• Erin Snedeker

Something Wicked: Part IV

A Meadowsweet Story


If you need to catch up on "Something Wicked" you can find Part I, Part II, and Part III




In the first few years of their marriage, Thomas and Josephine’s lives seemed nearly perfect. Two years after they moved into their humble cottage, Josephine gave birth to a baby girl. She was perfect in the eyes of her proud young parents—cherubic cheeks, soft rolls in her elbows and knees, thick wavy hair, and sparkling eyes. They named her Rose, after Josephine’s grandmother. After Rose was born, everything seemed brighter and happier, because the world was surely a good place if someone like Rose could be born into it.


But the couple still held Josephine’s secret close to heart, always careful, always alert. Thomas could not help his curiosity, and so, as he was taught by his father, he turned to books. These books were exceptionally hard to come by. The town was a proudly religious place which had completely rejected all forms of witchcraft. Still, Thomas would not be dissuaded, and so he very discreetly began to collect whatever he could find that would give him information on witchcraft, demons, and other worlds.


His collection grew at an astonishing rate, and so Josephine suggested that they turn the attic into a library. Thomas beamed at his wife, amazed, grateful, and full of love for the woman before him.


The couple had exactly four years from the day Thomas discovered his wife’s secret. Four years of bliss and peace. Joy and laughter.


For exactly four years to the day Thomas found out that his wife Josephine was a witch, they encountered their first demon.


Now what? Imelda hurried toward the door, and when she saw who was on the other side of it, she opened it and said, “sage.”


Archie Goodfellow, who had not been sure what to expect when he reached Imelda’s cottage, certainly had not anticipated this kind of greeting. He blinked. Imelda stood before him in a cloud of wild dark hair. Her eyes held a fervor that had not been present earlier in the bakery and her cheeks held the pink flush of exertion.


“I’m sorry?” he asked.


“I need sage,” she said, as if he were simple. “Now. Three ounces…” she glanced at the clouds. “Better make it four.”


Archie stuttered incoherently.


“Now,” Imelda repeated, and then when he still didn’t move, she added, “please.”


Archie wanted to protest. What was it with this woman that she demanded garden herbs from him whenever they spoke? She had a far off, absent-minded quality about her, and her eyes kept glancing at the darkening clouds.


“Whatever it is you want, you can have it,” Imelda said quickly. “Just as soon as I get my sage. Go on now.”


For some inexplicable reason, Archie found himself obeying her request. Before he could really think about what he was doing, he was marching back down the dusty road toward town and his supply of sage.


Imelda only stopped to question why she had had a visitor at her door after she had sent him away. It was an unusual occurrence at the Meadowsweet cottage to get an unexpected visitor. And, counting the demon solidifying over her roof, the baker made two.


She hmphed and began a spell of protection, muttering the incantation under her breath as she walked the perimeter of her house. The spell would not hold for long, but it would buy her some time if the demon fully materialized before the baker returned.




Thomas had awoken early to get a head start on the day. He wanted to get his work out of the way early so that he could surprise Josephine later. Exactly four years ago, he had discovered that she was a witch, and last month he had found the perfect gift to celebrate the anniversary.


He smiled to himself as he walked the dirt path into town, taking in the fresh, dewy smell of early morning. It was so early in fact, that the sun had not yet burned away the mist. Perhaps if it had been later, he would have seen the oddly shaped creature lurking in the trees. Perhaps the mist obscured his vision just enough that he thought it just another tree. Perhaps Thomas was so deep in thought that even on a clear day, he would have missed the skulking creature completely. Nevertheless, Thomas did not see the creature set off silently through the trees, shadowing Thomas as he went into town.




Archie shook his head and grabbed a bundle of dried sage from the cupboard and began his march back up the hill. He rehearsed the words he wanted to say to Imelda in his head, repeating them over and over so that when he returned, he would not be so struck by her that all rational thought would abandon him, as it had seemingly done before.


I’m new in town. I would like to get to know you. Do you want to get coffee?


I’m new in town. I would like to get to know you. Do you want to get coffee?


A sudden gust of wind picked up the fallen leaves and cartwheeled them across the ground. Archie shivered. He should have grabbed an umbrella, it looked like a storm was coming in. There came a flash of light and a harsh crack of thunder, and Archie picked up his pace to a brisk trot.

As the thunder cracked and boomed overhead, Imelda had the sinking feeling that she was too late. The wind rattled the windows and the first fat drops of rain pelted the ground.


“Blast!” Imelda muttered. The storm indicated that the Cloaden demon would be much more powerful than she had anticipated.


She shuffled to the kitchen and dialed her sister’s phone number. Her sister picked up on the second ring.


“Hi Celeste, it’s me,” she said. “Look, I’m kind of dealing with something up here at the moment. It might be best if Lydia and Ember come up next weekend.”


“But the girls were so looking forward to coming this week,” Celeste said with a sigh. “And I know next week won’t work for Lydia, she and Annika are performing in the play at their school. Oh no, I shouldn’t have said that. Lydia wanted to invite you herself.”


Imelda felt a warm feeling in her chest at the thought of going to Lydia’s school show. “Of course, I’ll be there,” she said. “But really, I have a Cloaden demon materializing over my house.”


“A Cloaden demon?” Celeste said, unimpressed.


“A big one,” Imelda insisted.


“Well, I suppose I have to speak with Laurel,” Celeste said. “But I’m sure you will dispose of the thing quickly.” She paused. The years of silence had put tension between them, and even though communication the last few years had vastly improved, their conversations still felt awkward. “Are you okay to handle the demon alone?”


Imelda knew what she was asking. Did she want her sisters to help her? “Yeah,” she said, feigning an ease that she did not fully feel. “I’ll be fine. Just worried about the girls. I didn’t want to ruin their weekend with demon fighting.”


“Well, call me when it is over,” Celeste said. “Stay safe.”


Imelda looked out the window. The clouds had obscured the sun, casting long blue shadows over the earth. The wind shook the trees and made her rose blossoms nod.


Another flash of lightning. Thunder battered the walls.


Nearly drowned out by the thunder was a knock at the door. Imelda opened it to see a weather-worn Archie standing in her doorway holding a bundle of sage.


“I’m new in—” he started.


“Quick!” Imelda grabbed him and pulled him into the cottage. She shut the door just before the sky split open.

 

©2018 by The Critter. (with the help of wix)