Witch’s Brew

A pot of Witch's Brew brand coffee

Piping hot!

Tell Time: 5 minutes
Scare Rating: 2 of 5 Frights
Brenda’s scowl dropped from her countenance at the label. For a very brief moment, she looked pained by the remark. But that emotion was quickly supplanted by a new one, represented via an icy blank stare at her husband.
“How can you be so mean-spirited and vicious?” Marc continued. “How can you escalate a disagreement over whose turn it is to do the dishes into such a monstrosity of an argument? You don’t always have to play for keeps!”
Brenda slowly strode toward Mark, gently took his hands into her own and looked into his eyes. She grabbed his attention by the throat so that she wouldn’t be misunderstood.
“Don’t you ever call me a witch again,” she said, quietly but also firmly and clearly. She then dropped his hands, turned and silently walked away.
“What a … witch!” Marc uttered under his breath as she went into their bedroom and shut and locked the door behind her.
He had a lot of time to think about their heated exchange that night, as he tossed and turned on their couch in the living room.
“I was right!” he thought to himself. “I’ve done the dishes for the last five nights straight! She should’ve offered to do them, instead of making me bring it up to her. She’s the one who made it a fight in the first place, and once we were fighting she is the one who took it to a whole other level. Calling her a witch wasn’t nearly as bad as the things she said about me.
“I don’t know why that word gets her so heated, anyway. But it does, and I knew that when I said it. I said it to get back at her. I knew it would hurt her just as badly — worse — than she had hurt me. And this time, I wanted to hurt her.
“I probably shouldn’t have done it. We should be able to disagree without being disagreeable. And if I have to be the only one in our marriage who does this, as a way of modeling good behavior, then I suppose that’s my role in our relationship.”
Marc picked up his phone and sent a text.
“I was wrong to call you a witch. I apologize. Please forgive me.”
Marc fell asleep, exhausted, fairly quickly after sending the note. But it was a fitful sleep, and he broke out of it quickly when he felt the cool, firm hand on his shoulder.
“I brought you some coffee,” Brenda said. She was kneeling beside the couch-bed, holding a steaming mug of rich-smelling java.
“Thanks,” Marc replied, letting a half smile. He sat up, stiffly, and stretched, before eagerly taking the mug from his wife and taking a sip.
“That’s delicious,” he said, after he took his first drink of the warm brew. “What is it, Sumatran?”
“A little bit of that, with some of your favorite spices,” she replied. “And some of my favorites, too, like eye of newt and bat wing and wolfsbane and witch hazel. It’s my special brew.”
“Hey,” Marc said, picking up her sarcasm. “I said I was sorry about calling you a witch. And I told you I wouldn’t do it ever again. Can we just get past last night?”
Brenda took his hands in hers again, and raised his cup up to his mouth to help him take another swallow of the warm liquid. As he did, he felt a burning sensation run down into his chest and into his stomach.
This wasn’t from the hot temperature of the coffee, it was something else entirely. He became certain of that as he felt his throat constrict. Panicking, he struggled to breath, and finding he couldn’t, he tried to scream. But no air would pass in either direction.
Certain that she had his full attention, Brenda spoke.
“Of course I’m a witch, darling,” Brenda said, using the same calculating blank expressiveness from the night before. “But you can’t call me that name. You are not one of us, so you have no right.
“For centuries, your kind used that label to persecute us, to reveal us, and to try to obliterate us. Witch hunts and witch trials and applying the name with scorn to any woman that had moxie enough to stand up for herself or to stand up to you.
“I won’t stand for it. Because I don’t have to stand for it. I have the power to do something about it — you know that now. And I have the evil hatred burning inside of me. You know that too, don’t you?”
Marc’s hands trembled, then started to shake violently. He looked at them, and at the cup they held, large boils had spread across the surface of his skin, which was shifting from angry red to bruised purple to a necrotic brown. As he looked on, he could see his body dying and rotting.
He dropped the cup, which shattered on the floor. Amidst the ceramic shards were indeed tiny eyeballs, and what looked to be matted hair from some feral creature.
“Of course I forgive you,” Brenda said.
“But I cannot forget.”
This is a rough-cut draft of a brand-new Fear Naught Tale. To read more spooky short stories like this one, check out Fear Naught Tales: Spooky Stories to Read and Tell!

A Corny Story

Bowl of candy corn and peanuts

Fall Mix: Like it, love it, or hate it?

Tell Time: 4 minutes
Scare Rating: 1 of 5 Frights

“Fetch me my biggest cauldron, Dearie.”

Jessica had no clue what the cauldron would be for, but she was spending a fall afternoon with her grandma. What she did know, then, is that they were going to have a magical time together.

The black bowl was right where Gramma said it was, in the basement next to the water heater. Easy enough to find, and she giggled to see a few small house spiders scurry away to find a new dark corner, as she dragged their home away from them. But getting the cast-iron pot up the stairs was a challenge.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

Pulling it by its dirty, thick-braided wire handle, which had once been used to suspend the ancient pot over an open cooking fire, Jessica dragged the heavy cast-iron body of the vessel slowly up the stairs, pausing to rest after each step was conquered. At the top, Gramma grasped the handle and finished the chore. Seeming to rely on supernatural strength, she easily carried the pot the rest of the way, to the stone-faced kitchen table.

“The harvest moon will be rising soon. It’s fall, the deepening season, when the thin veil that separates the Otherworld from ours strains to the point of breaking,” Gramma intoned. “And you know what that means, don’t you?” she asked.

“That it’s election season?” Jessica replied, remembering all of the commercials she’d seen over the recent few weeks.

Grandma shrieked with laughter at her granddaughter’s unintentionally impertinent remark.

“So innocent, yet so clever!” she cackled. “No, my dear. Though you were right to be fearful of the ghouls and goblins that emerge from their dark places during that very haunted season. All in their quest to grab up earthly powers and spread terror across the lands!

“But no; I merely speaking of Halloween. In the fullness of this time, it ripe for my very special seasonal concoction.”

Jessica peered over the edge of the counter to see the recipe. She half expected to see eye if newt, or owl’s blood, on a long list of mystical ingredients to be added to the pot. Instead, there were just two items printed there, in Gramma’s shaky-handed scrawl. Jessica went to the pantry to retrieve them, while Gramma continued her chore of washing a year’s worth of basement dust off the big pot.

“Good, good!” Gramma crowed as Jessica pushed a double armload of sundries onto the counter. “Now, be a Dearie and grab my big wooden spoon – it’s perfect for mixing deep into this big pot.”

“What are we making?” the girl asked, contemplating the ingredients.

“This mixture is known to men and mystics alike for its power to divide and separate otherwise good and well-intentioned people — to separate goats from sheep, I’d say! Those who have tasted it can’t agree whether it is like manna from heaven, or is an accursed affliction that should be damned to Hades for eternity.”

“Like provel cheese?” Jessica asked. She didn’t like provel, but her friend Sadie loved it.

Gramma once again erupted in a spontaneous fit of laughter at the unintentional joke. Her high-pitched cackle always reminded Jessica of a witch’s laugh — though if she was one, Jessica only knew her to be a good witch.

“Yes, Dearie, exactly like provel cheese. Now you just go ahead and add in those ingredients, while grandma starts to stir the mix.”

Jessica cracked open three tall glass jars and poured their earthy contents into the bowl. She then unsealed three large bags of the most important — some would say sacred — ingredient.

Grandma mixed fervently, happily humming an ancient melody that only she would have known; probably from the old country, Jessica mused. As she mixed, the girl watched closely, to ensure that the salty peanuts from the jars were evenly distributed amongst the sweet, waxy golden triangles of the bagged candy corn.

“It’s done! Now, let us enjoy our creation!” said grandma, using her long spoon to dish up two smaller bowls of the treat, for herself and her young apprentice.

“And to Hades with anyone who doesn’t agree that fall mix is a most devilishly divine treat of the season!”