The Witches of Calgary

by Megan Auffart

This is a story I've been working on a for a while now. I'm not very happy with the current title, so if anyone has an alternative suggestion, please feel free to mention it. Any (helpful) criticism you can give me would be very much appreciated, as I need all the help I can get on this story. Just please, please review. Thank you!

Too often, the nightmares would rise up and raid the refrigerator. I would wake up and go downstairs in the morning only to discover that the meat drawer was completely empty and there were cloven-hoofed footprints left in the spray of breadcrumbs on the kitchen floor.

This happened all the time.

Yesterday had been particularly bad, due to the fact that I hadn't been to the grocery store in weeks and the food supplies were getting low. Still, there was enough left to last until Friday, when at least I'd have the spare time to get to the marketplace. Of course, inconvenience is the dearest friend of a nightmare, and so the food was gone. Including my leftover paella, which I shouldn't have to remind anyone costs a pretty penny just for the ingredients, let alone how tedious it is to cook!

Something had to be done.

It was hard to find anyone to blame for this, despite how frustrated I felt over the entire experience. Going after the nightmares with a fully loaded shotgun was one of my most recent daydreams, but I couldn't rightfully yell at anyone in my family for getting me into this. I had no one to blame but myself.

I'd been warned when I bought the place. My aunt Eugene had lived there before moving out a mere six months later. She gave us all the gory details: the way the showers sometimes ran with blood instead of water, the way slime dripped from the ceiling and vines climbed all over the walls, despite how often she trimmed them. And, very often, she mentioned the infestations of nightmares.

"You never see them, of course, but it's obvious they're there," she'd declared during family card night, blowing her cigar smoke out through her nostrils as she picked up my mother's discard. "The little buggers leave all sorts of traces. Even a half-assed huntress like myself couldn't miss them if I were blind and intoxicated." She snorted, puffed at her cigar, and discarded an ace of diamonds.

"I'll buy that," I called, quickly snatching it up before anyone else could say a word. We were playing Liverpool, which was one of the longest, most tedious card games that we knew how to play. One round could last up to forty minutes and there were fourteen rounds in all. My family usually played it due to the fact that it gave us an excuse to gossip. Or, as my uncle Ossifer claimed, "Some women have to get the bullshit out before their eyes turn brown," which was some crap for him to claim, since his eyes were the brownest in the family.

"So what sort of nuisances do nightmares lend themselves to?" inquired my aunt Dynette, picking up my discarded two of clubs. Aunt Dynette was the closest cohort of Aunt Eugene, ever since my mother was little. The two of them had been born so close together that they were doomed to friendship. Mom would still complain to me, in private, how often they forgot to include her on their nightly haunts. Dad would roll his eyes and continue reading the paper. He didn't particularly care for the extracurricular activities my aunts would involve themselves with, but he rarely complained anymore.

"The bond between sisters is too close for any man to understand," she often argued, but the real reason why Dad never said anything was because he was tired of quarrelling. My mother would never admit she was wrong, a trait she shared with her sisters.

"A bunch of harpies, those three," he would mutter, but nonetheless, whenever she would slip out the door sometime past midnight, he was given to turning over and going back to sleep. No use, complaining. He knew what he was getting into, marrying my mother.

Back to the card game. My aunt Dynette was half-listening, half-sneaking a look at my mother's cards while Aunt Eugene gave a detailed list of the problems she'd been having with her nightmare infestation.

"They crawl all over the walls and their feet are so dirty that they leave track marks. I tell you, Dynette, you've never appreciated your house like you would if you moved to a place with footprints behind the spider webs!"

"Spider webs? You allow spiders in your house? Really, Eugene, that's just sloppy."

Aunt Eugene threw up her hands, flashing us all with her run of diamonds before remembering to hid her cards. "I don't allow them in, the damn nightmares bring the spiders with them! And snakes! And centipedes! They bring in anything that could cause a girl to shudder." She gave an exaggerated tremor and then leaned towards where mom and I were sitting.

"Be grateful you don't have any at your house, Melly," she told my mother in a conspirator's whisper, "or they will frazzle your life till you're at your wit's end! What with their constant taking of food, dirtying the carpets, not to mention ruining a perfectly sound night's sleep... Just be grateful, Melly."

My mother laughed quietly to herself and then laid down her perfect run, throwing her last remaining card in the discard pile.

"Really, Eugene. I already live with those problems, after all. You forget that I am married."

My aunts raised their heads, cackling with laughter, not even minding that my mother's apt playing had caught them with their hands full of wild cards and aces. chapter coming soon...