A campfire ghost story.
The cabin in the woods had been abandoned for years, but one night, a candle burned in the window. It wasn't a real candle; no, it was one of those tacky, neon signs shaped like one. Below it read the words: SPELLS & WEDDINGS FOR CHEAP. Nevertheless, it was a beacon in the twilight, spilling into the darkness of the bleak, dense forest, which surrounded the cabin like a cloak. For the hikers, it was a welcome sight—they'd reached their strange destination at last.
Carol and Todd rushed towards the light.
A dead in the eyes—literally, he had cataracts—desk clerk greeted the couple upon arrival.
"Do you have a reservation?" he drawled.
The polite thing to do was not to stare. Carol and Todd weren't exactly wellbred; they openly gaped until he cleared his throat and repeated the question with even less enthusiasm.
"Uh, no, sorry. We don't," blurted Todd.
The clerk did nothing to hide his disdain.
"You may wait at the bar. Assuming the Cabin-Witch has time to see you, you'll be called in. Today's special is 'Makeovers: Buy 1 Get 1 Free'."
"Thanks, we know," the couple muttered in unison.
The bar was tricked out like a Halloween studio. So, when the bartender approached dressed in mummy-rags, the couple felt a little less ill at ease than with the clerk.
It looked them up and down—the lusciously plump Carol, especially.
"Well, aren't you just the picture of Brad and Janet," it chortled.
The couple exchanged a confused glance.
It chortled again.
"Nothing. What's your poison?"
The mummy handed them a menu.
The overpriced drinks all had Halloween names: "Mickey's mickey; amaretto sour-eyes, old-fashioned zombie, etc."
Carol and Todd decided the "blood orange sangria" sounded the safest.
As they sipped their oddly bitter wine, Carol turned to Todd.
"Are you sure this is the place for us? Doesn't it seem a little too, I don't know, 'campy' to be a reputable plastic surgery clinic?"
Todd glanced at his wallet, then patted Carol's hand patronizingly.
"Now dear, you know we agreed to stick to a budget. More for the honeymoon, right?"
Carol sighed. It wasn't like it was his body going under the knife—er, spell. And just why did she need to get a butt-job anyway? She wasn't exactly thin.
But nooo... it was Kim K or the highway for Todd. And at 39, Carol felt like she had no options left. Plus, was she honestly willing to throw away the eight years she'd invested in badgering him to the altar? Not a chance.
Carol chugged the last of her wine and ordered a refill without asking if it "fit the budget".
Still, at least she would get to decide on how to spend the freebie. That was the deal. She was toying with the idea of a set of laser facial treatments or an extra-large massage package.
Some nurse dressed up like a Catwoman strutted by, ass cheeks bouncing, and Todd's eyes followed the wiggling to an obscene degree.
Catwoman leaned over her shoulder and winked at Todd.
Why did plastic surgery places always insist on displaying their work? Like, we get it. They've got it, and we don't! Carol thought to herself.
It was all too Bettie Page, and Carol snapped.
"Todd, you're drooling."
The man pried his gaze away but just barely.
The massage package Carol decided. With some really, really big-handed Swede.
An equally trussed-up nurse arrived at the bar to show them into the consult room.
Todd urged Carol to go on ahead while he paid the tab.
Carol glanced between him and that Catwoman warily. Then she sighed heavily. It wouldn't be the first time he cheated. But, now? Right before their wedding?? With tremendous fortitude, Carol reigned in her tears and followed the trollop to the Cabin-Witch's den.
To her pleasant surprise, the Cabin-Witch wasn't some vision of perfection. No, she was still a vision, though. In full drag, the deep baritone voice greeted her far more warmly than anticipated.
"Halloooo, my darling!"
Carol, an American, reciprocated the continental gesture clumsily.
The Cabin-Witch waved her hand and examined her client.
"Well, I can see you're already a beauty. What can I do for you? Anti-aging treatment? Little botox? Don't tell me you're here to plump those already lush lips! I don't do overblown. Your face reflects my work."
"No, not that. My fiancé wants me to—er, I want to—get a Brazilian butt lift."
The Cabin-Witch raised a dark and shapely-defined eyebrow.
Carol blushed and bent.
Carol returned to face the Cabin-Witch, and those pesky tears she'd been keeping at bay finally spilled over.
“Your ass is fab. And again, I don’t send clients out looking like dolls. Are you sure this is something you want?"
Just then, Todd entered. He looked a little sweaty and appeared to be sporting the same shade of red lipstick as the Catwoman on his belt.
None of the details escaped the Cabin-Witch's gaze. She darted her eyes back to Carol, who had now put her head down entirely so that her hair hid her face and was dabbing at her eyes with her sleeve.
"You haven't paid yet, have you?" Todd insisted, "Because I know it's 'buy one get one free' day, and I expect to get the deal."
The Cabin-Witch’s already high brows shot up to an impossibly high height, and the frown that followed would have been enough to turn a man to stone if Todd had noticed. Instead, Todd turned to Carol and mumbled in wine-thick words,
"I've been thinking. You need to get a boob-job for the get one. They're really startin' to sag now that you're nearly forty."
Before Carol could respond, the Cabin-Witch jumped in between them, draped an arm around Todd and pulled him aside.
"Excellent idea! T&A. Can't go wrong; am I right? Perfect combo. And, don’t fret! Of course the deal is on. It's...a rather permanent one, more of a regular offering. Designed precisely for budget-conscious, to-be spouses."
"Well, just know I expect to get what I pay for."
"Oh, absolutely," the Cabin-Witch readily conceded, "As well such a discerning gentleman like yourself should! Now, as for payment. We accept cash or VISA...or fair trade."
"Yes! For someone like...Carol...I believe she'd make an excellent before-and-after candidate. How it works is: I get a free license to create and showcase my final product, and you get to save the monetary investment. What do you say?"
The witch turned, hid her face with one hand and snidely colluded,
"I agree; she desperately needs a makeover."
Todd didn't notice when the Cabin-Witch winked at Carol while he was laughing. Carol stopped crying and pondered the contradiction to what the woman had said to her just moments ago in private. Something in her urged Carol to stay quiet.
The Cabin-Witch snapped her fingers, and a document materialized out of thin air.
"Now, you sign here and then it's off to the spell room for Carol and up to the hotel suite for you. I've upgraded you to our most relaxing room so you can be sure to get your own beauty rest ahead of the wedding tomorrow."
Todd looked confused.
"But, I thought the wedding would be tonight. After the spell?"
"Oh no, dearie. For something this intensive, it requires an overnight."
Todd didn't even bother to hide his smirk.
Free reign in a hotel room overnight with those nurses? Sounded good to him!
Todd signed without reading the contract and fled the room as brusquely as he'd arrived.
Carol didn’t know what to say.
Even if she had, it would have been drowned out in the Cabin Witch’s fleshy-armed embrace.
“Carol, my lovely, this is going to be a makeover you’ll never forget. I promise. Just leave the details to me. Oh! And that Swede you were envisioning—I see everything you know —well, Bjorn is waiting for you down the hall in your room. Sleep well!”
With that, the Cabin-Witch disappeared in a puff of smoke and Carol was transported into the hands of the most gorgeous blonde she’d ever seen. When he left, she ordered herself some pricey lobster for dinner with a fudge sundae for dessert. The last thing she recalled, before slipping into a delicious food and massage coma, was the lipstick on Todd’s belt. But it was too late to care.
Sometime later, Carol was awakened by a long, high-pitched squeal. The bride-to-be stuck her head into the hall.
Unexpectedly, she was greeted by the Catwoman holding a pig on a leash!
Catwoman smacked her gum with her cherry red lips, the same shade as the little cherry-kisses design decorating the pig’s collar.
No! It couldn’t be!
The pig squealed repeatedly.
“Cabin-Witch told me to drop 'im off 'ere. What-ya want me to do with 'im?”
With another smack of her gum, Catwoman deposited Todd’s substantially thicker wallet into Carol's hands.
Carol stood there gobsmacked while the woman waited patiently with half-lidded, false-lash eyes, as though well used to these dealings.
Finally, Carol sputtered, “What, what are my options?”
Catwoman’s eyes twinkled, and she grinned.
“My honest opinion, Miss? I’d say this one 'ere deserves to stay on in the barn out back. Plenty o'good swine there for company.”
Carol’s eyes gleamed in answer to the twinkle.
“I’ll trust your judgement.”
The Cabin-Witch glided into view from around the corner with a set of suitcases.
“Acapulco, was it? Forgive me, but I can’t recall your honeymoon destination.”
Carol sighed and rolled her eyes.
“Well, that was my choice, yeah. Todd wanted to go to Germany for Oktoberfest.”
The Cabin-Witch's interest was piqued and she and the nurse exchanged knowing glances.
"Oh, that's too perfect."
The inside joke went over Carol's head.
"Nothing, dearie. Now, let's get you made-over!"
The Cabin-Witch clicked her fingers, and Carol found herself holding a margarita in one hand, wearing a sombrero on her brow and her other arm wrapped around the bulging forearm of the Swede.
“Enjoy your trip! Oh, and don’t worry about the finer details. I'll see that he makes it to his destination. Consider him scrubbed from memory. All memories,” the Cabin-Witch added with her now-infamous wink,and a long, lascivious, gurgling cackle.
--end of contest entry--
About the Author:
Les lives a quiet life in Canada with her three rescue cats. She typically writes children and YA literature but will delve into anything that gets the swirling words out of her brain. Her first book, Owl in a Towel, may be purchased here.
Les would like to thank her Google Play for reminding her how much she loves the song "Poor Unfortunate Souls".
About the author
Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
Original narrative & well developed characters
Compelling and original writing
Creative use of language & vocab
Easy to read and follow
Well-structured & engaging content
Niche topic & fresh perspectives
Heartfelt and relatable
The story invoked strong personal emotions