geared towards preteen girls who wanted to make their crush notice them. So J.J. had settled on a website that had been last updated in 1998 and was garishly ugly. At least a website like that wouldn’t have anything commercially to gain by providing false information on voodoo.
“So, where are we going?” Zion asked as he slowly walked in while applying ice to his knee.
“The basement,” J.J. said. “Follow me.” As they walked through corridors and down secret stairways, J.J. explained more. “I found out that this place was built on the ruins of an old voodoo lady’s house. So there should be a lot of extra voodoo power floating around. Combine that with my newfound expertise in the voodoo arts, and your knees are going to be good as new.”
They eventually made it to a sub-basement of the arena where the floors were just decrepit wooden boards and the only light came from eternally lit torches on the walls. “Crazy,” Zion remarked.
“I guess we can do it here,” J.J. said, setting his bag of supplies on the ground and digging around in it to find the proper ones. “Candles…potions…where did that skull go?”
“Skull?” Zion asked, sounding afraid. “Wouldn’t that only be for, like, I don’t know, death rituals or something?”
J.J. found the skull and placed it next to the candles which he had lit using the torches on the wall. “Maybe, but it’s imbued with voodoo power from Madame Lasquier, so that should help even if we’re doing a healing ritual.”
“I’ll trust you,” Zion said. He sat down on the wooden floor with his legs extended in front of him to give J.J. ready access to his knees.
Reviewing the instructions once more on his phone before setting it aside, J.J. grabbed the potion and uncapped it. “I think you should drink this, and we’ll sprinkle some on your knees, and then I’ll say the words.”
Zion complied, drinking half the potion before handing it back to J.J. “That tastes nasty,” he said with a grimace.
J.J. had just started saying the incantation when a gravelly voice came from behind them. “What are you doing in my house?”
Horror-stricken, J.J. turned his head to see Madame Lasquier standing there. If the old house below the arena was really hers, that would make her at least 200 years old. What occult spells had she cast upon herself to lengthen her lifespan so drastically?
Moving with surprising quickness, the ancient woman grabbed onto J.J. as Zion screamed. Under her breath, she murmured unknowable words, and her eyes took on a glossy sheen. J.J., sensing what was happening, tried to escape, but could not. He begged forgiveness and lenience, but his pleas were unheard.
“Our souls are now one!” Madame Lasquier shrieked after she completed her incantation. Then she shuddered, her eyes closed, and she released her grip on him as she slumped lifelessly to the floor.
“Dude, you’re so screwed,” Zion said. “And your thing didn’t even work. My knees hurt just as bad as ever.”