The Audition

Joey Payne

Verity Poppet had always been proud of her place in the Coven of Holidays. She had worked her way up through the lesser holidays while doing her duty to the coven. Whatever it was that made a holiday special, fun, and magical fell on the witch of that holiday to make happen.

As she woke up and got ready for the day, Verity thought about her early years with the coven. Like everyone, she had to start at the bottom as the Arbor Day Witch where she helped the trees grow and tried to make sure no children fell and hurt themselves while climbing trees. She had always found it dull and more fit for spring witches like Agrimonia Daybreaker with her tan skin and cloyed, peppy demeanor. She had truly enjoyed her younger days as the witch of Vappu in Finland, but these days she left that to younger and more... enthusiastic witches like Ceridwen Moonshine. Verity had even been told she was the witch of Oktoberfest for a number of years; although she couldn't tell you if that was true or not as she had no memory of it. These days Verity was right where she wanted to be in the order of holidays. She was the keeper of Halloween, you see, and contrary to popular belief it was a year-round job.

Some people believe after Halloween the beasties and boogums happily just vanish till the next year. But this is not the case, not the case at all. It is the job of the Witch of Halloween to round up all of these rogue creatures and be in charge of their care and feeding till the next year. And to the surprise of no one, a lot of these things do not want to be rounded up. They want to scare and eat small children all year round. And if they're not caught and stored then it would become a horror movie. Because a flesh-eating blob from Dimension 12 is funny and fun on Halloween, not so much in July with no context.

Verity was also in charge of newly created boogums, such as vampires, werewolves, zombies, and people who ignored a curse warning. Part of her job is to catch them and orientate them into the Halloween lifestyle. Like explaining to the new zombies that even though they are perfectly capable of speaking they have to moan and shamble to carry on the legends, otherwise it wouldn't make sense. And even though vampires are perfectly fine eating a nice steak with potatoes they needed to always be sure to drink blood while they were out to keep up appearances.

On top of all this, Verity also had the one job she truly did not enjoy, the one thing she actually dreaded: auditioning new boogums for spots during Halloween. She had just finished auditioning a recently created half-painted doll man who seemed to think screaming, “Where is my nose!” as he stabbed people to death with it was somehow Halloween material. Verity sipped her coffee as she grumbled about how she could be doing much better things. And even though her mug stated that she was the Head Witch in Charge, Verity just wasn't feeling it today.

She sighed a jaded sigh as she looked over the auditions. There was the ax-wielding hillbilly wearing a sewn-together rabbit mask, which made Verity roll her eyes. A swamp creature that turned its victims into tiny figurines, that one sounded promising. Verity made a sound of disgust as she saw Bigfoot was trying out again... that guy never learns. She would have to slip him some sleep candy and release him again into the wild.

As she went through the portfolios she read over the next audition on her list. Someone named Billy, the Ender of Worlds. Shifting in her chair as she called Billy in Verity hoped it would at least be entertaining.

The door to Verity's office creaked open. And for a second Verity thought it was going to be the same ole, same ole. Creaky doors, jangling chains, maybe some blood oozing through the walls, or it would start raining eyeballs. Verity had seen it all and was just starting to feel bored when Billy entered.

It started with the sound of a child's laughter that seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere at the same time. At first Verity thought Billy was invisible as she heard clawed feet scampering around the room. But then she realized she could only see him out of the corner of her eye. She bit her bottom lip as she tried to watch him. She had to admit that the waiting and not knowing was slightly terrifying. So much so that Verity gasped loudly as her focus was filled with Billy's presence. His face was so close to hers that Verity could feel his hot breath on her face. His eyes glowed with an indescribable color than no human had seen before. And though his mouth hung open and did not move blasphemous words and the names of ancient evils fell from Billy's blackened lips. Suddenly Verity realized that Billy was trying to steal her soul and she blushed deeply. It had been a long time since a handsome young monster had tried to steal her soul.

She gave a wicked smile as Billy began to undulate and dance. His form began changing and shifting from the most beautiful of angels to the most hideous of demons and everything in between as he/she/they tried to convince Verity's soul to come out and play. Billy was trying for her soul so hard Verity didn't have the heart to tell him that she got rid of that moldy old thing years ago. Verity was torn about letting him lose on the world as she watched Billy dance. Sure the human rubes would be turned into soulless and shriveled minions in service to Billy for all of eternity and mankind might be wiped out. But right at this moment mama needed her some excitement. The attempt to steal her soul was so tantalizing that Verity's cold, dead heart gave a single, excited, thump and she started cackling.

It took Billy up until the moment that Verity was laughing at him while screaming “Yee haw!!!” to realize she did not have a soul. Billy changed forms until he was the demon once more floating before her. His mouth fell open and words of complaining and indignity fell from his blackened lips. Verity let out a long sigh as Billy informed her that he was a professional soul eater. And according to the Demonic Possessors, Incubi, Succubi and Ethereal Specters Union Handbook, Verity had to inform him of her soul-impaired condition before an audition began, otherwise it makes the whole performance tacky. Billy assured her that she would hear from his agent about the matter and turned with a huff, all the while spouting a few obscenities in Lower Demon. Slamming her door open, Billy stormed out of the room in whatever the demonic version of pouting looks like.

As Billy loudly complained his way down the hall, Verity rubbed the bridge of her nose. A smell had caught her attention. It smelled like a skunk that had had a high impact collision with a wet fart. The unmistakable aroma of swamp ape filled her office. Verity sighed, pulling the sleep candy from her magic pumpkin as she realized Big Foot was auditioning next. Verity decided that it was going to be a long Halloween.



Joey Payne enjoys writing post-apocalyptic novels and horror short stories. His first release, a book set in a grim future world, entitled Love and Radiation (Book 1 of his Radiation Tales series) was published in October of 2012 and is currently available via Amazon's Kindle and Kindle App Store.

Joey is a Georgia boy and lives with his wife and children in his beloved home state. He also loves river boating, fishing and collecting antique firearms, which he shoots often to help him concentrate.

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