After Hecate’s departure, Missy stomps off, grumbling about her “selfish, egotistical, stuck-up, conceited” sister. Granny starts to answer, but she is intrigued by the flutter of yellow she saw in the trees a bit further off…
‘Oups!’ Granny ducks as a goldfinch dives towards her.
It circles closer and closer around her head, then it chirps and flies off. It starts over again and again, until Granny understands it’s trying to show her something. It drives her towards the blood red coating of the sacred grounds. The magic of the area where the witches were burnt is strong, and the full moon is giving the bird power to communicate with the old witch. It settles on Granny’s shoulder, and starts twittering in her ear. Granny listens carefully…
‘So they came this way last night…’
‘Thank you, little bird… Now – fly away so I can investigate your information further!’
Missy has been hovering in the vicinity, watching her sister “talk” to the little bird. ‘Of course the bird picked her, not me,’ she mutters. ‘She always gets to do the fun stuff… What is she doing now?’
Granny is on her knees scrutinizing the faint traces in the earth.
Hmm… The little Goldfinch was right – there are foot prints… She raises her head looking around, searching for her stubborn sister. ‘MISSY!’
‘Coming, coming…’ Missy breaks into a jog to show a little good will. Out of breath she asks, ‘What is it now!?! Did you find anything?’
‘Err… I found some footprints. Look…’ Granny points to where Missy is standing, ‘… and I think I know where they were heading… But first, did you hear what Hecate said just before biting me?’
Missy shakes her head. ‘She said a lot of mumbo jumbo…’
Granny concentrates. ‘If I recall it right, it was something like: “The curse cannot be stopped… the healing lies in the glow of the orbs…” I think I know what she was talking about.’
Missy is patiently waiting for her to continue.
‘We’ll need more Glow Orbs to make cure potions to the people who gets bitten, of course!’
‘Are you sure she said Glow Orbs? She didn’t say Porcinis? Or Chanterelles?’ Granny shakes her head and Missy bursts out, ‘But Glow Orbs are almost impossible to find!’
‘I know. That’s why we have to hurry while it’s still moonlight. It triggers the glow and you should be able to see them.’
‘They grow under leaves, Granny. In late summer.’
‘Yes. Well. We’ll just have to try, don’t we? Now this is what we shall do…’
Missy takes off into the confines of the forest in search of Glow Orbs… She flies low, trying to keep the moon behind her, but the ground is deceptively empty of what she’s looking for. It would have been nice to have infrared goggles or something army like to see through the maze of branches and underbrush. Somehow she wonders if she didn’t get the least fun task – again.
Granny heads into town looking for “Passé Park”. Following the bird’s information, that’s where Missy’s creatures were heading. Granny hopes there hasn’t been any further contamination. It’s all good and well Hecate took care of the zombie haze and assured them it would be enough killing the original zombies to neutralize the “offspring”. So, if the remaining zombie has bitten someone, she might head straight into a nice little group of starving monsters not having a clue about which one was created by Missy. She doesn’t think that she’s strong enough to take on several beasts – especially not at the same time. She shudders. Better wait for Missy…
After making sure the park is empty, she settles on a bench against the wall of the communal bathrooms. Like that she has her back covered. The waiting is long, and Granny is exhausted after two nights without rest. She leans her head against the wall, but her neck aches too much. She’ll just lay down a little and close her eyes. Everyone knows you listen better with your eyes closed, don’t you?
It doesn’t take long before she falls asleep.
‘Aaaarrrghhhh…’ A sound from the dark bushes starts Granny awake.
‘What was that? Where am I?’ She looks around her and slowly recalls the last day’s events. Her back is aching, and she’s starting to feel the beginnings of a migraine. ‘Oh, I must have fallen asleep on the stone bench…’
Laboriously she sits up, stretching her aching back, before struggling to her feet, rolling her head from side to side to loosen her muscles a little.
Meanwhile, Missy has accomplished her mission, even if it took a little longer than expected to hike around all alone in the dark forest looking for magical mushrooms. She hopes one Glow Orb is enough. And a tiny one at that. What did her sister expect? The nights are frostbitten and the first snow will probably fall one of these days…
‘Now where did she say we should meet? Park, park something… Gloomy Park? Passé Park? Pitch Park? Amstramgram… Gloomy Park it is!’
When she at long last reaches the right park, she stops dead in her tracks. Her sister isfacing a zombie, but not the one they were looking for.
‘I’ll better let her do this her way. In any case she’ll just say I’m getting in her way,’ she mumbles, hiding in the bushes.
Crouching low, she bends aside a branch to get a better view. Enthralled she watches how Granny hardly has the time to pull out her wand before the monster attacks.
Still numb and sluggish after sleeping on the hard bench, Granny is not fast enough. Somehow the zombie gets hold of her wand and it breaks in two. Granny sidesteps and punches the zombie in the face and it falls in a heap at her feet.
‘Ha! That was close…’ She blows on her aching knuckles. ‘Now I’ve dealt with the zombie problem, where’s Missy? She should have been here by now – Glow Orb or no Glow Orb!’
She spins around at the loud crack of a twig breaking behind her, expecting her sister. Instead she’s almost eye to eye with another, bigger, more ferocious zombie.
‘Two? There are two of them! Please, don’t make there be more than two…’
She starts backing away, looking around for her broom, but it’s lying under the bench with the fallen zombie effectively obstructing the access.
Missy is frozen in place behind the bushes, watching the scene unfold with fascinated glee. She can’t help feeling a little elated and excited by the drama taking place in front of her.
Maybe it’s for the best… She won’t be all over the place with her snarky remarks anymore: “Do this!” “You shouldn’t do that!” Yeah. Call it destiny…
Granny is petrified by the horrible vision of the approaching zombie.
Without her wand she’s defenseless, and punching this beast in the face won’t be enough. He’ll probably just chew her fingers off. Confirming Granny’s thoughts, the zombie bares its teeth, growling and drooling.
She swallows. ‘Oh.My.God…
Scared witless, Granny shrinks back but she stumbles on the body on the ground behind her. The zombie claws at her skirt and breaking eye contact with the huge beast slowly approaching, Granny kicks it viciously, sending it rolling away.
That’s when the monster strikes! Courageously Granny tries to fight him off, but the un-dead are stronger than any living man and Granny doesn’t stand a chance.
The zombie holds her in a tight grip, keeping her from using her arms. It bares its rotten teeth and lunges towards her face.
‘Ohmygod. Get away! HELP! GET AWAYYYY!’
She realizes there’s no way out of this. The zombie will rip her throat out and she’ll become a braindead walker, too. If it doesn’t feed on her brain of course. Because then she won’t become anything but a rotting corpse…
Missy puts her hands over her ears to shut out her sister’s bloodcurdling scream of pure terror. Maybe she should just leave. There will probably be a lot more screaming and bloodshed and she doesn’t want to bear witness to this. She starts backing out of her hiding place but suddenly she stops, feeling all blood drain from her face. She just realized what would happen if her sister dies.
‘I’m sure she’ll be back to haunt me. Oh, no… I can’t let that happen. But if she can’t take those monsters down, I probably won’t be able to do so neither… And then again, I’m on my way to become a Zombie Master! So I can’t really eliminate all the zombies I’m supposed to master, can I?’
Granny shies away as much as she can, trying to save her face and throat. The teeth of the monster snaps in thin air but he aims again and this time bites through the grey cloth, sinking deep into the flesh of her shoulder with a sickening sound. The other zombie is back on its feet and also coming for her. The prospect of getting eaten alive and joining the ranks of the walking dead increases as fast as the other zombie haltingly approaches…
Missy has finally decided to take action. The prospect of Granny haunting her for the rest of her life is too much for her to process. She snaps out of her inertia and charges in to rescue her sister.
But it’s too late. The zombie turns its attention towards Missy, baring its teeth and letting go of Granny who struggles to maintain her balance. Holding on to her mauled shoulder and with blood pumping between her fingers she staggers away.
Bleeding heavily Granny falls to the ground with a loud thud. Missy jumps over her, drawing her wand like she’s seen in the movies and taking the zombies by surprise.
With a well-aimed burst of fire, Missy neutralizes the smaller creep first.
With satisfaction she watches the zombie growling and hissing try to fight off the flames.
‘A taste of Hell, Sweetheart!’ she grins evilly.
The larger zombie is still hovering, growling at Missy. Slowly she turns around, looking coolly at it with scrunched up eyes, and surprisingly it backs off a few feet.
‘Yeah. Meet your master, creep.’ She kneels next to her sister, checking her condition.
When she sees the nasty wound, she is suddenly filled by an overpowering rage.
‘Oh no…’ She closes her eyes and feels the blood rushing to her head.
‘Oh nonono…’ She squeezes her hands so hard it hurts.
‘NONONO! She can’t just leave me like this! I won’t let her haunt me til’ I die! I don’t wanna take care of a little kid! And her disgusting mutt!’
If Granny’s scream was bloodcurdling, there’s no word for Missy’s howling. Even the zombie stops growling and scratching thin air, and stares at her with bloodshot eyes.
She stops screaming as abruptly as she started. Breathing heavily her gaze fixes on the zombie.
‘And it’s all your fault,’ she whispers.
That’s when the braindead monster decides to make a run for it. He hobbles away as fast as he can, with Missy tailing him, yelling insults.
‘Dang cold bodied biter! Lamebrain! Rotting dead creeper! You’ll wish you were really dead when I’ll catch your rotting ass! You brain-dead walking hunk of stale meat!’
She catches up with it in Pitch Park. She won’t set this one on fire, it won’t be enough to kill it. No, she will have to call for Maman Brigitte’s help and use a voodoo death spell, even though it’s dangerous for herself.
She aims her wand, calling for Maman Brigitte to possess her body and give her strength to finish the zombie once and for all. A black rooster lands with flapping wings, screeching obscenities. Missy thanks Maman Brigitte for coming and singsonging the ancient Voodoo spell, she makes the zombie fall on its knees, gurgling and growling…
Coldly she watches him suffer and expire…
With a slight smirk she looks at the ground swallowing him and the black rooster, too.
‘Thank you again, Maman Brigitte. Eliminating my creations is almost as fun as making them…’
She stomps on the hand, to make sure it’s underground, all right!
Then she returns to take care of her sister. Getting her home and upstairs into her room took a fair amount of ingenuity and time. Crying, Missy puts her to bed. As she doesn’t really know what to do about the Glow Orb, she decides to carefully tuck the precious mushroom under the pillow.
Missy knows she should get out of there, lock the door and throw away the key. But she can’t leave her sister alone.
Maybe she won’t transform into a … Into a … I better check on her!
But Granny’s skin has already taken on a sickly greenish hint.
Suddenly her sister sits straight up in bed. She opens her eyes and looks around her. Missy draws her wand, just in case. Slowly Granny fixes her dead stare on Missy, and a flicker of recognition washes briefly over her face.
Relieved, Missy starts to ask a lot of questions. ‘I was so worried! How are you? Do you need something? Err… Tara, answer me!’
Suddenly zombie-Granny, is out of bed, aiming for a kill!
‘Aaaaaarggghhhh… huuuungggry… brrraaaaiiiins…’
Missy is petrified with fright. Gasping for air, she tries to back away, but her limbs doesn’t seem to obey.
’Aaaarrrgh… head… huuuuuurts…’ Granny can’t seem to attack her sister. She clutches her head in her hands, growling. Trembling, Missy starts to back away from the beast that is her sister…
Granny sways from side to side, clutching her head in her hands. Scratching, pulling and tearing, awful sounds escaping her lips. Missy continues to back towards the door, not leaving her sister with her eyes.
Hurriedly she escapes out into the hall, locking the heavy oak door behind her. She leans against it, until a loud thud makes it tremble.
Ouch… better go and get her something to eat…
Brains “à la mode” with a touch of Xanax… Now what is she doing over by the window?
Granny has found the Glow Orb under the pillow. She has taken a bite but it makes her want to throw up…
What is happening to me?
She stares at her hands. It feels like her body belongs to someone else, and she has trouble focusing her thoughts.
Where am I?
She knows one thing though. She must eat that spongy thing on the… on the?
‘Here you are, fresh brains straight from… well, fresh food…’
Granny turns around at the sound of the familiar voice behind her. Drooling she finishes the glow orb.
Missy tries to smile, but it’s difficult. The sight of the sickly green creature in front of her gives her goosebumps all over her body…
‘I see you’ve eaten the Glow Orb. Ahem… I guess that’s good.’
Missy jumps at the sudden outburst and the bowl falls to the floor, shards and food scattering everywhere. Missy runs out of there and slams the door shut.
Granny claws on the door, growling and spitting…
Missy doesn’t know what to do next. ‘I’ll find a way to help you, Granny… I promise.’
She refuses to admit that whoever her sister once was is gone forever. Checking the door is securely locked, she heads off to try to get some sleep.
Granny wolfs up the food on the floor, scooping up the brains and swallowing without chewing. The effect is immediate. Granny falls, falls…
Minuit has been hiding under the bed, scared of her new growling mistress. But now, when Granny reaches for her, she ventures out and curls up, licking the claw like hand that once used to stroke her.
Granny cuddles up with Minuit in her arms, soon lulled to sleep by the cat’s peaceful purring… And the massive dose of Xanax…
Granny’s sleep is haunted by nightmarish visions of violence… She attacks her sister… and eats her up.
… and the delivery man gets a part of his arm chewed out!
But even in her dreams, she can’t harm Taïga… Is it because deep down she doesn’t want to hurt her? Or is it because she really can’t?
Missy too had a bizarre dream that night. Maybe a raw Glow Orb wasn’t enough to cure her sister. Maybe Granny had intended to use it in a potion of some sorts. Missy recalled her sister said she had prepared cure potions in case something bad happened…
When she wakes up in the morning, she hurries outside and digs out a tiny key from Granny’s torn jacket. Now she has access to Granny’s potion cabinet!
Missy lines up one bottle of each and tries to decide which one to use.
Hmmm… Ad Nauseum… Vial of Bliss… Flask of Sleep… Invigorating Elixir… Jar of Discord… and of Friendship… Skill Booster… Vial of Bottled Genie… Bottled Witches’ Brew… Fountain of Youth Elixir – I’ll try that one later… Age of Instant… Clone Drone… Potent Personality Adjuster… Potent Invigorating Elixir… Procreation Elixir – I wonder if it’s some kind of love potion. I’ll try it also. Later! … Lean and Mean? Wow… Now this one seems good – Large and In Charge! She’s always in charge. Hehehe… What’s that? Wish Enhancing Serum. No… I better look at the ingredients.
She takes down each and every flask and reads Granny’s tiny handwriting on the etiquette…
Potent Cure Elixir: Wolfsbane Flower, Glow Orbs… Yes! This could be the one… I’ll just mix in a little of that Large and in Charge thing, and some Potent Personality Adjuster to get rid of the blood thirst… And some Bliss will make her happy and less nagging! …
Armed with a bottle of bubbling liquid, she hurries back to Granny’s room. She listens at the door first. Wouldn’t do to run straight into those iron claws now…
Carefully she opens the door and steps into the room.
The bed is empty. She had counted on calmly pouring the liquid into a sleeping Granny’s mouth…
But where is she? ‘Granny?’ she calls out tentatively. ‘Ahem… Tara?’
‘Aaaaarrrgh!’ A ferocious growl comes from behind her, almost making her heart stop.
Granny has been hiding behind the door, and now Missy is trapped in the room. She has to succeed in curing the Granny-monster, or she won’t get out alive. Her sister is coming at her, drooling and growling. Missy looks around for a weapon and reflexively throws the bottle at her sister…
She didn’t think that throwing the flask at the growling monster would work, she just wanted to stall her sister a moment.
Granny stalls all right, enclosed in a warm glow… Missy stares, forgetting about escaping.
‘It worked!’ Maybe a little too well considering Granny is now a size XXXL…
‘Oh, Granny! I was so scared!’
‘I was scared too, Missy! But now everything’s all right! I feel wonderful! So happy, almost euphoric… But we must keep this a secret, huh? Nobody can find out, there are people plotting everywhere…’ Granny looks around her suspiciously…
Uh-oh… maybe I should have left out that personality adjuster thingy…
‘But…’ Granny catches a glimpse of herself in the mirror. ‘What have you done? I must weigh at least 300 pounds! (136 kg)’
Missy backs away from her very large and in charge and oh so furious sister…
‘Don’t say anything… I’ll take care of this now! The key!’ Imperiously Granny holds out her hand. ‘The key!’
For once Missy doesn’t know what to say… She just hands over the key to the potion cabinet. Maybe I shouldn’t have mixed in so much Large and in Charge. She gulps. I’ve created a new kind of monster! The Potent Cure Elixir was probably enough…
‘Get dressed! We have zombies to kill! And a cloud to annihilate!’
Granny waits for Missy to close the door behind her, before she heads over to the walk-in closet that houses the elixir cabinet. She hesitates before opening it, listening for footsteps.
Nobody’s watching…I have a feeling I’m being followed… But no, nobody’s watching…
She gasps at the disorder on the shelves.
‘Missy has touched everything!’ she grumbles. ‘Might even have taken it for herself, God knows she needs it…’
Granny fiddles around with her potions until she finds what she is looking for.
‘Right! This will do the trick!’ She gulps down a whole glass of “Lean and Mean”.
‘But!?! It doesn’t work! Gaah! I should have known it didn’t work on magic weight gain…’ She tightens the belt of her robe. ‘I guess I’ll just have to exercise a little…’
Part I – End of Chapter 23