The Witch's Body Shop
It was the second weekend of October, one of the last opportunities to sit around a camp before winter. After Jack’s father built a firepit in the backyard in the clearing, the group of teenagers huddled around the campfire roasting marshmallows. They burst out in laughter when Jack finished telling the story about the ghost of the spooky house in the woods. He told a new story about the lonely ghost every time they camped.
Claire, a redhead, chubby girl didn’t laugh and was unusually quiet staring into the flames.
What’s with you tonight? You haven’t said a word all evening.” Jack turned to her, with slight worry in his voice.
“I’m just… I overheard my dad talking about the witch who moved to town last month. His friend said that she can raise the dead.” Claire shivered.
“That’s a load of crap,” Jack chuckled. “It’s one of your stories to scare us, isn’t it?”
“It’s true!” Claire protested. “I heard him telling my dad that she has the power to breathe life into the dead!”
“It must be true!” Steve exclaimed wide-eyed. “I heard my dad telling the UPS guy that she sells body parts, and she has one eye and wears a black eyepatch.”
“You don’t think…” Jack stopped in mid-sentence.
“I heard about her too!” Martha shouted. “Grandma said she’s a strange woman, lives alone and nobody knows where she came from. She has a creepy black cat and bought the old Smith house. You know, the one on Franklin Street.”
The kids grew quiet as if they ran out of scary stories. They just sat around the fire for a while in deep thoughts, listening to music. Soon, when the full moon cast eerie shadows and they heard the hushed sounds of the owls and bats, they said goodnight and hurried home.
Jack had a terrible nightmare, he was tossing and turning all night. In his dream, an old woman with wild hair and a black eye patch tied him to a metal table. He looked around and saw that the room was full of pale, dead bodies. Charles was chained to the table and couldn’t move. He was terrified and tried to scream but couldn’t make a sound. The old woman’s bloodshot eye fixed on him as she cackled with her toothless mouth open.
Charles awoke with a jump at dawn, cold sweat covering his forehead and heart pounding in his chest. He heard his dad’s loud snoring and the neighbor’s dog barking. The familiar sounds somewhat calmed him. He called his best friend.
“You couldn’t sleep well either, huh?” Steve picked up at the first ring and asked his buddy in a hushed voice.
“You wouldn’t believe the nightmare I had,” Jack whispered, still out of breath.
“Me too,” Steve replied, his voice shaking.
Jack fell into a fitful sleep, and when he heard his parents, stumbled downstairs to the kitchen in his pajamas. He bumped into his dad who was heading toward the backdoor. “Whoa, there!” Jack’s dad laughed. “You’re up early. Is everything okay?” he asked, his expression turning to concern. “You guys didn’t stay outside as late as usual. I went to check on you around ten, but the fire was out already.”
“Yeah, fine… we were just… it was cold,” Jack replied, stepping aside to let his father open the door.
“Yes, it was a bit chilly.” His dad turned and called out to his wife in a hurry, “I’m heading over to the Witch’s Body Shop. Do you want me to pick up something?”
“Yes. Pick up a nice piece of liver for supper.” Jack’s mother smiled.
Jack’s eyes grew wide and the breath got caught in his throat. What kind of liver are we going to eat? What if… he thought, imagining the worst.
“What’s wrong?” his mother asked, worried. “You’re pale as a ghost!” She touched his forehead. “Are you okay, are you feeling sick?”
“I’m fine, mom!” Jack pushed her hand aside.
Later that day, the group gathered in Jack’s room and discussed what they’d found out.
“It must be just gossip or misunderstanding,” Martha probed, feeling skeptical.
“Don’t think so!” Steve replied. “Didn’t you hear what Jack’s dad said?”
“We must see for ourselves.” Martha insisted, firmly.
They decided to take a ride to the witch’s shop. When they got close to the house, they left their bikes behind a tree and crept closer to the fence. They hid behind a bush and saw a large yard filled with old cars and next to the house a huge garage. Above the garage door, they saw a sign, “The Witch’s Body Shop”.
“Do you think she really sells body parts?” Claire whispered, and stared at the opening garage door, feeling scared out of her mind.
They watched in horror as a middle-aged woman stepped out in greasy overall, dark hair pulled into a tight bun, and a black eyepatch covering her eye.
“Let’s get out of here before she sells our livers too!” Jack shouted, jumped up, and raced to his bike. The others followed and Claire screamed in fright.
“And I’m going to eat carrots for supper, and I’ll be a vegetarian from now on!” Jack huffed as pedaled away in a great hurry.
“What’s with these kids?” the woman asked the stocky man who walked out of the garage behind her.
“Beats me.” He shrugged, looking at the kids racing down the road. “So, you think you’ll get the carburetor today?”
“Yes, my supplier said they’ll deliver it after lunch,” the woman replied wiping her hands on a rag.
“How’s your eye? I hate driving my wife’s car, but I don’t mind waiting until the doctor lets you take the patch off.”
“I’m fine, don’t worry. I’ve been fixing cars for a long time, I can change a carburetor with both eyes closed,” she laughed. “I’ll have your car fixed and ready to be picked up around four.”
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Erika M Szabo
Author of urban fantasy, magical realism novels and children's books,
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