Willing Sacrifice

Samantha had the perfect research project for college, to visit her uncle who practices the “old ways” of some backward pagan religion. The rest of her family used to follow the same path, so it seemed like a perfect chance to finish her thesis and reconnect with her family’s history. When she found a hint of murder, she wasn’t expecting how far she’d be willing to go to find the truth.

Samantha heads to visit her hermit uncle in the middle of nowhere in Wisconsin. She is hoping to do some research on her family's old pagan ways and Padim is the last of the followers of the old ways. It is the perfect way to finish her anthropology thesis.

Days later, Samantha is going through boxes of old photos, bibles, and documentation that her uncle had brought up from his basement. She was shocked to see that many of the gatherings her family took part of here done in the nude. But there was something else. Not everyone who showed up went home.

Still stunned by her observation, Samantha finds herself stewing as she tries to find some way of confronting her uncle about the missing women. When she finally does, she isn't expecting his response.

After the fight with her uncle, Samantha returned to her research. She found pictures of her mother and uncle as a young children, going through the same rituals. They looked happy. Everyone did, but why wasn't anyone upset about murder?

Frustrated by the missing photos, Samantha decides to question her uncle again. He admits there are missing images, he had taken them out a long time ago, but she couldn't see them because she wasn't the faith. Samantha is put on the cusp of a decision, would she really join the family's old ways just to see photos of women being sacrificed?

Months later, Samantha had began to accept the old ways. It was a simpler life, one that she found to love. Not even stripping naked near her uncle felt anything more than just one more step. But that day, one of the rituals would bring something new.

Winter had come since Samantha had accepted the old ways. She had forgotten why she had come there in the first place but Padim had not. He delivers what he promised, the incriminating photos of the women being sacrificed to the pagan gods.

Her own sacrifice coming up, Samantha finally finished her thesis. It was no longer a research paper, but something else, a codified history of her family's ways. Submitting it, however, would ensure her uncle would be investigated for murder. How else could she leave a lasting mark on her family?

The day had come. Samantha was about to die. Despite her fear, she couldn't stop smiling as the family came together again. She met up with cousins, aunts, uncles, and town folks that loved that she had brought them back together. Even her mother came.

Samantha went willingly into the circle, surrounded by friends and family. It was more to her than just meeting with family, or bringing them together with her book, she was there to reach something bigger than her self, to reach up and finally grasp the goddess.

With Samantha gone, Padim was once again left alone. As he cleaned up, however, someone else came up, a young girl who he could tell was destined to be the next willing sacrifice.