So it almost Halloween once again. I hope that everyone is in the holiday spirit. I know you're all excited to see what happens once Desmond shows up. I'll tell you one thing. It isn't going to be good for anyone.
Also, lots of references to events shown in "Hocus Pocus," "Casper," and "Casper Meets Wendy." So if you haven't watched them recently, you should definitely plan a movie night soon. It is the perfect time of the year to watch them, after all.
Building on the rest of the insane events of the day like talking cats, witches being real, and the Ghostly Trio actually showing up like the freaking cavalry, Kat wasn't even surprised when the infamous warlock succeeded at coming through the swirling portal of doom. It would be too much to hope for anything else by this point. What did surprise her was the fact what came out of the Mystic Abyss didn't immediately look human.
A green crystalline shape that looked like a cocoon floated out while everything else was pulled inwards. And when it landed on the wooden floors of the gymnasium, the crystal cocoon shattered. Unsurprisingly, what emerged from the cocoon certainly wasn't a butterfly.
A man in an expensive-looking suit stood there, yawning and stretching as if waking from a short nap. His hair and thin mustache were black with streaks of silver at his temples. He gave off the appearance of money. But what made it clear that the man was dangerous was the fact so many people in the room looked terrified of him. Casper, Wendy, her aunts, and even the Ghostly Trio stared at the warlock in horror. Kat tightened her grip on the fireplace poker just in case it might do something against the man.
"Desmond Spellman," Lila repeated. "Welcome back, cousin."
"How long?" asked Desmond.
"A few months," she said. "It is Halloween night."
"Imagine that. Time flies when you're protecting yourself from the Mystic Abyss with a stasis spell." Glancing towards the Sanderson sisters, he asked, "And who might they be?"
Not bothering to hide her scorn, Lila said, "The ones who provided the magic to re-open the portal. Pact Witches."
"Welcome back," said Winnifred, dismissing Lila as unimportant as she focused on the warlock. She and her sisters gave polite curtseys to the man before apparently remembering the jester outfits and changing the clothes back. "We heard so much about thou from thy cousin. And we were promised thy assistance in collecting the children of this town in exchange for thy freedom."
Smiling in a flirty manner and twirling a strand of her blonde hair around her finger, Sarah added, "Thy cousin did not say how handsome thou art."
Kat felt the chill before she caught sight of the pale figure easing up next to her, slowly and silently. Trying not to draw any attention now that everyone was distracted by Desmond, Kat turned her head slightly. Stretch gestured for her to start backing up towards the gym door behind them. The other two ghosts seemed to be doing something similar, urging the rest of the humans to move behind them and the non-evil witches. For the first time since they met, Kat found herself going along with what the annoying ghost wanted her to do without any complaints.
"Please," said Desmond, rolling his eyes. "I don't know what she promised the three of you and I don't care. Don't waste my time."
Her face twisting into an expression of fury, Winnifred snarled, "How dare thou speak to us in such a manner? Sisters, it would seem that the warlock has lost his manners during his time in the Mystic Abyss. Perhaps we could help him find them."
The trio of evil witches drew together in preparation for some form of magical revenge. But it would seem that spending time in a green crystal cocoon didn't make him any less dangerous than when he tried to banish Wendy. Purple energy crackled between his fingers as he threw the lightning-like attack at the Sanderson sisters, wrapping around them. They screamed in surprise and fury as Desmond yanked them closer.
"Perhaps you should start the search in the Mystic Abyss then," he said before hurling the evil witches through the portal, letting the Sanderson sisters vanish into the swirling yellow chaos.
"Well, that solves one problem," Binx said quietly.
"And replaces it with one a lot worse," said one of Wendy's aunts that looked remarkably like the late Carrigan Crittenden, the one called Aunt Gerty.
Turning towards the remaining witches, ghosts, and assorted kids and teenagers, Desmond smiled. The look on his face sent a shiver up Kat's spine. She didn't scare easily thanks to the last couple of years, but there was something distinctly wrong about the man. No wonder Casper and Wendy were afraid of him. No wonder the Ghostly Trio were afraid of him.
"Well, isn't this an interesting turn of events," he remarked.
"I certainly thought so," said Lila. "I didn't plan on them showing up, but I knew you would enjoy the opportunity for a little revenge."
"C-come on. No hard feelings, right?" Stinkie stammered.
"Yeah, it isn't like you were even stuck in there very long," added Fatso. "We just scared you into that weird portal for a few months."
"You? That thing was you?" Desmond said, some of his calm façade slipping as he glared at the now-cringing Ghostly Trio, the ghosts somehow ending up positioned between the threat and everyone else. "You're the ones responsible?"
Slapping a hand across his face, Stretch muttered, "Boys, maybe you should leave the talking to me for a while. Before you somehow manage to make it even worse."
"How could it get worse?" asked Max under his breath.
Pulling back on the mask of calm smugness, Desmond moved his gaze from the Ghostly Trio to Wendy and Casper. The two cringed while Max pushed them and Dani behind him. The trio of remaining witches also positioned themselves in front of the youngest members of the group.
"Leave our kids alone," said the blonde witch her voice shaking only slightly. "That prophecy about Wendy doesn't even matter."
"Yeah. It was just about her making friends with Casper," the red-haired one added. "You got worked up over nothing."
"So maybe we could go our separate ways and pretend none of this ever happened?" suggested the black-haired witch.
"Maybe you're right," he said casually. "But honestly revenge sounds much more satisfying." Before any of them could react, Desmond gestured at the group. "Memories of sorrow and fear, ensnare the mind of those most near."
Kat saw a blue cloud sweep out from the man. She tried to dodge the strange substance and she saw the others also trying to escape. But the door was too far away still and the blue smoke moved too quickly. They were almost immediately engulfed.
When the magic hit, it hit hard. The spell wrapped around her, pulling Kat down. Her body went limp and her legs crumbled beneath her. She lost consciousness before she hit the ground.
Dani fought to keep her mouth shut while Winnifred tried to pour the potion down her throat. She couldn't struggle too much because the witch held her high above the cemetery on her broomstick. The cool bottle was pushed against her lips, the pressure almost painful.
The girl felt absolutely terrified. After struggling to dodge and delay the Sanderson sisters all night, even after being captured and then freed, this was it. She was about to die. Either she would fall to her death below or she would have the life sucked out of her. And she wasn't like Binx. She would actually and permanently die.
Dawn was so close, but she couldn't survive long enough for it to turn the witches to dust. She could barely keep her mouth closed as the witch pried at her jaw. She could hear Max and Allison yelling. They wanted to help, but they couldn't reach her. She was too high. No one would save her.
As Winnifred pulled at her mouth, Dani was hit with a thought. Beneath her fear and desperation, the girl couldn't help realizing that this seemed familiar.
Not her sister. Not Emily.
The young man had tried to save her, chasing after Emily the moment the Sanderson sisters bewitched her. Everyone knew the old hags were evil, though they could not prove it and could not hang them for witchcraft until they could give proof to the judge and church. But he and the rest of the village knew to stay away from the sisters. They knew that Sanderson sisters were not to be trusted. But when Sarah's voice rose over the misty fields and forest and called Emily to their home, Thackery Binx refused to let it happen. He went to face whatever demons or beasts might lurk there so that he could save his little sister.
But he failed. The magical jolts of energy, something that looked like lightning from the wildest storms, hurt too much and left his limbs weak. Whatever Winnifred did to him, it meant that Binx could barely move. He could only watch as the three hags closed in on her.
The white misty glow around Emily was drawn towards the hooded figures. He'd heard enough to know what was happening to her. The witches were draining the life from her. They were killing his sister before his very eyes.
Furious, desperate, worried, and miserable, Binx tried to move. He could not make his limbs work, could not get up, and could not reach her. His little sister was dying right in front of him and he was helpless to save her. Guilt joined the rest of his furious misery.
The guilt was familiar. Somehow he knew this feeling would weigh him down for centuries. And that sparked off the question of how he knew that.
Not his sister. Not Dani.
Why couldn't she just stay in Billy's grave and the protective salt ring? They'd only needed to keep her safe for a few more minutes. She knew that witch wanted revenge against her specifically. Now Winnifred had her, carrying Dani up on her broomstick. The witch and her sisters were out of reach high above the cemetery, meaning there was nothing Max could do to stop them.
This was all his fault. If he didn't light that stupid candle, none of this would be happening. If it wasn't for his stupid stunt, Dani would be safe.
He saw Binx run up a tree trunk, but most of Max's attention was overhead. Dani tried to resist. She kept her mouth clamped shut. But Winnifred was determined. How much of her actions was driven by the desperate knowledge that she was running out of time and how much was a thirst for revenge, he couldn't even guess.
Max would do anything to save his little sister. He just needed to reach her or the witches. He just needed a chance. Dani was counting on him.
The helpless frustration and worry broiled in his stomach, but something was wrong. This felt like it had happened before.
It couldn't be true. Her eyes must be playing tricks on her. The world couldn't be this cruel. But even as she tried to deny it, the girl knew life wasn't fair and that it was almost certainly what she thought was happening.
Tears were already choking her as Kat stared at the pale translucent figure. He didn't recognize her, just staring at her blankly when she drew his attention. The Ghostly Trio weren't making it any better, treating the entire situation like it was one giant joke. This was probably their fault in the first place. This couldn't be happening. She'd thought everything would be all right after Ms. Crittenden crossed over and now everything was ruined.
Kat stood in the middle of an underground secret lab while her father floated in front of her. Floating. Her dad was floating, pale, and oblivious to who she was. He was a ghost. He was dead and couldn't remember her. No matter how she phrased it or broke it down, it didn't make it any better. She'd essentially lost her father.
Even as she tried to spark the faintest memory from the ghost, Kat realized she was officially an orphan. This was worse than the night Mom died. At least then, she had Dad. He could barely hold it together and they both ended up as emotional wrecks, but at least they had each other. With her mom dead and her dad both a ghost and suffering memory loss, she was alone. Her family was gone. She'd lost so much in the last few years. How much more could she lose?
Fighting against tears and the heartache, Kat hoped something would change the blankness in her father's eyes. A word or a gesture that would help pull out his memories. It wouldn't bring him back to life, but it would be something. She just wanted her dad back.
She remembered this. She got him back. This already happened. She remembered this.
Desmond's magic wrapped around her and lifted the young witch off the ground. Wendy couldn't help whimpering in fear as he moved her towards the Mystic Abyss. Her aunts and Casper tried to prevent this. Everyone tried to protect her. But now it was too late. After days of hiding and keeping a low profile, he still found her.
Wendy tried to escape, but she couldn't move and his magic was stronger than hers. There was nothing she could do as he threw her through the portal.
Chaos swirled around her, the magical energy pulling and twisting at her power and her mind. The sensation terrified her. Even when Casper dove in after her and the two of them managed to grasp a line to the outside, Wendy could barely withstand the forces pressing on her body and mind. Even with the mildly stabilizing connection to the outside, chaos yanked and jerked them around like the tail of a kite. Terror and overwhelming mystical energy washed over her. It was too much. She was struggling to hold on in the face of so much.
She recognized this. Wendy could barely manage that single thought through the chaos, but she recognized this. There was something familiar about all of this.
"An interesting spell choice," said Lila, staring at the prone figures scattered across the gym floor.
"Last time, I chose to toy with them. I was overconfident and ended up being caught off guard," Desmond said. "I will not make the same mistake a second time."
All of them were unconscious. Witches, ghosts, and random children alike were lying limply were they fell. Each sleeping face remained twisted in distress, trapped in the nightmares of their most painful, heart-breaking, or frightening memories. Not an easy spell to accomplish from her understanding, but it was effective at disabling several people at a time while making them suffer.
"No, I will not make the same mistake of underestimating anyone again," he continued. "This time, there will be no one left when I'm finished."
Gert, Gabby, and Fanny tried to ignore how much older their sister looked as she walked in the front door of their cottage. Time touched the dark blonde woman far more than it did them now.
Ginny wasn't born with magic, but they did everything possible to help her feel like she belonged from the start. They crafted a wand so she could cast spells alongside them and a broomstick so she could fly. And when their aging slowed as teenagers, the witches brewed potions to give their powerless sister continued youth and prolonged life. Anyone who didn't know better would assume all four of them were fully-empowered Natural witches. And for a time, that was enough.
But Ginny never forgot that she was different. Even when they forgot, she didn't truly belong among witches. Eventually she fell in love with a normal and magic-less man, someone that Gert considered to be completely boring. She honestly didn't understand what Ginny saw in the guy. But they eventually married and moved away from the forest, starting a new life together. And part of Ginny's new life was no magic. No wand, no flying broomstick, and no regular doses of life-extending potions. She wanted to live the same normal lifestyle as her husband and grow old with him.
Gert, Gabby, and Fanny didn't take the decision well and refused to speak to her for almost five years. No one could hold a grudge like a witch. So they were surprised to receive a letter from Ginny after so long. And then they realized what she wanted, what she was practically begging them to do. That made the planned reunion take on a more somber tone.
The first thing the trio noticed about their sister was how much she'd aged since they'd last saw her. The next thing to catch their attention was the blonde toddler in Ginny's arms. Even though Gert didn't particularly like cute things in general, there was something appealing about the little girl.
"So this is our niece?" asked Gabby.
Nodding as she tried to balance the toddler and the large duffle bag slung over her shoulder, Ginny said, "This is Wendy. Wendy, say hello to your Aunt Gerty, Aunt Gabby, and Aunt Fanny."
The blonde toddler waved shyly before burying her face into her mother's shoulder. Ginny shifted her grip a little on the child and smiled down at her.
"You see, someone threw a bit of a temper tantrum a little over two weeks ago and turned Daddy into a hamster," Ginny said in the universal tone of baby-talk. "I had to dig out my wand from under the stairs to turn him back before the cat could eat him."
"She's got talent and good taste," cackled Gabby. Reaching towards the toddler, she said, "Who's a good little witch? You are. You are."
As she handed over the giggling Wendy, Ginny said, "Harry and I talked about it for a long time. It was… It was a hard decision. We love her. We love Wendy so much, but we can't… we can't…"
Her voice trailed off. The woman's shoulders began to shake as she fought back sobs, keeping quiet so the child didn't notice. Gert pulled her into a hug as tears rolled down her face. Her little sister shouldn't be going through all of this. She would do anything to make things better for Ginny.
"We can't give Wendy what she needs," she continued, mumbling into Gert's shoulder. "We're not magic. We can't teach her how to be a witch. Her aging will slow down when she's a teenager while ours won't. We love her, but I'm not a witch. She deserves better. She deserves what you can give her."
"You could stay," said Gert.
"Yeah," Fanny added. "It'll be like the old days. You can use your wand, we'll start brewing up the potion again, and we'll add a couple more rooms onto the place. It'll be fun."
"You can even bring your boring husband if you insist," said Gert. "We'll keep the magical pranks to a minimum."
Shaking her head as she pulled away a little, Ginny said, "I tried that before. I can't keep pretending to be someone I'm not. I'm happier with my new life. I can't go back to how they used to be. I literally can't do it. I'm too old to go back to how things were."
That's when Gert realized the amount of aging she saw from Ginny was too much. She'd grown older than five years could account for. They made sure the potions they brewed didn't have weird side effects from using them. But now that she was no longer taking the potions to preserve her youth and extend her lifespan, time was gradually catching up with her. And magic-less humans didn't live as long as witches. At this rate, Ginny would be an old woman before Wendy reached puberty. And she knew it.
"Why didn't you tell us sooner?" asked Gert.
"It wouldn't have changed anything," Ginny said. "Harry and I have already come to terms with it. For better or worse, in sickness and in health. But Wendy doesn't need to watch me wither away like this and she needs to be with other witches. She deserves better than what we can give her."
Smiling sadly at her younger sister, she said, "Don't worry. We'll take good care of your daughter."
"The little pumpkin pie will be perfectly safe here," said Gabby, letting Wendy play with her hair. "And you can still come visit, right?"
Wiping the remaining tears from her face, Ginny nodded slightly. She passed over the large bag from her shoulder. Fanny accepted the burden without complaint.
"You still have my broomstick, right?" asked Ginny. Reaching into her pocket, she pulled out her wand. "When Wendy gets older, give her my wand and broomstick. She'll make better use of them than I ever did."
Finally sensing that something was wrong, the toddler started growing fussy and started calling for her mother. Gert knew the feeling. She'd known something was wrong the moment Ginny arrived on the doorstep. This was wrong. Gert didn't want to admit what she feared, but she knew deep down. She knew the truth. Gabby was wrong and Ginny was lying.
Ginny moved to hug each sister, giving them a tight and desperate embrace. Then she kissed the fussy toddler on top of her head.
"Mommy and Daddy love you very much," she said. "But you need to stay here with your aunts. Be good and listen to what they tell you."
The little girl shouted, "No! No, no, no! No!"
Wendy worked her way towards a full-blown tantrum, screaming and crying in Gabby's arms. Ginny's tears returned as she kissed the girl's head a few more times.
"I'm sorry. I love you, Wendy. I'm sorry, but this is for the best. You'll be better off with your aunts."
With a final kiss on top of the girl's head, Ginny pulled away from the tiny grasphing hands. She backed towards the door even as the toddler started to wail for her mother. Wendy might be too young to fully understand what was happening, but she knew she wasn't happy about it.
"Good-bye," said Ginny quietly as she closed the front door behind her.
Gert just stared silently as the toddler screamed and cried in Gabby's arms. Her heart twisted and ached in rebellion of the entire situation. She didn't know what hurt worse. The niece they'd just met kept wailing and crying for her mother and father, feeling betrayed and abandoned among strangers. That was bad enough. But Gert knew the truth. She knew that Ginny and her boring husband wouldn't come visit their daughter. That would only make it worse; Wendy would still watch her mother age rapidly over the next few years, but without the comfort of being with her parents every day. No, there would be no family visits.
Gert glanced briefly towards Gabby and Fanny as the heart-broken wails continued. She could tell from their expressions that they'd come to the same conclusion that she had. That had been the final good-bye. They would never see their youngest sister again.
As sorrow, guilt, loss, and helplessness swirled around in her head, something began to nag at the back of her head. This was too familiar.
Yeah, the Sanderson sisters have been kicked into the portal by the more powerful villain. Sorry if it seems a little anti-climactic for them, but it is supposed to show that Desmond Spellman is the bigger threat. Plus, it has the nice bonus that I no longer have to try and write speech patterns from three centuries ago. Using "thee" and "thou" correctly isn't as easy as it looks.
So our heroes are currently stuck in their most painful, frightening, miserable, or guilt-stricken memories. For Dani, Binx, Max, Kat, and Wendy, I used scenes from their respective movies (so they were a bit on the shorter side). For Wendy's aunts, I had to make something up (which meant a longer scene). But assume that all these nightmares/memories are happening at the same time while Desmond gloats.
And if you're able to keep track of all the characters in the story, you might have noticed not everyone's nightmare/memories have been shown. You'd be correct. They'll be a couple more in the next chapter.
I hope that you liked the chapter. And remember, feedback is always appreciated.