Havelock Writes

53 – The Train

They pulled into the station every so often, looking like any ordinary train, if you weren’t looking too hard. Sure, maybe a little shabby, a little old, but still perfectly normal. Still perfectly safe. When you step inside, you might be surprised by how wide the carriages are, or how empty. Or maybe not. Maybe you’re too tired to notice.

Continue reading “53 – The Train”

52 – Pawnbroker

Dahlia had owned the pawnshop for a century. Previously she had been the manager of a haunted hotel, and a circus performer before that. She had inherited the shop from an elderly witch who wanted to retire to the countryside. The two of them still wrote, and Dahlia got sent jars of honey every year.

Mostly it was a quiet job, and Dahlia liked that. There would be two or three customers each day, selling anything from cursed jewellery to garden ornaments, and in return Dahlia gave them money, spells, or prophecies. After a hundred years she had quite a lot of items: a piano that played itself, a skeleton that talked, pottery with ever-changing images, and several dozen pink flamingos.

Then there were the curses – curses for aching feet, for baldness, for bellyache, and one curse that turned you two inches small for an hour. These are stored in jars in the back, looking like colourful swirling gas. Dahlia collected them, and often paid to have curses removed from items so she could keep it.

51 – Better

Conner decided he’d had enough. His master was cruel, his work was back-breaking, and he was paid a pittance. Gathering his sparse belongings, he ran away into the woods.

Everyone knew the woods was where the fae lived. Their music could be heard each night, piercing and haunting, and Conner had been told never to follow it since he was born. But he hoped that the Gentry who played it would be better than the gentry he was currently working for.

He walked all night, pausing in every fairy ring he could find, hoping the fairy folk would take him.

(inspired by this post)

50 – Family Weirdness

Ghosts, Gary reflected, were like cats. They had their favourite spots, they liked their space, and they didn’t like things to be moved about too much.

Ghosts flocked to Gary like moths to light. It part of his family weirdness; his aunt hovered six inches off the ground, and he had a cousin who made flames dance in her hands.

Gary had made peace with the dead. Their wails still woke him occasionally, and he wished they wouldn’t loom over his bed at night, but they would also scare off bad neighbours, so he felt it was a fair trade.

49 – Cats

She had gotten most of the cats through adoption agencies. Some had been strays, others she had raised from kittens, and a small number of them were ghosts, but most had been through adoption. She could understand why; not everyone wanted to look after a fire-breathing feline or a cat who was a skeleton in the moonlight.

In total, Susanna had 47 cats. She hadn’t expected to get so many, but she could never say no to them. Anyway, she reasoned, somebody had to look after the weird ones, and she reckoned she was the best person for the job.

48 – Elevator

He was known as ‘that guy on the elevator’. He never got off, but everyone who used the elevator would see him get on at the second floor, staring unblinkingly and occasionally asking unsettling questions.

There were office records of him going back for nearly two decades. The descriptions of him were always vague though, and the security cameras could never get a good image of him, so nobody could agree on what he looked like.

People said he brought the company luck. They didn’t know if it was good luck or bad, but it was luck all the same.

(based on this post)

47 – Payment

Witches didn’t get paid in money. If you were doing it for the money you were a witch for the wrong reasons.

This didn’t mean a witch isn’t paid – it doesn’t do to be in debt to a witch – but they get paid them in other ways. A sack of potatoes, a few chickens, fetching firewood, respect. Respect was a huge currency for witches, as were favours. Respect and favours could go a long way, especially if the village was fond of bonfires.

You don’t take more than the person can give, and you don’t take what you don’t need.

46 – Baby Bargaining

The witch stared at the demon in her living room. “I don’t recall summoning you.”

“ʏᴏᴜ ᴅɪᴅɴ’ᴛ,” said the demon.

“Thought not.” The witch started filling the kettle. “If you’re staying you can change into something easier to look at; all that pulsating’s giving me a headache.”

The demon shifted into a humanoid figure, though it kept the horns. Tradition is hard to break.

The witch settled into her armchair several minutes later, hands curled round a mug of tea. “Well, out with it,” she said. “I know you sort don’t do social visits.”

“ɪ’ᴍ ʜᴇʀᴇ ꜰᴏʀ ᴛʜᴇ ᴄʜɪʟᴅ.”

“I’ve seen about fifty children today. You’ll have to be more specific.”

“ʏᴏᴜ ᴋɴᴏᴡ ᴡʜɪᴄʜ ᴄʜɪʟᴅ ɪ sᴘᴇᴀᴋ ᴏꜰ,” said the demon. “ᴛʜᴇ ᴏɴᴇ ᴛʜᴀᴛ ᴡᴀs ᴅᴇʟɪᴠᴇʀᴇᴅ ᴛᴏ ʏᴏᴜ ᴛʜɪs ᴍᴏʀɴɪɴɢ.”

“Oh. That child.” The witch had known something like this would happen. She had seen right away the child wasn’t entirely human. “That baby is mine. I made a deal with her mother.”

“ᴀs ᴅɪᴅ ɪ. ɪᴛ ɪs ᴍɪɴᴇ ʙʏ ʀɪɢʜᴛs.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t know about that,” said the witch with a smile. “You know as well as I that all contracts are binding, and by the sounds of it we both of claim to the little one.”

The demon shifted angrily, its shape flickering faster than the human eye could keep up with. The witch simply stared it down until it finally returned to its human-ish form.

“ɪ ᴡɪʟʟ ɴᴏᴛ ᴄᴏᴏᴘᴇʀᴀᴛᴇ ᴡɪᴛʜ ᴛʜᴇ ʟɪᴋᴇs ᴏꜰ ʏᴏᴜ,” it said in a growl.

“You’re going to have to,” said the witch. “The woman promised the child to both of us. No amount of huffing and puffing is going to change that.” She drank her tea. “So I suggest we make a timetable of appropriate visiting hours.”

The demon spent several moments glowering at her, before finally saying, “ᴡʜᴇʀᴇ sʜᴀʟʟ ᴛʜᴇ ᴄʜɪʟᴅ ʟɪᴠᴇ?”

“Here, for now, but he can visit your domain on weekends. And when he’s older we can arrange something else if needed.”

(based on this post)

45 – Burglar

It was meant to be easy; fancy house at the edge of town, parents out, neighbours minding their own business. It was meant as a quick job, in and out in twenty minutes with whatever laptops, money or jewellery he could find.

He wasn’t expecting the kid to be awake, but kids were easy to deal with, especially if you scared them a bit. He had winced at the scream, and turned to climb back out the window; neighbours wouldn’t ignore a kid screaming.

He definitely wasn’t expecting something to wrap around his leg and pull him backwards.

The tentacles dragged him across the floor before dangling him in the air, and he stared into the eyes of a monster. It had long spindly legs, several dozen eyes, and two mouths of sharp teeth.

The monster under the bed held the burglar tight until the child’s parents arrived some time later, and by then he had vowed to discard his life of crime.

(based on this prompt)

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