Friday’s Short Story

Ding dong.

Agnes opens the door. There are two smartly-dressed men on her doorstep. They both look young, wholesome and healthy. One of them carries a clipboard. The other wears trendy, heavy-framed glasses. This is really the only way of telling them apart.

Hello, says Agnes.

Hello, yes, says the smart young man with the glasses. This is just a courtesy call really. We’re in the area organising a witch hunt.

Is that right, says Agnes. How exciting.

Yes, continues the man, you might have noticed in recent times that petrol prices have gone through the roof, the property market is in decline, there was a three headed calf born in the next village along and you remember those little, individually wrapped chocolates… um…

Neapolitans, interjects clipboard-man. They were great, like tiny chocolate bars, all different flavours?

I remember those, says Agnes.

Yeah, well, you can’t get them any more, says glasses. Why? Nobody really knows.

Nobody, says clipboard.

Oh dear, says Agnes.

But we suspect witchcraft, says glasses, and he smiles a winning, Arctic-white-toothed smile.

Oh dear, says Agnes.

So we’re hunting witches, says glasses and his smile disappears quicker than the Arctic ice shelf. And we have a couple of questions for you, if that’s OK. Um, firstly, are you a witch?

No, says Agnes.

You are an old lady though, says clipboard.

Yes I am, she confirms.

Clipboard writes something on his clipboard. Is an old lady, he mutters.

Excellent, says glasses. And do you have a supernumerary nipple with which you suckle your demonic familiar?

No, says Agnes.

The men look at each other.

Tell you what, says clipboard, I’m going to put down “yes”.

Because if he doesn’t, they might not let us burn you, says glasses, helpfully, and he smiles his charming smile once more.

And to be honest, everybody’s saying no to that one, says clipboard. It’s doing my head in.

We’ve got a quota, says glasses.

Burn me? queries Agnes.

Oh yeah, says clipboard, have to check: are you flammable, yes or no? His pen hovers above the clipboard. Yes? No?

No, says Agnes.

Clipboard has a think.

Yeah, I’m going to put “yes” again, if that’s OK.

Well, er, clipboard peers at his clipboard, Agnes, it looks like you’re probably a witch We can’t be a hundred per cent sure, but better safe than sorry, eh? Think about the children. So if you’d like to pop down to the town centre, just outside Somerfield at around lunchtime on Sunday we’ll get you burned.

Agnes sighs. If I must, I suppose I must.

Lovely, says glasses. We’ll see you there.

The men stare at Agnes for a while. Agnes stares back. It is all rather awkward.

Was there anything else, asks Agnes, eventually.

What do you think, asks glasses.

Oh right, says Agnes, and she disappears back indoors for a minute. She returns with a box of Terry’s Neapolitan chocolates.

The men are delighted. They pick a chocolate each.

Ah, cafe au lait. Brilliant, says clipboard.

See you on Sunday you despicable old crone, says glasses, unwrapping a tiny mint chocolate bar.

They set off down the path and away, leaving Agnes to ponder the error of her evil wiccan ways.

Witch Hunt
by Harris
more tiny tales

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