This is a companion story to my Lighter Than Dark advertisement from Feb. 3, Best Friends Forever. https://hauntedmtl.com/originals/lighter-than-dark/ltd-best-friends-forever/
Misty glanced at her phone. It wasn’t like him to be late. She checked her messages: no contact, no email, no sign of any change in plans. She checked her calendar. This was the right time and place. What could be taking him so long?
“Sorry I’m late,” a throaty calm and collected male voice echoed in her head. It was the kind of deep hollow voice that sinks into your heart and reverberates through your soul, the sort that should be narrating those late night mystery shows that leave you awake in bed, pondering the unfathomable. There were many who would give themselves freely over to that voice and follow it to the ends of the earth, but Misty knew better.
Nothing had changed. To the casual observer, the middle-aged woman sat alone at the café table, sipping a cup of hot tea with lemon and honey and nibbling intermittently on a beignet. Her bobbed black hair perfectly framed her gaunt face as she stared blankly ahead, a slight smile creeping to her ruby lips while she lost herself in her thoughts. There was an almost otherworldly quality about her, but nothing anyone could place without more of an understanding of the inner workings of the Dark Arts. Her visitor arrived unbeknownst to anyone else as a pinpoint glimmer of green light deep in the recesses of her eyes, which she discreetly hid behind dark sunglasses.
Misty blinked slowly. “Did you take care of it?” she thought.
The voice answered in her mindscape. “The deed has been done, exactly as you specified.”
“Good.” Misty’s smile widened and she took another sip of her tea. “And the onlookers?”
“No one suspected a thing. He just fell over when the Pact was discharged; he had broken his vows and thusly paid the price. It was assumed to be a heart attack. He was pronounced dead on arrival.”
To engage in this kind of dark magick was risky, especially out in the open, and on parade day no less. Those that could navigate the alliances were in high demand and were often tied up in a multitude of things beyond their own puppet-mastery. But parade day was actually perfect timing, as most spectators wouldn’t know the difference between a spell or a hex or a soul-binding incantation, and the throngs of tourists provided a great diversion.
The deed needed to be done, and Misty couldn’t do it herself because that would break her own end of the bargain. She’d had to find an arbitrator, an angel walking the earth as its conscience of sorts. But these “angels” always had their own agendas… She fingered the gold ring on her left hand and grimaced, hearkening back to the day she’d found her husband in bed with his buxom young secretary who had been wearing Misty’s very own bathrobe. She’d wished she could have ended it then and there but she knew better, so she bit her tongue and bided her time.
“Do you remember our arrangement?” the male voice interjected rather forcefully, jarring her from her reverie. “Now it’s up to you to uphold your part in this…”
Misty’s smile faded and her demeanor became more somber. That was the problem with soul-binding, you had to wheel and deal your way out of it through the darkest of magicks, and for every Pact that you wanted to break free of, it seemed you formed another two lesser alliances. It was tiresome, but this was the end of the line and it was worth everything.
Misty stroked a small wooden box in her purse, which she had been holding in her lap. “Yes,” she answered, her lips parting slightly to mouth the word as she thought it. “Payback’s a bitch, especially when you deal with devils,” she thought to herself, contemplating her late husband’s fate as much as her agreement with the arbitrator.
“Good,” the voice in her head hissed, “You know what to do with it…”
Misty nodded slowly to herself and took a long last sip of her tea, which had grown cold. She hated playing a pawn in all of this but it was too late to turn back now. She meticulously opened the box and pulled out a diminutive antique single-shot pistol. She wrapped the gun in her folded cloth napkin and placed it in her lap as she lowered her purse to the ground, poised and ready to strike. The single silver bullet marked her fulfillment of her end of the bargain.
A small brass bell sounded as the door beside the café leading to the upstairs curiosity shoppe and small apartment opened. Madame Alcatrez, spiritual advisor, was seeing a client off after a Tarot reading. As they parted ways, Madame Alcatrez lingered in the doorway a moment too long, just enough time for Misty to strike.
Misty stood and brandished the pistol, releasing the napkin to drift to the ground. Her eyes ablaze with green fire hidden in the dark recesses of her sunglasses, she aimed and fired the single silver round at Madame Alcatrez, hitting her squarely in the heart. Madame Alcatrez’s dying words filled the void between them, “I’ve been expecting you.” Misty fell slowly to the ground as her final obligation and the magicks that surrounded it left her body. Madame Alcatrez crumpled, and the street flew into a frenzy of activity.
Misty came to in jail. The trial was short and the sentencing was abrupt – two life sentences. Still, it was better than the alternative, and Misty had finally extracted herself from the Pact that she bore. She smiled as she was escorted to prison, now all she had to do was await Eternity…
Some Bewitching Line Drawing by Jennifer Weigel
This month we are going to explore more fun marker art from Jennifer Weigel, starting with black and white line drawing. Jennifer is getting ready for her big Life Is Brilliant solo show in March and has snuck in a few spookier themes, so she wanted to share them with you here.
The magic is strong in this Witch Way line drawing with its fun witchy head-topper, complete with striped hat band and star dangle. No self-respecting wizard’s ensemble would be complete without it.
And now the adorable Kitty Witch will don the Witch Way hat and cast a spell of cuteness on you. You gotta wonder just how the hat stays on but best not to question these things. We all know it’s magic…
The devil is in the details in this Not Today Satan line drawing, and boy is he pissed!
This She Devil is just plain goofy. Maybe she’s coyly playing innocent; it’s not a look most devils can pull off, seeing as how innocence really isn’t their schtick…
This little spider came down to your tuffet to remind you to Hang in There. She is very well-intentioned and is only looking out for you. I guess maybe she’s not so little though, she is an Argiope after all…
LTD Tripped Out Motivational Posters
Tripped out… in case you just couldn’t get enough of Everything Everywhere All at Once and the return of the infinite bagel with EVERYTHING on it…
Artwork description: kaleidoscopic image of pink hairy horror (This is actually a fink fuzzy frond plant not unlike a Cockscomb but with longer thinner flowering feelers rather than the fuller protuberances you see on a full-bodied Cockscomb plant. I have no idea what it was, but it was very odd so I had to snap a photo.)
Image text reads: Mixing Magic Mushrooms & Peyote Just remember: once you open that Pandora’s box, you’re never going to get the pink hairy tarantulas back in it…
Artwork description: kaleidoscopic sunflower backlit by the sun with text and rainbow eye overlay
Image text reads: Eye See You Eye See All (in circle text so you can start and end reading wherever). In an ideal context this would be printed in the bottom of your tea mug or on a record that can slowly spin.
For more crazy tripped out fun, check out Weird Al’s post on Craig’s List…
The Elves Reunion, a short story by Jennifer Weigel
I had heard tale that The Elves dwell in these woods. Many underestimate The Elves; they have a fondness of heart for Tolkienesque Middle Earth fantasy stories and tales where Elves are the most highly civilized, virtuous and intelligent. They forget that those are just myths, save for The Elves being cunning. Remember that the Pied Piper was an Elf, and the children he took were not destined for such a glorious fate.
My sister lost her firstborn to The Elves. She hadn’t noticed the Changeling until it was too late. Her baby had already long since been stolen away. She was so distraught she refused to eat or speak. She locked herself in her room. Or my family locked her into it as she succumbed to the madness. Such are the ways of the family, for all of our protection. We never question but follow as expected, as a means of self-preservation. It has kept us all alive.
But I couldn’t get the sinking feeling out of my stomach; the grief became too overwhelming. That is why I came here. I know I will not be able to rescue the child, nor my sister. But I seek to avenge their meaningless deaths. To ensure that it doesn’t happen again. My family will never act. I am tired of the Village Elders just shrugging these things off in hushed whispers and badly shrouded secrets. It happens time and again. We are all expendable. They never do anything.
So here I am, in the Elven wood. Alone. As soon as my family figures out that I’m here, they will disown me. They probably already have. Again, it is for our own protection. I’ll be just another casualty of The Elves. Everything is so structured, so regimented. Anyone who dares act in opposition to the rules vanishes. We are all so afraid.
I lay in wait. It’s just a matter of time before the portal appears. The Elves use the portals to travel across time and space. They appear where and when they wish. But this time, I will go through first. I know not what is on the other side, just that the portals allow only one to traverse in each direction. We will trade places, if only for a moment until another portal forms. Hopefully that will be enough time.
The trees shift and morph. Falling leaves drift slower and slower towards the ground. There is a stillness that I cannot fully express. My breath hangs heavy in the silent air. There is no sound, no smell, no taste. It is time. The hairs on the back of my neck and arms rise. I can sense the opening forming. There is an uncanny familiarity in this moment, as if I have been here before.
As soon as the portal opens, I dash through. But something isn’t right. No one came through from the other side. Or did they? I cannot tell. I am alone, in limbo between states of existence. The world spins around me. I can feel the drift. Is this what death feels like? Cold unbroken silence? I feel distant eyes upon me everywhere, all around me, in the trees, the clouds, pinpoints of light that shimmer through.
I wasn’t sure what to expect. Maybe this is all according to plan. But who was orchestrating the exchange? My idea was only half formed in those passing pensive moments I am able to think for myself, few and far between. My family, the Village Elders… no one allows time for freeform thought. I hadn’t considered what would happen after the portal exchange. I never really got past step one.
A voice greets me from the trees. It is hauntingly familiar but seems only a distant memory.
“I’ve been expecting you.”
The world slowly comes into focus. Clarity restored, the leaves circle me in an embrace. My sister emerges, her dark eyes smiling. She cradles the baby in her arms.
“You made it. You escaped,” she sings.
“I didn’t see anyone,” I retort, skeptical. I hadn’t recalled having seen any Elves, dark nightmarish fiends that they are, wild, unkempt, uncouth. Savage beasts like Pan or Krampus. Is this an illusion? My sister seems so lifelike, so much herself. She is the joyful young mother I had known her to be. Filled with love and laughter. Light dances about her, and she shimmers.
“Not in passing,” my sister clarifies. “You have been living among them your whole life. I had done so as well until the baby was stolen. My heart broke; I had to follow after. That was when I learned the Truth.”
“Why do you think we are so sheltered? Why are we forbidden to do anything? They do so to protect us from the Truth about who and what we are,” she continued. “We’ve spent our lives evading that which we truly know ourselves to be. We were the stolen ones, not the other way around…”
I notice that the portal I came through is still open, reinforcing my idea that no one had passed through the other way. It is as if the portal was opened specifically to call me through. My sister extends her hand, beckoning me to join her. There is a gleam in her eye I cannot pinpoint. She seems happy, but something still isn’t quite right. I’m still uncertain why I am here, in this time and place, as if destined to be present in this moment, in this decision.
The Village has fallen away to the woods. There are no breadcrumb trails to follow home. The idea of home itself seems distant like yet another illusion. Nothing makes sense anymore. I am unsure whether I am coming or going. Two paths lay open before me. Which shall I take?