HEEYYY GUYS GOOD NEWS! Ronel Janse van Vuuren has graciously volunteered her services as a judge on a once-a-month basis. Ronel has won two competitions from Year 1 (I don't have stats on Year 2 yet for anybody), and we're very excited to have her judging for us and y'all. Give her your best!
(If you're still interested in guest judging, send an email our way! email@example.com)
Judge This Week: Ronel
Word Count: 300 max
How: Submit your stories as a comment to this post, along with your name, word count, and title (and Twitter handle or blog if you've got 'em!). One entry per person.
Deadline: Midnight tonight, PDT!
Results announced: Next Thursday afternoon.
Remember: Your entry must begin with the prompt! The prompt can be mutilated, but not beyond recognition. (Pictures do not need to be incorporated into your stories, they're for inspiration (and sometimes our amusement)).
I found sanctuary with the witches.
‘I found sanctuary with the witches’, Sal repeated to herself.
She knew her husband Ron wouldn’t believe it at first. For the past twelve years that they’d lived on Maple Crescent, they’d both made every effort to steer clear of the shabbily clothed trio who lived at Number Four.
“They’re not our sort of people,” Ron would say.
Sal had always agreed with him - not wanting to view people who made a special effort to scrape up roadkill to put in their freezer as her sort of person.
But, after that day, Sal realised that she was going to have to reconsider her opinion of Margaret, Tracey and Lou.
It was late when Sal had eagerly made her journey back from the airport to return from a business trip. It was a huge shock to find herself driven to Flint Head Point and held hostage instead.
“€200!” demanded the taxi driver.
His English was broken and he hadn’t understood or cared for Sal’s protests that she only had her card and a £20 note. For what seemed like a lifetime, Sal had banged on the windows of the locked car whilst the driver tried to intimidate her by shouting more loudly.
Fortunately, the ruckus had disturbed ‘the witches’ from what they were up to at that time and they magically appeared outside the car. Sal didn’t know how they’d prised the driver’s door open, but suddenly the shouting man had been silenced and stunned when a dead rodent was shoved into his mouth.
Sal hadn’t quite known what was happening until they’d all finished running and Lou had given her a mug of tea and offered her some roasted Badger from their camp fire.
It was on that night that Sal realised she had many opinions that needed reconsidering.
You wanted witches?ReplyDelete
I found sanctuary with the witches. Ha! Witches! They were no more witches than Robert was an honest and loving husband. Since they preferred to live without the company of men, they were monsterized. My husband, Robert, was among those to throw stones. “Those bitches will burn in Hell,” he’d say if he saw Mercy fetching a bucket of water from the well. When Isabel was seen buying supplies from Giles, he’d say, “The Lord knows she pays with her fleshy purse.” And when he saw them, the beast awoke. He’d order me around. “Fetch me an ale, Beth.” I’d shake as I brought it to him, and knowing that if I spilled any, he’d get angry quicker, only made me shake more.
I couldn’t keep his fists at bay for long.
He never hit me in the face. It wouldn’t look good for a judge’s wife to be seen sporting a black eye. He liked to use his belt, leaving welts on my back, my thighs, and my stomach.
Was he sorry? He said it was my penance, that it was his job to deliver justice, but he did pray harder on those nights. Down on his knees, struggling to keep the tears at bay, he’d spit out the words, and fool me into thinking there was a good man inside.
No more. Isabel and Mercy are no witches, but they understand the power of belief in God-fearing men. If it’s witches he wants, then witches he gets. In their foraging, Isabel and Mercy had discovered which fungus generated extreme hallucinations. I knew where Robert stored his ale and spiked it while he was out hunting.
Tonight, we paint our faces and dance upon his doorstep. The fungus will fuel foul fantasies and signal the death of his sanity.
Which Witch Did You Wind Up With?ReplyDelete
“I found sanctuary with the witches. I did, you know.”
The wind was gently blowing from the west and I was intent on looking out at the ruffled water in the Sound. She had sidled up to me like a scrunched-up transit user with boundary issues might on a crowded bus.
“Pardon,” I said, trying to be polite but hopefully giving a clear message that I enjoyed this quiet ten-minute ferry ride and didn’t really want to chat with a stranger.
“I have found a haven with the witches.”
I looked at her. Not young. Not old. Mid-forties, maybe. The wind had stirred up her thick dark hair and was whipping it around like fat brown leaves on the ground. She had all her teeth. They looked original.
“That’s good,” I offered, hoping to put an end to the interruption.
“I’ve never met them, you know? The witches,” she added. “They have a website.”
I nodded. It seemed reasonable these days that even witches, especially witches, would have a website. Or a Facebook site. Something cyber, anyways.
“Yup, it’s called A World of Witches Awaits.”
“Catchy,” I said. I could feel myself being drawn into her natter. How difficult, I thought, would it be for her to wander away from me and let me enjoy the peace and quiet? And then I started feeling selfish. The poor woman was obviously thrilled with her journey.
“So, it’s here on this Island? The Witch Sanctuary?”
“Oh, yes. But you don’t have to actually be a witch to stay. I’m a Baptist.”
“Ah. Well, so you’ll stay there a while?”
“Yes. They’ll meet me at the wharf. And then whisk me away.”
With that, the ferry docked, she walked ashore and shook hands with my neighbour, Charlotte.
Son of a gun, I thought.
I would find sanctuary with the witches. The thought raced through my mind as I ran into the dark forest. Behind me I could still hear the villagers shouting, telling me how they would kill me if they ever saw me again. With them, I knew, was my fiancee. But they would not dare to venture into the forest. Once the trees veiled all with their shadows and drowned all sound with their matted, fallen leaves, the world became the dominion of the witches. Even the woodcutters, like my fiancee, did not venture into the forest, but kept to the sparse woods on the far side of the village.
I sank down in the safety of a shadow with my back pressed against a giant trunk and touched my face. A raised scar spread from chin to eye, the skin puckered as if it had been sewn up hastily. Not that anyone should have lived through such a wound. I knew that when the other woodcutters carried my fiancee into the village. An axe to the face… I shut my eyes, trying to blot out the blood. But the sight was burned into my memory, so I tried to flee from it by running towards the witches’ cottages.
The eldest witch was standing at the edge of the clearing as if she was waiting for me. Years of healing had taken their toll on her - her face marred by cuts and burns, one arm shriveled and useless, one leg half lame.
She held out her arm when she saw me approaching.
The other witches stepped from the cottages. Witches; healers who took on the wounds of those they healed with a single touch. I touched my new scar.
“You’re our sister now,” she said.
Holy mackerel, that was awesome.Delete
Nina V. RyeReplyDelete
Word count: 299
I found sanctuary with the witches. They were tall and cold, but at their feet grew the softest moss that was to be my bed. I tucked myself into a corner between the stones, trying to both conserve as much warmth as possible and to stay out of sight. My coat was torn, my boots had holes in them, and my hands were covered in blood.
I was not well.
I knew that for a very long time. The shivers that travelled up and my spine, even now, were not something I had been accustomed to. I repeatedly choked on my saliva and wished I had something to drink. But I was alone, and alone remain I had to. There were both people and creatures hunting me. And they might even venture into The Ruins, if they caught a wind of my scent. Although any living creature, magical or not, would be foolish to even contemplate coming anywhere near the cursed place.
Fortunately to me, I was already cursed, so adding another curse wouldn’t make much difference.
As my body shook, I thought that I might have miscalculated it.
Pain started to shoot up my spine. Then it travelled through my arms into my fingertips. I looked at my blooded fingers and wished that my sacrifice had worked. I was not ready to die.
Something rustled in the forest nearby, and I pressed back into the stone even more, trying to make myself invisible.
There was still one more solution.
I fumbled for my knife and quickly poked my fingers with it. Once I could feel the blood well up, I smeared it over the foundation of the two witch monuments, that I was hiding behind and started to chant.
It was going to be a very long night.
Remember and be DamnedReplyDelete
by Stephen Shirres (@The_Red_Fleece)
Word Count 295
"I found sanctuary with the witches."
Two heavy fists crash into the oak table in front of me. Attached to them is a man with too many muscles to be a gentleman. Armstrong is his name. I do not know whether the name or the physique came first.
"That is quite enough." The white glove of the Colonel rests for a moment on Armstrong's dangerous knuckles before ushering him away from the quaking table. The threat to my personal safety does not retreat.
"Now, my dear boy." The Colonel continues, sounding like my better. "We all know what you went to the witches for. Even a gentleman of my standing knows of their reputation for 'midnight dancing'." The activity catches in his throat as if thinking of the act disgusts him. All show for his muscled protector, I am sure.
"You are wrong sir. I was on a mission from the Iron Duke to retrieve this." From my pocket I take out a small glass bottle in the shape of a skull. The interior solution purple in colour.
"What is it?" The colonel's interest in me becomes more than an order from his superior.
"Liquid memory sir, like a theatrical photography where the players act out a moment from the past. Bring me a bowl and I shall show you."
The gloved man nods to Armstrong. The bowl provided is shallow and wooden, ideal for the task. Full to the brim the liquid clears to a purple hued camp site and two army officers. The man in the British Army red talks of battle plans and unit movements. The other in Napoleon blue writes it all down in code. They shake hands at the end of the exchange, the Colonel's white gloves clear to all.
The "Witch" by Cassandra DayReplyDelete
"I found sanctuary with the witches." Jules said shaking her head in disbelief
"What?" Chorused her friends
"Those monsters? Didn't you hear that just yesterday a mysterious smoke was seen coming out of a hole in their roof?", Inserted Carlos
"You mean the chimney?"
"Well maybe, but the smoke was green!"
Everyone except Jules shuddered and looked around them, as if one of the witches would pop out from behind a tree and cast a spell on them all.
"But guys, you don't understand. They're really nice and their cookies are amazing.They let me inside their house during the last big stom"
"How do you know those cookies weren't filled with some kind of tasteless potion; or *gasp* medicine!"
After a few minutes of horrified silence Jules said, " My mom hides medicine in perfectly good popsicles so maybe..."
The whole company backed away instinctively.
"Oh, so your afraid now?" Challenged Jules
"Of course not!"
"Well, if you're not afraid, let's go say hello."
They slowly crept up the large creaky steps and prepared to knock on the huge door but, before they had the chance, it swung open and a raspy but gentle voice said.
"Come in children, I was hoping you'd come."
“I found Sanctuary among the witches!” Sally announced as she entered the living room to take a seat opposite her husband.
Peter looked up over the pages of his newspaper trying to bottle his exasperation by fiddling with the rims of his glasses.
“For the last time honey, I told you to stop calling them that. They are not “witches”; they are just three senior citizens that like to keep to themselves.” She huffed as her cat, Sanctuary jumped out of her clutches and sauntered to pounce on Peter’s laps. Curling into a ball, she started to purr as Peter stroked beneath her chin.
“I don’t like them. I hate the way they stare across the fence at me, especially the oldest of the three. Always mumbling underneath their breath…. And I got a glimpse inside their house as I stood at their door. I don’t know why that damn cat always like going ove…”
Sally froze. She had felt something…. like someone just ran an icy cold hand up her legs. Now she was imagining things. It had felt so real. Peter hadn’t noticed his wife sudden change. He was already behind the newspaper again, his mind switching off out of habit to block the endless tirade that this time wouldn’t come. Sally shuddered and stood up to head to the kitchen to put a kettle on the fire. Maybe some tea would help take the chill off. As she made to leave, something caught her eye. Giving her cat a second look, its eyes looked normal once more. She was so sure she had seen another set of eyes peep out of... No it couldn’t be.
As she turned her back and continued walking, her neighbours took turns to resume watching her through the eyes of the cat.
I found sanctuary with the witches ten years ago when I was eight.
I had fled the castle on my horse, towards the woods. In my panic to flee I hit a low bough and went down. The next thing I knew I was looking into two concerned eyes of a beautiful woman.
"Who are you?" I managed, my forehead throbbing.
"I'm a witch, and you're safe here," she smiled putting something on my forehead.
"But you're beautiful!"
"You've been reading the wrong books girl."
"And broomsticks, you still ride them, right?”
"As a tradition, yes, but they aren't a very comfortable ride. I prefer flying horses."
"Wow!" Then I remembered my horse. "Where's my horse?"
"He's outside, Priscilla is taking care of him."
In walked a sweet girl about my age.
"Hi, I'm Priscilla, you have a lovely horse out there."
She looked at my throbbing forehead, "That must hurt so much," she placed her hand over it and suddenly the pain disappeared.
"Priscilla! I’ve told you never to use magic on humans, now look what you've done to the poor girl," the woman sounded angry.
They were both looking at my right hand. To my horror I found that my thumb was missing.
“It’ll grow back in a week,” Pricilla said sheepishly.
Thus my life with the Witches began. The King, my father, had been killed by my stepmother, and I had fled the castle to save my own life. In the next ten years the witches taught me their spells and magic. Soon I had an army of magical forest creatures and with my best friend Priscilla by my side, I think we had an edge over the Queen. I couldn't wait to turn her into a toad and keep her in a bell jar.
Please don’t talk to me
I found sanctuary with the witches. They were the most forgiving. My family were the ones that drove me away. I first plucked up courage to tell my mother that her dead sister Mavis had forgiven her for stealing my father on the eve of their wedding day. Mavis told me she’d had a lucky escape, my father was no catch and Mother wasn’t to blame for Mavis’s suicide. My mother slapped my face sharply leaving red angry finger marks that lasted for days.
My sister screamed when I told her, her dead baby was happy in heaven. The child would have had a tortured childhood if she’d lived and thanked my sister for smothering her at birth.
My brother wanted to kill me when I told him that his girlfriend was lying beneath five layers of rotting bog just down the road from our home. She thanked him for the swiftness of the blow. She had felt no pain just black darkness. My father intervened before I become another one of my brother’s victims and told me to leave.
My family couldn’t understand my gift. That’s what the witches call it. I call it a curse. Who wants to see dead people and hear their stories? When someone has died naturally they tell me of good times, families who loved them and how peacefully they went to their grave. If it was all like that I’d call it a gift too.
The witches love hearing my tales. My brother and sister pay them regularly to keep silent. I fear one day I’ll be killed in my sleep or worse but I suspect the witches have cast a rune over me to protect their golden goose.
I found sanctuary with the witches. Briefly.
There were ten of them, one for each finger. Their brooms were the size of the tiny pencils you use to mark your score when bowling. They weren’t witches in the classical sense or even in the post-modern sense. These mini-witches settled on my shoulder just when I needed them most: at the apex of a dry spell, when my imagination faltered. I typed. They assisted.
A few hours later, my wife appeared in the doorway.
“Dinner is in the fridge,” she said and made a sound halfway between a cough and a retch. “I’m going to bed.”
“Thanks, honey!” I called over my shoulder.
The witches tittered. “Shhh!” I hissed. But she couldn’t hear them anyway.
The witches gave me sanctuary for a week. They jumped from shoulder to keyboard and tapped the keys with the handle ends of their brooms. There appeared on my screen, as if by magic, the perfect next phrase.
“Thank the lord!” I whispered.
“Don’t thank Him,” one tapped out. “HE has nothing to do with it.”
My deadline came. I turned in the 4,000-word article. Payment was transferred to my account. I began my next assignment. I was riding the wave, like a witch coasting over the city on her high-flying broom.
One morning I sat down and began typing. My fingers hesitated. I awaited the flutter of tiny feet on my shoulder, the grace-saving taps of the broom handles, but nothing came.
I waited all afternoon and into the night. I turned my computer off and on three times. Darkness fell. My wife appeared and disappeared. She went to bed and still I sat, anticipating the return of my sanctuary.