Wesley and the Wily Witch

Reads: 95  | Likes: 6  | Shelves: 2  | Comments: 6

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic

A humorous tale of a young man whose curiosity led him where few men would dare to go.

Wesley and the Wily Witch

Wesley was down in the dumps, but not because his girlfriend had dumped him. He was there because she had beaten him to it. He was going to dump her anyway but, being a decent sort of chap, he wanted to let her down gently over coffee at their favourite café—his shout. But she hadn’t shown up.

He sent her a text: [Where are you?]

[Anywhere you aren’t. I don’t want to see you any more.]

[Fine. I was going to dump you anyway.]

[Too late. I dumped you first.]

[Well, you can just go and buy your own coffee then!]

That was a lame retort, but it was the best he could think of at the time. So here he was now, alone and single, absently sipping a latte and watching the people around him. They all seemed so damnably happy. A frumpy girl at a nearby table caught his eye. She had her back to him but he knew she was frumpy because her companion was astonishingly pretty. He reasoned that two girls at the same table couldn’t both be astonishingly pretty.

The frumpy girl had unwisely left her mobile phone in the hip pocket of her skin-tight jeans. Wesley watched in fascination as the pressure of the fabric against her bottom forced the device a little further out of her pocket each time she moved—like toothpaste being squeezed from a tube. He was going to warn her, but then she would know that he had been perving at her posterior. Nah. Best to let matters take their course.

Wesley finished his coffee. The girl’s phone had reached the rim of her pocket but, having got thus far, seemed content to remain there. Wesley lost interest. He was about to leave when the two girls got to their feet and gave each other a friendly hug, ready to depart on their separate ways. The sound of the frumpy girl’s phone clattering to the floor was drowned by the screech of a coffee machine as the barista chose that moment to froth a jug of milk.

Wesley’s eyes followed the pretty girl until she disappeared from view. Then he turned and saw the frumpy girl’s phone lying on the floor, half hidden beneath a chair. So you got away after all, did you? Good for you. He started toward the exit, and then stopped. Someone will pinch it if I leave it there. He stooped and scooped the phone off the floor.

He could leave it with the barista. The girl was bound to come back for it sooner or later. Except, maybe she wouldn’t. What if she had no idea where she lost it? He went outside and looked up the street in the direction he thought she had taken. Yes! There she was, out of earshot, but still in sight. He hadn’t seen her face but he had been staring at her back for long enough to recognise it. He set off after her at a brisk pace. It was ironic that he should be chasing another girl so soon, but this time he was motivated by chivalry rather than romance.

He came to a paling fence that hid a works yard from the prying eyes of passing pedestrians. The fence also concealed the presence of an aggressive watchdog. The sudden bark, bark, bark, on the other side of the fence gave Wesley an awful fright. The barking followed him all the way along the other side of the fence. Wesley relieved his feelings by hurling obscenities at the grumpy beast, but the distraction made him lose sight of frumpy-girl. She must have dodged into that alley up ahead, thought Wesley. He broke into a trot.

Wesley rounded the corner a matter of seconds later, but frumpy-girl had already vanished. Where the devil did she go? The short service alley was lined with several skips overflowing with bags of refuse. Wesley saw no sign of the girl. She hadn’t time to reach the end of the alley, and all the doorways were trade entrances. Only one seemed close enough for her to have reached it unseen. He approached the door and pressed a grimy bell-push. An unshaven gentleman with the body of a bulldozer enveloped in a greasy apron opened the door. He surveyed Wesley with distaste and advised him to bugger off. Wesley took his advice.

Wesley moved on to the next door, despite knowing that frumpy-girl couldn’t have reached it in time. On the way, he passed by a large skip that was chock full of bulging black refuse bags. Whump! Something soft landed on his back and bore him to the ground. A gasp of warm breath fanned the back of his neck. He had found frumpy-girl!

Frumpy-girl had sensed someone following her. After dodging round the corner, she clambered onto the first skip that she came to and concealed herself among the refuse bags. Had she remained hidden, Wesley would have given up the search and gone home, thus bringing this story to an end. But the redolence of rotting refuse forced the girl to abandon that option. She chose the moment of Wesley’s passing to leap from the skip and land on his back. From this position of advantage, she began pummelling him with clenched fists.

‘Hey, cut it out,’ cried Wesley. ‘Get off me, you silly cow.’

‘Why were you following me?’ enquired the silly cow, sitting astride his back and cuffing him enthusiastically about the ears.

‘Your phone! You dropped it at the cafe. I was trying to catch up on you to give it to you.’

The girl immediately curtailed the cuffing. ‘Oh! Oh dear. Is that all?’ she exclaimed. ‘I’m so sorry.’ She felt her empty hip pocket. Having thus confirmed the probable truth of what Wesley said, she clambered to her feet. ‘Did I hurt you?’

‘Nothing that a few days in hospital won’t fix,’ replied Wesley, getting up and brushing himself off. He handed the phone to his erstwhile assailant. ‘You need to find a better place to keep this.’ He examined her close fitting jeans and top. ‘Not much room there. Maybe a handbag or something.’ He turned to leave. ‘See ya.’

‘Wait,’ she said. ‘Thanks for bringing my phone to me. I’m sorry I beat you up, but a girl can’t be too careful. Stalkers. You know.’

‘If lechery had been on my mind,’ said Wesley, ‘I would have been heading the other way.’

‘What do you mean by that?’

‘Nothing,’ said Wesley. ‘I don’t stalk girls. Not even the pretty ones.’

‘The girl you would have preferred to follow was my friend Caroline. I’m Lucy, her PJF.’

‘Her what?’

‘Her plain Jane friend.’

‘Hey, no, I didn’t mean…’

‘It’s okay. I know I don’t look good when I’m with Caroline. That’s why she keeps me around. I make her feel prettier.’

‘You don’t look at all frumpy.’

‘Frumpy? Is that what you thought?’

‘No … yes … maybe. I mean, I only saw you from the back so I didn’t really know.’

Lucy was not princess-pretty like Caroline, but her slight imperfections made her attractive in a more natural way. Wesley regretted thinking of her as frumpy. ‘I … I think you look quite nice.’

‘Quite nice eh? Well, I guess that will have to do.’

‘No … really … you look absolutely—’

‘It’s okay.’

‘But, gee, I didn’t mean to offend—’

‘What’s your name?’

‘Wesley.’

‘Stop talking, Wesley.’

‘Oh, yeah, okay.’ A bus growled noisily past the end of the alley, stopped, and moved on.

‘Wesley?’

‘Yeah?’

‘Thanks.’ Lucy flashed him a smile, turned, and quickly left the alley.

Thanks? Is that it? Jeeze, I didn’t even get her phone number. ‘Hey, wait!’ he called as he followed her out of the alley.

An elderly lady turned and glared at him. ‘Please don’t yell at me like that, young man. Whatever is the matter?’

‘What? Where…?’ Apart from the elderly lady, the street was empty. ‘Did you … did you see a young woman pass by here a few moments ago?’

‘No. Not since I got off the bus.’

The bus! Wesley thought. Lucy must have got on it. But he knew that she hadn’t. The bus had left before she had rounded the corner.

‘Are you feeling alright, young man?’ enquired the elderly lady. ‘You look as if you’ve seen a ghost.’

‘Maybe … maybe … I don’t know. I’m sorry to have bothered you. I’m … I’m okay.’ Anxious to avoid further discussion, Wesley turned abruptly and walked straight into a lamppost. ‘Bugger!’ he said.

‘Disgusting,’ muttered the elderly lady. She peered down her nose at him, swung away and walked straight into a kerbside rubbish bin. ‘Bugger!’ she said.

Wesley was perplexed. He had just witnessed the impossible. Was Lucy really a ghost? She hadn’t felt like one when she landed on his back. Did she have magic? Had she discovered teleportation? A girl can’t just vanish into thin air.

But that was precisely what Lucy had done. Before dodging into the alley to avoid Wesley, she had been heading for the bus stop, but not to catch a bus. The bus stop concealed a doorway to a secret place; a place hidden from mortal view. The elderly lady had been walking away from it when Lucy came out of the alley, so she didn’t see Lucy step through the doorway and vanish.

***

Lucy’s mysterious disappearance preyed on Wesley’s mind. He returned to the café several times during the next two weeks on the chance of finding her there, but it was a remote chance at best. It wasn’t as if he’d fallen in love with her or anything. That would be silly after such a brief acquaintance. But people can’t just vanish into thin air. There had to be an explanation, and Wesley was determined to find it.

At last, he gave up on the café and went back to the corner where he had last seen her. Perhaps he had missed something—a concealed door perhaps, or even a manhole. But there was nothing, just a small bus shelter. A roof, three walls and a bench seat. Lucy couldn’t have gone in there, he thought, or I would have seen her. But she had—and he hadn’t.

Wesley stood for a while looking into the shelter. Hopeless! The bench seat looked tempting. Might as well have a rest before heading back. Wherever Lucy had gone, it seemed unlikely that he would ever see her again. He stepped into the shelter—and screamed.

In truth, it was more a strangled squawk than a scream, but ‘squawk’ wouldn’t adequately reflect the shock that Wesley felt when he entered the bus shelter. Somehow, he had stepped straight into a long corridor with dark panelled walls and polished hardwood floor. He staggered back in alarm, stumbled, and fell sprawling into the street. What the devil just happened? Two small girls stared at him open mouthed from across the street, and then ran off to tell their friends what none of them would believe.

It seemed to Wesley that he had walked through a portal—an entry to another world. He’d read about them in stories, but never suspected that they might actually exist. Yet what else could this be? Wherever the portal led, this must be where Lucy had gone. Mystery solved! Except it wasn’t. It only gave rise to a whole raft of new questions. Dare he go through the portal again for another look? Or should he just walk away and forget the whole thing? Silly question. He took a deep breath, stepped into the bus shelter, and found himself…

…still in the bus shelter! Perplexed, he retreated and tried again. He tried several times along the width of the opening, always with the same result. The portal wouldn’t let him through. Why, then, had it let him through the first time? Perhaps it had been because he was thinking of Lucy. It must have been something like that, he reasoned. The portal surely wouldn’t admit anyone who just wanted to wait for a bus. Wesley stood outside the shelter and said, ‘Hey, it’s me. I’m not here to wait for a bus. I’ve come to find … um, someone in there. Let me in.’ He screwed his eyes shut and stepped once more into the shelter. He felt the change in ambience before he opened his eyes. Sure enough, he was back in the corridor. I’ll have to remember how I did that.

He glanced back toward the street but, of course, it was no longer there. This side of the portal appeared as an alcove with a seat and a small built in desk. On the desk stood a vintage upright telephone. The telephone rang. Nobody came hurrying to answer it. A ringing telephone is almost impossible to ignore. Wesley hesitated, and then picked up the receiver and put it to his ear. ‘Hu … hullo?’ Nobody answered, but he could hear the caller breathing. ‘Hullo!’ he repeated. He raised his voice. ‘Who’s there?’

‘You have to speak into the microphone, dopey,’ said the telephone receiver.

‘Oh,’ said Wesley. He had never used an upright phone before. The microphone must be that trumpet shaped thing attached to the top. He picked the phone up and said, ‘Hullo?’ into the mouthpiece.

‘What are you doing here?’ demanded the telephone. The female voice sounded familiar.

‘Lily?’

‘Lucy, you idiot. Have you forgotten my name already?’

‘I’m sorry, I wasn’t expecting—’

‘Shut up and listen. You shouldn’t be here. You have to—’

‘It’s okay. I can leave any time. I’ve been in and out once already.’

‘You can’t leave! Not now. You’ve been here too long for that. Oh my god. You idiot! You’re going to get me in deep sh—’

‘Hey, hang on a minute. I came here to find you, to see if you’re okay. I didn’t expect to end up … wherever this place is. I didn’t mean to cause any trouble.’

‘Wesley, you have no idea!! You have to get out of sight before someone comes along and sees you.’

Wesley looked up and down the empty corridor. He had nowhere to go except back through the alcove. He pushed against its back wall, but it felt as solid as a … as a wall. ‘There’s nowhere I can go,’ he told the telephone. ‘The alcove won’t—’

‘Go left along the corridor. Turn right at the end. Go through the first door on your left. Don’t bother knocking.’

‘Left—right—left. Right.’

‘Are you trying to be funny?’

‘No, I just …’ Wesley paused. ‘Uh oh. I think I hear somebody coming. Lots of bodies, in fact.’

‘Go! Now!’ said Lucy. Wesley ran. He reached the end of the corridor unseen. His shoes slipped on the polished floor as he rounded the corner. With windmilling arms, he kept his balance and skidded to a stop by the first door on the right. A figure skater might have admired his performance. He was about to barge through when the door on his left burst open. ‘This one, stupid!’ said Lucy.

‘Oh, yeah. On the left. Right. I knew that.’ He dashed through the door that Lucy had opened. She hit him on the way past.

‘I wish you’d stop hitting me,’ he complained.

‘You are so infuriating!’ Lucy closed the door and leaned back against it, as if to prevent him from leaving. They were in someone’s office. Someone important by the look of it. Several portraits hung on the wood panelled walls. ‘Why did you come here?’ she demanded.

‘I’ve been looking for you. I wanted to find out how you could vanish into thin air.’

‘You were supposed to think I’d caught the bus.’

‘The bus had already passed—’

‘I know. My timing was bad, but that was two weeks ago. I thought maybe you hadn’t noticed. Do you know what this place is?’

‘Not a clue, but … is it some kind of classy school? The people I heard in the corridor sounded like kids.’

‘It’s Witchery College. A school for witches.’

‘Witches go to school?’

‘It’s just for young girls starting out,’ said Lucy. ‘They graduate when they turn sixteen.’

Wesley noticed that Lucy had swapped her skin-tight jeans and top for a modest black dress with a white peter-pan collar. She wore sensible flat shoes of a kind that Wesley and his mates used to call clodhoppers.

You’re a student here?’ he asked. ‘You seem too old for that.’

‘How old do you think I am?’

‘I don’t know. Maybe sixteen or seventeen.’

‘Try two hundred and five.’

‘What? Oh, come—’

‘I was born two hundred and five years ago, but I’ve lived for only seventeen.’

‘You … you came from the past?’

‘I suppose I did, but so did you.’

‘Not me. I’m from the present.’

‘How old are you?’

‘Eighteen.’

‘So you were born eighteen years ago. Isn’t that in the past?’

‘Well, yeah, but two hundred years??’

‘My parents sent me to school here when I was ten years old. I’d been here for three years when something went wrong in class. I don’t know what because it sent me into a kind of coma. I was out for two hundred years. The witches knew that I wasn’t dead because I didn’t start to smell or anything, so they kept me clean and—’

‘Waited for a handsome prince to come along.’

‘Don’t be ridiculous,’ snapped Lucy. ‘I woke up—without any help—two hundred years later. And I hadn’t aged a bit. It was as if I’d been on pause the whole time. I came out of it four years ago.’

‘You don’t seem like someone from the past. I took you for a modern girl when I saw you at the café. You were with a friend, and even had a mobile phone—until you lost it.’

‘I’ve had four years to learn about life as it is in the modern world. I’ve been sneaking out ever since I learned how to use the hidden door that you came through. I’ve even got an identity—birth certificate and everything.’

‘How could you do that?’

‘Easy enough. I stole the identity of a baby girl who would have been about my age if she hadn’t died.’

‘I wouldn’t have a clue how to do that.’

‘It’s easy if you’re a witch.’

‘Oh.’ Wesley paused. ‘So you’re going to start life in the outside world when you graduate from here?’

‘I’ve already graduated—more than a year ago. Girls go home after they graduate, but my home is two centuries in the past. The witches can’t send me back and they won’t let me leave in the modern world. They say I have to stay here as a teacher.’

‘So, that’s not the school uniform you are wearing?’

‘Goodness, no. The girls wear grey pleated skirts and black jerseys. So drab.’

Your outfit isn’t exactly cheerful, thought Wesley, but he kept the thought to himself. ‘Life here as a teacher can’t be so bad, is it?’

‘Bad enough. I’ve come to love life in the outside world. It’s so much better than it was two hundred years ago. It’s where I want to spend the rest of my life.’

‘I don’t understand. If you like it so much out there, why do you keep coming back?’

‘There’s a talisman here. I’m somehow bound to it. It doesn’t stop me leaving the college but I can’t go far, and it hauls me back if I stay out for too long. I know where the talisman is, but it’s charmed and I can’t touch it.’

‘What about your friend, Caroline. Is she a witch too?’

‘Golly no. But I like her, and she gets all the attention … makes me less noticeable.’

‘I know, you told me that, because you’re the frumpy one.’

‘Thanks!’

‘I mean that in a good way. I don’t like girls who look too perfect. They are like porcelain dolls … and they’re just as cold.’

‘Are you speaking from experience?’

‘Yeah, I broke up with one … just before I met you actually. And I kind of like your frumpy look.’

‘I’ll take that as a compliment. You were a fool to follow me into this place Wesley, but now that you’re here, you can help me get out of it—and never have to come back.’

‘Are you kidding? I can’t even get myself out.’

‘I can get you out.’

‘Good.’

‘But I’m not going to.’

‘What?’

‘When you leave, I want you to take me with you.’

‘Come off it. I’ve got no magic.’

‘Exactly. The talisman is charmed, but only to protect it from witches and others with magic. It won’t have any effect on you. You can steal it and get rid of it and it won’t hurt you a bit.’

‘Get rid of it, how?’

‘That’s the easy part. It dissolves in water. We just have to get to a bathroom or kitchen—’

‘What’s the hard part?’

‘Stealing it from Miss Grundy. She’s one of the cruellest and most powerful witches here. She keeps it in her office, but I don’t think her charms will work on you.’

‘But you’re not sure.’

‘Fairly sure.’

‘So what happens if I get caught? What happens then?’

Lucy said nothing.

‘Look, Lucy, I’d like to help you but we don’t really know each other. Returning your mobile phone was one thing, but now you want me to risk … I don’t know … whatever witches do to people they don’t like. All this witchcraft stuff … the risk is just too great. I can’t take that chance. I’m sorry.’

‘I was afraid you’d see it that way. It really hurts me to do this, Wesley, but if you won’t help me to leave, I’ll have to keep you here until you change your mind.’

‘You don’t mean that, Lucy. You’re a nice girl. A bit frumpy and somewhat prone to violence at times, but nice.’

‘And desperate. Look at it my way. I didn’t want you to come here, but you came anyway. And you didn’t come here to see if I was okay. You came looking for me because you were curious—and you know what that did to the cat.’

‘You’ll turn me into a cat? Oh, come on!’

‘You’re still not taking this seriously, are you? Yes, I could turn you into a cat, but you wouldn’t be much use to me in that form. I need to keep you human so you can steal the talisman for me.’

‘You’re starting to scare me a little, Lucy, but I know you’re bluffing. Suppose I refuse. You can’t hide me here indefinitely. And you’ll be in trouble when they find you’re keeping a man here.’

‘Not a man. A ten-year-old girl. Nobody will notice you among the new entrants.’

‘What?? I don’t believe this!’ said Wesley, but he kind of did, and that worried him. Lucy began mumbling something in a strange language. Wesley felt a tingling sensation, but it might have been his imagination. ‘Stop! What are you doing?’

Lucy stopped mumbling and looked up at Wesley. ‘Reciting,’ she said. ‘It’s an incantation. You mustn't interrupt me or you might end up as a toad or something. You’ll find the transformation a bit painful, but only until it’s done. Would you rather be pretty or frumpy?’

‘Neither! Good gosh, Lucy, are you really going to do this?’

‘I’ve got to. Trust me, it’s quite safe, but you can’t change back until you destroy the talisman. That’s what it will take to break the spell. You won’t be a real witch, so the talisman won’t hurt you.’

‘Okay, okay. You win. I’ll steal the damned talisman. But I’d rather do it without the gender reassignment.’

Lucy smiled. ‘I knew I could count on you. It’ll be risky but, if we act now, you won’t need a disguise. She glanced at her wrist where a watch would be if she had one. ‘Right now, all the teachers and students are in the assembly hall for an induction ceremony. Madam Cronelia, the headmistress, initiates each new student personally with an ancient incantation. It’s all very serious. Nobody is allowed to leave the assembly hall until it’s over.’

‘How much time have we got?’

‘Enough.’ Lucy glanced at her wrist again. ‘Madam Cronelia will be inducting the first girl about now.’

‘Can you tell the time by just looking at your wrist?’

‘Habit. I don’t need a watch in here. Come on. Let’s go.’

***

By now, kind reader, I’m sure that you have guessed how this story will end. Having free run of the entire college (except the assembly hall) Lucy and Wesley will surely find and destroy the talisman. Then they will escape to the outside world and live happily ever after. And that would be a good guess, but stories like this are not always as predictable as they may seem. Read on. The good stuff is yet to come.

It so happened that another story was unfolding at the college at the same time—a story that led to a deadly battle between the teachers and students in the assembly hall. It began when an induction spell backfired on Madam Cronelia, causing her to explode and envelope the stage in a dense green fog. Suspecting an attack, teachers and students drew their wands. Within seconds, they were engaged in raging battle, each of them shooting at whoever they thought was shooting at them. The assembly hall reverberated with shrieks, screams, bangs, and the zapping of spells that flew about the hall like fireballs or flashes of lightning. Some spells ignited curtains and papers. The air began to fill with smoke. Some victims struck by elevation spells floated toward the ceiling, and then fell to the floor with sickening thumps. Some were struck rigid like statues. Others exploded or burst into flames. Bodies began to pile up. A few started to melt.

But that’s another story. Let’s get back to Lucy and Wesley.

***

‘Are all induction ceremonies that noisy?’ enquired Wesley as they made their way along an empty corridor.

‘That’s not normal,’ replied Lucy. ‘Something’s gone wrong. We’ll have to hurry.’

‘We’ll be okay if they stay in the hall,’ said Wesley hopefully. But that was not to be. Almost at once they heard the sound of many feet thundering along the corridor toward them. A stampede! A bevy of screaming girls skidded round the corner ahead of them with arms flailing and leather soled shoes slipping on the polished floor. Several fell and were trampled.

‘They’re the new kids,’ said Lucy. ‘The ones who haven’t earned their wands yet. They’re clearing off back to their dorms. They won’t hurt us.’

Next thing, Lucy and Wesley were swept off their feet by a tsunami of panicking girls in sensible black shoes (clodhoppers) and flapping grey skirts. The pack plunged past the pair without pause. In the relative calm that followed, Wesley picked himself up of the floor and groaned.

‘I thought you said they wouldn’t hurt us.’

‘Oh shut up and get going. It’s the big kids and adults we have to worry about. They have wands. We have to get to Miss Grundy’s office before the fight spills out of the assembly hall.’

They rounded the next corner and the sounds of battle receded behind them. ‘Here it is,’ gasped Lucy. Together, they burst into Miss Grundy’s empty office. It was a gloomy room with wood panelled walls and a mystic themed carpet square on a wooden floor. A number of portraits adorned the walls. One of the portrait frames held an empty canvas, as if the painting had faded away in sunlight. The room was furnished with a large desk, a high backed chair, two visitors’ armchairs, and a number of cabinets.

‘Where would she hide the talisman?’ asked Wesley. ‘We don’t have time to search the entire office.’

‘I don’t know,’ replied Lucy. ‘In one of the cabinets I guess.’

‘Oh jeeze! This will take ages.’ Wesley was nervous. The corridors would soon be crawling with survivors from the battle, and he would be quickly discovered. ‘Uh … Lucy,’ he said, ‘I don’t think we’re going to make it out of here. The moment we leave this office, I’m going to stand out like a wart on a beauty queen’s nose.’

‘Well, we can’t stay here,’ said Lucy. ‘If Miss Grundy survives whatever is happening in the assembly hall, she’s bound to come straight back to her office.’

‘I know. Look, do you suppose you could do that incantation thing on me after all? Nobody will take much notice of one more schoolgirl amid the chaos … just till we get to the portal. Er … you will be able to change me back again, won’t you?’

‘Well … um …’

‘She can’t do it, you know,’ said a quavering voice behind them. Wesley whipped around and saw that the empty portrait canvas was no longer empty. The face of an old man had appeared. He had a long white beard that flowed out of the picture frame, and he wore a pointy white hat.’

‘The picture just spoke to me!’ he said to Lucy. ‘Tell me I’m not seeing things.’

‘That’s the Wizard. He used to be on the board of governors here before the witches turned him into a toad. I think he’s about to put my pot on.’

‘I’m afraid so, young lady. What have you been telling this nice boy?’

‘She threatened to turn me into a schoolgirl until I agreed to help her. But you say she can’t do that?’

‘Oh, she can do it alright,’ smiled the wizard, ‘but she wouldn’t be able to change you back.’

Wesley glared at Lucy, ‘Why you cunning—’

‘Please, Wesley,’ said Lucy. ‘It was just a harmless threat. I would never have done it. Really I wouldn’t.’

‘Hell's bells, Lucy, you’ve played me for a fool. I should never have—’

‘If I may intervene,’ said the wizard. ‘I assume that the pair of you want to escape from this place.’

‘Damned right!’ said Wesley.

‘Yes please,’ said Lucy.

‘Then I suggest that you stop arguing and do something about it,’ said the wizard. ‘I assume that you’ve come here for the talisman.’

‘Do you know where it is?’ asked Lucy.

‘Of course. You’ll find it in the bottom left drawer of grumpy Grundy’s desk.’

‘You’ll have to get it, Wesley. I can’t touch it,’ said Lucy. Turning back to the wizard, she asked, ‘Why are you helping us?’

‘It’s no paint off my nose. I’m just a picture. The real me died at the hands of teacher witches many years ago. I have no love for them.’

Wesley opened the unlocked drawer and found the talisman at once. It was in the shape of a pyramid, small enough to fit in Wesley’s hand. It appeared to be roughly cast in some kind of metal that was etched with runes. ‘It feels like gold. Are you sure it will dissolve in water, Lucy?’

‘It isn’t gold, and I’m not really sure of anything. Someone told me that water would destroy it.’

‘That’s hardly comforting. What happens if we can’t get rid of it?’

‘Then I’m in deep trouble. But don’t worry. I won’t stop you from leaving.’

‘I suggest that you go now and chat later,’ said the wizard. ‘I’m off for a nap. Good luck.’

***

Lucy and Wesley looked out into the corridor. It was empty. They heard sounds in the distance, but nothing close at hand. They hurried off in the direction of the portal. They hadn’t far to go when they heard footsteps coming from the opposite direction. ‘Quick, in here,’ said Lucy, thrusting Wesley through the door of a room they were passing. Inside was a row of toilet cubicles. ‘Get into a cubicle, in case they come in here.’

They waited. The footsteps approached and then moved on. When all was quiet, Wesley flushed the toilet. ‘I thought I might as well use it while I’m here,’ he explained. The corridor was empty, but they could still hear the noises of battle, and they heard the sound of running footsteps not far off. Taking the hint, they too broke into a run.

They reached the alcove without further incident and ran straight through it. Wesley winced, expecting to knock himself silly against the wall, and then they were through.

Out of breath, they flopped onto the bench seat of the bus shelter to recover.

‘So far so good,’ panted Lucy, ‘but we still have to get rid of the talisman.

‘I’ve already done that.’

‘What? How?’

‘I dropped it in the loo when we hid in the toilet cubicles. I watched it bubble away for a bit and start to crumble. Jeeze, it stank. Then I flushed it away.’ Lucy flung her arms around him and kissed him. ‘Hey, steady on.’

‘I’m sorry,’ said Lucy, ‘but whether you like it or not, you’re a hero. You’ll have to forgive me if I swoon for a bit.’ Then she dropped her arms to her sides and lowered her eyes. ‘But I guess a kiss from a frumpy girl doesn’t mean much to you.’

‘It isn’t that. It’s just that you’re a … a witch. I’m not sure that it’s safe even to be friends with you.’

‘But I told you—I’m not a witch any more. The talisman charm has gone, so I’m free to stay in the outside world forever. And out here, I’m just an ordinary girl. You do like me a little bit don’t you?’ She looked up at him with adorable puppy eyes.

Wesley liked her a lot. He wanted to believe she was no longer a witch, but … then he looked into her puppy eyes and his heart melted. ‘Yes, I do like you, Lucy. And if you say you’re not a witch, then I trust you, honestly. Hey, let’s go to the café and grab some coffee and get to know each other better.

***

And this, kind reader, would be a good time to end the story, but I have one more thing to tell you. On the way to the café, they had to pass the fenced yard where the dog had given Wesley such a nasty scare earlier. Once again, the animal burst into a sudden frenzy of barking. Wesley jumped in fright and said a rude word.

‘My,’ said Lucy. ‘You are jumpy.’

‘Sorry, but I forgot about the dog.’ He had to yell over the noise of the barking. They quickened their pace. The dog followed. Bark, bark, bark, bark, bark, and then suddenly—it stopped. On the other side of the fence, the grumpy dog had become a bewildered cat.

‘He’s stopped,’ said Wesley. ‘Thank goodness. Don’t you hate it when dogs scare you like that?’

‘Yes,’ said Lucy. ‘So annoying. I’m sure the grumpy beast will be much happier as a cat.’

‘Eh?’

‘The dog. He’d be much happier if he were a cat. Nothing to do but laze around in the sun all day.’

‘Oh, yeah. Wouldn’t be much use as a watch-cat though.’

Lucy smiled. It was wicked of her to deceive Wesley, but that’s what witches do. One day she would tell him the truth. But not today.

The End


Submitted: March 16, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Vance Currie. All rights reserved.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Invite

Add Your Comments:

Comments

Donald Harry Roberts

cool

Tue, March 16th, 2021 9:39pm

Author
Reply

Thanks, Donald. That's all I needed to know.

Tue, March 16th, 2021 6:17pm

AdamCarlton

Great story. Interesting from beginning to end. Post-modern interjections from the author. An unreliable protagonist. Wow!

Wed, March 17th, 2021 8:48am

Author
Reply

Thanks, Adam. I do try to keep interesting things happening throughout my stories. I'm glad to know that it works.

Wed, March 17th, 2021 1:35pm

niah

When I started reading I didn't realize that I had read the one where the fight broke out in the assembly hall until I read that bit and remembered the other story anyhow well done and very enjoyable.

Thu, March 18th, 2021 7:58pm

Author
Reply

Thank you, Niah. The other story is Witchery. It's fight scene seemed to fit in well with the context of this story, so I made use of it.

Thu, March 18th, 2021 1:43pm

Silver Willow

Simply wonderful!
I loved it just like any of your stories and even read it out to my brother and I've got to say he enjoyed Wesley's adventure a lot.
I especially liked the ending, and wonder what Wesley's reaction would be when Lucy tells him the truth.

Sat, March 27th, 2021 7:01am

Author
Reply

Than you for that lovely comment, Silver Willow. I have never tried reading any of my stories out loud but other readers tell me that they have done so. Maybe Lucy will never tell Wesley that she is still a witch, or maybe he won't care---as long as she doesn't turn him into a toad.

Sat, March 27th, 2021 1:19am

Facebook Comments

Boosted Content from Premium Members

Short Story / Other

Short Story / Religion and Spirituality

Short Story / Flash Fiction

Other Content by Vance Currie

Short Story / Humor

Short Story / Humor

Short Story / Horror