Trick and Treat
by Heather Haigh
Haverlick Whispertongue was working in his study in what promised to be the worse, and probably last, night of his life. He had always hated Halloween. Centuries of languishing down the ranks of the All Hallows Eve spell-off had bruised his ego. Worse, the last few decades had seen him pitted against the infernal Dorothea Doomcalder, and their feud was not going his way. An upstart, two hundred years his junior. It would not do. He had been taught by the great Angustus Sagitarus. How in Hell’s name had that witch got so clever? He should be in the eternal realm right now, battling it out, but somehow she had chained him to the mortal world, and he was expecting her any minute. His bushy white eyebrows knotted themselves together each time he heard a rap at the door. Twisting his beard with trembling fingers, he sighed as he pushed himself to his feet. It was almost certainly another of those wretched children, playing their ridiculous games. But snubbing Dorothea would see his front door blasted to smithereens. Dorothea liked to play her own games The tall, slender cat on his doorstep swished a long furry tail at him with her right hand and smiled. Another of the older ones. You’d think they’d grow out of it but they just got ruder and more annoying.
“Yes, yes,” Haverlick said, “my costume is great. So is yours. Take some candy.” He held out the tacky orange plastic cauldron that his housekeeper had brought him from Poundstretcher. The young woman poked her neat pink nose over his shoulder, whiskers twitching. “Wow, you made your house look magical. Those books, candles, and is that a magic wand on your desk?” Haverlick thrust the cauldron forward more firmly. “Candy.” The cat leaned so far around him that his witch-ward started to glow a faint red. Haverlick leapt back as though she had burned him. Impossible. She mistook his retreat as an invitation and wandered right in, blasting the ward to smithereens. He stared at her. “How did you do that?” “Do what?” “Are you a witch?” The young woman raised her eyebrows and swept a hand down her left side. “Err… cat.” “No, but, the ward. You must be—” “I’m Emily. Pleased to meet you, Mr...?”
A pair of small witches and a hobgoblin appeared at the doorstep, calling “Trick or Treat.” Haverlick thrust the plastic cauldron at them and slammed the door. He whirled and faced his uninvited guest. “Okay, you’ve seen my study, time for you to leave now young lady. I am expecting an important guest.” “Another wizard?” Her eyes glittered. “Or a witch?” Haverlick shuddered.
“It is a witch. And you’re scared of her.” The cat had picked up his copy of Love, Ire and Bewilderment Enhancement Potions. She looked him up and down as she opened the tome. “Stop. You can’t do that.” She literally shouldn’t be able to. She tilted her head to one side and smiled. “Just one eensy peek—It’s so interesting.” “Enough!” He snatched up his wand and thrust it towards her. “Begonnusinsatisus.” Emily’s feet began to carry her towards the door against her volition. She grabbed at the back of his chair. “No!” Almost at the door, she threw up her hands. “No Begonnusinsatisus.” She stopped moving. Haverlick paled. “You’re Dorothea aren’t you?” He sagged and sunk into his chair. “For a wizard, you lack the requisite skills in paying attention. I am a cat and my name is Emily.” She spoke as though addressing a dumb animal. “You cancelled my spell. How did you do it? It’s never been done before.” “If you can throw fancy words around, so can I. It’s not difficult.” “I studied under the great Angustus Sagitarus. Who taught you? You might be dressed as a cat, but you’re clearly a trained—” The front door ricocheted open and the house shook. Dorothea strolled in, her long black locks curling deliciously around her waist, pointy hat at a jaunty angle. She pursed her red lips as she surveyed the scene. “You have company.” “Hi, I’m Emily.” “Pleased to meet you, Emily. I’m Dorothea.” “You’re a real witch aren’t you?” Emily turned to look at Haverlick. “And you’re a real wizard. You cast a real spell.” Dorothea’s face took on a stern look, but it wasn’t directed at Emily. “You know the rules, Haverlick. No showing off to the mortals.” “I simply tried to make her leave. She forced her way in here, after triggering the wit—” “Triggering the?” “I, umm.…” “You set a witch-ward.” Haverlick swallowed. “That’s unfriendly.” “The girl….” Haverlick gestured towards Emily. “She triggered it, then she broke it. And there’s more. She cancelled my Begonnusinsatisus spell.” Dorothea gave Emily an appreciative nod. “Clever girl.” “But don’t you see? She must be a mortal witch.” “Now, you know there’s no such thing, Haverlick.” “But, but….”
“Oh don’t be mean Aunt Dorothea. We scared him good and proper.” Haverlick looked from his old adversary to the cat. “I never knew you had a niece.” “That’s because you never listen to a thing I say. Emily is over a hundred years old and I met you on her seventieth birthday. Something I clearly remember mentioning. As I have every year since, so I decided it was time you were introduced.” “But you said, when you locked me here, that this year you would—” “Have you crying like a baby, and finish you off good and proper….” Dorothea licked her lips. “Okay, gross.” Emily slipped her hand into a pocket in her fur and pulled out a pinch of silver powder. “I’ve done my bit helping with the trick.” She cast the powder at her feet and was engulfed in billowing silver smoke which made Haverlick cough. As the smoke faded they heard a faint voice. “Enjoy your treat.”
Heather is a new, working-class, writer. She found herself lost after severe chronic illness and a near-fatal accident. The written word and the writing community have given her life new purpose. She had a microflash entitled, ‘Gobstopper’ published in the Blinkpot 2021 award flash fiction collection. She won the monthly short story competition in July 2021 with Lady in the Loft.
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