Thursday, April 15, 2021. Clarendon, Vermont.
Soundtrack: The Sword – Tres Brujas
I’d been chewing holes in the walls since quarantine was first announced, and by the second year of the two-week curve flattening, my increasingly feral mindstate had only marginally improved. The plague still sweeps through our land, slipping through cracks and into our homes in the dead of night, blighting our crops and killing our fats and olds, both of which are cornerstones of this great nation. Bill Gates is filling our blood with liquid 5G, offering a stay of execution and increasing our personal bandwidth so long as we upload our RNA straight into the Bing Matrix.
For a year I’ve been crouched in the blasted ruins of The City of Brotherly Crackheads Screaming at 3 AM, shooting arrows in the basement and slowly trading away all my worldly possessions for mid-range guitars and houseplants.
This is no way for a bastard to live.
Luckily, a witch offered me reprieve from the monotony of the broken glass pile that is Philadelphia.
“I’ve got to go to Vermont,” she said. “Come with?”
I’ve had many, many what you would call encounters with witches over the years, and they often end in hexing. That’s just the dice you throw. When the only tool you have is True Polymorph, everything looks like a newt.
You can imagine my leeriness, especially having waited out the statute of limitations on curses so many times before. There was even one who would convince her thralls (we call these simps now) to do “blood pacts”, and cut their hands, then reopen the same wound in her finger to blend their blood.
Imagine playing it that fast and loose with your essence. That’s unrepentant necromancy. She never got my blood. To this day, I won’t even touch a goddamned crystal.
But this witch, the witch offering me an out of the city, she maintains that she is of a different stripe. She says she’s a green witch. I’m a simple man, and a melee build, so I don’t know all the subclassifications, but I imagine they all have access to the same skill tree. But I am eco-friendly, and I did miss silence.
“Let’s go,” says I.
And so I loaded the same pack that got me across Yurp with the same essentials – a few changes of clothes and a glowing rectangle with a library in it – then clambered up into her broom-drawn carriage. We were joined by my attorney, Beefton Duke.
It barely occured to me to ask why Vermont, bit-champing as I was to get free of the 215. The 5-hour haul allowed plenty of time to correct that.
“Matters to attend to,” she said cryptically. “Business.”
Components, I reckoned. Bones and rocks and herbs and whatnot. Something big brewing. Big and allegedly green. That’s okay. I would be looking down the right side of the barrel this time.
We screeched past a collection of cop cars, all with their flashers on, but only flashing in blue.
“Looks like trouble,” Beefton whispered to me.
“I know you can’t tell, but it’s all just one color,” I told him.
“What?” the witch asked.
“The flashers. They’re only one color.”
“I can tell!” she said.
“Maybe it’s not a stop, then,” I suggested. “Maybe it’s a sale. Blue Light Special.”
“What the hell is blue?” Beefton asked. “Ridiculous. You can’t afford the heat right now.”
“I don’t think we have to be worried about it.”
“As your legal counsel,” he continued, “here’s my suggestion. Pull off up ahead in this next plaza with all the wooden sasquatch lawn ornaments. Go into that grocery store. Buy a whole big bag of pepperoni.”
“I’ll take it under advisement.”
“The big bag. Economy pack. None of that 2 oz shit.”
And so began the Dream-Quest of Unknown Clarendon, into the most desolate reaches of New England.