Be Careful What You Wish For

     I know, I know. I shoulda known better.

     I shouldn’t have gone to the witch. I shouldn’t have asked for that potion. I shouldn’t have tried to dodge what was coming for me.

     But if I’m gonna take that road, might as well go all the way, right? I shoulda got my education, shoulda settled for a normal job, shoulda stayed out of the black-market black magic supply business.

      What’s it those eggheads like to say? Hindsight is 20-20?

     How was I to know that West Coast witch, the Spider Queen, would get the jones to consolidate power, and head east, and finally end up nosin’ in on Detroit business?

     Ok, maybe all the signs were there. Me and Cheeks and Slip and Left-Toe had been hearing rumors for a while. Big ol’ witch war brewin’ out west. It didn’t matter none to us. We stayed out of the squabbles between covens, and never asked what the magic-user wanted the stuff for.

When someone needed somethin’ on the sly, somethin’ they couldn’t get in the registered stores, they came to people like us. Hands O’ Glory, candles made from the rendered fat of a red-haired murderer, string dyed black from the blood of a white deer caught under a new moon – we’d get it for you. No questions asked. We played nice with the witches and warlocks, provided quality product, and kept our heads down.

     And then.

     Vegas got hit. The Spider Queen and her gang swamped the whole damn place in a flood of frogs and flies, just to bring an upstart warlock back in control. Nothin’ happened to her, of course. She paid her fine and apologized, but everyone knew the President owed her and would look the other way. How else did we win the war in Colombia? And Saudi Arabia? And Australia?

     As long as the Spider Queen stayed out west things were chill. But Vegas set her off, and she moved to bring all of the US under her domain. Word got out that, no matter where you were on the ladder of all things magical, you did what she wanted or you paid the price.

     Me and the gang paid no attention. No way would that crazy witch come this far east.

     But she did.

     We often had mooks sniffing around, wanting to join us, or take a bite out of our profits. We sent them packing soon enough. So when this skinny dude in a ratty old suit showed up and said he wanted to buy us out we laughed. What he was offering was nowhere near what we were making.

     We only found out after he left that he worked for the Spider Queen.

     First, Slip disappeared. Literally. Right in front of his wife and kids. One second he’s eatin’ clam chowder, the next he’s gone. Still hasn’t shown back up.

     Next went Left-Toe. He disappeared in front of a crowd at the Weston Fish Market, but he reappeared a minute later. Turned inside-out.

     Well, that put the fear into me and Cheeks. We closed up shop, dumped our inventory, and went to ground. Him and me, we’ve been friends forever. No wives or kids, and we shared a nice little apartment right on the river. We stocked up, locked the door, and turned out the lights.

     When I woke up this morning I found Cheeks in the living room. And in the kitchen. And in his bedroom. Not pieces, no. Just all stretched out, like a rubber band.

     And still alive.

     I grabbed my mad money and hit the streets. I knew a witch, cute little thing down on Cadieux Road, I’d filled some big orders for her a few months ago. Gave her a big discount, hoping she’d return the favor and let me take her out on a date. That never happened, but I figured now was the time to call that favor in.

     So I got to her store and told her I needed some help, big time. She knew what was up, of course. Everyone in the magic biz knew the Spider Queen was cleaning house. The witch didn’t want nothing to do with me. I ain’t too proud to admit that I begged. And I mean, down on my knees, cryin’ like a baby, offerin’ everything short of my soul.

     I wore her down. She asked me what I wanted. I said, send me someplace where the Spider Queen can’t get me. Send me someplace where nobody knows me. I weren’t born yesterday, though, so I made sure to add not to send me to the moon or somethin’ like that. Send me someplace I can survive.

     So the cute witch bustled around, throwing this and that into her cauldron. She took a hair and a fingernail from me, stirred the mess all together, and poured it into a purple glass bottle. Bottoms up, she said.

     The potion was as thick as mud and smelled like wet socks. It didn’t taste too bad, though, so I tipped it back and swallowed it all down.

     Things got all swimmy. My vision turned dark at the edges. My knees went out. Just as I fell forward into unconsciousness I noticed the spider tattoo on the witch’s ear.

      So, yeah, I shoulda known better. But I was desperate. I took a chance. She was nice enough to throw in some camping gear and some boxes of canned food. The air’s breathable here. I won’t starve or die from lack of oxygen.

     But I’m currently hidin’ under a dead tree, watchin’ a damn T-rex tear apart some kinda feathered animal not twenty feet away. Behind it, rex babies are sniffin’ around the spot where I woke up. In the sky flyin’ lizards circle, waitin’ for their chance to scavenge.

     I got what I wished for. That broad sent me someplace no one knows me, all right.

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