Submitted Date 11/14/2018

The wiry boy ran though the reeds of the southern marches, his blue-black hair giving the impression of a crow fleeting over their crest. Closer to the water, Leroy slowed down; it wouldn’t do to forget about Sobek’s sacred crocodiles.

His blood was pumping in the swelling bump the Big Boob had inflicted. He found his little boat and as he got on, he once again cursed his parents. Diane and Derek Faunt, or the Ds for Droids, would not budge and let him use their flying carpet. He could whine, cry, plead, yell, fake seizures, and call the SPUSBA (The Society for the Protection of the Unbearable Spoiled Brats of Atlantis).The Ds; whose spirits he thought he had crushed long ago, invariably answered that he was too young.

He would have taken a minute to catch his breath, but he hated the putrescent air of the marshes. He pushed hard with his pole to disengage the dingy from the sludge, waking up a curious crocodile. It approached, slow and menacing. Leroy waited till it was at arm’s length, then he seized the hammer lying in the bottom of the boat, and whacked it on the nose. The big lizard squealed like a turkey. Leroy smiled with glee at the nifty weapon he had pinched from his father and started rowing.

The water got clearer and more turbulent, and the smell of the open sea cleaned the stink out of his nostrils. On autopilot, Leroy rowed in an easy motion, gliding with speed over the waves, and tried to think of a solution to his transportation predicament. Problem was, the people of Eden had been the victims of his sticky fingers so often. Now they kept their stuff, (and more importantly, their carpets), under lock and key. Most had even gotten child-eating jackals. It had to be said that the birthrate in Lemuria had dropped sharply since he’d started to walk.

Finally, after twenty long minutes on the water and many cruel but impracticable ideas, Leroy arrived at the Witch’s island. He tied the boat to a stake planted in the sand full of shells and tiny bones and scaled the steps carved in the cliff, which led to the only habitable part of the island.

The volcanic protuberance was, like its resident, wrinkled and almost extinguished. Only a few crevices still spat out a smoke that was full of cinders. It blended with the smelly one coming from the pipe the Witch smoked all day and the strange fumes expelled by her chimney to create an ever-lasting smog which kept bugs and birds away.

The ancient crater formed a natural barricade for the yurt-like house in its center. The cottage’s base, a jumble of clay, mortar, and disparate stones, squatted underneath a steep thatched roof. Like the witch’s hat, the last was conical, shriveled, and covered with grey volcanic ash. It also had a rim, creating a thin overhang over the wraparound porch.

She was sitting there, in an old rocking chair beside the door, waiting for him. The aged wood of the deck creaked with the wind in concert with the squeaks of the chair and her ancient bones. Despite the clouds of cataracts that hid her eyes, Leroy felt her stare getting heavier and heavier as he got closer.

The Witch Chiloe! Oh, gods how he hated her! But the revulsion he felt every time he saw her was no match for his morbid fascination.

He climbed on the first step. She stood without a word and gestured for him to follow her inside the cottage.

The main floor consisted of one big circular room, dominated by a central hearth big enough to be one of the mouths of hell. In the flames renewed by the gust of wind, a huge caldron stuck out like an Adam’s apple. You could fit four boys his size in it. This knowledge had been etched in the profound depths of his soul the day he had let the fire die. In punishment, Chiloe had emptied it and trapped him inside for an entire weekend.

The cat, as bald as its owner, rubbed itself on his ankles, bringing him further inside. Chiloe had melted into the gloom. Leroy’s gaze swept the room back and forth, but the surfaces and fabrics, with their taupe or charcoal colorings, conspired in her camouflage.

She cleared her throat and he saw her, sunk within an enormous chair. Her long bony index finger pointed down at the floor in front of her. Leroy grimaced, but his legs, more obedient than he was, folded without hesitation.

“So?” she asked in her raspy old smoker’s voice.

“I got Gandaberunda.”

“And Hercules?”

Leroy lowered his eyes and petted the cat. A whip of claws brought him back to attention.

“I¾ I missed. He tripped just when the dart left my blowgun. And then he threw a roller-skate at my head.”

He showed his bump. Chiloe leaned forward, her pale eyes glittering with wickedness. “That was your roller-skate he tripped on, right? He evaded the dart because of your sloppy habits.”

Her gaze went to the caldron. Leroy shivered.

“I lost that skate last year,” he started as an excuse.

Chiloe fanned the foul air with her scraggy hand. “Why didn’t you try again?”

“I wanted to, but I thought it would be better if he forgot me for a while, so I went to take care of the eagle and the tree like you told me to. Then, when I went back for Hercules, all these people arrived.”

“So what? That’s not unusual.”

“No, but yes. See, the Zoo was closed today. And the people that arrived, they stayed with Hercules the whole time.”

“Describe them.”

“Two were immortals, I think. I was able to glimpse their aura, like you showed me to. One was tall and dark, the other looked a bit like Hercules, but dumber. There was also this old dandy, all shriveled up. He yelled a lot. And there was this beautiful lady…”

Leroy felt his cheeks heat up.

“Tell me more about her.” Chiloe’s tone was harsh.

Leroy didn’t want to but he couldn’t help it, the words tumbled out: “She’s tallish and slender. She wears a black and royal blue… and very tight military uniform. Her skin is white like the snow and her hair is a trail of fire that goes down to her… to the small of her back.”

“And her eyes?” asked Chiloe drily, as if she already knew the answer.

Leroy closed his eyes. “Green like two of the purest emer¾”

“Yeah, yeah. Spare me the metaphors of pubescent virgin poets.”

He opened his eyes. Chiloe had sunk deeper into her chair and was caressing the long hair on her chin, lost in thought.

“Louhi,” she murmured with something like wonder, then redressed and leaned forward. “Finally, it might have been a good thing you missed Hercules this morning, it would have caused questions. And I think we may have found a much more interesting target.”

“No! I don’t want to hurt the Beautiful Lady!”

“Know one thing Leroy: Louhi eats ninnies like you for breakfast. The only way you have to get her attention is to drive her crazy.”

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  • Miranda Fotia 1 year, 6 months ago

    I love the characters you create! Thanks for sharing!