The Promptuary: The Good Witch Anaïs Blue Book 2
Hi, it’s me again.
Did you miss me?
If you’re new to this tale you may want to go back and look at what happened earlier. For those of you who have no desire, or have forgotten, I won’t penalise you for laziness. I will quickly refresh your memory and give you an overview. You do have a memory, don’t you? Or are you a shade?
Let’s start at the beginning. There is a witch. Yes, there are witches in this world. Real ones which keep the whole thing ticking along. Without them we are all lost. The witch in question, our witch, is called Anaïs Blue, although she would prefer to be called something else. We won’t concern ourselves with that, it is a problem she will have to deal with herself. Her purpose, and that of all witches, is to help the dead. Just as witches do, we will call the dead shades. In these modern times we wouldn’t want to insult anyone by using derogatory terms. The word shade is fairly neutral. At least, I think so anyway. I hope you agree.
The purpose of this book is a personal one. I need to tell you all I know before it’s gone. My memory is fading, fast. I wish I could do something about this, but memories have a finite existence and mine is failing. I will not bother you with the details. I am of no great importance. The knowledge is.
Knowledge and information is the key to all this. Together we are trying to solve a very big problem. I am trusting you with something huge. It would be beneficial if we could keep all this information between ourselves. Consider it our little secret. The whole point is witches need freedom of movement. This is crucial. If everyone knew what I am about to tell you the entire system would cave in around our ears.
Consider yourself a confidant, a partner in crime if you will. However, we will try to avoid doing anything illegal. Be that real or supernatural. We don’t want to cause anything untoward to happen. We have enough problems to solve as it is.
Where were we? Oh yes, one particular witch.
In previous exploits our witch, Anaïs, has managed to survive a great many things: an enormous explosion, facing a witch high court, laboured with a deceased rockstar and finding a solution to his predicament, a trip across the English channel in a very small boat, inquisitors, hellhounds, family reunions, death and librarians. There is more in store for her, so read on.
I’ll be back to keep you informed along the way and remember, don’t breathe a word to anyone. You have a responsibility.
‘Are you coming or not?’ The librarian’s impatience grated on her nerves.
Anaïs yelled at her, ‘Give me a minute, will you?’
She looked around the street. Where had the night gone? The faint glow of the sun rising was turning the sky from black to blue.
Anaïs trudged across the street, wrenched on the door of the Morris Minor and slid inside. She slumped in her seat and stared blankly in front of her, she was exhausted.
The librarian turned the ignition but there was no response from the Morris Minor. On the surface everything seemed to be back in its place as far as the car was concerned. Anaïs noted a supple difference. The interior of the car was immaculate, as if it had just come off the production line. There was a fresh sheen to the dashboard. The linen lining the roof no longer had frayed edges and she noticed the rip, which had been previously above the drivers seat, had disappeared. The seats themselves shone with their original buffed red leather. The tip of gear stick was decorated with a brightly polished billiard ball emblazoned with the number eight.
The librarian tried starting the car again. Nothing happened, not even the click of a spark failing to ignite a piston.
‘Dead?’ asked Anaïs.
‘Maybe,’ replied Immi. ‘I’ll have a look under the bonnet, it could be there’s a loose connection somewhere. Perhaps whatever it did to car was only superficial.’
‘Perhaps, but I think it was a she,’ said Anaïs.
‘I’m sure you’re right.’ The librarian cracked open her door and turned in her seat, extending her leg she placed one foot on the pavement. She spoke over her shoulder. ‘But after everything that happened I’m a little hesitant to take things on face-value.’
Immi reached deep under the steering column and pulled a green lever, popping the bonnet. She sat up, leaned back, steadied her stiletto against the door and shoved it open. It didn’t make a sound, even the hinges no longer squeaked. She extracted herself from the vehicle, walked around to the front of the car and lifted the bonnet. Anaïs heard her tapping at various parts of the engine. The librarian closed the bonnet and got back in the vehicle.
‘Well?’ Enquired Anaïs.
‘Looks fine to me, actually the whole thing is in pristine condition, not that I saw what it looked like before,’ said Immi. ‘But what do I know? I’m a librarian not a mechanic.’ She turned the ignition. Still there was no response.
Anaïs’s frustration got the better of her. She slammed her fists down on the dashboard. ‘Start why don’t you!’
There was a minute ticking sound under the hood and then the engine roared to life.
The librarian shot Anaïs a sideways glance and shook her head. ‘You’ve got to be kidding,’ she said.
Anaïs shrugged and grinned. ‘Maybe it only listens to me.’
The little witch directed her attention to the car. ‘Sorry, I didn’t mean to yell,’ she said and caressed its dashboard.
The Morris Minor revved its engine, seemingly in response, before settling into a purring idle.
The librarian straightened herself in her seat. ‘This is a rather fortunate development. Could you do this before?’
‘Nope,’ said Anaïs shaking her head and screwing up her face.
‘I guess we can get going then,’ said Immi. ‘Any idea where?’
Anaïs raised her shoulders. ‘Dunno, your guess is as good as mine, let’s just start by getting out of here.’
The librarian obliged and slotted the vehicle into gear. She pulled out from the curb and guided the little car down the street. The wet cobblestones glistened in the light of the rising sun. The librarian squinted in the glare and pulled a pair of sunglasses out of her coat. She hooked them over her ears. The frames were encrusted with fake precious stones and had little wings fanning out from the top edges. Combined with her big hair, she looked like a throwback to the late sixties.
Anaïs smirked at her and pulled out her own sunglasses. As she placed them on her head, and their lens’s slid down in front of her eyes, the world turned a comforting shade of purple.
At the end of the street the librarian attempted to make a right turn. The chrome-spoked steering wheel refused to budge. She grunted and wrenched at it but the wheel remained in a fixed position guiding the car in a straight line. The gear lever popped out of first and slotted itself into fourth. The Morris Minor shuddered. Its engine wined, labouring for a moment under the strain, before winding itself up. A low whir grew steadily running up through the frequencies before emitting a high-pitched squeal. Vibrations ran through the vehicle’s bodywork, its metal paneling sung in tune with the sound of the motor.
The car’s AM radio sprung to life. It squelched loudly. The needle shot backwards and forwards across the dial before stopping. The bombastic slow rock tones of Queen’s “I’m In Love With My Car” rose in volume, drowning out the engine and filling the cabin.
The car dropped its clutch and shot forward, pinning them to the backs of their seats. A look of panic flashed across their faces and both the eyes of the librarian and the little witch widened. The occupants of the vehicle grasped the edges of their seats and watched the tight hedge-lined road ahead zip past them in a blur.