“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…