Witching Hour

All Rights Reserved ©

Why not Call it Movie Club?

With the test week finished, the Black Halls returned to the humdrum tedium they knew as bliss. Every day felt like a rewind of the day before, preparing for the next test come the following month only to review and prepare for the test after that. So of course that meant the week dragged, crawled, nigh limped to its end. Of course it meant that it languished by with every second spent, by every bated breath in that undercroft, waiting for the end to come, counting down every. Last. Minute on Samantha’s cell.

Even with art class, with music, it became something beyond dull. To call it even that would have been an insult to the word. At least dull had a purpose; you could still bludgeon someone with a dull instrument, after all. So what do you call something that can’t even do that? No. Nothing truly changed in those halls, the sounds, the moans and groans simply in different assortments with each event or every moment down there.

However, Saturday did come. And everyone was in far brighter spirits.

Samantha hummed, socks swishing against the metal as she walked down the hall to Buffy’s, console in hand. She was dying to go after the blasted shovel chin again, to show him whatfor. She found herself practicing in her spare time, procrastinating from doing her next teaching aid to spar with ole chinberg, and she felt like she could take him on quite handily now. As was stated, even a dull instrument could be impactful, and she found solace in one of the most blunt items one could get in the game. And made a slew of them. Her favorites were those simply of a monster’s head on a stick. It felt so... so right to hit a motherfucker with another motherfucker.

She raised her hand to knock- but Buffy opened it. In nice attire –well, nicer, considering she only ever saw her either nude or in throw-ons. Her black hair, once a bird’s nest, was combed back and was flared at its tips. They were highlighted as well, those cream spikes clashing with her red and blue feathers.

“Oh. Sam,” she said, looking down at the console in her hands, and blushed. “Sorry. I have... plans today.”

“With who,” Samantha asked, feeling a touch guilty for the shock in her voice. She cleared her throat, but, considering the fire in the poor lass’s cheeks, she knew she would have to egg her on. “Well?” She giggled, nudging Buffy’s arm. “Come on. We’re friends, aren’t we?”

“We are?”

“O-of course we are!”

Buffy tittered, smiling a little. “Good... good.”

Samantha cleared her throat again, continuing to nudge the poor girl. “So... who is it?”

The haryp’s cheeks flushed a bit deeper, and she couldn’t hold back her smile any longer, breaking wide as she looked down at her hands.

“Promise you won’t laugh?”

“Why would I laugh?”

“Well... y-you know m-”

“Just say it. The longer you take, the more you are making this special someone wa-”

“Junmei, and it’s not like that –at least, I don’t think he thinks it is.” She sighed, her smile fading as she looked back up at Samantha. “I... I failed so bad on that test. I was hoping to get some... well... tutoring.”

“So that’s what you kids call it nowadays... and you didn’t do that bad. You got a B. Plus.”

“When I should have gotten an A. I was never bad at Maths-”

“When you were a computer elite, right?”

She opened her mouth, but stopped. She glowered at Samantha, realizing that she got caught in her own trap. Buffy pushed her aside, and headed for Junmei’s, leaving Samantha to simply shake her head after, chuckling. Cut short seeing Minos peeking from his door. What she wouldn’t have done to have one of her hammers right then and there.

She rolled her eyes, and her socks made such sweet thumps over to Jack’s. She felt Minos’ eyes following her. As always. However, they didn’t have the same... hunger, the same lustful presence. Instead, it was that sickening feeling of pity, of feeling sorry for himself and thinking he was the victim- that added a bit too much weight to her knock on Jack’s. The dragon hissed on her hand, but settled as the fang answered the door. Along with the classic rock behind. It slammed into her, through him, reverberating those walls, muffled as he stepped out, sneering at her.

He saw the game, and shook his head as he hooked a thumb to his sound system, changing to another song.

“Not today,” he said. “Chilling.”

“Okay. Sorry.” He began to close the door- and she held up her hand, grabbing his shoulder. “Wait. I never took you for a Stones fan.”

He scoffed, shrugging her off... but turned back to her, cocking his brow. “Really? I love the Stones. Even had a bit of time with them back when they toured.”

“Really?”

“Yeah! Freddie loved me. I was his ‘Mr. Fahrenheit’. He even wrote a song about me.”

“R-really? Wow! I love that song.”

“Yeah... yeah... it’s a good song, but I will always love Bohemian Rhapsody the most. It’s what drew me to him originally.” He sighed... almost dreamily, a tear sparkling in his eye. “Oh, Mercury. You were taken before your time... What are you still doing here? Go. Shoo! Go play with Minos or something.”

He shut the door, though far lighter than she expected, and Samantha jumped hearing someone clear their throat behind. But it was no surprise who it was, given the stench of self-pity that had grown. She slowly turned, and saw Minos rubbing his head –the one with the horns. The other pushed through satin pants, which were no doubt a gift from Monica. She doubted he would naturally be in that shade of pink. The material seemed so thin, yet it was thick enough to hide most of his member, even as it throbbed and sent waves through it. Resting on her shoulder.

She scoffed, pushing him away, and his already ware smile faded away into a frown. He looked like he had something to say, but not only did Samantha not want to hear it but his favorite cock sleeve just arrived. Monica flung herself into his arms, completely nude... and had a familiar blue dildo in her left hand.

“Hey, baby,” she said, and kissed him, rubbing his horn. “I told you I was on my way... Oh, hey teach! How are you today?”

“I’m living,” Samantha said, keeping her tone at least somewhat amicable. She almost slipped, though, when she nodded to Minos. “So what are you two lovebirds up to today?”

Monica giggled, squeezing Minos’s horn harder. His face was flushed, beading with sweat. Hers, though, was smeared in it, as well as... other liquids. Almost snow white under the light, whiter than her fair skin. However, her giggling turned to her own kind of disgust, rolling her eyes as she scoffed.

“Lovebirds?” She said. “You’ve been hanging with Marcy too long. We’re only using each other to fuck. I need the practice, and he definitely needs it. You know how hard it is for him to put it in from behind? You would think he was a virgin with how he fumbles. Let me tell ya, teach: the size of the meat doesn’t matter if the man behind it doesn’t know how to u-” Minos snorted, which made Monica laugh even more. “Sorry. Was I rubbing too hard.”

The wrong way, more likely, Samantha thought, and happened to catch a glimpse into Minos’ eyes. She could have sworn he thought the same exact thing at that moment, as both of them smirked... only to scowl again, looking away.

“Well, don’t let me stop you two from having your fun,” Samantha said. “It’s the weekend; go get fucked silly.”

“Yes, ma’am!” Monica boomed, and tugged on two out of three of Minos’ handles. The other horn bobbed away, continuing to send ripples through the pink sea as she dragged him back to his room. Minos looked back as best he could, begging, pleading with his eyes, but Samantha simply ignored as she headed to her own chambers. She slammed the door behind, the metal shrieking, spiking after, returning to its normal shape as she plopped into her desk chair and pulled open the mini fridge-

Handing one to Marcy as she fluttered in. On cue.

She landed on the bed and sighed as she twisted the top off. Samantha pulled out three others then closed it. But it wouldn’t stay shut for long. Samantha counted to ten, rolled her wrist to the mini fridge, and opened it again. Refilled. Marcy simply tittered as she downed her first wine cooler and took the second, opened together with Samantha’s first. They chugged them, sighing in harmony.

“When in doubt-” Marcy began.

“Blame fucking magic,” Samantha grumbled.

“Fucking magic? Ooh! That sounds fun. How would it work, exactly?”

“Same way as regular magic, but for smart asses.”

“What separates a smart ass from a dumb one? Is there a magic dildo that decides which is which? Does it drill smarter asses harder?”

“I wouldn’t know. The one dildo I had was taken by Monica.” She took a deep swig from her bottle, and shuddered. “Gods know what she and Minos are doing with it now.”

Marcy cooed, wagging her bottle at Samantha. “And what do you think they are doing right now?”

“I don’t really care.”

“Not even for Minos?”

“What about that fuck head?”

Marcy blinked, and took another drink. “Wait. So you guys really aren’t... you know...”

“Did you see Monica? No, and, to clarify, fuck no! I ain’t taking her sloppy seconds, nor should he really expect me to. Sounds like he’s shit in the sack, anyways, so he doesn’t have looks, he doesn’t have brains, he doesn’t have a fucking worthwhile personality, and he doesn’t even have any use.” She raised the bottle to her lips again, but exclaimed, growling as the glass shattered. “Dammit!”

“Oh my god,” Marcy said, jumping to her feet... though wobbling a touch. “Do you need me to go get some bandages or something?”

Samantha shook her head, and opened her hand. Glass tinkled out of her palm, sliding gracefully from the metal that had grown there, a metallic fold of the dragon’s wing. Some of the glass seemed to sing as it was pushed off by the soft winds roaring under, but died down as it pulled it back in, resting once more.

“Just the broom.” Samantha stated, but Marcy already went to retrieve it from the kitchen, as well as the dust pan. The harpy held pan as Samantha swept it in, though it took more time as she shook, trying hard not to let the anger through –more. Marcy took the glass to the kitchen, dumped it in the trash can, and returned, opening her third bottle as Samantha opened her second.

“Well,” Marcy mulled, taking a drink. She crossed her legs on Samantha’s bed, rocking gently back and forth, humming softly as Samantha waited for her to continue, wanting a reason to be angry. “You know... it is Monica... You did say in class to keep him c-”

And there it was.

Samantha leaned forward. Wind poured from her index, the metal trying to keep after, aimed directly between Marcy’s eyes. The dragon rose from her thumb, and swooped around the room, hissing as its whole body drew the metal, growing as the wind only grew stronger.

“Don’t turn this around on me,” she whispered, booming on the zephyrs slung towards the harpy, tearing off feathers... settling as she took another drink. The dragon returned to her hand, far too large at the moment to snuggle back on her thumb, so it simply sat on the back of it, glaring at Marcy. “And, even then, I had NO interest in him.”

“I mean, whatever you say...”

“What was that?”

Marcy gave a small burp, giggling as she opened another bottle. A few drops dribbled onto her shirt. That silk top ended just before her belly button, freshly studded with a pink gem –it seemed pink was coming back in a big way. Her waist was taken care of by a pair of shorts, though they had seen better days. They were splitting down the sides, torn apart by her feathers, even more as she uncrossed her legs.

“Oh please. You totally have the hots for him,” Marcy said, hiccuping, and groaned as the very article that was on life support finally pulled the plug. She gathered the torn bits of her shorts before her, glowering down at the fabric that decided then and there to give up on her. “Oops. Oh my.”

Samantha, though, wasn’t paying attention to what had transpired then and there. She was already seeing red, her vision narrowed to cross-hairs, aimed for Marcy’s smart mouth. The dragon growled, and she swore it had turned gold from the sheer amount of yellow pulsing into its form. So much so that lightning crackled on its maw.

“Y... you are so wr-” She managed to splutter out, but Marcy simply shook her head.

“Please. We all see it, you know. How your eyes long on those pecs, how you blushed when he forced you to the table; you want him bad, girl.”

“At one point, maybe. Maybe! Now? I couldn’t give an ass rat’s.”

Marcy cocked her head in the sudden declaration.

“‘Ass rat’s’? Don’t you m-”

Samantha continued, though, talking over the annoying wench. “I found someone, and he won’t, you know, try to kill me if he smells something he doesn’t like. He’s an actual gentleman, who cares about my needs and feelings, and, you know what, I bet he will be great in the sack.”

“Then who is it? If he is so great, you could at least tell me his name.”

“Yeah. What’s his name?” Ginger said, standing in the doorway.

“Why are you here?” Samantha shrieked, melting into the dragon’s as it took off from her hand, launching towards the skinwalker. “No. Wait!”

The dragon stopped short of raking Ginger’s face, but the lightning that had been churning on its maw had let loose... tingling against those rolls of fat. The first impact left a nice, cigarette hole, but the rest were small, red blots leading up to those sagging tits, kept in check by a blue sequin top this day FAR too small for the entirety.

Ginger, though, simply shrugged. As if the dragon was little more than a gnat.

“Just going with the motions,” she said. “Heard Marcy’s door slam open, came up to see. Where’s Monica?”

“Banging Minos,” Marcy declared. And Ginger huffed.

“Huh. Really? I thought he wanted Sam-”

“His name is Mahna!” Samantha blurted... though was now a bit embarrassed, trying to recall his last name. “It was Mahna... something or another.”

Marcy almost spit out her drink while Ginger full-on guffawed.

“Hah!” Marcy exclaimed, shaking her head... and eyed the dragon as it settled on her shoulder. The metal behind it, the wall groaned, lurching, slithering out to join its every-growing form. Now that it was opposite of her, Samantha could see it had taken on a bit more coloring than just gold. Its chest had gained a teal hue, while its legs, its beak, its arms were a cobalt... Marcy took another drink, and even tried to offer some to the dragon –which simply hissed at her. “Alrighty. Have it your way... With all of that boasting, though Sam, all of that bragging, you don’t even remember his last name. Heck, does the guy even exist?”

“He does, at least. I smelled him,” Ginger said, and sighed, almost wistfully. “It’s a strong musk, a mature scent.”

“It’s foreign, okay?” Samantha said, hugging her legs. “It’s not as easy as-”

“Minos?” Marcy said.

“Seraphan?” Ginger added.

“That’s not even his real name!” Samantha exclaimed.

“No, but you keep calling him it,” Marcy said.

“For fear of being gored? Better believe it.” She stood... stumbling a step as she took Marcy’s and her empties to the kitchen and disposed of them. The air and metal warbled behind, and the dragon followed her... as did Marcy and Ginger. They whistled, trying to act inconspicuous, even going far as plopping stealthily on the stools as she looked over the tiny prep room. Their stomachs growled as Samantha pulled out corndogs and put them in the microwave... Which even the dragon was giving her a wanting look.

Samantha sighed, creasing her brow... but at least putting five on a plate in front of her hungry crowd. Not cooked, yet –at least, they weren’t until the dragon swooped down. Blue flames scorched the cornbread crust, and the room smelled of the meat inside as they steamed and popped. All the while the pair still gave her such smug looks.

“What?” Samantha grumbled.

“Swanky. Where did you get it?” Marcy said.

“The dragon? A ‘gift’ from Li- the witches.”

“I wish I had one. It’s so goshdarn cute! And helpful, when it’s not trying to tear or burn faces off... Also, this kitchen is nice. Mine isn’t anywhere near this.” She snatched up one of the corndogs, blowing it out, showing a nice, dark gold case. She took a huge bite, exposing the stick, but it was nothing compared to the ravaging Ginger gave to one of hers. It was as if the food and fire never existed, stick and all gone down that black hole of jagged yellow teeth and a black tongue. Completely out of the “girl’s” mouth... It reminded her of that one monster from a zombie movie, where the parasite matured enough to be its own body inside another and could “extend” itself out –which didn’t help her appetite any.

Her jaws snapped back into her mouth, molded back into the skin of the girl she wore, her green eyes once more glistening through the eye sockets where once was nothing but darkness... Marcy cleared her throat, rolling her wrist to Samantha.

“So, you have another date with Mr. No-last-name tomorrow?” She said.

“Nah. Going out with the witches. Would’ve gone out today, but they are back on a ‘normal schedule’... Seriously. What school runs on a six-day, twelve-hour time slot?”

“What school has halls saved for the damned?”

“What school has literal monsters running about?” Ginger said, the perfect example as she devoured another corndog. This time, she was a bit slow on the lower lip, splitting it in two as she reeled back in, showing off the dark flesh that lingered under.

“Touche,” Samantha said, trying to steady herself... she groaned, and leaned against the bar. “They’re going to bug the hell out of me about my date, though.”

“Uh, duh?” Marcy said. “They’re your coven, your family-”

“And have been hounding after this specific guy for a while!”

“Ooh... Your Judases? Judai? Judi?”

“Or maybe it is just Judas, like fish,” Ginger said.

“Well, that’s silly. Everyone knows it’s fishes.”

“It’s both, actually, though fishes became popular because of that one movie-”

“‘That one movie’. Really? Godfather.”

“I was always more a fan of Goodfellows.”

Goodfellows is only good for its one long continuous shot! The rest is a cliched heap that was made cliched by, guess what, the Godfather!

“Okay? I still preferred it. I’m not saying it’s bad; I’m simply saying I liked the other better.”

“And I’m telling you that’s wrong on so many levels.”

“If it’s wrong, I don’t want to be right.”

“Now you bust out that cliché? We are definitely watching more movies, if anything but to save your s-”

“I get it,” Samantha exclaimed, cutting in before it got even further off tangent; I’m surprised neither one of them is a Lopine. She sighed, and shook her head... jumping a bit as the dragon skittered to a halt on the bar beside her. It cocked its head at her... but she simply continued, “but I don’t think they would. They’ll just pester me until I don’t want to deal with it anymore.”

Marcy hummed, and ate the last corndog. The stick clacked away on the plate as she stood, and hugged Samantha.

“It’ll all be alright,” she said, and smacked both of her shoulders at once. “So which movies tonight, huh? We’ve got to do something about Ginge- wait. Weren’t you supposed to be hanging with Buffy today?”

“She’s... sick.” She lied. She didn’t want to cause a scene, and, if Buffy was right, they were only studying. Then again, who actually told the truth down here? “She’ll be better by tomorrow, though, so it won’t affect her work too much. Got to hand it to Lilith; she knows where to get the good... drugs...”

She eased Marcy aside, and looked through the door into her bedroom. Its door was open, as well. Just at the top of the landing, a row of blue could just be seen. Samantha hurried into the bedroom, and saw Peter was lumbering up the stairs... only to step down. He stepped up only to freeze and take a step back, shaking his head.

“Peter?” Samantha said, making him jump a touch on the metal, making it ring. “You okay? What’s up?Yes, Peter?”

“I,” he began, but cleared his throat, shaking his head as he started to turn around. “It’s nothing. Forgive m-”

“Wait! What is it, Peter? You’re here for a reason.”

“Yes... but... you have company. I don’t want to be a burden, not when you are enjoying your time with others.”

“Please. If you wish to spend a touch of time with teach, we’ll bail. For a touch,” Marcy said, and giggled as she flew over the steps. “I’ll be back with the movies!”

“And I’ll simply be back,” Ginger said, and excused herself, easing her way passed Peter as he finished lumbering up the stairs and into her room.

He simply stood there in the doorway, ‘looking’ down at her, and was visibly shaking. His eyes would jerk open at times, but there was no hunger in them, no dread that seeped into Samantha’s bones. Instead, it looked almost like worry. Anxiety.

Samantha shook her head, and gestured to her room.

“Uh, make yourself at home, Peter,” she said, and closed the door as he rushed into the kitchen. He sat in one of the stools, by the dragon, rapping his fingers against the bar with such abandon. And now, with it only being the two of them, she could hear he was breathing, fast, though trying to steady it. Samantha followed after, and sat in a stool across, creasing her hands. “Are you sure everything is all right?”

“N... no,” he said, and started to stand. “I shouldn’t be here. Forgive me for putting you at risk-”

“You aren’t, Peter... at least, I don’t think you are. You simply wanted to talk with your teacher.”

He sat again, nodding, and sighed. His breathing had settled as well, though he still looked so tense.

“You’re right. It is only a consultation with my mentor. Nothing too personal; strictly business.”

Samantha was... unsure how to feel about such... what was he doing? Why was he trying so hard to make this as impersonal as possible? Why did he feel the need to clarify it by speaking it aloud?

“I mean, if that’s how you want to see this-” She began, and jumped a little as he put both hands on the table, flat, paling a touch as they shook. The dragon hissed at him, and took to the air again, circling the kitchen.

“That is exactly how it is.” He stated. It was so cold, so curt... but not with anger. Nor offense.

“In that case, why are you here?

He cleared his throat, and clasped his hands.

“Well, it’s about my test. Or, rather, the fact you never came to discuss it.”

“I... I didn’t think we had reason, Peter. You had a perfect score.”

“That doesn’t mean anything! I can still improve.”

“How? How can you get above 100%?”

“I don’t know. 101? 110?” He blushed a little, and started to shake again. “It would have still been a kind- professional gesture if you did discuss with me about it. Possibly new ways to approach these issues, or how to best approach them.”

“I’m... afraid to say I wouldn’t know how to help in that situation.”

“Then we could brainstorm, Sam –you don’t mind me calling them Sam, do you?”

“Of course not? If that’s what your comfortable with-”

“Oh. Sorry. I wasn’t talking to you, Sam –of which I am very comfortable with calling my teacher, who teaches me and is a professional with no wants other than her- their job, Sam.”

“Okay, then... how would we brainstorm it?”

“I don’t know. Maybe it would start off with the matter at hand, run off-tangent, and we would have a eureka moment sometime during. The important point to note, though, is that it would be strictly always professional. And nothing else.” He heaved a heavy sigh, and stood. Standing far straighter than any other time before, as if the world had been lifted off his shoulders. He shook Samantha’s hand, smiling, far more warmth in his “eyes” than ever before. “Thank you so much, Sam. This has been a very productive meeting. We will have more discussions like this in the future.”

Samantha... could only look on, watching, completely baffled, as he left. She couldn’t even begin to put the pieces together of what had transpired... and was only shaken out of her stupor by Marcy, returned with videos and the projector. The harpy lead her into the room, and eased her down on the bed, her buzz lost to the buzzing in her brain from the lovely conversation she and Peter just had. There was a knock on her door, and Ginger joined, the night lost to cinematic fog. The dragon landed sometime during, returning to its restful state, and tugged softly on her thumb, assuring her that nothing has to make sense to make perfect sense.


“Okay. Spill it,” Lola said, pinching Samantha’s cheeks. It was Tanya’s turn to drive, just pulling out of the Academy’s parking lot. They were all in casual this night, little more than sweats, T’s, and slippers, heading to the cafe first before settling in at the apartments. Lola pinched “harder”, though it might as well have been a tickle, trying her best to sneer as she tittered tiredly. “Come on.”

“Q-quit it,” Samantha whined, pawing at her hands, “fighting” her off as she yawned. “I’ll t-tell I’ll tell. It was... nice. Quiet.”

“Eh? He doesn’t strike me as the type.”

“Did he ever try to touch you,” Bridget asked.

Samantha blushed, shaking her head. “Aside sneaking to my hand, which I beat him to i-”

“What a dork,” Lola exclaimed, and the others laughed at Samantha’s scoffing. “I expected someone a bit more wild and adventurous considering how flirty he is, but he sounds like a huge virgin.”

“So what? He’s cute,” Tanya said.

“Yeah, I guess... That also means I could corrupt him.”

“Hey! He’s mine,” Samantha said, growling as she continued to snicker. Evilly, at that.

Lola reached out, cooing, and tickled Samantha’s chin.

“Oh, sweet Samantha. I would never offer your sweet Mahna the forbidden fruits. No... not at all...”

Samantha groaned, and raised her hand, the dragon taking flight once more. It stayed tiny, but that didn’t change the shrieks of both Lola and Bridget as it zipped passed.

“Sorry,” she said. “I don’t share.”

“It could do that!” Lola squawked, covering her face as it came in to peck again –only to pull up at the last moment. After a few more passes, it returned to Samantha’s hand, sitting on it, glaring at Lola. Who was leering back. “Man... Lilith likes you more than us.”

“Obviously,” Tanya said, and there was no hiding that amount of resentment.

“What did she do to you guys?” Samantha said.

“She’s been pulling us into her office every other day and chewing us out!” Lola screeched. “It’s like... bitch, if your man ain’t touching you, don’t be clawing and pegging others up the ass for it!”

“I thought she had the ‘perfect’ man?”

“She does,” Tanya grumbled. “Yet she still finds enough bitchiness to jump down our throats.”

“I feel bad for him,” Bridget said, looking down at her chest. “He hasn’t been back since late September. He said it was for something ‘special’, but I didn’t want to pry anymore. Especially with how caustic Lilith had become.”

“Special? What, was he going to go see his family?”

“Doubtful,” Tanya said. “They were up to see him for the wedding. Nice people... Wish they were my in-laws.”

“On the plus side, his brother was kind of hot,” Lola said... growling. “Shame he was taken, too.”

“Didn’t stop you from trying.”

“Or you!” Lola huffed, and rubbed Samantha’s back. “So come on... We’re family, aren’t we? Let me show him the ways of the dark side. There’s cookies!”

“Why stop there, though?” Tanya said, and the car got uncomfortably tight as she seemed to grow in her seat. “Why not tie him to the bed then we take all take turns licking his cock to completion. Smear it all over ourselves as we rub pussies on him dissolving orgy of tits cunt on top of him and let him impregnate each of us-”

“And we could be called the Aristocrats.” Bridget finished, groaning... and patted the bulking bimbo’s shoulder. Shrinking. “Easy, Tanya... Your last rendition was more gruesome, though. You’re slipping”

Tanya growled, a soft thing, though after the brute she suddenly became the dragon on Samantha’s finger was more than happy to start growing, as well.

“Would you prefer I added the scat and b-”

“Fuck no!” Lola boomed, but squeaked as the car came to a jarring stop before the cafe. It was dead inside save for the waitress/owner whom gave all four an evil look as they sat at the bar, even more as Lola waved at her. “Hi, mom!”

“That’s your mom?” Samantha said.

“Nah. She just likes calling her mom,” Bridget said, and opened her menu. “Right... I’ll have the... New York strip. Medium rare. Steak fries and broccoli, and, please, a nice glass of whole milk.”

“I’ll have what she’s having, but with a soda instead,” Tanya said. She leaned against the bar, looking, leering at Samantha. “What else happened?”

“We went to eat at that restaurant after. You know, the only one even near this town. Seriously, does it even have a name?”

The Clotted Carotid,” the waitress said, and scoffed. “Though that name lost any meaning since they started using low-fat oils. Damn shame, too. They once had better burgers than me.”

“That actually sounds really good right now,” Samantha said, and clasped her hands together. “Could you? With provolone cheese?”

“We have only two kinds of cheese: American, and puke-in-a-bottle-”

“What?”

“She means Parmesan,” Bridget grumbled.

“Yup,” the waitress said, beaming at Samantha, “but, since you asked so nice, I’ll make an exception... Anything with it?”

“Fries; vegetable medley, California blend; and a glass of OJ.”

Lola tittered as she handed over her menu. “Too healthy. I’ll have the chicken. Fried. Actually, make everything fried. Even the plate. Fried zucchini. Fried squash. Fried... fries. Even fry the pop, and include a second one to drink.”

“No,” the waitress said.

“B-but mom...”

“No! I’ll fry the chicken, zucchini, squash, and fries, but the pop stays normal. Remember what happened last time?”

“Fine,” Lola sighed... and poked Samantha’s shoulder. “So where’d you go after that, huh? Back to his room for some knuckle action?”

Samantha shook her head, sipping on her glass. “No... We went to the park and waited for the sun to rise before he took me home- and yet he never asked how I got there in the first place.”

“That big ole thumb ring couldn’t have gave it away, could it?” The waitress said, calling back through the glass at the chef. “One home-grown special, another with nectar off the branch; one SoCal plate, and Lola’s special.”

“Thanks, mom,” Lola said, and glared at Samantha. Rather, at her hand. “I’m still jealous, by the way. Why do you get the cool ring?”

“Why? Don’t yours do this as well?” Samantha said.

“In a way,” Bridget said, her emerald opening a little, another growing out. “Ours are awakening... but not like yours.”

“Awakening?”

“Yeah,” Tanya mumbled. Her rings had widened, creating chains across the knuckle to another pair starting to grow on the next portion. “Perks. The more you use, the more powerful they get-”

“And the more powerful we get,” Bridget finished. “It’s... an experiment Lilith had in mind. She wanted to find a way to boost witches’ magic, to make them stand a chance against the himan of the world, just in case.”

“In case of what?” Samantha said.

“Too much politics, not enough energy nor cool shit to care to care,” Lola grumbled, hugging her stomach, her ring... still normal. A few shades darker, but its band didn’t grow, its gem didn’t change. It was still one piece. “Food...”

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