There are only three things one needs to know about Diana Dyer: in the last ten years of her life, she had become adept at modern technology; she (literally) could barely stand to be around people, and; she was a witch. None of these things sat well with most other witches, of course. Witches were social by nature. They required covens. Covens were where true power lay. Computers, phones, cameras, televisions, these were the creations of men, and magic burned through them faster than fire through straw.
Diana’s inability to be around people had put her in a tough spot. Without other witches, she risked losing the power behind her magic. She could still perform at a level greater than most by herself, but she would be incapable of anything truly magical. And without her magic, Diana would be ordinary. So, she turned to the magic of normal men, and Diana learned how to use the Internet, how to communicate on forums and through social media, how to build a brand and how to be mortal, all in preparation of the day when she would be as useless to the world as a baby.
Then she found others. Her Cyber Coven.
A video conference call rang out in front of her. One by one, her girls answered. They were spread across a small section of the United States, five of them. Cady and Susan were decent witches, but Hyacinth, Beatrice and Annabelle were middling at best. But that wasn’t important. What mattered was that they had managed to work together.
“You remember the first time we joined our power?” Diana asked them.
“I felt strong for the first time,” Hyacinth responded. “And you…”
“You saw something,” Susan added. “Something in the future. I didn’t know witches could do that.”
Diana shook her head. “Not all witches can. I was taught. Trained, I guess. It’s more of a sensitivity to calamity than anything else, but it’s not perfect.” She tapped her knuckles against her desk as Cady came online. “Okay, all of you are in position?”
Cady held up a hand, a habit the girls hadn’t broken out of from their school days. They were all young, innocent, and alone. Magic was their calling and their only way to escape. And Diana hated that they still treated her like a high school teacher. “I’m here… but why are we doing this?”
There was no easy to that. Cady knew about the vision. They all knew. They’d asked her about it a dozen times or more as Diana issues instructions to travel. The thick of winter made it difficult, but they all agreed. They sat in five hotels and rented accommodations, forbidden from revealing to anyone – even each other – where they were. She didn’t want them worrying about what was happening. And she didn’t want her Cyber Coven to attempt to figure out whether their power together extended beyond the computers. Not yet. Not until Diana was ready to join them.
She sighed. “There’s a danger coming this winter, Cady. You’ll feel it when it arrived. Black magic.” She didn’t know exactly what, except that it would arise in the middle of a cemetery. She had felt Death. Not just the experience. Actual Death. A Reaper. That was never good for a vision. “You’ll all be involved in a spell to contain that magic. White magic. Powerful, but imprecise. It needs a wide girth.”
Wide indeed. The girls were nowhere near each other, and never would be. Beatrice still held onto the idea that if she ever met the girls in real life, she’d be kidnapped. Annabelle was too busy trying to maintain the illusion that she was popular back home. Diana knew otherwise, of course, but she couldn’t ruin that on her young charge.
“Hands out, girls,” she instructed. “We have to do this now. Something wicked this way comes.”
It had taken three years, but Diana had figured out how not to blow up her computer while using magic. Once she had become comfortable with the idea of talking to people online, she’d been able to channel magic through the invisible lines that connected them. It was as close to a coven as she could get, and it worked, so long as they all believed in it.
Power immediately poured from her, more than ever before as she focused on the spell. The girls were focal points, carving a pentagram in the world from miles apart, the cemetery at its centre. Covens gave rise to powerful witches, and restored the best to their former glory. But even this was beyond anything Diana had ever done before. The protective spell needed to last a few weeks.
Susan began chanting, her words no longer her own, and Diana muted her microphone with a click of her fingers to stop her distracting the other witches. The coven was straining against the spell. They could feel the power that Diana pushed through them. Annabelle and Hyacinth were sweating. Beatrice had gone pale. Only Cady was managing to maintain her composure.
“Almost,” Diana whispered.
Her computer screen began to flicker. She couldn’t stop, now. The spell was almost done. No words, not for real magic. It was all about intent, and unless her coven knew the meaning of the words, they’d only be distracted by them. Diana had to feel it, instead, and use their own fears about the vision to drive the spell forward.
The moment Diana stopped, Susan and Beatrice passed out. Hyacinth threw up, and Annabelle had a bottle of water to her mouth. Cady went white with exhaustion, but she remained upright. Always the strong one.
“Did it work?” Annabelle asked after a gulp.
Diana closed her eyes, and nodded. “For now. Let’s hope we never need to do that again.”
“Will it last?” Cady whispered.
To that, Diana had no answer. She encouraged the girls to eat, to sleep, and return home, and logged off. Her coven was young, but it was hers.
Diana Dyer was back, and not a moment too soon.
This story takes place shortly before the events of A Death in the Family and The Local Necromancer. Avid readers of my supernatural books will see Diana again.