While the Witch is Away

Zelda K. Arcadia, witch, was away on an adventure, leaving her wife, Penny P. Post, vampire, and Soot, Zelda’s winged cat familiar. Penny and Soot are in an eternal battle for Zelda’s attention and affection — so while the bat and cat are not enemies, they do not normally spend much time together socially.

Penny slowly turned a metal crank to open a can of food and soon the air was filled with the dreadful, blissful, heavy odor of swamp eels. “Dinner is ready, Soot.” She shook the can, emptying the black gel into a ceramic bowl patterned with frogs. “Soot?”

The lack of wings flapping or paws padding was concerning, it was not like Soot to be late for a meal. Maybe he was sleeping? “Soot?” Penny went from room to room in the cozy, rambling cottage she shares with Zelda. Books, baubles, and treasures line walls and create all manner of hiding places, and indeed Penny found all manner of kobolds, ghosts, and sprites lurking about — but no Soot.

“Zells. Is going. To kill me.” Penny mumbled haltingly as she saw an open window. Specifically the open window with the Sky Portal spell that leads to far away places unfit for feline kind. “I’m toast! She is going to haul me into sunshine!” the vampire swore.

Penny rushed to the portal and transformed into a bat, flapping wildly as soon as she crossed the magical threshold.

Instantly teleported miles into the air, the bat-shaped Penny turned her ears this-way-and-that, desperately listening for the lost cat. The portal lead to an area of dense magical clouds, a pit stop Zelda used to power her broom on very long trips. Zelda’s perfume lingered on the ethereal spectrums, Penny had left the window open to retain the beautiful smells just a little longer, not realizing Soot could fit through such a narrow gap.

“Me-ow!” a call rang out, cold and scared. “Mrrow!!” Penny, in bat form, flew in the cry’s direction. “Mroow? Meow?!” The sounds rang out as Soot smelled Penny’s magic.

With a popping sound, Penny returned to human form and called to the winged cat, who was caught in a dense branch of cloud. “Come here, Soot! Come here kitty! Penny has treats! Chocolate beetles! Oh please come here, winged mischief!”

The winged cat wiggled with uncertainty and fear, looking around, weighing its options. The wind was blasting, the air was freezing cold, and the monster cat was so hungry.

“Come here gentle zephyr,” Penny called, arms open. Soot leapt — and was swept up by the wind gusts, carrying him off. “Soot!” Penny cried, leaping and catching the cat. She rolled and landed into a cloud bank, the cat resting comfortably against her chest. Soot rubbed his cheek against Penny and loudly purred.

About a week later, Zelda came home as the sun rose. “Pen? Sooty boots?” she called out. “A very sleepy witch is home.”

“Mwralp.” came the stoic, pointed reply from the bedroom.

Zelda walked into the room and put a hand over her mouth to hide her grin. An angry, Why Did You Leave? emoting Soot stood guard on Penny’s coffin. Eyes glaring, expression furious, his wings were cocked and held in the same position Penny used to hover in the air while in bat form.

“Did you miss me, my black cloud? I’m sorry! I have to work!” Zelda laughed as the black cat pointedly turned away, curled into a ball, and folded its wings over his face in a distinctly bat-like gesture to prove his cat heart belonged to Penny. For now, at least.

Haunted House patch

Haunted House patch ($2.00)

Graceful ghosts lingering in empty rooms, absorbing secrets, radiating gloom.
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