Fall, 2008
24-Hour Short Story Contest
2nd Place Winner!


The cast iron pot was blackened and warped, but had provided years of delicious concoctions. Movement caught her eye through the cracked window. She turned her head, but saw only red, orange, yellow and brown leaves racing by in the fierce wind. She shivered as cold air leaked through the window's cracks, and leaned down to stoke the fire.

Squinting at her recipe book, she scratched the mole on her nose. The fourth ingredient was always the hardest to find...

Entries must touch on the topic in some way to qualify.

Bring Your Daughter to Work Day
By Ann Kimbrough Pashak, Las Vegas, NV

"The fourth ingredient is always the hardest to find," said Hilda.

She stirred the massive steel cauldron. Steam billowed around her pointy black hat. She cackled. Every potion deserved a good cackle.

Britney chewed on a red nail. "Okay, like, is that necessary?"

"What, my dear?" asked Hilda. A fly buzzed around her head. She snatched it between two bony fingers and popped it into her mouth.

"Eew." Britney flipped her hair. "Like, Mom, do I have to stay here all day?"

"It’s fun," said Hilda. She glanced over at Gertrude. Her little daughter squealed with delight as she tossed dead mice into their pot. "Everyone’s having fun." Hilda remembered Britney at that age, so many

years ago. "Remember when you were five and visited me at work? We made mud cakes."

Britney gagged. "Do you know how many calories are in cake? A single slice could destroy my social life."

Hilda nudged a plate of donuts out of site.

"Oh my gosh, you’re the best," cooed Britney.

A flush warmed Hilda’s cheeks. She blinked quickly, a tear in her eye. "I knew somewhere inside of you was my once darling child. You have no idea how much I wanted to find her again."

"Hello, can’t you see I’m talking to someone?" Britney turned her back on the old witch, a cell phone planted against her ear.

"But, the potion," said Hilda, "I have to finish it today."

Britney waved her hand, not listening.

Hilda grumbled to herself. She stirred the pot. She tossed in Eye of Newt, a dash of spiders and three buckets full of toads. All the while, Britney chatted on her phone.

"It’s time for the fourth ingredient," Hilda said. She raised her voice. "Help me find the fourth ingredient and you can go."

Britney shut the tiny device. She held it against her chest and leveled a suspicious glare at her mother. "If this is some kind of lame trick to make me do stupid witchcraft, then I’m calling daddy."

Hilda shrugged. "I just need your help. The fourth ingredient is always the hardest one to obtain."

"Whatever," said Britney.

Hilda shoved a footstool toward an ancient bookcase. She climbed on top and reached above her head. Just at her fingertips, she pushed back a jar of eyeballs and exposed a golden box.

"Oooh," said Britney. "That’s shiny. Is it real gold?"

Hilda carefully lifted it off the shelf.

"You’ll need both hands, my dear," said Hilda, as she lowered the box to her daughter.

The stool teetered.

"Don’t drop it," cursed Britney. She quickly set her cell phone on the table and snatched the box out of her mother’s hands.

It glowed when she touched it. With one finger, she traced the intricate design on the lid. "Can I open it?"

"Whatever," imitated Hilda. "It’s just full of useless, old receipts."

Britney’s mouth fell open, speechless.

Hilda picked up the cell phone. She waved it over the bubbling cauldron.

"My cell phone," wailed Britney.

"The fourth ingredient … a teenager’s cell phone," said Hilda. She dropped it into the dark, murky potion.

"You are so getting me a Blackberry," fumed Britney.

Hilda raised her arms and shouted to the ceiling: "The potion is finished!"

A rush of smoke erupted from the cauldron. Long slimy tentacles reached out of the large pot and grabbed Britney. With a jerk, they lifted her off the ground and yanked her into the swirling brew. Britney

thrashed and screamed. The creature would not let her go. It pulled her under.

Slowly, the water calmed. Hilda peered into the pot.

The other witches and their young daughters glanced over, concerned.

Hilda waved her broom over the potion. With a gush of wet seaweed, the creature spat out an adorable five-year-old girl.

"Now, my dear," said Hilda. "What shall we do with the rest of our day?"

"Let’s dip bats in chocolate," said the girl.

"A most delicious plan," said Hilda. "You get to eat the first one."

The little girl hugged Hilda. "You’re the best, Mommy."

What Ann won:

$250 Cash Prize
Publication of winning story on the WritersWeekly.com website
1 - Freelance Income Kit Includes:
-- 1-year subscription to the Write Markets Report
-- How to Write, Publish and $ell Ebooks
-- How to Publish a Profitable Emag
-- How to Be a Syndicated Newspaper Columnist Special (includes the book; database of 6000+ newspapers; and database of 100+ syndicates)

Contest guidelines are HERE.

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