It was Halloween, and the great witch was free until sunrise. She was looking forward to finding some little boy or girl to feast upon. It didn’t take long for her to find a child that had been left alone for the night, cowering under his bed, as many children do. She turned to vapor and slipped inside, coming to a rest right beside him under the bed. As she materialized she smiled, knowing his scream would be delightful.
The boy didn’t flinch, however, and at first the witch thought he hadn’t seen her.
“What are you watching for, boy?” she asked him, hoping that the raspy sound of her voice would finally do the trick.
The boy waved the back of his hand at her in a shooing motion. “Quiet!” he whispered. “You’ll ruin everything.”
The witch was completely taken aback. She had no idea what to say to that. Normally, by this time, the child would be all screamed out and halfway down her throat. This child, with his shaggy brown hair, wasn’t even phased.
“Boy,” she said, lowering her voice, “you do know I intend to eat you, right?”
He didn’t respond. He simply kept scanning the room attentively, completely ignoring her.
Oh, the indignation of it all! Now she couldn’t just eat him and be done with it. She would have to find a way to scare him. Her honor as a witch… a great witch!… demanded it! She thought quickly and decided that the best way to find her opening was to play his little game with him.
In a low, conspiratorial tone she asked, “What are we watching for? Parents?”
“Goblins,” replied the boy without looking at her.
She frowned at this. “Why goblins?”
“Need them for my stew,” he replied.
“You’re making a goblin stew?” she inquired, feeling a little fascinated.
“Don’t be silly!” the boy whispered. “Goblins don’t have enough flavor to be the hero of a dish.”
The witch was baffled. “Why are we trying to catch them then?”
“Because,” the boy replied, “they’ll pair nicely with the boggie man I caught an hour ago.”
“So, it’s a boogie man stew?” The great witch asked.
The boy gave a slight nod. “Yup, been looking forward to it all year. And he was a bugger to catch too! Fought like a tiger.” The boy jerked his head and the great witch’s eyes followed the direction of the movement. At his feet, shoved up between the bed and the wall was a large burlap sack. In the dim moonlight reflecting through the room she could just barely make out the bluish-green ooze of boogie blood seeping through the bag.
A crashing noise broke the silence and the great witch turned to see the boy’s feet as he wiggled his way out from under the bed. Scooting forward she saw him wrestle with a blanket, or rather, something inside of a blanket.
He’d done it! He’d caught a goblin. Several goblins by the looks of the way the blanket writhed.
“Well, don’t just sit there!” the boy snapped. “Come help me with this!”
The great witch, completely fascinated now, came out from under the bed and took hold of the ends of the blanket, choking it off like a giant kerchief sack.
“Good! Hold it right there.” the boy yelled, visibly vibrating with excitement.
He turned and reached for something on his dresser and came back with a aluminum bat. Swiftly, and with the ease of much practice he bashed the struggling goblins, stilling them like one might still a fish. The great witch had to admit that she was impressed. He was a fine hunter for one so young. And a human at that!
As she tied off the blanket the boy put his bat aside and flipped on the lights. All around her the great witch saw other things the boy had collected for his boogie man stew. The boogie man in the sack beneath the bed, the goblins wrapped up at her feet, a dozen or so little brownie bodies in a dish on the night table. In the corner there was a create filled with onions, carrots, rosemary, potatoes, and corn. A sack of flour sat next to that, along with some unopened jars of black pepper corns and sea salt. The thought of all of it together made the great witch’s mouth water.
She noticed a piece of paper sticking out from under the dish the brownies were on and went to look at it, intrigued. It was exactly what she thought it was: the recipe. As she scanned the list of ingredients she asked the boy, “Do you have everything you need now? I have a good sized pot you can borrow if you need…” her eyes fell upon the last ingredient and her voice died in her throat.
With her stomach sinking into her feet she turned to see the boy holding up a pair of rose clippers.
“Just one more thing,” he said easily. “Witches fingers.”