Friday, 9 September 2011

Twentieth Friday Flash: Familiar

Harriet and Circe by Storm Shorter. Follow her on Twitter @Shewolf222

You can also found out all about her book The Key to Eternal Glory here

It was her birthday. At thirteen most girls would be thinking about guests, gifts, cake and whether the cute boy she liked would show up, but not for Harriet, today she was going to be summoning her familiar. Something she wasn’t particularly looking forward to, because it entailed summoning a demon and forcing it to possess a cat. A barbaric practice in her opinion. Just last month Sweetie Merryweather, who now calls a padded cell her home, had gone mad trying to summon hers. And if that wasn’t bad enough it was also Grelda’s summoning day too. Being a natural braggart Grelda hadn’t kept quiet about how great she was going to do and how awfully Harriet was going to fail.

Dressed in her finest Harriet made her way down to the basement. Charna the town’s most ancient and most senior witch was waiting for her. She greeted Harriet as soon as she stepped off the bottom step. There were rumours she was going blind, but no one had had the courage to ask her. Grelda was already waiting, smug smile firmly in place.

“Alright, girls, I hope you are both fully prepared, you only get one chance at this.”

Harriet thought of Elspeth, a once promising young witch, who now worked as a laundry girl because she failed. Harriet shuddered, the thought of touching someone else’s unmentionables was terrifying.

They both assured Charna they were ready.

“Very good, now both of you draw your summoning circles. Remember no breaks.”

Harriet and Grelda both drew their circles on the perfectly flat floor. Harriet stepped out of hers carefully.

“Now retrieve your future familiars.”

Harriet moved forward and grabbed her cat carrier from by the wall. The black cat inside stared at her intensely. The name tag said Crice, Harriet loved the name.

Grelda was not as pleased. “Mildred? Seriously?”

“It is, what it is,” said Charna firmly.


“Place the carriers in the middle of your circles.”

They did so.

“Good, now begin the summoning!”

Harriet got out her tattered hand me down spell book and began to say the incantation. The words were flowing from her mouth far better than she hoped they would.

Unbelievably, Grelda seemed to be having trouble with hers. Obviously she had been spending more time with her big shot warlock boyfriend Annae than she had been studying.

Two dark smoky clouds formed over the circles. Harriet’s was calm while Grelda’s was stormy.

Harriet looked to Charna, hoping she would step in to prevent disaster, Grelda also seemed to sense something was wrong and stumbled over her words more and more. An instant later the dark clouds condensed and shot into the carriers. Harriet’s stayed calm while Grelda’s rocked around violently.

“Open your cages and greet your familiars and new companions for life.”

Harriet opened hers, Circe sprang up into her arms and purred.

Brazen as ever Grelda opened up hers and Mildred leapt for her face, hissing and scratching. Grelda backed away in shock, but recovered quickly and managed to bat it away.

Mildred landed on its feet. It began to talk in tongues. Harriet could sense great evil. Something had gone wrong. The demon was in control. It was not under Grelda’s spell like it should have been.

Charna nodded her head towards it, “Take care of it, Grelda.”

“I… I can’t.”

“Then you, Harriet.”


Charna just nodded. Mildred turned to Harriet as if she knew who the threat was. Its eyes were silver and reflective. Shaking, Harriet flipped through her spell book until she found the right spell.

Jumping and dodging she incanted the spell. A moment later there was a loud explosion and smoke filled the basement. Mildred, seeming to be demon free emerged from the smoke. It went over to Charna and began to lick its paw as if nothing had happened.

“Good job Harriet, girls you may leave now, Harriet retrieve your full hat and Grelda hand your broom in, you are done.”

Harriet went over to pick up her carrier. A cold feeling shot through her, something didn’t seem right, she looked up, Charna’s eyes, they were different. They were silver.

“Run Grelda!” Leaving the carrier behind Harriet chased after Grelda.

They could hear Charna laughing wickedly. “You can’t get away that easy!”

Stupidly, Harriet looked back just as they reached the stairs. She watched in horror as a ball of energy zoomed towards her. Luckily, Grelda was quick on her feet and yanked on her shirt and pulled Harriet up just in time. There was an explosion and the bottom of the stairwell caved in.

“The demon must have possessed her.”

“Yes, but we must go warn the others before it is too late, the blockage won’t hold her for long,” said Grelda.

“Good thinking,” said Harriet shaking her head and pulling herself up. “Thanks for saving me.”

They made their way up the stairs. “It’s the least I can do.”

It definitely was the least Grelda could do, it was her fault wasn’t it? But she would have to worry about that later, a demon possessed witch was after them and there was no guarantee they would get out alive.

*On a side note. Two of my flash fiction pieces were recently published in this collection: A Flash of Inspiration: A Collection of Very Short Stories

Get your hands on a copy. It's free! It's also available at Smashwords


  1. Grelda suddenly got a heaping dose of gratitude there! I'd have expected her to leave Harriet to the tender mercies of the demon. Great world-building in such a short piece!

  2. At least magical girls don't spend all Friday morning wondering if that cute demon will ask them out. I enjoyed how their personalities accentuated each other.

  3. @MrFar You're right, maybe I was a little too lenient on Grelda, but I think it's not over yet. And thanks, I think it's a world I want to return to.

    @John I agree, any kind of fiction that focuses on snagging a supernatural boyfriend/girlfriend makes my stomach churn. Although, there are some good pieces out there that do handle it well. Thanks! I think there will be some conflict between them once things settle down.

    @Raven Something wicked this way comes. :)

  4. This was such a thrilling tale. I couldn't stop reading. It flowed well. I also liked the witches. Nice job!

  5. I think that having to refer to the spell book instead of being able to recite the spells kind of slows the action, but otherwise I really enjoyed this.

  6. I was amused at how Harriet watched Grelda and Charna as she said her spells. It added to the competitiveness and reminded me of swim sprints.

  7. You've managed to tap into the competitive teenage mindset and created a world so foreign yet completely believable. Well done.
    Adam B @revhappiness

  8. A very interesting premise here, Craig. It sounds like things are going to get worse before they get better. Nice story!

  9. I do hope that the cats managed to get out safely!

    Excellent story.

  10. this is really sweet. I think a lot of people in the book blogging community (including myself!) really look up to you. I'm always checking out your blog help posts and such to answer some questions I may have. Thanks for everything :)domain registration india

  11. Such a cool idea. Man, I feel sorry for the cats, though!

  12. Heh, "unmentionables" . Nicely done.