For those who celebrate it; Happy Halloween! I wanted to do a fun themed writing exercise this morning for Halloween, so I came up with the prompt,
“Three real witches arrive at a party”
Based on this I started writing, seat of my pants, which I only do in exercise mind you, and I had so much fun with it, I had trouble stopping. But, my wife and children deserve their own Halloween celebration as well (I guess).
Please excuse any typos or errors in consistency, I try to craft these with the reader in mind always, but I don’t have time to edit and revise these exercises as well as I would like with my other projects needing so much attention.
Thank you for reading; I write for you!
Prompt: Three real witches arrive at a party
Ness took a swig; her fat tongue flushed it down fast and her anus puckered. She curled her toes; the small joints popped in her apple-polish stilettos. “Whew-eew!” She said. “I don’t want to make a stir, but that tastes awful.” It was true. She didn’t want to make a stir. She had her past enough for that; and her excessively bumptious brothers, who held a special place in the hearts of most residents of Aragonda Heights; a sort of consternation, part ignorant hate and part tactful awe.
“Ye-ye-ye-yeah-girl!” Said a tall, grayish-green mummy, approaching Ness at the punch bowl. His shining tufts of copper hair stuck out from under loose gauze and his huge Ray-Bans hung over a pimpled chin. He dipped his cup in the thick liquid, grinning with stained lips. “That’s that ‘Witch’s-Brew’, Yo!”
“Oh my God,” said Ness, playing with the taste on the top of her mouth. “What’s in it? I feel dizzy already…”
“No freakin’ clue,” said the mummy, “they brought it for the party, stuff’s everywhere, it’s killer!”
Ness took a slower sip and cringed. Tastes like something her brothers Ike and Morgan used to cook up in the garage. It reminded her of summers in junior high, of volunteer taste testing the latest home-brew straight from big rusting vats. They really gave a damn about her opinion too. One evening, when Ness said Ike’s moonshine tasted rotten, both brothers went to booting the vat into a twisted tin mess. If they cooked the ‘Witch’s-Brew’, they might’ve done the same. Ness told her brothers she hung around those summers for the booze, but she knew they cared what she thought. Ness thought that’s why she did it really. That was before Ness figured out who Ike and Morgan really were, that they were willing to lie to her for so long, and besides, there was nothing cool about burning your brains out with moonshine every night and getting fat and failing class. But still, after thinking about it, Ness liked the ‘Witch’s-Brew’ a bit more, and drank it with a bit more ease.
“Hey everyone—everyone!” It was Jonas’s warm voice over the standing speakers. The two hundred or so students in Presidents’ Hall turned to face a figure on the small makeshift stage. He held the mic to one side of a crooked half smile that made Ness shiver. She didn’t care if he was black—she really didn’t—but there were fewer battles more abject than Ike and Morgan’s vigorous bigotry.
Jonas continued, “Hey, for those who don’t know me, or who can’t see through those funky ass masks, this is your captain speaking; Jonas!” Jersey elbows raised with grunts throughout the crowd. “If you give me just a second of your time—turn that shit down man. Yo, listen; I know you’re all having a good time right?” The double doors on Presidents’ Hall shook with the violence of the crowd’s assent. “I know, I know. It’s that ‘Witch’s-Brew’, huh?” The crowd laughed knowingly. Ness laughed too. “That’s a special gift straight from, drum roll,” he covered the mic, and leaned in for the secret; he whispered, “principal Gibbons.” He straightened, laughing. “For real, for real; he’s pretty down, but we just won him a cup didn’t we, didn’t we?” His teammates assented. “I’m going to get some real music going for you all here in a minute, but I wanted to say thanks for coming, and, uh, we did it, and um, well I hope next year we beat those clowns again; and for those of you who dressed up, you’re dorks, but you rule; and um, yeah. Hah! That’s it.” He shrugged and raised his plastic cup by the crowd’s cheers.
Then Jonas was blocked from Ness’s view by rows of black and orange cups. Ness lifted her cup but noticed it was emptied. She filled it again using the semi-transparent skeleton-arm ladle to pour the thick, misting liquid into her cup. When Ness joined the toast, the crowd had forced Jonas into a chorus of the team’s unofficial song.
There was a commotion near the stage, then Jonas was above the raised cups, and Ness was looking into his blushing face. She liked him better when he blushed. Then Jonas looked, and he saw Ness, and they shared a smile before he led the crowd into the crescendo. Ness watched him conduct from a teammate’s shoulders, his cheeks slightly dimpled, eyes honest and simple—caring—and she thought she might not give a damn about her brothers.
The shriek came fast and so loud, it took all the breath out of the team’s song, a candle blown out, in an instant. It came again, from the back of the hall; a high, shrill shriek. Ness spotted the girl first and knew her. “It’s Mrs. Thurnby!” Ness clopped across the cement floor as fast as her ‘sexy devil’ mini-skirt would allow. The brief jog made Ness hold her stomach. “Oh! Oh. Mrs. Thurnby are you all right? Why are you shaking?”
“What’s wrong with her? Who is she?” Asked Jonas. The crowd had delivered him over their shoulders, directly to the action.
“This is Mrs. Thurnby. She was my math teacher at Turner High.”
“Oh, what kind of math?”
“Just math. Like adding and subtracting.”
“Is that you Ness, dear?” Asked Mrs. Thurnby, seeming to see the students for the first time.
“Yes, It’s me Turns-y-bee, tell me what happened? What are you doing snooping around in the dark here on Halloween? You’re going to catch a cold.”
“Oh no, dear, dear, dear! I just came from the Principals office.”
“What was Gibbons doing here so late?” Asked Jonas.
“He told me he wanted to keep an eye on you,” said Mrs. Thurnby. “Not to interfere, just to keep an eye, he said. And, well, I’m always here late, grading papers, and trying to work on syllabi for next semester, and darn it, finally finish this play—you can do it Jan, you can do it! But I ran into the principal, and we got to talking, and well, he offered me a sour, pungent drink.”
“Thats that ‘Witch’s-Brew’, Yo,’” intoned an anonymous crowd member.
“Yes, well you don’t understand. One thing led to another and, well. Well.”
“What Turns-y-bee, tell me?” Pressed Ness. When Ness had first made the decision that she did not need to end up like her family, that she could be more than people expected, Mrs. Thurnby gave her a C in math.
“Ness, you’ve never been a bright child, but I need you to understand this. A long time ago, this land, Presidents’ hall belonged to some very… judgmental people, with very little to do, and too much hate. And right now, tonight, at this very moment, three victims of those people, very unhappy victims, are coming to seek revenge on whomsoever they find here. I know because when me and Gibbons were on his desk, I saw out the window three figures—”
“Wait,” said Jonas, “you hooked up with principal Gibbons?” There was a general hoot from the students.
“No!” Cried Mrs. Thurnby. “Well, yes, as a matter of fact, but that’s not the point! The point is that just as I was climbing atop my Gibby-poo, I looked out the window and I saw… I saw three figures—“
But before poor Mrs. Thurnby had a chance to say more, something very peculiar happened. Her voice turned off. Her lips still moved, her throat worked, her face emoted, but no sound came out. She seemed to notice, but then her face went blank, and a different face entirely seemed to stretch underneath. It was a face none of the students had ever seen the woman make and it made Ness feel like she suddenly had to pee. “Good evening my dearies! Ee-hee-hee-hee-hee-hee! Happy halloween!” It’s voice was engorged with glassy notes that made the crowd whine.
The cackling thing that was Mrs. Thurnby choked; its eyes turned milky. A slow raspy sucking preceded a crack, like thunder, as she departed the hall, faster than lightning, through the Northern window, shattering the pane, fraying wire, twisting metal, and trailing blood in its wake. Through the gaping hole, Ness could hear Mrs. Thurnby’s body thud repeatedly against the tin campus roof tops until she was out of earshot.
Presidents’ Hall erupted in panic.
The hall doors shut, sucked by a great inhale of the October night. Ness heard someone yell that the windows were locked; shorty after, that they had shut on their own. People ran in all directions, stacking chairs on tables under the windows, most of them surging for the exit doors. The crowd had tipped over the table holding the ‘Witch’s-Brew’ and dove behind it to avoid being trampled. The boy in the mummy costume tried to take cover too, but a group came heaving over him and when they passed, his face was bloody and his eyes looked tired. He wasn’t moving. Ness realized she was screaming.
A figure landed like a cat beside Ness. Jonas looked at her, his bright eyes, excited and alert, but in control. “You all right?” He asked. But all Ness could do was cling to his jersey and weep. The chaos raged around them, a wild fire set free on a dry windy mountain. Ness clung to Jonas and thought of the broken boy’s face and a new fit of screams took hold. Jonas hushed her. “I got you,” he said. “We’ll be alright, just, just hold on now. Just hold on.” His eyes scanned the windows—clowns, skimpy nurses, and M&M’s wrenched and fell at their feet. He peered at the crowd; banging and crashing shoulders against the double doors. He rubbed Ness’s should and sighed. “People’ve gone crazy in here.”
A sound, like God throwing the switch on your heart, stole the light from the fluorescent bulbs, and the hall emptied to darkness. Only the moon twinkled in, creating an alien surface from the tops of costumes’ wings, horns, and crowns in the hall. On stage, a light grew; a small bonfire. On it sat a large pot, and beside it, Ness could make out three dark figures; each of their tall pointed hats were capped in silver moonlight. The hall was breathless as the first figure spoke,
“We have your attention,” it said. Its voice was omnipresent, and if it was an earthly woman’s voice, it belonged to the eldest, meanest woman of all.
“Who is in charge here?” Said the second figure, a much weaker voice, but nonetheless chilling, with an aching croak.
Ness’s eyes were adjusting and she could see the hundred or more students, huddled in corners, some behind tables like her, others laid out broken in the center of the hall, at Jonas; Jonas looked, unwaveringly at the creatures; their flame danced in his charcoal eyes. It was he, of course, who spoke first. “We’re kids,” said Jonas, “No one’s in charge.”
“We were children too you know,” came the third figure’s voice, the most terrible of all; because, it did not fill the hall, it did not even enter Ness’s ears. The voice crept across the top of Ness’s skull with needle pointed fingernails. “Just thirteen. Thirteen when you raped,” she rasped, “and murdered us. You didn’t leave my sister’s eyes to see them gut me. Small mercies—small mercies.”
“My name is Jonas Tallman. You’re In Aragonda Heights, California, do you know where you are?”
A white flash erupted in Ness’s head followed by excruciating pressure. She closed her eyes and rolled to her side. When she managed to open her eyes in intervals she noticed other students in similar circumstance. The pain subsided into the three figure’s laughing in unison. Ness saw that Jonas had taken a knee and held a hand to his forehead, but still watched the figures.
“Oh! a handsome one,” said the second figure. “A dark one. A sinner. Like us, sisters! Oh how fitting! How perfectly wonderful! Didn’t I tell you it would be so?”
“Indeed you did sister,” said the second figure.
Suddenly, Jonas was pulled into the air. Ness cried out, but the pain in her head came again; she felt dizzy and fell back to the floor. Jonas struggled, but his strength was useless against his invisible foe. Jonas was transported to where the figures stood and suspended five feet above the now-steaming cauldron, pivoting and spinning at his efforts to escape.
“Now listen my little ones,” said the first figure, “we are going to play a little game. Your dear friend Principal Gibbons, who had it in his heart to rent to you this wonderful facility, which so humbly stands on the rotten earth where a certain house of justice used to stand.”
“Principal Gibbons did this?” Asked Jonas. He was calm now. He floated in the glow of the mysterious brew, glaring at the dark figures. “What does he have to do with this?”
The second figure answered, “Your principal is engaged in a rather wide variety of extra curricular activities.”
“Yes.” Said the third voice. The students moaned. “The louse thought he was making a deal with the great father. But that old soul is much too busy for an old fool like Gibbons. He dealt with me. He dealt, we paid, and now it is our turn.”
Ness shivered and hugged her knees. All she could do was focus on Jonas, slowly turning in air, so much rage in his face, Nora was shocked at the calmness at what he said next.
“What are you going to do to me?” Asked Jonas.
“We’re going to open you up,” said the first figure, “and read your insides.”
“Oh,” said Jonas. “Well. Why are you going to do it?”
“That was one of the questions they asked us when this was house of justice,” said the second figure.
“What did you tell them, then?” Asked Jonas.
“Whatever it was,” the second figure went on, “it wasn’t to their satisfaction.” The women cackled, and then all three figures were in the air.
The figures flew around Jonas and the cauldron, hissing and spitting like wildcats. They arched their backs and writhed; scratching the air and bucking like mules. Their screeches and yelps and whines became so loud, and the pain and scratching so intense and unbearable as they rose and fell; Ness was sure her ears would bleed, and her head would burst.
The third figure spoke in all their minds then, as the spinning figures drew in, their arms outstretched to Jonas, “Watch now, as we show you true wisdom.”
The first figure drew from her dark shroud a blade, a meter long, a crooked thing, and held it to Jonas’s belly. Someone in the crowd screamed. Or was it inside Ness’s head? Yes. It must have been. It was Ness. It came again. But it wasn’t Ness, it was different, it was Ike, or maybe Morgan? It told her to move. To get up and move. She was sure it was her now. Yes. Get up. Stop them. Save Jonas, she had to save Jonas. But how? The pain came in her head as the buttons from Jonas’s shirt shattered in their eyelets, exposing his stretched abdomen to the twisted blade’s point, threatening to spill his life down into their bubbling—
Ness was on her feet before the plan was formed in her conscious mind. The figures started an incantation Ness couldn’t understand and vaguely she heard Jonas cry out in pain and she tried to push it away. She tried to jump over a fallen student, but when she landed, her foot slipped under her, and her ankle crashed against the cement. She threw off her shoes and limped on, tearing her skirt to keep pace. She neared the stage when the third figure noticed her and the pain in Ness’s head dropped her to her knees.
“Where do you think you’re going little one?” Ness groaned, fighting to lift her head, the large iron pot hovering over the bonfire, just feet away on the makeshift stage. “My dear little sister,” the voice said, “how rude. What do you think you’re doing?”
Ness couldn’t look at the wreath-like figures floating above her. She couldn’t look at the moaning Jonas, or the blood, or the knife. She could only look at the cauldron, and will herself to smash it to bits. But the figures wouldn’t let her, they held her down with their power, and she could feel them, feel them laughing, all throughout her, feel them inside her, reviewing her, seeing all there is to see, and mocking it. Still, Ness stared at the imperfect skin of the wrought iron kettle and willed with all her being that she could, like her brothers had on that vat years ago, bring down her wrath on it, but her body was heavy, and useless as a dreamers. Ness slowly turned her eyes up and saw her Jonas, the front of his jeans dark with blood, and then Jonas’s eyes; scared, and pained, and—
For just an instant, Ness thought she heard the sound of horns blaring. Students dove out of the way as a red pickup crashed off the double doors flying off their hinges, and came roaring to a dusty stop halfway inside the doorway. It sent a rush of light into the hall that Ness felt immediately throughout her body. As soon as she felt the strength in her, she lurched forward, and with her outstretched arms, shoved the cauldron to the ground, shattering it into four thick pieces on the hard ground, its contents crackling and disappearing into cement.
The figures bellowed in despair. They withdrew the knife from Jonas and he fell onto the exposed bonfire. The figures shrieked as they fell to the ground with painful thuds, and cries of pain that no longer filled the hall. Ness hurried to help Jonas from the fire.
“Ness!” Called a man from the bed of the truck. He held a shotgun. He hopped down and ran to her. “Sis, you all right?”
“Ike! Where’s Morgan?”
Ike hopped over to the three figures, now little more than three sisters in dark rags, writhing on the floor, and poked at them with the barrel of his gun. “Jesus sis, whaddya do to ‘em? Hah! Well, it makes our job easier. Hey Morgan! Little Sis’ already broke the cauldron! I’mma load these up and we’ll head home for supper!” There was a belch from the truck and Ike smiled. “Means yes,” he said to his sister, then began binding their hands and feet with a length of cord.
“He’s driving. Jeez sis, you should have told us you was coming up here. We’d of told you not to come up here on Halloween.” Jonas moaned as he stood. Ness helped him to his feet. “Who the hell’s this?”
“You knew about these people?” Asked Jonas.
“These ain’t people boy. These here are gen-u-ine witches.”
“That’s right. No worries though. Me an my bro got this. Truth of the matter is, me an Morgan here been takin’ care of this sort of business in town for quiet a while now. There was a time there, we thought you might be interested in doing it with us. But then. I don’t know,” Ike hefted the witches on his shoulder like a bundle of sticks, “you changed.”
Ness’s mind worked to make sense of her brother’s words. She turned to Jonas and inspected the wound on his stomach. It was deep and bleeding fast. Jonas shivered with the lack of blood, but smiled with Ness. “Thanks,” he said. “A whole room of football players, teammates, and the girl in heels comes to my rescue.”
“Of course.” It was all she could say. It felt weak. It was. So she did all she could think else to do. She kissed him. She kissed him long and tight, and when she was done she held him for a long time.
Ike slammed the tailgate, then turned to find his sister embracing Jonas. “Oh for the love of—” he banged on the side of the truck, “Morgan are you seeing this?!”