Astral Squeaks

by Lori Penhaligon

“I thought we had an agreement!”

The Thing’s nostrils twitched at the aroma of Witch. It reluctantly opened one giant eye and swivelled it around and upward. The source of the scent was perched upon an enormous black dragon, wheeling at a safe distance above Its pit. The Thing quickly quashed the uncomfortable realisation that It was not entirely sure whose benefit this was for.

“Indeed.” It rumbled.

“So what does your lapdog think he’s playing at? You leave us alone, we leave you alone. That was the deal, yes?”

“It was. I concur. He will be…. Dealt with. Swallowed up. He’s pretty much outlived his usefulness anyway. Leave it with me.”

“Okay. Thank you.” The Witch sniffed, nodded stiffly and wheeled the dragon away, beating a (mercifully, as far as The Thing was concerned) rapid retreat.

The Thing sighed, closed Its eye and settled down again to digest Its latest meal, tentacles draped almost daintily over the brickwork edge of Its pit.

***

Only to find Its nostrils full once more of the overriding aroma of Eau de Witch. But this time less mugworty, earthy and frankincensey. More rose, cinnamon and citrus. And still deeply unpleasant to every set of the Thing’s nostrils.

It opened another of its myriad eyes and regarded the figure balefully. “What are you doing here?” It snapped. “She’s already been here. It’s settled.”

The Witch smiled in a manner the Thing chose to interpret as apologetic. “Sorry. Just passing through” she replied. And dematerialised without further ado.

The Thing sighed again, more heavily this time, and settled back down, grumbling gently to Itself. Honestly. These pitiful instruments were more trouble than they were worth sometimes. Particularly when they made the mistake of going after that pair. But the transgression would soon be moot. Just as soon as the Thing had made some room for dessert…

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