The Leaky Cauldron

the cauldron by chris hall lunasonline

‘Oh Sparky, what are we going to do?’ Alys wrung her hands as a sludgy yellow substance seeped from the bottom of her cauldron.

It had all been going so well. Business had been brisk following her success with the skin potion she’d made for Agatha of  Aladore*. Agatha had been the subject of a beauty feature in the Weekly Witch, and Alys had also had a spot in the same publication, although the journalist who came to interview her hadn’t been best pleased when she’d inadvertently turned her photographer into a frog.

Alys sighed again and stared mournfully at the leaky cauldron. ‘How much is a new cauldron going to cost Sparky?’

The diminutive dragon quickly consulted Acme’s Catalogue for Practitioners of Potions. ‘A Number Five Cauldron is six hundred and twenty four witch-gilders.’

‘I don’t even have the twenty four witch-gilders after paying compensation to that journalist.’ A plump tear ran down her cheek.

Sparky hopped up on her shoulder and nuzzled her neck. He began to weep in sympathy, their tears mingling as they dripped into the leaky cauldron.

Psst-psst-psst! The cauldron hissed. Whooosh! A cloud of blue smoke issued forth from its depths. Ping-ping-ping! A shower of shiny silver objects rained down on the floor.

Sparky hopped down to investigate. ‘Look at this Alys,’ he exclaimed, releasing a cloud of excited steam.

Alys crouched down to look. ‘Coins! Oh Sparky, are they real?’

The diminutive dragon examined the nearest coin. ‘Sure they are!’ He gathered them up. ‘Six hundred and twenty-four witch-gilders!’

‘Exactly the amount we need… but how?’

The cauldron sputtered again and a thick piece of parchment flew out, flapped about and presented itself to Alys. It read: ‘Your cauldron is due for retirement and has bestowed a parting spell. Please treat her kindly in her old age and do not use her as an umbrella stand.’

The parchment promptly vanished.

Alys and Sparky looked at each other. The cauldron gurgled happily and showered them with tiny pink roses.


Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #38

The challenge this week was catalogue. Photo credit: clipart-library.com
It’s a little longer than the suggested 250 words, but Sparky didn’t want me to leave any of the story out.

*Cooking Up a Storm

Beyond Hollywood

Hollywood and beyond by Chris Hall lunasonline

Microphone in hand, TV reporter Jason Joslyn strode towards the shiny pink limo as a svelte figure emerged to a flurry of flash photography. ‘Ms Kitty Katz, do you have a few words for our viewers?’

Kitty flashed her pearly whites for the cameras. Hollywood star turned politician, the eyes of the entire world were upon her.

Jason addressed the TV audience. ‘For those of you who’ve been off-planet these last few weeks, Ms Kitty Katz has won the nomination as leading opposition candidate in the race for the Presidency. These are exciting times, Kitty, how are you feeling?’

Kitty Katz’s reply was drowned out by a loud explosion. Smoke billowed from the grand arena in which her latest rally was about to commence. A host of stars staggered out in a shower of shredded sequins.

The feline film star’s campaign had been dogged by intimidation. It had started small with threats and minor outbreaks of violence against her supporters, but this latest incident was an outrage! What she couldn’t understand was why. Surely those behind such strong-arm tactics realised they were only reinforcing her resolve and perking up her popularity in the polls?

Undaunted, Kitty rushed towards the entrance, while Jason and his camera man followed at a discrete distance. Fortunately nobody had been seriously hurt, although the combined dry cleaning bill was going to cost a small fortune.

Kitty’s cellphone vibrated in her pocket. She flicked a delicate paw across the screen. The video call revealed her friend and aide, Freya, standing over a familiar orange-faced figure. Two thin curlicues of smoke rose from Freya’s pretty purple nostrils and behind her, Kitty could see the golden drapes which framed the White House lawn smoldering gently.

‘He’s confessed, Kitty. This idiot and his Russian friend are behind the intimidation. I’ve got it all here.’

Kitty held up her phone and beckoned to Jason. ‘Show this to the world; the new Hollywood dawn is here!’


Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #37

The challenge this week was nomination.
Photo credit: David Everett Strickler, Unsplash

You’ve met our two heroines before: Freya and Kitty

Aging Ain’t Easy

the tribulations of an aging star by chris hall lunasonline

Dumbo Olivier III stared at his reflection in the dressing-room mirror. His trunk drooped as he examined the growing number of wrinkles on his once-youthful face.

‘C’mon, Dumbs, this could be your big break.’ His agent waved the new script at him. ‘It’s regular work, Dumbs.’

‘A middle-aged medical examiner in a two-bit cop show?’

‘A show which airs every Sunday afternoon, Dumbs. This is the real deal!’

Dumbo shook his crinkly ears. ‘I’m not ready to be a character actor.’

‘Chicks love older men. Think of George Clooney!’

Dumbo turned to regard his profile. ‘Move over, George,’ he murmured.’


Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #36

The challenge this week was mirror.
Photo credit: litreactor.com

Dumbo Olivier III, The Early Years in Catch a Falling Star

Cooking up a storm

Stirring up a Potion by Chris Hall lunasonline

Alys stirred the copper cauldron. Three times widdershins and three times sunwise.

‘What’s next, Sparky?’ she glanced over at the diminutive dragon who was sitting on his purple haunches reading from the ‘Spell-book of Beauty for Witches’. Just out of her apprenticeship, Alys had been set to work on a particular potion for the Sisterhood.

‘Eye of newt and ear of bat…’

‘Stop messing, Sparky. Even I know that’s from Mr Shakespeare’s play.’ Alys laughed and flicked the long-handled spoon she was using to stir the pot at her tiny familiar. Small spatters landed on the pages of the spell-book where they sizzled ominously.

Sparky ran a tiny gleaming claw down the text. ‘Add five drops of crocodile tears and twelve drops of tincture of unicorn hair. Stir vigorously sunwise, then add tiny pinches of campfire dust until the mixture begins to glow.’

Alys added the ingredients and stirred.

‘I wonder if it’s supposed to look like that,’ said Alys, peering at the potion. ‘Oh well, it’ll have to do. Agatha of Aladore will be here any second.

Just then, Agatha materialized on the doormat. She grinned, holding out a small copper jug expectantly.

Alys filled the jug, wondering whether any potion could possibly work sufficient magic on Agatha’s gnarled and warty complexion. But Agatha cheerfully smeared the hot gloop over her face.

The potion began to fizz. ‘Oooh,’ exclaimed Agatha.

Her face puffed up like a poppadum. Then, with a loud hiss, the outer skin vapourised. Agatha’s hands flew to her cheeks.

There was a moment’s silence.

Agatha removed her hands. Her face was beautifully smooth. Her eyes shone wide and blue, clashing unfortunately with the colour of her skin which was… GREEN!

Agatha snapped her fingers; a small mirror hovered in front of her.

There was another moment’s silence.

Now I’m for it, Alys thought.

‘I LOVE IT!’ Agatha threw her arms around Alys. ‘Just the right tinge of witchery menace.’ She clapped her hands together. ‘I’ll tell all my friends!’ She tottered onto the doormat. ‘Vogue for Witches here I come!’ echoed her voice from the ether.

Alys held out her hand; Sparky sprang up and gave her a high five.


Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #35

The challenge this week was copper.
It’s a little longer than the suggested 250 words, but what’s a hundred-ish words between friends?

You might remember that we first met Alys and Sparky here.

 

 

 

 

The Chocolate Cake Club

chocolate cake club by chris hall lunasonline

I stare wide-eyed at my invitation. As if I wasn’t already the breaker of a thousand diets.

I do not need any more temptation in my life.
My fingers stomp on the keys like an over-weight middle-aged woman taking out the trash in which she’s concealed the evidence of her failure to stick to salad.

It’s virtual, a celebration for us girls, the ones who can only dream of those lithe bodies with which they once entwined.

Virtual chocolate cake? What’s the good of that?

Are you sure I can’t tempt you? Go on. See how many hits you get.


Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #34

The challenge this week was celebration.

Author’s note: I was so taken with Violet Lentz’s response to this same challenge that this is what I found myself compelled to write. It’s also a little experiment about the magical pull of lust and chocolate!

The Big Red Button

The Big Red Button by Chris Hall lunasonline
10 Downing Street (Wikipedia)

– When do I get my Button, Humphrey?

– Button, Prime Minister?

– You know, my Big Red Button. The important one! I want one like everyone else.

– Everyone else, Prime Minister?

– Yes, Putin’s got one, Trump’s got one, that slitty-eyed fellow in North Korea, even Monsieur Whatshisname in France has one.

– You mean the MAD button, Prime Minister?

– Oh no, this isn’t mad, it’s actually quite serious.

– MAD stands for Mutually Assured Destruction, it’s a mnemonic, Prime Minister.

– Never mind how it works, Humphrey, get me the person in charge of our Big Red Button.

– That would be the Chief of Defence, Prime Minister.

– All right then, get the army chappie over here and tell him to bring me my Button.

 

Later that day.

– The Chief of Defence is here to see you Prime Minister.

A man dressed in uniform with lots of gold braid enters the PM’s office. He places a metal briefcase on the desk and opens it. The Prime Minister rubs his hands together.

– Excellent. Now show me how it works

– Once all the protocols have been agreed, Prime Minister, you simply push that button in the centre of the control mechanism.

– Oh, that one? It’s not very big, is it? And it’s not very red.

– Nevertheless Prime Minister, that is Britain’s Big Red Button. Only to be used in the most dire of emergencies.

– But I’m the one who gets to push the Button?

– Yes, Prime Minister.

– Golly, isn’t politics exciting!

 

Sir Humphrey shows the Chief of Defence out, closing the door behind them both.

– Tell me that’s not the real thing, Nick?

– Good heavens no, Humphrey! We wouldn’t want something like that in the hands of a politician.

– Does it actually do anything?

– Well, it is armed. Otherwise it wouldn’t look authentic.

– Armed? Good Lord. What might he set off?

– Oh, nothing serious, just a few fireworks in the shrubbery.


Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #33

The challenge this week was politics.

With sincerest apologies to everyone who was involved in that great BBC institution, the TV series ‘Yes, Prime Minister’. For anyone who’s never seen it, here’s a little taster:

 

The butler did it!

The Butler did it by Chris Hall lunasonline
Blenheim Palace (Wikipedia)

The Queen gazed out of the window as a team of paramedics, flanked by dark-suited security men, slid the stretcher into the ambulance. Its occupant, whose face was covered, had been pronounced dead at the scene, slumped over his dinner at the top table in the Long Library. It had only been by great good fortune that the contents of the glass he’d been holding had missed her spangled evening gown. White silk was a devil to clean, apparently.

Standing by the back of her chair, her butler coughed discretely. The Queen turned to him and gave a conspiratorial wink. ‘Don’t worry, Watkins. You were only acting under orders.’ The Queen smiled serenely. ‘And I am monarch and above the law.’

‘Very good, ma-am.’

‘Worked a treat, didn’t it?’ she giggled. ‘Something Philip was given on a State visit. I knew it would come in handy one day.’

‘Indeed, ma-am. If I might be permitted to say, the poisoning was entirely justified. Not that one’s Royal Highness would need to.’

‘He might have been the Leader of the Free World, but in all my years as Queen, I have never, ever come across such an odious man.’

‘He actually asked for a Coca-Cola when Blenheim has such a wonderful wine cellar!’

They both glanced at the portrait hanging over the fireplace.  ‘I’m not sure what Mr Churchill would have made of him, or his own current successor.’

The Queen raised her glass to the portrait. ‘He’s a problem for another day.’


Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #32

The challenge this week was dinner.