Watch for Witches

gnome on swing chair

Red-capped Jeroboam soldered the gear. He wound the mechanism and let it go. The device turned and whirred as he expected, so he put it down to tinker on it further.

“What are you making, gnome?” asked a human customer.

“A device that tells time. Wind it up in the morning, and it will work all day.”

“Sounds like witchcraft.”

The gnome squinted. “You could make one too, if you’d get over that ‘witch’ crap.”

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This was written for Sammi Cox’s Weekend Writing Prompt #119Tinker. As an avid D&D player, I immediately thought of tinkering gnomes and couldn’t put that idea down!

Photo by Susanne Jutzeler on Pexels.com

Frog Slime

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“This will never do,” Mrs. McGillicutty snapped. She dropped the toad gently back down to into the young man’s pail.

“Why not?”

“It’s a simple mistake, but one witches such as I – and you, if you’re willing to stick with your apprenticeship – must learn well.” The woman, whose wild curls had once been a fine jet-black but were now grayed and thick, pointed at the toad. “See the roughness of the skin? The mottled pattern? It’s a toad. In order for spells requiring frog slime to work, you must have a frog.”

The boy rolled his eyes. “So you want me to go back out and look for another one?”

“Well, if you want to make a potion to breathe underwater, you need a frog’s slime. There’s no way around it.” She pointed back to the toad. “If you find another of these, just let it go. The frogs around here are a muddy green, and they tend to live in the ponds.” She turned to her own work, dissecting flowers and carefully removing their various organs to make an aphrodisiac. “Now get on – shoo! The faster you get the frog, the sooner we make the potion.”

Young Chris pursed his lips, refusing to contradict his boss when he left. He shut the door behind him, then sauntered down the dirt path toward the pond. It was another mile away, over by where he’d already picked mushrooms and violets for the witch.

“Stupid witch,” he mumbled to himself. “Should have joined the army and fought the British like father wanted.” He kicked a rock in the middle of the road and contemplated how it rolled, how it couldn’t control its own direction or destiny. He should have followed the advice of the natural world and not tried to kick against the thorns by taking up this unnatural occupation.

Along the side of the road, however, he spotted a bunch of trillium. They were in flower, and the bunch was big enough that he could take several of them and not disturb their future growth. The witch liked these flowers, so he hoped she’d be pleased even if he didn’t find the frog. He dumped the toad out of the pail then collected some of the flowers and continued on his way.

The sun shone brightly, bleaching his hair as he continued down the path. A little ways further, and his eyes caught sight of a spider’s web. He investigated closer, then noticed the little friend of all witches: the black widow. His heart shuddered at the thoughts of the bug’s bite, but he knew the potency of the spider’s bite was something all witches desired. He took a stick, prodded the creature, and eventually convinced her to bite the end of the oak. Sure, the poison would need to be leached soon in order to be made use of, but the witch would know how to do that.

Soon, the young man came to the pond. As if on command, a frog, definitely a frog and not a toad, swam up from the foulest part of the pond and sat on a log. Green algae stuck to its skin.

Mrs. McGillicutty wanted the frog, but the young man looked at the animal and considered it. He’d taken the venom of a spider and a few shoots of a flower – why capture and torture this poor animal? Why waste that time? He scooped the frog from its perch, wiped away a little of the algae, and scooped the slime into one of the wooden gourds the witch made him take on his journeys. The frog was pleased to re-enter the pond, and the boy put the gourd back into his pail.

By the time he returned to the witch’s house, the sun considered setting, and clouds threatened to rain. He knocked once on the door and entered.

The witch looked up from where she stirred a cauldron. “Any luck?” she asked.

“No,” he answered. “I didn’t get you a frog.” He placed the bucket on the table.

“You can just look again tomorrow.”

“I don’t think so,” he answered. “Witchcraft is a woman’s work for a reason: it’s not something a man like me should partake in. I’m not learning anything, certainly not enough to make a living doing something so… foul.”

The witch opened the gourd and examined the slime inside. She shuffled through the flowers and sniffed the stick, discerning what was important about it. “Then why bring me all this?”

“Because I knew you’d like them.”

“And how did you know that?”

He bit his lip.

“You’re learning at quite the right pace. Now sit back – I’ve made us some venison stew, magic-free.”

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This was written for Alexander Eliot’s new photo prompt! The prompt isn’t on any certain schedule, as far as I can tell, but I can promise that the photos have been wonderful so far. No rules, just a story.

The Lavender Witch

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I’ve farmed lavender for uncountable years; witches live a long time, after all.  The quality of my lavender eclipses ordinary varieties – even mortals love my cultivars.  I can make a powerful sleep potion from the oils of my blossoms.  I could teach you, but mortality is precious – don’t waste it on sleep magic.  Don’t waste it at all.

Like I said, witches live a long time, but not forever.  I love you, child of man, and I want to give you the lavender farm when I pass.  Bury me beneath the tree in my fields, and I will rest easy.

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This was written for Joanne the Geek’s Flash Fiction Challenge #5magic. The prompt word is in bold.

Photo by CARLOS PÉREZ ADSUAR ANTÓN on Pexels.com

Be Careful Who You Resurrect

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The side of the candle read ‘Apple-Cinnamon’ scented.  I replaced it on the table, just as Tony wanted it, but said, “You can’t use your mom’s stupid candles for this.  I don’t think any ghost would answer to the call over a candle with all that perfume in it.”

“What do you want me to do?” Tony asked.  He turned the pages of the ancient grimoire in his hands, looking for further instruction.  “You got the pig’s blood, then?”

I put my backpack down and drew out the Cool-whip tub full of blood.  “Yeah.  What do we need to do with it?”

Tony put on a pair of gloves, opened my little container, and dipped a finger into the ooze.  “I’m surprised you didn’t have any problems getting it.”

I just shrugged.  “Butcher said he didn’t have many requests for blood, that most of it just got bleached and drained away.  So he gave me some.”

Tony ripped a couple sheets of wide-rule from a notebook and placed them just before the candle.  “Alright.  What ghost you want to see first?  Has to be someone you know is in Hell.”

“Hitler!” I said.  “See if he’s as hard to kill in real life as he was in Wolfenstein!”

“Yeah!” Tony agreed.  He dipped his finger back in the blood, this time drawing more onto the latex, and wrote the name ‘Adolf Hitler’ on the pages six times.  “Oh spirits, bring us who we requested!”

He pinched the candle light out, and the room fell to darkness.  It was quiet, only the pitter-patter of rain on the window.  My hackles raised, and I got the feeling I wasn’t alone.  A chill ran up my spine, goosebumps forming all over my flesh.  I whimpered, but steeled myself by holding onto the back of Tony’s desk chair.

Without warning, the lights in the room flicked on.

I squealed and fell into Tony’s lap as he screamed.

At the door, hand on the switch, stood Tony’s mom.  She tapped her foot, letting the toe of her high-heeled shoe make angry clacks against the wooden floor.  “What are you doing, Tony?”

He stammered too much, so I answered, “Resurrecting… resurrecting Hitler.”

His mother rolled her eyes and stomped over to see what was on Tony’s desk.  She grabbed the two sheets of notebook paper, crumpled them, and threw them in the trash can.  She turned her attention, then, to the leatherbound volume by the side and snatched it up.  “You obviously didn’t turn to the appendix – Hitler’s one of those irredeemably evil people that our Covens unanimously elected to seal into Hell.  And wide-ruled paper?  You should know better than this.”

I felt my heart rate increase again.  Tony’s mom was… a witch?  That was so strangely hot.

“Aww, Mom,” Tony whined.  “You won’t teach me anything.  I was doing the best I could.”

“By resurrecting Hitler?” she asked.  “No.  You’re grounded, young man.”

I crawled off Tony’s lap and shuffled my way to the door.  “Uh, yeah, dude.  Uh, I’m just gonna go home.”  I dashed away, didn’t look back to see what Tony or his mom said, didn’t wait to see if his witch mom would call my normal-ass mom and get me grounded, too.

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This was written for the Rachel Poli Time to Write prompt.  Rachel Poli is extremely popular and active on Twitter, but I think she’s not widely followed in my little corner of WordPress.  Check her out – she has a ton of interesting writing-based materials! 

The Palm Reader – #Haibun

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Hands rest palm up
Eyes interpret lines
Curious, wise

I bite my lip and waited for the witch’s response.  The basement air, heavy with spices and musk, matches the bulky curtains and rugs that hid concrete walls.  The zing of magic tingles between her fingertips and my palms, sending electric thrill into my bones.  Tarot cards sit on either side of my arms, displaying my past, present, and future to all who wish to look.

The witch shows a
Delightful future
I can achieve.

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This haibun was written for Colleen Cheseboro’s Tanka Tuesday #110.  I can hardly believe how much my poetry has improved!  I would like to thank everyone who has read and been encouraging for helping me learn to appreciate this art.  Who knows where I’ll be after I’ve done 110 Tanka Tuesdays?!  

Write your own poems and participate in Colleen’s challenges.  I guarantee that you won’t be disappointed!

Witch Stitches Lich

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With what color shall I sew his heart up?  He doesn’t seem quite like an orange, certainly not a pink.  Perhaps a red?  A yellow instead?

Blue or green, you suggest?  Why, I couldn’t possibly.  He never had a cool head about him when he was alive, and those colors simply wouldn’t do. You wanted me to make him into a lich, yes?  Something more than a mindless zombie?  Then trust me.  You want to get everything just right, or you’ll throw the personality all out of whack.  You don’t want a lich with the personality of Pantone 448C.

Ah, this is what I was looking for.  A deep red, not quite a maroon.  Somber, polite, yet invigorating.  Let me stitch up the heart, then we’ll move on to select some liver additives…

(131 words)

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This was written for FFfAW Number 190.  Thanks to Yarnspinner for providing the prompt photo!

Want a Piece of Candy?

Cauldron

All the kids in town
In their bright orange cloaks
And their hero masks
Beg candy from all my folks.

What they don’t know
Is that I make great goodies
Filled with razor blades
And start a rumpus with the mommies.

I cackle and escape by broom.

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This was written for Sammi Cox’s Weekend Writing Prompt Number 77.  I would like to acknowledge to all those Australians out there that I thought about writing needled strawberries rather than razor blade apples, but the syllables didn’t work out as well.

History’s Full Circle

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Fannie patted off the birthing fluids with clean linen and magically peered into the boy’s eyes. She shivered and examined his future. This boy, born in a fort, was destined soon to die in a fort.

She handed the child to his mother and ran out into the woods. She cried, “Why bring this boy into the world for such suffering?”

The entire company of the fort looked for her, but she returned at her own pace.

She moved to Virginia where her vision directed. In twenty years, Fannie Hooe comforted a dying young man in a Union fort.

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Thanks once again to Charli Mills of the Carrot Ranch for this prompt. I personally like to add a bit of magic to odd settings, and the Civil War and associated eras offer a great opportunity.  I hope I didn’t put in too much magic for such a serious sounding prompt!