The old woman heard the mutters and the lightly placed footsteps creeping up the gravel path; her gnarled knuckles tightened around the ladle as she continued to stir her pot, switching to widdershins while thin lips twisted into a sardonic smile. Always they came, and always they left, running with their screams trailing behind them, the speed of sound not able to keep up with the speed of terrified feet. She never could figure why, what with how smart they certainly seemed to think they were, that they never figured out that there was no way to quietly sneak down a gravel road, and that it was well nigh impossible to sneak up on a witch.
She blinked a few times and a glamour settled over the former rectory like a set dressing. Fat black candles became slim, white tapers, dark grimoires became cookbooks, and the broom that leaned against the back wall became, well, it stayed a broom, but it stopped vibrating as it normally did while waiting to be ridden at midnight. As the dingy rune covered window-shades morphed into filmy pink curtains covered with pictures of kittens, the front door was shoved open hard enough to hit the opposite wall with a bang so loud it even surprised the man who had done the shoving.
“Conjurer!” he screamed, pointing a finger so accusatory she felt it like a poke in the back from across the room and had to fight to keep the smile on her face as she turned to face this latest mob. A motley crew it was, too, she thought to herself as she got a good look. Either the village was inbreeding all courage and manliness from its population, or there just weren’t many left who hadn’t already visited her. They never did return for seconds.
The four men behind him bumbled and stumbled into his back when he froze, just inside the doorway, gaping in slack-jawed disbelief at the homey, and pink, décor. This went against all that he had learned of witches and enchantresses at his Mam’s knee. While the woman herself fit his imagination with her warts and craggy brown teeth (in reality, she was quite a lovely older woman, with gently waving grey hair and only fine lines bracketing the corners of her eyes; the illusion was just an extra bit of good fun for her), her surroundings were disconcertingly saccharine.
“Gentlemen,” she called out gaily. “You’ve arrived just in time for lunch! Oh, I’m so happy to have you here. I’m afraid that having lunch with the same people all the time rather deadens the conversational possibilities! You five look like a fine, lively bunch!” She gestured with her ladle, waving them in and towards the table, grinning inwardly at her clever wordplay. “I’ve got a wonderful pot of stew here I’ve just finished stirring, I insist you sit at once and have a bowl. The rest of my guests should be here any moment, but we needn’t wait on them. Sit, sit!”
Raised to be polite and say things like yes ma’am, thank you ma’am, the men were awkwardly shuffling forward and towards the table before they’d really begun to process whether or not this was a great idea and how had they gone from decrying a Satanist to eating stew with her in a scant few seconds. Before the fifth man’s ass had even hit his chair, the old woman was swooping in with almost over-filled wooden bowls of fragrant stew to place in front of them, chattering all the while, distracting them from the parade of zombies making their way down the gently sloping hill towards the always open back door.
“Rrrnnnggghhhh,” said the first one in. She’d long since stopped trying to do exact translations of their grunts and groans, but guessed closely enough that he was saying something along the lines of, mmmm that smells good. Or maybe it was who the hell is in my chair, how in the hell was she supposed to know? The other zombies bounced gently off of his back in a slow motion parody of what the accusers had done upon their entrance. Eventually they broke around him in a wave of rotting flesh and ambled towards the table.
She turned back towards the villagers with a fierce and pointed smile. “Granny’s Graveyard Stew, m’boys. Smells good enough to wake the dead.”
FINALLY! I got something written in time to meet the Deadline, and this time I’ll remember the cutoff for the voting! Goodness me, but life can make zombies out of all of us upon occasion….
The above picture (which is really, really cool by the way) and the (noun) word stew were our prompts for this week’s Grammar Ghoul Press Mutant 750 Challenge. Go here and read awesome stuff 🙂 http://www.grammarghoulpress.com/gg-writing-challenge-18/