16 comments

Oct 26, 2020

Holiday Funny Urban Fantasy

(Note to messenger; The contents of this letter are to be read aloud on the main stage at the convention of the Ragwort Coven, which will take place at 8PM, October 31st in conference room 3-A of the Salem Marriott. Ideal timing for this interruption is during the Q&A portion of Sister Black-Eyed Susan’s keynote address.)


(Notice the gaggle of witches stuffing their guts with dessert, complacent, barely paying attention. Before you begin, spell the lights to flicker and play muffled industrial noise over the PA, something that clinks and clanks and groans, disorienting but not so loud as to drown out the message. Don’t forget to cackle where appropriate!)


Black-Eyed Susan! Black-Eyed Susan! I’ve got a question!


(Pause there, torturing the audience as you saunter up to the dais and seize the microphone, giving Susan a vicious side-eye. Wait for her to return to her seat, where she can heckle you as she scarfs down the delicious pastry on her tray.)


Good evening, Susan.


Greetings, esteemed sisters of Ragwort. Most of you know me. I have been sent here on behalf of Sister Hyacinth. (There will be a groan from the crowd. Keep pushing.) She, not I, wrote the following words, and she did so even though her poor heart weighed heavier than, say, a compact car. Her recent excommunication from the coven has had a greater impact on her than she expected, leaving a hole in her life the size of…well, I suppose it’s about the size of a Mini Cooper. Thus, although the skies outside are bluer than the body of a pre-owned sky blue 2007 Mini Cooper S Convertible available for only $2500 O.B.O., Hyacinth’s world is cold and overcast.


Here’s what she has to say.


It’s not me who needs to change, but us.


Although we call each other sisters, few of us are related by blood. Webster’s Dictionary defines “sister” in a variety of ways, but for the purposes of this speech, I’ll point your attention to two. The first is “a member of a women's religious order (as of nuns or deaconesses).” It’s been nearly two centuries since we all made a pact to serve the same entity, to sow chaos in human affairs. Who could forget the time Sister Alyssum seduced that Pickens fellow into seceding from the union? Or when Sister Hyssop sold the gun that killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand? Or when Sister Primrose lobbied to have Fox cancel Firefly after one fantastic season? I bring up these examples to show you, things have been good for us for a very long time


Unfortunately, I’m afraid our time is up. 


Our job is to cause pain in the human world, but humans barely live in their world anymore. Just the other week I was paging through this online Necronomicon called Reddit dot com, looking for a poison recipe. Amazing power, the internet, half as accurate and four times as fast as any of the divining spells I know. Anyway, in the comment section I saw a group of young men openly planning to kidnap their governor. I can’t fully explain it, but that brought a tear to my eye. It’s becoming clear—to me at least—that the humans are perfectly capable of sowing their own chaos.


This brings us to what I consider to be the existential crisis of our time. Ladies, be honest with yourselves; what can we do for Ragwort nowadays? How can we avoid being replaced by these neotechnopagans and their minions, the ones called trolls?


This is an important question; one Black-Eyed Susan doesn’t want you to ask. She’d rather have us bubble, bubble, toil and trouble our way into obscurity. The times are changing, sisters. We ought to change with them.


The second definition of “sister” I want to point out is “a girl or woman regarded as a comrade.” (They will cringe at the word comrade. For a group of evil witches, they’re oddly afraid of an enlightened working class.) This is an ideal we’ve lost in recent years, the way the Mini Cooper lost the white stripes on its hood between the eighth and ninth generation. Let’s do what Mini should do: go back to 2007. Don’t you remember the way we would giggle when unsuspecting new families bought homes just before the real estate bubble burst? We were close in good times, why must we tear ourselves apart in bad times? Isn’t now the moment we should drop the ego, come together as one, and craft a serious plan for the future?


(Knowing my sisters, there will probably be a good deal of laughter here. Don’t worry, it won’t last. Most will realize that I’m right.)


I know, I know. Why should you listen to me? This is clearly a desperate attempt to reverse my excommunication, right?


Wrong. I, Hyacinth, have been offered consulting positions on the boards of directors of many prestigious groups, such as Koch Industries and 90% of all pharmaceutical companies. The fact that old Susan blacklisted me just for taking those meetings is abhorrent. I could have just accepted an offer and left you all in the rearview, but here I am, in spirit. If I’m going anywhere, if I’m doing anything, I want it to be with my sisters. We’ve been through too much to break up now. Sleepy Susan over there is clinging to the past.


I think what’s called for is a change of management. As such, I would like to move to vote: Who should lead the Ragwort Coven, me (Hyacinth) or Black-Eyed Susan?


I will accept the results of the election gracefully either way. But first, Susan, is there anything you’d like to say on this matter?


(At this point, Susan will stand to protest, but she won’t be able to. The poison I planted in her pastry will have closed her throat, and if she’s not dead in that moment, she will be soon enough. From there, one of two things will happen, so I’ve written in contingencies.)


Well, that's a shame. What say you, witches? Will you accept Sister Hyacinth as your new leader?


(If the coven seems to agree upon following my lead, whistle for me, and I’ll come in to pick up the pieces. If not—and this is very important—you must run. Not just run, but sprint, or as much as you can manage, and make a serpentine path as you go to avoid their attacks. A warning, it’s unlikely that you’ll escape without a few bruises, if you escape at all. I am ever so sorry about the last time, by the way. Should you survive the conference room, I will be waiting outside the Marriott for you in my tiny sky blue chariot, a 2007 Mini Cooper S Convertible, stripes and all. We'll make the trip to Washington together and see what we can do about tightening your grip on the nation's nuts. Thanks again, Senator McConnell. I couldn't do this without you.)

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16 comments

A.g. Scott
03:22 Oct 26, 2020

I have a feeling this one could be polarizing, and I certainly don't expect it to win, but I had a lot of fun with it lol.

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Lina Ozz
15:42 Oct 26, 2020

"Just the other week I was paging through this online Necronomicon called Reddit dot com, looking for a poison recipe. Amazing power, the internet, half as accurate and four times as fast as any of the divining spells I know." "This is an ideal we’ve lost in recent years, the way the Mini Cooper lost the white stripes on its hood between the eighth and ninth generation." "The poison I planted in her pastry will have closed her throat, and if she’s not dead in that moment, she will be soon enough. From there, one of two things will happ...

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Zilla Babbitt
23:48 Oct 31, 2020

Sometimes nothing will overcome the sheer joy of being partisan.

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Leilani Lane
14:47 Nov 08, 2020

I'm late to the party so I'll keep it short--LOVED the style of this, A.g. and the skillful way you made this hilarious. Just a wonderful read! I saw your bio, best of luck with your WIP! I'm sad to see you go (for now) but looking forward to reading more of your work in the future and excited to hear about your novel! :)

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Laura Clark
15:51 Oct 31, 2020

Not even remotely subtle but why does it have to be? Why can’t things just be what they are? I thoroughly enjoyed this and loved the instructions and asides throughout. Not entirely sure where the Mini Cooper theme fit in but, again, I enjoyed it anyway!

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Yolanda Wu
09:56 Oct 30, 2020

This was such a fun and interesting story. Your unique language and narrative voice just made me want to keep on reading. I loved your incorporation of witches into a modern setting, and how they engage in normal things that humans do. Definitely a hilarious story that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. Amazing work, A.g!

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Molly Leasure
05:10 Oct 27, 2020

This is quite a laugh. It's not even remotely subtle, but in no way does that detract from the story. On the surface, it really is just two witches having a bought at each other for all to see, but we know what's underneath. Actually, I think my favorite part of this piece is how you wrote it with the instructions and asides. It added SO MUCH to the story and humor. I'm deceased (did I really? Yes, yes I did).

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Ray Dyer
17:27 Oct 26, 2020

LOL - this one's not very subtle...I feel like you got some things off your chest here. A lot of folks are trying to find ways to do that, one direction or the other. A couple lines jumped out: "Or when Sister Primrose lobbied to have Fox cancel Firefly after one fantastic season?" --Absolutely DIABOLICAL!!! And the recurring references to the strips on the Mini Cooper. The advice on how to escape the room if things go poorly is also a nice touch at the end. Also, the imagery that it evokes when we try to imagine the named characte...

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A.g. Scott
17:33 Oct 26, 2020

I simply couldn't resist

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Tom .
13:10 Oct 26, 2020

And I had a lot of fun reading it. Living on the otherside of the Atlantic I am not overly familiar with every reference but it reads 'fresh'. Well done.

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11:12 Nov 12, 2020

Great story

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Claire Lewis
23:10 Nov 02, 2020

Catching up on stories because I fell behind-- Sister Hyacinth is now one of my favorite characters of all time. I love how we don't ever really get to meet her but we still get a very real picture of her and her shady motives. Other things I loved: you weave your references into this so well (RIP Firefly) and your tone perfectly conveys the lady-with-nothing-to-lose vibe. The bit at the end was just icing on the cake. Well done.

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Rachel Macmorran
04:19 Oct 31, 2020

Ha! Delightfully wicked and ridiculous, as wickedness tends to be. A timely nudge.

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Anne Hansell
22:09 Nov 04, 2020

At first, I found the first two paragraphs to be confusing. I prefer to see them, revised to draw a "picture" of witches eating their dessert in readers's minds. The rest of the story after "Good evening, Susan," went fine for me. Thanks.

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Lydi B
19:11 Nov 01, 2020

Pfffff, that Firefly reference almost had me snorting aloud. I quite enjoyed the jabs at self-destructive society and how the witches have lost their sense of place. I appreciate the wit and bold style of your fluid writing. It was my intention to come into this and leave a critique, but nothing jumped at me aside from the car references which may have just gone over this Jeep owner's head. That said, I would truly enjoy a critique on one of my pieces if any of their themes are to your liking. Also, I read your profile, and I'm curious...

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11:12 Nov 12, 2020

Hii, A g Sorry to intervene, in this brutal manner, I have a request for you would be kind to give a single glance over the vehicle which my team had been working over months. https://www.instagram.com/p/CHX5VUPBJOp/?igshid=5f72nb3cgg30 Sorry to take your time and If possible like the post.Because this would help team to win

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