Midwest Witch – Snippet 5

The Midwest Witch, Midwest Magic Chronicles Book 1

By Flint Maxwell & Martha Carr

Snippet 5

Chapter 3 Cont.

(Unedited)

Maria didn’t put the bra on. She was comfortable enough and it was her birthday after all, she got final say in what bra she wore.

Downview was packed. They paid the few bucks for a round of putt-putt. Most of the people there were in the arcade or the batting cages. Some of the more badass kids were smoking cigarettes at the skatepark next to the putt-putt course. Maria could smell the tobacco from where she stood.

“Good luck,” Tabby said. She had just hit a hole in one on possibly the toughest hole on the course. A large windmill spun and knocked Claire’s green ball back to the tee. Claire growled in frustration. The other girls laughed.

Sherlock watched with what looked like amusement. Typically, dogs weren’t allowed in the park, but the owner of Downview was close with Maria’s grandfather, plus Sherlock was always on his best behavior. He was an old dog, his hyperactive days long behind him.

It was Maria’s turn to putt. She swung, timing her shot with the spinning windmill. The ball soared up the green, on target, but the windmill blocked it last at the last possible and sent it pin-balling back to the tee.

“Damn it,” Maria said. “Why do we play a game so frustrating?”

“Relax,” Claire said, laughing.

Maria tried again. It took her three more tries until she was able to beat the windmill. Her score was not looking good.

They caught up to the people in front of them. They were on the last hole, which Maria had always thought was the hardest hole of all despite what Claire and Tabby would’ve said. In order to reach the cup, you had to hit the ball up a clown’s tongue — hard enough. But it got harder. The clown’s top teeth would come down in a bite as soon as it sensed the ball traveling toward its mouth. It was like the windmill, but faster. On busy nights, the line to get through the last hole sometimes took fifteen minutes. Claire and Tabby never got stuck on it, though. Somehow.

It was not Maria’s favorite, not to mention the clown looked creepy as all hell. A big head, flaking white paint on its face and blood-red paint on its lips. The sinister laugh that sounded once the golf ball connected with its clamping teeth gave her nightmares when she was younger.

The line was pushing fifteen minutes, not because Downview was really busy, but because a couple of teenaged guys, obviously stoned out of their minds, were screwing around and trying to hit their balls at the same time in the hopes the clown’s teeth would be wedged open.

Move it, Maria thought.

“You guys hungry?” Maria said, not wanting to watch the clown bite down anymore.

Sherlock barked.

“Not you.”

Awww, the phantom voice said, shocking her. She did her best to ignore it, thinking she must’ve gotten a contact buzz from the stoned teens ahead of them. Hallucinating, that’s all.

“I could use a Butterfinger,” Claire said.

“I’m good,” Tabby said. “Ate some of your cake on the way here.”

“Damn it, Tab, that wasn’t for you!” Claire said, punching her in the arm.

“Ow! Sorry, I was hungry. Besides, it wasn’t all me.” Tabby looked down at Sherlock, who wagged his tail faster than the windmill on the previous hole. “Sherlock here helped me a bit.”

“Gosh,” Claire said.

Maria grinned. “So a Butterfinger, anything else?”

Claire shook her head.

“Okay, I’ll be back.”

***

Maria opened the door to the snack bar. A blast of air conditioning washed over her. Sherlock followed her. “No, buddy. Dogs are definitely not allowed around the food. Doesn’t matter if Edgar and Gramps are old friends.”

Sherlock whined and lay down on the concrete.

A voice came from behind Maria. “If dogs aren’t allowed, then you definitely should turn around and go back to the kennel.”

Maria’s skin prickled. She knew that voice. She hated that voice. It was Kaylee Wilson, Maria’s arch nemesis from high school.

She turned around and saw Kaylee standing there with a gang of her bitchy friends: Amanda Haggerty, Alicia Foreman, and a gay guy named Vince. They stood there tensed, like Maria was about to fight them. She didn’t plan on it, but you never know. Maria frowned, disappointed to see that in the two years since they graduated high school, Kaylee hadn’t put on any weight or got pregnant or drafted by the military or a number of other things that would get her the hell out of town.

“Clever,” Maria said, staring at Kaylee. Her grandfather taught her to never back down from bullies, which was a reason most of high school sucked. She didn’t back down, but neither did Kaylee. The pranks and jokes ramped up in intensity all four years. Maria remembered seeing that movie Carrie and wishing she was able to do that at her high school prom and the mass murder Just rough ‘em up a bit, that’s all. That and minus the pig’s blood, of course.

Kaylee flinched at Maria’s gaze. The others hadn’t even looked in Maria’s direction. That was satisfying. Maria smiled and went inside the snack bar.

The owner sat at a stool smoking a cigarette. You weren’t supposed to smoke inside and the stuff Edgar smoked always smelled funny, not like the stuff the skaters outside smoked. His pot, for lack of a better term, was out of this world. Maria often wondered who sold it to him. Her grandfather, maybe? She wouldn’t be surprised.

“Maria! Good to see you again!”

“I just saw you like half an hour ago,” Maria replied.

“I know, I know, it’s just so good to see you, Maria! How’s your old gramps doing? Haven’t seen Ignatius in awhile.”

“No, I figured you saw him every night,” Maria said. “On account of you guys meeting at that new ice cream shop on South Avenue.”

Edgar chuckled. “No, no, I haven’t been down there since I blew up — ” He stopped, his face getting deathly serious. “I’ve said too much.”

“Okayyyy.” Maria was used to that kind of oddness from Edgar. She didn’t even think to ask what he might’ve blown up. Seemed like he was always blowing something up. “Well, you got any buckeye ice cream left?”

Edgar looked over his shoulder then forward at the empty tub of buckeye ice cream next to the birthday cake and chocolate banana. “For you, Maria, anything. Gimme a minute. Gotta go open tomorrow’s tub.” He made a motion like he was zipping up his lips. “Don’t tell no one, kay?”

“My lips are sealed.”

Edgar left through the back door, leaving behind a cloud of smoke. Kaylee and her gang were messing with the golfing equipment in the far corner. Their reflections were visible in the glass sneeze guard. A tick-tick-tick filled the air as Kaylee bounced a ball on the edge of a golf club.

Maria tried her best to ignore them when something filled her head. It was like a flare of pain, a great burst of red and white and blue almost a month after Independence Day.

A clunk came from the corner of the room. A whistle through the air.

Maria turned. A great big fireball sliced toward her. Except, it wasn’t a fireball; it was a red golf ball.

“Think fast,” Kaylee said. Her voice sounded in slow motion. All of it was in slow motion. Should she step aside, let the ball shatter the glass partition? Should she —

She caught the ball.

Kaylee’s mouth dropped open into a perfect O.

Then, something else happened. Maria’s arms glowed, a faint blue beneath her pale skin, and the ball in her hand fizzled, the plastic melting.

She was angry, but she was scared shitless, too.

“What the hell?” Kaylee whispered.

“She’s a fucking alien!” Alicia Foreman said.

“Kill her!” Vince said, only sounding half-joking.

Kaylee grabbed another handful of golf balls and began chucking them at Maria. Maria dropped the smoking one in her hand and easily caught the others, her skin glowing more so, now noticeable.

When Kaylee ran out of balls, she stared at Maria, not believing what she was seeing.

I always knew Maria Apple was weird, but what the fuck? Kaylee thought.

Then, Maria raised her arm, cocked it back like she was about to beam the balls back toward Kaylee and her friends. To Kaylee, Maria looked like she could throw some heat…literally.

“Fuck this. Freak!” Kaylee shouted and ran for the doors.

But Maria wasn’t going to throw the golf balls back. She was above that. Gramps would’ve been disappointed if she had. He had told her to stand up to bullies and that’s exactly what she had done. If she threw the balls back, she would’ve stooped as low as Kaylee, and that was pretty low.

So she just watched them run out the door with a smile on her face. Sherlock barked after them. Kaylee knocked a kid down and stepped over his splayed out body.

Maria rushed out and helped him up.

“Lady, you’re glowing blue, like a freakin’ nightlight!” the kid said.

Maria let out an awkward chuckle and turned around to head into the snack bar.


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