Instant Batification

(Just a little something I wrote a while back for a quick impromptu contest that I did not win. It was written to a theme… just thought I’d share it here, for no reason whatsoever.)


“Mandy, put your bag there on the couch,” Sheila said. “Let’s get the stuff ready while we wait for Leeza. This is going to be so cool!”

The girls giggled and walked to the kitchen. Just when they made it to the table, the doorbell rang. “That’s Leeza,” Sheila squealed. “You get the stuff, and I’ll go let her in.”

After their greetings, Mandy said to Leeza, “So… did you bring the book?”

Leeza giggled and patted her backpack. “Right here.”

“Dig it out!” Sheila exclaimed.

From her backpack, Leeza retrieved a well-worn, large, obviously old leather-bound book. Leeza handled it with great care, placing it on the kitchen table and running a reverent hand over the tooled cover.  “I can’t believe your grandmother let you take her great grandmother’s book out of the house!”

“Well…” Leeza drawled.

“Shut up! You mean, you stole it?” Mandy asked.

“I didn’t steal it, exactly. I ‘borrowed’ it.”

The girls laughed. Leeza carefully slid a finger between the pages of the thick volume and opened the brittle, yellowing pages to the center of the book. The three girls hovered over the book in silence, looking at the drawings on the pages before them.

“What’s that?” Mandy said, pointing to a black ink drawing with one hand, while holding a package from the cabinet in her other hand.

“That’s a black-pot cauldron,” Leeza answered.

“You’re joking? A cauldron? My mom said the cronies used to use those, but I thought it was one of those stories adults tell about how hard things were when they were kids.”

“Nope,” Leeza replied, “they were real. I saw one once, in like a museum or something.”

“What’s that say next to the picture?” Mandy asked, pointing at the book.

“It says, ‘Cast iron cauldron pots eventually become blackened and warped from use over open fire pits, but when properly cared for, will provide years of delicious concoctions, not to mention being the perfect tool for brewing potions and medicines.'”

“Cool. What else is in the book?” Mandy asked her friend.

Leeza slid her finger gingerly between the stiff pages and turned toward the back of the book. “There’s something looks like a journal and then of course the recipes back here, handwritten.”

At the table, Leeza said, “Listen to this journal entry: ‘Movement caught my eye while working on the potions for healing tonight. Maybe it was just the multi-colored leaves being blown about by the wind. It’s cold in here, with the wind coming through the cracked window, even with the fire. This brew will warm me up, soon enough. I keep hearing noises outside though. I don’t know why, but I’m scared.’

“Sounds like she was making something in one of those cauldron thingies, doesn’t it? I wonder why she was scared.”

“What’s that?” Sheila asked, staring over Leeza’s shoulder, pointing at the facing page.

“Looks like a recipe,” Mandy responded.

“It’s for a potion,” Leeza replied. “Look at that, it’s a… it’s a beauty potion, it seems, to keep you young and…” Leeza snorted, laughing.

“What?” Mandy and Sheila both laughed in unison.

“Look!” she replied. “It’s a potion for removing moles!”

“Like the animals?” Mandy asked.

“No, like witch’s moles. You know, the old stereotype about us witches all having moles,” Leeza replied, still laughing.

“I guess a lot has changed. Kind of like the witch’s handbooks now don’t have love potions anymore.” Mandy paused, remembering why they were gathering together in the first place, and then she continued. “So, is the recipe for the love potion in this old book or not?”

Flipping pages, Leeza said, “It’s here. I wouldn’t have taken the book if it wasn’t.”

Squinting at one of the potion recipes, Sheila said, “All right, we need to get to business. Just look at these ingredients, though: tail of frog, eye of newt, hair of a black rat.”

“What’s so strange about those?” Mandy said, opening a package on the counter.

Sheila shrugged. “Nothing, but she wrote here, ‘The fourth ingredient will be harder to find….'”

“What’s the fourth ingredient?”

Leeza shrugged. “The handwriting trails off, here, like she didn’t get to finish. I wonder what happened?”

“What’s that? Those instructions, there?” Sheila asked, pointing.

“That’s what’s so funny about this. Check it out. Those,” she said pointing at the bottom of the page, “are instructions on how to find all the ingredients and where, like by the pound in the foothills, and in the caves up on the ridge.”

“You’re joking?” Mandy said, “You mean, they really hunted for those things themselves? Man, things really have changed, haven’t they?”

Leeza interrupted with, “Sheila, you want Top Ramen Eye of Newt or the Orville Redenbacher’s microwave bat wing first?” she asked, holding up two items.

Sheila stood from the table and walked to the cabinet to look for herself. “Actually, I think Mom bought some of those instant toadstool mixes, just add water. Maybe we should make hot water first.”

“I’m sure glad we live in this century,” Leeza said, and the other girls all concurred and set about working on their potion.



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