It had been raining since five o'clock that morning. Brontean weather, Hilda thought to herself. She repressed a smile and felt like a character in a modern-day Gothic romance. The driving rain, the cold, a wafting breeze that alighted up her skirt and overcoat like a spurious lover trying to carry her away to his mountain top castle… she crossed the street at Hancock at the corner of the park and hurried along the storefronts along Main Street. Westbridge had that quaint not-quite-England look of succeeding brownstones lined up along the road with small elm trees at the curb, but instead of the presence of British bobbies and a tavern on every corner, it had it's tanning salons, cell phone stores and over-privileged teenagers drinking two dollar frothy drinks and coffee specialties. If you wanted a decent cappuccino in this chilly New England town, the place to go was Mocha Joe's, a local coffee place near Westbridge High School where her niece attended school. Stepping into the shop, Michael Rollo, a tall stout figure of a man lifted his head and looked Hilda over. She was an attractive woman with the look of a blonde 1940s actress and the smile of a catty younger lady. His smile alighted to see her stop by, and he always moved to man the cash register for his daughter when Hilda arrived.
"Hello, Hilly…." He spoke in that deep Caribbean accent. "What can I do to help you this cold day?"
"Double Chocolate Cappuccino…" She grinned and pretended to flirt with him as she scanned his choice of pastries. "And that blueberry muffin in the corner there. It looks so lonely there."
"And how's that niece of yours…." Michael chuckled and turned to make her drink from the back counter, his daughter moving around to tend to other guests.
"She's the same." Hilda grinned. "She's always complaining about that Libby girl at school giving her a hard time."
"Don't blame her…" Michael tilted the plastic cup to give Hilda more cappuccino. "That Chessler girl's not right in the head. The other day she made me remake the same drink three times because it tasted weird to her, and I only make them one way."
"She's a crazy girl…." Hilda rolled her eyes condescendingly over the teenage angst. "Libby is Sabrina's problem. I just tell her to deal with it."
"Only way to deal with it." Michael turned with her frothy drink and wrapped her muffin in wax paper placed into a small paper bag. Hilda handed him a five-dollar bill for the purchase and immediately sipped the drink to escape the cold weather infesting her bones. She beamed like a contented cat as the hot chocolate soothed her insides and plunged deeper into her carrying its heat into her body.
"Thanks, Michael!" She took her change and muffin.
"Come back soon!" Michael watched as Hilda once more pushed through the people coming in from the cold and once again hit the cold blustery New England weather again. It seemed darker now. It was getting dark quicker these days as it got closer to Halloween. Local stores were putting out their displays. The town sure liked their holidays. Every Halloween it was the same. The hay bales with the plastic pumpkins in front of stores, the cartoon ghosts hanging from wires and worst of all, the green-faced witches in cone hats, dark pilgrim clothing and brooms. It was hardly a positive image in her opinion. In Ancient Greece, Medea and Circe were pictured as beautiful women, but then they also were born from gods and demigods. Yep, the Dark Ages had screwed over real witches and spell-casters, forcing them to hide their powers and existence. Many of them had retreated to secret towns and villages in Europe and North America, but Hilda and her sister were never ones to fall in line with the rest. They had ended up in Westbridge in the 1930s and still retained the same gray clapboard house on Collins Road, just five blocks from the high school. A leisurely walk through the park, she paused to sit at the fountain to enjoy her muffin when the rain finally stopped. When she felt willing to continue, she continued along her way along Collins Road and looking up past the turn on to Lafayette saw her Dutch Colonial home in the distance lit up with lights. At least someone was home….
"I'm home." She called out from the front door. Hanging her coat on the rack near the door, she turned into the living room at her right and noticed her wayward niece at the dining table to her left working on her homework. Sitting on the sofa, the cat sat at attention on the sofa watching television.
"Five ginsu knives for only 39.99 and the sixth one's free?" He turned up his head to Hilda. "Hilda, where did you leave your credit card?"
"No way, Jose…" Hilda picked up the remote and flicked off the TV. "You still owe me for those ten bottles of cat shampoo that gave you a rash and those ten boxes of candy to which you turned out to be allergic."
"How was I supposed to know I was still allergic to peanuts?" Salem groused. "I thought that went away when the Witch's Council turned me into a cat." He jumped off the sofa and walked away on four feet with his tail twitching annoyingly. Moving along her way, Hilda crossed through the dining room on her way to the kitchen.
"Aunt Hilda…" Sabrina looked up from her history homework. "What do you known about the Civil War?"
"Oh, sweetie, I was hitchhiking across Europe when that happened." Hilda confessed. "All I really know is that the North won, and that Salem and General Grant were drinking buddies."
"Yeah, he told me that…." Sabrina smirked a bit defeated. "Unfortunately, I don't think that Mrs. Campbell will be impressed that my cat once played pinochle and did shots with Grant."
"Hilda, you're home…" Zelda Spellman came through the door to the kitchen. "Did you get my Mocha Chocolate Latte from Mocha Joe?"
"Oooo, I knew I forgot something."
"Hilda, you promised!"
"I'll get it next time!" Hilda promised.
"Never mind. I'll get it myself!" The platinum blonde beauty held her aloft and gestured as if she was flicking something off the top of her fingers but as she did energies coalesced in the palm of her hand and turned into physical molecules in the atomic structure of the plastic cups from Mocha Joe and his popular Mocha Chocolate Latte drink. A small amount of mystical energy turned into the steam arising from the hot frothy foam on it, but as Zelda lifted it to her lips, she winced a bit from the taste. It was not as good as the real thing, but it was as close as she could conjure the drink from her memories.
"Aunt Hilda…" Sabrina was pouring through the pages of her history textbook. "Does January 3, 1863 sound familiar? What Confederate general led the attack at Stone's River upon what Union General?" She poised for the response.
"For the last time, Sabrina…" Her aunt responded annoyed. "I was studying in Vienna when that was happening. You can't expect me to remember every single detail over the last five hundred years."
"I remember getting a lot of Civil War relics after the war." Hilda thought back. "I think I had a few things from Stone's River."
"Really?" The teenage sorceress beamed. "Where are they now?"
"I gave them to a guy I was dating in the 1880s." Hilda flashed back to the time. "Zelda, what was Teddy's last name?"
"That was him!" Hilda light posed and shifted her weight to her left leg. "I think he became President or something."
The phone started ringing behind them in the living room. Zelda looked to Hilda, Hilda looked to Sabrina who looked back to Zelda. There weren't expecting any calls, and Sabrina was the only one who received phone calls from mortals. Zelda just rolled her eyes, sipped her drink one more time and relented with a deep sigh.
"Don't mind me, I'll get it." She commented sarcastically as the answering machine kicked on.
"Hello, you have received the Spellman residence." Sabrina had recorded the message since she was the one to suggest getting it. "I'm afraid we can't come to the phone now, so please leave your name and message at the beep."
"Sabrina? Sabrina, are you there?!" A girl's frantic voice screamed. "Something went terribly wrong with that immortality spell you gave me! I need your help! Please! Something went terribly wrong! Please! You have to come to the college library and change me back! Please! I don't want to be immortal anymore! You have to undo it! You have to change me back! I'm just too…." The phone cut her off.
Hilda and Zelda looked at each other stunned and surprised and looked back to Sabrina.
"Don't look at me! I never saw that person before in my life!" The teenage witch exclaimed.
"Sabrina…" Hilda put her hands on her hips. "What did she mean by "That immortality spell you gave her?""
"Immortality spell?" Sabrina was speechless as she struggled for answers. "I've never even heard of an immortality spell!"
"Sabrina, she mentioned your name." Hilda pointed out.
"Maybe there's another Sabrina." She felt as if they were ganging up on her. "Maybe she said Habrina? Katrina?"
Her aunts were getting impatient with the stalling.
"Look, you know me!" She stood up from the table. "I would never risk exposing witchcraft to the world. There has to be an explanation for that phone call!"
"She does have a point there." Zelda looked to Hilda. "And the only way to find out what that call is about is to go there and find out what's going on at the college." She looked out the front windows of the house. "And it's already getting dark too. Sabrina…" She held her hand out to her niece.
"Why do I have to go?"
Zelda gave her another exasperated look.
"Wait, why do I have to go?" Hilda asked as Zelda motioned with her left hand and produced a warp in space connecting them with a room in the college library. A burst of smoke and electrostatic forces appeared as discharges of short lightning bolts and three spell-casters vanished and teleported to their destination. They had appeared in the magazine room of the college library, a corner room with windows that would have been well lit by sunlight during the day, but now, was eerily quiet surrounded by the nighttime sky enveloping the building and the campus lights illuminating the grounds below. The location must have been getting ready to close. The room looked clean and straightened. Twelve shelves down, they noticed a lone vacuum cleaner cleaning the floor by an employee blocked out of view by the shelves.
"Well, we're here." Hilda spoke begrudgingly first and looked through the well-lit structure. "How do we find a girl in a structure this big?"
"We search it." Zelda spoke up and looked at her watch. "If I recall… they are open for another forty-five minutes…"
"How are we going to find a girl hiding in this place?" Sabrina asked. She and her aunts suddenly heard a scream from the third floor and looked to the center of the building where the stairways separated from the rest of the building by balconies connected the third, second and first floors. It sounded as if someone had seen a ghost. Zelda looked to Hilda, to Sabrina and back to the stairway and noticed one librarian racing down from the third floor to the first.
"I'd say the third floor is a good place to start." Zelda lead the way. Looking down briefly to the first floor to hide their presence, she, her sister and niece ascended up to the library's third floor where the computer lab, historical files and auxiliary classrooms were located. Sabrina peeked into the window on the door of one room, and Hilda looked around once and again. It was darker up here than downstairs. The building seemed to groan once around them. The three of them felt the entire structure seemingly sway on its foundation.
"What the heck was that?" Hilda asked out loud.
"That came from in there." Zelda knew her seismology and could tell from where the motion originated. She pointed to a room marked First Aid Class.
"I'm getting a very bad feeling about this." Sabrina mumbled.
"Sabrina," Zelda looked to her. "Are you for the last time going to tell me what you did?"
"Why won't you believe me when I tell you I have nothing to do with this?" The teenage witch was adamant.
"Well, why don't we see for ourselves?" Zelda pushed through the door ahead of them and then looked up in surprised shock, hitting the wall behind her in stunned astonishment. Sabrina's mouth fell open upon seeing this spectacle, and Hilda very nearly went running herself before forcing herself to turn right back again into the room with her right hand over her mouth in amazed bewildered surprise. It was a mature teenage girl five times larger than normal in a recreation of the scene from "Alice In Wonderland." She was completely naked, her clothing having refused to stretch or expand to her new size. Her long fifteen-foot long legs were pressed up against the corner with her massive arm, as thick as an old oak tree, crossed discreetly across her chest in a futile attempt to maintain her dignity. Her head was as large as two Volkswagen bugs pressed bottom to bottom, her tear-strewn blue eyes as large as crystal basketballs and her blonde hair as long as the tresses of a huge bizarre golden yellow weeping willow tree. Every imperfection, mole, freckle and hair on her body was blown up to obvious proportions on her canopy-sized frame. She slowly groaned as her head turned to face her guests. The building was creaking and groaning to contain her vast size from exploding into the next room and out of the roof. She had to be almost twenty-five feet tall.
"Someone's been eating too many magic cookies…" Hilda quipped. Zelda shot an annoyed look at her.
"Who are you?" The girl's breath hit them with the force of a humid breeze. "What do you want?"
"I'm Zelda Spellman… Sabrina's aunt…" Zelda spoke first. "I'm here to help."
"Where is she?"
"Right here…" Sabrina stepped forward.
"You're not Sabrina!" The girl reacted scared and confused. "Sabrina has dark hair and magical powers. She's a witch!"
"Told you!" Sabrina turned to her aunts who reacted confused. "What?!" There was another girl pretending to be Sabrina? "Look…" She forced herself to continue. "I'm the real Sabrina Spellman, and I really am a witch…" She couldn't believe she was debating this. "I can't believe I just confessed to being a witch…" She looked to her aunts. Hilda pulled her back to protect her.
"Look, young lady…" Zelda took charge again. "My niece is the one, the only, the real Sabrina Spellman…. And she is a witch. Now… what's your name?"
"Maddie…" Zelda had Hilda watch the door and delay anyone coming up to investigate. "We can help you. What spell did this other Sabrina give you?"
"I told her…" Maddie shifted herself as the building swayed under her. "I wanted to be beautiful and never grow old. She told me… I needed the soul of a virgin to complete it. I think I…"
"Is there such a spell?" Sabrina asked.
"Of course not!" Zelda reported emphatically then looked up to Maddie. "And if there was, I'm sure it wouldn't do that!" She pointed briefly to Maddie and paused to think. "All we need to do is shrink her down to size. Try a "Meenie-Minnie-Moe" spell."
"Okay…" Sabrina made a confused face and looked up to Maddie looking terrified before her. "Meenie-Minnie-Moe!" She extended her right finger to Maddie with her mystical power suddenly appeared into the room as spots of flying ethereal glitter that bounced off each other and turned to mist molding and forming over Maddie. The room was filling up with it, but through it, Sabrina could see Maddie's shadow from the light in the window getting slighter, reducing and falling in size and gradually disappearing. As the mist dissipated, she could see more of the First Aid Room than before including a crushed hospital bed Maddie had been on under her transformation that slid into the other two beds in the room. Pulling the sheet off the bed to cover herself, nineteen-year-old Madison Archer rolled onto her stomach and lifted herself off the floor. She rushed to the mirror and checked herself out in it.
"Yes…" She touched her face and looked under her sheet to see her body back to normal. "Yes… and I'm only two inches taller than I was…" She dashed up and hugged Sabrina. "Thank you! Thank you!" She next hugged Zelda. "No offense, but I don't want anything to do with magic ever again!"
"No problem." Sabrina echoed back and even zapped the sheet into a white t-shirt, skirt and boots for Maddie. "I sometimes feel the same way…"
Appreciating the wardrobe change, Maddie gleefully jumped on the door to escape with her long blonde tresses of hair whirling about her head. In the hall with Hilda, she suddenly stopped and poked her face back into the room.
"Just one question…" She sounded worried. "What happened to the geek I seduced in the spell?"
"Geek?" Sabrina looked back to the wrecked room and the cracked through the tiled floor. "There was some else in the room?"
Maddie looked down on herself and pressed her hands to her abdomen trying to recall what happened.
"Oh, sweetie…" Hilda spoke first. "He probably ran screaming into the night…"
"Never mind!" Maddie took off running down the hall and slid past the corner to the stairs before catching herself and running down to escape this nightmare and get back to her life. Sabrina watched her feet high tailing it into the darkened hall and wondered what it might like be for her if Harvey or Valerie learned the truth. Would they still accept her, or would they like Maddie just want to forget it ever happened.
"Sabrina, I'm sorry I didn't believe you." Zelda held Sabrina close by her shoulders. "I can't believe another witch could be using your identity to sell spells to mortals. The Witch's Council has strict rules against that!"
"Who do you think it could be?" Hilda asked.
"I'm not worried about the who…" Sabrina forced herself to talk. "I'm worried about the next time she sells a faulty spell…" She waved her hands and projected herself back home to the house on Collins Road. Hilda and Zelda exchanged looks and worried with her as well as they too vanished ahead of the first floor librarians coming to explore their co-worker's claims of a giant naked female ghost on the third floor. Ahead of them, an eavesdropping shadow in black and dark brown in the high ceiling beams climbed through an arch and grabbed hold of an open skylight, her pilgrimess boots were the last thing to vanish as she pulled herself up and out.