Witching Hour

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Ginger Snaps

The next morning came on swift wings, as if Death, Itself, wanted answers just as much as her. Samantha felt a cold chill creep down her spine, rousing her before her phone did. It was only a minute, though, before it was meant to go off, and her reflexes were in peak performance that day. She swiped it off before it could warm up its tune –at least, her right did. Her left still clutched onto the newspaper, refusing to budge. At all. Her knuckles were ashen, ready to take it to the grave if she must, the dragon on them its lock. It would have been held against her chest, but she needed to use her phone.

She sighed, turned into a growling yawn as she rolled over, warming her own tune, readying to tell Ayn or Minos or whomever was in bed with her that they needed to vamoose.

However, she found no one was there.

She... clicked her tongue. What else could she do? She was taken aback by her sudden isolation, her newly reacquired freedom- after so long! But she wasn’t truly free, was she? Lilith made sure of that... and that took what wind managed to rise out of her sails. Which was fine; she needed it to be still. The perfect storm was still brewing.

Samantha dialed her wonderful boss’s number... and wouldn’t stop calling until she answered. She wouldn’t stop pestering her until she got the answers she deserved. Long gone was want, while need was always facilitated, and, even if it wasn’t what she wanted to hear, an answer for all this... and this... this... insult, this horrid act upon her- and she was up to thirty-four calls already.

And not from simply being ignored, but refused.

With every voicemail, with every text read but simply left alone, it only made her hand clutch the phone harder, made her feet thunder even more as she paced. She would carve a trench through the bathroom and before the false throne, to the pantry and fridge if she must, but she would not relent. She would not be ignored. Not anymore. The walls crackled and groaned, bending, twisting, warping as her anger only grew. The dragon had taken off from her hand, circling her, hissing softly with the anger that stewed and steamed inside her, making her stomach boil and broil her heart.

“Come on, you sack of shit,” she grumbled, redialing. This would make eighty-six ‘missed’ calls; her voice mailbox was very much full, but that didn’t stop her from calling. “Pick up already.”

She stomped back into the living room, up from the kitchen, and there was a knock on her door.

Just as Lilith answered.

“Sam? What is it?” Lilith grumbled, yawning. “It’s Sunday; what are you doing up so e-”

“Please hold,” Samantha cut her off, putting her on “mute” by pressing the phone against her, then opened the door. Ginger was on the other side, her skin finally starting to look worse for wear. Even then, it looked leagues better from when she never tended to it. It was only starting to change colors, to bloat and pudge on her middle. She was dolled up in a bright, spring, yellow tube top, complemented by a baby blue pashmina scarf, fading to a soft white as it rolled down her shoulders and over her arms. Her legs were hidden behind a flowing, white dress, ending just before her ankles, showing off a pair of fine, yellow heels. “Ginge. Morning. You look nice.”

Ginger didn’t even acknowledge her, simply waltzing in and heading for the bed... cocking her head, confused at finding it empty. She turned around, giving Samantha a rather perturbed look, and sniffed the air, shuddering a little.

“That’s odd. I smell him, but he’s not here,” she said, sniffing more, approaching Samantha again. She snuffled at the witch, circled her, grunting a little as she began to descend- but was stopped from heading too far south by the newspaper in her grasp. She reached out for it, making it crinkle as she pouted. “Oh... it’s only this? Why didn’t you bring him back?”

“You mean Mahna? I saw him last night, but I’m afraid that was the last time I will.”

It was as if Samantha struck her. Ginger recoiled back to the door, to the stairs just beyond the metal barricade.

“W... what? What do you mean?”

“We... are broken up. Though it’s more for the fact that he is sick of the shit around here than actually being done, but at least he has his sister to keep his dick wet. Really, I bet if I simply offered to go along, he would have been more than happy to, but I am needed down here-”

“No you’re not.”

She said that so quick that Samantha almost had whiplash from its crack. “Uh... yeah. I am.”

Ginger’s eyes gleamed bright, licking her lips as she looked over Samantha.

“But you really aren’t. The Black Halls don’t need a teacher... They don’t need you.”

“Ginge... I... am not really in the mood for this. Nor am I comfortable with how you are looking at me.”

“But I bet your more than comfortable with how that stud stares at you. How he locks you in with those eyes, ravaging you before ever truly touching. The wait so unbearable that, when the moment comes, he unleashes all his passion.” She shuddered, her skin visibly breaking, cracking with her fur under. It began to bloat, stretching over her. Small rips turned to large tears across her form, allowing more and more of her bristly form out of that shell. “The things he would do to you... the things he could do to me.”

Samantha... eased the door shut. She didn’t want to lean out to grab it so she had her magic gently close it so that she didn’t need to get close to that giddy, giggling... bubbling monstrosity. But it was a necessity to do. No quick jerks, no breaking eye contact.

No signs of weakness from prey.

It was as if she was looking a predator in the eyes, coiling up, tensing, waiting to spring upon. It was as if she was entranced, mystified, not even noticing the bulwark close before her until, at last, it shut with a single, simple thud. She growled, thick, throaty, vibrating the metal as she clawed at it. Her nails shrieked on it, as if she was shearing through it.

Only to stop. And open the shield

It slid aside and clicked, replaced by snuffling, bounding its way through the room once more. Her long, dark tongue pushed through the slit, reaching for Samantha, chasing her as the witch reeled back towards the bathroom. She slammed that door shut, but left the newspaper on the bed, hidden underneath the pillows. As much as she would love to confront Lilith about it now, she had a more... pressing issue.

She raised her cell to her head again, and “unmuted” it.

“Okay. Thank you for holding,” she said, voice wavering. “I called you to originally bitch you out. Nothing new, I know, but things have changed.”

“So I heard,” Lilith said. “Usually, if you are going to press something against your chest, you actually have to have something there to muffle it... Sounds like you got a lovesick Ginger on your hands. I thought I warned you about seeing him.”

“And I told you that it was my life. I could love whoever I wanted- which we’re through- but that’s not the point. It seems she didn’t get that memo. So, uh, please hurry.”

“I’m already dressed and getting into the car. Shouldn’t be more than fifteen min-”

“Maybe you should make it five.” Samantha strongly suggested, her words cut off by the rending of metal. Specifically, in her bedroom. Something heavy fell in there, most likely the door, and heavier steps thundered across. To the bathroom. The air grew silent, heavy, the buzzing, the whining that constantly droned in the hall reduced to a dull murmur in its weight. Samantha’s heart hammered in her ears, metal swirling around her hand, adding layer after layer to the door, so thin compared to the bulwark into her chambers. The dragon was still out there, squawking its disapproval.

“Samantha,” Ginger said. Singing it; how she sung it. Her voice was no longer its normal, saccharine tone but a crude, abominable mix of a hoarse shriek and a gurgling whisper. The metal thudded thrice as she banged on it, as well as screeched on the third. “Samantha! Why do you hide from your student, Samantha? Why do you hide from me? I just want to talk.”

“About?”

“Well, you are my teacher. Don’t you wish the best for me, want the best for my future? Don’t you get it? You can help me get that. All I need is your skin... Really, I hoped you brought that sweet, sweet... sweet hunk of man down here more. Test the waters, see what he really liked... but that was silly. He wants you.”

“Actually, he wants his sister more.”

“... What?”

“Yeah. Turned out he likes to fuck his sister... You still there?”

“Yes...”

“Are you okay?”

“Coming to terms... Seriously! That’s just gross!”

“I know, right? Try dating him knowing that- er, I mean-”

“How could you date someone like that!”

“To be fair, he never acted upon it while I was there.”

“Still! That shit lingers in the back of the mind-”

“I know!”

Ginger sighed... and raked at the door again.

“Still. I could use you to get close to them, and then take his sister. Then it wouldn’t really be incest anymore and he gets to fuck his sister. Win-win. All I need is your skin!”

“But I like my skin where it is.”

“Now that’s just being selfish.” The clawing stopped so suddenly- then the world turned ass-over-teakettle. Samantha grunted, hitting her head against the wall as she was flung back against it from the force that hammered. Samantha slid down onto the toilet, finding the right way up again with the sink as she cowered behind it. The door had been dented in (with a peculiar, dragon outline), but it wasn’t long before sparks finally penetrated through the dent, leaping away from two long, silver claws. They carved a pair of jagged lines from the middle of the door down to just before the floor, ratcheting it away like it was a can. Each one was thick as Samantha’s wrist, which meant the witch could see the monster behind, the wolf outside of its sheep clothing. At last... and now, more than ever, even if it was a rotting heap, Samantha wished someone put that bat back in the box.

Her long, bulky head pressed against the cut, the heart-shaped tip of her nose wiggling as she snorted and snuffled. It would have been cute if it wasn’t for the rows upon rows of razors under them, untouched by lips, and set in a dark, jagged, square jaw. She pulled back, locking Samantha in one of her large, green orbs, which almost dwarfed her ears. Each gave the mer a run for their money, covered in a soft, brown fur, clashing against the rest of her black bristly form.

They twitched as she giggled, turned into a twisted abomination of a growl and a trill as she pawed at the metal.

“Come on, Samantha. Let’s be rational here. That’s what you’ve been teaching us: use logic. So here I go... If I get you, then I get that man. If I get that man, then I will be happy. If I am happy, nobody else dies. Ergo, if I get you, then nobody else dies!”

“Lilith,” Samantha whined into the phone.

“I’m walking up the stairs to the Academy now. Though... how long can you delay her?”

Just as she asked, Ginger pierced the door again, carving two more lines. They ran the other way this time, creating a large X in the metal –and reminding Samantha of a certain antihero. Who was just as bloodthirsty. Samantha watched those claws, watched the arm beyond, warmed a touch by the sparks that flew along the way and revealing the dark folds of her wings, drooping to the ground. Each was as wide as the curtain Monica hung to hide her toys, though Samantha doubted there would be anything fun waiting behind those dark, leathery folds.

Ginger pulled free again, and growled as she headbutted the metal, knocking what remained into the room. She prowled through it, knuckles crunching into it, and Samantha saw that her arms were the longest part of her. Her actual top was incredibly stumpy, weighed down by six, dark breasts. Each was tipped with a red nip, matching the four claws at the end of her feet. Her legs were dwarfed, little more than those spindly, red tips. To watch her walk was an enigma, a slap in the face to science, evolution, itself, shown it had gone unbelievably wrong with how... methodical each movement was. With how unsettling she moved, with such an eerie, almost otherworldly, grace.

And she was bearing down on Samantha with that grace, with that affront to all natural laws. Even logic.

Her jaws parted, allowing her long, black, tapered tongue to spool out, reaching for Samantha again. It undulated across the sink, closing on her, while she continued to stalk towards her, quickly closing any window she had.

“Not very.” Samantha stated into the phone at last.

“I need you to make some time, Samantha. We can take care of her, but I need a little time.”

“That is one thing I don’t have a lot of.”

“Like I said, you have to make some.” A loud whine ripped its way through the phone, making the entire Hall shriek with its sting. Samantha winced, cupped her ears... but... Ginger howled. Her hands shot to her ears, wringing them as the sound echoed and bounded, long since finished on the phone. The echoes, though, they assaulted Ginger, forced her down on the ground, writhing and chittering.

I have no idea what that really was, but I don’t think Lilith did that for me, Samantha thought. She jumped over Ginger, making it back into the bedroom. The dragon whimpered, rising as she picked her up from under the etched X, and it flashed as the door behind mended. The walls around it bled onto it, adding more and more layers, healing the dragon with the metal that wanted to encase the witch, but she didn’t have time to get hard. She headed for her desk, retrieved the gun... and turned off the safety, aiming it at the bulwark. She squeezed off the bullet in the chamber- and was surprised by how little kick the gun really had, given the bark it roared out, deafening in that tiny room. She was even more surprised given its bite, puncturing through into the bathroom, even after the ten or so layers of sheet metal she added.

And into Ginger’s back.

Blue blood splashed from the point of impact, hissing, steaming as it made contact with the floor and ceiling, but the gaping, half-dollar sized hole made into the black flesh under was covered again in a blink. Not even a blink; it was if she simply twitched her fur and it was back in place. A literal shot to the senses, it seemed, as Ginger stopped writhing, stopped caring about the whining altogether. It was little more than a whir on the edge of Samantha’s hearing, as well, which meant her Hail Mary just Hell Naw’d.

The skinwalker rose and lumbered back onto her feet. She slowly turned around, looking through that bullet hole in the door. As big as it was, it was still dwarfed by that green globe, gleaming again with such hunger.

“Sam? Can you hear me?” Lilith said, little more than a murmur to the ring from the gun. “Sam? Sam!”

“I’m here,” Samantha said, walking around the desk to the entry, taking care not to trip on its door. It was little more than a ball of metal in the center of her room now, but its edges were still reaching out, looking for anything to take down with it. She gulped, backing into the steps, almost falling back on them as Ginger ripped through the metal once more. “It seems bullets aren’t going to cut it. So... help? Please!”

“I plan to Sam, but I need a bit more time... I locked down your cell block. However, doors that are open... or simply missing weren’t shut. They aren’t locked. Yet.”

“So, what you’re saying is, Ginger left her door open. You want me to lure her in there, slam it, let it lock... and then what?”

“That should give me enough time to get things in place... Run out of the Halls. Follow your path to Scarlette. Once you do, and I need you to listen very carefully, Sam. Once you get there, you need t-”

The last of the door gave, shrieking and cutting her off as Samantha slipped over the railing, falling before the classroom. Wind rushed over, and Ginger shrieked as she landed at the junction. Her wings fell about her like a cape, settling as she turned around, facing Samantha once more. Those green eyes were almost red with the hunger, bearing down upon her. Her wings stretched from end to end, forced to touch the ceiling with their length so as not to scrape, stretching out her legs and their two red talons, wanting to be even redder, to glisten with the witch’s blood.

Samantha dove under, but it was close. They scraped along her shirt, ripping four clean lines through the fabric... but, thankfully, no deeper. This time. Ginger landed on the platform above, grumbling as her wings ruffled, pulled in as she had to turned around. Which meant it was now or never for Samantha.

She was running before she fully righted. Her legs ached, stretched so far, giving all their might as she made for the junction. She heard the wings span behind her again as she turned down it, and saw that one door was, indeed, open. At end of the hall. A mile away.

Samantha could feel the gusts of the wings. And how they grew. They beat down upon her, faster than her, as if she was crawling, a snail under those mighty folds, but Samantha did not slow. She did not look back. She did not dare to look back.

She made it to the door. She grabbed it, clung to it, and slid around, screaming as Ginger slammed against. Her talons pierced through the metal with ease, but all four just missed her. The closest continued to writhe, its crook so close to her brow, scratching at it with each flesh.

Her wings wrapped around the door, though, enveloping her in darkness, blotting out all but two green suns of light, shining above. She heard something wet, and “rain” pattered down upon her. She could just see something moving through the dark, unwinding, closing in on h-

Samantha shoved through the wing, diving into Ginger’s room, making the skinwalker shriek as she folded her wings once again. Her tongue was forced back inside her gullet as she ripped the door down leaped over it. Ginger snorted, growling, snapping her jowls as she crawled after Samantha. She was fast, too fast for those feeble legs to be possible to do, bearing down on her within two “steps”. Her jaws cracked as she opened them wide, bringing down that maw of jagged razors upon Samantha’s face.

Bowled over as the witch rolled into her arm.

Samantha clambered to her feet, panting, whimpering as she lurched towards the exit-

Tripped.

Ginger grunted, tittering, snarling as she tried to pull Samantha back, twisting her leg, clawing into it. Samantha cried out, sobbing as blood seeped from Ginger’s talons, digging, ripping deeper. She took a big gamble, and let her left hand fly, swinging towards Ginger. The dragon rested upon it, its wings shielding, a gauntlet that rang so sweetly as it slammed right into the skinwalker’s nose. Ginger howled, turning her head aside, but it also loosened her grip. Enough for Samantha to pull free and crawl away.

She found her footing again, standing thanks to the door, back on its hinges. She shoved it, hard-

Ginger caught it, talons sinking through, tearing it away. At the rate she was going, there wasn’t going to be a door left. Samantha raised her gun again, pointing it through one of the jagged marks.

Just as Ginger looked up.

The skinwalker howled once more, holding her eye, knocked back as Samantha shoved the door. Shutting this time. It buzzed, and long, thick, titanium bars could be seen through the gashes she left, locking it to the frame. Samantha patched the metal, watching Ginger. And her eye. It had exploded, absolutely destroyed by the bullet... fixing itself right before the witch’s own eyes. She watched as it began as a small, white dot in the back of her maimed socket, closing, fixing first before it swelled, bloated, and returned to its green glory within ten heartbeats... The door was sealed once more, and Samantha wasted not a moment longer on it.

She raced towards the entrance, pulling out her wallet and the card inside, almost dropping it as metal splintered and shrieked behind, seeming to be pulled away by Ginger screech.

“We’re not doing THAT dumb shit... Come on,” she grumbled swiping her card, waiting for the door then wall to open. Every second was agony, metal torn asunder, rippling through the hall. “Come on... Come o-”

Ginger slammed into her back, forcing her against the wall. Thankfully, it had opened enough for her to simply fall through, but Ginger was forced to wait, no matter how much she lashed and wrenched at it. Her shrieks, her wails rang after Samantha, limping down the hall. Adrenaline may have made her forget about her leg for a touch, but her whole body ached from that impact. She had not come out unscathed from Ginger’s assault, either. Her left arm hung by her side, twitching, clenching her wallet and card for dear life as blood trickled and soaked into them, leaving a trail behind.

She could not falter now, though. She needed to soldier on, ot forget the pain, forget that her leg trembled and wanted to buckle with each step. She could cry and bitch when she’s well and safe, but that wasn’t the case. Not now. Not until she reached Scarlette’s.

Would she, though?

Was Lilith going to save her, or was she toying with her. Was she giving her false hope before leaving her to despair and the skinwalker... No. She needed to stay positive. She had to keep running! She was almost to the first corner.

Her heart raked against its cage again as the screeching and wailing returned.

Samantha hugged the corner, seeing the shadow loom, and practically sprinted on one leg down the hall. She could feel the wings behind her again, the dread of the lifting her up with each other flap, closing in so fast. Far too fast... she couldn’t make this too easy on her. Samantha reached a four-way, the bit of cloth that would lead her to Scarlette’s up ahead, but she dove to the left, running off that way, instead. Ginger followed, all the way until its dead-end. The witch was flat against it, looking at Death and its bright green eyes.

The dragon hissed on her thumb.

A jagged, metal spike burst from the left, slamming into Ginger’s middle, impaling her to the wall. She screeched, slashing, gnashing, biting at it while Samantha ducked under it, returning to the path. She only passed the four-way when she heard the metal break, and felt those wings, the cold, hungry stare on her back once more. However, there was another problem starting to surface, one that she thought was long since behind her, now adding to her problems as her right hand and its gun were ensnared in metal.

Samantha reached another crossroads, a three-way. She was about to head right, the true path left, but Ginger dove. She caught her by the shoulder, slammed her into the wall before sinking her talon into it. She curled around Samantha’s head, maw stretched wide, fitting her whole skull inside without touching the jagged sides, slowly closing in.

Forced off with another bullet through her eye, the last of the strength she could muster with her right hand.

Samantha could barely lurch down the right path, turned down the left in its middle, but Scarlette’s was in sight. At last. Its doorway was open. Her feet, her blood pattered, echoed through it, bounding back, hammering against her again and again. Through the dusk Lilith slowly emerged, standing before Scarlette’s room.

Along with something else.

“Oh shi-” Samantha began, forced down onto the ground by Ginger. Her talons racked at her back; they left gashes, met flesh at last, but they didn’t have time to sink in. The world thundered, touched with the soft ring of metal, reverberating, waggling as it seemed to give the beat to Ginger’s shrieks.

Lilith sauntered around the... harpoon cannon, looking down at her phone as she approached and offered Samantha her hand. She... she took it, leaned on her as she was turned around, seeing Ginger stuck against the masonry by, well, a harpoon. As thick as an ancient tree trunk and just as spread; it had eight “roots” at its end, six of which were in the skinwalker. Their tips were wide enough to plant a new tree in the poor girl. It was a wonder she wasn’t split in two, that she was alive, but she simply spat curses and shot blue blood everywhere.

Stopped as Lilith put away her phone, withdrawing a gray mass from her pocket.

It was no bigger than pocket planner, but the way it squelched and pulsed made the hair on Samantha’s neck stand on end.

“I was waiting for you to snap.” Lilith stated, and slowly pushed that convulsing, twitching abomination towards Ginger. It seemed to trill, opening, spreading as it drew ever closer to her face, her green eyes now filled with something other than hunger, other than desire. “I’ve been meaning to test out a new toy on your ilk... You alive, Samantha?”

“Y-yeah. Just a bit bloody,” she grumbled, wheezing, swaying... but managed to hold her own, standing beside Lilith. “What is that?”

“As you know, it’s sort of a pain to kill skinwalkers. You have to get them at that lovely time where either their skin is starting to rot, forcing them to adjust inside... or get them as they are binding to a new host. For the former, you have to hack and rip them apart and that’s simply not humane. No... you are better off when they are attaching. Quicker. Cleaner.” She pushed the mass onto Ginger’s face at last. She winced, but it quickly became a howl, writhing, trying to shake it off as her body started to... melt, as it tried to prepare for that amalgamation-

Stopped by a single bullet through her heart.

That elongated, curved, blue organ sputtered and squirted one last, long streak across Lilith’s chest. She sighed, and pulled off her black silk top, letting her breasts swing free as she wiped off her hand. She turned to Samantha and wiped her face with the fabric, smiling as she holstered her gun again, humming softly.

“There. That wasn’t so bad... I’m simply thankful you heard my warning about ducking. You made it look so believable, too.”

“Hah. Yeah. I did, didn’t I?” Samantha said, trying to sound cocky. Instead, it came off as even more unwary. She was looking over Lilith’s shoulder, at Ginger’s body, still melting into that gray goop, consuming it only to dissipate, slowly, ever so slowly removing any trace of the thing known as Ginger from this world.

Samantha exclaimed, forced to look at Lilith again as she touched her shoulders, both a sticky mess of red.

“We’re going to have to get you patched up before we discuss what you really had in mind when calling me,” she said, gently turning Samantha around. “Come, come. We’ll use the nurse’s office upstairs. Nobody else is in the school at the moment.”

“That’s quite alright. I’ll heal myself once the metal fades from my hand... I... there was nothing else today.”

“You sure? Because I would rather get it out of the way today. You aren’t the only witch who blew up my phone this morning.” Samantha’s heart skipped a beat, but Lilith continued. “It seems that a ‘fourth witch’ made her presence known to the others last night. And had been acting strangely. As if she had known them, when they never met her before in their life. The witch in question, also, stated that you were calling her a different name, and you refused to call her anything but.”

“That’s... preposterous. I didn’t go above last night. I always stay down here... on... my...”

As she spoke, Lilith pulled out a tenner, holding it out until it was replaced by a newspaper. Samantha’s newspaper.

“Most expensive newspaper, but Lucille does good work,” she said, looking at the front cover. Frowning. “Now, how did you come by this, I wonder? This went out of print months ago. Awfully good condition, considering. Now... what is it about this paper that had you ranting and rambling when you came home.”

“You... you know about that, huh?”

“Know? I saw you. I was watching that clip while waiting for you to get here.” She pulled out her phone, showing her a wide-lens recording of the Halls, time stamped for last night. It showed Samantha entering, and she heard, in tinny quality, her call out to Lilith before breaking down on Junmei’s door.

Lilith paused it as she was about to enter, pocketing her phone once more, and tittered.

“You know, that little rant of yours reminded me of a movie. ‘Smite me, oh, mighty smiter!’ Am I your god in these halls? I wonder... but yes. I wondered how long it would take before you found out about this. I was starting to get a little worried, in fact. It was rather fortuitous that you went last night. Aya and Mahna have already left... A shame their plane had... issues.”

“They’re-”

“Yes. Sadly. The harpy brigade was first to find the crash site. There were no survivors.”

“Y... you... you killed them?”

Lilith cocked her head, looking a bit hurt.

“I would do no such thing. There was a human error in the comm towers. One of the employees went to grab a cup of coffee, while the other had been tasked with monitoring and aiding. Phone maintenance, as well. One of the planes, upon not receiving a response, lowered their altitude to match the oncoming plane, the one with the two mer, and... well, it was at least over the ocean.”

She put a hand to her chest, lip trembling as she sighed, as if truly weary.

“I wanted nothing but the best for those two... They were the last of the mer. All of us, of Vereor Nox and himan society as a whole, shall grieve greatly for their loss... But I digress. This isn’t about them. This is about you. It’s your favorite topic, is it not?” She cleared her throat, adjusting the newspaper. “‘Three severely injured, one dead after a drunken hit-and-run. Locals Bridget Deckard, Lola Strout, Tina Bosley, and Samantha Coffey were found by Deputy Irons Monday morning in the wreckage of their black sedan.’”

“Well, I guess, since we’re going to talk about it anyways,” Samantha grumbled, feeling a bit... small at that moment. The dull throb, the aches and pains she endured were whisked away. Now that her hands were free... but she still kept a tight grip on her gun. Tighter than before, in fact. Just in case. “Lucky for you, I can’t remember which car it was, exactly... but I do remember that none of the witches had a black car. You did, though.”

“‘EMS were quick on the scene, saving Mses Deckard, Strout, and Bosley. However, paramedics were not able to save Miss Coffey.’”

“How is that even possible! Tanya was a fucking meat shield.”

“’Samantha Coffey had no immediate family, but she shall live on in the memories of her friends.’” She folded the newspaper shut, and huffed. “Well, they would have, but the follow-up article stated that they suffered from amnesia. A recall of the first, since they published Tina’s name wrong... But that’s not what you are worried about, is it? Not after your visit with the witches... Go on. You can ask.”

Samantha sobbed, but did not let it all go. She needed to remain strong, now of all times. She blinked away the tears starting to grow, rising with her anger, with the dragon on her thumb, lifted by torrential winds that seemed to emanate and howl from her mind.

“Am... am I still me?”

“What do you mean?” She tittered, nibbling on her thumb, glowing, as if growing and enjoying the witch’s misery and despair. “Is there something else you may want to confess to... Maybe where else you end up when you come to this room?”

Shit.... Samantha shook her head. Why does it matter now? “I’ve gone further below. I’ve seen the vats... saw what was in them. Is... are there multiple me’s down there? The witches.”

Lilith... smiled, and offered her hand.

“I think it best if I simply showed you. As I have said, I’ve waited a while for this moment.”

I bet you have... How I loathe you. You are the reason I am stuck down here. You were the only one I couldn’t... No. It is not the time to act. Not yet. I will get out, though. Soon... and you can’t stop me, you heartless, egomaniacal, sociopathic cunt! I know Samantha; she won’t fall for your ways so easily. You will pay in the end. --Norman

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