A 975 word story written for the September 19 Weird Tales Contest.
| The Witch And The Demons
Susan was never meant to become a witch. Just think of her name. It would be hard to imagine a name less... witch-like. She was a plump, cheerful woman; there was always a smile on her face, and whatever the adversity, she would always manage to laugh.
She would have remained her cheery self if it had not been for the appearance of the demon.
He wasn't very large; too small, in fact, to be intimidating in any way. He was red, with small horns, and a long pointed tail. When Susan had first set eyes on him she had thought that perhaps he was a baby dragon. That would, after all, have explained the steam that seemed to surround the creature. The demon was not amused by this and began to whisper.
At first the whispers seemed harmless enough, but then, once he was certain that he had her ear, he began spreading rumors and false tales.
"Wanda Byers claims that you put slugs in her garden to eat all of her plants."
"Fred Hughes claims that it was you that stole the horse from Farmer Jenkins."
"Lucy Meadows says that it is because of a spell that you cast on her that she has not been able to bear a child."
Over and over, the demon made up false allegations and tall tales. Susan lost her smile; she could not help it. She became thinner and taller. It was as if her chubbiness had somehow been turned in to height. She grew less and less attentive to her appearance. Her dark hair grew long, to hang around her face in clumps that became thick with grease and dirt. Even her skin began to turn a sickly hue.
It had been hard, but she had resisted the impulse to react to the rumors. She tried to close her ears to the demon's words and spent her time alone in her house. But then there was a knock at her door. Desperate, by then, for some company, Susan had flung open the door, only to find another demon standing there on her doorstep.
Taking the opened door as an invitation, the demon walked in. They looked at each other with rivalry, those two little demons, and it was then and there that the change took place.
Susan grew taller and even thinner. Her nose seemed to grow in proportion to her face, and on its end appeared a wart. Her clothes would no longer fit her, so she was forced to adapt a blanket. That the blanket was dark grey just added to the whole 'witch' look, and with a devil now beside each ear, Susan finally succumbed.
Wanda Byers had sheets pegged to her washing line. They were crisp and white until they caught the attention of the demons. Taking Susan's hands in their own, they led her towards the almost dry and freshly laundered cotton. They simply had to breathe on them to make sooty smudges appear on the whiteness. Some of the breaths were hot enough to singe.
"Go on..." urged the second demon.
"Remember what she said," reminded the first.
Susan bent down to pick up a stick. She beat at the material, tearing it, spattering the sheets with mud that joined with the soot and the singes. Wanda must have spotted them from the kitchen, for she flew through her house and out of the door.
"Why, you... you witch!"
Susan froze for a moment, stick in hand. The demons frolicked gleefully, as outrage washed all the remaining goodness from the woman. The stick began to grow and twist in her hand, to point towards the outraged Wanda Byers. And then, with a pop and a puff, Wanda disappeared; in her place was a fat green slug!
"You did it!" cheered the first demon.
"That showed her," encouraged the second.
"Who's next?" asked Susan, who was no longer herself.
The demons led her by the hand to the farm of Henry Jenkins. Susan stooped down to listen to the whispers, and then she smiled a black-toothed smile.
The pigs were rooting around in the sty, looking for anything they could find to munch on. It was very near to feeding time and they were hungry. With a wave of that piece of wood, each one of the ten pigs somehow seemed to disappear, only to reappear in Fred Hughes' living room.
At the sight of the angry man trying to shoo out the pigs, Susan doubled over with laughter while the demons leaped for joy. This woman might not have been a witch until they had intervened, but they both had to agree that she was making a very good one!
Demon number three made his appearance from under the ground as the trio were making their way towards the house of Lucy Meadows. With both ears already claimed, this evil little red imp decided to converse directly with Susan's mind.
"She wanted babies, so give her some! A dozen should do the trick."
Susan did not even have to put a lot of thought into it this time. With a wave of her wand, for that was indeed what the stick had become, twelve baskets appeared, lined up outside the Meadows' house. Inside each basket was a squalling infant.
Lucy, together with her husband, Patrick, dashed out of the door. An instant of delight crossed their faces, before they saw quite how many children were now screaming for comfort.
Of course, by then, word of Susan's mischief had spread around the village. It seemed as though every single inhabitant stood outside their door, chanting 'Witch' and various other insults.
Susan and the three demons heard every single one. There was more than enough well-deserved trickery being provoked to keep the four of them happy for a very long time.