📅 Published on May 29, 2023


Written by Dale Thompson
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

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“Dark spaces and long empty traces of the world I have known

Hope is fleeting, and history is repeating, hearts have turned to stone

Voices calling the dogs are mauling, and no one answers back

Echoes are silence, tomorrow will be violent

There is nothing we can do about that.

I go searching, like a woman birthing, waiting for something to be born

Teeth are gnawing, the serpent is crawling and, in our hearts, we have sworn

We will fly, through the sky, to wreck your kingdom come

And when we are done, we will put out your sun live in darkness everyone.

We are not fairies, but we can be scary witches from the east

We gather your children, or do not you remember we prepare them for the feast.

We are the crones that will suck on your bones, enchantress we seduce

We cast spells and conjure up hell with crippled hands tighten your noose.

We practice our craft and can cut you in half or boil your flesh alive

Over the cauldron of fire, the flames leap higher, and this is how the sisters thrive

I will warn you at night, when you put off the light, and everything is dark and gray

If you hear scratching on the roof or the sound of cloven hoof, it is too late to pray”

“Come in, my good friends.”  The ever-estimable Dr. Victor Monier extended his invitation and shook the hands of his four dear companions who had managed the rain to come to his beck and call.  Dr. Monier was a man of world travel, marvelous adventures, and told the most fantastical, fascinating stories of any globetrotting man alive.  Receiving a summons from the good doctor could only mean one thing.  He had been away and returned safe and sound and hopefully in one piece, and he would be gathering his friends together to lay upon them the whereabouts and details of his latest conquest.  With him on this wet and blustery evening was myself, Theodore Fitton, Peter Blatty, Blake Plantain and Roger Medford.

“Welcome, welcome, welcome to my house of the raconteur, the troubadour, testimonials, into the minstrel halls of the oracle learned from griots of old and part-time jongleur.”  Dr. Montier laughed, amused with his own introduction.  No introduction was needed, for he was very well known among his friends and his reputation had never been tarnished or tarted.  After the formalities and greetings exchanged, the doctor began.

“Three witches, and not the Shakespeare Wayward Sister, but three of the demoniac kind which summoned me as the Weird Sisters led Macbeth to his destruction.  As Shakespeare borrowed from Holinshed’s work, changing Holinshed witches from beautiful ones to haggard and dark, I will tell you of three diabolical unaesthetic, disfigured wenches that were barely human and hardly of this world. If a wood witch meets you on the road, do not receive what she has offered, for in that offering, a sacrifice is required.  Every malevolent being expects something in return that the collector will be unable to pay.  The price will be two-fold, often ten-fold according to the power of the spell. Meeting with a witch always comes with a curse.  They are blasphemous and carry a weighty jinx, a hex, a beshrew unable for any to bear.”

Dr. Montier paused and looked perplexed.  “I apologize.  I am so excited to share this escapade with you, I lost my manners.  Edmond!”  At the call of Dr. Mortier, a tall man entered the room with an embossed sterling serving tray in hand.  “Gentlemen, pour yourself a tall drink and choose a smoke.”

The doctor smiled and waited for his four colleagues to choose between Panetela and H. Upman Saks, and always, The Fuente OpusX cigars and whiskeys from the Macallan collection and also from the Woodsford Reserve barrels.  The doctor waited until we had made our selections and were comfortable with rings of smoke filling the air, and he proceeded with his tale.  With rapt attention, we listened.

“I have faced darkness, chaos and conflict personified in the deepest evil.  This trifecta of witches had glowing glabrous faces with rosy cheeks as a toddler walking like a princess by day but crooked and bent, bow-legged, hoary-headed, rustic strumpets, masquerading unpalatable and detestable by night.  Changelings, I might call them, are able to metamorphose and commute their appearance from eloquent to hideous through the use of incantations and magical chants.

“I so happened upon this beastly lot purely by deliberate accident.  I had been excavating secretly and independently 50 miles south of Bagdad in the ruins of ancient Babylon when I received word from the locals that, for my own security and safety, I needed to abandon the site.  The locals always gave me entail, and I took it to heart, always embellishing the seriousness and never failing to heed their warnings.

“I managed to get on a cargo plane bound for Russia, where the second part of my treasure hunting would commence.  I was in search of the Amber Wall.  This was a room built and gifted by the Russians to Prussia, celebrating peace.  During WWII, the room was looted and dismantled by the Germans.  I had received information telling me that it had been recovered but not intact from a shipwreck, the Karlsruhe, found north of the Polish seaside town of Ustka, on the floor of the Baltic Sea; scuppered or not, this was as close as I had come to finding it.  These were brilliant amber panels that had endured display, reconstruction, bombings, lootings, sea travel, and now possibly, I had a lead on at least the portion remaining.

“Unfortunately, the pilot of the Russian cargo plane which I was traveling in had heard of my ambitious intention and rerouted the flight to London.  I became suspicious when the flight seemed extra-long, but being asleep most of the flight, I lost track of time.  I am still perplexed that the Russians used extra means to send me elsewhere.  To this day it makes no sense, but with that said, let me get to our real story.”


Once arriving in London, which I know well, I made a few phone calls, letting certain London friends know I had unexpectedly arrived by coercion.  One of the gentlemen that I phoned, Oscar Warren, has been a dear old friend for many years, much like the four of you.  He sounded disconcerted and troubled, and I assured him I was on my way without delay to his home.  I was on my way southwest on the M3 to Dorset.  Oscar lived a life of asceticism and isolation, hardly venturing out, a self-made wealthy extraplanar.  I knew him from my years in school, and we had remained friends as such.  I relished and admired his perennial solitude.  I remember once before I left on an adventure, of which Oscar would never go, he said to me, “May the canticles of the angels bring harmony to your quest.”

It was tiring while driving practically hypnagogic, and I was thankful to have arrived by dinner.  I was also famished.  Oscar must have heard me coming down the long gravel lane or possibly saw the dust from the tires because he was waiting in his front yard next to a white marble fountain.  He greeted me as if I was Christ Jesus; I thought for a brief moment he was going to wash my feet with his tears.

“What is the trouble, man?  You seem very unnerved,” I immediately addressed the issue before me.

“Come inside; it is safer there.”  Oscar whisked me away by the arm and into the house through the lawn doors.  I thought it odd when we did not use the front door, but once inside, I realized the reason for the detour.  Oscar’s normal convivial disposition had changed to nervous fidgets, unfocused, worry and an unspoken fear Inside his lovely copious abode.  I immediately saw glass bottles with blue and green tinge containing what appeared to be black horses’ hair, traps made from stave of blackthorn.  At the top was attached a loop of copper wire, over that a smaller loop of copper wire made with the Dag sign or the runic character linking the inner ring with the outer. A red thread was bound around the loops in the shape of a bicycle wheel, and the metal parts were bound to the blackthorn stick with red thread.

Oscar apologized for the mess and clutter, but he swore it all had a purpose.  I said, “I expect you will reveal the significance and relevance of this menagerie.”

Oscar poured himself a glass of whiskey without the politeness of offering me a glass, and absurdly he drank it in one gulp.  I understood that something sinister was at play and had crept into the lining of Oscar’s humanity, making him uncomfortable and disquieted in his own mortal flesh.

I helped myself to the aged whiskey and, without invitation, poured myself a strong glass expecting the worse to come from his lips.

“Can you tell me, friend why are you so troubled?  I have never seen you this downtrodden and frankly mortified.”

Oscar broke from his dormancy and retrieved the bottle from my hand before I could place it back on the glass countertop.  He poured himself another strong one and explained.

“Victor,” he started.  He never called me by my first name, so I guessed this was serious business. Normally lost in anticlericalism, his jittery animation caused me concern.  He continued.  “You know I have dabbled in the dark arts.  You also know I fear the One True God and carry a crucifix with me wherever I go because I look to Jesus as my Lord and Savior, but I have seen things to rattle my faith. I was in the Selwood Forest in Wiltshire.  This is the forest Gillingham, Dorset and Chippenham, and I saw witches!” Victor’s eyes lit up, glowing, and his pupils wide open like a dark universe.

He continued.  “I was walking through Selwood Forest.  I often walk the forest for exercise and to breathe the good wooded air.  I love the arboreous smell.  I had just cleared the brambles when my eye was drawn to movement within a bosky area so thick with thickets that I presumed it was a rabbit.  For you know, they like those sorts of thorny places.  But I was alarmed when no rabbit appeared but a wretched old woman who had stopped to pull thorns from her blouse.

“The old haggard crone was limping along with a red-stained bag dangling from her hip.  I watched from a distance and controlled my breathing so as not to fall into a panic at what I had stumbled upon.  The woods were thick, but the path she walked was clear.  Then she was joined by a second witch, which came out from behind a cluster of short pines.  She was taller, walking with a stick, yet she had no limp or apparent physical infirmity.  And a third hag appeared draped all in black and looking about suspiciously as if she knew she was being watched.  The three harridans sniffed the air like dogs taking deep breaths.  Thank God I was upwind, or they would have surely caught my scent. These pythonesses were from an ancient coven long thought to be vanquished, dead, gone and forgotten; however, I was witnessing their resurrection.” Oscar paused and went to the liquor cabinet.  While he prepared a couple of whiskeys, he continued with his tale.  “I followed the putrid blood trail that was being leaked in a carotid oily ooze from the bag.  I felt at that moment I needed to disabuse from the precipice of my mind from what my eyes were taking in.  The awful sight of these three decrepit women crawled into the visceral lesions of my soul with atavistic fears.  Yet, the sheer oddity of such a scene strummed the tendons of my curiosity.  Though my aversion to the three was strong, I knew it was my duty to pursue them at a distance.  I was, moreover, inching my way behind them, praying that the winds did not change.  I followed them a good piece.  My inner disturbance did not subside, and my reluctancy to continue clung to me obstinately.  But as I have said, I felt a duty.  This was my obligation to seek out their forest dwelling and to reveal what they were up to.”

At this point, I respectfully interrupted Oscar.  “My friend, this sounds devilish.  I can see why your nerves are frayed.  This is fiendish business dealing with nefarious Mephistophelian creatures.”  With keen avidity, I concluded, “Let us get to the heart of the matter!”

Oscar rested himself in an armchair and continued.  “I kept them surveyed for a good hour, maybe more, and they disappeared without a trace.  My heart was more terrified not knowing where they were than actually seeing them in the flesh.  I pressed on, coming to a small clearing in the forest where I observed a wooden structure.  As I cautiously closed in, it was revealed to me that this was a cottage with traces of cryptic design.  I crept easily to the window to the side of the unwholesome cottage and looked through with nervous fears.  It was candle lit, and the three old hags were at the kitchen table.

“The one with the bloody bag hoisted the bag upon the table with a thud.  I jumped when it crashed down on the wood top.  What was removed from the bag with their arthritic fingers was what I expected.  It was a human head.  Man or woman, I could not discern, but it was battered and bloody and lifeless.  I cringed, and a ball of sickness rose in the pit of my stomach, burning up into my throat, but I managed to subdue the illness and regained my composure.  I was aghast.  The pang of horror momentarily seized me.  I will be honest that dilettante anxiety had me shaking while I evaluated the blasphemous scene of the utmost fanaticism.  I scarcely understood what my eyes beheld.

“The hags unsheathed curved knives and began to pick at and slice through the flesh that remained on the human head.  They laughed, repudiating and mocking the decapitation, licking their gnarled fingers in an emphasized frenzy while death flies buzzed their knobby heads.  To my dismay, I saw them metamorphize right before my eyes.  Their bones straightened, their wrinkles tightened, their fingers uncurled from the crippling disorder.  The more they ate and licked and slurped and laughed, the younger they became until standing there on the other side of the glass were three beautiful young women no more than 20 years old.  They stretched their perfectly shaped limbs, felt their firm breast, and danced a demoniac dance in a circle while chanting and praising the Lord of Darkness.

I perceived that my complexion had blanched as the blood drained from my face in utter disbelief.  I had seen irrefutable truth and been a witness of this exaggerated mockery.  I crept away unheard, made my way through the mysterious denizen, and returned home praying that these vixen witches that feasted upon human flesh and blood for their rejuvenation could not track and hunt me down.”

I spoke up as he finished.  “At first, I could not canalize it, but as you went on, I navigated it cleanly and understood what must be done.  Your account is maddening, to say the least, and I fear that regardless of the path you chose in your return from the fiendish spectacle, your scent will still lie in the forest.  Witches are forensic tracking hounds, or rather hounds of hell and can trail a living body through the darkest recesses of any abyss.  This troubles me.  I am unsure if your defense can withstand a sustained assault from three who have the power to revivify and reinvigorate youth with such acceleration.  I believe and must insist that we take these matters to the church and gather things that we will need.

“For one, we need a consecrated knife, holy water, a bellarmine, which, if we were at my place, I would have these types of things readily available.  For now, let us use what we have promptly available.  Find an old bottle.  A wine bottle will do.  It must have a cork.  I need nine pins.  Bend them into an L shape.  We need some of your hair, wool fibers, and some prickly grass; we will add all of this, and as disgusting as it sounds, we need to add your urine to the bottle.  We will cork it and bury this.  This, initially in itself, will prevent those who are pursuing you from crossing the river.  That will buy us some time.”  With those brief instructions from myself, Oscar went to work putting together the witch’s bottle.


At this juncture of telling his fantastic story, Dr. Monier paused and asked his four friends, including myself, if we were comfortable enough and enquired if anyone would like more to drink, smoke or if anyone would want a tray of appetizers.  As attentive listeners, we prompted him to continue with his most riveting story; of course, this was after we lit up fresh cigars and poured ourselves a rim full of the fire water.

Dr. Monier, the ever-gracious host, proceeded.


So, where was I?  Oh, yes.  I was preparing a witch’s bottle.  In order to protect Oscar and now myself since I had become invested in this conjuncture, I assembled what we had available for the counteraction to any witchcraft, spell or evocation that might come our way.  To be on the safe side, Oscar placed the items I had originally mentioned into the bottle along with his own fingernail clippings, and then while I dug a hole in the front yard to bury the bottle, I told him to make haste and go buy an ox heart for the chimney.  When Oscar returned with the ox heart, I quickly did an acupuncture of 13 needles to the organ and placed it in a paper bag.  I stuffed it up into the chimney and secured it on an overhanging brick within.  I told Oscar this should fortify his home for the time being and cause the witches grief and repel their attack when they came for him.

Oscar broke down and that point and sobbed very emotionally until he nearly became unrecognizable.  I asked him, “My dear friend, what could possibly be so upsetting?”

He answered me, blubbering in an un-mannish whimper, “I owe you an explanation and a heartfelt apology.  I am the one that brought you here.  You are not here by coincidence or chance.  I diverted your plane, and that is why you landed in England.  I paid to have you come.  I was not sure if you would if I beckoned.  Please forgive me for the deception, but I know I am doomed without your help.”

I pitied him because he was a man who had been lifted to the apotheosis of his existence, and now, he was deflated in raw humility.  My mind instantly simmered with evaluations, but it did not matter how or why I was here.  The fact of the matter was I was now part of this and had to see it through.

Oscar looked at me, and with sincere eyes he spoke.  “I had endured this pain of misrepresentation and prevarication stoically without a cry until I saw your face.  The guilt wrenched my soul.”

“No need to blubber about this now,” I said.  “It is time we fortify.  What you have seen is the ‘Harvest of Wisdom and Beauty.’  I would not be surprised if these nasty crones have begun a killing spree in the surrounding towns and villages.  They desire aesthetic beauty and youth and believe they gain wisdom from the flesh of a human head.  Some is true because of their magic, and all else is chimerical.  Without this combination, they would be fathomless beasts.

“Do not believe that this mountain of wickedness is insurmountable.  Though they traffic with the dead, we must see ourselves as their catalepsy of terror.  They believe they are hunting you.  But I am the demon killer.  I kill the evil that others refuse to believe exists.  They serve their master. Their master is Satan.  Satan knows the flesh.  He feeds on what we are made of.  This is why we need to approach the creator of flesh.  We must seek counsel and gather tools and blessings from the church.  Do you attend?” I asked.

“Ironically, I belong to Witchampton Methodist Church.”

I paused and thought, “How implausible.”  This church was first recorded in the Domesday Book as Wichemtune; now, we are going to this church to strengthen our spiritual resourcefulness to engage in war against the principalities and powers of maleficent design.

Oscar and I drove the course in 20 minutes, and spent 20 minutes to convince the vicar of the impending doom.  I was forced to elucidate our plight in great detail, and in the back of my mind, I had prayed I had calculated correctly.  I could not read the stone face of the vicar to know if he was truly impressed by the aureole of my prestige; however, after a persuasive pleading of our case, the vicar gifted us with an altar cloth anointed and blessed, two cruets of holy oil, a boat of incense (I would act as the thurifer), and a torch of divine anointed fire ready to be lit.  Before we departed, the vicar made the sign of the cross, and with his sentimental altruism, he blessed us as we were leaving.

We made haste to return to what we hoped was the sanctuary of Oscar’s now consecrated house. Once there, he remembered a couple of more items that might just be useful.  He proudly presented a ritual double edge athame knife which I knew as the Key of Solomon.  Also, he delivered five smooth stones, which he had dipped into the ink of a cuttlefish (which I had no clue as to why), and a slingshot somewhat in the manner of a David and Goliath episode.  I gave Oscar a detailed soliloquy explaining how I believed best to approach this.  Oscar clung to every word; I reminded him that now was not the time to show weakness or attenuate his light.  Now was the time to have faith and burn as bright as the sun.

My plan was to visit the old witches and their cottage and to do it unrepairable carnage.  While they were looking for Oscar, he and I would go around to the back side of the cottage coming in from the south.  I estimated by now they were on their way to Oscar’s house, but if our charms worked, they would not be able to cross the river, and this would give us time as they would have to go east to make their way around it.  We gathered our supplies into two backpacks and drove Oscar’s car to the end of the forest.  It must have been my own nerves because everything about the forest appeared exaggerated.  The trees loomed like massive umbrellas, and their branches reached out like a Cephalopoda as if they could snatch us up at any time.

We traipsed our way through, looking for any clear spot to put our feet.  The edge of the woodland was irrefutably bunched up with more underbrush.  The deeper we penetrated the darkness beyond, I understood that the spell of the witches was everywhere, and for a moment, I would not admit this to Oscar inasmuch as he would be riveted will fright, but I was momentarily lost in a paranoic illusion.  I steadied my mind leaning on my understanding and knowledge of this bewitchery, reducing my abysmal feelings back into a safe place within my mind.  Oscar, who naturally should have been the intended victim of this enchantment, was not affected in the least.

When we reached the old hag’s cottage, we surveyed the surroundings surreptitiously with a microscopic eye.  I saw that this once beautiful romantic dwelling had been obliviated by the cruel hand of sorrow.  Shadowy tangles of branches scraped the rooftop.  It was sad, intricately crooked, obscure, and immemorial.  I was gambling that we had time to do our business before the three angry crones returned disappointed from the river.  They would have taken extra time to ponder their options.

The gloomy cottage had a sloping roof that mirrored a witch’s hat.  The wood looked burnt and whimsically sinister, with insidious vines crawling up the menacing walls around the minatory windows, which were dark as though all light had been sucked in and extinguished.  As lamentable as it was, we were to enter this malformed place.

Oscar asked me, “Now what?”

I may have sounded sepulchral, but I was not overly thrilled at any of this.  I answered, “Through the front door.”  It was the only conceivable egress.

That front door looked to me like the Devil’s Tomb.  Nothing good can come from there, I thought to myself.  With nothing obviously dangerous in sight, we made our way from the shadows of the trees to the front door.  “Should we announce our presence?” Oscar whispered.

“And then what?” I looked at him quizzically.  I touched the door handle and pushed the lever down. The door opened to a room where I instantly felt disdain and aversion to it.  The stagnate air of ancient dust took our breath.  I listened as fright festered in this moldy, unhallowed sarcophagus of all things cursed.  I knew we could not just stand in the doorway; we had to move to the space beyond.  Thoughts of Abdul Alhazred and his book, the dreaded Necronomicon, flashed through my mind.  I was not surprised to locate the book of forbidden secrets, the Book of Eibon, a grimoire written by the magician Eibon of Mhu Thulan written in the lost language of Hyperborea.  My fear leaped off the scales when I prayed to the Lord that the witches had not read the book in depth and knew nothing of the Demon Tool Paper, which was a tool that could bring them back here through a teleport in close proximity of the Book of Eibon itself.  I produced the crucifix that I always carried and held it tight in my hand.

A smell of putrid decay was coming from a large black iron pot that sat on wood stove uncovered.  I made my way across dusty rugs, and this turned out to be a terrible mistake to have looked into the ghastly thing.  Two repulsive, skinless human heads floated in a broth of goo, thick and slimy, accosted me.  I backed away from the effluvia and obtained an Argand Lamp sitting alone on the countertop.  Using the matches from the top pocket of my jacket, I lit the torch, which uncovered a multitude of sins.  The room looked like a mix between a butcher shop and a chemist’s lab.  Hygiene and cross-contamination did not seem to be of a concern.

I ordered Oscar to begin to anoint the entire room with light splashes of the Holy Oil as I chanted a reversal of the curse.  “Reflect back on the giver, drown them in the river.  I cling to the cross to deliver, that their incantations blind like a mirror, if I must use this knife made of silver, I pray it goes deeper than the liver,  save us sinners, saved by the Spirit of the life Giver, remove the fog make it clearer, satisfy my soul make it richer,  I curse the evil growing thicker, that truth will kill that evil spirit in her, let our divine light burn if even a flicker, let it be a victorious glimmer, curl that which slithers, and protect us that we not faint, fade or wither.”

Oscar had doused the room thoroughly, yet we were not finished.  There was another door to enter. I could only speculate what horrors awaited there to greet us with fangs and claws and spiritual repulsion.  Deciding there was no better time than the present, I opened the door, which revealed what I would consider their abhorrent sanctuary of the dead.  The walls of this veritable ossuary were lined with human skulls, all picked clean and polished by reptilian tongues.  I reeled with uncommon nausea and caught myself before becoming violently ill.

“Drench the room and leave no oil in bottle,” I ordered as I spread the altar cloth upon the floor and spread it out neatly.  I spoke an aphorism, “Let it be so, in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.”  I spoke a syllogism under my breath, “These three witches of this house are evil.  Evil are the three witches of this house.”

It was no sooner than I had mumbled those words under my breath I heard the charnel swarm.  A cauldron of bats could be heard buzzing the house.  It sounded like a massive colony.  I went to the window, and although it was night, my lamp showed out the window.  I could see a cloud of black wings flapping as if they had been magically conjured.  Even above the pings and clicks and fluttering, I heard voices.  Female voices, laughing hideously in a high pitch cackle.

“They have returned,” I alerted Oscar, who immediately withdrew his slingshot.  I produced the silver-bladed knife and the Divine Torch.  The bats scratches and clawed on the walls, racking their malicious nails as if to dig through boards.

“Be ready, my friend, now the battle begins,” I announced as if I were Leonidas at the Battle of Thermopylae.

Formidably truculent, one witch whose unsympathetic eyes, dark and deeper than the crevasses of Shoel, began her chant with ghastly vivacity peering with an esculent gaze.  “We thought there was one, but we found there were two!  We can kill a single one just as easily to kill a deuce.  A pair we do not care.  Double the pleasure, double the fun, we will turn your heads into one.  Together or apart, we will steal your hearts; come to us, men of need and desire.  We will boil your heads in the pot over the fire. Sumentes calicem principis inferorum ”

“What does that mean?  What do we do?” Oscar had become quite squeamish, and he started to pace.

“I had not expected them to return before we made our getaway, but we should be safe inside here until I can think of something clever,” I answered with an assumption of foreshadowing presentiment, trying to think of something clever, understanding that somewhere in her rotten chant she mentioned the souls of the dead.  I raced from the room into the room where the Book of Eibon lay collecting dust, and I flipped through its diabolic pages of elder magic and found a spell that I had never practiced before.  “This could turn me into a toad,” I said humorously.

“Build us a catacomb, a hidden place from the evil that seeks us.  Remove us from the eyes of those that seek us in this time.  We are the refugees seeking mercy in our hour of need from dark forces and unbegotten forces.  If there is a way from beneath the canopy of soul suffocation, make it so.” As I finished the phrase from the book, which I had never read, I began to feel light on my feet; I could see by the smeared expression across Oscar’s round face that he felt the same.

“I can see through you,” Oscar noticed with a tremble in his voice.

“And I through you, but can the witches still see us?” I hypothetically asked.  I went to the door. “Regardless of what you see or what happens next, just walk out the door with me,” I commanded firmly to avoid anything injurious happening to either of us.  Oscar shook his head, his eyes as large as saucers.  The witches had harrowed his formless fears.

As long grey truculent fingers reached in to draw the stars from our hearts, this is when I heard one of them cackle, “Do the sounds of your own voice make you wise?”

I looked into Oscar’s calcinated face and yelled, “Wake up, man, gird your loins!”  His revolting fascination was a tumultuous wind that had assailed his thinking.  Now I was caught up in a paroxysm of anger, cajoling him to be alert.  I never was impressed with threats or taunts.  I did not appreciate ghostly ambitions laced with baleful expectations and suspense.  At that moment, an unvoiced agreement crossed our minds, and the chaos of the present seemed minimal to the storm that I knew was coming.  As we exited the demon door leaving the severed heads, the polished cranium trophies, and all of the magic that had been thrown at us, the three witches, now looking to feed on our weaknesses, rushed into the cottage of the damned.  That is when I lit the Divine torch and tossed it into the accursed abode.

I looked at Oscar and said, “Go!  I will meet you in the morning!”  At this juncture I removed the boat of incense and frantically shook the incense aggressively in the wake of our path.  The cottage burned, and the door shut, and I heard the derisively foul devout vixens who were masquerades and guilty together in their complicity howl in torment, their covering and garments of beauty melting from their essence.  With the door magically sealed shut, I could not glance to see, nor did I want to be privy to the torment that rent through the two rooms of degradation.  The disturbance, shrieks and cries from the cottage were at the apotheosis of terror when the door burst open, and one by one, the maddening crones who still shone with youthful beauty but burnt and smoldering ejected themselves assiduously from the raging inferno.  This was wholly beyond the pale of sanity.  The rage of flames should have been superfluous enough to have vanquished them, but they did not flinch.  As their beauty diminished, languished, they eyed us with pathological aberration; their countenance faded, devoid of the loveliness they had conjured, eyes dark as limitless abyss.  Their appearance was intimidating, unspeakably menacing and horrible.

To my amazement, Oscar, who had not left, whipped out his slingshot and, with precise aim, released the first stone into the forehead of the tallest scalded witch.  She staggered backward, falling through the doorway and back like some quasi-mechanical monster, into the house whose starving flames seemed to reach out and dragged her into the conflagration.  Again, Oscar took aim and released the smooth stone, striking the second livened hag square in her eye.  This toppled the sardonic creature, but she began to writhe and squirm on the ground, twisting and contorting grotesquely like a headless snake.

The third witch was upon me like a panther, forcing me to the ground, clawing at my face with her jagged nails and making a shrill harmonic scream in my face.  The stench from her rotten breath was poison itself.  I turned my head to not ingest the toxic vapors while groping for the handle of my knife.  She was brutally strong, and I knew my strength would run out.  I prayed that Oscar had another perfect aim.  I felt the handle of the knife and withdrew it with her full resistance.  “Where was Oscar?” I thought, not able to see him from my vantage point of lying supine on the ground.  A stone glanced off of the witch’s head.  It was not a perfect shot as the other two, but it was enough of a distraction that I garnered full control of the knife, and with multiple stabs I fought back, striking her ribs with all the force that I could muster.  This seemed to weaken her, and she fell to the side, moaning in agony.  She snorted; her nostrils flared like the black horse of the Apocalypse.  Her pestilent screams had ceased, and I had cause for sympathy, but brushed away mercy and leapt on her like an antidote for the plague.  That is when I felt ice-cold hands take the back of my neck, and I was dragged away.  The second witch had managed to survive the stone and had some of her strength back.  I struggled desperately to gain my footing, and now I faced her and all of her rage.

I saw Oscar wield the slingshot again and let it go.  The stone smashed into the side of her head and down she went for a second time, dissociative of her sister witch.  We were too close to the house which burned hotter than Tophet.  I backed away as the witch craned her neck as if she was trying to peel away her own skin.  Her body began to change, ravaged by metamorphosis; the beauty that she had stolen became this leathery dry, wrinkled covering, like an epidemic from a scorching sun.  I finished her by severing her head and turned to the last witch, who was crawling toward me on her hands and knees, hissing and chanting some awful curse.

Like a scourge crawling and infecting everything it laid its breath on, she began to mutate into her former hideous self, becoming more fiendish and less attractive.  She rose to her feet, in all of her foulness, she bent back wherewith in painful bilious sordidness and began to shrivel.  The hideous malevolence and exultation she had exemplified caved in on her broken frame.  With a croaking voice weak and beaten, she shouted, “What have you done?” I did not acknowledge her question or justify it with an answer.  I understood that this was the monstrous climax of this unendurable frightmare.  She had no more resolution to muster and when I held the crucifix in her face, she repelled the religious antiquity and fell backward.  Mercy tried to wrestle my soul, but today would not be granted.  I gave her the same fatal somnambulism of sleep as I gave her sister.  No longer would we have to hear her inhuman squeals and devilish gestures for I severed her head and she joined her sisters beyond blacker abysses than we could ever imagine.

The entire unholy blasphemy was over.  This arduous enterprise had come to an end and we stood in the glow of the cottage which burned red, smoke raised into forgotten eons.  A pageantry of flames, rolling smoke as black as pitch stung our eyes as we beheld, the evil blaze licking the sky with tongues of ardent fire.  I was most proud of Oscar, who showed stupendous vigilance during the most anomalous event.  I on the other hand felt the grip of ague, sick with the agony of what I had to do.  Evil vanquished, I stayed with Oscar for the remainder of the week and then returned home here.  And that is my tale to tell.  But I would not allow you to leave tonight without me presenting something special from my long journey.


With that, Dr. Monier walked to his cabinet to collect something.  When he turned, his three friends smiled as if they were young people being presented with some naughty.  In his hands he proudly held the Book of Eibon, a grimoire written by the magician Eibon of Mhu Thulan. Thus, the colloquy of the night had ended.

Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Dale Thompson
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Dale Thompson

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