Witching Hour

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Cold Reality, Bitter Reasons

Monday morning. Actual. Morning... Samantha glared at her cell, at the time it dared to ring for. Turned out the her from the night before couldn’t tell the difference between A.M. and P.M. She got home not even an hour before, and now, here it was, ruining the nice nap she had collapsed into.

She set the proper alarm then returned to her slumber- only to be awoken thirty minutes later. That time she did throw her phone, saying some choice words before exclaiming and welcoming a silver cradle around her left hand, housing the CUSHIONED device. She was a bit more preemptive this time, and turned off ALL FORTY-SEVEN OTHER ALARMS.

Fuck you, Lola, she thought, grumbling as she swiped each one out of existence –which only grew harder. It took minutes in between, and where minutes mattered the alarms were coming in seconds. Hell hath no fury like a woman’s phone tampered, and, as she finished the last right before her true alarm, her best course of action to get back to sleep was to use the last bit of metal still on her hand to make her TRULY relaxed.

She turned her alarm off as soon as it rang, and wormed her way to the bathroom. The blood was so warm, and she needed a brisk refresher. Her nips perked under the frigid downpour, pressing hard into the bottom of the shower, but at least her head was cleared. For the most part. It took another glass of ibuprofen with a touch of orange juice to allow it to stop throbbing. The whining didn’t help, either. Never did, yet she kept doing it anyways. Not as much as the lovely prison, but every day that passed it was becoming synonymous. Almost symbiotic... No. Knowing her luck, it would be parasitic.

That whine was always the clearest after those nights, as were her own, but she wouldn’t give it up for anything... the... the drinking. If she could be rid of the whine AND still drink- but it wasn’t the time for fairy tales. It wasn’t even the time for porn, though, if things went properly next time, she wouldn’t need those anymore, either.

She sighed, thinking of that dashing elf, and chose the sapphire top in his memory. How was it for him? Because she could imagine it twinkling as he confessed his feelings and then being tossed across an ever-brightening horizon as he took her in his arms and- tucked so neatly into her dark dress pants. She was not in the mood to deal with those thoughts at the moment. Let alone stockings. Especially after last week. She forsook the jacket, but this morning she was already sporting a lovely metal glove on her left hand. A remnant from the night before.

How she glowered at it, grimaced as the silver took its sweet time to recede, reminding her of why, and whom, woke her up so early. It wasn’t only her that sabotaged her rest. No... there was another at play, one that pilfered her mini fridge when she was gone... And never left. To be fair, she really should have noticed when she first came in and felt the soft down under her, but Samantha hoped, and prayed, a certain harpy was walking on egg shells the rest of the day. Especially when she left the mini fridge standing open.

“At least it was empty,” she said in her defense. Which only made it that much more entertaining to watch her flap her way down the hall, away from the surging sea of metal in her wake. Oh, even thinking about it now made the walls around her creak... and the metal thicken on her hand.

Samantha sighed, and calmed herself, slipping on her black loafers and finally heading for the door.

Finding the lovely harpy outside. So much for that plan.

Her hand was raised to knock on the metal, but the scratches on the ground before it showed she was there for a while. Marcy’s cheeks burned bright, paling a touch seeing the metal still clinging on Samantha’s hand, too slow in stowing it in her pocket.

“H-hi, teach,” Marcy said, trying to cover up her panic with a chuckle, yet her fear still shone so bright, brighter even than her (quivering) smile. “Just wanted to check on you this morning-”

“It’s my fault,” Samantha blurted, grimacing as she looked at the stairs beyond her. “I overreacted this morning, and it’s not like it isn’t restocked constantly... but only when the door is shut.”

Marcy giggled. Reflexively. Good; if it was purposeful, Samantha would have had no qualms reawakening those steely spines behind. However, it was an accident, a defensive act, and her reaction to her action was priceless. She looked even more flustered, more nervous.

“Yeah...” She drawled- and a squawk slipped. Her wings ruffled, pulling her up a foot off the ground while loosing a small veil of those pinions... but settled back down, giggling more. “S-s-sorry about that. I didn’t mean to pass out, but I got into watching stuff on your laptop, got into a giggly fit-”

And the joy was gone. The metal started to quiver as Samantha glared into her forehead.

“You did what now?” She whispered.

“I... was watching stuff on your laptop?”

“What kind of stuff?”

“Nothing porn related, I assure you... I just went on Youtube. Whatever you do, don’t look at the hist-”

Her words fell on deaf ears as the metal around her rose and made the loveliest birdcage. Samantha, meanwhile, stormed back into her room and to her desk. She wrenched open the computer on it –still on, and not even in sleep mode. She clicked the browser, went to the website, and checked... her... history...

“Why were you looking up snakes,” she asked, cheeks growing hotter as she continued to scroll down. “More importantly, why were you looking up ways to charm snakes, snake anatomy, and snake mating rituals?” She would have peeked out of the door, but the yellow lines attached to her wrist (welcoming the new layer of silver) drew it in. “Well?”

“C...can... secret-” She shook her head- and squawked again. “Sorry! That happens when I- can you keep a secret or not!”

“It depends... Are you going to nail him in my bedroom?”

“N-no! Of course not... Yeesh... Well, maybe we’ll make out and get hot and heavy, but we won’t do it until we’re married.”

“I don’t like the sound of any of that.”

“I told you! Mama raised me old-fashioned. I won’t have sex until I’m married... or until we are engaged... or promised to each other.”

“Uh-huh.” She shook her head, clearing her history, and shut down her computer proper. Hopefully that was ALL she did... Better not go search later and get nothing but Vore with giant sn- She really didn’t want that kind of thinking that morning, yet her mind, her mind! “Look. I think he is an absolute pig, a complete horn dog, and a lying hypocrite. The moment I met him, he threw on this big show about not truly belonging here and slung a pile of bullshit so large it most likely came from Minos’ septic tank-”

There was a sneeze outside... Samantha rolled her eyes, and a very girly yelp followed metal shrieking and echoing through the hall... As it subsided, so too did the birdcage, the metal caked up to her elbows, keeping her from rolling her wrist to the harpy.

“But, if you want to try your luck, if you think you can make a leopard change his spots... go for it. I am your teacher, not your mom, and only somewhat your friend.”

“Somewhat?”

“Be thankful for that after you froze me out this morning AND drank all my wine-coolers. When I wasn’t even here... Tell you what. This weekend, it’ll be you and me.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. I think the witches can do without me for at least a week.”

Marcy cheered. And hugged Samantha, bouncing her as she seemed to dance in place. Squawking and giggling away.

“Thanks, Sam- oh! Maybe we can make it like a double date. I can bring Junmei, and you can ask Min-”

“Just. Us. Thank you.”

Marcy poked her nose, giggling (and squawking still) as she clucked her tongue.

“You know, if you keep playing hard to get-”

“He might get the hint?”

“Oh, he’s already got the hint.”

“Then why does he keep trying!”

“You know very well why... but he is going to tear you a new one once he finally does.”

“And can you imagine the sounds that will echo through the hall if that happens –if? Not saying it will. Just a hypothetical... yes.”

Marcy tittered, and rubbed Samantha’s head.

“Silly Sam... Well, see you in class.”

She skipped down the steps, humming away, cut with one, last squawk, and Samantha heaved a weary sigh. As much as she wanted to argue, it’s not like it didn’t cross her mind. A bit too often, in fact (especially now)... but... Her cheeks warmed a bit, remembering the mustachioed man from yesterday AGAIN. Hopefully it was more than his ears that were long and pointed, but she would give that Pringle porn ’stache a ride it would never forget. She shuddered, panting, her thighs quivering, remember how Ron’s tickled down there so long ago-

But was quick to sober up. The pleasure turned to revulsion, fading, returning her to that the beach. With him, and another woman on his face as she arched and lapped at his thick, ivory rod.

Samantha shook her head, and she was back in that jail. She pulled out her hand. The metal still clung, wind bristling around it, wanting, needing at least the first set of knuckles freed from that steely prison, but it took its time as she lumbered down the steps and into the classroom. She tried to wait it out as long as she could, watching her phone, languishing as it meandered in its melting. As it crept ever closer to nine, she had no choice. She needed to jot down notes with her right hand –a misadventure of its own. At best. At least it wasn’t a complete travesty, but that’s because she was sober. And irritated- Back to normal.

Through the squiggles it could conjure, through the lines and ladders it tried to climb, she was able to create one bit of text. That could be classified as mildly illegible on the board. Even that was smeared as she stumbled a bit by the door crashing open. She threw the marker at it, crashing against Minos, and plopped in her chair behind the podium.

“Thanks a lot,” she grumbled, once more looking at her hand.

Minos simply chortled as he bent down for the marker, and sauntered over to her. He looked at the board along the way, confused by the weird, primitive, if not arcane language she tried to conjure... before his face split into a wide smile.

“Improv,” he asked, and uncapped the marker.

“No. Just waiting for my hand to work,” she said, but doubted he was listening at all, too busy drawing... whatever it- “Are you drawing tits on my white board!”

“Nonsense! What do you take me for, some kind of immature cretin?” Even as he was saying it, he was adding the finishing touches on the perfect pinpricks of nips on the pair of burgeoning bosoms. However, he did not stop there, drawing the tip of a phallus peeking out between. It was “gooey” on that tip as a long line shot up to a face not yet made. He looked back at her, tongue sticking out as he held his thumb before him, and drew the face... as crude as he could, but made sure it was coated in more of the sticky mess before he worked lower.

Samantha rolled her eyes, and held up her left hand. The silver digits were almost out, with only the smallest bit left on the finger nails, while the back of her hand was completely freed.

“You see this? Do you see how much metal is left? I’m not afraid to give you a nice slap if you don’t stop and take your seat.”

Minos chuckled, and sniffed, continuing with his-

All joy- warmth- mirth fled from his face. He put down the marker- slammed it down, and grabbed her hand, still snuffling away, panting.

Growling.

He pulled her to her feet, gripping her hand harder, and continued to snort as he sniffed at it. His eyes glowed with an eerie light, looking down into hers, finding she couldn’t breathe under their weight.

“Who touched you?” He whispered, the coldness, the malice in- “Hey! Who touched you?” He bellowed that time, his voice rumbling through the room and down the hall. “Who is this!”

“O-ow!” Samantha finally managed to exclaim, breathing hard and fast. “Stop! Minos, you’re hurt-”

He threw her against the podium. It screeched, toppling over, but he had grabbed her before she could fall. The smallest bit of compassion, of worry shined through before the light took over again. He threw her on the table. His horns scraped on either side of her head, holding down her arms, and forced her to look into his red eyes, burning bright, reflecting her in those scorching pyres.

“You dare let such... filth touch you!” He said, braying in between.

“Minos,” she whispered. Tears wavered in her vision. Her mind raced, trying to find words, understanding in all of this, but she couldn’t remain silent. Every passing breath made those horns dig harder into the table, starting to screech as they bore through the metal. “I-I-I don’t know what y-you-”

He brayed again, and his hooves clacked on the floor. Before the right slammed into the whiteboard. It cracked, sending long lines weaving through it. A part of it fell to the ground, echoing down the hall after his growling breaths.

“Don’t lie to me!” He wrenched up her left hand, teeth gritted. “I can smell it.”

“W-wh-” Wait. Could it be Mahna? But that w- “Minos, it’s not what you think! It was just someone being flirty. They kissed my hand. That’s all.”

“Who!” He bellowed. Blood trickled through her hair where his horns scraped by, sparking on the metal b-

“Get off of her!”

He reeled back, bellowing as he clawed and wrenched at his back.

At Norman, hanging on his shoulders.

“Get off me!” Minos boomed, and slammed him back into the white board. Thrice, braying each time.

“This isn’t you, Minos!” Norman shrieked, wincing, but he held on for dear life, as best as he could.

Not good enough.

Minos bellowed again as he tossed Norman across the room. Norman screamed the entire way, seeming only to grow louder as he flew. Until he hit the back wall. Minos wasn’t done, though. He freed Samantha, who wasted no time rolling off onto the ground. Even that was a bit too slow, the slab she was on scraping against as the table shattered in his charge. Desks clattered aside, left in a heap as Minos was but a ram of fury and muscle. Even more as he missed his target.

Norman stood, shaking, leaning in the back left corner, ad held out his hand.

“Calm down, Minos!” He said, pleading. “You’re hurting us!”

His words fell on deaf ears, though, as Minos roared. He charged at Norman. His horns shrieked and sparked as they pierced the metal on either side, but Norman had ducked under, heading for the door.

Hit by a desk.

Minos lumbered up to him. Nothing else could be seen in his eyes but that rage. Even his irises disappeared into that sea of red, a... a monster by all rights.

He grabbed Norman’s leg, and it made a sickening noise. It even cracked as he gripped it in both hands, then twisted and brought it down over his knee. It was Norman’s scream that froze the blood in Samantha’s chest, that forced her to sit there and watch as Minos slammed him into the desks around then against the wall. He even clipped him on the projector, sparking as it swung, loosed, but Minos soon grew tired of him, slinging him across the room again.

Norman hit what was left of the white board and fell into a heap by Samantha, bringing with him the rest of that display, her notes and those giant tits drawn by Minos. The real Minos. Not this beast.

But Norman didn’t stay down.

He stood, his “good” leg creaking. Tears streamed down his face, but he moved in between Minos and Samantha again. He was her shield against a minotaur that wanted her dead. A monster that truly wanted- no, needed to kill her.

And that knew that there was nothing that could truly stand in his way.

He was going to kill her.

“Please, Minos!” Norman cried out. “Come back to us.”

Minos clomped his hoof, every muscle tensing, ready to leap... but held. The fire in those eyes fought and flickered, his breathing lost between grunts and snarls and bellows and cries.

All steadying as he saw movement.

Samantha tried to scramble towards the door. Her heart raced. She finally had a thought. It was only the one thought. Nothing else mattered, but it:

Run.

Her blood froze again, freezing the gulp of air in her throat, feeling Minos’s ire on her again as he let out a loud bellow. The loudest one yet. She looked over her shoulder, and screamed, watching as Minos charged and bore down upon her.

Norman leaped onto his head. He reached for his neck-

But the minotaur was in no mood. Not anymore.

He didn’t even hesitate. He wrenched Norman off and slammed him against the wall, palm flat on the poor boy’s chest. Norman still wasn’t done and wrenched at his shoulder, squeezing, clawing at it. But he didn’t relent, no matter how many times Minos bellowed and brayed and kneed and punched. Neither one stopped, either, until all that could be heard was soft gurgling.

Minos let Norman go, but he still stayed in the wall, the metal cratered around him. But his focus was on Samantha again.

Snorting as Norman grabbed his shoulder.

He wheezed, shaking his head, closing his eyes as Minos lowered his head, aiming his horns for his middle.

Stopped by Peter.

He held onto the right horn so tight, cracking under his hand, and forced Minos to his knees.

“That’s Norman, Minos,” he said. He actually, finally spoke. His voice was deep, rolling, like a mighty clap of thunder through the mountains. Just like that thunder, it was so calm, serene, and soothed the savage beast at last. “He’s our little brother. Remember that.”

Minos... gulped, and the fire in his eyes finally were squelched, crying.

“Norman!” He called out, and pulled him out of the wall, cradling him. “No! Norman... hold on, little buddy.” He gulped hard, sniffling, and looked towards Samantha, growling again- quieted by Peter’s grip. He didn’t let up until Minos put Norman down and rose to his feet, guided out the room. “I’m sorry, Sam. I’m so sorry!”

Peter didn’t let go until he was in between him and Samantha, and “watched” after until he was around the corner. He gave Samantha a look she could only take as disapproval, pure disappointment, even though it was little more than a frown and a shake of his head before leaving. But Samantha knew it. She was disappointed enough in herself.

She was finally able to move, the breath melted in her throat, allowing her to scream again as she pulled Norman into her arms. It was a wonder he could stand at all the last time. His spine was bent and broken in so many ways, some of it little more than jelly, yet it had suffered the least. The rest of him was just... there, but he still smiled up at her. Blood gurgled from his lips as he looked into her eyes, his purples slowly fading.

“Hold on, Norman,” she whispered, shuddering, sniffling. “Just hold on.”

He... he reached o... out and touched her cheek, smiling sadly.

“I s-sa-” He managed to say.

“You did. You did, Norman. You’re my hero, now hold on. I can’t let my hero die, can I?”

He tried to say something else, but his voice wouldn’t come. As she watched, the light faded even faster, giving into a f-

“No! Norman! Don’t give up! Please! I’m sorry. I... I was weak. I was a coward. You shouldn’t die for me, so hold on. Let me save you.” She laid him down in the folds of her legs, and pressed her hands on him. The metal once more rose, stopping the wind behind, the soft green that wished to wash over him, into him, raising to shrieking heights yet stopped by it. Dammit! Please! It’s for a good cause!

But, no matter how much she pushed, it would not touch him. Tears splashed on his face, making him jerk, but it was slowing, as was his bre-

“Wish it.”

Samantha looked up.

Ayn was standing over them. Her arms were crossed, scowling not of anger but worry at the two.

“He is a lust demon,” she said. “Tell him what you want, what you wish for.”

“That’s what I have been doing, isn’t it?”

“You have to be specific. You have to say you wish for him to live.”

“But he just heard you say it!”

“He’s focused on you right now, and, unless you’re quick, that window is closing fast. You have to say it... Hurry!”

She sniffled, and gripped his hand.

“Norman... I wish for you to live. I wish for you to be here with me. I

wish... I wish you were still around to save me. Please?”

He coughed, making her wonder if he had heard her at all. If she was too l-

His eyes snapped open.

The purples were replaced by black coals, smoldering, frothing with blue fire. His skin cracked and crackled and allowed the flames through. The room dimmed. And creaked as he rose, as if his very presence terrified them. As it terrified Samantha. As soon as those flames shone through, a cold stone dropped into her stomach, and a sharp jolt went up and down her spine, holding her in place.

The blue flames gathered behind him, their centers burning white hot, and molded into a pair of skeletal wings, matching the skull wrapping around his face. It was no human skull, and could only be described as Death, Itself. It thinned and melted into his. And he gasped, looking at her. Tears streamed down his face, burning white as they trickled to his arms, legs, and down his back, burning away the bruises, the pain, the suffering he had endured for her all while his bones cracked and splintered and reformed, straightening under his jiggling form.

“Wish granted,” he said. It was little more than a whisper, but it boomed in the Halls, reverberating as it turned into a shriek. The wind seemed to ripple... yet stand still at the same time. He touched back down, took a step, smiling at her... and collapsed into her embrace. Snoring.

Ayn picked him up, frowning, caressing his cheek a moment before spinning around.

“I’ll take him to his room,” she said. “I take it class is canceled today.”

Samantha would have answered, but the last of the table crumbled, leaving her to clean it up... as well as replace the desks and try and fix the podium, all little more than a heap of scrap. Time and again she had to tell the students that arrived the same story, that class was canceled due to reasons, that the blood was there for reasons. It never got any easier, weighing so much on her heart. Junmei and Bella had offered to help, but she refused it. She refused for others to pay for her sin.

The last student she had to tell was Marcy, who perched herself on the table Samantha once was pinned to. She arrived late, everything pretty much fixed save for the back wall. Samantha was reduced to one arm by this point, and even her right was starting to feel too heavy to use. That silver mocked her, so pure, innocent, naive to the bloodbath around, to the sorrow that still held.

“That’s... romantic,” Marcy said.

“I’m going to pretend you didn’t say that,” she grumbled, and winced. Her forearm shook, creaked so much trying to keep that metal end high, polishing out the last dent.

“But it is. He was so... uproarious about the fact another man had touched you. You, his lover-”

She spun, and slung her hand towards the harpy. If she had been but a step closer, it would have met her mark. Instead, she had to push down all the fingers but her index, the end smoldering, matching the hatred in her glare.

“Never say that again,” she whispered, hoarse. “Ever... and he couldn’t have cared less about me. There was something about the smell that was infuriating him. What, though, I don’t know.”

“It was another guy. Isn’t that simple enough? Proof enough? He loves you.” She sighed, and hugged her chest, smiling so. She pointed to the blood on the front wall. “Look! He was willing to kill for you, t-”

“You need to leave. Now.”

She did, skipping out of the room... and Samantha slid down the back wall, sobbing. She hugged her stomach, trying so hard to still it as well as her shakes. For the first time since she’s been here, she felt true terror, and finally understood that this place existed for a reason: To house the worst himan had to offer for the sake of everyone. These... these... monsters were not meant to be free, to be interacted with.

Yet that’s exactly what Lilith condemned her to.

“She wants me dead,” she croaked... and laughed, a bitter sound. “She sent me here to die.”

The words echoed, hollow in her mind. Her neck was unable to hold it anymore, and her head fell forward, looking at herself in her silvered hands. How they finally tasted blood, dripping from her head, pattering like tears.

There was a knock at her door, and Lilith entered, walking- WALTZING into her kitchen. She sat at the bar, her heels clacked so loud on the tile the entire, so slow, so prominent, and clasped her hands on the marble, looking at Samantha across. The metal that had engulfed her earlier was gone, but her eyes still held its gleam, glaring at the succubus before her, her tormentor. Her executioner.

As much as Lilith probably would have loved to let that silence smolder and thicken, she sucked on her teeth and shook her head.

“I heard what happened today,” she said. “Your student, Norman, gave the whole story.” She grabbed Samantha’s left hand. “So who did kiss you?”

“Mahna. The clerk at the store in town,” she said, grimacing, her throat so dry.

Lilith mouthed an “ah”, and let her go, crossing her hands again.

“That makes sense... In the future, I think it best if you avoided him.”

“But it wasn’t his fau-”

“I know, but it’s for the best... For now, I’m letting you off with a warning-”

Samantha slammed her hand into the marble bar, and shook her head. She could no longer able to hide the... the disgust, her hatred.

“Oh, how merciful of you!” She shrieked. “How kind. Thank you, mistress, but maybe I’d prefer if you bent me over and fucked me in the ass proper!”

Lilith simply blinked –ALSO slow, ALSO PROMINENT. SO FUCKING PERFECT. “Pardon?”

“Quit beating around the bush.” She leaned over the table, fresh tears beading in her puffy, bloodshot eyes. “Quit feeding me bullshit. You simply sent me down here to die, to kill me off, because my mom left you for my sake.”

She sighed, shook her head, ALL SO FUCKING PERFECTED, and stood. “Now is not the time for this.”

“I think otherwise. Now is the perfect time. Today captured that perfectly. You’re jealous, aren’t you, or is it pure spite? Love scorned? How deep does your jealousy run, succubus?”

“Deeper than you will ever know... but that does not relate to this. Your mother was... a passing fling. I knew she would leave me, knew we weren’t meant to be... so no. You aren’t down here for that.”

“Then why am I here? Why are you doing this to me?”

… She didn’t answer. She simply left, leaving Samantha in that kitchen, in that small room in that small cell in that small path under the Academy, so easily forgotten.

So easily buried away. Forgotten.

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