WEP Aug 2020 – Long Shadow

Below is the next story in my paranormal flash fiction series about Monette, the magic mistress of paper. She can do a lot with paintings or drawings, origami or printed words. You can find Monette’s previous magic adventures here:

Feb challenge – Café Terrace
Apr challenge – Antique Vase
Jun challenge – Urban Nightmare

This story is my entry for the WEP August 2020 challenge.
Through the small rectangular window in the closed door, Monette stared at the floor of the entry hall of her clients’ house. Worms writhed inside, dozens of them, maybe hundreds. Small worms, but their sheer number was staggering. When she put her palm flat on the door, she could feel the heat of malevolent magic seeping out. She snatched her hand away.

“What happened, Jane?” she asked as she backed down the porch steps.

“I don’t know,” the young woman replied, her eyes huge and red from weeping. “We celebrated my husband’s birthday last night, had a few guests. Then we went to bed. And this morning … this. We grabbed out clothing and ran out like hell. I threw up until my stomach hurt. Then I called you, and John went to work.”

Monette grunted. She might hurl too, she thought, if she didn’t have to fix this wormy abomination. Worms, yew!

“Could you do anything?” Jane asked.

“I’ll try. First, I have to get rid of the worms. Come back to my car.”

They settled inside Monette’s car, and she pulled out a hundred-sheets pack of colored printer paper, ten sheets of each color, from her supply satchel. The sheaf was held together by a white ribbon, with a price tag still attached.

Monette folded the paper, turning each sheet into an origami bird, while Jane watched with a frown. “Birds eat worms, right?” Monette muttered, blowing a little bit of her magic into each bird. They fluttered, animated and expectant.

“Paper birds?” Jane asked faintly.

“I’m a paper mage,” Monette said absently, her concentration on the birds. With the first ten yellow birds, she walked back to the house. Jane trailed in silence.

“Open the door, Jane,” Monette instructed.

Jane unlocked the door and jumped out of the way. Monette pulled the door open and launched her yellow birds inside. “Have a feast, darlings.” She slammed the door shut.

“I don’t think ten birds will suffice. Too many worms.” She trudged back to the car. “Let’s make more.”

She went through thirty more birds – ten of each blue, red, and orange – before she decided it was safe to enter the house. She made ten more birds, lilac ones, and stomped in. Jane tiptoed at her heels.

Monette’s fingers ached from folding so many birds, and her head throbbed from expending too much of her magic too quickly, but she didn’t think she was done, and she was right.

Her colored birds littered the floor of the small house, the useless wads of crumpled paper now that their magic had expired. Too much eating, not good for anyone, Monette thought wryly. Fortunately, the floor was clear. In the living room, she released her lilac birds to deal with the leftover worms and stopped in front of a coffee table.

A black plastic skull gaped at her. As she watched, a worm wriggled out of one of the eye sockets, dropped to the table, and one of her birds swooped at it.

“What is it?” she asked quietly.

“Oh, boy,” said Jane. “A birthday gift. John’s old girlfriend brought it. I thought it was a joke. I thought … There were no worms last night.”

“What did you think?” Monette studied the skull. It radiated evil intent.

“I thought she didn’t hate me anymore. John and she broke up a year ago, after he and I met, but maybe she still holds a grudge.”

“Some grudge,” Monette said. “A year, huh?”

“We love each other. She made his life difficult the first few months, but then she seemed to have calmed down. I thought … she accepted. It’s been longer than a year. You couldn’t force who you love.”

“No, you couldn’t,” Monette agreed, remembering her own disastrous relationship. “But some emotions, like bitterness, cast a very long shadow.”

“Yeah,” said Jane. Her eyes followed the lilac birds, as they hopped about, enthusiastically pecking the occasional worms still crawling out of the skull.

“There is a curse on this skull,” Monette said.

“I should throw it away.” Jane started for the table.

“No. Don’t touch it. It won’t help. I’ll deal with it.”

Monette pulled a large, pre-spelled cardboard sheet out of her satchel. The spell of flattening was inscribed around the edges. She always had several such pre-packaged paraphernalia with her. She donned her plastic insulated gloves – she couldn’t touch a curse with her bare hands – and gently put the skull into the middle of the sheet. Then she activated the spell with a touch of her finger and winced, as the pounding in her head increased two-fold. After she finished here, she would need at least a week to recharge her magic.

The spell flared. The skull resisted for a moment, and then sank into the cardboard, becoming a photographic image of itself. A worm trying to squiggle out of one eye socket froze, as it too turned into a flat image. As soon as the flattening was complete, the spell winked out.

“Excellent! Now the next step.” Monette rummaged in her satchel for a tube of glue and a brush and covered the sheet with a thick layer of glue, fixing the image.

Then she exhaled in satisfaction and sank onto the sofa beside the table. She felt drained, exhausted, and sad.

“Now what?” Jane asked.

“Now it should dry. Jane, please collect all the dead birds of mine and burn them in the yard. Don’t touch them with your hands. Use a mop.”

“Okay. What’re you going to do with that … painting?”

Monette sighed and rubbed her aching temples. “When it dries, I’m going to take it to the Vancouver Magic Guild and make a report. I’ll need the girlfriend’s name. What she did was illegal. Using magic to hurt or harass anyone is a crime. Whatever magician she used to make this skull should’ve known better. Gosh, I hate such cases. I hate ratting on my fellow magician, but I have no choice. They broke the law; they must’ve known it was a curse, not a prank. If I don’t report it, I’d be breaking the law too.”

“What will happen to the girlfriend?”

“That’s for the Magic Guild court to decide, not me, thank god,” Monette said. “But I don’t think she’ll trouble you again. Your worm infestation is over.”

This entry was posted in Olga Godim, WEP and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to WEP Aug 2020 – Long Shadow

  1. soniadogra says:

    That wasn’t just a long shadow but creepy too. So glad Monette could sort it out. Well spun Olga.

  2. I sure love your stories about Monette, the paper witch. It might be that her magic is petite, but her imagination and willingness to help are enormous.

  3. ALL of the negative emotions cast a long shadow don’t they? And dwelling in them is a curse.
    I loved this – and wish that the world had rather a lot of Monettes. We need her. Badly

  4. wordweiver says:

    Enjoyed the whole magic, shadows and values, above all, feelings. I was craving for “yank” at “snatch” and astounded with usage of “paraphernalia”.

  5. Jemi Fraser says:

    That was awesome! Love Monette tales. And this one was so creepy!! *shiver*

  6. Sally says:

    Brilliant story, well told.

  7. cleemckenzie says:

    Loved the malevolent magic and the creepy worms!

  8. A fantastic tale. Well done, Olga.

  9. Hurray for Monette. She saved the day!

  10. Jemima Pett says:

    These magic things are so inventive. And clever use of the prompt, too. Well done 😉

  11. L.G. Keltner says:

    This is wonderful as always! Te way you use magic is so creative! Bitterness is a terrible emotion, and I hope that ex girlfriend gets in trouble for what she did.

  12. Donna Hanton says:

    I love these Monette stories. The magic you create to solve the ‘problems’ of her clients is so inventive. And worms… just icky and creepy. However, there are one or two people in my past who might warrant a cursed skull…!

  13. These stories are so very, very clever! I love them. The situations are all so normal, or should I say the cause for the problem, but the solutions just so imaginative. You rock!

  14. Cara Hartley says:

    Nicely creepy but great fun. I liked the skull being turned into a painting. Great job!
    ~Cie from Naughty Netherworld Press~

  15. Nilanjana Bose says:

    Bitterness does indeed cast a long shadow. Masterfully done, Olga!

  16. Wonderfully Olga. Neatly spun in a nutshell. Another very enjoyable tale of Monette the paper mage. You should definitely think about publishing a collection of these, young adults ? Or not so young ? Beautiful weaved comic effects each time. Congratulations. Happy WEP week.

  17. patgarcia says:

    It is amazing how bitterness can cast a long shadow upon the relationship of another. I like the way you revealed the wheel of hatred that was cloaked in a pretend gift to destroy.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat Garcia

  18. Kalpana says:

    What a delicious story and a smooth solution. I need Monette in my life too I think sometimes. Such a pleasure to read.

  19. Denise Covey says:

    Another excellent Monette saga. Ew. Worms. So creative in the spinning of the tale, Olga. Love how you incorporated it into Long Shadow. ‘…some emotions, like bitterness, cast a very long shadow.’

  20. Karen Sather says:

    Oh my just the sort of magic and tad creepy trails that are so enjoyable, seems I’ve missed much of this story, but am here now!

  21. Toi Thomas says:

    Oh wow! How delightful. I never tire of these Monette stories and her paper magic. Thanks for sharing such an entertaining story. Great take on the prompt too.

  22. Carole Stolz says:

    I love this. This is your best one yet – even though I hate skulls and hate worms even more (since having to read “To his coy mistress” as a schoolgirl!!!). Great job!

  23. hilarymb says:

    Hi Olga – that I couldn’t handle – well certainly not sit on the sofa to briefly recover and as for living in that house again – no thank you! Monette fortunately seems to know what to do – but again I hope her reporting doesn’t open other can of worms … I might just be thinking along these lines today – not easy to erase the worms from memory! Clever … take care – Hilary

  24. Rebecca Douglass says:

    I do so love Monette and her paper magic. It sounds so small and minor, but look what she can do with it (though I don’t envy her the headache). Minor query: in the first paragraph, it says the worms “wreathed inside,” and I have to wonder if you meant “writhed?”

  25. Juneta says:

    I love your idea for the short stories, bookmarked to come back and read. Thank you for visiting me at JunetaKey.com.

  26. Pingback: WEP Oct 2020 – Grave Mistake | Olga Godim writing

  27. Pingback: IWSG & WEP Dec 2020 – Unmasked | Olga Godim writing

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