The house was beaten and shoddy. We sat and stared at it.
“What now?” asked Gordon.
“Now someone goes and knocks on her door,” replied Alma.
“Alright then, Alma, this was your idea. Go knock on the witch’s door,” I gave her a little shove, and she almost stumbled past the bushes we were hiding behind. Dang it!
“Hey now, I’m going to knock on her door. I was the one who even got us here. You should go, Gordon. You like old people!” Alma gave Gordon a stern look, and her braids bounced as she told him off.
“No no no, I like one old person, and that’s my gramma! I never said all old people are good!” The two of them bickered away like they always do. Eventually, their sights will fall back onto me and they’ll both tell me to go.
“Hey, what about Wendell? He’s the oldest of us, and he always like being brave about these things,” Alma suggested. That was faster than normal.
“I don’t like being brave, you guys just force me into it all of the time. I never get a choice in whether or not I go,” I kicked a rock away, then started to walk towards the house. I didn’t hear either Alma or Gordon say anything behind me.
I stepped up to the witch’s door, and knocked three times. Nothing happened for a few moments, so I knocked again twice. There was another stretch of silence, so I knocked once more. I always knocked on a door three times before I gave up.
The door opened shortly after my third knock, however. There was a tall woman who looked old and beaten, and her skin was twice as dark as mine. Either she spent a lot of time in the sun, or she didn’t have any white parents.
“Sorry about the wait, but I was doing something work I couldn’t just drop. What do you need?” She held her hands on her hips with confidence, as if she was just waiting for the world to climb into her lap.
I shrugged in response to her question. She looked past me, and probably saw my friends in the bushes. “Oh, were you the one who drew the short straw? No worries, I’ll let you in. We’ll have some tea. And I’m going to pull you in real sudden, that’ll spook your friends.”
“Wait what?” I shouted, before the witch pulled me into her house real sudden, and shut the door behind me.
“I have a bad reputation, and you probably know me as a witch. That’s not a lie, I am a witch, but a much more respectable one. Have you ever heard of witch doctors?” She grabbed my hand, and led me into her home.
“I think I’ve heard of witch doctors a couple of times, but I’m not sure.” She pulled me into her kitchen, and sat me down at a table. The house was littered with all sorts of weird items. A lot of them were books, but there were also jars of weird colored liquids, animal skeletons, feathers, and wooden beads hanging from the ceiling or placed onto shelves. I was more curious than scared now.
“Do you drink tea, son?” She held a kettle as she asked the question. I shook my head. “Well, that’s just a shame. Maybe some other time.” She put her kettle away, then sat at the table next to me.
“Do you want to see something amazing?” She asked. I nodded cautiously. I didn’t know what amazing would mean in this house.
“Well, I guess I can’t actually show you the amazing thing, but I could tell you about it. I can see into the future, which includes your future right now. I couldn’t tell you everything about it, but I could tell you a couple of important things.” She stepped up, and took a wooden box off of a shelf. It almost looked like a small treasure chest.
She opened the box, and dumped the contents onto the table. There were beads, feathers, stiff bones, and other weird trinkets I couldn’t really recognise. Sometimes I thought I saw some cloth, only to discover that it had really been something else. There were other times I would keep my eyes on a wooden bead, only to watch it slide underneath the witch’s hand, and then it would come out a feather.
“I’ve been practicing voodoo for longer than you’ve been alive, son. This box is something I made myself, just so that I could impress youngsters like you whenever your friends pressured you into coming to my house.” She stopped speaking, and then slid all of the jumbled items back into the box. The box sat upside down, and everything remained underneath it.
“You aren’t going to know what any of this means, but I will interpret it for you. Are you ready?” She looked me in the eye. On any other day, I would have called her crazy then left. Yet, she had this powerful appeal that made me nod my affirmation.
Gently, she lifted the box off of the table. The trinkets were still messy, but they looked more orderly and neat than before. It was like someone had tried to sort them out somehow, but stopped halfway through. She looked at jumble, and she slowly became paler and paler. Well, as pale as her dark skin would let her.
She swept all of the small belongings into her box. “Alright, I’m willing to give you a ward against Beasts.” She looked very concerned for me.
“Beasts? Like lions? I don’t need a ward against lions, those are further West.” I started to get up, but the witch spoke more.
“No, not an animal. A Beast. Supernatural things that you and I don’t comprehend. Things you don’t even know exist, and may god keep it that way!” Without standing, she pulled a few things off of a nearby shelf, and laid them on the table. I sat back down.
“This ward will be the most important thing that I could ever give you. However, it does have a price. If you accept my ward, you’ll have to experience death. You won’t really die, but you will know how you would’ve died without the ward.” She kept setting up materials on the table.
“What?” I tilted my head and squinted my eyes, as if she had fallen out of focus.
“Do you want the ward or not?” She looked impatient, but I don’t think she was angry with me.
“I… Okay. I’ll take your ward. Maybe this will prove you’re a real witch.” I smirked at her. She didn’t return the humor.
“What’s your name, boy?” She softly grabbed my hand, and put it into a strange metal thing.
“It’s Wendell,” I informed her.
“Alright, Wendell. Close your eyes.” I did as she instructed. “Now, take a deep breath, and hold it. You’ll know when to let it go.” I did as she instructed. “Now, stay still.”
Suddenly, I felt a sharp pain in my hand, and I opened my eyes. I found myself in a forest. I recognised these woods. They were the ones that my friends and I would go into all of the time, and they were the woods that we went into to get to the witch’s house.
However, right now the woods were dark and cold. It was nighttime, and there was snow on the ground. I looked at my hands, and realised that I was considerably taller than I remembered being, too. Did the witch put me into the future?
“Whoa,” I mumbled to myself. My voice sounded deeper than I remembered as well! She had definitely put me into the future. She was wrong when she said I’d experience death.
I took my first step in this confident and older body, and suddenly I found my body flipping over. I had stepped into some rope trap, and was now hanging upside down!
“Hey, help!” I shouted into the empty woods. Surely, I wouldn’t have gone too far from home.
As if to answer me, I saw a face poke out of the dark. It was a pure white face, as if it were a doll. In fact, I think it might have been a doll face at one point. It took me a moment, but I did notice it had a body. It was a body that was made of metal, and kind of looked like a girl’s.
The face pulled itself toward my face, and pressed its cold glass lips to my cheek. I saw one of its arms move, and then there was a terrible pain in my stomach. My eyes forced themselves closed, and I screamed.
I opened my eyes again, still screaming, and realised I was standing in the witch’s house. She had let go of my hand, and stopped screaming.
“Are you alright, Wendell?” She asked. I nodded.
“I think I’m okay.” I looked at my hand. There was a large mark on top of it. It looked like a dark scar, but much wider. It also got lighter the further from the center it got. “What did you do to my hand?”
“I stabbed a knife through it. Don’t worry, you didn’t take any permanent damage. Your parents might be worried, but the most that will happen is they’ll forbid you come here again. That’s okay. It clears my conscious.” She stood up, and took my hand again. “I think your friends are waiting for you.”
She led me back outside, and we said goodbye. I went over to the bushes where my friends were hiding. They were eager to hear the news.
“What happened, Wendell?” Alma eagerly asked me.
“I don’t really know. I don’t know if I want to.” I shook my head.
Gordon grabbed my hand. “Whoa, what happened to you! Are you hurt?”
“No, I’m fine. I think the witch did something to make me even safer.” I looked at my hand.
“Whatever, this was dumb. Let’s go.” Alma stormed away.
“You’re just jealous because Wendell has a cool scar!” Gordon called after her.