April 3, 2018

“Witches Gone Wicked: Womby’s School for Wayward Witches” By Sarina Dorie, Part 2

“Witches Gone Wicked: Womby’s School for Wayward Witches” By Sarina Dorie, Part 2

As promised, following Chapters 1 and 2 yesterday, here are Chapters 3 and 4 of Witches Gone Wicked. If you like what you’ve read, the author has a special, limited time offer for you. You can have a free copy of the ebook in exchange for writing a brief review. If you’re interested, please go to InstaFreebie to claim your copy. Once you’ve finished, please thank Sarina by posting a review on Amazon or Goodreads.

 

Witches Gone Wicked:

Womby’s School for Wayward Witches

by Sarina Dorie

Chapter Three

Encounters of the Witchkin Kind

 

I had hoped that once I came to Womby’s, everything would be clear to me: I would understand where I came from and how my powers worked. Now that I knew my best friend, Derrick, was in this realm, I would get to see him. We could be together again, if not romantically then at least as friends, and I would know who my biological mother was and what she had done to make everyone hate her—and me.

No such luck. The rest of the meeting had gone downhill from the moment the principal appointed Thatch as my new mentor. When I asked if they’d had a student named Derrick Winslow five years before, Jeb said student records were confidential. He evaded answering questions about my mother.

I wasn’t going to learn to control my powers—or anything else—from a kind and benevolent mentor.

I trudged back to my classroom. One thing I hadn’t gotten used to during the two days I’d been at Womby’s was all the stairs. To get to my classroom from the principal’s office I had to descend three flights of stairs, go into the main passage, pass the seventies-era cafeteria/great hall and hang a left, go down another hall with crumbling plaster that probably contained lead, and up four flights of stairs to the most remote tower in the school. It was the farthest wing from the West Tower where the main office, Jeb’s office, and administration facilities were located, and several flights higher than the main levels of classrooms. I tried to look on the bright side. My classroom wasn’t that far from my dorm room, only two flights up and a hallway away.

I had learned during student teaching and observations that the fine arts and industrial arts wings were usually the farthest from other classes. On the plus side, that meant micromanaging principals, like the one where I did my student teaching, were more likely to observe other classrooms than mine. I’d probably have a lot of freedom at this school. On the downside, I got turned around in the twisting passages. I could sort of tell the difference between wings by the eras of architecture and their levels of disrepair.

The great hall and the corridors outside it were ancient and made of stone, resembling a medieval monastery. A more recent addition of converted classrooms were built in a Gothic style with arches and stained glass. Another section resembled Frank Lloyd Wright architecture with the same mold problems associated with his designs. The student and teacher dormitories were reminiscent of a Victorian mansion. Each wing snaked out from the main hallway in a different direction, like the legs of a spider. The mishmash of styles built on top of each other reminded me of Howl’s Moving Castle, only on crack.

I hadn’t considered the impractical nature of an old building: a lack of running water in many of the rooms, cracks in the walls that were big enough I could see daylight outside, and how large and difficult it was to navigate. The stone of the hallway was covered with black-and silver-banners— the school’s colors. Crests, portraits and trophies decorated the walls. The paintings didn’t move like in Harry Potter.

Already I felt disappointed with the school’s underwhelming magic.

It only took me about twenty minutes to find my classroom this time. I knew I was in the right tower when I smelled the unmistakable odor of bleach and Lysol. After I’d arrived at the school the afternoon before, I’d spent over three hours scrubbing the walls and floor to bring it up to my standards of cleanliness. Though, even standing on one of the sturdier tables to reach higher, I couldn’t remove all the splatters and cobwebs from the grimy stone walls. The ceiling had to be twenty feet high.

I grabbed my roll of duct tape and turned to gather up a poster. A looming figure blocked my supplies. Startled, I dropped my duct tape. Thatch smirked.

“Sorry, didn’t hear you come in.” I laughed in my nervousness. I casually inched back.

“Witchkin do not use nonorganic cleaners and human-crafted disinfectants.” He waved a hand at my bucket of cleaning agents. “I can smell those chemicals all the way down in the dungeon.”

“This wing has a serious black mold problem.” I scurried after the roll of duct tape and slipped my arm through the hole like a bracelet. “And there were dark splatters on the wall that looked a lot like blood. It was unsanitary.”

“You should have seen the mess the last teacher left it in before Ludomil set the crew of brownies to cleaning.” He eyed the sooty rectangle that remained on the wall where Guernica had been.

“Ludomil?” I asked.

“Mr. Ludomil Sokoloff, our head custodian.” He said it in his don’t-you-know-anything tone. “After the last teacher exploded, it was a gore-fest in here. You’re fortunate you didn’t arrive a week earlier.”

“Exploded?”

He waved at me dismissively. “The former art teacher had a little accident.”

My expression must have given away my horror. “What do you mean ‘accident?’ What happened?”

He smirked. “Let’s just say the students were tired of learning about postmodernism and decided to demonstrate their version of a Jackson Pollock painting—with his blood. As you can imagine, it didn’t go over well.” He shuffled around boxes of my art books and files, glancing through the contents.

“That’s supposed to be a joke, right?” I fiddled with the roll of duct tape on my arm. Thatch was just trying to scare me, I reasoned. He wanted me to leave the school.

He looked up from the box of posters. His gaze followed the movement of my hand spinning the duct tape around my wrist. I removed the roll and set it on the table. I didn’t want him to think it was a grubby, Morty accessory to match my even grubbier jeans and T-shirt, now spotted with bleach stains and cinders.

He unrolled a poster with an Albert Einstein quote, reading it out loud. “‘Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.’” His nose crinkled up in disgust. “I suppose you think this resembles you. That every child is a special snowflake, and you are the most original, extraordinary flake of them all.”

I wasn’t going to reward his sarcasm with an answer. “Did the students really attack the last art teacher?”

He eyed the duct tape with a disapproving grimace. “I do hope that is for silencing the students.” He lifted it with two fingers as if it were something gross, like his underwear. “You can do as you please, but if Ludomil catches you using any kind of tape on his walls, he’ll do more with your blood than splatter it across the walls.”

Cheery much?

“How do teachers hang stuff up?”

“Spells, of course.” He looked me up and down. “Unless they’re you and can’t use magic.”

What an ass-hat! I would have kicked his behind out the door right then and there if he hadn’t been so big and tall and able to hex me with black magic. I crossed my arms.

“Is there something I can help you with?” Or had he left his dungeon of doom just to awe me with his wit?

He pursed his lips. “Headmaster Bumblebub requests all staff currently on the school grounds attend dinner. For some reason he thinks you’ll look forward to meeting the other teachers. Six o’clock sharp in the great hall.” He said it with his usual unenthusiastic monotone. “There, I’ve relayed the message.”

I gestured to the clock on the wall that was stuck on twelve thirty. “Speaking of time—”

“Something I have so little of, especially now that I have one more incorrigible student to teach.” He turned to go.

I ignored that comment. “Do you know what time it is?” I’d left my phone in my purse in my dorm. “My wristwatch went missing from my nightstand and the one on the wall—”

He sighed in exasperation. “A digital watch, I suppose.”

“Yes?”

“See rule three in the student handbook regarding electronics.” He started toward the door again.

I had skimmed the handbook. Like every single school I’d ever worked at, students weren’t permitted electronics. That didn’t answer my question.

“Wait! Do you know what time it is?” I asked.

He lifted up the long sleeve of his tweed jacket, glancing at his bare wrist. There was no wristwatch as far as I could see. “Five thirty,” he said. “By the way, your first magic lesson is tomorrow morning. Seven o’clock sharp. I will not tolerate tardiness.”

Ugh. I soooo didn’t want to learn magic from him. Especially not at the butt crack of dawn. But he was my teacher now. I would try to make the best of it.

“Seven. Great. Thanks.”

“If you have the courage to show up.”

That irritating way his eyebrow lifted, his bored indifference, the way he came in and tried to intimidate me about my job—I couldn’t take it anymore. “Why are you acting like this? What is your problem?”

“You.” He sighed in an overdramatic way one usually expected from teenagers. “It’s bad enough I have to teach at the same school as you, but now I have to . . . teach you.”

“Look, I know you didn’t like my mother, but I’m a different person than she was.” Being nice to him was more painful than having teeth pulled, each word a struggle to form, but I gave it my best. “I know you don’t want me at your school, but I’m here, so you might as well get used to it. We’re going to have to work together.”

He ignored my attempt to make peace. “Don’t think that because Jeb wishes me to teach you, I’m going to make this easy for you. You are a danger to those around you. The moment Jeb catches you using one of the forbidden arts of pain magic, necromancy, or blood magic. . . .” He glanced at the burnt remains of poster on the wall.

My blood turned to ice. Never had I realized getting a papercut could be so dangerous.

A sinister smile tugged at his lips. “He will insist I drain you of your powers, leaving you as a mortal. It will only be a matter of time before you show your true nature and kill someone. I’ll be watching you.” His eyes narrowed. “Closely.”

I swallowed. On the plus side, he hadn’t threatened to turn me into a toad.

 

Chapter Four

Sweet Dreams

It wasn’t uncommon for me to have bad dreams when I was stressed. Nor was it uncommon to dream of Derrick. When magical things popped up in my life, sometimes my guilty conscience punished me with nightmares of the tornado that had whisked Derrick away. Being at a school for Witchkin, surrounded by people who cast spells, couldn’t get more magical. It shouldn’t have surprised me I would dream of Derrick.

What surprised me was how real it felt.

I lay in my old bed, in my childhood room, surrounded by My Little Ponies, Strawberry Shortcake, and fairy decorations. Part of me knew this scene wasn’t right. That room had been destroyed in the tornado.

Warm sunlight filtered in through the window. An arm slipped around my waist under the Tinker Bell bedspread.

Without even looking, I knew it was Derrick. I snuggled closer to him. He smoothed my hair away from my face and kissed the back of my neck. I wanted to savor this moment, but the incongruity of being an adult in this bed tickled my mind.

“This is how I always imagined it would be.” His voice was slightly deeper than I remembered.

I turned to look at him, wanting to confirm it was truly Derrick. His blue hair was shorter than the last time I’d seen him in real life, his face leaner and older. He grinned, a mischievous twinkle in his eyes as he leaned closer and kissed me.

That kiss was like falling into the embrace of warm water. I allowed the current to sink me deeper. The tension in my muscles melted away. He squeezed me to him, his fingers sweeping against my naked arm.

Holy cow! I was naked. It was going to be one of those dreams. . . .

I wanted this to be real, but I knew it wasn’t. Derrick had never stayed the night in my bed. The one time he had been there briefly in high school was after my sister had spiked my drink with alcohol, and he’d put me to bed. He’d told me he would talk to me in the morning, and he would kiss me again if I still wanted to another time. He’d been too much of a gentleman to stay the night. Plus, my parents would have freaked if they’d found him in my bed.

I pulled away just enough to see the vivid azure of his eyes reflecting the brilliance of a thousand cloudless skies. He was so handsome, more so than I remembered.

“This never happened,” I said.

“Not yet.”

“But it will? When?”

The old mischief returned to his eyes. “When you find me.”

“How? When?”

“When the time is right. After you’ve broken the curse.” He rubbed the back of my hand against the rough stubble on his cheek.

“What curse? Your curse? Do I need to rescue you?” I asked.

“No, rescue yourself first. Find out about Alouette Loraline.”

My biological mother.

He leaned closer. “One more kiss.”

He covered my face with kisses that brushed against my flesh like butterfly wings. His fingers whispered over my shoulders and throat and breasts. A breeze tickled my hair against my neck, bringing with it the perfume of faraway places. He kissed me, and it was like that night when he’d kissed me in real life.

My belly fluttered with magic.

The breeze blew harder. Goosebumps rose on my arms. I knew what was coming. Dread settled in my stomach like a lump of lead, crushing the pleasant sensations of magic that had been swelling. Wind blustered against the covers. I turned my face away from the fury of air. One of the dolls on the shelf fell to the floor. Books crashed from the bookcase. I twisted to hold on to Derrick. I wasn’t going to let him go this time. The tornado would not take him away from me like it had in real life.

When I looked again at his face, it was no longer Derrick. It was Felix Thatch.

I flinched back. Wind whipped around us. Stuffed animals flew across the room. The walls groaned like they were about to be torn apart.

Thatch smiled. “Draining your powers doesn’t have to be unpleasant.” He pulled me closer. His lips inched toward mine.

I screamed.

My own screaming must have woken me. I sat up in the darkness, disoriented until I remembered I was in my new room in the women’s dormitory at Womby’s. I was sweating buckets and panting. It had started off as such a happy dream. Why did it have to end with Thatch? Sure, my subconscious probably found him alluring in that sexy, off-limits professor sort of way, but there was no way in hell I would want to kiss him in real life.

He wanted to drain me.

I hugged my knees, remembering Derrick. What had he said exactly? His words were hard to grasp with the more ominous shock of Thatch afterward. I had some kind of curse to break. He didn’t want me to look for him. Was this an actual message from him or one from my subconscious mind?

Three seconds later, pounding thundered against my door. I snatched up the cell phone from underneath my pillow and activated the flashlight.

“Who’s there?” I asked.

“Felix Thatch. Who else?” he snapped.

His timing was uncanny. I prayed this had nothing to do with the dream. I really didn’t want to talk to him right now.

Wait a minute. Had I missed my magic lesson? I glanced at the shutters. No light showed through. It couldn’t be seven o’clock. I considered changing the app on my phone so I could see the time, but the ray of light coming from the screen made me feel safe against the bogeyman of my nightmares.

“Open this door right now,” Thatch said.

I looked down at my pink Disney princess tank top and shorts. “Um, I’m not decent.”

“I’m not going to shout at you through a block of wood.”

No, he’d probably shout in my face.

“Okay. Coming.” I grabbed my sweater draped over the chair at the desk and pulled it over my head. I hugged the cell phone to my chest as though it might shield me from his wrath.

I hesitated at the door. “Are you going to drain me?”

The air tingled around me, tasting like electricity and starlight. The wood creaked and groaned ominously. I jumped back. It flung open, smashing against the stone wall with a loud crack. He held his black wand in his hand, light glowing as brightly as a ninety-watt bulb. He wore a tweed suit, his hair as immaculate as ever.

The door now leaned crooked against the wall, the bottom hinges barely hanging on to the wood.

“What the bloody hell do you think you’re doing?” he demanded.

I flinched back. “Sleeping.”

He jabbed an accusing finger at me. “You stay out of my head and stay out of my dreams.”

“No, you stay out of my dreams.”

“I wouldn’t be in your dreams if your subconscious didn’t pull me into them. Learn to control yourself.”

“But how? I don’t know how to do magic. You’re supposed to teach me.”

“You’re going to release unspeakable evils upon the school and murder people just like your mother did.” He turned away, muttering to himself. “The only difference between you two is she could teach.”

I ignored the insults. “Hey, are you going to fix my door?”

He didn’t answer.

It wasn’t like Mr. Dramatic Entrance had needed to magic it open. I hadn’t locked it. I hadn’t thought I would need to. Now I did.

***

Sarina Dorie has sold over 150 short stories to markets like Analog, Daily Science Fiction, Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Orson Scott Card’s IGMS, Cosmos, and Abyss and Apex. Her stories and published novels have won humor and Romance Writer of America awards. She has sold three novels to publishers. Her steampunk romance series, The Memory Thief and her collections, Fairies, Robots and Unicorns—Oh My! and Ghosts, Werewolves and Zombies—Oh My!are available on Amazon, along with a dozen other novels she has written. Womby’s School for Wayward Witches is her most recently published novel.

A few of her favorite things include: gluten-free brownies (not necessarily glutton-free), Star Trek, steampunk aesthetics, fairies, Severus Snape, Captain Jack Sparrow and Mr. Darcy.

By day, Sarina is a public school art teacher, artist, belly dance performer and instructor, copy editor, fashion designer, event organizer and probably a few other things. By night, she writes. As you might imagine, this leaves little time for sleep.

You can find info about her short stories and novels on her website:

www.sarinadorie.com

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