Chronicles Of A Boy Witch
Chapter 3: Where It Begins
The trio walked in somber silence, Andrew and Zen a bit ahead with Caroline trailing behind a couple steps, watching them intently. They got on the bus headed towards Leary Avenue, Zen's stop. Zen made pleasant conversation. Caroline didn't bother them. She replied if Zen asked her anything, but was otherwise content to stay at the back and observe them like a chaperone. It started to irritate Andrew. He decided that he needed to tell her off once and for all. It had always annoyed him just how naggy she was but recently he'd realized just how interfering she could be. He decided that when Zen wasn't around, he would pull her aside and tell her to stop sticking her nose into his business.
They got off at Leary Ave. and went to a nearby fast food place at Zen's suggestion. There as well, Caroline didn't speak much while Zen talked pleasantly about sports, pets, homework, and other such ordinary things. Andrew hoped that at the very least, Caroline was realizing that Zen wasn't actually a bad person. It was hard to tell what she was thinking; her face was blank and she didn't really look up from her phone the entire time they ate. It was dark out by the time they'd left the cafe.
They walked towards Zen's house, and at that point even Zen had become quiet. Caroline trailed behind them like a shadow for a while but then stopped. "Hey,"
The boys turned towards her. "Is it always this empty here?" she asked.
Andrew hadn't realized it before but the neighbourhood was suspiciously empty and eerily silent. Not only that, the houses were all dark; the only lights were from the streetlights spaced so far apart they barely seemed to illuminate anything. Andrew felt a chill run down his shoulders. He hated semi-darkness more than absolute darkness.
"Well," Zen started. "It IS kind of spooky now that you mention it. My house isn't too far away now-"
The silence around them was broken as a loud bang went off in the darkness ahead. A flare had shot up into the sky from a rather small pistol, and illuminated the area. The light wasn't comforting, but rather dreadful. The man holding the miniscule gun was, in contrast, large and muscular. Behind him was a group of people. They all wore dark cloaks and masks and menacing expressions.
"Children," the man said, "let's skip the pleasantries, shall we? You-" he pointed to Andrew, "yes, you. Come with us quietly."
Though everything seemed to be whirling around him, Andrew reacted to the incident with a surprising level of detachment. He didn't believe something so exciting could happen to him. He looked to his left and spotted a rather narrow alley. If they made a mad dash through that alley, they might be able to get away. Zen's house wasn't far and they could call the police. If they were lucky maybe some would be patrolling the area.
Andrew felt Zen grab his left arm and looked up at him. He wore a grim expression as he looked from Andrew to the alley. His grip tightened and Andrew realized that Zen had the same idea. All they had to do was scream for Caroline to follow and run like crazy.
Andrew contemplated on how smart that plan would be given that the other party had weird-looking guns. As his attention drew back to them, he realized the man was pointing his at him. "I don't like waiting..." he grumbled.
Andrew decided that plan might put Zen and Caroline at risk. Their safety was more important to him than his own. Though rather confused about the situation, the strange man mentioned that he wanted Andrew. He decided that giving himself up might be smarter if they would let his friends go. Upon reaching that conclusion, he was about to raise his hands in surrender when he was violently knocked sideways.
Surprised, he fell unceremoniously on his arm and grunted in pain as someone else landed on him. It was Caroline. "What-" he began, only to see the trail of blood trickling down the side of her leg. If she hadn't pushed him out of the way, he reckoned the shot would've gone straight through his knee. Be that as it were, running was definitely out; Caroline would no longer be able to run.
"We were told to take you back alive, not unharmed." the leader said, and then yawned. "You looked like you were thinking of running. Anyway, I won't hurt your friends as long as you come along without resisting."
"What are you doing?" Caroline's voice was hoarse. She couldn't stand up. Shifting her weight on her balled fists, she turned to Zen. "TAKE ANDREW AND RUN!"
Zen jolted and tugged at Andrew's shirt but he did not move.
"What are you doing?!" Andrew screamed at Caroline.
"Don't worry about me, run Andrew!" Caroline pleaded.
"Enough," the leader said, his tone dispassionate. "What is this? Some drama show? Shut the girl up!"
The lackeys emotionlessly aimed their guns at Caroline. "RUN ANDREW!" she screamed. It was followed by a round of loud bangs.
Andrew and Zen recoiled from the air pressure and were flung backwards. Andrew felt his head hit the wall behind them. As his senses started to return, he put his pain temporarily aside. His blood froze as he desperately looked for Caroline. There was a rather dense fog of dust as a result of the weapons going off all at once. As it cleared, Andrew spotted to his relief, Caroline on her hands and knees, shaken severely with several more cuts and bruises, but otherwise unharmed. He ran over to her despite a dull ache in his head and the vague sensation of blood trailing down from somewhere. "Are you guys alright?" Zen called out from nearby. He crawled over to them. He was bleeding from a few open cuts on his elbows. "What just happened?" Caroline asked, her voice trembling.
As the fog dissipated completely, they saw to their surprise, the group on the other side had been knocked backwards as well. In the center of the chaos stood two women with their backs to the trio. They wore dark clothing and pointed hats. One had her arms outstretched towards the gang of goons. For all intents and purposes, they were witches.
The leader of the goons stood up weakly. He spat blood onto the pavement and wiped the dust from his face. When he saw the witches, his eyes went wide. However, instead of what Andrew had expected would be a look of surprise and rage, he saw that the man was rather smiling.
No, he was laughing. That too with great joy!
Neither of the witches spoke and the man's glee died down a little. "Well, well, well! Isn't this a thing?"
"Is it a thing?" asked one witch to the other in a voice so deep it made one think of volcanoes and what it would feel like to soak in one. "Is it, Madelaine?"
The other witch cackled and her voice sounded like two swords clashing against each other and what it would feel like to be caught in their midst. "It sure seems to be, Scarlet!"
At that, Andrew's heart rate started to skyrocket again. Caroline looked up at him, no doubt thinking the same thing.
The man finally gave a name to associate with him. "I am THE Lord Gravis of Oz. I thought I had come to collect some worthless child." His eyes flicked to Andrew. "But what a completely unexpected, yet delicious treat to stumble upon in this filthy realm. The two biggest criminals in Enos, the great witches of darkness in one place."
The witches remained silent. Andrew tried to get a better look at their faces. They had crooked noses and demonic glowing eyes. One of them had scaly red skin while the other shiny green. They were every bit a stereotypical witch from any generic children's fantasy book. And yet. When Andrew looked at their faces, in his mind he could see two completely different people. It wasn't very clear, but he saw them without a doubt.
Finally the slightly taller deep-voiced witch spoke. "We have a proposition for you, Lord Gravis." She pointed her gloved hand at him. "If you give us your word that you and your crew will leave the boy alone, that you will not ever come after him, we will surrender and come quietly with you."
"And how can I trust the likes of you to keep such a promise, Miss Scarlet?" he hissed.
"If we didn't intend to, we would have evaporated you and the entire neighborhood by now." Scarlet said, her voice swirling with lava. "Which you no doubt know we are well capable of."
"All we want is for you to give us your word." Madelaine said.
Lord Gravis contemplated on that and then smiled very smugly, as though Christmas had come early for him. "Is that all? Well then, I give you my word." He didn't sound the slightest bit convincing.
"So you give us your word?" said Madelaine. "In that case-" She raised her hands and a ray of light passed through Lord Gravis and his crew. They collapsed on the floor and began to breathe heavily.
"WHAT DID YOU DO?!" gagged Lord Gravis.
"Throat a bit itchy? Don't worry, it'll fade away eventually." said Scarlet with mock sympathy. "It's a hex," said Madelaine. "Nothing to worry about, Lord Gravis. You gave us your word, did you not? We intend to keep it."
"What?" he sputtered. He glared daggers at the witches.
As if explaining it to Andrew as well as the goons, Madelaine spoke, her words sharp and cutting. "The hex has been cast on each and every member of your crew. Even those still inside your ship. It goes like this: none of you are allowed to approach this boy with any harmful intent. You are not to willingly share any information which may lead him to any harm. Yes, that includes sharing anything to anyone about his identity or his whereabouts. If you so much as try to speak with any intentions such as those, you will cough out blood till you die."
The other side was a sea of faces twisted with horror and fear. Lord Gravis turned back to one of his crewmen and nodded towards Andrew. The man's face turned white. He shook in place and moved only after Lord Gravis raised his gun towards him. He took a few steps closer to Andrew. The witches did nothing. Slowly, with shaky hands, he raised his gun to Andrew and fingered the trigger. Nothing happened.
"For the love of- SHOOT!" Gravis shouted and the goon pulled the trigger. Or was about to, anyway, but the gun fell to the ground beside him and the man collapsed to his hands and knees. He choked and coughed and teared up. Blood started to spill out of his mouth. It was a horrible sight.
"Apologies, ladies," the smug smile crawled back onto Gravis' face as he addressed the witches with no regard to the plight of his subordinate. "I had to try it out. You know how it is, right? I believe you now."
The witches seemed like they were about to speak but thought better of it. The choking man, indeed, continued to cough out blood. He began to scream from the intense pain. There was, soon, a deep red puddle below his drooping face. The other crew members did nothing but watch, terrified. Caroline looked away, and covered her ears. Andrew sat and stared.
"There's nothing to worry about, men," he said to his crew "as it is but a small price to pay, for the capture of the greatest most evil witches, Scarlet and Madelaine. It is of no consequence at all! Rest assured we will not touch a hair on the boy. But you will come quietly with us, yes?"
"That's what we said we'd do,"
"And why is that?"
"Change of heart," "Does the reason matter?" The witches spoke over each other.
Gravis laughed. "Well, it really doesn't matter to me. Say goodbye to your kids, I'd like to get a move on. But, say, will he really keep coughing blood till he dies?" He indicated to the blood-coughing crewman. "We can't leave a trace revealing that we were here sooo we'd have to clean up. I don't suppose the kids could do it since we're being nice and not kidnapping the boy?"
"Absolutely not!" snapped Madelaine.
"We can't stop this once it starts. Such is the manner of this hex." Scarlet said through gritted teeth. "That's why we gave you a warning. Knowing us, we assumed you'd be wise enough to believe us instead of throwing a life away like that."
"Oh, Henry doesn't mind! Do you, old Henry?" Gravis laughed as he scooted down next to Henry the dying goon. He clutched at Gravis' ankles and gasped for breath with tears in his eyes and hot blood bubbling out his mouth. Gravis frowned. "I'd expect more grace from one of my men," He stylishly spun the gun around his finger before firing it smack dab on Henry's head. There was a bright flash and in the next moment, Henry's entire head was gone. There was no more bleeding either. The top of his neck seemed like it was cauterized shut and it gave off a singeing smell. His body lay lifeless in the pool of its own blood. "Quick and painless." Gravis smiled and blew against the tip of the gun. The witches stood with blank expressions. Andrew tried his best to hold back the bile rising in his throat.
"Come on, men, chop chop. Remove the body and spray the earth, don't leave any stains behind. Ladies, shall we?"
Andrew had felt a cold sweat form as soon as the evil witches introduced themselves, as though they had deliberately done so for him. He looked desperately at them, as they both turned and glanced over at Andrew. And then he saw it again. The faces of the people he glimpsed in his mind only moments earlier. It was a brief flash and by the time he recovered from the shock, he noticed Scarlet point a finger at the three of them. The throbbing in his head stopped. Other smaller cuts he hadn't even felt smoothed away. "Goodbye Andre," she said as she turned. "Be good." said Madelaine and she too turned away.
A bright light shone overhead, and a vehicle that looked like a cross between an airplane and a ship descended slowly. Without another glance back at Andrew, they boarded the plane-ship.
The lackeys threw a long, white cloth over Henry's corpse. Their faces were so warped with terror that Andrew found it difficult to even look at them. The three teens sat and watched quietly, as they picked up the body and carried it away into the ship. One of them brought out a spray can and sprayed an orange gassy substance onto the earth where the corpse had been. Immediately, the puddle of blood began to congeal. The goon peeled the elastic blood off the earth, put it in a glass container and sealed it shut, and walked into the ship.
At no point did any of them approach Andrew and his friends.
With the corpse retrieved, and the bloody mess cleared up, the ship ascended back up to the sky and in the blink of an eye they were gone.
Zen and Caroline watched Andrew carefully. He sat against a streetlight, hugged his knees and stared off into nothing in particular. "You wanna stay over at my place?" Zen asked. Andrew shook his head. "You want us to take you home?" Zen asked. Andrew shook his head.
Caroline paced the length of a streetlight's shadow. She was trembling. The wounds on her and Zen were gone as well.
"I'm sorry," Andrew said finally. "I don't really understand what happened but... You guys had to... all of that... because of me..."
"Are you sure you can get back by yourself?" Caroline asked.
Andrew nodded, careful to avoid her eyes.
"Text me when you're home." she said, and then walked away. Andrew watched her as she left, hugging herself and shaking slightly.
"Sure you don't wanna stay over?" Zen put a hand on Andrew's shoulder and squeezed it. Some feeling returned to him. "I'm sorry," he apologized again.
Zen patted him on the head. "Stop apologizing. We're all okay. We can talk about this later."
Though Caroline's calmness was making him even more anxious, the calm of Zen's voice was comforting.
Andrew took a deep breath. "Yeah," he said, "Thanks."
After the feeling returned to his legs, Andrew made his way back home. It was a painfully long trip back.
By the time he'd finally made it to the top of the hill, his head was whirling and he wasn't feeling up to using magic to unlock the front door. With a trembling hand he inserted the key into the lock on the third try. He burst inside and rushed about from room to room, hoping against hope that it was some weird coincidence.
It was not.
His cats were gone.