Witchs' Bottle

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What would you do if you we're trapped in a mansion with a witch? Larson Kanold is a horror writer researching the local historic farmhouse for ideas. But what happens when a tour group inadvertently wakes up a slumbering witch? Is knowledge enough to make it through the night? Or will the group need to tap into something more powerful to survive?

Joshua Lee Stemple
Age Rating:


Wayne Jenkins looked for a good spot to park his 1991 Honda Civic. The blue and rust peppered vehicle sat and waited like its master for the flea market patron to get out of what Wayne deemed a close and 'feel good' space. The man backed out of the space and Wayne did what he liked to call the parking spot dance. He finished parking his antique and headed into the building with books and great deals on his mind. He did his customary first walkthrough taking in the products, the shopkeepers, and other bargain hunters. He passed up all the clothes tables, food vendors, games, movies and adult paraphernalia. Wayne was on a mission after all. Books and maybe a decoration or two. He went to his favorite book vendor and said hi. He didn't buy anything yet. He didn't ask if Argyle had any new acquisitions. He went merrily along to finish his first lap around the expansive building and saw a few treasures he might be interested in and made a note of the locations.

Wayne's second lap is when he gets down to business. He smells the food court, which he usually stops at on lap three. The all around mustyness of the air from the books and clothes wafted up his hairy nostrils. He grew a smile at this and continued his therapy. In the back, theres a tool corner that has a smell all it's own. Not much has changed in the thirty years the silver haired man has been coming to this particular flea market. Up the road, there's an old drive-in parking lot that has been converted into a second flea market, but here is where he does most of his perusing. Jenkins finds his way back to Argyle and asks what he's got a deal on.

"I got some old Kings, a few J.K. Rowlings, a Patterson, and a Masterton. Every thing else you saw last week Wayne."

"Come on Argyle, you know I got the old Kings and unless Harry Potter has a new story, I have the collection of them as well. What's the Masterton book?"

"Death Mask, and the Patterson book is Pop Goes The Weasel." Argyle said.

"I'll take both of them buddy. The usual price?" Wayne hoped.

Argyle nodded, put his acquisitions in a bag, and swapped his bag with the money in Wayne's hand. Wayne thanked him and he headed back towards the tool section. He usually didn't buy tools, but boy did he love the intoxicating smell. He got there scanning the tables of spanners, lugnuts, and various other tools and auto doodads, just to appear to be a customer.

No need to get gruff from the vendors. Wayne thought.

He perused until he saw something he didn't at first under the table. The emerald bottle caught his eye. It had rivulets of bright colored wax dribbled down the sides. Inside it appeared to have a wad of hair and nails, but what the hell, he liked it.

"How much for this bottle, young man?"

The man behind the table looked at the old bottle that seemed to be filled with junk and couldn't seem to place the green flask.

"Well, sir...I guess I can let it go for five dollars."

"I'll take it! Please wrap it up in a paper bag and a plastic bag."

They finished their transaction and Wayne headed back to his car, forgetting breakfast altogether. He played his normal part of sunday driver with one caveat. He had a purpose to put the pedal to the metal now.

I have a suspicion this bottle is more than meets the eye as his son would say. Damned Decepticons. He smiled and sped up to thirty-five miles per hour.

Wayne came through the door with his finds from the ancient flea market. He took off his spiffy frog-lipped hat and hang it on the coat rack with his tweed blazer. He looked around to find his wife on the lazyboy knitting together a colorful scarf for her newest grandchild's Christmas present.

"Is that you Wayne?"

"Yes Delores. Wait till you see what I got!" Wayne said with more fervor than usual when showing off his acquisitions.

Oh, great. Another centerpiece. Delores thought. It wasn't the finds, it was the space. Wayne and Delores lived in a small servant's quarters at the local historic farmhouse. Now that the kids had moved away, they didn't need that much space so Wayne had taken the caretaker job with free room. Delores had hoped to have free board too, but the farmhouse didn't actually grow any food and it wasn't open all year. The golf course that took over most of the area did stay open however.

What a place for a golf course. Did the historic Manor really need the funds? She supposed so. She was happy with her husband and her one bedroom little home. So she was going to convey as much until the good Lord took her home.

I'm getting too old to be arguing with the man I love. And at that, she was prepared to feign enthusiasm for whatever trinkets he brought.

Wayne scurried over to the coffee table and sat his bag of books on the table like a schoolboy. Then he unwrapped his emerald flask of flair and showed it to his doting wife. Delores sat her knitting needles down on the table along with the half made Christmas present. She picked up and gaped at the waxy green monstrosity with little animosity and became curious at the red thread fluffing up the bottom of the flask. She moved the magazines from the center of the coffee table and placed the new centerpiece.

"That's nice dear. What's with the thread?" she managed.

"I don't know yet, that's part of the intrigue. I'm thinking it has to do with witchcraft."

Wayne knew from his occult books that the off kilter bottle was probably what they call a witchs' bottle. From what he remembered...nope, that's all he remembered.

I guess I'll have to consult my stacks. he thought in his best english impersonation.

"Well, I'm sure you can find something in your books dear." she said with as little condescension as she could muster. It wasn't hard."What books did you get Wayne?" she said while nodding at the bag still sitting on the corner of the coffee table. She picked up her knitting materials, leaned back in her chair, and resumed her project.

Wayne grabbed the bag and sat on the adjacent lazyboy with a loud "hrmph." His knees popped, and relaxed,as per usual.

I'm getting too old for this gobbledegook.

"Mastertons' Death Mask and Pattersons' Pop Goes The Weasel" he said.

"Oh, an Alex Cross novel? That's nice dear. Maybe you can read me some after you sort out what that bottle is." she offered. Delores knew he wouldn't be able to relax without solving the mystery.

"What's Death Mask about?"

Wayne read the blurb and reported his findings.

"It says here the protagonist can paint something into life."

"I see. Like that Duma Key book by the King?"

"Yes, Mrs. Jenkins.It should be quite alright." he said for variety and flirtation.

The bibliophile stood up and went to shelve his newest acquisitions. The living room wall contained two giant bookshelves filled with different size books. The left unit housed mostly paperbacks the likes of King, Little, Grafton, Patterson, Davidson, and a hundred or so other odds and ends. He shelved Patterson with his other Alex Cross novels in the series and Masterton by itself as this was his first book by the author he acquired. The second book shelf contained bigger volumes. His wife's cookbooks took the top row, Wayne's hardback books of the King took the second shelf. The complete set of J. K. Rowling took up shelf three. Shelves four and five had various tomes on witchcraft and the occult. Wayne stared at his library and smiled.

You can tell a lot about a man by his library. Wayne thought.

Wayne bent to get the volume he thought would be a good place to start looking for information on his bottle and his back cracked. About the same time he let a fart rip. "Ahh" he growled for his back and his rear. The book in question, Advanced Witchcraft had to weigh at least ten pounds and Wayne knew his arms we're going to hate him for this.

Think the worst, and the worst will appear. he thought.

Wayne's muscles fought to bring the book to the coffee table, but won out in the end. He set the tome down, careful to avoid the new and mysterious centerpiece. Then he sat back on the other lazyboy with another whoosh. He looked over at his wife, still doing her knitting and back down at the bottle.

What secrets do you hold? I'm going to find out. And with that Wayne opened his book.

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