The Warlock -- by Genna East and Mike Friedman
Welcome to The Warlock, a flash fiction short written by Genna East and Mike Friedman (Mckbirdbks). We hope you enjoy the journey.
Every child in the small town of Holcombe knew the story of Count Druiq, the Wicked Warlock of Halloween. Each year during All Hallows' Eve, he would take on human form and lie in wait behind bushes or in trees for any stragglers who walked alone in the darkness. Parents warned their children that if they tarried too long on their trick-or-treat walks throughout the neighborhood, the magic creature would scoop them up and fly them away to a hidden cave. They would never be seen again.
Druiq was not your average Warlock. He was barely five feet tall and more troll-like in appearance, with long, spindly fingers and claws, grizzled hair and a face riddled with pocks. Whenever he barred his large fangs, bats would crawl out of his mouth and perch on his shoulders, ready to pounce on anything warm-blooded that crossed their path.
The children were told never to speak of the Count. "Never say his name," they would whisper to each other as they walked the streets in Halloween twilight. "He'll hear you."
Kitty, dressed as a fairy princess, and her little brother, Jimmy, a pirate that sailed with Captain Jack, each carried a plastic pumpkin pail. Kitty, age seven, was in charge. She told her pirate companion about a shortcut through the cemetery that would get them more quickly to the homes of people who had plenty of treats.
They squeezed through the creaking gates of Holcombe's old cemetery, frightening some nearby birds. They had taken about fifty steps when Pirate Jimmy heard the gates screech in the distance. The words, "Always walk with friends you know,” echoed through his mind. Kitty thought of the treats that lay just up ahead; her brother kept looking back over his shoulder. Neither of them saw the dark figure lurking behind the large tombstone of the butcher's wife.
Hearing footsteps behind them, Jimmy reached bravely for his pirate's cutlass to protect his sister, the fair damsel, Princess Kitty. A little boy dressed as Captain Leech -- a notorious pirate in his own time -- ran toward them and yelled, "Wait for me, please!" The child was breathless by the time he caught up to them. "Hello...my name is Calvin," he gasped. "Can I walk with you? It's too scary to be out here all by myself."
Smiling, Jimmy returned his plastic cutlass to its plastic scabbard. Kitty sighed in relief and nodded. "Of course," she replied. But you sure scared the heck out of us! Let's get moving."
The trio quickened their pace. They were nearing the far gate of the cemetery when a shadowy figure emerged from a thicket of hedges bordering the graveyard. Short and stocky with an abnormally rounded back, his aquiline skin set off a pair of hard, coal-black eyes.
The man squatted in front of the children and spread out his arms, blocking their exit from the cemetery. "Well...what have we here? A princess and two pirates. I have some candy -- buckets of the stuff -- for all of you. But it's in my car parked yonder down the street. I'll take you there," he said with a hiss.
As the stranger reached for Kitty, Jimmy pointed at him and screamed. "Druiq! It's Druiq!
Hearing Jimmy call his name brought Count Druiq back from his veil of disguise as the young Calvin. The boy dropped his large treat bag, scattering packets of candy corn, cookies and chocolates all over the ground. The Warlock's transformation was quick and terrifying. Within seconds, Calvin's body had swelled into the troll-like creature, tearing the pirate costume he wore into shreds. Huge wings with bird-like talons sprouted from his shoulder blades.
The man's voice rose to a blood curdling yell as a glowering Druiq grabbed the human predator by his throat. Kitty and Jimmy started to run, then turned to see the Count lift the stranger into the air as if he weighed no more than a doll. They watched the pair fly upward toward the shining moon and disappear from sight.
Shaken, they both promised never to tell another soul what had happened. "Pinkie swear,” Kitty told her brother. “No one would believe us anyway.” She knelt down and started to sort through the treats Calvin had left behind for them.
"What are you doing?" asked Jimmy.
"Now, Jim...everybody knows the Count doesn't eat candy. He has his treat," she replied, glancing up at the sky. "And we have our ours."
They gathered the piles of goodies, stuffed them into their plastic pumpkins, and ran home as fast as they could.
Count Druiq had already reached his quarters -- a cave in the hillside on the outskirts of Holcombe. His beloved pets, two giant Black Widow spiders, were not hungry. Druiq watched as they began to spin their fresh food into a silk cocoon they would eat later.
Happy Halloween, everyone!
Genna and Mike
© Written and copyrighted by Genna Eastman and Mike Friedman. All rights reserved.