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Feb 21 14

Happy Friday. How about a free story? I’ve decided to post one of my flash fiction tales (most likely a reprint) at least one Friday out of the month. This month it’s “Mr. Kroll” – the short story of a witch’s familiar. Hope you like it.


I believe I was once a man. That would explain the strange memories that live in my dreams. My special awareness, my ability to understand humans, comes from the demon spirit that resides in me now – though I am not certain if I was reincarnated for this purpose or changed into a feline and a familiar through witchcraft.

Only black cats like me have nine lives. It’s a mystical ability and, truthfully, it would be more accurate to call them nine chances. But there is only one way for us to cheat death.

Oh, yes, I am much older than I should be.

My beloved mistress, Marantha, died far too soon. She was born a witch, and if that made her evil, it was not by choice. She studied spells and curses, but also healed the sick.

What happened to her was my fault.

We were living a peaceful existence in a cottage just outside of Devington. In the summer of 1701, that English village was still growing, and it bustled with great activity at week’s end.

One Saturday afternoon, as I lay on a sunny windowsill sniffing the lilac-scented air, my mistress entered the tidy kitchen and addressed me with her musical voice.

“I need to sell some herbs and tonics today, Mr. Kroll.” She stroked the sleek fur along my back and smiled into my knowing green eyes. “Would you like to be my company?”


We could read other’s thoughts whenever necessary.

The two of us started off on the mile long walk and took the dusty dirt road that led to Devington. My mistress swung her large, round basket to and fro, and sang a lilting tune in a language I did not understand. Her lustrous long hair – as black as a moonless midnight – fanned out behind her in the warm breeze.

Marantha’s perfect features always attracted attention in the village. Men of all ages would pause in their daily activities to watch the young healer’s graceful, shapely figure as she carried out her errands. They openly admired her wavy dark tresses, her heavenly blue eyes, and the creamy fairness of her skin.

All the women stared at her with jealousy in their hearts. Soon I would give them a reason to be rid of her forever.

“Meet me here before sunset, Mr. Kroll,” my mistress said, as we reached the edge of town.

I went my own way, exploring the underbelly of the noisy village, scrounging for interesting food scraps and hunting rats that were almost tame. The mongrels running loose did not concern me. My presence terrified them.

It was the shiny crystals that caused my carelessness. They hung in a shop’s open window across the way, swinging gently in the wind, glinting in the sun. They mesmerized me.

I sprinted into the road and was caught up under a carriage wheel. It threw me clear, leaving me in agony. An ordinary cat would have died outright.

I forced myself to lie quietly for several minutes, gathering my strength and gaining control over the pain. No bones had been broken, but the damage to my organs was considerable. Finally, I struggled to a standing position and limped down a cluttered alley, using my powerful sense of smell to find what I needed.

I slowly climbed a stack of broken wooden crates to reach the ledge of an open window. Inside the stuffy room, an infant slept unattended on a cot, surrounded by rolled up blankets. I crept over to the bed and pulled myself up.

His damp gown smelled of sweat and harsh soap. I straddled his wee chest, but he did not awake. The crustiness on his lips was dried mother’s milk. When I began licking it off, the baby opened his mouth, and I covered it with my own.

I sucked my breath in and pulled his life force out. The invisible hot stream flowed into me and I could feel my injuries begin to heal.

Then I heard the mother scream. She knocked me off her baby with a broom handle and chased me out the window.

I was well enough to flee, and I headed for home in the gathering darkness. If I had not been interrupted the internal healing would have been complete. Eventually I would have to seek out another life force.

I entered the cottage through the open kitchen window and found my mistress in the front room, reading a thick, leather-bound book by candlelight.

She looked up in relief when I sauntered in. “Mr. Kroll, I knew you’d be all right, you naughty, careless feline.”

I curled up in her lap and allowed myself to purr.

Less than an hour later they came, surrounding the cottage, holding their fiery torches high.

“Show yourself, witch! You and your familiar!”

That was Hester the nosy seamstress. I recognized her deep, croaking voice.

Marantha opened the heavy wooden door and faced the angry mob. Most of them were women, with a few harried husbands standing in back.

“Friends, why are you here?”

“Oh, ain’t we the innocent one now,” Hester sneered. “Your demon cat was caught stealing a babe’s soul this very night.”

The women surrounded Marantha and held her prisoner while the men searched the cottage. They found the evidence they were looking for – a book of witchcraft.

Hester took the tome from her husband and held it high before the crowd. “The witch must burn! She must pay for her sins in Hell!”

I slipped past the mob and climbed an oak, watching helplessly as they bound Marantha’s hands and feet and carried her back into the cottage.

They set the house ablaze and then stayed to watch the spectacle. The women’s hard faces were lit with malicious glee. I heard Marantha’s agonized, heartrending screams, felt her blinding fear, and I couldn’t bear to linger.

There was someplace I needed to go, something I needed to do.

Hester had a baby daughter.


Feb 1 14

A fellow horror-loving friend of mine recommended I watch “You’re Next,” and suggested it was a cross between “Home Alone” and “The Strangers.” Yeah. Okay. I like my humor black, thank you.

Luckily, this flick – directed by Adam Wingard and written by Simon Barrett – delivered the evil giggles. The plot isn’t anything new, since it involves a home invasion, but some “tweaking” was done, and it held my interest all the way through. I’ll even admit that a couple of times during those 96 minutes, I jumped violently enough to spill my favorite beverage.

The Davison family’s night of terror begins with a chilling message being scrawled in blood on their murdered neighbors’ wall. It’ll be their turn next, as the four siblings, and their significant others, gather at their parents’ secluded mansion to celebrate the couple’s milestone anniversary. The family is annoyingly dysfunctional, and I got a little impatient waiting for the slaughter to begin. The first arrow crashed through the dining room window and interrupted their squabbling just as I was about to hit the MUTE button on my remote.

As much as I disliked the spoiled siblings, Crispian (A.J. Bowen), Drake (Joe Swanberg), Felix (Nicholas Tucci) and Aimee (Amy Seimetz), their significant others were considerably more interesting. Well, at least the women were – Erin (Sharni Vinson), Zee (Wendy Glenn) and Kelly (Margaret Laney). Aimee’s boyfriend Tariq (Ti West) isn’t around long. I tried to feel some sympathy for the parents, Paul (Rob Moran) and Aubrey (Barbara Crampton), but then I decided they needed to pay the ultimate price for raising so many obnoxious kids.

The invaders are three men wearing animal masks (tiger/lamb/fox), because we all know that makes vicious killers more intimidating. When the gory attacks begin, so does the dark humor. Right away I started picking up on clues from the dialogue and figured out the reason behind the invasion well before the end of the film. But that was okay because I had a favorite character to root for and I wanted to see how it all played out.

Crispian is unaware of his Australian girlfriend’s survivalist upbringing, and to everyone’s surprise, Erin turns out to be one feisty little Outback sheila. She quickly takes charge of the situation, helping to protect the clueless and the undeserving. The crossbow killers are in for a bloody big challenge. And, for me, that’s what made the movie worth watching.

I like a horror film that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Despite some noticeable flaws, this one provided decent acting to watch, some wicked chuckles and “gotcha” moments, and at least one cool character to care about. I even liked the Dwight Twilley music that accompanied much of the mayhem. Since the flick is definitely worth a DVD rental, I’m willing to give it three and a half goblins.