Witch of the Warlock

by Bruce Boston

Her dark beauty, the dark beauty of his paintings, spoke to one another like the corollaries of an argument inevitable, like the passion in their shared embrace.

Or so she thought until the day she picked the lock on his study to discover feathers and masks, a spate of bloody bones, candles of carmine wax and black, apothecary jars filled with colored powders and liquids and the mummified bodies of lizards and bats. An entire wall of books, bound in leather, encased in mahogany, breathing a draught of foulness.

It was then she realized how far his darkness flowed, that the love she felt for him was nothing more than a spell cast upon her. She wondered if his paintings were a spell that he cast on those who paid such sums for them. Perhaps this house of stone with its colonnades and balconies, its patterned divans and oaken tables, its embroidered tapestries and rare objects of art, was no more than an illusion upon illusion.

“Are you sure?” her father had asked before the marriage, a concern she had not seen before filling his eyes. “He’s a strange man. Older than you. Don’t be blinded by his fame and his wealth.”

It wasn’t his wealth and fame that that made her desire him…though she had never been able to explain what it was that drew her to his arms and his alone, that left her distraught and insecure when he was not by her side. Now she knew.


Nature or magic, the argument remained. The corollaries continued to a conclusion inevitable. Even if the love she felt was a spell cast upon her, she loved him nonetheless. Like the mutual passion of their shared embrace, this was a tie she could not break.

So when his glance began to fall away from her dark beauty, when his arms sought hers less often and his nights away from her began to multiply, there was nothing left for her to do but dive into the currents of his true profession—not dark art but dark magic!—to read his cursed books and ply his cursed ways, to don his dreadful masks and dance in ritual black to a pitch of mad abandon until her sable locks unfurled and swirled about her face and her body glistened.

And that was how he found her, collapsed upon the blood carpet of his study floor. “What have you done?” he cried, his voice resounding from the walls.

By then it was too late. She had cast the spell that claimed his love, chaining him to her as she was bound to him.


And so it was until the end for them, sorcerer and sorceress they would remain in life together, in love together, trapped by a net of common evil they could not break, burning like candles of carmine wax with flames so black they could cast a room into darkness.

He was the first to die. She followed soon after.

Ebon light fled from her hair. Her copper flesh took a dun gray cast. Her laughter fell, coarse and knowing. The corollaries ceased. Their conclusion reached. No argument beyond the darkest river of all. No questions for the damned.

Bruce Boston is the author of fifty books and chapbooks, including the novels The Guardener’s Tale and Stained Glass Rain. His writing has received the Bram Stoker Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Asimov’s Readers Award, and the Grandmaster Award of the Science Fiction Poetry Association. He will be Poet Guest of Honor at the 2013 Bram Stoker Awards/World Horror Con, to be held in June at the haunted Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans, Louisiana. Visit his website at http://www.bruceboston.com/.


What, for you, is the challenge of writing compressed pieces, especially genre-tinged pieces such as “Witch of the Warlock”?

      Most of my work is genre, so there was no challenge on that count. As far as compression, I try to write flash fictions, whether they are direct or lyrical, the same way I write poetry, with the same intensity and economy of language, so that every word counts and contributes toward the whole, so there is no extraneous content.


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