With satisfaction, Jenna closed the tome, a resounding thud marking the conclusion of years of research.  She felt liberated, but as with most commitments, the end was bittersweet.  She could now present her findings, speak with additional authority, yet something pulled at the recesses of her imagining, fluttering as insubstantially as a sigh.

Completing this project meant tenure at the university and a coveted seat among her fellows.  Financial freedom and intellectual independence, an upgraded office, and paid research assistants were also longed-for perks, ending years of struggle.  Her compiled work would be printed and bound, revered for generations, a defining piece on a controversial subject.

For years, her students looked askance and the staff, in hushed voices, made light of Jenna’s work.  However, she learned to comprehend cuneiform and hieroglyphics.  She was renowned for her translations from ancient Greek and Aramaic.  Archaeological digs in Uruk, Egypt, and the Holy Lands benefitted from her assistance, and she came away from the experiences with additions to her life’s work, her personal Grimoire.

Jenna rolled her head in a circle, hoping to ease some of the tension built up in her neck and shoulders.  Hunching over books, pouring through their archaic knowledge, exacted a price in muscle soreness and impacted vision.  Jenna looked down at the heavy wood library table, bemused by the completion of the task, when her attention was drawn to the back of her own right hand.

There, among the veins, written in black ink on her sun-deprived skin, was a message.  The lettering was tiny but unmistakably Jenna’s own handwriting.  She looked closer, wondering why she could not remember writing on herself.  She squinted, then retrieved a magnifying glass to peer closer and piece together the words.

“Each heartbeat draws you closer, each breath pushes away.  Pursue the working wisdom that proceeds the end of days. For the passing of time is marked in simple, gentle acts.  Consider well your eternal soul before displaying facts.”

She straightened, gently setting aside the magnifying glass.  Lost in thought, she rubbed her left hand over the printing.  “Consider well your eternal soul…”  During the twenty years spent immersed in occult texts, Jenna questioned the theology in which she was raised.  She redefined her beliefs with exposure to mysteries and alternative thinking, abandoned some core aspects while embracing others.  Looking at a glowing screen on which she wrote, she considered her soul, her youthful hopes, and her adult dreams.

End of days, the time of sorting, goats and sheep and virgin rewards.  Jenna did not necessarily believe in magic, did not practice any of what she learned, but she did compile a definitive look into the systems of those who did.  This overview could guide a reader from a Heavenly path.  Then again, she reasoned, thinking of her vast investment into the research, the information is available, just not as readily as presented in her work.

She pushed her chair back from the desk and stretched her arms skyward. “With great power comes great responsibility,” Uncle Ben told Peter Parker as he donned the mask of Spiderman.

She felt her own irregular heartbeat, her finger poised over the delete button on her tablet.

Kerry E. B. Black


A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, Kerry E.B. Black incorporates something of the steely tenacity of her hometown in her writing. She is a first reader for Postcard Poems and Prose and is a frequent contributor to many literary journals and magazines. She recently became a member of Carrot Ranch’s Congress of Rough Riders. Kerry invites you to follow her social media sites. , and

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