Something Wicked This Way Comes...
A Paranormal Short Story
Every night at midnight, the purple clouds came out to dance with the blushing sky. Tonight, their dance was interrupted, dark figures streaking across the sky toward a single destination.
And the singing. Oh, the singing. Loud, enthusiastic, and rather off-key, the singing was impossible to miss, and even the clouds seemed to be edging away from their celestial dancefloor until it stopped.
"Yippie-ki-yooooooooh! Yippie-ki-yaaaa- EEK!"
The young witch, who had been providing musical accompaniment on the long moonlit flight, swerved to dodge the projectile another witch had aimed at her, and nearly fell off her broom, careening madly among the stars as she tried to stabilize herself. "Was that really necessary?"
A witch politely estimated to be in her thirties brushed several strands of flyaway hair back under her hat, and glared. "Witches are not Cowboys, and that comparison needs to die in a fire, along with that specific song."
The younger one sighed, "Can I sing something more traditional, then?"
A third witch with grey-streaked hair, Heather came down to hover nearby. "Within reason, certainly. We are trying to be stealthy about the location of our midnight mass, after all."
The youngest, Clover, huffed a disgruntled sigh, considering her options. "Come little children, I'll take thee away..."
The witch who had thrown something earlier looked to be contemplating a second projectile, but the Elder placed a restraining hand on her shoulder. "Let it be, Abigail. We were all young once."
Abigail's expression suggested a firm denial that she had ever been that young and tasteless, but she subsided and soared as far as she could get from Clover and the others who had started harmonizing, while still remaining in formation. Clover tried not to let it bother her; even witches had different tastes in music sometimes.
The Grand High Witch stood on a high clifftop, silhouetted against the full moon.
She never tired of these gatherings, no matter how much of a headache it could be to organize them. Really, it was hard not to laugh when she listened to D&D players complain about scheduling; they had no idea...
One of the three covens had just arrived, and were busying themselves setting up; the other two were late. It wasn't entirely surprising - one of the absent covens had to travel from the other side of the continent, and the other had an unusually large number of young witches, still in the 'disorganized adolescent' stage - but the magic in her veins thrummed in anticipation.
The distant coven arrived first, gliding down and mingling with little fuss.
They heard the younger coven before they saw them, a resounding chorus of "Witchy Women" drifting on the wind as broomsticks appeared out of a cloud. Heather was humming along quietly as she came in for landing. Abigail looked as though it had been a very, very long flight.
The Grand High Witch patted her sympathetically on the shoulder. "Go center yourself. We have time before the ceremony."
Abigail complied, her frazzled appearance lessening slightly as she disappeared into a knot of other witches, passing around a goblet that steamed and smelled vaguely of spices and alcohol. The Grand High Witch supposed that mulled wine counted as a potion, as long as a Serenity Solution was mixed in. Sing-alongs were fine on long flights, but they did wear one down after a while.
The moon rose higher as the covens mingled; young, old and middle aged coming together in groups and then parting to attach themselves to another cluster of pointed hats. Such was the way of socialising, the Grand High Witch supposed. Deeper bonds would come with time and trust, and there was no use attempting to rush such things.
Finally, when the moon was at its peak and the skies had reluctantly cleared, allowing the stars to shine through, The Grand High Witch stood, drawing all eyes to her. "It is time."
Tonight was a time of pledging, a time for witches to commit to their coven for another year.
Legend and superstition might make much of "eternal commitments to the darkness" and "selling your soul for power", but really, Magic was far more co-operative when the people participating in the ritual were doing so willingly.
The Grand High Witch stood on the precipice, trusting her life to the others, and the hope that none of them had any ambitions toward a coup. One by one, oldest to youngest, coven by coven, the other witches approached her, their voices soft overlapping murmurs, a promise between sisters as much as it was a pledge to the power that fueled them.
"Why have you come here?"
"I come to renew my bond with my coven and community, and with the greater powers that guide us all."
"Then be welcome, and may the coming year safeguard you"
"As may it guard us all."
There were simpler pledges, but the more traditionalist and more enthusiastic witches complained when the Grand High Witch used those. Something about diminishing the gravitas of the occasion. The words didn't really matter as much as the intent, but the Grand High Witch didn't believe in creating problems on purpose, so she played along with the ritual.
Then it was over, and it was time for the real party to start.
Finally, as the full moon dipped down toward the horizon, the Grand High Witch raised her arms a final time, giving the traditional farewell. "When shall we three meet again?"
She didn't expect a response - it was always a flurry of "I can't do Thursdays", "PTA on the 15th" and a deluge of other excuses anyway, the actual date would be hammered out over the intervening three months before the next gathering - but it was the form of the thing. She continued, "Directions to the hotel we've booked are next to the Great Cauldron; flying tired never ends well. Breakfast is also paid for, but you're on your own for lunch and any tourist activities that you've planned for your coven, and check-out is at two."
The Grand High Witch was a mother; she knew how hard it was to get teenagers out of bed without some kind of deadline. "Merry met, merry part, until we gather again."
Brooms were gathered, and one by one, the witches vanished into the sky.
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About the Creator
I've been writing since I learned how, but those have been lost and will never see daylight (I hope).
I'm an Indie Author, with 30+ books published.
I live in Sydney, Australia
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