Witching Hour

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Relativity

Sing along, if you will! On the first day of Thanksgiving down in halls of black living- no. No. That was a mistake. But not as much of a mistake as that break –especially when, it turned out, it was originally not permitted. “Originally” being key, here, since all it took was one smart-sounding message to have Lilith change her mind about it.

I’m locked down here with them, anyways, she wrote. My schedule is already different than the witches above, and, besides, it’s not like their “summer” ever ends. I can simply teach them for the literal rest of the year.

You make a fine point, she replied, not even a moment of hesitation. Which meant she read her mind, and all that it accompanied. Including the precarious position Bella wove her in, but even Samantha didn’t want to be reminded of that. You really aren’t leaving anytime soon, so what’s a bit of comfort?

And that wasn’t the only comfort she granted, either. Movies. Classical movies, movies that Marcy had already... acquired, but movies nonetheless. At least these were “approved” by Lilith to show in class, and so Samantha put on Casablanca.

At first, she was shocked that no one fell asleep... save for her, of course. It wasn’t not her fault –and, yes, that is accurate. She was still... acquiring a tolerance to black-and-white, but it seems it wasn’t enough of a reason for the others. They gave her such evil looks when she sputtered awake. Her chin ached, creased so long on her podium, and her forehead didn’t fare any better, but she did get a single boon: Bella had a rather sour look on her face, so it was a good day. Until later that night, but, again, she didn’t want to remember it.

On the second day, Lilith sent new games, including a new version of the one the five were playing, as well as a new console for potentially eight to play at a time –a nice switch. Ayn, Ginger, and Peter had no interest, leaving one to be swapped in and out at times. And, of them all, Samantha was surprised how... passionate Junmei was about it. The game may have been simply a cartoon brawler; nothing to get so riled up about, but it seemed to catalyze Buffy’s excitement, which made Marcy all the more sour. She was one of the few that stayed to the handheld. No matter what.

Samantha often traded in, playing with Marcy on the handheld, if but to keep her company, which became three due to Bella. She was, also, better than Samantha, but that’s not saying much. Anyone can poke with a lance; it takes real skill to be master weeb. Marcy, meanwhile, used a bow, and Samantha was now wishing she gave them a chance. The harpy made them look like a blast.

However, not all was mirth and cheer.

On the third day, Peter was gone, locked in his room once more. Unfortunate, considering the trove of sweets delivered, a bounty of sugar-coated lovelies. Monica snored away at her desk, her belly rounded, bloated from the candies. Her face was stained in chocolate, hiding her smile as she rubbed her tummy. Ayn ate three, then refused any other... after taking an entire backpack to her room. She returned, glaring, daring anyone to call her out on it- and gave Marcy the dirtiest look, the harpy’s four bags filled and dumped thrice over. Lisa partook in the bon-bons, each one a mortal challenge, a question of whether she would live through it or not, only to be rewarded with the sweet, red “juice” inside, encouraging her to continue. Buffy ate very little; “not a fan of sweets,” she said, turning green from the first. Seemed sweets were more an enemy of hers. Junmei worried over her, which Marcy once more did not care for. She offered the naga sweets, but he refused. “I only like salt water taffy,” which were mysteriously missing from the bounty around. Strange; Samantha could have sworn there were at least five sacks’ worth.

And what about Samantha? How much did she enjoy- she didn’t. She was too busy watching Minos from the corner of her eye, partaking in a piece, not really tasting it any more than he did. The difference was he was like a dozer at a landfill... and, given how loud he was getting, it was becoming every more accurate. He only became louder, too, more boisterous with each handful.

Jack matched Minos piece per piece. As did Norman and Ginger, a race between them that didn’t seem to have a victor –but plenty of losers. Especially with Ginger involved. As Samantha watched, she started to question what smelled sweeter: the candy, or her fat rolls finally rotting. The lower, saggier parts had taken on a black hue, and were leaking a yellow liquid, caught in the handmade Ziploc top she wore. Bella made herself scarce, her saxophone tooting louder with each web shot back into the room, snagging more of the candy.

Though it was simple, they were allowed to be goofy this one day, and it was... pleasant seeing them so open, and what is a Thanksgiving break without, well, Thanksgiving? They set up the tables along the wall to the classroom and ended right outside of Peter’s room, opened this day. The deep mahogany wood was piled with stuffing, mashed potatoes, pies, vegetables, and, of course, turkey. Four turkeys were strewn over that table, each easily thirty pounds, but it wasn’t long before two were plucked clean. Within the first round of plates, in fact.

Junmei chuckled, his cheeks rosy. His glass was emptied for the fourth time, refilled by Marcy, kissing his cheek. Buffy rubbed his arm, feeding him a bit of turkey, but he turned his head away from it, enjoying the glass that Marcy filled. He seemed quite proud to be ignorant to the sneers and scowls the two exchanged as he did. Far too many times, in fact, for him to truly pay heed.

He shook his head, and sighed, wrapping an arm around Marcy.

“Ah, you Americans and this festivity,” he said. “A celebration of the coming together of two cultures, which inevitably one was overthrown and reduced to little more than squatters. How I adore it so.”

“Was that sarcasm?” Ayn said. Her were cheeks flushed as well, though only on her first glass... and not even a quarter emptied. Some splattered onto the table as she swung it towards Junmei, hiccuping. “Civilizations rise and fall. ‘People’ come and go. The natives should be thankful that they weren’t completely wiped off the map. History is all about conquering and falling, s-”

“That was genuine sincerity, my dear. I know. I am from Egypt, after all. You know how many hands that has traded over centuries?”

“Not many, to be honest,” Monica mulled, twirling her bit of turkey on her fork. Out of all of them, she had eaten the least; even Lisa ate more, and it could be seen. Literally; her stomach stretched horrendously. If one wanted to, they could push and see the contents she had partook in. “For the most part, it did stay under Gypsy control.”

“Gypsy- oh my gods! I just realized that was a slur for Egyptians.” Samantha said, a bit too loud, and guffawed. “But... but in movies and s-”

“Yes, yes. Used many different ways. Originally meant to be like Nigger,” Ayn said. “A better example of a place constantly changing hands would be the Mediterranean... or the Middle East.”

Everyone mumbled an agreement, and went back to stuffing their faces.

Friday’s gift was leftovers, with a cornucopia of turkey recipes. Most of her students were ready to murder Samantha for. Even dear teacher considered the knife after her third sandwich, waiting for replies from the witches for the weeke-

She got one, and she wish she hadn’t.

We’re having Thanksgiving dinner, of course! Bridget sent. Want to come?

Without missing a beat, Samantha sent a single word. Even made it bold... Meanwhile, Bridget didn’t seem too enthused with her response.

:( But we miss you~~~

And I miss you guys, too.

:D Then join us! It’ll be great.

I’ll hang out, but I must pass on food.

D:< But you have to eat!!! It’s Thanksgiving.

No

-.- Yes

NO

-__- YES

N. O. No.

You will eat and you will like it!

Samantha turned off her phone, and stood from the table, empathizing with her dear students and their want to rake her over the coals, to draw and quarter or tar and feather or keelhaul as she headed upstairs. All of those sounded far more appealing than what –she thought waited for her. Bella, sadly, suffered from a turkey coma that lasted all of Saturday and even into Sunday. She didn’t know where the time went; it was always one more hunt, but the day went by so fast.

Too fast.

She woke Sunday, on her alarm-

When she remembered she turned it off for the week.

She reached for it, and saw Bridget actually sent a message. That, somehow, her ringtone was swapped to the same song as her alarm overnight.

OwO I TOLD YOU.

She put the phone down, and the lights flickered on.

Revealing Bridget standing over her.

“You’re coming, and you’re gonna like it,” she repeated, giggling, and whisked her away to the witches’ apartments. Aside that... greeting, the rest of the day was rather tame. Then again, the world ending would have been “tame” to Samantha after that heart attack in a cup. It was only the four of them, though supposedly Lilith and “another” were to stop by. They all wore such festive sweaters –even Samantha, though it was very much against her will. They chose a nice, green, tree-patterned one that went so well with the full moon and sleigh ride on Bridget’s. Tanya was left with good ole Rudolf, and Lola? She had the golden bells, bouncing, jingling with every movement.

“Why are we wearing sweaters now?” Samantha grumbled, pulling at her sweater. Maybe, if she did it enough, it’ll unravel into nothingness. “Isn’t this a Christmas tradition?”

“Blame Bridget. She’s all gungho during this time of year,” Lola said, biting into her turkey leg. No shit! Samantha thought, a shiver running down her spine recalling that... thing that woke her that morning. It was Bridget, but the “holiday spirit” wasn’t a benevolent... nor beautiful thing. She hid it as Bridget looked over at her, her neck moving far too smooth, as if it was more a machine than a woman. Instead, she glowered at her sweater again- then at Tanya, actually cutting into the bird. At least it silenced those bells, if only a second.

“She expects us to wear them until New Years,” Tanya added, humming as her hands worked at the moist meat, slicing it so delicately... Samantha kind of wanted her to use a touch of her magic and make that turkey truly fly. Away, if possible. Into the sun.

Bridget huffed, though, pulling Samantha’s attention away from that sinful bird; she had crossed her arms, giving them all a dirty look.

“Well, if you guys don’t want them, you can give them back. I worked hard to make those, dammit, and it’s the holidays! It’s not only about Christmas.”

“Alright. All right,” Samantha said, and left her sweater alone, feeling only a bit bad... but... that meant her mind returned to Lilith and- “Who is the other, by the way?”

“Lilith’s lover, of course,” Lola said, and she tittered, biting her lip. “The other science teacher. A real cutie.”

“I could stare at his ass all day,” Tanya mumbled, blushing, and she forgot about the turkey as she truly did stare off into space, imagining that rear. Thankfully, Bridget brought her... and Lola back to reality with two, quick slaps on the head. “What? All we are doing is looking.”

“She doesn’t even like that, remember?” Bridget said, a touch too bitter, revealing her own feelings. “She’s very... possessive.”

“After what you did to him-”

“Nothing happened!”

“What happened?” Samantha said.

“Nothing!”

“Before their wedding, Lilith’s man invited Bridget over for a cup of coffee,” Lola said. “Sounds innocent, right? Well, little miss redhead thought it meant more and... well...”

“No!” Samantha blurted, neck jerking over to Bridget. Her face was redder than her hair, burning bright enough to be seen through her hands. “Did you-”

“Fine! You caught me,” Bridget boomed, laughing and crying at the same time. “I rode him until I couldn’t think anymore.”

“And he didn’t stop you?”

“He couldn’t,” Tanya said, so bitter.

“What do you- you used magic to hold him down?”

“She was white-haired for a month,” Lola said, and huffed. “Course, that’s why no one is allowed near her man anymore. She won’t even allow girl students in his class, which means he has less work and we have to deal with cramped rooms.”

“Wow... Was it worth it?”

“Like you wouldn’t believe,” Bridget said, and let her hands fall as she sighed. Almost erotic. She looked up to the ceiling, her eyes lost in a daze. “Sex with an incubus is... One taste isn’t enough. Someday, I plan to have more.”

“If it’s from him, you are treading dangerously. Lilith seems the kind to kill you and feed you to the pigs at her own pig farm.”

“What other choice do I really have? There are far less male himan than females. For every one male there are twenty to thirty women. Which, even then, likelihood of another being an incubus is so unbelievably low it might as well be a slimmer chance than ice water down in Hell.”

“Cocytus,” Tanya muttered. Her voice hard. Samantha just realized, but both Lola and Tanya were glowing –purple and blue. The air, also, took on a very... what’s the word- murdery feel.

Samantha... cleared her throat. “So... what you are saying is... women are more likely to be monsters... How is that anything new?” She tittered, retching a little with another burp, pushing her to her feet. “Excuse me.”

She paced herself to the restroom, and found herself bowing before the porcelain god once more. She shuddered, feeling its cool, sleek basin against her face, calming her stomach so. She didn’t want to leave, didn’t want to be pried away, but the witches won in the end, sitting her at the back of the table and closing her in on either side. They loaded her plate up with that sickening smorgasbord of divine cuisine from the bowels of Tartarus, forcing her to indulge in two full plates of it.

“Please! M... mercy,” Samantha exclaimed, her pants popped, showing off her pink panties.

“Are you going to say no to me again?” Bridget said, a piece of pie in hand.

“Fuck y-”

She tittered with the others, chuckling through the pie as Bridget withdrew what was left on the server, and the meal faded into resting on the couch. Samantha toyed with Bridget’s chest, eyes closing as the last frame of the romcom faded to black, taking with it the holiday, always so slow to come but so quick to go, leaving them in bliss...

There was a knock at the door.

Bridget groaned, squirmed in Samantha’s grasp until she pried her hands off and stumbled to it. She opened the door the smallest touch, and Lilith pushed the rest of the way in. Her black boots boomed against the tile, legs hidden in black jeans, tucked into military stampers. She had a complete flak jacket on, loaded to the brim with guns and mags... sighing as she looked down on Samantha, blinking awake.

Samantha gasped, finally seeing the guns, and fell on the floor.

“The hell?” Samantha exclaimed, the others waking from her shrill.

“Something got loose, Lil?” Bridget mumbled, yawning, and scratched at her eyes.

“Thought something did, but it was a false alarm,” Lilith grumbled, and walked around the couch, offering Samantha her hand. “Come on. You forgot to close your door in the Black Halls before you left. The alarm shrieked all night.”

“So that’s why you weren’t able to make it,” Tanya mumbled. “Silly Sam.”

“But... but I did close my door- wait. I didn’t even go through my d-” Samantha growled. “Oh, dammit Marcy! She must have gone in for a wine cooler.”

“Impossible. She was in her room all night.” Lilith stated, creasing her brow. “Trust me. I spent all day looking over security footage-”

“Security. Footage?”

“Yes... You never noticed the cameras? The Black Halls are monitored 24/7... Oh my... You never did.” She giggled, patting Samantha’s head. One part dumbfounded; four parts furious. “Relax. Your room isn’t, though we may have to change that. We did see your door was closed, but it... popped open. It may be a loose knob or something, but protocol is protocol... Sorry I wasn’t here for the meal.”

“It’s fine, Lil. We knew something must have come up,” Bridget said, and pushed her fingers together, the warmth in her face returned. “So how is-”

“He’s fine. Thank you. Now, if you don’t mind, I would like to get Miss Coffey home. Class for her begins in a few hours.”

Bridget whined, and hugged Samantha, cooing. “But we just got her. Don’t take her away so soon.”

“But I must... c... come on... Miss Dekard, this is incredibly -there we go- unprofessional. She’ll be back next weekend-”

“No she’s not. She has a date.” Lola said. “She’s going out with Mahna the Mer.”

“Is that so... Even after I warned you.” Lilith simply sighed, and shook her head. “Well, sometimes there’s no stopping love. Good on him, and you. Always did have a soft spot for the twins. Shame they’re sterile-”

“Boss lady says what now?” Samantha blurted.

“Oh... he didn’t tell you? My apologies. Come come. In the car.”

She eased Samantha’s head out of the apartment, down the stairs, and into the black sedan. She closed the door, and clomped around to the other side, each step keeping Samantha from passing out. Fully, at least. The engine roared to life, whispered down the road, closing on...

And passing the Academy.

Lilith smirked, biting her lip, and gripped Samantha’s leg. If that cold chill didn’t wake her up completely, the sparks from her nails, and the cold fire in her eyes, did.

“Oh, we aren’t going back yet,” she said. “Have you been enjoying your walks?”

“P-pardon? What w-”

“Norman has been telling me you’ve been leaving the Halls during tests, and not coming back until well aft- no reason to curse at Norman, Sam. He’s just doing his part.”

“I would prefer it if you didn’t read my mind.”

“And I would like it if you were honest with me. Where have you been going with your jaunts... per chance back to the skull?”

“O-of course not! I don’t even r-”

She held up a bit of cloth... matching the ones still below, stuck to the undercroft’s stone.

“I take it you met Amadeus before his... passing, and Nami told me that a girl touched her. One with something metal on her thumb.”

“O-okay. So I was there, but it’s curiosity at this point-”

Lilith clucked her tongue. “Oh, Sam... Sam Sammy Sam... haven’t you ever heard? Curiosity killed the cat...” She tittered, shook her head once more, and turned around, heading back towards the Academy. “I would say to not indulge it anymore, but you’ve shown to be quite tenacious. For your own sake, I suggest curbing it a touch. After all, the Black Halls are a place of death... If you were to die, it wouldn’t be anything more than a statistic.”

She pulled up to the Academy’s stairs, and Samantha meandered out. Her head buzzed, trying to focus on the white noise until she was in her room. She “shocked” the metal, the lights with her magic, making sure nothing had power aside her laptop... yet even her laptop was “cleaned” before finally sighing, hugging her legs on the bed. She didn’t even notice her alarm was ringing until someone knocked on her door thrice, and she finally stood and lumbered to it, doing what she did... sub par? Decent! We’ll go with decent. Now, more than ever, she wished it was still the holidays, so fleeting, even in a place like this.

I sang the entire way, but what can I say? I’m a mockingbird. --Norman.

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