99 Curses

Kara’s Vale is a spooky place that lends itself well to the tales of witches and black magic that founded it. But nobody ever expected anything like this.

Ted, the police sergeant, has two problems. One of them is a drinking problem. The other is the gruesome massacre of nine people at a party in the town hall. There’s blood on the walls, guts on the floor and a head swinging from the chandelier. These murders make no sense. And none of the surviving witnesses saw an attacker. Ted believes this is the work of supernatural forces.

The witch, on the other hand, has ninety problems: the ninety remaining residents of Kara’s Vale. She’s got an impossible amount of power, a strong stomach and a vivid imagination, and she’s using all three to systematically tear Kara’s Vale apart. She watches with glee as the police scratch their heads and the bodies pile up. She never wanted any of this. At least, not at first. Now, she wants it all. And nothing is going to stand in her way.

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1. Black Magic and Broken Dolls

She didn’t like branding herself with the title of witch, because that word tended to conjure up images of wizened old crones with warts and broomsticks and pointy hats. She didn’t have a black cat or a poisoned apple or a high-pitched cackle. Her laugh was normal, and she couldn’t have worn a weird hat or ridden a broomstick, even if she’d wanted to, without attracting a detrimental amount of attention from her neighbours. She was just a normal woman, who went shopping, did taxes, and fussed about her hair in the mirror just like everyone else. But she did have a devastating amount of black magic at her disposal, poised to inflict death, and she guessed that made her a witch whether she liked it or not.

She licked her lips, flicking the point of her tongue across her front teeth, and ran her hand deliciously slowly over the tabletop. Her plan was all laid out in front of her- in fact, it’d been there since that morning, ready to unleash its carnage the second she chose to. She wondered which one she should pick first- did it matter? Should it matter? Well, that all depended, didn’t it? It all depended on which of those jumped-up, pompous, gold-hearted motherfuckers she wanted to die first.

* * * * * *

Ted was a simple man with simple needs, and despite what his co-workers at the police department would have had the local population believe, he was not an idiot. He took a generous swig of his hip-flask, wishing he had filled it with something stronger than vodka, to steel his nerves before entering the main hall. He barged through the old oak doors in a somewhat successful attempt to project confidence, stopping only to survey the room with blood-red walls and decaying carcasses strewn across the bile-green carpet as the victims attempted to scramble to safety from their inevitable deaths.

The massacre had started with the newly elected mayor, Russell Blair, who was found hiding under a table. His head, however, took a lot longer to retrieve, as it was hanging from an extravagant chandelier by his hair. Next was the local baker, who was rumoured to intentionally include rat droppings in all of his baked goods, who had his chest torn open. And the third victim identified so far was the local bank manager, who had suffered multiple stab wounds. Ted sighed before downing the rest of his overused hip flask before taking up the unenviable task of managing the reporters outside who were ravenous for information to pump into the newspapers the following morning.

* * * * * *

She’d decided to go for the mayor first. After all, as the object of a party filled with self-serving prats, he’d been the biggest self-serving prat of them all. Besides, his likeness had been her favourite. She’d bought a bottle of champagne to toast the new election herself, not neglecting, of course, to attach arms and legs to the bottle and draw a little, round-cheeked, beady-eyed face on the cork. The spell had taken a couple of hours to attach, since the glass bottle was, apparently, only a passing likeness to the barrel-chested Russell Blair, but it’d finally behaved itself. She’d let that bottle sit all day in the summer heat, before finally letting herself shake it up and hold her breath with glee till the cork popped out and flew across the room. She’d later heard the mayor’s real head had flown so far it’d become tangled in his chandelier and the police had had to poke it down with a set of garden shears. She’d laughed so hard it’d nearly turned into an evil cackle. Nearly.

That bastard baker’s currant buns tasted like rat droppings. She knew they did, because she’d had one once, even though she didn’t need to eat. What better way, she’d thought, to pay back a man whose worst crime was shitty bread than with shitty bread? She’d made his likeness out of dough, cooked it, and then sprinkled a few maggots into the mix. Those maggots had done what they did best- they’d eaten. Eaten away at the inside of that dough boy till she’d wrapped her spell around them and they’d finally broken through the surface. Through his chest, as it turned out. It was like that film Alien. Even the bread-and-maggots version had looked like it. She could only imagine what it must’ve looked like to the guests in that town hall. She could only imagine what it must’ve felt like for that poor mortal, swearing up and down his chest was being eaten alive, even though there was nothing there. Nothing but her, in her cabin, with her black magic and her broken dolls.

Sometimes, she was too creative. She was, after all, a creative person at heart. She’d decided to turn back to her roots as an homage to the discipline she’d been bred under- that delightfully fucked-up black art called Voodoo, and made the bank manager’s likeness from rags and cotton stuffing. She’d stitched her spell through him, then held him in her hand, squeezing him, delighting in the way it made her feel. This doll was a person. This doll had life, and she was holding it all in her palm. The black threads of her magic oozed from every shoddily-stitched pore in the sackcloth- his blood was wool, and his heart was a flake from a tissue of his she’d picked up from the floor, and his eyes were buttons. He was her plaything, her puppet, her toy. He was nothing. She was everything. She was God. And she had a pin, and she stuck it into his leg and dragged it all the way through. She pretended she’d heard him scream, watched him drop to the ground as a long thin gouge pushed its way through his flesh. She’d jabbed the pin into his stomach, then his right eye, and then, finally, his heart. His blood, everywhere. His face, red. She could see it; she could feel it; she could taste it. Crimson all over that expensive carpet, and bloodlust soaking into every single cell in her body.

She’d never wanted any of this. She’d never wanted to resort to murder. At least, not at the start. Now, she wanted everything. She wanted more. And nothing was going to stand in her way. Especially not that embarrassing, presumptuous, alcoholic mess who called himself the police sergeant.

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