By MONICA MARIER
“You’re a witch?” I asked, goggle-eyed.
Sandy just shrugged and pulled a lock of ash blond hair away from her mouth.
“Yeah,” she said.
It took a while before I could say anything else. One fact kept poking me in the back of the head like a pencil.
“BUT YOU’RE A REPUBLICAN!” I blurted out.
Sandy snorted and rolled her eyes. “So? Doesn’t matter.”
“I thought you couldn’t be both,” I insisted. There was something about Sarah Palin the NRA paired with incense and crystals that didn’t mesh.
“Look, you’re born a witch. It’s not a lifestyle choice like who you vote for or what color socks you wear,” she told me.
I shrugged, but I tried to thoroughly examine my roommate without staring.
It still looked like Sandy Parks: a skinny but rather plain-jane physical therapy major, with horsey teeth and freckles. She still had a drawl after moving here from Norfolk VA —not that it mattered. Her genuine snakeskin boots (that had seen better days) and straw cowboy hat was a dead giveaway.
She told me that she envied my “striking features” and overflowing EE cup, but I didn’t believe it for a second. Who’d want to be a big fat marshmallow when they were a size 2? You can fix bland features with a little makeup (which Sandy never tried to do) but you can’t fix fat.
And then this happened. We were on the floor, eating Milanos (hers) and watching The Last Unicorn (also her movie on her TV) when we suddenly announced she was a witch.
“Alright prove it,” I said, REALLY hoping she wouldn’t.
“’Kay,” she said. She pointed to a box of Pop Tarts (hers) on the shelf and said, “Cthinos h’yel meh taftut.”
If anyone ELSE had said it without a thick Southern Accent it probably would have sounded really cool.
The box flopped over and remained on its side.
“Pshh. Is that it?” I asked.
“Just wait,” she said and my eyes returned to the box. A rustling sound indicated that something was happening to one of the shiny foil packages. I stared as the rustling got louder and louder until—
“HIT THE DECK!” shouted Sandy suddenly.
Sandy and I ate the carpet as two shapes went whizzing overhead. There was a dull thudding sound as the room shook and I tentatively got up.
“Sorry,” said Sandy looking abashed. She rose and straightened her denim skirt. “I lost control a little.”
“A LITTLE?” I asked looking at the white cold walls.
Sticking out of the cinderblocks, like ninja throwing stars, were two perfectly toasted s’mores-flavored Pop Tarts. I gingerly pulled one out of the wall, after it was cool enough to touch. The icing was now a caramelized brulee, but otherwise intact. How it managed to fly into the rock-hard wall without crumbling and showering us with molten sugar was beyond me. Gingerly I bit off a corner that wasn’t covered in plaster. It tasted fine.
“Cool,” I said warily. “So what else can you do, other than fire ballistic pastries?” I asked.
She winced at my comment and I felt ashamed of myself.
“Sorry. I can’t turn the snark off sometimes,” I mumbled.
“Yeah, I know,” she said shaking her head indulgently. “Well, there’s a reason I told you I’m a witch, now that you ask me.”
“Oh yeah, what’s that?” I asked.
“I need your help with something.”
“Like what?” I asked, uncertainly. I was worried this was going to get uncomfortable and fast.
“I need you to help me get to a book,” she said.
Oh, thank GOD. She doesn’t want me to do something dumb with colored candles and silver knives, I thought.
“What kind of book. Is it expensive?” I asked.
“It’s priceless,” she said nodding. “It’s kept under lock and key at the library and only certain majors can get access to it.”
I nodded. There were a few of those. Our University was one of the oldest in America, which was really one of our only claims to fame these days apart from a champion ping-pong team.
“So where do I come in?” I asked.
“Well you’re a history major, minoring in archaic lore, right?”
“Yeah…” I said, growing nervous again.
“The book I need to get access to is the Necronomicon of Abdul Alhazred. I think MU has a copy of it in the Library.”
“Oh,” I said my stomach sinking. Maybe colored candles wouldn’t have been so bad. “Well, see, that’s going to be tricky. They kind of don’t let any students see that book anymore.”
“But they used to!” she cried.
“Yeah, but every time they did someone went bonkers! I think they were theorizing that the book had lead ink or fungoid spores in it — something that was making people go nuts. It’s sealed up in storage now.”
“Shit,” Sandy cursed a rare thing in itself. “Now what.”
“Well, they sell the English version in the campus bookstore,” I said.
Sandy looked up. “That might work,” she said, her eyes hopeful. “We can try anyway.”
“Well, okay. Let’s go — I could use a latte. What do you want it for any way?”
“Well you know how kids have been attacked on campus at night?” she said slowly.
“I think the book might give me some clue as to how to stop it.”
I stopped dead as I strung the two factors together. Kids were getting attacked on Miskatonic campus behind the science buildings and Sandy wanted access to occult literature.
“What… are you saying something …weird is attacking students?”
“Rosemary West, what do you know about the reanimated?” Sandy asked me.