2nd Place for The Crimson Skull Short Story Contest: Witch Hunt by Philip Wardlow

The grave5:20 pm Oct 31st:

The old man slowly climbed down off the backhoe he was on. The ground was slightly sloped and with the grass still wet from a mid-day rain, he slipped. If not for the headstone sticking out of the ground nearby to catch him he would have surely went down flat on his fat ass for sure. Not that his fat ass was that far from the ground to begin with standing only five foot-three inches tall. He had lived with being short for almost eighty years but still, he had hated it his whole life.
Besides his height, Mitch hated a lot of things too long to list. He hated people who looked you in the eye and smiled when they secretly wanted to say “fuck you”. “Well fuck you too.” he would yell at them. This usually left them wondering what they had done wrong to incur such wrath as he walked away grumbling to himself.
What he hated most of all was being out here in this god forsaken cemetery on Halloween where it was cold, damp and windy as hell, digging a fucking hole in the ground. The sun had just set and the last of the warmth he had gotten from it had long left his bones. But what could he do, he thought. She had him by the balls and she wasn’t letting go. A year ago to the day he knew he would be here tonight digging her ass up. He remembered the feeling of the curse settling on him like a damn heavy itchy woolen blanket as soon as she was placed into the ground at the funeral. Fucking bitch.
Mitch reached into his coat pocket and pulled out his flashlight and showed it on the dirt encrusted wooden box he had just unearthed.
“Just after sunset and not a moment before”, that was one of the rules she had told him long ago, almost beating into him at the time. It hadn’t been easy but he had pulled the damn coffin out of the ground. Even with the back hoe it felt like pulling a damn tick out of your belly button.
He untied all the lifting straps on the coffin attached to the back-hoe and flung them off to the ground. He worked fast as he waddled his way around the coffin with crowbar in hand wrenching open all the clasps along the side of the coffin holding the lid shut tight. Mitch threw out multiple expletives at the last clasp on the lid that was being a bitch and not wanting to break. With a snap and a final almost shouted “fuck” to the nighttime air the clasp gave way. He stepped back and wiped the sweat from his forehead breathing heavily with a hand on the coffin to support himself.
“Scritch…Scritch.” The vibration of her nails raking the coffin from the inside ran up his arm that still rested on the lid. Mitch shivered at what was coming.
“Hold your fucking panties, I’m coming…you think this is easy.” You’re already dead what do you know about pain any fucking more, he thought to himself. Taking a deep breath in, Mitch fitted the crowbar in between the lid and the main bed of the coffin and pushed down on it to pry it up.
He pushed and pushed until he thought he would burst a vein in his neck. Slowly it gave way, inch by slow fucking inch the lid began to release its clammy hold. He was getting too old for this shit. The lid suddenly shot upwards as he received help from the occupant inside. He fell backwards and this time there was no headstone to stop his fat ass from falling. He rolled like a bulbous white onion with legs and arms on the cold wet ground as he tried to get back to his feet.
Mitch had managed to prop himself onto his hands and knees at the same time he saw a face suddenly appear from over the edge of the coffin to look at him with one milky grey eye hanging in a droopy redlined socket. The other eye was just a dead blank hollow hole starting at him. Her face was less of a face and more of grotesque piece of art. The closest description he could muster into his head would be if you were to tear someone’s face off and put it into a blender and turn it to whip and then take it out and try to stick it back onto the same skull. The skin hung in splotchy blood congealed threads of goopy flesh in various states of decay all over her face. This wasn’t her best day you might say.
Like a snail she oozed and crawled her way out of the coffin over to him, leaving a trail of human mucus that dripped and leaked from various parts of her body. Long black thin hairs sprouted and clung to a mostly bald head which was covered by a thin layer of mottled skin with her skull showing through in parts. Her one “good” eye in her head never stopped staring at him as she crawled towards him. How could she put herself through this every time? Apparently the benefits outweighed the one year of hell of being buried underground to fulfill the course of the spell. Mitch knew he had longer to go this night. The horror had just begun.
Soon she was face to face with him as he knelt there. She reached up and violently grabbed his head with her hands digging her nails deep into his scalp. Blood poured down the sides of his head.
“Fuck!” he yelled and closed his eyes.
She pulled herself in closer and he could feel the sandpaper touch of her dried dead tongue start to lick the blood from the wounds she had inflicted upon his bald head. She ran her mouth all over around his ears and down his neck. She didn’t miss a drop as her tongue darted in out of his ear to lap up the blood that had collected there. His skin prickled at every flick of her tongue.
“Be done all fucking ready!” He yelled at her as he continued to kneel on the ground.
“Sileeence” Her voice came out like tires skidding on a pebbled road. She was already coming back, he thought.
“More, mooore, need more.” He jerked out of her grasp hearing that, recalling the last time she had said that and how she had almost killed him.
Mitch rolled himself to his feet away her from. I’m still a spry motherfucker you won’t be getting me that easily you bitch of a witch.
“Yeah, yeah, it’s waiting for you in the car. Wake up that dead brain of yours and remember that you’ve got only a short window of time here tonight…we’ve got till midnight. It’s time to go trick-or-treating.” Mitch shined his flashlight on her face. Her face looked the same except her one good eye had lost its white milky color and was now a bright sky blue. She looked at him with it with all the intensity of a rabid dog.
“Follow me to the car.” Mitch didn’t look back as he walked away from her down the hill.
The girl was tied up in his back seat like a pig to market and naked as the day she was born. He passed the smell of ammonia under her nose and she started awake. She stared at him like a scared wide-eyed little doe with duct tape over her mouth. She was a pretty young thing, not more than twenty-three or so with long brown curly hair. She always liked them to be young women, never a man, she said it sped up her revival and the blood always tasted sweeter. All he knew was that she had a nice body. If his pecker still worked, he might have had a little fun with her before bringing her out here, but business was business, and a dead dick was a dead dick, forget that Viagra shit.
He left the car’s back door open and got into the front seat of the driver’s side. He shut and locked his own door tight and waited for the bitch to crawl her ass over to the car. Mitch had installed a cage and a Plexiglas window to separate the back seat from the front so he wasn’t worried. He had learned from previous times how the witch could be when she first woke from her long dead sleep. Basically she was hungry, very fucking hungry.

6:05 pm Oct 31st:

She didn’t take as long as he had expected. He saw her out his side mirror almost to his bumper crawling on all fours at a pretty quick clip towards the car. Mitch guessed his old blood had done the trick for her. In the rear view mirror he could see the young girl’s eyes get even bigger as she tried to yell through her duct tape and kick herself away from what she saw crawling towards her through the open door of the car. The girl was belted in tight, she wasn’t going anywhere. The car shook as the witch crawled in on top of the naked girl and went to town on her. What a waste of a perfectly good body. Oh well. Mitch quickly got out and slammed the back door shutting it on them both. He jumped back in the car as fast as his fat legs could carry him and started it up and roared through the cemetery and onto the neighborhood nearby he had picked out ahead of time.
Time to hunt, this wasn’t any old grab and go like a fat man at a buffet. The witch was very selective about who she killed for her parts. The lucky girl in the back was just a snack or better yet, an energy bar.
Mitch looked in the rearview mirror and saw the window separating him from the back seat was splattered with blood and other bits and pieces of the young girl’s body he didn’t want to think about. He could barely make out what was going on through the haze of red but the girl didn’t seem to be putting up a fight anymore, in fact she looked pretty much dead. His mistress continued to munch away. Her head was bent low into the backseat as it moved up and down as if gnawing on something. A leg bone perhaps? The long drawn out sound of slurping came from the back as if one were drinking a milkshake through a straw. The cracking of bones filled his ears while the sweet scent of marrow touched his nose as he continued to drive.
Mitch turned onto the street he had selected; a nice little suburb neighborhood packed tight with houses. Some were grand colonials with high peaked roofs; others were ranch styled units with attached garages or squat little gabled homes with actual little white picket fences decorating the front yards. The street was thick with kids running up and down it, and on occasion crossing in front of him to either side of the street with or without parents in tow to get to the next house. Massive oak trees also lined both sides of the street with their branches only half full of their fall brown foliage. The street was darker than it should have been, for the trees engulfed the meager lights upon their posts set high in the air. The porch lights on every house cast only a feeble glow into the night as they cast shadows everywhere. Perfect.

7:00 pm Oct 31st:

Knock… Knock. “Trick or treat!” Mitch’s knees hurt something awful and his back was starting to act up. This had been the twentieth house already and the witch still hadn’t sniffed anyone out yet. Once he had to stop the witch from grabbing a little toddler dressed as a pumpkin out of his mother’s stroller and eating her like tater tot. Not that he cared about the kid in the slightest but it was best to not attract that kind of attention just yet. The witch stood in front of him, hunched over, swaying back and forth at the closed door staring dully up at it waiting for it to open. He was betting she was getting impatient as well.
The door opened to the house and a woman of about thirty-something holding a big bowl of candy in her arms and wearing a broad smile showed herself at the door. She wore a red dress lined in white at the sleeves and neck, and had fake freckles dotting her face and bright red hair in tight curls on her head; he guessed she was supposed to be Annie from that musical. Mitch fucking hated Little Orphan Annie.
“My, my, what do we have here? Don’t you look scary little girl, that’s very good makeup. Is this your grandfather with you dear?” The woman looked to him expectedly for an answer. Mitch didn’t get a chance to answer for the witch launched herself at the woman. The witch’s momentum carried both her and the bad Annie look-a-like back into her own house to fall crashing to the floor inside.
Mitch quickly crossed the threshold to the inside stepping over the bowl and candy that littered the landing and the front steps of the house. He slammed the door shut on two kids dressed as pirates who had been approaching the house. He heard the children’s excited exclamations behind the door at seeing the candy covering the front stoop. He found the lights for the front porch and flicked them off. Candy’s all gone.
Mitch turned to look at the witch’s first prize on her list. For all the gruesomeness of the scene, he found himself curious at what the witch planned on plucking out of the woman to eat. She had already punched a fist into the woman’s abdomen and was digging her way up between her ribcage with her arm. She was in up to her elbow inside Little Orphan Annie trying to reach for something…gallbladder…lung …a heart? Blood was fast pooling around them both on the wood floor. Mitch’s eyes were drinking it all in as he stood transfixed.
Mitch saw the head of the woman roll back in forth limply on the floor with every jerk the witch gave her in her frenzy to get to the magical piece of flesh inside of her. Little Orphan Annie’s eyes were wide open and glazed over with death looking at nothing around the living room of her home and leaking tears from each corner which streaked down her face. Mitch never knew a dead person could cry.
Mitch heard a strange sound come from inside the woman. Like a well rooted tree being ripped from the earth. The witch stood up and did a dance slipping in the blood a little in her tattered, moldy & blood soaked black printed dress she had been buried in. He saw in her left hand held tight was the woman’s blood soaked heart trailing veins and artery which reached to the floor pulled from the woman’s body.
The bloodied witch tipped her head back and in one gulp consumed the entire heart along with the trails connected, slurping the last bit like strands of spaghetti noodles into her mouth. The witch fell to her knees and went into convulsions. Suddenly, her body went deathly still while the spell began to take hold. The process for healing was slow in the beginning; it took a bitch of a time for her body to take on the piece she had eaten. It was a powerful spell but still weak in many ways. The number of pieces and type were always different he remembered. Over the next couple of hours Mitch saw hair grow in full upon her head to a shiny raven black down her back. The muscles on her back and shoulders became more pronounced while her bones faded back into her body underneath new skin. Mitch could see her slowly breathing now, in and out as she kneeled upon the floor, head down with her black hair cascading over her face hiding it from him. She should be coming out of it soon. With each successive piece the process would be quicker he knew; same as it had been from the last two times.

9:13 pm Oct 31st:

“Two pieces left.” he heard the witch say to no one as she continued to kneel on the floor in the pool of blood with her head still bent.
Mitch walked over to her and put his hand on her shoulder.
“Why do you touch me you fat old slob of a man? You don’t deserve to touch me anymore.” She stood up effortlessly, knocking his hand away at the same time. She slowly removed her dress in the middle of the dead woman’s living room and stood naked before him looking at him with an evil grin. She looked at him with one good eye while the other was still a dead socket hanging now on a very young pretty face.
“What must it feel like to know you will never have this body again?” She ran both her hands down over her naked body, fondling her own breasts, and running them down to caress her nice wide hips to finish by lightly dipping a single finger between her legs into which she then brought to her mouth to playfully wrap her blood tinged pouty lips around.
If not for her missing an eye and the bloody scene he found himself surrounded in, he thought he could almost feel something in his pants start to tingle. She always knew how to push his buttons.
“Fuck you bitch….this is the last time. I’m too old for this shit anymore. I don’t want your witch whore of a body or your money anymore…I’m tired. I got you this far, now go find the rest of the damn pieces for yourself.” He looked at her defiantly gripping his flashlight tight in hand.
“Well, well when did you grow a back bone when I wasn’t looking?” She walked towards him slowly and he took a step back. Mitch couldn’t help but watch her tits as they jiggled towards him.
She grabbed him by the neck with one of her hands and slammed him against the wall. She towered over him even though she only stood about a couple inches taller.
“You were pathetic at seventeen when I found you, and you’re still just as pathetic. You didn’t have a problem fucking me back then. You made all the promises in the world to me just to crawl between my legs. When you were forty-eight and I came back, your dick practically jumped out of your pants. Now here you at eighty-three and you don’t even know you have a dick.” The witch grabbed him by the balls with her free hand and made a tight fist.
“One thing is correct. I don’t need you anymore, there are others who can help me, there are always others. Besides you would just slow me down now and times a wastin…you stay here though. I’ve got a reward for all your years of service that you don’t want to miss, and stay you will for my compulsion still holds you until midnight.” She released her grip on his throat and his balls. She walked slowly over to what looked like a closet near the front door, pulled out a small jacket, put it on and left.

11:05 pm Oct 31st:

Mitch had fallen asleep against the wall where she had left him and would have been asleep still if not for the front door bursting inward and shattering the frame into a thousand splinters.
“Fucking piece of shit neighborhood, I only needed one more piece tonight.” The witch walked through the door dragging a little blonde girl of about eight years old by the scruff of the neck. She wasn’t wearing a costume but pink pajamas with feet.
“Had to grab this little shit out of bed. I’m glad I got a good nose now, else I never would’ve smelled her. Mitch meet Molly, Molly meet Mitch, she’s got something I want but I wanted you to partake in the festivities seeing as how this is your last hurrah with me.” She smiled at him and winked with the eye that still wasn’t there.
The little girl started bawling and the witch backhanded her in an offhanded way and she went flying across the room to land in a heap. She wasn’t crying anymore. The little girl’s neck seemed to be at an unnatural angle as she lay there.
“Shut up already!” the witch walked over and grabbed the little girl’s left leg and tore the pajamas apart at the seam to reveal her naked leg. She pulled the little girl’s foot out and bit into it, crunching down hard. The witch pulled back from the girl’s foot and Mitch saw it was minus a big toe now. The witch continued to chew it. To Mitch it sounded like she was eating an ice cube. She made a final gulping noise then convulsed a little like she had done before and then fell silent, standing up right with her head down once again. It shouldn’t be too long now since this was the last piece. So he waited like he knew he had to.

11: 55 pm Oct 31st:

“What time is it?” her head snapped up suddenly from resting on her chest.

“11:55…you were out longer than I expected.” Mitch looked at her closely.
“Your eye..it’s still missing.” Mitch said

“I need one final piece to complete the spell and you have the piece I need.” She moved toward him.

Mitch backed up a step from her. “I thought you only did women?”

“I’ve had your piece picked out for quite some time Mitch. You will complete the spell and I will live for another thirty-three years in this body, perfect and beautiful just as before. So let me have your eye, your lovely right eye calls to me to eat it. I will be whole again. I compel you to come to me. I do not need to chase you Mitch. Come to me. Now. ” she hissed at him through bared teeth.

11:57 pm Oct 31st:

Mitch felt her inside of him pushing him, tugging him towards her. His feet moved towards under some other power but his own.

“NO! I’m not giving you the satisfaction bitch!” Mitch punched his fingers into his right eye cavity and violently grabbed it with his fingers and yanked at his eye as hard as he could. A blinding explosion filled his brain and white hot pain stabbed the back of his head.

He fought to stay conscious as he pulled out his eye completely and stuffed into his mouth. Hit bit into it and chewed furiously. He tasted a sweet warm gelatinous liquid fill his mouth. He swallowed, feeling the bits and pieces slide down his throat. Through all the pain he looked triumphantly over to the witch with an evil smirk.

“What are you gonna do now bitch? Times up.”

11:59 pm Oct 31st:

“Oh, did I say the right eye I meant the left.” She smiled at him.

“Shit.” Mitch simply said.

She came at him and all went dark.

By Philip Wardlow

http://philipwardlow.com/

5 responses to “2nd Place for The Crimson Skull Short Story Contest: Witch Hunt by Philip Wardlow

  1. Thanks for the opportunity to showcase my stuff on your great site…hope to be submitting more to you in the future..take care.. also congrats to all the other winners who were part of this contest as well…keep on being gruesome and bloody..:)

  2. Pingback: Crimson Skull Contest Results are Finally Fully Officially In! « Ain't no rest for the wicked – Philip Wardlow

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