The witch’s home
Staring ahead as the sirens blared, I pressed my red shoes together and tapped three times, creating a different sound for every tap. It always amused me how such a simple act could create so much change, how three steps with these shoes could take me miles away or in this case, worlds away.
The witches’ shoes had taken me to her home, a world of darkness and greed known as the underworld, the deepest layer of it where even the light of lava could not reach. Our witch had been the queen of darkness and now I have taken her place, for whoever owns these shoes shall forever return to the dark realms so long as the red prison slipper remains glued to my feet.
Or at least that is what the people of the underworld had told me when I first arrived here instead of my own home as I had expected. They told me that I had set their unhappy queen free from her sentence of acting evil, that she had once been a pure soul who fell for the devil and got tricked to work for him.
Of course, I do not actually believe them, they are the souls of the deepest levels of hell after all and not to be trusted. But I have gotten to know them over the years and their disguises are indeed very charming.
I sighed as I walked through the gates of red towards the devil himself, who was lazing on his throne waiting for me. I have to report to him every time I return here, as I may rule part of his land, but he still owns me as the ruler of all.
“Is it your tenth teleportation already?” He said once I was standing before his throne. Every tenth teleportation with these shoes takes me to the underworld, that is what is meant by forever having to return.
“Yes, the police were on my tail and so I didn’t have any choice”
The devil laughed “Oh how I do love sending you to cause mischief” he said referring to his frequent requests for me to kill mortals and bring them to hell early, purely for his amusement…the underworld has really corrupted me, perhaps like how it corrupted her.
“Well, it’s good to have you back… and I’m sure you remember the rules!” he said in a cheery voice.
“Yes, I am to stay for the next 6 years before I can teleport again” I say in a monotone having repeated those exact worlds every time I return, the devil loved to make me repeat myself.
“Very good” He said and waved his hand to the door labelled the witch, her door that used to take her to the level that she ruled over, the level that I have taken over. I give the devil a nod and walk through the door.
The door only takes me to my palace these days, as the devil now also lives on my level, I do not know why…I certainly would not chose to live in such a dark place. But that is not my concern for now, right now I shall focus on ruling these charming fakes and finding the city of Oz. I am not sure why but something in me still wants to know if they had deliberately tricked me or if they too were none the wiser. Maybe it is my ten-year-old self who clings to the hope that I was not tricked and that perhaps they could once again help me find a solution to my plight.
These were the thoughts that plagued me for the next 3 years, as I am toiling away, granting, or rejecting my people’s requests while keeping track of any newcomers. My mind was always longing to find the city of Oz, the one thing that I am making little progress in. I have tried for decades now but still am no closer to finding the world that I had been to 40 years ago.
I often blame it on lack of time, my people do keep me busy, hunting, punishing, and granting silly things like a pay rise. As evil as they may be, the devil still has them acting like living humans, he is awfully attached to human systems. Of course the evil hate it, being forced into a system that they had once rebelled against… so I often have to punish them with fires that do not shin, no light for the wicked after all.
“Strange, isn’t it? To watching them burning from seemingly nothing” said the devil on one of his visits to examine the prisons in my palace.
I had raised an eyebrow at that “You were the one who created this invisible fire and have used it for more than a millennia, how can it still be strange to you?”
And he never did answer that, I recalled as I gazed at my screen of calculations, I was trying to work out how that tornado could have taken me to anywhere that was not death, I do not think I will ever understand it, an incomprehensible magic that is the same as the magic that has these shoes glued to my feet.
I still remember how I had obsessed over that magic; I had obsessed over it without knowing that the answer was in the very world that I ruled a part of… the witch who was now in hell. The devil had very carefully hidden this from me, he had enjoyed watching me suffer for an answer that was right there within the mind of his lover, his lover who he had moved to this level for.
The evil souls had spoken a half truth, the witch was never a pure soul, but she had been the lover of the devil and I had realised too late, my 6 years were finished, and I now had 10 new teleportations to make before finally finding the witch and city of Oz. How did I go from searching for home to longing for the city of emeralds I wonder.
Molly and the Clown’s Shoes
A salty tear rolled down Molly’s rosy cheek.
The usually perky 10-year-old redhead had just come back to her trailer in a traveling circus after attending a funeral for Blink-O the Clown. Blink-O was the one who took Molly under his wing three years ago after she wandered into the Denmark circus alone and afraid.
The clown with the bright red nose, floppy outfit, oversized red shoes, and his big horn (he always gave three honks) was the only one she confided in at the circus. Blink-O was the only one who knew that the little girl had lost her memory. Blink-O even gave her the name “Molly,” because it rhymed with “jolly.” The clown also got her a job as a “go-fer” at the circus.
However, neither Molly or Blink-O knew that she had lost her parents in a Chicago airport and tried to stow away on a flight to her Denver area home. Instead, she hid on the wrong jet, bumped her head during the trip, and wound up in Europe. With amnesia.
Now, Molly sat motionless on her trailer bed. She did not bother to wipe away her tears. She wanted to go home. But where? If she had parents, they must be worried sick: three years and no word?
Two knocks interrupted Molly’s gloomy thoughts.
But when she opened the trailer door, no one was there. Just a taped-up, oversized box on her doorstep. She tore off the tape, and opened the box, and lifted out a clown’s big, floppy red shoe.
“Blink-O,” she said out loud.
As she lifted the other shoe, Molly saw a note sticking out. She recognized the sloppy scrawl instantly. She read:
I want you to have my shoes to remember me.
The clown who gave them to me told me they
were magic. I never got any magic out of them,
but if they can make you smile, that is magic enough.
Molly put the note in a drawer. She put the red shoes back in the box and nestled it in a corner.
The days that went by turned into weeks as Molly kept to herself and went about her tasks at the circus.
More than a month later, the ringmaster berated Molly for forgetting to order hay for the elephant and for not delivering rope on time to all the trailers to help pack up to move to the next town.
The little girl sadly shuffled back to her trailer that night in the rain. So many things were on her mind. The tongue-lashing. Wondering who she was. Missing the one person who could comfort her and make her laugh. She saw the box in the corner and wistfully dug out Blink-O’s red shoes.
Tears welled up.
Molly told herself, “‘Don’t cry, just try!’ Yeah, that’s what Blink-O always said.”
With determination, Molly put the big red shoes on her little feet. She jumped up and down a few times. She clicked the toes together three times. Then the heels. She jumped on the table and said, “C’mon, magic shoes, do your stuff!”
She jumped off the table and began high-stepping with the shoes. “Take me home, shoes,” Molly cried as she began doing jumping jacks in the floppy footwear.
In the midst of her third jumping jack, the door opened. It was the ringmaster.
“Quickly,” he shouted. “Take this note to the tightrope walker.”
Molly grabbed the note and said, “As soon as I take off these shoes…”
“No!” the ringmaster shouted. “Go immediately – if you still want your job!”
Molly rushed out of her trailer wearing Blink-O’s big red shoes. She sloshed her way through the rain and mud, passing tents and trailers, and falling down twice.
She was a filthy, soggy little girl by the time she got to Acme the tightrope walker’s trailer. Molly knocked on the door. When Acme answered in jeans and a sport shirt, Molly thrust the note into his right hand. She turned to leave, but Acme said, “Come on in out of the rain.”
Molly stopped and smiled. She turned to go inside, but Acme told her, “Take off those shoes and knock some of the mud off, first.”
Obediently, Molly sat on the edge of the doorstep and pulled off the floppy shoes. She took one in each hand and, as hard as she could, clapped the soles together.
It sounded like a thunderclap. Instantly, Molly was enveloped in a deep haze. The fog stung her eyes so she closed her lids tightly.
“Amy!” a woman screamed. “Amy, is that you?”
Molly slowly opened her eyes and found herself still wet and dirty and still holding Blink-O’s shoes – but she was now sitting on a cement porch in front of a suburban ranch house. And a brown-haired woman was running toward her.
The little girl squinted. And yelled: “Mom! Mom, is that really you?”
The redhead’s memory returned in a flash as mother and daughter hugged one another tightly. They cried and laughed at the same time. One of the clown shoes dropped to the walk while the other was still on Amy’s right hand.
“Blink-O?” Molly said as she tried to peer around her mother’s waist.
“What, dear?” the woman said. “That’s your father – you know he always beeps the horn when he arrives in his pickup!”
“Daddy!” Amy said as she broke away from her mom, dropped the other clown shoe, and ran toward the pickup.
After more hugging, the happy trio walked past the big muddy shoes to the front door of the house. As they entered, the father said, “Don’t clown around; we want the full story of what happened to you.”