Last Witch Standing
Author:Jonathan Grimm

Last Witch Standing - By Jonathan Grimm

Chapter 1

Monday, May 14, 1973

The Citadel Universe

Katie ran through the undergrowth, stirring up clouds of spikelets from foxtail that flourished by the lake. The Citadel stood proudly atop the hill, a stone sentinel keeping watch over the elegant gardens nourished by water from the streams that fed into the lake below. Katie hopped atop the fence that marked the southern boundary of the vegetable garden. She did a little dance on the tips of the white pickets, then hopped down and two-stepped through the rows of squash, landing upon their large leaves, like a frog on lily pads, yet doing no damage. This time I will get my lake back. They think I only collect tablets for them in the ruins. They do not know that I can read and understand the instructions written on them.

“Good morning Katie," the Headmistress of the Citadel’s academy called from the lake shore beyond the garden. She was quite tall. Katie would call her regal. The regal-ness was especially prominent in her dark blue Victorian dress with lace around the wrists and high neckline. Her salt and pepper hair was held in place by a polished rosewood hairpiece. Around the Headmistress, on a checkered blanket spread on the lush green grass, were several pupils, all holding pencils. On their laps were books and tablets, books Katie would’ve given anything to own. All eyes were on Katie, who’d stopped atop one particularly large squash leaf.

She emerged from the garden and peeked through the picket fence. Her cerulean blue eyes were oversized for her child-like face. A pink headband held her golden ochre hair firmly in place.

"Come, sit with us," the Headmistress summoned, although she knew Katie was too skittish to come so close.

Katie jumped the fence and approached to within half-a-dozen meters of the party and gestured towards a freshly-built structure at the corner of the lake. The mill's wheels turned slowly, adding a charm to a scene the English landscape artist, John Constable, would have been proud to paint.

“We can’t move the mill, Katie. The fishies go around it. You can too.”

Katie gestured a second time. Why didn’t Headmistress understand it ruined everything having it there?

"No, dear. We have already discussed this. Let's hear no more about it," Headmistress Mary-Beth Simplice answered, adding a touch of sternness to the last sentence.

Mrs. Simplice's pupils looked at Katie, small smiles curling from the edges of their mouths. The oldest, Karen, a light brown haired young woman of 17, held out her hand. Next to her, Jakob, a youth, only slightly younger, lounged close enough to the girl to imply the intimacy of long familiarity. Katie did not look at the girl, but instead, reached a hand into the pocket of her yellow dress, removed an item, and put it behind her back.

“What do you have there?” Karen asked.

“What do you have, sugar-plum?” Jakob, the young man, asked. He was dressed in a white cotton long sleeve shirt and tan riding pants. His boots were carefully polished and reflected the sunlight. He lay on the cloth, his head resting on his palm, an unfinished apple next to him.

Katie beamed. She was enjoying this. Just wait until Headmistress sees what I have, sees what I can do.

“Did you find something in the woods or the old village? Perhaps something you might like to trade for some pretties?” Headmistress Simplice asked.

Katie nodded no.

“Did you find an artifact? Or, perchance another old tablet? The last one you brought us was quite useful.”

Again, Katie nodded no and smiled, her toes tapping the ground. Overhead, a flock of sparrows dotted the ultramarine blue sky on their way to nest in the cover of the brush at the far end of the lake.

“Well, Katie obviously feels she won the jackpot. What did you find?” Mary-Beth asked.

Jakob sat up straight. All now stared at Katie. This is just right; they are all paying attention to me. Katie brought her hand from behind her back. Inside her palm lay a ball of blue plasma. It illuminated her face like stage lighting directed upwards towards a performer.

“Run!” Headmistress yelled to the students and dropped her book.

Katie, like an Olympic competitor hurling a shot put, sent the blue fireball at the mill. The projectile was visible as it traced a parabola in the air, picking up speed as it went. The mill erupted into flame when hit. Shards of stone and timber flew in all directions. Soon, black smoke and dust obscured the area around it. From the distance, she could smell the structure as it burned.

Katie went to where the students had been and stood triumphantly facing the mill as the fires consumed it. She raised her fist to the sky and grinned, her baby teeth glistening in the light.