Hello! An elderly woman was standing by the side of the road.
Good afternoon, Marcy said.
Could you please help me? My old knees hurt so much. I need to get home, on top of that hill. The old lady pointed with a crooked finger.
Marcy looked down the road. She really needed to get home, her mother was waiting, but she couldn’t leave the old woman like this.
Sure, I’ll help you!
The old lady grabbed her arm and together they walked up the steep hill, all the way through the door.
Thank you so much, my dear. Please stay for some soup,
No, thank you. I appreciate it a lot, but I really have to go! My mum’s waiting for me.
Please! It gets so lonely here all by myself.
Marcy looked at the door. The old woman seemed so sad, and she really wanted to be nice to her her.
OK, just one bowl, she said.
Please have a seat, my love. I’ll go warm the pot.
The old lady lit up some candles and went into the kitchen.
Poor old woman. Marcy looked around the room. She can’t even afford electricity.
It was a very small house. More like a cottage, really. The room was small, and it seemed to be both bedroom and living room. She could see a kitchen through an open door.
The room started smelling strange. She was hoping it wasn’t the soup.
It’s done! Come and have a taste!
Marcy went over to the kitchen. In the centre of the room there was a big pot over a fireplace. The light from the fire flickered on the walls, making the shadows alive. On the shelves there were glasses and jars with strange things in them. A frog? And what was that other one? Eyes?
The smell was unbearable.
Come, have a taste, said the woman. Come!
Marcy hesitated. What’s that smell?
Come, it’s delicious! Marcy walked over to her. She didn’t want to be rude, but she felt uncomfortable.
Closer… The face of the old hag looked different. Her eyes had some vicious desire in them.
I’m sorry, said Marcy politely. I think I’ll have to go.
The hag grabbed her arm. You’re not going anywhere, gorgeous! You’re the main ingredient! Her smile was no longer friendly.
What are you talking about? Let me go!
Get in there! Your youth and beauty will be mine! Hahahaha! She was a lot stronger than Marcy had imagined. Marcy tried to pull away.
Let go of me!
The hag held her and pushed her towards the pot. Marcy put her foot against the old woman’s chest, and let her self fall backwards. The woman followed her move, went flying through the air, into the pot.
Aaaaahh!!! Help me!
Marcy leaped over to help her. She was already dissolving in the strange stew. She grabbed her hand. A moment later she had her arm in her hand. Nothing more was left. She dropped it. She moved backwards towards the door, mouth and eyes wide open, unable to scream.
Touching the door knob she stopped. The smell in the room had changed, it was no longer unpleasant. It was a smell she’d never smelled before, It was a smell of mystery, of deep knowledge. A smell of nature, of unknown forces and wisdom. She turned around and walked towards the stew. She looked into the pot, at the strange liquid where she had just seen the old woman disappear. She let the damp go into her nostrils, fill her body with a pleasure she’d never experienced. She grabbed the long dipper.
It tasted strange. Different from anything she’d ever known. Like a call from a dream, a re-encounter of lost memories. She emptied the dipper.
The room started spinning. She sat down on a chair. She felt good, too good. The colours were stronger. The shadows deeper. Reality more real. She looked around. A book was lying on the table. She opened it. Recipes. Eternal youth. Curses. Magic spells.
She didn’t want to go home any more. She wanted to stay right where she was.