Midnight

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic


A short story inspired by a fantastic cover given to me by Markie Bee.



Check out other covers he has up for grabs at https://www.booksie.com/544121-cover-de … e-for-free

Submitted: June 21, 2018

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Submitted: June 21, 2018

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Midnight.

The townsfolk don’t like me. I’ve never done anything to cause that, but it’s there all the same. I live out on the edge of a forest, several miles out of town. I like being on my own, am comfortable with my own company, and that of my cats, Midnight and Crystal. Crystal is pure white, a large cat with a very laid back personality. She is the Yin to Midnight’s Yang. Midnight is pure black, with yellow eyes. He is forever on the go if he is not sleeping, and we all have, let’s say, a special relationship.

Once I used to try and hitch a ride in to town to do my shopping. No one ever stopped to give me a lift in spite of the fact that I have been living here for five years now. I’m somehow different, don’t fit in. And like so many people, the townsfolk just don’t trust anyone not the same, that bit.....odd.

If they were thinking it would make me pack up and move on, well, they were wrong. It suits me just fine not to have people forever trying to invade my privacy, dig in to my past, my present, my future. I don’t want to know about their lives and I expect the same respect from them.

But lately something has changed. Their indifference has turned in to hostility. Not that anyone has actually attacked me in person. I do not believe that they would dare risk doing that, but they stare. When I go into a store, a silence descends and all eyes follow my progress as I select my purchases. I hand my money over and wordlessly my change is given. There is no ‘Thank you’, or ‘Have a nice day’.

I have to say that I am tempted to rush my visits, get them over with as soon as possible, but why should I give them the satisfaction. If I continue to take my time, I can be pretty certain that their discomfiture is as great as my own. They won’t drive me away, no matter how unpleasant they choose to be.

Someone has been around my home. I can tell as soon as I return. I don’t think they’ve been inside, but I can see clearly where they have stepped, careless of what plants they might be crushing. Ignorant, that’s what they are, for haven’t they trampled some of my most precious specimens.

Crystal has been unnerved. She is hiding, underneath a lilac bush. For a large cat she has an uncanny knack of being able to make herself tiny. Nobody would have noticed her there. Midnight, on the other hand, is up a tree, fur sticking out and it’s obvious he has been taking the whole thing in. He follows me indoors and once I have put our supplies away, I lay down and close my eyes. Midnight is eager to share what he has seen, and lays down beside me.

I’m watching through his eyes as three men, not youths but adults, about middle age, get out of a van and approach the cottage. They are looking, searching for something; maybe checking that I am not home. They go all the way around the place, peeking in the windows. Oh, how I wish I had been inside and could have suddenly appeared. I give a chuckle at the thought. It would certainly have made them leave in a big hurry.

I guess they are looking for evidence. Can they find a broomstick? A cauldron? Not a chance; they’ve believed too many children’s stories, too much superstitious nonsense. Jars, vials, a pestle and mortar, but they are all stored safely away. I take care of the tools of my trade.

Yes, I am a witch. But that is no crime, not these days. I know what to use to influence nature in many ways, but I do not go around casting spells, turning men into goats and toads. Neither do I go dancing around naked in the moonlight, consorting with the devil, although I’m sure there are some in town that like to imagine that I do.

Through Midnight’s eyes I see them walk away, kicking at a few more plants just for spite, I suspect. They have not done anything, not caused any damage to anything other than that which grows outside. But I need to beware, be careful. I do not know what they were after, why they came, but I mean to find out.

Which means that Midnight will be going on a journey where he will be my eyes, my ears.

A special meal must be prepared for the cats this evening. They are going to be helping me and it is only right that I repay them in some way. I don’t need to tell them what is to happen for they have the ability to read my mind.

I will sleep. Crystal will watch over me, for actually my body will be nothing more than an empty shell. Midnight will take me travelling with him and we’ll see what we can discover. It might take a while to find the men but Midnight had excellent views of all of them; they will be very easy to identify,

First I must summon up some clouds to blot out the moon. Midnight will be all but invisible without moonshine. All that could give his presence away are his eyes, and he knows just when to shut them. We get to town much quicker than I would usually. It is strange seeing it from nearer to the ground, but then Midnight can also take to the trees and give me a view from so much higher.

We know who to look for, what they look like, but we do not know where to find them. It will be down for us to look for clues, and the best chance we have is to find that van. That’s not a job that takes too long, for surprise, surprise, it is parked outside one of the town’s four public houses.

Midnight leaps up nimbly on to a window ledge and we take a look inside. It is pretty dim inside, lots of shadowy places. We’ll take a chance and at the first opportunity, we’ll sneak in, take to the shadows and make our way nearer to listen.

We don’t have to wait long before someone walks along the street and pushes the door open. Midnight streaks inside and luck is on our side. Nobody has noticed us. Now, to edge ourselves nearer to the table that they are sitting at.

They have not seen us. It takes a while for them to turn to the topic that we are interested in, that being what they were doing at my cottage.

"She’s just a burnt up old cow. You know that and I know that. There’s no such thing as witches.” Midnight’s claws flex but I warn him to play it cool.

"Yeah, I know. But I don’t know. How can you be so sure? Maybe she’ll put a curse on us. Turn us to stone or something.” Oh, this is good. They are not really so sure about me, and they certainly have no idea of the kind of power that I can wield.

"We’ll not go for her. We’ll go for the cats!” Midnight hisses before I can silence him, but there is another noise for them not to notice. I have to work on calming him, because right now he wants to do nothing more than scratch at the legs, so temptingly near to him under the table.

Best to make a move before his feline instincts overpower my control.

All the way home, he grumbles. His tail bushes and he is skittish, nervous of any sound or movement. I calm him for I have the perfect plan and when I share the details he purrs in support. All we have to do is try to ‘influence’ them to pay a visit soon.

As I stir, Crystal moves to greet Midnight. Brother and sister, Yin and Yang, they like my idea very much. After all, it was hardly fair to target them when they were trying to get rid of me.

"Is that okay, Crystal? I know it’s a bit different, but I think that would be most effective.”

She climbs up my back and lays on my shoulder, giving a gentle miaow in my ear. I’ll take that as her agreement. There is nothing more to do but wait.

I know when they’ll come. It’s obvious really. They will want a day when I am not around to interfere, and do I not go shopping on the same day each week. Illusion is one of my strong points, I’ve always had a talent for casting them. I send my ‘double’ on her way; she is an exact replica of me, in every way but one. If someone were to reach out and touch her they would find that she had no substance at all.

I can see through her eyes though, and that van is leaving town and heading our way. Excellent! I’ll summon the feline siblings to take up their places, make sure that they still have all the details in their heads, although I am certain that they do. I must hide for they must not be aware that I am home, not until the last moment.

Crystal is curled up in full view when they arrive, only taking to her heels and easily outrunning them when they get too close for her comfort. Midnight sits staring at them, looking for all intents and purposes like a garden ornament. He is still, does not even twitch his whiskers until he is within hands reach. The he leaps, straight up in to the tree, too high for them to catch him and out of their sight.

This has infuriated them, just as I knew it would. To be out-witted by a pair of cats was a real insult. Maddened, they approach my house with the intent to do damage; break some windows at the very least.

So now it is fun time!

I step out of my door and regard them coldly. “Yes? Can I help you?”

"But, but.....” stutters one of the three.

"We just passed you along the road. There’s no way.....”

"Well, you must have been mistaken then because, as you can see, I am here.” I pretend to be thinking for a moment. “If you thought that I was out, quite why are you here?”

I can almost see the thoughts trying to make their way through the morass of their minds. They’ve got to think of something to say, haven’t they. At least one of them, anyhow.

But they are saved from having to come up with a lame excuse by the sound of running footsteps from either side of the house. On my left there is a black panther, ready to pounce, to go for the kill; one my right there stands a pure white wolf, salivating, her sharp teeth nicely visible. Neither looks towards me as they are totally focussed on the three men who now look petrified.

The fools! What do they do? The turn and run. Did nobody ever tell them not to do that with wild animals. Midnight and Crystal can have their fun, chase them in to reaching speeds they did not know were in there reach.

Do witches cackle? Well, I’m going to own up to a little one in amongst all the guffaws of laughter. Crystal trots her way back and lays at my feet, while Midnight jumps up in to my arms, gives me a lick.

Word will travel round the town. There won’t be any more trouble from that direction. And if there is, I’ll just take another Midnight stroll.

 

 


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