Tag Archives: horror

Meanwhile, at the estate agent’s…

“I want a refund!” Murgatroyd slapped the property deeds onto the estate agent’s desk.

Stuart Briggs, the estate agent behind the desk, flinched.  Refunds were not company policy.  He cast a glance at the document.  The bill of sale was attached by a paper clip.  Damn it.  The customer was still within the ‘cooling-off’ period.

“Is there a problem?” Briggs smiled.  “Perhaps a cuppa and a sit down…”

Murgatroyd bristled, his eyes flashing with anger.

“Liar and fraud!” he declaimed.  Briggs reddened, mindful of others in the office.

“Now, now,” he squirmed.  “I’m sure it’s nothing we can’t sort out.  Calmly.”

He gestured to a chair but Murgatroyd only stood up all the straighter.

“You told me the house was haunted,” Murgatroyd sneered.  “I have been made to look a fool.  It was the selling point my entire business was based around.  I invited special guests, experts in the field, celebrities!  Yvonne from the television!  Only to be made to look a fool.  There was not one whiff of supernatural activity the entire weekend.  Don’t you realise what this has cost me?  Now, they are posting online, in their blogs and forums, saying what a rip-off my bijou hotel is, what a disappointment.  So,” he folded his bony arms, “I want my money back, and be grateful I don’t sue you for misrepresentation and loss of potential earnings.”

Panic showed in Briggs’s eyes.  “Let’s not be hasty, Mr – ah, Murgatroyd.  I don’t recall ever claiming the property to be haunted.”

Thunderclouds darkened Murgatroyd’s brow.

“What I did say,” Briggs smiled, “was the old place is cursed.  There’s a difference.”

Murgatroyd shook his head.  “What good is that to me?  People don’t want curses; they want ghosts.”

“Potato-tomato,” Briggs was dismissive.  “If you package it right, you could be sitting on a gold mine.  You see, a hundred years ago, the owner of the mansion was dragged out into the street by a mob of angry locals.  Charges of necromancy, witchcraft, or some such bollocks.  He was probably just an old perv.  They tied him to a tree in the town square and burnt him.  With his dying words, he cursed them, the town, and the mansion – no one who crossed its threshold would ever know a moment’s peace.  Of course, that was a long time ago.  The town has been remodelled several times.  The town square replaced by a shopping mall.  Why, this very office is thought to be built where the tree used to stand.”

Murgatroyd laughed, like bowling balls rolling down a chute.  Briggs found his shirt collar suddenly constrictive, his tie coiling and rising, twisting around his throat like a serpent.

“Fools!” Murgatroyd exalted.  “Did you think I was gone for good?  Did my dying words mean nothing to you?  I waited; patiently, I waited.  And now, a full hundred years since my demise. I am back to destroy all that you have built, all that you hold dear.  Starting with you, Stuart Briggs.  It was your ancestor who lit the torch that started the fire.  How fitting that you should be on the very spot!”

Murgatroyd made a gesture with skeletal fingers.  Briggs’s desk ignited.  Briggs backed away, arms up to protect himself, but already the smoke was starting to choke him.  He coughed and spluttered and pleaded for his life.

But Murgatroyd turned on his heels, his black cloak swirling behind him, fanning the flames.  He stalked from the estate agency and through the shopping mall.  The glass frontages of the shops shattered as he passed.  The slightest gesture from his slender hands brought down ceiling tiles, cracked electricity conduits.  Sparks leapt from snaking cables.  Fires sprang up in all directions as people ran around screaming, the exit blocked by falling concrete.

When the town was utterly destroyed, Murgatroyd strode all the way back to the mansion, where he had waited, dormant, for a hundred years, waiting for a suitable vessel to come by, and then that idiot hotelier had come along to take possession.   Murgatroyd chuckled.  Take possession!  What the hotelier did to the house, I have done to the hotelier. 

He paused to take in the gothic monstrosity before him.  The jagged turrets,  The sharply arched windows.  Perhaps I should burn it down at last, he mused.  Or perhaps now, that the descendants of my enemies have been dealt with, I shall find a moment’s peace.

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A Picnic for Mothers’ Day

“Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten!  Every year it’s the bloody same.”  Jemima felt like she could squeeze her smartphone until it splintered.  “And don’t give me that guff about the date changing every year.  I send you enough reminders.”

She listened, waiting for her brother to mutter some expletive.  But, to his credit, Damon remained silent.  Well, good, thought Jemima.  He hasn’t a leg to stand on.

“So,” she returned to her list, “you’ll organise the transport.  There’ll be you, me, and Mum of course, oh, and I thought this year we could take Belinda along.”

She heard Damon’s intake of breath and decided to pre-empt his objections.

“I know what you’re going to say, she’s only our half-sister from Dad’s previous marriage but, well, Mum brought her up as one of us.  As much as she could anyway, with Belinda being off at university and starting her own life.  But it’s the nice thing to do, to include her in the occasion.  Her own mother—”

Grumblings from Damon cut her off.  Jemima made noises as though listening but as soon as he paused for breath, she jumped back in.

“I’ll organise the picnic.  Yes, yes, I know all about your allergies.  I won’t use the same place as last year.  And I thought we could ask Belinda to sort out the flowers.  Nothing too fancy… No, not a bloody wreath!  You have a sick sense of humour at times.  I’ll leave it to Belinda’s judgment.  You just focus on getting us from A to B… What do you mean, where’s A and where’s B?  A is where Mum is.  Belinda and I will make our own way there.  And B is the cliffs overlooking the beach.  It’ll be a full moon that night and I think it will make a lovely spot for a picnic…Well, you can use your GPS.  Honestly, do I have to think of everything?  Right, so we’re agreed.  Rendezvous with Mum at midnight, then it should only take an hour or so to get to the coast, which leaves us plenty of time for the picnic and we can get Mum back before the cemetery gates open at nine…  Yes, I know it means you won’t be drinking.   Tough.  And it’s probably for the best.  You know how maudlin you get, and it’s not fair on Mum on her special night out.  If there’s any problems, send me a text.”

Jemima rang off before Damon could launch into a string of invective with his recurring theme of how he had always loved Mum best.

“He being a little shit as usual?” Belinda raised an eyebrow from the couch.

Jemima rolled her eyes.  “He’ll get over it.  Honestly, I’d say we go without him but he’s the one with the van.”

Belinda nodded.  “Still, it’ll be good to see Mum again.  Thanks for including me.”

She reached for Jemima’s hand and gave it a squeeze.

Jemima’s face darkened.  “Damn it; I forgot to remind the little shit to bring the shovels.”


Filed under horror, humour, Short story

Josie’s Valentine Surprise

Josie pulled her front door closed behind her and quickened her step.  The next-door neighbour was in his front garden and Josie was hoping to get past him, out of her gate and along the road before he noticed.  It would mean going the long way around the block to get to the bus stop but it was worth it to avoid one of Mr Davies’s interminable monologues, which often bordered on racism and invariably were entirely pointless.

“Morning!” Mr Davies spun around, a malevolent gleam glinting off his spectacles.  He had heard the latch on Josie’s gate.

“Er, morning,” Josie muttered, avoiding eye contact.  “I’ve got to um—”

“You haven’t seen my kitten, have you?  Little Dorrit?  He’s a bit young to be out on his own.  But he’s a bit of company and –”

“No!” Josie cut him off.  Deciding that was a little harsh, she forced a smile.  “I’m sure he won’t be far.”

Mr Davies nodded.  Then his face broke into a grin. “I expect he’ll be along soon.”

“What?  Who will?” Josie could have kicked herself for engaging.  She gestured down the street.  “My bus…”

“The postman,” Mr Davies wiggled his eyebrows.  “Probably that’s what’s keeping him.  Struggling under the weight of all the cards he has to deliver.”


Mr Davies gasped in mock horror.  “Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten what today is!”

“Um… Monday?  Look, I really have to –”

“Valentine’s Day!” Mr Davies declared.  “And the postman’s late because he’s struggling to carry all the cards to your door!  I bet you get tons, don’t you?  Cards.  From admirers.”

“Not really.  Now, I really must be going.  If I’m late again, my boss will be giving me my cards all right.”

Mr Davies chuckled.  “Good one.  I like that.  Give you your cards.  You’re a very witty young lady.  Not just a pretty face, eh?  Eh?”

“Bye!” Josie hurried away.  There was no point going the long way around now.  There were only seconds to spare before the bus was due.  She hooked the strap of her bag higher on her shoulder, trying not to imagine Mr Davies’s gaze crawling all over her as she strode away.

Oh, it was quite sweet really, she supposed.  Mr Davies was just a lonely old widower.  Only passing the time of day.  Harmless, really.

And today’s exchange had reminded her of the date.  There was a post box on the corner near the office.  She’d be able to drop in an envelope before she went in for another interminable day of dealing with tedious invoices and requisitions.

As she got off the bus, her fingers closed around the envelope, giving the padding a squeeze.  Good.  There was no way anything was going to leak out.  Josie had put extra tape around it to make sure.

Too late for the Valentine’s post, she shrugged, but that couldn’t be helped.  She wished she could be there when Mr Davies opened it.  She hoped he’d be happy to be reunited with his kitten.  Well, most of it.

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The Scan

“Ah, Mr Probert, come in, come in.”  The radiographer welcomed the patient into the consultation room.  “Pop your coat on the chair and then lie on the bed for me.”

Mr Probert shrugged out of his anorak and shuffled to the bed.  He tried to position himself on it without disturbing the paper sheet that was protecting the upholstery.

“Just lie back,” the radiographer smiled behind her surgical mask, “and lift up your jumper for me?”

Mr Probert did as he was told.

“Now this might be a bit cold on your tummy,” the radiographer warned.   She applied gel to Mr Probert’s exposed midriff.  Mr Probert, ever the stoic, lay still, focussing on the ceiling.

“Right,” said the radiographer, “Let’s have a look-see.”

She pressed the scanner to Mr Probert’s belly and moved it across the pale surface, keeping her eyes on the monitor to the left of Mr Probert’s head.  “Hmm,” she said.   And “errr…”

Mr Probert lay still, fearing the worst.

“There’s definitely something…” the radiographer murmured to herself.  She did a second pass with the scanner.  On the screen, the image became clearer.  Something beneath the surface gave a sudden movement, like a fist beneath a rubber sheet, stretching Mr Probert’s skin.  The radiographer sprang backwards.

“What the hell is that?” she cried, unprofessionally in Mr Probert’s view.

The thing inside Mr Probert continued to cause ripples and stretches.  The radiographer watched, transfixed in morbid fascination.

The skin split.  The thing shot out and attached itself to the radiographer’s throat.  The radiographer flailed around, colliding with equipment and furniture as she failed to dislodge the thing that was gnawing through her flesh.

When it was over and the thing, now sated, returned to its hiding place, Mr Probert rose from the bed.  He popped his burst belly closed and donned a set of scrubs and a surgical mask.  He replaced the protective paper with a fresh sheet.

He opened the door and popped his head into the corridor.

“Who’s next, please?” he grinned.

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Ridley was hiding in the closet in her friend’s parents’ bedroom.  Holding her breath, she peered through the horizontal slats.  The room was in darkness, but the moonlight streaming through the window was hitting the bed like a spotlight, illuminating the gruesome sight of Jennifer, lifeless on the duvet, her throat a seeping gash.  Jennifer’s blood had stained the bedclothes a glistening crimson.  Ridley tried not to look at it.  She had to keep her wits about her.

Jennifer had been a friend since kindergarten.  True, she and Ridley had drifted apart during high school, but that had been the point of this evening’s gathering: a chance to reconnect with old friends, to catch up, to have a party while Jennifer’s folks were out of town.  Ridley imagined the horror and grief that were to strike Bob and Sheila Finkel when they got back from the Hamptons, or wherever.  Their only daughter butchered!  They would surely never be able to sleep in this room again.  They would surely want to move house.

There were dead kids all over.  Shona in the freezer, Marek in the garage, Derek behind the couch, and Eva in the washing machine.  All of them slashed to ribbons.  All of them old friends.

I can’t think about that now, Ridley steeled herself.  I have to focus on my own survival.

There’s always one girl left, you see.  Always one final girl who gets out alive.

A silhouette appeared in the doorway.  Moonlight glinted off the butcher’s knife blade.

“Ridley?” hissed a whisper.  “Are you in here?”

The figure stepped into the room.

“Ridley!” Louder this time.  Ridley did not move.

The figure crept around the room, around the horror on the bed.

Wait for it, wait for it… Ridley knew the moment to emerge was near.

The figure was at the window, peering out, a tangled mop of hair gleaming in a silvery halo.  Hah, thought Ridley.  That’s ironic.  It’s the only way you’ll get a halo, Maya, old chum,.  After the way you treated me in high school.  Tur

ning everyone against me.

While Maya’s back was turned, Ridley gently pushed the closet door open wide enough to slip through.  Soundlessly, she stole across the carpet, pulling the grinning skull mask over her face.

She pressed the edge of her blade to Maya’s throat.

“Surprise, bitch!” she cackled.  “Happy high school reunion!”

Maya didn’t have time enough to scream before the slashing started.

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Coming soon, in time for Christmas

Coming soon (November 11th, 2021, to be precise) and exclusive to Kindle, all my Christmas-themed short stories collected together for the first time.

Trees, presents, myths… they’re all here, along with lashings of dark humour and more than a sprinkle of gruesomeness. Not for the fainthearted, TWISTED CHRISTMAS is an antidote to all the clichés that are trotted out year after year.

Available at a bargain price, too!

Get your pre-orders in now!!

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Christmas Jumpers

Aunt Mabel watched the family unwrap their presents with a glint in her eye.  The family, however, was not so enthusiastic.  Rather than the ravaging rips that had shredded the paper from their other gifts, Aunt Mabel’s presents were approached with caution.  A careful easing of the sticky tape here, the gentle untying of a ribbon there.  The family needed time to prepare their expressions of pleasant surprise and astonished gratitude.  It was an annual charade and they faced it with dread.

“Come on!” Aunt Mabel jollied them along.  “It’ll be time for the Queen’s speech at this rate.”

The family exchanged glances full of trepidation.

“On three,” said Dad, swallowing hard.  “One!  Two!  Three!”

They set to extracting the gifts from the wrapping.  Every year, Aunt Mabel knitted everyone jumpers for Christmas.  Every year some monstrous abomination fashioned (if that was the word) from yarn.

Aunt Mabel clapped, eyes shining with pride as the family held up their respective abominations to their chests.

“Now, what do we say?” prompted Mum.

“Thanks, Aunt Mabel,” the children, Bobby and Susan, chorused.

“Aw, you’re welcome, chickens,” Aunt Mabel crowed.  “Come on then, let’s see them on.”

The children froze.

“Perhaps later,” said Dad, draping his new jumper over his arm.  “After dinner.  We wouldn’t want to get gravy and all the rest of it on these lovely jumpers.”

“Pah!” scoffed Aunt Mabel.  “The wool’s acrylic.  Any spillage will sponge right off.  Now, come on, chop-chop!  Let’s see them on!”

She shooed them into the kitchen to get ready.  She cued up the iPad to play some cheesy sousaphone march.  “Let’s be having you!”

She settled into her seat and clapped along with the music.

In the kitchen, the family spoke in harsh whispers.

“You go first,” hissed Mum.  “She’s your bloody auntie.”

Dad gaped.  “She is not!  She’s yours!  Isn’t she?”


“What’s keeping you?” Aunt Mabel’s face appeared at the serving hatch.  Everyone jumped.  Aunt Mabel returned to her seat.

“Come on,” said Dad, pulling his new jumper over his head.  “Sooner it’s done, the better.”

Susan was crying.  “I don’t like it.  It’s scratchy.”

“Ssh-ssh!” Mum helped her to put her jumper on.  “Two minutes.  That’s all.  Then you can get into your princess dress.”

Susan perked up, but Bobby wasn’t happy.

“Can I?” he pouted.  “Can I put my football top on?”

“Yes!  After this!” Mum thrust his jumper at him.  “Anything for a bit of peace.”

“Now, line up in order of age, eldest first,” said Dad, bravely moving to the door.  “We can do this.”

His family nodded with sombre resolve.  They held hands.

“At last!” Aunt Mabel cried as Dad led the parade.  “Oh, you look positively darling!  Give us a twirl.”

Dad, whose jumper had a reindeer on it with a light-up nose, rotated on the spot.  Mum did likewise, the Christmas tree on her jumper had bells that jingled.  Bobby stomped around in a circle.  His jumper had a steam train with actual puffs of smoke emerging from its funnel — that couldn’t be right, could it?  Or even safe!  Susan pirouetted around and around, as did the ballerina stitched onto her front.  Before long, the entire family was spinning and spinning, their jumpers flashing, jingling and smoking.  And becoming tighter and tighter, the collars and cuffs constricting.

Susan screamed.

They clawed at their jumpers, gasping for air.  Livid rashes sprang out on their hands and faces, and their eyes widened with terror.  Unable to stop themselves, they thrashed around the living room, crashing into furniture, toppling the tree, and knocking over the television.

One by one they collapsed with exhaustion, the rash eating away at their skin until there was none left.  Four skulls grinned humourlessly at the streamers of tinsel that spanned the ceiling.

Aunt Mabel stood up and turned off the music.

“Ingrates.”  She gave the nearest corpse a kick.  She put on her coat and gathered up her sack.  She had more jumpers to deliver, and the Martins over the road could do with taking down a peg or two.

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Wheatley’s Restaurant

“You see it’s not all pointy hats and warty noses,” Sharon laughed.  She took another gulp of Chardonnay.  “Modern day witching is breaking away from the stereotype.  I mean, you see it everywhere, don’t you?  Especially at this time of year.  The tall pointy hat, the black cat, the broomstick.  Frankly, I find it offensive, to me and to my beliefs.”

Across the table, Walter’s smile was wearing thin.  He had demolished the bread from the basket and was beginning to regret agreeing to this blind date.  He cast around for the waiter.  What was taking so long with the starters?  The sooner this evening was over and done with, the better.

This one calls herself a witch!  Ha!  It would be funny if Walter wasn’t so desperate.

“I mean, look at this,” Sharon was leaning forward and holding out her pendant necklace.  Walter played his part and feigned interest in the nondescript lump of whatever-it-was dangling from the slenderest of chains.  “This is my lucky crystal,” she announced proudly.  “As long as I’m wearing this no harm shall befall me.”

Walter nodded.  “It’s nice,” he lied.  It wasn’t; it looked like fossilised cat shit.

Sharon refilled her own wine glass.  “I mean, you seem like a nice fella, so I’m going to do you a special deal.  Free, gratis, and for nothing.  On the house!  Any little problem you want fixing, I’ll sort it for you.  Least I can do after this lovely meal — if it ever comes.  I think that waiter’s got lost.”

She laughed, like a cockerel being electrocuted.  Walter sent a look of pained apology to the couples at the neighbouring tables.

“So, come on then.  Let’s have it.  Don’t be shy.  Any little problem.  Anything at all.  And I’ll be happy to get it sorted.”

Walter blushed.  His shirt collar seemed tighter.  “I – uh –”

Sharon winked.  “I get it.  Say no more!  Say. No. More!”  She gave the side of her nose a conspiratorial tap.  “When I’m finished, you’ll never need to send off for those little blue pills ever again.”

Walter was aghast.  Frightful woman!  He would get up and walk out right then if — if only he weren’t so desperate.

“What will you do?” he squeaked in a strangulated voice.

“Well, that’s trade secrets!  But I will divulge that I shall be burning a few herbs and wafting them about by moonlight.”

“And that will do it, will it?”

“You’ll have no complaints.”

“And what if — No.”

“Go on, love; you may as well say it now.”

“What if my problem were of a more serious nature?”

Sharon’s shoulders and somehow her face shrugged.  “Like what?”

“Like, I don’t know, say, I’ve got a demon that needs banishing to the infernal realm.”

Sharon frowned.  “Are you taking the piss?  Because if you are, I can hex you right on the spot.  And don’t think I won’t.”

“No, please!” Walter reached for her hand, but she snatched it away, nursing the Chardonnay to her chest.  “I don’t know where else to turn.  I’ve read up on it.  It seems the only way is to offer a human sacrifice, and then the demon will go back whence it came.”

Sharon’s nose wrinkled.  “You’ve been watching too much telly, sunshine.  Like I said, modern witching isn’t like the films.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go to the little girls’ room.  Give that waiter a hurry-up while I’m gone.”

She trotted out to the toilets, seriously considering climbing out of the window.

When she came back, the restaurant was silent.  Blood was everywhere.  The other couples were slumped in ungainly postures, their throats ripped wide open.  At the centre of the carnage was Walter, shirt off, his torso awash with the blood of his victims.  He turned his yellow eyes to Sharon.  A forked tongue darted between his lips.

Sharon screamed.  The waiter appeared at her elbow.

“Is there a problem, madam?”

“No, not really,” she said, tipping him a tenner.  “It just would be nice to meet a man who wasn’t possessed by one of Satan’s ravenous horde.”

The waiter wrapped her coat over her shoulders.

“Don’t say that!” he laughed.  “If it wasn’t for you enticing them here, we’d soon go out of business.  Are you sure you won’t stay for the feast?”

“Nah,” said Sharon.  “I phoned an Uber while I was in the bog.  Broomstick’s in for a service. See you next week.”

He held the door open until she had gone.

Shadows crept from around the room.  Figures formed, beasts of horn, and fang, and claw.  They set to feeding on the newly slaughtered humans.  At the centre, a bewildered Walter whimpered.  The demon had left him.  Now if he could just tiptoe out before anything noticed him…

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Scream Again!

Children’s author, WILHELM SCREAM, has been at it again. He has also written his second book, this time turning his attention to werewolves. The follow-up to BAD BLOOD: A Tale of Two Vampires is PARDON MY WEREWOLF! A Hairy Story — and it’s available now!

When lowly kitchen boy Luca Turnspit is recruited by the Queen to be a companion for her lonely son, he learns the Prince’s dark secret in no time at all. The pair strike up a friendship but their hopes for the future are endangered by the arrival of a man from the past and by local cat-owners who have genuine concerns and flaming torches.

A fast-moving and funny story that is only a little bit gruesome, PARDON MY WEREWOLF! is suitable for readers of all ages.

Available in glossy hardcover, floppy paperback and on Kindle, for all you technological whiz kids.

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The Return of Morgana

“The time has come!” Morgana’s green eyes flashed.  “Time for me to return to the surface and resume my rightful place as queen.”

Her maidservant dithered.  “Um, Your Highness,” her fingers wrestled with each other as her tongue wrestled with words.  “How can you be sure?”

“You question me!” Morgana’s nostrils flared.  “How dare you!  Do you think I am unable to count?  Fifteen hundred years I have spent in this hellhole, this underground chamber, banished here by that fool Merlin.  But even his magic has its limits.  I have been patient, served my time, I have watched and I have waited.  And now, the curse is lifted.  Come, bring me my cloak of midnight.”

“Um,” the maid hesitated.  “Right away, Your Highness.”

She scurried to the antechamber.  She had been using the cloak of midnight as bedding.  She shook it out, dislodging centuries of biscuit crumbs.

She carried it reverentially to Morgana and draped it over her narrow shoulders.

“Excellent!  And now, my diadem of doom!”

“Um, at once, Your Highness.”

The maid darted away, to the rudimentary kitchen.  She had been using the diadem of doom as a biscuit cutter for all these years.  She blew away flour and wiped the crown on her apron.  She carried it to Morgana, walking slowly, the way she had seen the Archbishop do, at Arthur’s coronation, oh so long ago.

Morgana lowered her head to receive the diadem of doom.

“Perfect!” she straightened.  “And finally, my staff of discord.”

“Um…” the maid cast around.  She couldn’t remember for the life of her what she had done with the staff of discord.

“Why are you dawdling?” Morgana roared with impatience.  “Bring me the staff of discord.”

“Um, I am doing,” stammered the maid.  She bit her lip, her mind racing.  She dashed to the tiny bathroom.  There was the staff of discord, being used to prop up a washing line.  Greying, threadbare underwear dripped into the tub.  The maid unhooked the staff of discord, letting her knickers drop to the floor.

She carried it back to Morgana, who snatched it from her grasp.

“How do I look?” the evil witch rotated slowly. 

“Terrifying, Your Highness,” the maid had to admit.

“Excellent.  Now, up we go.”

She bashed the staff of discord on the floor and shot up and through the stony ceiling.  Up and up she went, through hundreds of feet of solid rock.  At long last, she reached the surface and felt fresh air on her pale skin for the first time in a millennium and a half.

Down below, the maid did a bit of tidying up.  She made a fresh batch of biscuits.  She wrung out the washing.  It would probably need doing again if she couldn’t get it thoroughly dry.

“Those biscuits smell nice.”  Morgana’s voice startled her.  The evil witch had returned.  She sat and took off the diadem of doom and shrugged off her cloak of midnight.

“You’re back early,” the maid observed.

“Well,” said Morgana.  “I went up there to wreak havoc, generate a bit of despair, generally fuck things up.  But I found they’ve already done it.”

“What do you mean, Your Highness?” the maid inched closer.  “Surely there is something you can do to cause a bit of misery.”

Morgana shook her head.  “Like what?  The whole world is in meltdown.  It’s got ten years at most.  And no one seems to care!  They’re all fighting among themselves—honestly, the levels of hatred up there, you would not believe.  The pettiness!  The pollution!  The corruption!  And Merlin thought I was the danger!  Summon him.  Get that old wizard on the crystal.  Tell him I want another five hundred—no, make it a full thousand—years down here.  Give those morons another chance to build an earthly paradise.  And then, oh, then!  Then I’ll go up and ruin it for them.”

She threw back her head and attempted a cackle, but her heart wasn’t in it.

“I’ll put the kettle on,” the maid offered.  “The biscuits will be ready soon.”

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