Waiting for the school day to end was like sitting through a chorus of a thousand nails screeching on a thousand chalkboards for a thousand hours. By the time the final bell rang, I was ready to boil anyone who got in my path in a whatever pot was most readily available.
My witch was out there in the spirit world, alone and vulnerable, while some menace that Grandma Apples wouldn’t even name was hunting down people with magical power.
I was only a Seeming, with only the most basic sorts of magic to call on, but that wasn’t going to stop me from brewing up a world wrecking tempest if that’s what it took to get Penny back on the correct side of the mirror.
“You have the look of someone who’s planning to do something very stupid,” Betty, my new goblin friend, said.
We were seated around the same lab table in our biology class. Last period was usually History for most students, but Penny had skipped ahead a year in science so her schedule, and Betty’s, were a little different from a typical students.
“I can’t believe the bell hasn’t rung yet,” I said. I was pretending to view a slide under the microscope but my brain was still racing on a million other things from the discussion with Grandma Apples.
“And what are you planning to do once it does ring?” Betty asked. “We’ll pretend for a minute that I don’t know exactly what have in mind.”
“I let my witch get too far away,” I said. “I’m going to fix that.”
“By which you mean that you’re going to make things worse by running off after her without any idea of where she is or how you’d help her out of whatever jam she might have fallen into.”
“Yes,” I said. “Exactly that.”
“And this doesn’t strike you as a dumb idea?” Betty asked.
“It’s a terrible idea,” I said. “But I don’t have any good ones to replace it with, so, as bad as it is, running off to look for Penny seems to be my best move.”
Betty rolled her eyes and shook her head.
“You wouldn’t be giving me this much trouble about it if you didn’t have a better idea though,” I said. “Would you care to enlighten me?”
“You want an idea from a goblin?” Betty asked.
“Sure, why not?” I asked. “You’ve got better grades than Penny does, your ideas have to be at least as good as hers.”
“Right, you’re not a real witch yet,” Betty said, shaking on her confusion. “You’ll need to work on that. There’s an aura of overblown superiority and ego I think witches are required to project at all time.”
“That sounds like the kind of thing an insecure witch would do,” I said. “I mean look at Grandma Apples. She doesn’t come off as egotistical at all does she?”
“No, she comes off as dangerous,” Betty said. “Extremely dangerous.”
“Are we talking about the same Grandma Apples?” I asked. “The sweet old lady with the cozy little home and helpful flying broom?”
“I’ve never been to her house, but yes,” Betty said. “Witches are half-folk right? You know what that means don’t you?”
“I’m not a witch, so no, or I mean, not any more than what Grandma Apples told us before,” I said.
Betty looked at me in confusion.
“What makes you think you’re not a witch?” she asked.
“Penny’s the witch,” I said. “I’m just her Seeming.”
“I know that,” Betty said. “But that doesn’t mean you’re not a witch.”
“I don’t understand?” I said.
“Maybe I don’t either,” Betty said. “It’s not like witches tell all their secrets to us non-witches. I just know what I’ve seen and it’s always looked like the original, the Seeming and the Shadow are all basically the same person, just, I don’t know, pictured from different angles? Or maybe through different lens?”
“You’re saying I can do magic too?” I asked.
“Sure, but I don’t have any idea how. Witch magic is weird.”
“Is that why you’re afraid of Grandma Apples?” I asked.
“I’m not afraid of her,” Betty said. “I just know to be careful around her. She’s a half-folk, she pokes herself into trouble, and she’s lived to be old and grey. Those aren’t things that go together unless you’ve got some serious teeth to back up your barks.”
“Well, I don’t want to go poking into trouble,” I said. “Just the opposite really. I want to get my witch out of the mirror world before trouble can find her.”
“It sounds like trouble swallowed her up,” Betty said. “She was eaten by a giant toad right?”
“Yeah, which is why all this waiting is killing me,” I said.
The bell rang and I bolted up. Before I dashed out though, I turned to look at Betty.
“You had an idea didn’t you?” I asked. “A better one than me just blundering into trouble without a plan?”
“Yes I did,” Betty said and then added in a softer voice, “Do you really want to hear it?”
“Yes! Of course I do!” I said. “I know running off after Penny is stupid, but not trying to help her is even dumber. I will happily take any idea that let’s me act even marginally more intelligent than my instincts suggest I should.”
“Well, it’s simple really,” Betty said. “Grandma Apples said that you should avoid the spirit worlds because someone was hunting magical folk there right?”
“Yeah, except I think that’s where Penny is being held because I think whatever is hunting for magic already found her,” I said.
“Then what you really need is someone to go hunting the hunters for you,” Betty said.
“Yeah, but where am I going to find someone like that?” I asked.
“Someone like what?” Akemi Maki asked.
I turned to look at the more experienced and knowledgeable magical girl with the superhuman senses and a delighted smile spread across my face.