Kill the Witch
By L. Lambert Lawson
Under a night drowned in blue and black, the last witch pressed her face against the schoolmarm's office window. Rainwater dripped through her hair and off her shoulders, and Ms. Candel smiled.
Soon, she thought, the brujita will rust to death.
Ms. Candel stomped toward the window and shook her finger. "Die, Cali. Damn you, die." But her words had less effect than the raindrops driving into the witch's gear wheels and spring clips. Cali stared up, metal teeth bared.
"A vexation, isn't she?" Mr. Juniper said.
Ms. Candel watched him in the window. "We knew she'd be stronger than the others. The last of anything is always the hardest to kill. Take the unicorn. Can't even find it, let alone slaughter it."
"Slaughter a unicorn? Why ever so?"
"Why not? They are ever the bother with their strutting and presumption."
Mr. Juniper shifted his eyes to the ground. "Father Lopez has responded."
Ms. Candel spun around as though on a carousel that had pulled free of its rust. "¿De veras?"
"Claro. He's had a sudden...change of heart. He's finally offered us his holy water. Offered you, I should say."
Ms. Candel clapped her hands then crossed the room and wrapped Mr. Juniper in a hug, an event he later asked the school nurse to expunge from his memories. "How did you do it?"
Mr. Juniper explained the arm-twisting, the old port that had changed hands. "He agreed that life is sacred. Killing the witch will save others."
"Where is he?"
"Outside," he said, pointing toward the window. "With the gearwork witch."
And so he was.
The two watched as the priest tipped a blue vial into the brujita’s trembling mouth. Cali slumped to the earth. Ms. Candel scurried toward the window and cackled as a fountain of blue bubbles erupted from the brujita's mouth. Through the window, she couldn't hear the priest's words, but she could read his lips as he swayed above Cali's body. "Arise," he said.
Ms. Candel slammed her palms against the glass, but the priest only shouted louder. She ran toward the door, but Mr. Juniper caught her, wincing as his fingers touched her flesh.
"Unhand me," she screamed, but he held on and pressed her face against the window.
Under Father Lopez's undulations, Cali stumbled to her feet. She swept the hair from her eyes and trained her gaze on Ms. Candel.
"All life is sacred, Ms. Candel," the priest said.
Cali howled, and the windows in the office shattered. The rain cut like icy knives, as did the tinkling glass. She pushed harder against Mr. Juniper, trying to flee the advancing brujita and her priest, but his will proved stronger.
Cali climbed over the windowpane, her metal legs clinking against the remnant glass, and pressed her fingers into Ms. Candel's flesh. A patina of black dots covered the schoolmarm's vision. Her breath grew short as water filled her lungs. She clutched her throat, raked her fingers across the floor.
"All life is sacred, Ms. Candel," the priest repeated.
"Then kill the witch," she croaked.
And Cali did.
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L. Lambert Lawson writes from his library in Southern California. His work has been published in Liquid Imagination online and Perigee-Art, among other places. He has work forthcoming in Cast of Wonders and Every Day Fiction.
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