Issue 54 Nov 2017
She was a shadow. A field mouse. The fuzzy ball of lint you find in your pocket and flick to the wind without thinking. She was a modern-day Dodo bird.
But, most of all, she was different.
Not in a way that she dressed in Medieval robes on weekends or had six fingers on her right hand. No. Nothing like that. She was just weird. Strange. Peculiar. And any one of those on its own was a death sentence at Sherwood Junior High. Nobody talked about it, but everyone knew it.
Everyone except Sandra Sunavian. The weird one. The one who sat alone at lunch tables and danced by herself at school formals. The one who hid in the back of classrooms and scribbled in her sketchbook even as the spitballs whizzed past her ears. The one who could never be normal.
At least half the school knew her only as ‘Spooky Sandy’, and the other half was convinced she didn’t exist at all, like some kind of legend or tall tale. And it wasn’t as if anyone felt sorry for her, because she had brought it upon herself. Because a girl can only jump out of trash cans and make creepy faces at her classmates so many times before people start to think she’s a lunatic. It’s kind of, like, human nature.
And that’s not an exaggeration. Spooky Sandy really did have a problem. Or at least I thought she did until yesterday in Mr. Rowley’s class. See, she does this thing. This extreme, mind-boggling, and utterly bizarre thing.
She scares the heck out of people.
Orange smoke swirled, thinned and finally revealed a hideous face, fanged and horned. “May I be of service, Mistress?”
Gerutha - Queen of Nordheim’s witches - smiled. “You're solicitous for a demon, especially Loki’s demon.”
“I must serve as my master directs. I may as well keep things pleasant.” The demon Gron bowed.
“Until I step on a magical line or leave a syllable out of an incantation?” Gerutha raised a long, scruffy sarcastic eyebrow at her slave for hire.
Gron raised his head. His gray lips twisted and he offered a fang-packed grin. “That goes without saying, Mistress.”
“I acquired this child a few hours ago.” She patted silken hair on a delicate seven-year-old head.
Gron sucked his right canine. “There were times, Mistress, when you'd eat babies for breakfast.”
Gerutha shook her head. “Never breakfast, Gron, only luncheon.”
“Still, you'd not hesitate to cook them up.”
“Ah, boiled baby, what a treat!”
“So is this one for the pot?”