Cat, Bell, Book and Candle (Part 4)

I wiggled through my house’s cat flip and standing on the back door mat, I shook myself. It had began raining heavily seconds after I had left the old lady’s and I was soaked right through.

‘Warm towel, Macavity?’ dad asked me.

‘Yes, please,’ I said.

He got up and dropped a warm towel on top of me. He rubbed me down then scooped me up and placed me on one of the two empty chairs at the table. I peered over the edge and saw they were eating tea. It was sausages, chips, beans and fried eggs.

‘Dad got paid,’ my Little Mistress explained, ‘so there’s lots of extra things in.’

‘That’s good,’ I said and began washing my ears.

‘And we got a pumpkin too,’ Eden pointed out, excitedly.

Looking to the kitchen sink, I saw a large orange pumpkin on the window sill. It was huge and looked like I could fit inside it.

‘That will make a fine Jack O’ Lantern,’ I declared.

Eden nodded and stuffed her face like she hadn’t eaten all day. Dad was more slow, in his tried, thoughtful way.

‘I wish there was two of me,’ he spoke after some time, ‘then I could here for you tonight and my double could go to work.’

‘Me too,’ Eden replied softly.

‘I’m sorry kiddo,’ Dad answered.

He left soon after, the front door locking behind him as he dashed through the rain to the car. We watched from the front window and Eden waved him off, though I doubted he noticed.

‘What shall we do this evening, Little Mistress?’ I asked.

Eden sat with slumped shoulders and stared at the TV watch was showing a quiz show.

‘Dad’s said that before,’ she whispered, ‘I didn’t think about it then but now…’

Little Mistress looked at me and said, ‘Macavity, do you know a spell to make a double?’

I thought for a moment and replied, ‘that kind of thing is too difficult and dangerous for you, young Mistress.’

‘I don’t care!’ Eden snapped.

She turned off the TV, raced from the room and went upstairs. I ran after her, a bad tingling in my whiskers. Eden bet me to her bedroom, she slammed open her door and began throwing her clothes off.

‘I can’t let you do this, Little Mistress,’ I shouted.

Eden pulled on her black witch’s dress and began getting books, ingredients and her small cauldron out. She sat down, pulled her family’s spell book into her lap and began flipping through the pages.

I jumped up and landed on the book, back arched and hissing maddly.

‘Macavity,’ Eden yelled and tried toss me off the book but I dug my claws in, ripping the page she was open at.

‘I will use all my power to stop you, Little Mistress,’ I growled, ‘you can’t do such a spell. It is wrong.’

Eden threw the book down and I kept my balance on top of it as I hit the floor.

‘Then what’s the point of being a good witch, if I can’t help my dad!’ Eden sobbed as tears dropped from her eyes.

I gathered myself and said, ‘calm down child. Perhaps, there are other ways.’

Eden sprawled across the floor and broke down in frustration. She cried loudly until she was struggling for breath and had to lay there gasping. She shivered and curled up, defeated and weary. She wiped her face with her hands and shut her eyes as her breathing began shuddery.

I went and sat lightly on top of her hip. She moved after a few minutes and sat up, looking at the mess she had made. I rubbed against her knee then crawled into her lap. She pulled the spell book back to her slowly turned the pages.

‘I know of simple helper spells we could try,’ I spoke gently.

Eden wiped her eyes and sniffed.

‘There’s the invisible servant, the cleaners, the dust sprites.’

‘It has to be real,’ Eden said with a shaky breath, ‘if the double is to go to the pub to work in my dad’s place it has to be just like him.’

I frowned and looked up at the ceiling in thought. I heard the wind blowing outside and down the chimney it was making loud gusty sounds. The rain though had stopped, leaving only a few drips dropping off leaves.

‘An impersonation spell then,’ I said, ‘but we will also have to put a clouding spell on top to stop people from looking too closely. This is going to hard Little Mistress and it won’t last more then twenty-four hours at the most.’

‘But then we could cast it again?’ Little Mistress pressed.

‘Only after some time.’

‘What do we need?’ Eden asked.

‘The spell should be in here,’ I said and from the beginning, I flipped through the book to find the right page, ‘Impersonation Potion. For use on self or someone else to create a solid imagine of person that can do simple tasks.’

‘That should do it,’ Eden said and lent over me to see the page.

‘It’s complicated and takes over twenty four hours to complete.’

‘In time for Halloween then.’

I murmured and read what we needed.

‘Let’s try it, please, Macavity,’ Eden begged.

‘All right, Little Mistress, but this won’t be easy and some of these ingredients we don’t have…We shall have to try our best.’

Eden nodded and we set to work. I didn’t have much hope the potion and spell would work. I had been on the receiving end of failed spells before. It wasn’t the end of the world but disasters did happen. I could have told my Little Mistress this but lessons taken are stronger learning tools.

‘We will have to substitute this and this,’ I explained, pointing out the ingredients with a claw, ‘coal should do and you’ll have to use your own blood.’

Eden nodded, the ever attentive pupil, ‘and I can go out and get rain water and soil. What’s this one?’

She pointed at the Latin name for a plant.

‘It’s a poisonous flower,’ I explained.

Going to the cupboard where all the jars and containers were stored I looked through for the best replacement. My Little Mistress had a limited selection of things. Her dad and I insisted that a child witch should only have safe things to use in spell casting.

Thus, a complicated and needy spell like this needed the larder of a professional witch to be fully effective. There was no way certain ingredients could be replaced but if I made some wise choose here, we could make something like a dummy of her dad. It wouldn’t replace him though…My Little Mistress would just have to understand that.

‘Here,’ I said and rose three jars of dried plants over to her, ‘a mixture of these will have to do.’

‘I need….’ Eden began reading the last few ingredients, ‘some of my dad’s hair, a tooth, fingernail, blood…skin? and mmm…erm….’

I peered at the word underneath her finger and spoke aloud, ‘ A mirror that has most recently capture the reflection of yourself or the person.’

‘The bathroom one? but we can’t take that off the wall…’ Eden trailed off.

‘At least we don’t need an empty vessel,’ I counted back, ‘the doubling spell would have demanding one.’

‘What’s that?’ Little Mistress asked.

‘A dead body.’

Eden pressed her lips together and tried not to look disgusted.

I jumped around some of the mess and headed to the door, I turned back and called to Little Mistress, ‘let’s check the bathroom,’ I said.

We went and were lucky that Eden’s dad had done a full prepare before he went to work. We found; hair, nails and skin.

‘We’ll have to do without the tooth. You can use your own blood, it’s close enough your dad’s and look, Little Mistress! His shaving mirror! He’ll have looked in it recently.’

‘Oh, yes!’ Eden cried and took the small mirror from off the top of the sink. With all the things we could get we went back to the cauldron and continued.

It was late by the time it was done and left to simmer. Eden curled in bed and fall asleep quickly in her black dress. I looked at the window longingly but I couldn’t go out whilst the camp stove was still lit and the potion needed stirring every now and then.

I could sense in my whiskers and by my magic that witches and their familiars were arriving. It was two days before Halloween. I signed and lay down before the glow of the gas fire. The room was warm and smelt of the bubbling potion; spicy, earthy and burnt hair.

I yawned and give a wave of my paw to set the metal stick stirring around the cauldron. The potion hissed and crackled, giving off a light red smoke that rose to the ceiling.

Opening the window, I let in the wild wind and though a chill went though my black and white fur, it was good scent the clean night air. A dog howled somewhere, a long call which wasn’t answered. A few minutes later, an owl hooted.

Fighting down the urge to go out, I turned away and went down to the kitchen. Eden’s dad arrived whilst I was raiding the fridge. He saw the light on and came to see what was going on.

‘Working hard too, Macavity?’ he joked when he saw me.

I nodded but didn’t say anything, it was none of his business what Eden as a witch did. I meowed and looked cute at him. He was tried and easily gave in to giving me some food.

He had something to eat himself then left without finishing, turning the kitchen lit out and going upstairs. I finished eating in the dark then went outside for a quick walk around.

The night vibrated with the coming Halloween. More animals were stirring and witches who had arrived from a far were awake in strange rooms, reading and preparing for the spells they wanted to cast on that sacred night.

I went back to the potion. Sniffing it, I knew it wasn’t going to work though I could tell it was brewing something. Perhaps, we’d end up with a ghost or a shadow figure of Eden’s dad, something that would last a few minutes or hours tops.

At the appointed time, I turned the camping stove off and got into bed with Eden. She was warm and soft, so I wiggled close to her chest under the duvet and dozed off as dawn arrived.

To Be Continued….

Cat, Bell, Book and Candle (Part 2)

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At nine o’clock, Eden was in bed and I was sat on the window sill feeling the cool breeze from the half open window. Eden was reading a book from school propped up on pillows and lit by the bedside lamp. The book was about an orphan girl who caused trouble, not interesting to me at all.

Eden’s dad was a bar tender at the local pub; The Red Lion and he was on a night shift, returning long after midnight. Eden’s mother had abandoned her and her father when Eden was eight.

A mental break down, I had overheard was to blame. Eden thought she was off doing missions for her witch Coven, The Moon Thread Circle. I knew it wasn’t true though but Little Mistress didn’t need to know that.

‘Time for sleep, child,’ I spoke.

Eden put the leather bookmark in-between the pages and put the book on the floor. She sorted out the pillows and laid back, looking up at the ceiling. She shut her eyes but soon opened them again.

‘I can’t sleep, Macavity,’ she said and rolled over to face me.

‘You haven’t even tried,’ I told her.

‘Tell me a story,’ Eden demanded.

I sighed, my tail twitching with a mind of it’s own and turned away from her back to the window. I could see down into the back garden and all was quiet out there. Music was playing from one of the houses across the way and a car was driving passed. The back road was only lit by the lights from peoples’ gardens, so it was mostly cast into darkness.

‘You are too old for bedtime stories now, child,’ I answered.

‘Please, Macavity?’ Eden pressed, ‘tell me how you came to me again.’

I dropped my shoulders and turned my head to look into her deep brown eyes. Her smooth, child’s face was tilted up in my direction as she waited with held breath for me to answer.

‘All right,’ I playfully growled.

Eden giggled into her duvet then snuggled down as I moved from the window sill and on to her bed. I sat next her curled form, tail around my legs though the tip was twitching back and forth.

‘It was Halloween, three years ago,’ I began, ‘it had been raining all day but it had stopped in the evening. The air smelt of that rain. And of damp soil. There was also; wood smoke from home fires, spices from the baking of sticky parkin and pumpkin pie mixed with the burnt lids of Jack O’ Lanterns on the doorsteps.’

‘And the witches?’ Eden whispered, ‘where were they?’

I smiled, flashing sharp fangs, ‘the witches,’ I spoke, stretching out the words, ‘ they were gathering a top Pendle Hill. All the Covens in Lancashire of which there are five of and also other Covens from around the UK. Plus, any lone witches that wish to come. They were all gathered up there celebrating All Hallow’s Eve.’

‘One day, I’ll join them up there,’ Eden cut in sleepily.

‘I could sense that tonight was the night I would meet my new Mistress and become her familiar. I transported myself to the place I knew I needed to be and I transformed into the new form you see before you. This is my fifth cat life.’

‘And before that, Macavity?’ Eden uttered her voice fading with the coming of sleep, ‘weren’t you a raven?

I nodded and answered her with, ‘I have taken many forms throughout the centuries; raven, toad, dog, crow, rat and imp. I have served witches both good and evil, powerful and weak, widely recognised and others long forgotten in history. I was created by The Wittchen Mothers like all familiars are. We bound our lives with a single witch and must protect and coach her throughout.’

I settled down, tucking my legs underneath me and wrapping my tail around my side.

‘That Halloween night, I found you trick or treating with your dad. You were dressed as a witch in a pink and black dress and a pink witch’s hat with stars on it. You were carrying a broom in one hand and a plastic orange cauldron in the other. You want from door to door asking for treats until finally you arrived back home.’

‘And then?’ Eden said through a yaw.

I sniffed a laugh and said, ‘you spotted me. A small black and white cat with startling blue eyes, mewing at your front gate. You cried out, “look at the kitty, Daddy!” and your dad replied, “very nice, sweetie” and took you inside. The door closed and I sat on the step crying to be let in. I couldn’t speak to you then because we needed to do the bonding rite.’

I paused, taking in a few breaths then picked up the story, ‘you wanted to let me in but your dad said no. He was determined I would leave and go to my own home. At around midnight, the door was opened and you picked me up and held me to your chest. You were tired, having hardly slept because of the noise I had been making. Your dad had finally given in because he needed sleep too.’

Eden sighed and muttered, ‘then you were mine forever.’

‘Yes,’ I agreed, ‘I led you to your mother’s witch things. I showed you what you were and what to do. We bonded and I could speak to you then. Your father soon found out but he knew that day would come. He had been dreading it. Your mother had told him what she was but he had loved her so much he didn’t mind. He hoped for a son, perhaps he wouldn’t be magic but you were born. A daughter who was all ways going to be witch no matter what.’

I pawed the duvet, flexing my toes up and down as I smoothed the cover out. I listened to Eden’s breathing, it was soft and steady; she was almost asleep.

A car headlight flashed outside; a neighbour parking up outside the back of their home. That light semi-circled the ceiling then went out letting the shadows reclaim their space once more.

I tracked the light then looked towards the window. I heard the car engine switched off, the door opened and a voice sang the ends of a song. There was the creaking of the back gate and the footsteps up to the back door, then quietness once more as the neighbour went inside.

Eden stirred, disturbed by the light and noise. She mumbled something paused then spoke it louder, ‘Kitty?’

I crawled over and on to the pillow next to her head. I put my nose and whiskers to her cheek and tickled her. Eden moaned and brushed a hand across her face and my chin. I curled up next to her, tail wrapped around me, paws tucked in and head resting almost on top of Eden’s out stretched hand.

‘Then?’ Eden breathed into my ear.

‘You had to pick a name for me,’ I whispered, ‘and it couldn’t be just any name. A normal pet name isn’t aloud for a familiar.  The name must have a magical weight to it. We were a long time in coming about my name.

Maybe, if your mother and her familiar had been here they’d have helped you. Instead, we went through name after name until finally you came to a poem book about cats from the school library. We went through those poems together and I was thrilled to hear them.

Then we discovered my name; Macavity, the Mystery Cat. It was a good fit for a witch’s cat. And I had never heard of another witch’s cat by that name. In the poem, Macavity is a criminal known as the Hidden Paw and posses mystical powers that help make sure no one can captures him. Of course, I’m nothing like that fictional cat but I do have magical powers.’

Stopping, I snuggled into Eden. Her hot breath clouded my face, her cheeks rosy with sleep and hands clenched as she dreamt. Finally, my Little Mistress had fallen asleep.

To Be Continued…

Cat, Bell, Book and Candle (Part 1)

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I sat before my front gate and watched the world going by. Everyone was in such a hurry that no one noticed me. Perhaps, if I had been a wholly black someone would have given me a second glance. Even if you weren’t superstitious, there was something about black cats that made people pause.

Luckily then, I was a white and black cat. I had three white legs and one black leg whilst my tail started black then white the rest of the way. White blots mixed with black along my back whilst my underside and chest were white. My head was black as were my eyes then my face was white with a patch of black around my left eye which then joined the black on my head and upper neck. My nose was black with a beauty spot above and my whiskers were white.

My eyes were amazing blue like quartz crystal or shads of frozen ice. They came from my Siamese side but also because I wasn’t your average pet cat. Magic flowed in my blood and I could see it, smell it and use it to do whatever I wanted within my abilities….Most of the time though, I acted normally and brought no attention to myself.

I smelt the air, my whiskers twitching and could pick out so many scents; the perfume the woman next door was wearing as she got into her car. The open sewer the three workers were struggling to fix down the street. The dog at number thirty-one who was barking in the back garden because he wanted to be let back in. The mouth tingling aromas of lots of dinners being cooked, plus the waft of another burnt potion….

I stretched, limbering up my legs and tail for scaling the house wall. The small silver bell and name tag on my purple velvet collar jingled together. I limboed under the gate and avoiding the cracked flagstone path, stepped through the flower boarder, leaving four perfect paw prints in the soil. I jumped up the wall, followed it along to the end then jumped down into the dimness of the ginnel which was the covered alleyway between the two terraced house.

Trotting along side the wall, I came to the end and clawed my way up the brick wall to the right side and over it. I was in my back garden then. Well, if it could be called that. The space was a long rectangle with a flagstone floor and jumble of potted plants growing along either wall.

A wire cable that was a washing line ran from the house to the back fence and on it today were tea towels and bath towels, moving gently in the breeze. A number of girl’s toys were laying about; a pink bicycle lent up against the back wall, plastic dolls like dead bodies on a beach, a skipping rope, an old paint tray full of chalks, pencils and papers, a football, a tennis ball and a broken racket.

I picked my way around it all and scaled the drain pipe. The house was narrow and only had one upper floor. There was a peeling green painted back door, a single window that looked into a kitchen. There were two windows in the floor above; a small one that was glazed over for the bathroom and the window I was heading too; that of a newly turned twelve year old girl’s bedroom.

I reached the sill and sat for a moment. I wasn’t at all out of breath but I liked to survey what was around me. From here, I could see the gardens of the other houses and the cobbled path that ran between the terraced houses’ backs. It couldn’t get anymore Victorian then this.

On moonlight nights, I would go up to the roof and sat close to the chimney and reflect on my passed lives. A witch’s cat is immortal and must live nine lives with nine different witches. I had sat on rooftops in Paris, Roman, Russia and London looking up at the same moon that lit up the night sky.

And now, I was here; Lancashire, England, home of the Pendle Witches.

I pressed my face to the window and looked in. She was in the room, my Little Mistress; Eden Raine Crowe. She was lent over a small camping gas stove and the black pot that was balanced upon it. Open books, bottles and jars lay scattered at her feet. She was wearing a handmade black dress with a white bow at the back as a symbol of a child witch.

I miaowed and pawed the glass, my claws scratching against it.

Eden turned her head, spotted me and dashed over. She flew the window up with such force, I had to dig my claws into the sill to stop myself flying along with it.

‘Macavity!’ Eden cried and scooped me to her chest. She held me there, saying things I could barely hear as she suffocating me against her dress. I wiggled out bum first and dropped to the carpet.

‘What earth are you doing, child?’ I chided her as I batted away an empty glass bottle.

‘Trying to make a de-stress potion for dad,’ Eden explained.

I approached the simmering cauldron and sniffed cautiously, ‘it’s wrong,’ I spoke.

Eden fell to her knees before the little stove, her dress riding up to show her knee length black socks with white bows on top. She put her hands in her lap and hung her head.

‘I know,’ Eden uttered, ‘I’m no good at this, Macavity.’

I sat down, curling my tail around my paws and studying my Little Mistress.

‘Potion making is a magic unto it’s self,’ I announced.

Eden nodded and I could see her bottom lip trembling and her eyes tight trying to hold back tears.

I got up and padded around the books until I found the right one. I pulled it over to her and made the pages flap to the right page. This book was handwritten by Eden’s great-great grandma and other witches had written other spells and notes in the crackled yellow pages.

‘This one,’ I said and tapped it with a paw.

Eden took the large book into her lap like a toddler with a teddy bear and looked at the fancy, curly black ink on the page. Speaking the words softly, she underlined each one with her finger.

‘You should have enough left,’ I said as I nosed one of the bottles, ‘you really must be careful with how much you use, Little Mistress,’ I added.

‘I know,’ Eden uttered and started collecting what we needed.

Putting on protective gloves, she took the cauldron off the burner and onto a cork mat on a metal slate. Then she dug out another cauldron, this one a spotted grey colour and placed that on another cork mat.

Slowly, I taught her through the potion. Making sure she added just enough of each ingredient and stirred in the right places. We spoke the incantation together then left the potion to simmer for an hour.

Eden sat back on her heels, tried and flushed with the heat. She rubbed her eyes and toyed with the edges of her dress in an absent-minded way. Her long, black hair had tumbled out of the bun she had tried to put it in and now lay fanned down her back.

‘Time to tidy up, child,’ I said and nudged her with paw and nose.

Nodding sleepily, Eden slowly cleaned and tied everything away. I did most of the work though, using my magic to pick up things and place them back on shelves or in boxes. The pages of the books fluttered closed and the books slotted into the small bookcase once more. The bottles and jars floated back into their places in the racks then into the wooden boxes which kept them safe.

As for the failed potion and pot, I neutralised the warm orange liquid which made the potion stable and non-usable. It is safe for Eden to put in the bathtub, turn the taps on and wash out the black cauldron.

‘What time is your father coming home?’ I asked Little Mistress from my perched on the closed toilet seat.

‘Late,’ Eden replied, ‘he told me there was a microwave meal in the freeze. There’s cat food for you, Macavity.’

‘I prefer fish, a raw egg and a bowl of cream,’ I said.

Eden pulled the plug in the tub and watched the water spiralling down, ‘we’ll see,’ she added.

To Be Continued….

The Cry #FFFC

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Magic was something that everyone had. We were all born with it but had different quantity of it. Of course, I had been doubly blessed and sent off to be with grandma as soon as I could walk. Here at her cottage and gardens, I and the other apprentices learnt the crafts and what our lives really meant.

Though I had often wondered, late at night or whilst sweeping out the pig pens, what the other side of magic looked like. There were many different kinds but the Dark was the most fascinating. And despite what everyone thought, it wasn’t all evil. I doubt any of the rumours surrounding those people were true but unless you were on their side, you didn’t know.

Leaning on the broom I was daydreaming about the dark witches when someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned, thinking I was about to be told off for not working but it was Elan.

She was dressed like me, in a plain blue working dress but she had on a leather apron which meant she had been working in the lab. On her head was a small, bronze tiara which marked her as head apprentice.

Elan began speaking slowly and moving her hands in a directional way.

I watched and waited. Trying to figure out what she wanted. Sometimes, I picked up what people were saying easily and other times I didn’t.

I had been born deaf. I could speak a little but preferred not to. I could lip read and hand signing was always useful. I had been trying to learn how to mind read but it was tricky.

Elan paused, signed and took out a notepad. We could all read and write. She wrote something then turned it to me and I read;

Go fetch a mandrake 

I shook my head, the colour draining from my face.

Elan snatched the broom from me and hit me over the head with it. Straw and muck rained into my hair and headache like pain thumped into my skull.

I turned to get away from her and she began beating me with the broom. I ran off and I guess she must have been shouting after me because I saw the looks on the other girls faces.

All the way to the back of the garden, were the dreaded greenhouse was. Ivy covered the glass thickly, blocking out most of the light. The door too was covered but with a sharp tug the ivy would give way. Dead plants and broken pots were scattered around. A rubbish dump lay around here and wild roses grow amongst other things that had survived and planted themselves.

I crept up to the door which I know was stupid. I felt for the handle and slide the door back. Stale air crept out, hot with the heat of summer. I went in and didn’t look around. The layouts were all the same in each greenhouse, even the order of plants by ages. New seeds to the back, the oldest at the front and then a procession of growth in between.

The pots were black hard clay and sticking out of them were dark, thick leaves. Elan hadn’t told me which one to pick. I debated going back to ask her but decided to take a chance and picked not from the first group- the oldest- but from the middle and still fully grown.

Picking up one of the mandrakes, I walked carefully to the cottage and to the back door. I guess the girls who had been around before had told the others what I had been sent to to and they had all left the area. No one wanted to be around, even outside incase something happened the mandrake got loose.

The kitchen door was open but the room empty. A well stocked fire and going in the massive fireplace and pot was bubbling. Vegetables half cut lay on the table and a plate with the remains of a meal had also been abandoned like even the servants had known my task.

The door to the basement was the lab and I went slowly down the stairs which were lit with candles that dripped globs of red wax. I smelt burning of something harsh which I couldn’t put my finger on. I felt the steps more then seeing them and arrived at the last one before I knew it.

Lowering the mandrake which had been blocking my view. I saw the lab which was full of tables, bookcases and equipment then ahead of me was an open doorway. I saw a shadow go past and guessed everyone was in there.

I walked over and stood in the doorway. There was grandma, Elan and three other woman. The room was circler and empty but for the markings on the floor, the black candles and a bowl which was were the burning was coming from.

Elan waved me over and I walked around the markings on the floor, the bricks of the wall scraping my back. I held out the plant to her, but Elan shook her head and pointed me over to grandma. I went with dread filling me. I didn’t need a note telling me what I had to do as I could sense it.

Grandma handed me a dagger then floated across the floor. As one the witches put earmuffs on and pressed themselves near to the door. They watched me whilst their months carried on moving, I guessed saying the words to the spell they were casting.

I set the pot on the floor and grab all of the leaves of the mandrake in one hand. I didn’t want to do it. Why couldn’t they have picked someone else? I put one foot onto the lip of the pot and gritted my teeth. Of course, I knew why they always picked me; because I was deaf and less affected by the mandrakes’ evil crying.

I yanked as hard as I could, felt the soil give way and the leaves move up in my hand. I shut my eyes and kept pulling. The dagger shook in my other hand and I felt my fingers start to go numb.

I opened my eyes and saw that the top of the mandrake was coming up. Soil was raining down and the pot was cracking under the pressure. I grabbed tighter, knowing as soon as the mandrake felt air that it would try and borrow back down. Breaking the pot would help but would also send the mandrake into shock and that kind of scream could kill everyone.

I shut my eyes again, concentrated and pulled as if my life depended on it. I felt the pot and more soil giving way. Something brushed my skin and I opened my eyes to see a small branches trying to curl around me.

With the dagger I tapped the branch away and pulled the mandrake up the rest of the way. The horrible thing popped out. It was a dark brown colour, all wrinkled and covered in soil. Many branches that made up the limbs were thrashing around, dirt going everywhere and roots were desperately clinging to whatever they could, including myself.

It was hard to pick facial features out of the folds of flesh but I could just make out the screwed up eyes either side of the bulbous nose. The mouth was torn up in a terrifying scream showing off rows and rows of fangs.

I could hear the screaming. It rang in my head and made me feel dizzy. I was deaf, so the mandrake’s crying and screaming should have no effect on me but for some reason it did. Before I could feel anything else, I stepped into the circle and placed the mandrake into the bowl of burning herbs and green liquid.

I swung the dagger up and brought it down into the mandrake. I didn’t want to see if I had killed it or not. I fled the room, tripping over someone’s foot as I did so.

Laying sprawled across the cold lab floor, I felt the door shoving me further along as someone shut it behind me. I felt sick, dizzy and there was a ringing my head that I knew shouldn’t have been there.

I let time passed for awhile then got up on my hands and knees. I crawled to the stairs. Feeling like I was a ship on a stormy sea and at any moment I was going to be tossed into those monstrous waves. Reaching the stairs didn’t stop it. I climbed them like a baby for the first time and at the top I pushed opened the door and lay down on the warm kitchen floor.

I threw up, everything coming out of me and covering the floor. I was spinning like a child’s top and flying off into nothingness. After everything in my stomach was gone, I dry heaved until blood appeared.

I hugged myself, gulped in air and curled up on the floor. Tears washed my faces and the screaming in my head wouldn’t stop. I felt like I was dying.

Slowly, everything began to fade. My body felt better, though exhausted. I stretched out, feeling waves of sleep taking me.

Next time, Elan could get her own mandrake.

 

(Inspired by; https://fivedotoh.com/2020/05/11/fandangos-flash-fiction-challenge-65/ with thanks).

Casting The Curse

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I curse you.

May your blood boil and fill you with rage. May you destroy all you love. Let the rage consume you and spill into the earth.

Let poison be in your cup and you drink deeply. The poison shall course through your veins, turn your blood black. Let your body be sealed. No blade can open you skin, you shall not be cut.

Stitch your mouth and eyes closed. Burn your fingers so you can’t feel. Let only you ears hear the screams.

Boil, boil, boil. Rage, rage, rage. Burn, burn, burn. Flow, flow, flow.

I cast this curse on you.

Xylophile (Part 1) #AtoZChallenge

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Xylophile; Someone who loves forests.

I was born in this forest, like most of the coven members. It’s a centuries old tradition for babies to arrive out here. It’s said to be the most natural channel of magic in the area and also gives a connection to life, death and rebirth just like the cycle of the forest.

My love for the forest and it’s magic comes from that moment. I’m in tune with the nature around and can use that energy to create magic. But these are not the fantasy or supernatural magics of books and movies, this is a neutral magic that can be used in help me or others or to cause negativity towards others.

Nature’s magic doesn’t always work though and we can only ask so much of it. I guess that’s why so many people have stopped believing in it. They have turned to the world of technology and forgot how to ask the different energies to help them.

A few years back, magic users got away with saying they didn’t have phones, computers or TVs but now the world relays on all of those so much, we can’t avoid them. I don’t spent a lot of time with technology, I’d rather be reading books or walking in the forest.

My mother called me Ela which means earth. She never told me who my father was and the coven members don’t know either. My story is that my mother desperate for a daughter ask Mother Nature to give her one. My mother created a spell which involved swallowing an acorn – the seed- to make her pregnant. I’ve always believed it to be a true story.

And this story isn’t going to be about my search for truth to that tale because I’m happy with that knowledge. Today, I want to tell you about my current situation. Things haven’t been great for me lately, lots of stuff has gone wrong in my life all at once. It’s the normal young adult stuff; the struggling to find a job, the break up with the boyfriend, the falling out of the best friend. You know, the normal life problems.

So, I’ve been spending a lot of time in the forest, getting away from all of that and trying to use the magic to fix things. There’s a favourite spot of mine which I always go to and spend a good few hours there. It’s next to the river and a rushing waterfall. There was lots of rocks around which the water has to make its way over or around. These rocks make good places to sit and dip my bare feet into the cool water.

I let the water take the negativity away and draw from it clean energy to help me get through things. The sound of the water calms me and adds to the wind shaking the trees and the animals playing about.

Dear, Nature I draw energy from you. Today, I wish to make magic to help my life and others around me. Please, give me the energy I need to cast those spells.

I call upon the elements to aid me. Water, I take energy from you to help cleanse and heal me. Air, I take energy to speak my spell and to cast it out. Fire, I take energy for heat and passion. Earth, I take the energy of life force you give us all.

Mother Nature, hear my request and grant me what I need.

 

To Be Continued…

 

 

Caim #atozchallenge #writephoto

Caim; sanctuary; an invisible circle of protection, drawn around the body with the hand to remind one of being safe and loved, even in the darkest times. 

I watched the sun rising from my window. It had been another sleepless night. Too many thoughts in my head and nothing to settle me. I pressed my cheek to the cold, wet glass as the clouds began to light up.

A story, told by one of my childhood’s nannies, came into my head. It was about a boy who got lost in a dark forest where an evil witch lived. The boy wanted to protect himself but carrying nothing, could only use a spell his mother had given him. Using the air, he drew a circle around himself with his hand, whilst at the same time recalling a memory of being safe and loved.

The boy walked further into the forest and happened upon the evil witch. She tried to capture him, so she could eat him, but the evil witch’s spell bounced off the boy. The witch tried again and again, chasing the boy through the forest as he tried to get away. Finally, the boy made it out of the forest and back to his village. The evil witch could do nothing but hover on her broomstick at the edge of the trees, cursing the boy.

The boy ran into this house and was greeted by a happy and tearful family, for they had all thought he’d never return. The boy told of how he had cast the Caim spell his mother had taught him and when the evil witch tried to capture him, it was that spell that had saved him.

I sighed and moved my head away from the window. I had long given up believing in fairy stories. The idea of casting that spell stuck with me though. Getting out of the window box, I stepped into a patch of dawn light laying on the bare floor. Shutting my eyes, I thought about the best time I had felt safe and loved. I drew a circle around myself in the air.

A touch of warm brushed my skin, opening my eyes and looking out of the window, I saw the valley below full of sunlight. I wasn’t sure if the spell had worked or not but I felt a lot better that day for the first time in weeks. And that night, I slept well.

 

(Photo prompt from; https://scvincent.com/2018/03/29/thursday-photo-prompt-valley-writephoto/ with thanks).

Postcard #34

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Dear Aggie,

It was such a shame that you couldn’t make it to the ritual the other night. Everyone missed seeing you. However, I guess that’s the price you pay for summoning a vengeful demon. You’ll have to tell me all about it when you can. Nothing much happened at the gathering. We did send you a spell of blessing though but I’m not sure if it worked because that new girl got the words mixed up. She really needs some more training – naturally gifted, my ‘donkey’!

Anyway, I hope everything works out for you soon, love Lettie.

Cooking Up A Storm (Part 2)

Midnight was meowing behind the front door when I got back. I unlocked and opened it to scoop him up. Burying my face in his warm black fur, I tried to hold my tears in. I closed the door with my foot and sat on the sofa. I rubbed the cat against my cheeks and made soft meowing noises back. Midnight, strangely a big fan of cuddles for a young male cat, demand more.

‘Did you miss me? Yeah, you did. You eat all your food? Good kitty,’ I baby talked.

He gave me a string of meows then fell into purring and curling into ball in my lap. I stroked him and watched him dozing off. The warm and content feelings jostled with my sad ones and I did wipe the corners of my eyes.

‘He just had to bring her up,’ I told Midnight, ‘I know I shouldn’t complain. It’s still important to talk about her, but today? No. I don’t want to think about it.’

My phone ring and I scrambled to find it in my bag whilst trying not to disturb Midnight.

‘Hello?’

‘Becks, hey! Is your car okay? When you coming over?’ Dawn’s excited and rushed voice shouted in my ear.

‘Car’s fine. What time did I say? Five or six?’ I answered.

‘It’s quarter to now,’ Dawn responded then began speaking to someone else in the background.

‘It is? Oh. I still need to ice the gingerbreads. Everything else is ready though. So, six then.’

‘Can’t you come now, please?’

I petted Midnight as a long hum escaped my pursed lips.

‘We need to set up the table then get ready and that’s going to take a while. I need to wash my hair still and Amber just found out she can’t get into her costume.’

‘It’s baby weight!’ Amber’s voice yelled back followed by bursting girly laughter.

‘I can’t,’ Becks pressed, ‘if you want them to look right, I just can’t. And there’s no way I’d want to rush them after all my hard work.’

Dawn signed heavily down the phone then whispered to someone else, ‘she can’t get here for another hour.’

‘Look. I’m about to do them now, so I’ll just set the table when I get there. Okay?’

‘All right, please try to hurry though,’ Dawn said back unable to hide the disappointed tone.

‘I’ll try. Bye.

‘Bye, Becks. She says an hour. I’m going to wash my hair…’

I hung up, then moving Midnight off my lap, went into the kitchen. The heavy smell of ginger, cinnamon and toffee blasted all other smells away. I checked the toffee apples and finding them set, moved them on to the table with the collection of other things. Then I put all the gingerbread shapes on one plate and prepared the icing.

‘It’s too silent, I mumbled.

Finishing off the icing, I went and turned the TV on. Midnight jumped up on the coffee table, tail swinging and watched me channel flicking. There wasn’t much on, so I put the news on and went back to the kitchen. Feeling better, I sorted out the icing for colouring, then got piping the designs on the biscuits.

I didn’t need any inspiration or drawings, I had been making these gingerbreads for the last five weeks. With the news reporters droning on in the background, my hands worked by themselves and I began thinking again. My dad had been right about my mum. Tonight had been her favourite out of the whole year, just like it was mine. She would spend the whole of October planning and preparing. Sometimes, especially as I got older, she’d call me in to help make cakes or muffins or something that involved pumpkins.

I felt my chest get a little tight, but instead of stopping I thought it best just to go on thinking about her. She was never a ‘normal’ mother or wife, being a white witch saw to that and yet, she manged to embrace everything and make it happen. That’s what my dad was talking about before.

Almost an hour later, I was done with the forty gingerbreads. Leaving them to officially set, I wrapped up each toffee apple in black Halloween foil finished with a bit of ribbon and put them in a carry bag. Digging out my notebook, I ticked them and the biscuits off.

‘So, now I get it all into the car, grab my suitcase, put food down for Midnight then it’s party time!’

Midnight meowed at his name, but didn’t appear, which meant something on the TV had his attention. I put some more food in his bowl, topped up his water, then picking up my notebook again, ran through the list once more; ‘pumpkin pie, pumpkin cream cheese muffins, Halloween cookies, lemon cheese cake spider web, Halloween cupcakes, Graveyard mud moose pie, toffee apples and gingerbreads. Yep, all done. Okay, to the car.’

I grabbed a large bag from the table, which had the cookies, cheese cake and muffins carefully boxed up inside and headed to the front door. I got my keys from my handbag on the way and went out to the car. I spent a good few minutes, carrying stuff out and storing it as carefully as possible in the boot and backseat.

Midnight tore himself away from the TV to watch me. Finally sorted, I locked the car and hurried upstairs. Taking my small suitcase -thankful I packed my clothes and personal stuff last night- from the corner and going back down again. I nudged Midnight out the door and hurried to the car. Ignoring his howl of unhappiness, I put my suitcase on the passenger seat.

‘Done. Everything. Good. Front door. Midnight, what are doing? Are you in or out, kitty? Aww, I’m sorry.’

I picked him up and Midnight tried to climb on to my shoulders.

‘I’m sorry you can’t come. Oh! The TV.’

I darted back inside, putting Midnight on the sofa and turned it off. Then remembering, I hadn’t closed any curtains or checked the windows or the back door, ran around the house doing that.

‘I’m good now. Bye, Midnight.’

He gave me a long mournful meow, like a toddler who didn’t want to be left. I waved good bye to him all the same and locked the front door. Getting into Herbs was like stepping back into the kitchen. The car smelt of warm spices, pumpkin and other sweet delights. I checked the time and then my phone. Dawn’s house was half an hour away and it was five past six.

I texted her then drove off, the excitement of the party finally hitting me.

To Be Continued…

Confidence

You enter the shop and a heavy waft of cinnamon and sandalwood hits you. For a few seconds you debate backing away and closing the door, but you’d look foolish. So, sheepishly you finish climbing the step and go inside. A collection of small bells sings your entrance then clash together as the door closes.

You look around, feeling like you shouldn’t be here. For some reason, you are painfully aware that this is someone’s house. Yes, it’s a shop, but someone has converted the lower floor to make it so. In front of you is a staircase with a baby gate locked across the bottom. A white signs reads; staff only. To the right of you all the walls that had divided the small terrace house living room and kitchen have left a large space. Well, it would have been a large space, but it’s cramped full of bookcases, shelving units and large objects.

Deciding that you’ve changed your mind you go to leave, but as you turn a voice calls out. You turn back, hoping that voice wasn’t directed at you, but knowing it was. There’s a woman behind a large counter. She looks to be in her thirties or forties, a lot younger then you were expecting. She is wearing a black gothic style dress with lot of bead work and lace.

You think of witches and vampires, wondering if she was possible one or the other or either.

She beckons you over and you have no choice. Your feet pad across the floor and when you arrive before her, you can see her many facial piercing and thick makeup. As she begins to make enquiries into what you want, you tried hard to come up with something.

You could be honest and say you were just curious. That you are on holiday here and that due to the wet weather, you came inside for cover. Or you could just lie. You could just make up a story, say you need a present for a friend who’s big into witchcraft. Or say you’re thinking about getting into it yourself?

No, you think. Not that. The truth then? No, that’s really not a good excuse. You could have gone into any shops or café’s along this road or the next. Why did you walk into here?

The woman looks at you, questionability. You looked to the left, across the counter top in search of inspiration. There you see an incense stick burning and a cardboard tray of small glass bottles.

You turn back and tell her you’d like some incense. Which is the one she is burning?

She tells you it’s sandalwood and that there’s an offer on this week. Buy two incense packs and get one free.

You nodded your head and move down to study the line-up of packets. You choose; sandalwood, sage and jasmine. Holding the packets, you can feel the paper pressing against your skin. The faint scents of each catch your nose for a moment. You inspect the bottles. They are spell bottles. Each has a tiny cork stopper, a scroll of paper and an instruction sheet.

The woman asks you if you are looking for anything in particular?

You reply no.

Then because she seems a little put out and you have become more comfortable here, you tell her that you have just been put in charge of planning a large meeting. You explain that your boss has asked you to invite the bosses and co-persons of some smaller companies over. You also have to do a presentation and a few other things. You are nervous. You believe that if you get anything right you might get a promotion. And you badly want a promotion.

The woman nods and tells you that the self-confidence and self-esteem spell bottle is what you want.

You find it and pick it up. Inside you can see dried plants, they are purple and pink. Juggling the incense sticks, you studied the label and see that the plants are lavender and roses. A few more ingredients are listed but you don’t recognise them. There’s also instructions to cast the spell. Spotting the price sticker, you decided you can afford it.

You place everything down on the counter and watch the woman tills up. For something to say, you talk about the weather.

She tells you she has been trying out a new spell to bring the sun back.

You almost make a joke about weather forecasters, but think about it. You pay on your card and she hands you a small plastic bag.

You thank her and leave, your eyes wondered around the shelves as you do so. Outside the rain is still falling. You start walking back to the hotel and decided that you will give the spell bottle ago. What could go wrong? You ponder.