Sunday, November 6, 2011

Witch Brains: A Romance

The cat was in love with the servant girl.

Of course, he hadn’t always been a cat. He had once been a boy named Edward, on the cusp of 16, full of hope for his life, working in his father’s cobbler shop. Then as misfortune would have it, the boy had come across a witch’s cabin in the deep dark forest, and the Witch had turned him into a sleek black cat. This was bad enough, but to add insult to injury, he could not leave her cabin. The spell held him captive within the crumbling walls.

The Witch was a terrible old crone, with two glass eyes and a mouth full of rusty nails. She had feathers coming out of the back of her head, giant spiders for hands, and what little hair she had on her tiny head was comprised of squirming maggots.

But the Witch also had a servant girl under her spell. The girl was beautiful; fair haired and fair skinned, with eyes that shimmered like reflecting pools. All day and all night she did back-breaking chores for the Witch. And the cat who was once a boy named Edward would sit perched atop a book-shelf made up entirely of femur bones, and watch her—and his heart would swoon.

The girl never spoke; this was part of her enchantment—or so said the tea kettle, who had once been a tax collector named Brutus.

“If only I could get away from here,” Edward sighed.  “And take her with me.”

“It’s hopeless, lad,” said the tea kettle.

“He’s right,” agreed the taxidermy boar’s head that was mounted on the wall. “Best not to think of such things.”

One fall evening, a wagon came cluttering through the woods, and out of the wagon stepped a particularly ridiculous looking man. He stroked his huge beard and demanded an audience with the owner of the cabin.

The Witch came out, her broom in hand, her glass eyes gleaming. Edward slunk along the ground and peeked his head out to watch.

“I am a salesman,” the man said in a bawdy, theatrical voice. “Specializing in potions and tonics. Would you care to see my wares?”

“I would not,” the Witch barked. “Get away from my property, lest I turn you into a field mouse.”

The ridiculous man laughed. “You think too highly of your powers, woman.”

The Witch pointed her broom at the man and spoke words in her own dead, guttural language. A bolt of lightning exploded from the handle of the broom and struck the man dead-center, but the man didn’t flinch. He rolled his eyes.

“You may have your magics, Witch,” he said. “But mine are made of stronger stuff.”

The Witch snorted and spat on the ground, and her glob of black phlegm turned into a hoard of cockroaches that scattered into the brush.

“Be gone with you,” the Witch said, and stomped back into her cabin. She disappeared into a back room, cursing the man.

Edward hopped up onto a windowsill and called to the man. The man approached.

“What can I do for you, talking cat?” the man asked, lighting a humongous pipe. The smoke that rose out of the pipe took on the shape of a crow, and flapped it’s smoky wings and flew away into the autumn wind.

“I’m not really a cat,” Edward said. “I was once a boy; the Witch put a spell on me! Can you help me break it?”

“Sorry, lad,” the ridiculous looking man said. “I’m afraid the only way to break a witch’s enchantment is to kill the witch, and eat her brains.”

Edward stuck out his cat-tongue in disgust.

“It’s the only way, young master,” the man said. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I must be off. I have potions to sell.”

The man climbed onto his wagon, gave the horse reigns and tug, and was gone.

The thought of killing the Witch was not an all together unpleasant thought to Edward—but eating her brains? But in his once-human heart he knew that it would be worth it if it meant breaking his spell--and the spell of the servant girl. They could go away together--far far away from this place. And maybe she could love him.

But there was the problem of how he would kill the Witch. He was only a cat, after all. The most he could do is give her a few scratches and bites before she kicked him across the room.

Then an idea came to him. He crawled down into the basement, where the beautiful servant girl was asleep in her giant cage. Edward called to her, waking her. She looked at him with her beautiful eyes.

“I know you can not speak, but you can listen,” Edward said. “I know a way we can break our enchantments.”  And he told her all the gory details.

The next day, the Witch ordered the beautiful servant girl to go out and chop some wood, for the nights were getting colder. Now was their chance—instead of chopping the wood, the servant girl took the ax and in one fell swoop lopped the witch’s head clean off. It struck the floor and rolled into a wall. The glass eyes in the head shattered into shards, and the witch’s black-colored blood oozed out in a viscous puddle.

“Quickly!” Edward cried. “The brains!”

The servant girl took a cleaver and hacked the top of the witch’s head open, spilling her runny green brains. Edward hopped down from his perch and gagged. The brains smelled awful, but he knew it was the only way. He gobbled up a good portion of them, trying hard not to vomit at their taste—which was a little like moldy bread mixed with whale blubber.

His cat body began to shake and shiver, and in an instant he was returned to his true, human form.

“It worked!” he cried. “You next!”

The servant girl hesitated.

“I know it’s disgusting, but it’s the only way!” Edward said, wiping brain-residue off his lips.

The servant girl picked up a handful of the brains and began to eat them. Edward smiled, eager to have the spell broken so he could finally hear her voice. He imagined it would sound as sweet and pretty as she looked.

The servant girl began to shake. There was a blinding flash of light, which caused Edward to shield his eyes for a moment. When he looked back, he let out an anguished cry. The servant girl had been transformed into a large, gray, filthy rat—its tail cut down to a nub and its mouth foaming.

Which is what she had always been before the Witch enchanted her.

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