Widdershins, Part 2

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
The final part of the story...

Submitted: October 16, 2012

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Submitted: October 16, 2012

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Ms. Ciders upended one of the buckets into the well.  Maxwell could not see the contents, but whatever they were, they went over the stone lip with a sickening slither.  Ms. Ciders bent to pick up the second bucket, and Maxwell heard the distant splat of the first one’s contents striking stagnant water at the bottom of the well.  The bucket shifted as Ms. Ciders lifted it, and two items tumbled from it to the grass - something heavy that hit the ground with a dull thud, and something made of paper that flapped and rustled.  Over the side went the contents of the second bucket with the same wet, gloppy sound.  Ms. Ciders scooped the fallen objects off the lawn.  As she tossed the first into the well, Maxwell saw with horror that it was a weighty knob of bone from which shreds of flesh stuck out.  Ms. Ciders glanced briefly at the paper object before she flung it away, too.  There was no mistaking the dog-eared, glossy cover.  It was Chris’s comic book.

The water pistol hung from nerveless fingers at Maxwell’s side.  He pressed himself into the side of the house and felt a prickling of tears start up in his eyes.  Fear bloomed in him like a noxious weed, and its thorny vines scratched along his joints, firing them for flight.  Ms. Ciders went back into the house and closed the door, and Maxwell squeezed his eyes shut against the tears and hitched a quiet, sobbing gulp of air.  When he opened them again, Widdershins sat in the moonlight beside the well, and stared at him with jeering malice.  The cat gave a yowl like a maddened devil, and Maxwell turned and sprinted for the street.  The sloping front lawn and garden lengthened ahead of him like the landscape of a nightmare.  Maxwell pumped his short legs and pounded across the mown strip of lawn and into the tangle of the garden.  The tripwires of some pungent groundcover ensnared his feet, and he fell forward into the herbal jungle with bone-jarring impact.  At the same instant, the enormous orb of the full moon sailed above the trees and rooftops, spotlighting him as he wallowed in the grip of the garden’s tentacles.  It sent his shadow stretching backward to collide with the black-booted toes of Ms. Ciders.

“Maxwell, what on earth are you doing?”  Ms. Ciders did not approach him.  Her face had the frustrated look that Mrs. Rumson’s sometimes wore right before suspending someone from recess.  She held a broom in her hands, as though she had come outside to do battle, but it was not any kind of broom Maxwell had ever seen before.  Its shaft was a long and twisted branch, still wearing the bark but worn satiny smooth.  Its brush was a twiggy explosion that did not lie flat like the golden straws of his mother’s broom. 

“Was that you who threw the candy corn against the house a little bit ago?”  Ms. Ciders’ toe tapped on the moonlit grass, and her expression wavered toward the angry end of the spectrum.  “I believe I warned you what would happen if you persisted in your bad behavior, Maxwell.  Bad things happen to bad boys.”

Maxwell shot to his feet.  “Please don’t tell my parents, Ms. Ciders,” he pleaded.  “It was just a Halloween prank.  I didn’t see anything.”  Maxwell jammed the knuckles of his right hand into his traitorous mouth.  What had he said?

“Oh, you didn’t, did you?”  Ms. Ciders’ pretty mouth quirked upward in a smile that was not very nice.  “I don’t know what you think you saw, young man, but you are quite enough of a menace without adding tale-telling to your repertoire.  Still, I do admire your pluck.”

Maxwell thought of running, and the thought telegraphed itself across his face.  Ms. Ciders moved her booted toe and rested it on the edge of Maxwell’s moon shadow.  Maxwell found himself unable to move, or even to blink.  He stared through smarting bug-eyes at Ms. Ciders as she twirled the weird broom in her hands until its shaft pointed at the ground like a lance.

“Don’t worry, my boy.  I am not unfair, nor unsympathetic to the mischief of childhood.  In fact, I rather admire it.” 

Widdershins materialized out of the darkness to rub against her ankles, and Ms. Ciders cast a fond look at the cat before raising the broom and spearing it downward toward Maxwell’s shadow.

“Noooo!”  Maxwell’s wail of distress went unheeded by the night.  His shadow, pierced by the shaft of the broom, contracted swiftly and dragged him close to Ms. Ciders. 

Reversing the broom, she calmly swept the scrunched boy shadow away with a sweep to the left.  As the scraggly brush swung back to the right, a new shape lay on the grass.  It had pointed ears and a long slender tail.  Before he could draw breath for another shriek, the little shadow climbed Maxwell’s leg and battened on his heart.  It expanded until it covered him head to toe, squeezing as it went.  Maxwell opened his mouth, but what came out was a thin mewling sound.  He fell to the ground and wrestled with his altered and tightening shadow for a few seconds, then lay still.  He was a black, quivering lump on the frosty grass, as insensible as a nub of coal.

As the moon hid behind a rag of clouds, he began to feel again, and what he felt was astonishing.  The air was a cool, stroking river of tantalizing scents.  He opened his eyes and saw…everything!  The shadows hid no secrets, and he was dazzled by the incandescent auras of the objects around him.  Even the smallest things were limned in brilliance.  They spoke in voices of light, imparting a wealth of information of which he had been ignorant before.  He heard the soft scuffle of tiny feet in the walls of the house, and the quick drums of a hundred racing hearts.  He stretched luxuriously and licked his whiskers with a hot, pink tongue.  Looking down, he saw that he was the color of his shadow, which now lay docile on the ground.  Its four-footed shape was an ideal fit, and no longer pinched him. 

He looked up at Ms. Ciders, who stooped to scoop him in her arms.  Her long fingers tickled under his chin in a way that made him rumble with pleasure.

“Well, my fine friend, aren’t you handsome,” she exclaimed.  “Let’s go in and have some of the nice roast I made.  We have a lot of work to do before Saturday.  We want to be ready for all the little trick-or-treaters, don’t we?”

She carried him toward the house, and Widdershins ran along behind them.  Maxwell was surprised to find that he could hear the other cat’s bell just fine.


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