Happy Halloween: 'Cauldron' - a Silly Story, and It's a Fluke Working Hard!
The words we had to use in our stories for this month's Uxbridge Writers' Circle word challenge were: midnight; impersonate; seance; cauldron; broom; apparition; bat.
So, I had no choice but to write a Halloween story! It turned out to be rather silly - I hope you enjoy it.
We visited It's a Fluke at Woodbine Racetrack today and saw him do a 'timed work'. Below the story, you'll find an action photo. It's blurred partly because he's going fast and partly because it was a bit misty!
The broom twitched as it stood in the dark, dusty corner of the long-abandoned log cabin. Large black spiders emerged from nooks and crannies and worked on elaborate silver webs spanning from one wall to another. A bat flew among the large wooden beams, cleverly avoiding the spiders’ silk. His beady eyes glistened when they touched the rays of moonlight flickering through the open doorway.
Millicent drifted into the cabin followed by Cassalina, their long black cloaks seeming to float around them. A quivering green aura surrounded each of them as they crossed the dirt floor.
“She’s late, as usual,” Millicent said, her voice gravelly and gruff.
“She’ll be here. She always comes.”
Millicent clicked her fingers. The broom flew towards them and swept the large pine table. It gleamed as if new. Cassalina waved her hand and a magnificent gold cauldron appeared. The bat circled under the spiders’ webs dropping berries into the cauldron, including red baneberry, belladonna, nightshade, and bittersweet.
The cauldron bounced on the table and made a sound like a cough.
“We need the milk from milkweed and the sap from black walnut,” Millicent said. “Where the hell is Willimena?”
“Don’t speak of hell.” The voice came from a shimmering white apparition hovering in the doorway.
“Don’t play games, Willimena,” Millicent snapped.
“Come on, Willimena dear,” said Cassalina. “You don’t want to be left like that until next Halloween, do you?”
“But I didn’t do this. It’s because I appeared at a séance.”
“You did what?” Millicent threw her bony hands up above her head. Her eyes shot red rays that bounced off the cauldron and zapped one of the spiders. He fell into the pot. “Now, look what you’ve made me do. Fish him out, Cassalina, while I deal with this idiot.”
“I’m not an idiot. I thought it’d be fun to show up and impersonate Fiona Bellamy’s dead husband.”
“Oh, not him! What gave you that ridiculous idea?”
“I don’t like the Bellamys.”
“Just because they sold a picture to the newspaper which they claimed was proof that you’re a witch.”
“Not just because. Because. All I was doing was stirring muffin mix in a big black bowl.”
“But you must have been careless. Never mind. It’s getting close to midnight. We need to get you sorted out.”
“What are you doing to do?” The apparition quivered.
“How did it happen?” asked Cassalina as she pulled out the distressed spider by the leg. The bat spat milkweed juice over him which made the spider’s eye turn purple. But he scrambled up the nearest thread of spider silk and crawled into a crack in the ceiling.
“Don’t pester the spiders,” Cassalina told the bat.
He left again to get black walnut sap and was thankful he wouldn’t have to have anything to do with the crazy women until the next Halloween. If it wasn’t for the spell, he’d have left them years ago.
“Thank goodness that bat’s gone,” Cassalina said. “He needs more discipline.”
“What happened, Willimena?” asked Millicent.
“Something told me that this barmy group of women—they have a book club, but all they do is drink wine—was trying to call up spirits. You know how glad I was when Tim Bellany died. But then Fiona accused me of killing him.”
“I didn’t know that,” Cassalina said as she stirred the contents of the cauldron with the broom handle. The broom wasn’t being cooperative.
“Well, she did. And Fiona told everyone I was a witch. I got all sorts of stuff thrown at my front door. I had to get the cats to clean it up, in the dark of course. So, when I got this feeling that there was a séance going on, I had to be there, didn’t I?”
“No, you didn’t.” Millicent said.
“Call the bat,” Cassalina said. “It’s getting late. We need that black walnut sap.”
“You call him,” Millicent said.
“So, I transformed into what I thought would look like the ghost of Tim Bellamy.”
“You don’t look like him at all,” Millicent said.
“Well, it worked. They screamed and I said that Willie, that’s me, was innocent and pointed my finger at Fiona.”
“Oh, don’t tell me you really did that.”
“Yes, I really did.”
“So, what happened?”
“I didn’t know Fiona is a witch too. Did you?”
“No, but there are lots of us about.”
“And some don’t even realize they’re witches,” Cassalina said. “I didn’t know until I was eighty years old, for frogs’ feet sake.”
“Okay. We don’t need to hear that story again. What did Fiona do?”
“I don’t know exactly, but she must have cast a spell on me. I can’t shake it off.”
“If we don’t get this cauldron going, we won’t be able to celebrate before we vaporize. Where’s that dratted bat?”
“It’s okay,” Cassalina said. “He’s been back and we’re nearly ready. He’s gone off again to get some nettle juice.”
“Are you sure we need it?”
“Why do you always doubt my judgement? This broom’s acting up again. He’s pushing against me.”
“What about me?” asked Willimena. “I’ll be gone forever if you don’t do something.”
“Let me think.” Millicent pulled her black gossamer hood over her warty face. Both Cassalina and Willimena knew not to disturb her. The seconds and minutes went backwards and forwards as Millicent sifted through her vast knowledge of spells, enchantments, potions, and antidotes.
A blue flash surrounded by white dots signified a breakthrough.
‘Where’s that blasted bat? I need fairy dust, pumpkin essence, and an aster flower.”
“Ew,” said Cassalina.
The bat showed up just as Millicent was on the verge of erupting in rage and shot out of the cabin on his mission. It took him less than three minutes to gather the ingredients for the potion. Millicent needed only one purple aster petal. She crushed it into an acorn cup, added six drops of pumpkin essence, and sprinkled the mixture with fairy dust. A pink cloud fluttered above the concoction.
“Put your left thumb in this,” Millicent told Willimena who was getting desperate. Nothing happened. “Keep your thumb in. It takes at least thirty seconds in real-time.”
Willimena was having trouble hovering over the acorn cup and was near panic.
But after thirty-one seconds it worked.
She changed back into Willie Jones with her green eyes wide open and her mouth agape.
“Shut your mouth. The bat might fly in there. It’s like a cave.”
“Thank you. Thank you,” Willie said.
“Enough. It’s almost midnight. We can’t celebrate tonight. We don’t have time. Thank goodness Cassalina made the potion we need.”
“I didn’t make that one. I only made the one to raise the souls of the dead, for our usual Halloween celebration.”
Millicent shook with frustration.
“Where’s the bat?”
“He’s gone. He thought we’d finished with him.”
“We need crushed echinacea seed, crumbled bark from a sugar maple tree, and juice from a wild apple. Fast! We have fifteen minutes.”
“I can get the echinacea seeds,” Willie said.
“Not fast enough, you can’t. I’m sending the spiders out.” Millicent spread her arms wide and gave her orders in the language of the spiders. Three pairs left the cabin.
“Shall I dump the potion we made for the souls?” Cassalina asked.
“No, we’ll leave it for next year.”
“But what if someone puts their fingers in it or, worse, drinks it?”
“They’ll be poisoned.”
The spiders returned with ten minutes to spare. Millicent made the potion and both Cassalina and she rubbed it on their hooked noses.
“Where did you leave your car?” asked Millie.
“In the lane, behind yours,” said Cassie. “I was following you, remember?”
“Let’s go home,” Willie said.
“Until next year, then,” Millie said. “We avoided being vaporized, but we must do better next time.”
Inspector Stevens was puzzled. The dead body in the cabin had been found next to a broken table with an empty dented metal bucket perched precariously on it. The autopsy revealed she’d been poisoned. Belladonna and nightshade had been detected.
But much about Fiona Bellamy’s death remains a mystery to this day.
Vicky Earle Copyright 2023
It's a Fluke Working Hard!
It appears as if he has all four feet airborne!
He had a wonderful time galloping around Woodbine Racetrack and his 'work' was timed. It was officially recorded at 47.6 seconds for 4 furlongs.
According to my reckoning, this is close to 38 mph!!!!!! (No wonder the photo is blurred!).
He didn't even seem tired to us when we met him back in the barn.
He enjoyed his carrots, as usual!