“Bring the cake, bring the cake” eight cackling women chanted. The women were a strange sight to the average person, all very different in height, weight and shape, an odder looking bunch you would be hard pressed to find. It was that time of year again, Devons Day, when witches got together and celebrated all the evil they had done in the past year. They told their twisted, terrifying stories and ate, drank and boasted. The climax of the night, on the stroke of midnight the wondrous cake was brought out. The cake was cut into equal pieces and all but one of the slices were traditional frog and bat cake with pig's blood icing, decorated with hairy black spiders and the long, thin crunchy rat tails. However, one slice contained the curse. Each year the curse was different, no one knew what it was, or which piece contained the curse. It was talked about in their community for months before and months after. Gwenda Greenwaldt went to fetch the cake from her dank pantry. The red moistness of the pig's blood contrasted satisfyingly with the furry, black bodies of the crunchy spiders and the long thin grisly tails of the rats. She placed the cake proudly on the purple velvet tray she had bought especially for the occasion.
Gwenda entered the room to rapturous applause from the others. She carefully placed the cake on the center of the table, stepping back to admire it. The others gathered around oohing and ahhing. She proudly span the cake stand around, it was traditional for the host to eat the first slice of the cake. She tentatively picked up the piece that landed nearest to her and lifted the slice to her mouth. She took the first bite; the texture was perfect she had made a beautiful cake, the rat's tail slithered sumptuously down her throat. The others stared at her, silently, waiting to see if anything was going to happen, to see if she was going to be cursed. No noticeable change much to Gwenda`s relief. Gwenda spun the cake again; Hattie was the oldest at 512, so she was next for the slice. She took the cake, inspected it, clicked her jaw wide and put the whole slice in at once gobbling and grinding, slurping, and sucking until the piece was gone. “Delicious” she stated “The blood was particularly tangy this year.” Gwenda felt a flush of pride. The others looked at her carefully again, observing any changes that might occur which would show that she had eaten the cursed slice, nothing.
All ate the slices in turn, complementing the chef and scoffing down every last bit, they watched each other carefully looking for signs the curse had entered them, but disappointedly no one showed any obvious signs at all. “Are you sure you put the curse in the cake?” Nettle asked suspiciously
“Yes” the others all joined in.
“It's not right if you didn't put the curse in.” grumbled Balanta “I knew we shouldn't have let the young witches host the day and make the cake.” Gwenda was upset, she sat down and stared at her wrinkled, warty hands.
“I promise you all I did I put the curse in. I read the instructions carefully.” The others mumbled and got ready to leave, the party coming to an abrupt end.
“Don't go yet, have another drink, I've still got black blood sangria left and I thought we could do toad and slug shots next.” Nobody was interested, the celebration mood was over.
Gwenda sat alone amongst the mess of the party, half eaten food, empty glasses, plates, cutlery, and buckets of crawling insect snacks. Have I made a mistake? Did I add the curse? Gwenda thought doubting herself. She played back the morning in her mind; she had decorated the cake then carefully read the instructions and chanted loudly the words of the curse. Of course, she done it, time would show who had eaten it. It was only a matter of waiting, it must be a slow acting curse, by the witches next monthly meeting on Friday it would be clear who had been cursed.
“Have they all gone now Gwenda?” Her husband Barnab shouted from upstairs. He didn't like Gwenda mixing with the other witches he thought they led her astray, he felt she was particularly mean when she had been with them.
“Yes, they've all gone, I'm going to bed now.” Gwenda answered forlornly. Barnab cackled to himself.
The once a month Friday meeting always took place on the stroke of midnight in the deserted house in the woods. Gwenda walked quickly, following the twisted, snaking path, the atmosphere appeared to change, becoming strangely eerie and foreboding. The air heavy and thick. Her feet crunched and cracked the lifeless branches which punctuated the silence then crumbled beneath her. The sky vanished completely underneath the rich overhanging canopy of the interwoven branches. The occasional scrabble of insects burrowing beneath the leafy carpet of tangled vegetation contrasted with the stillness of the woods. Gwenda stopped suddenly, she thought she heard footsteps behind her, she turned sharply, nothing, no one was there.
The house was in view, Gwenda glanced upwards noticing the rotten window frame and damaged tiles. The life and love had long since left this house, the crumbling exterior looked like a silhouette of a previous existence. She reached the creaky old door and walked slowly in; the nine chairs were all set out in a triangle as usual but there was no one there. “Hello”. Gwenda called tentatively. A large warty toad croaked, she noticed it was sat on one of the chairs. She sat down on the chair that was normally hers, second from the right at the bottom of the triangle. Next to her a spindly spider was working its way up the leg of the adjacent chair. A wiggling worm caught her attention underneath the chair at the top of the triangle. Gwenda`s face wrinkled in confusion, what were all these insects doing here and we were all the witches? Was this a coincidence or was something strange afoot? A sudden scurrying made her jump; she watched a large, black, angry rat scampering through the hole in the bottom of the door.
“Now that you're all here” boomed a disembodied voice from nowhere. Gwenda looked around in alarm, where was that voice coming from? They were not all there, she was alone.
“This year's curse worked slightly differently, and it is backfired on all of you.” A booming laugh echoed disturbingly throughout the room, the insects and animals wriggled and scrambled. “The first spell you cast on someone would work on you instead of them! I went after Gwenda had finished the cake and I did a curse of my own, throughout the whole cake”. The rat squeaked violently. “Who is this?” Gwenda shouted, finally realizing the insects and the animals were her fellow witches. “Show yourself or face the consequences.” Gwenda shouted angrily. The sound of evil laughter filled the room, reflecting from all the surfaces and surrounding her. Without thinking she shouted at the top of her voice “Whoever you may be, whoever you are, change into a bag of flour and I'll put you in a jar.” she flicked her fingers quickly then promptly fell to the floor.
Barnab kicked open the door, picked up the bag of flour that was once his wife, popped it in his bag and left quietly.