Tuesdays are traditionally slow in retail, and when working by oneself, it’s easy to run out of things to do. Which is why, after I’d straightened and restocked and swept and wiped down the counters and thought really, really hard about scrubbing the toilet, I was like, “You know what? I do believe I’ll amuse myself with some Chaos Magic.”
The store is doing very well for only being open a relatively short time, but I’m looking for ways to increase business, and outside of suggestive selling and social media, my go-to solution is Witchcraft. I’ve already done a bit a woo around the place — protective spells, mainly, and some work to short-circuit the various curses rumored to have been left by previous residents of our possibly haunted building — but I also want to ensure the store’s economic success, along with my own financial security.
I still plan on going to seminary at some point in the future, but in the meantime, I like what I’m doing, and there’s a lot of potential for growth. What would be handy, I thought, would be to tap into some kind of magical current and direct that energy into prosperity for both me individually and the store as an entity, without having to tend to it too much.
Coincidentally, I’d spent a chunk of the morning reading about the history of the loose-knit occult organization known as the Domus Kaotica Marauder Underground, and some of the exploits they’d pulled off in the past struck me as relevant to my designs. Specifically, a couple of early members of the group had devised a sigil to link areas of magical power together, creating a web that any practitioner could theoretically access to boost their own workings.
The DKMU writings I’d found suggested that the Linking Sigil, or Ellis (LS), could be placed at any location significant for its sanctity, metaphysical resonance, or liminality. In my mind, a minority-owned business catering to a subculture within a subculture is pretty darn liminal, so I figured that plugging the store into the Ellis network would definitely be keeping in line with the sigil’s intent.
It also wouldn’t have hurt to have done a little more research on the Ellis before I ran outside to draw it in silver Sharpie upon a large pebble next to the store’s front stoop. But hindsight, as they say, is freaking hilarious. And they also say that bad decisions make great stories — as such, I am 100% at peace with everything that happened next.
Customers started trickling in about 10 minutes after I inscribed the sigil, and they spent a surprising amount of money, as did the customers who came in after them. By the time my co-manager showed up to relieve me, we’d beaten all sales for previous Tuesdays and were well on our way to a setting a weekday record.
I was working a split shift and ended up with a couple of hours to kill, so I messaged Chester to see what he was doing. He was like, “I’m just hanging out at my place. Want to come by and listen to an audiobook about gene keys while I zap you with a Qi Coil to decalcify your pineal gland?” And I was like, “Hell yeah, I do,” and scurried over. Two hours later, freshly ascended, I went back to the store, where I found a very bored staff waiting for me.
“It’s been dead since you left,” my co-manager said. “Literally no one has come in.”
And right then, the door flew open, and this customer bounded in all, “Hello! I have never been here before and aim to do some shopping!” The whole thing was eerily similar to that scene in Little Shop of Horrors when some guy who may or may not be an alien is like, “I couldn’t help noticing that strange and interesting plant!” and then buys $100 worth of roses. And I myself couldn’t help noticing that sales for the day seemed directly tied to my presence. Score one for the Ellis.
The owner asked me to come in an hour early, because a city inspector was scheduled to drop by, which put me comfortably into overtime. The owner made it to the store before the inspector did, and he brought with him several boxes of limited-edition Pride merch that I’d been eagerly awaiting — I checked it in and got it out on display at roughly the speed of sound, then took a few pics to upload to our Facebook page. The inspector showed up about an hour later, poked around a little, and was like, “Approved!” Which felt auspicious, if not a lot less stressful than we’d anticipated.
And then the weirdness started.
The first customer of the day seemed very polite, but every time the owner left the room, he aggressively hit on me: It was very Doctor Jekyll and Daddy Hyde. He eventually made some purchases and left, right as the phone rang. The caller — who sounded exactly like Leslie Jordan — explained that a friend had sent him some… playthings, and he wasn’t sure how to use them. Could I talk him through that? Would I mind telling him, in detail, how I might use those… playthings on myself?
Raising my voice slightly so as to drown out his heavy breathing, I told him that I unfortunately could not provide the information he was looking for and ended the call. Perfect timing, as it turned out, because my Facebook post had gotten more views than I expected it to, and demand for Pride tees went suddenly through the roof. We stayed busy for the rest of the day, but the customers overall were just off somehow, and a disquieting number of them took unusual interest in me. But it was also another day of underestimated profits, so I called it even.
“Would you be willing to choke me? It helps with my PTSD.”
So, yeah. That’s how my morning started.
He understood when I declined and bought a bunch of stuff anyway, so that was good. But it was pretty much a representative sample of all of the customer interactions throughout my shift. Sales were once again surprisingly brisk, although my patience for boundary issues and offbeat takes on sanity was beginning to wear thin.
What finally did me in, though, was the abnormally large spider that was hiding in the upper reaches of our covered porch, who waited patiently until I stepped out front to get some air, then gleefully repelled down from the rafters a few inches from my face, thus startling the complete shit out of me.
Apparently, a lot of practitioners who utilize the Linking Sigil have sensed and/or actually met an intelligence within its connected matrix. Some have described this presence as a middle-aged, red-haired woman, while others report brushes with a character resembling the protagonist from Alice in Wonderland. And some just say it’s a big spider.
And y’all, honestly, I live in Texas: We have spiders. And I refuse to ascribe spiritual import to any and every chance encounter with wildlife. But I will say that after 72 hours of gainful strangeness, getting ambushed by what may or may not have been an avatar of Ellis was enough to make me go, “Right, then. The experiment has come to a close.”
Having gleaned some insight into the sigil and its capabilities, I ritually severed my link to the network. And by that, I mean I ritually took the pebble out to the parking lot and ritually demolished it with a hammer.
Overkill, perhaps. But I wanted to make sure my intent was perfectly clear.
Speaking of intentions, I’ve continued to read up on the DKMU, and one thing I’ve learned is that drawing the Ellis without any intent behind it will bring chaos (not the good kind), whereas drawing the sigil with a specific intent in mind will trigger successful but unexpected results. Considering the events of the past three days, I can confidently confirm this.
I do plan on more work with the Ellis, though, just in an environment with fewer variables. I can see how marking it on something transient — like, say, a piece of parchment — at the beginning of a ritual, keeping it under the altar, then burning it at the close of the rite would give things extra oomph while keeping the bizarre side effects to a minimum. At least that’s my hypothesis.
Oh, but while I’m thinking about it: Sales have dipped mildly but not detrimentally since I smashed the pebble, and customers have been pleasant but emotionally distant. I am taking both as signs that any other ingenious, work-related spells I come up with should be placed directly on the non-sentient register.