Apparently I needed to up my premonition game.
At no point in my life have I ever had one that pertained specifically to zombies. I mean, honestly, you’d think that would be the mother of all premonitions. You know - here’s a quick flash of the future that involves zombies, don’t drive your bitchy best friend to the old witch’s place, don’t listen to her when she says everything will be okay she obviously doesn’t know shit, and when she physically drags you from the car, it might be a good time to re-evaluate your friendship status and by re-evaluate I mean kill her and hide the body.
“Stop whining, Gypsy, it’s just Endora showing off.”
I glared at her as Lucian scampered up my leg from his original perch on my left boot, hissing at the fluffy black cat that had swiped his tail across the lizard’s face and unsettled his little reptile body enough to nearly knock him to the floor. A constantly chattering ferret followed behind, his tiny squeaks background noise as he scurried to keep up with Serena’s long stride. I totally knew that feeling - my short legs meant I always felt like I was running when trying to walk beside her.
“She’s showing off with zombies?” I asked incredulously. “Who even does that? I mean, apart from psychos and serial killers.” I gave her a meaningful stare, just so she’d be well aware that I was totally thinking Endora could be both of those.
She snorted as she pulled me along with an iron-like grip of my wrist, her face shimmering as she snorted out red glitter, as well as derision, from the explosion of shimmer that I’d sparkled all over her screaming face. That’ll be the last time she yanks me out of car. I’m pretty sure that evens us out a little - I officially almost killed her with sparkles - one near death experience down, four more to go.
“Where’s the Gypsy that was maniacally excited for goblins, hmm? I want that sparkle-elf back,” She waved a hand to indicate my stubborn feet still trying to dig into the ground and halt her forward progress, “This one’s broken.”
Yeah, well, that’s the thing - I’d seen the goblins coming - and every indication had shown Serena finally achieving ascendancy and all of us coming out of that particular scene in one piece. Mostly. Sort of. Well, there was that one outcome where supposedly Serena would come away from the fight missing a few layers of skin and perhaps some deep level tissue damage but that was totally a minor possibility. “I think I’m allergic to zombies,” I stated hopefully, “I’m definitely allergic to Endora in any case.” Because she was basically the witch version of a severe peanut allergy - at worst there’s a high risk of sudden death but even the smallest reaction can cause irritation and projectile vomiting.
Serena snorted. “Why don’t we test that theory? One of them is looking at you.” She yanked on the arm that she still had a tight grip of and I was forcefully propelled forward until said zombie was mere feet away.
I shuddered as some unknown gloop slid from his eye socket - minus it’s eyeball - and ran a slow, thick and sticky path down his hollowed cheek. She was right though - if he’d had actual eyes inside the black depths of his sockets then he’d definitely be looking right at me. “Um, hi!” I waved in an overly excited fashion, nerves making my voice a squeaky whisper, and wondering if glitter dazzled zombies and if that was a thing then I was absolutely down for mesmerising me some dead people and sending them far, far away.
“Mrgerrrgahhh,” groaned the zombie in reply.
“Um, sorry, can you say that again?” My voice deteriorating into a cracked whisper. I nudged Serena slightly more infront of me so that should the zombie decide he was hungry then he’d have to eat his way through the fire witch first and I had plenty of time for running away. I’d feel bad but flesh eating zombies trump life long friendship every time.
He replied with another groan that only prompted a plume of nervous glitter to escape my bitten lips and my breaths panted in panic when he took a shaky step towards me. “Burn him!” I screeched at Serena. “Burn him with fire!” I cried while frantically grabbing at her hands and aiming them at the stumbling zombie like her palms could fire bullets.
“Goddess-damnit, Gypsy. Let go you fucking loon!”
Um, no. That’s what she gets for literally dragging me here by my hair. “Why aren’t you burning stuff? There’s usually fire by now,” I demanded. To be fair, she was usually a blow stuff up ask questions later kind of witch.
The zombie took another stumbling step forward, close enough that I could smell fetid breath wafting towards me on the wind and I heaved at the scent of rancid garbage all while a panicked squeal rose higher in pitch. In response, Lucian flung himself to the floor at my feet, landing with a tiny hiss that quickly became a monstrous roar as the reptile shook with a bulk that quickly forced his little form to burst at the seams into dragon. His long neck stretched in the sky way, way above my head as he flicked out his wings as if they’d been cramped within his smaller form and, as always, I took a moment to stare up in fascination and a kind of child like awe.
Kitty, currently sat at Serena’s feet, little pink tongue languidly licking at his coal black paw, took a single look at the raging dragon, a twitch to his whiskers that indicated distaste and rolled his big violet eyes skyward with a tiny huff, seemingly ignoring the zombies scattered around us as if they were inconsequential.
Ferret was somewhere behind us, his nattering still a background noise but going largely ignored by everyone except the cat who randomly threw out devil glares everytime his squeaks became extra squeaky.
Seeing as my dragon was currently the only other one taking the zombie situation as seriously as I was, I made sure to pat him heavily on one of his overly muscled legs, hoping he could feel my appreciative touch considering my palm slap must have felt like an overly aggressive gnat to the giant dragon.
Just as Lucian took over most of my attention, even from the dead guy still inching ever closer as glitter sparkled in clouds around us, the walking dead finally appeared suddenly infront of us, face twisted into a permanent expression of constipation and smelling like mothballs and dirt.
“Endora,” Serena smiled, “I was looking for you.”
The old witch grimaced as her eyes fell on me and the sparkles shimmering in the sun, hiding behind my BFF completely without shame, then bounced back to Serena. “Tell your pet to put her stripper dust away,” she shuddered with disgust, “vile little half-witch.”
I snorted, because I could totally make a fortune as a stripper so it was hardly an insult, and considering Endora’s reputation for senseless murder I’d been expecting violence so it was actually pretty tame.
Serena sighed. “I need a way into the elf kingdom.” Ever straight to the point and I loved that about her.
A long, graceful finger tapped at red-lined lips. Grey hair twisted into a tight chignon, ruffled blood-red shirt buttoned to her neck, long black leggings tucked into leather riding boots, and a glaringly obvious smoother complexion to the last time I’d seen her previously wrinkled face. It seemed either Endora had magically altered her appearance or she was killing children and sacrificing them for youth. Either was totally possible.
She wrinkled her nose, stared at me for another minute in which I felt distinctly like a rodent, then shrugged at Serena with a bored, “no,” before swiftly turning and marching back to whatever hole she’d crawled out of.
“Fucksake, Endora, if you don’t help me then I’m going to have to drive all the way back to town, haul Grams into the car, remind her of that time that you got her arrested for prostitution because she stole your boyfriend just to get her angry enough to storm in here and electrocute all your dead people.” Serena let out a breath of frustration and tapped her boot on the ground while she stared at Endora’s stiffly frozen back.
The old witch suddenly whipped around, anger lighting up her watery grey eyes and fury screwing her mouth into a harsh line. “You tell that bitch she steps one foot on my property and I’ll resurrect her third husband!” She screeched, stomping her foot in the dirt like she’d regressed to toddler. “Oh, and I slept with him when she was in jail, both times!” She let out a yell of pure fury while Serena and I gaped in silent shock.
My fire witch blinked repeatedly, blowing out a breath of air before mumbling quietly, ”Someone’s still stuck in the 1640′s.”
A giggle flew from my mouth, even though I tried really hard to not let it out considering Endora’s volatile state. Her eyes snapped instantly to me, narrowing on my reddening face as I struggled not to breathe while keeping my giggles in check. Lucian’s big head suddenly appeared to my right, long neck bent so he could remain at witch eye level and snap his huge jaw at Endora in warning.
She sneered and waved him off with a single hand, although I’m almost positive I saw a wariness to her expression that hadn’t been there before. “Put your dragon back on his leash, I have better things to do than bother with killing a sparkle fairy who’s barely even a witch.”
I pouted, because she knew full well that just by Lucian’s presence I was most definitely a witch, she was just being unnecessarily mean. “Can we leave now?” I asked Serena almost pleadingly. “She probably can’t do it anymore anyway, I mean, she was supposed to die like eighty years ago, she’s basically dust and embalming fluid now.”
Serena huffed a laugh as Endora’s face tightened with completely unconcealed fury. I was feeling mildly braver though than I had been earlier, simply because when I’d originally been faced with death by flower arrangement, courtesy of the old witch, I hadn’t had a dragon standing right beside me and it’s only now that I finally realised just how brave he makes me. Of course, it helped that Endora’s black crow was also nowhere to be seen so I felt pretty confident staring down the mean old witch.
“If you’ll take that devil-child off my property I’ll open a gate to the elf kingdom. Your grandmother will owe me a favour however,” Endora finally conceded, although her words were laced with something akin to malevolent glee.
“Yep, totally, absolutely,” Serena responded without even a seconds pause.
“Grams is going to kill you,” I warned Serena. Favours were serious business in the witch world and only traded in the most dire circumstances. That Grams owed Endora a favour was going to come back to kick her in the ass for sure.
Serena grinned. “It’s her own fault for being a boyfriend-stealing hoe. Besides, she’s bored and she’ll love fucking with Endora.”
I wasn’t quite so sure, the old witch looked way too happy about the freely given favour and I had a bad feeling that she’d gotten exactly what she’d wanted all along.
She clapped her hands loudly to regain our attention before sneering at me and waving Serena forward. “Take Eric with you, he’ll show you the way and bring you back out. Don’t lose him or you’ll be stuck without a way of returning.”
I looked around for this Eric, blinking in confusion when I only found the hovering zombies and our own little party of witches and familiars.
“Don’t come to my property again. I don’t like visitors,” she demanded, before stomping off while whistling at her groaning and stumbling awkward army of the dead.
I shivered watching them walk away, leaning closer to my dragon because even if he did sometimes stink of acid and death from his penchant for eating people, he still wasn’t a zombie.
“Glad that’s over,” I turned to Serena with a grateful sigh. “So, who’s Eric?”
She stepped back while grinning widely, revealing the original zombie who was still bloody staring at me. “Hails, meet Eric, our elf kingdom zombie guide.”
She seemed overly pleased with herself, and her eyes near enough danced with laughter at my obvious nervous pout.