The Midwest Witch, Midwest Magic Chronicles Book 1
By Flint Maxwell & Martha Carr
Chapter 3 Cont. & Chapter 4
“What the heck happened?” Edgar asked.
She wasn’t glowing anymore, but she was definitely watching her skin with a close eye. Edgar held a paper bowl full of buckeye ice cream, a local Ohioan delicacy.
“Why are there balls everywhere? Gosh, this is gonna take a year to clean up!”
Maria chuckled. “Uh, that’s what she said?”
Edgar didn’t laugh, despite it obviously being hilarious. Maria never missed out on a ‘TWSS opportunity,’ as she called it.
The Butterfingers sat on the counter next to the cash register with an assortment of other candies. Maria set two five-dollar bills on the counter, grabbed a Butterfinger, and took the ice cream from Edgar, who stood surveying the destruction.
She quickly rushed out of the snack bar and back to the last hole; Sherlock followed at her heels, eyeing her food.
When she got back to the clown (which was chuckling sinisterly), Claire and Tabby looked at her with mild exhaustion.
“Took you long enough. Hey, are you feeling okay? You look a little different,” Claire said.
“Yeah, she looks more confident,” Tabby replied. “Did you put on the bra? Those babies seem to be popping more.”
Maria shook her head. She handed Claire the Butterfinger. Claire quickly unwrapped it and chomped away. “We’re up,” she said through a mouthful of chocolate.
“I ran into Kaylee.” She didn’t even have to say her last name. The other girls instantly recognized her; her name was almost synonymous with Hitler or Darth Vader.
“Yuck!” Tabby said. “That wench is here? Let’s hurry up and get the hell out before we see her and her goons again!”
“Take your turn,” Claire said. “Birthday girl gets first swing, never mind the score.”
“Hold on, let me take a bite of my ice…” Maria looked down and saw her buckeye ice cream had turned to buckeye soup. “What the hell?” Inside the cup, the buckeyes floated lazily—half-melted into chocolate peanut butter lumps.
“That was my last ten bucks! How could it melt just from there to here?”
“Take your turn!” Claire said. “We can worry about ice cream later. Besides, swimsuit season might be on its way out, but we still gotta look hot.”
Claire was obviously joking. She knew stereotyping women was a quick way to get on Maria’s nerves, but she rolled her eyes and stepped up to take her turn.
“There’s the freak!” Kaylee yelled from beyond the fence. Maria tried not to pay attention to her, but it was almost impossible. “Swing, freak! Swing! Swing!”
“Just ignore them,” Tabby said. “They’re stuck in high school.”
Maria nodded, gripped her golf club, and lined up her shot. She went for it. The ball rolled up the clown’s tongue; the clown’s teeth gnashed, its big cartoon eyes darted back and forth, back and forth. A bolt of excitement struck Maria’s heart.
Hole in one, she was thinking. Hole in one!
It seemed like all eyes were on her. Everyone waited with bated breath to see where the ball might end up.
Would it go down the clown’s gullet, or would it be—
“Damn it!” Maria shouted. The ball clinked against the clown’s teeth, and the clown laughed.
“So close! So close!” it said tauntingly.
Kaylee and her group of friends threw their heads back in laughter. “The freak strikes again!”
“Oh, no,” Maria said, looking down at her hands wrapped around the club. They glowed a soft blue, hardly noticeable.
“Can’t even beat a dumb clown!” Kaylee shouted.
“Yeah, well I’d like to see you try!” Tabby shouted back with her fist raised toward the sky.
Now everyone was watching them. Kaylee. Maria tried to hide her exposed flesh, hoping her face wasn’t glowing, too.
Tingles and chills went up Maria’s arms. She felt a thrumming deep in her bones. “Not good. This is not good,” she decided quietly.
“C’mon,” Claire coaxed. “Let’s just get out of here.” Maria glanced up at her friend and saw how defeated she looked.
“No!” Maria said, louder than she’d intended. “No, I’m not letting those assholes get the best of me.”
“Are you talking about Kaylee or the clown?” Tabby asked.
“Both,” Maria answered through clenched teeth.
“Wait a second,” Claire said, “Are you…are you glowing?”
Maria ignored it. She wished she was wearing a long sleeve shirt, despite the weather.
With her club, she lined the ball up on the starting spot.
“The freak steps up to the plate…” Kaylee mock announced. “She swings, and—”
Maria took her shot. As she cocked her arm back, an outrageous power stole through her. It was like riding a wave of electricity, like reaching the top of a mountain, like—
The club connected with the ball with an enormous thwack.
Sherlock barked his head off, but inside Maria’s mind, with the pulsing power going through her, she heard, ‘Go, Maria! Go!’
The ball rippled up the green, leaving a scorch mark in its wake. The plastic clown’s tongue melted like Maria’s ice cream. The ball seemed to be getting smaller and smaller, like a meteor breaking through Earth’s atmosphere.
The teeth came down. Somewhere, someone screamed. The teeth didn’t stop the ball. No, the ball plowed right through the big plastic squares, then shot down the clown’s throat, making it seem as if the clown had swallowed a fireball. Then the ball came out the other side, where it scorched the green and rattled in the hole.
Everyone went silent.
Maria’s arms rippled with near invisible fire. She looked around, too afraid to blink and too afraid to move her body, letting her eyes do the moving for her.
Then Tabby broke the silence. “All right! Hole in-motherfucking-one!” She jumped. Someone clapped.
“Eat it!” Claire yelled at Kaylee.
But it wasn’t over.
A small fire was burning in the clown’s head, and with a sudden explosion, it took off like a bottle rocket, heading straight toward Kaylee and her friends on the upper level. They moved out of the way.
“Holy shit!” Kaylee yelled, jumping.
Vince Lorenzon screamed and started running. He tripped and Kaylee used him as a stepping stone, but Kaylee tripped and teetered on the edge of the little pond near the eighth hole. Her two friends tried to snag her before she fell. No luck. Kaylee fell backward with a scream, pulling them all in the water.
The clown missed them, but it had rattled them pretty good.
Now the rest of the audience began to clap. Maria wasn’t sure how to feel.
So she ran—ran to the parking lot, and got into Claire’s car.
Chapter 4 –
“What the fuck was that?” Tabby said. She and Claire ran through the crowd of amazed onlookers, and Sherlock followed them, barking his head off. Maria had already reached the Kia. She was jimmying the door handle, trying to escape this reality into the safe confines of the car. No luck.
“Unlock the car!”
The Kia chirped, and the locks clicked up. She threw herself into the front seat, pulled the goofy feather hat from the floor, and put it over her face.
Claire and Tabby followed her into the car.
“That was like something from one of my brother’s video games!” Claire said.
“Holy shit. I’ve never seen anything like that, video game or otherwise,” Tabby added.
“Just drive, “ Maria whispered. Through the hat, she noticed the glowing blue light coming off her skin. It reminded her of those weird floating jellyfish things in the movie Avatar. Quickly, she covered up her glowing arm with her other arm, which was not glowing.
The Kia roared as Claire peeled out of the parking lot and onto Britain Boulevard, narrowly missing a Ford truck. The Ford honked. Maria removed the hat from her face and angled her body to hide her lit-up right arm. Out the window, she was able to see Kaylee and her gang crawling out of the small pond on the eighth hole. Their clothes were dripping wet and their hair was plastered to their faces. It made the fear and anger leave Maria. She smiled and then burst out laughing.
“That was awesome!” Tabby said. She held her hand up for a high-five.
Maria was too busy catching the last fleeting glimpses of the soiled Kaylee gang, so Sherlock raised a paw. Tabby gladly took it.
“Seriously though, what the fuck was that?” Claire said. She just made the light through Barney’s Busy Corners. Good thing. Drivers had been known to sit at the intersection for upwards of ten minutes when traffic was really bad.
“I have no idea,” Maria answered.
“Did you glow?” Tabby asked. “I could’ve sworn you glowed.”
“I…I’m not sure,” Maria said. “No. No way.”
You glowed. You always glow, that phantom voice said. This time Maria caught Sherlock’s gaze with it.
“Is that you?” she asked.
“Huh?” Tabby said, looking confusedly back and forth between Maria and the Bloodhound.
Sherlock held Maria’s eyes, and he…nodded.
Holy shit, Maria thought, her jaw dropping.
Tabby snapped her fingers. Click-click. Waved her hand. “Earth to Apple, are you all right? Mariaaaaaa!”
“Yeah, yeah, I guess.”
The night was darker on the road that led to Maria’s house. Clouds covered the moonlight. The air was still; the only sound was the whipping wind from the open windows.
“Well,” Tabby said, “what a fucking night.” She laughed.
“Yeah, now what? Want to watch a scary movie or something?” Claire asked. “If your grandpa will let us have the TV, that is. I’m sure he will…it’s your birthday for like, two more hours.”
Maria didn’t answer. She was staring at Sherlock. Did I just talk to my fucking dog? What the hell is going on with me? First the popcorn and the weird guy watching me in the mall’s parking lot, and now exploding clown heads and glowing blue skin.
“Maria?” Tabby said.
“Uh, yeah…yeah,” Maria replied, snapping out of it.
“Yeah, you want to watch a horror movie? What about Texas Chainsaw Massacre?” Tabby asked. “New or the original?”
“Yuck,” Claire moaned.
Sherlock whined. I don’t like the sounds of those chainsaws. They’re just so…uncouth.
“ ‘Uncouth’? What the hell does that mean?” Maria asked.
“Maria?” Tabby said, “Geez, I think there’s something really wrong with her.” Her hand came out to feel Maria’s head.
Maria blinked and pushed the hand away.
“So new or original?” Tabby asked again.
Claire turned into Maria’s driveway, put the Kia in park, and started rolling the windows up.
“Uh,” Maria stammered, then shook her head. “No, no movie tonight. I’m beat. The early shifts kill me.”
“Aww,” Tabby and Claire said simultaneously.
Thank you, that voice said—that voice that somehow came from Sherlock.
“Yeah, raincheck, guys,” Maria said. She checked that her arms were not glowing before she leaned in and hugged Claire, then over the backseat to hug Tabby. “I had a great birthday. Thank you guys so much.”
“A great weird birthday,” Tabby said.
“It’s the only way,” Maria said, grinning.
She got out and went around to let Sherlock out. He eased his way down—he was old after all. Then Maria headed up to front door. She was not tired at all. Her body hummed with an odd energy, one completely unexplainable. She opened the front door while hoping to get to the bottom of whatever was happening to her. She was backtracking, thinking about when it all started. But she was unable to pinpoint it. That’s okay. If anyone knowswhat’s happening, Gramps will.
The headlights washed over Maria, and she waved to Claire.
“Weird,” Maria said. “Such a weird day.”
Sherlock whined in what sounded like approval.
“Well, whatever,” Maria dismissed. I have bigger things to worry about.
She turned and went back into the house, closing the door behind her. She made sure it was dead bolted. No former high school drama queens would be able to get in.
The television was on, playing a recorded episode of General Hospital. Her grandpa sat in his wheelchair with a blanket over his legs, which probably meant he was in his underwear, snoring away. His head was cocked back, his mouth open, drool shining in the bright light from the picture. A man in scrubs kissed an older woman passionately.
“Yuck,” Maria said. “Probably should turn it off; save electricity and all that crap.”
I wouldn’t do that if I were you, Sherlock warned.
Maria looked down.
Seriously, what the fuck? she thought.
Sherlock looked up at her, wagging his tail.
You know he’ll wake up as soon as the button clicks and say, ‘Hey! I was watching that, dangnabbit!
“Right,” Maria said.
She looked back down at Sherlock. His tongue was out and he was panting.
“Geez, what has my life come to? Look at me, taking orders from a dog. A dog who is talking to me somehow. God, I’m going crazy. That’s what it is. Or it’s a dream. I’m still asleep, and my alarm is about to go off and wake me up for work, for the early shift with Ted. Yeah! That’s it!”
I assure you, Maria, this is very, very real. You’ve got a gift. You’re coming into it, Sherlock explained.
“Yeah, yeah. Whatever you say. Now how the heck am I going to wake up?” She paused, looking around the room. Maybe a splash of cold water to my face? Slam my fingers in the refrigerator door? Climb up to the roof and jump off?
“No, bigger than that,” she determined.
Maria, whatever you are thinking, do not do it!
“I’m thinking you’re a dog and you can’t talk, but I hear you. Hear you loud and clear. Except your lips ain’t moving. Neither is your jaw. So something is up. Boy, oh boy, this is the weirdest dream I’ve ever had.”
It’s not a dream—
“Oh, I know! I’ll just go to sleep. What better way to wake up from a really exciting dream than to bore yourself out of it? There’s nothing exciting about sleep. Sure, sleep is beautiful and one of my most favorite things in the world, but it’s pretty bland. Ever watch someone sleep, Sherlock? It’s like watching paint dry.”
“Nope, mind has been made up. So sorry.”
If Sherlock could let out a sigh of relief that didn’t sound like panting, he would have. For a second there, he thought Maria was about to seriously hurt herself; from what he’d seen at the putt-putt course, pain leads to anger, and anger leads to a glowing blue fury that explodes clown heads and sends high school enemies into about four feet of cold, scummy water.
Maria went up the steps, and the wood creaked beneath her weight. Sherlock followed. How can I explain what is happening, when I’m not even sure myself? He’d picked up bits of information from Ignatius by sitting at his feet and waiting for food scraps, all the while listening to the ramblings of what a normal Earthling might think was a madman. No, maybe I should wait. Maybe I should let Ignatius do the explaining.
“I could drop the hair dryer into my bathwater. That jolt would be enough to send me out of dreamland, huh, Sherlock?” Maria said.
Now Sherlock didn’t try to converse with her through whatever telepathy the two shared. This time he barked. Barked loud and angry. It felt good to do that. These days, now in the twilight of his dog years, Sherlock hardly ever barked. Mailman? Used to it. UPS guy? Enticing, but used to it, too. Maria’s friends or Ignatius’s weird spells and funny smells? No way, José. So he let it rip. It was like revving a Harley Davidson engine.
“Whoa, cool it,” Maria ordered. She looked startled. Moonlight came in through the upstairs’ hall window, bathing Maria’s face in white. “Or I’m gonna leave you outside all night. And I know you’re scared of the monsters out there.”
Just trying to get your attention.
“Don’t you think a talking dog would get my attention in the first place?”
Technically, I’m not talking. I’m communicating telepathically. You hear my thoughts directed toward you, and then you respond by way of voice. If I try to do what you are doing, all that comes out is a bark.
“Man, I must’ve taken too much Z-Quil before bed. This is really the weirdest dream I’ve ever had!”
It’s not a dream! I don’t know how I can prove—
“Good night,” Maria said. She didn’t even bother going to her bed—she just fell to the floor and closed her eyes.
Yes, it was quite a weird night; one that would only prove to get weirder.
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