knew about the Witch Tree which stood behind my school. When the school
foundations were laid, an ancient grave was unearthed, so those old bones were
buried in a bag beneath the old gnarled branches of the very tree from which
the witch had hanged.
was common knowledge that if someone ran three times counterclockwise around
the tree, on the midnight of Halloween, The Witch would emerge and stab her
disturber to death.
one rainy October the 30th I sneaked out of my house to meet five or six other
kids from my class, and watch popular jock Mikey try the ritual out. But no
witch met him. Only distant thunder.
the witch waits til later, when you’re asleep.” I suggested.
do you know about anything, Beetleborg?” Laughed Mikey as he shoved me into the
mud. He always called me “Beetleborg” as I wore a “Big Bad Beetleborgs”
back-pack when everyone else wore a Power Rangers one. I was an odd kid, and
this was the sort of thing I did.
was kind-of right about The Witch biding her time, as Mikey began to see her
outside his window on stormy nights, clutching her knife and staring through
his soul with cold dead eyes.
never invited me to his slumber-parties, but these stopped soon afterwards
anyway, as Mikey woke everyone up screaming about the witch trying to climb in
through his window. People started to make fun of Mikey; it’s fascinating how
fast someone can topple from their perch of popularity.
was a mess afterwards; jumpy, edgy. He’d scream when someone dropped a pencil
on the classroom floor during a thunderstorm. The other kids stopped finding
this funny and began to avoid him completely.
gotta help me, Beetleborg! You know about witches, right?” he begged, a year
later, my back rammed against a locker.
know they’re peaceful, misunderstood; nothing like you describe.” I never saw
The Witch; no-one else ever did, besides Mikey. That was the problem; nobody
ever believed him.
still lives with his dad in the old neighborhood. He could never hold down a
job, and drifted into petty crime, though he always claimed he was framed; that
the witch was playing her games when stolen jewellery kept turning up in his
room. He became a total social pariah.
just heard that Mikeys gotten himself confined to the psychiatric ward. Turns
out he’d tried to break the witch’s curse by burning her tree to ashes one miserable
windy night, and when that didn’t work, he torched the school.
I’m on my way to visit my old schoolfriend
now. He doesn’t want to see anyone, but I’ve phoned his dad to ask what room
he’s in; maybe I can figure out which window is his, by counting them along.
It’s stormy tonight, he could use my company. On the car-seat beside me is my
Beetleborgs back-pack, with my large plastic dagger and old witch costume