|Instagram inspiration from @Jeera|
Flash Fiction Friday: Witch Hunt
By PR Henriksen
The men were panting heavily, just inside the tavern's door. All three of them look liked they'd had quite a run, chests heaving, bellies bouncing.
"Did you" ..breath "see a black cat" ..breath "run in here" ..breath "a minute ago?"
Two dozen women looked up, some expressions showed pity, others looked exasperated, and still others looked mildly amused. The woman closest to the door was the owner, Ms. Mabel Barrett. She causally tucked a long, red curl behind her right ear, almost as if she was trying to pay attention to them. She smiled slowly and waved her hand around the expanse of her establishment. Her smile grew as she watched the men's eyes look around and spot almost a dozen cats in easy eye-shot, eight of which were black. Every one of them sat next to a woman who casually stroked it.
One by one, as the men's eyes fell upon that of a cat's, it's back arched up and it replied with a hiss or a growl. One remained unseen in a back corner booth, eyes closed, cowering with vigor, behind three other cats.
The larger man, in the back, pushed the younger one, in the front, forward. "Go look!"
It was like there was a line on the floor and he'd just been pushed across it. In reality, he had. He'd just crossed all the way over the tavern's threshold. If he had any magic he was planning to use, it would fail. Also, as if on cue, a matched set of twins “appeared” flanking the men and the door. In a room full of beautiful women and cats, having someone the likes of The Rock or Vin Diesel appear, seemed rather strange and out of place, doubly so in this case.
The young man visibly curled in on himself, doubling over almost as if he'd been punched. The innate will of a couple dozen witches staring you down could cause one to feel a bit queasy. He stood up moments later, wind-milling back, almost tripping over the man who'd pushed him.
"You've seen enough." Ms. Mable said, never wavering in her stare with them. "This is a 'members only' tavern and I have the right to refuse anyone service. You are refused."
The young one kept backing towards the door, inch by inch. The big, older, one began to lean in towards Ms. Mabel, and the third one remained a statue. The twin towers of male muscle closed the gap between the opposing forces. The big guy leaned up to look between them at Ms. Mable, and she leaned right back at him.
"I want my cat back!"
"If it is your cat and you've treated it well, it will come home. If not, it was never yours."
The twin towers moved smoothly forward, making sure the three men left. The men were never touched, they merely complied.
After the coast was clear, half of the cats shifted backed into women, and the twin towers of male power eased back into their customary places in dog form. The best matched pair of Belgian Malinois you've ever seen.
Slowly the shaking little black cat from the back came out and looked around. Ms. Mabel leaned down stroked it reassuringly. "You're among friends and family here little one. It's ok."
The little cat stretched and tried to make herself look tall. It didn't seem to work. She meowed hesitantly.
"Is this your first time?"
The small cat stared and nodded.
"Close your eyes. You need to relax and feel your body. Feel it like it is and then ease into to feeling like you're used to. Picture yourself waking up in the morning."
Slowly the cat stretched. One minute it was a cat, the next blink there was a young woman stretching up off the floor. Her short dark hair was mussed and her panties were hanging off her right leg. She blushed and thought to cover herself, but there just wasn't enough hand to do much, so she grabbed for her only piece of clothing.
Most of the patrons didn't even notice. They'd already gone back to their pub grub and chit chat.
I grabbed my raincoat and handed it to her as she righted her panties.
I smiled, "You're lucky tonight's ladies night."
Ms. Mabel offered her a seat. "I'm curious. Why did you come here rather than going to the church across the street?"
"I was going to the church, until I saw your sign- the one that looks like a pair of high heels, or fangs?"
Ms. Mabel nodded. The young women continued. "My grandmother used to wear a necklace like that all the time. When I asked, she told me it was a lucky charm against monsters."
"What was your grandmother's name, love?"
Ms. Mable smiled and nodded. "I thought you looked familiar. You must be Ana's daughter."
"I'm Katarina. My friends call me Kat." Kat paused, looking around. "What am I, some sort of were-cat?"
"Certainly not, dear, and I don't believe you're a changeling, although you could be. I believe you to be one of us... a shape-shifting witch."
Kat’s face scrunched up a bit. She didn’t quite know what to think.
"You've heard of a witch's familiar"
"Well that's a bit of a stretch. Most of the time 'apprentice' would be more accurate. Around others, apprentices will stay in a shape-shifted form to conceal their identity until they are ready to be on their own. It protects both them and their trainers." Ms. Mabel paused for absorption. “As you’ve just experienced- No one enjoys a witch hunt.”
Kat nodded, her eyes still a bit wider than usual.
“Well Kat, it’s your choice now: Do you want to be a witch or do you want to be the hunted?”
PS Yes, I do still owe you a comic, but it probably won't post until the end of the day. :D
So, how about some possible inspiration for next week? This one comes from my Sherlock Calendar for this month - August 2014.