MC Storybot Prompt: I Spy Witch My Little Eyes
In a nondescript office in the nondescript basement of a nondescript building in a nondescript suburb of Washington D.C., four people sat in nondescript chairs.
“I have to warn you. You’re the third team we’ve sent,” said a man sitting behind a nondescript desk to the other three, who were facing him.
“What happened to the first two?” said one of the three, a handsome man in his early forties. He was wearing a nondescript ID badge that simply said “Jones, A.” next to a grainy photo of his face above various numbers and a bar code.
“Vanished,” said the man behind the desk. He wasn’t even wearing a nondescript ID badge. There was no nameplate on his desk, either.
“What do you mean vanished?” said another of the three, this one an attractive brunette woman in her mid-twenties. Her nondescript ID badge said “White, M.”
“Just that. They went in-country, reported that they were proceeding to the first contact, and then… nothing. No contact. No activity. Nothing from local informants. They just disappeared.”
“Both teams? Every single one of them?” said the last of the three, labeled “Smith, T.” by her nondescript ID badge. She was somewhere between the other two in age, a bit heavyset, not ugly, not pretty. She was almost as nondescript as their surroundings.
“Every single one,” said the man behind the desk. “I know these people have ties with the government, but they’re just small-time arms dealers. Or they were. Now they’re making bigger and bigger moves and nobody can find out anything.”
“Well, it is what it is,” said Jones, who had an air of authority. “I’ve read the cover materials and if they can break this, they’ve got an insider here. Someplace high.”
“They don’t have the pull for that,” said the man behind the desk confidently. “They got lucky, that’s all.”
“Well, they’re out of luck this time,” said Jones. “Nobody outfights me, outmaneuvers White, or outthinks Jones.”
“Good hunting,” said the man behind the desk. He didn’t say anything else as the other three stood and left.
Not even, “Goodbye.”
Jones knew it had all gone to shit when he opened the door of his hotel room and found an envelope sitting on the rickety bed. Addressed to “Mr. Jones,” which, while it was not his real real name, was most definitely not the name he was traveling under. Or a name which anybody in this godforsaken country should know.
He carefully opened the envelope and found instructions to meet two people, who weren’t named, only vaguely described, at a local tavern at nine o’clock that night. He pulled out what looked like an ordinary cell phone, but most emphatically was not, and got Smith and White on a secure call. He gave them a summary of the situation.
“All right,” he said in an irritated voice. “I think I’m made. You two will cover me in the tavern. We’ll have to pull out but maybe we can get some intel on how they saw us coming.”
“All right,” said White.
“Agreed,” said Smith.
They ended the call.
Jones walked into the tavern at exactly nine o’clock. He looked around as anyone who was entering a tavern might do and his eyes swept over White at the bar and Smith sitting at a small table looking for all the world like she was waiting for her boyfriend or something. They stopped at a corner table where a man sat with a woman. Somehow, he knew it was them.
The man was smiling, watching the door with apparent pleasure, waving at Jones the moment he walked in. He was wearing a jacket over a shirt and looked somewhat unkempt. Jones would have put him at a not-very-well-preserved fifty or so. He wasn’t grossly obese, but obviously enjoyed his beer, as the mostly empty glass sitting next to him confirmed.
The woman was pale, with blotchy skin and limp grayish-blonde hair. She had large, watery blue eyes that washed over him and then dismissed him. She looked around the bar and he noticed with concern that those big, slightly bulging eyes seemed to slow when they passed over Smith and White.
Has she made them too? We’ve been here less than a day!
Without letting his irritation show on his face, he walked over to the table in the corner where the two sat.
“Good evening, Mister Jones,” said the man in an accent Jones couldn’t quite place. “Sit down. A beer?”
Jones sat, but shook his head. “No, thank you. What do you want?”
“Just to talk,” said the man. “I’m glad you and your friends could make it.” He smiled wider and chuckled at Jones’s non-reaction to this.
“I haven’t got any friends,” said Jones. “Ask anyone. But I’m curious why you call me Jones. That’s not my name.”
“I know,” said the man, and sipped at his beer. “But it’s the name you use the most. We are just trying to be welcoming.”
“What makes you say that?” asked Jones. “Where do you get all this information, I wonder?”
“Oh, that is easy,” said the man. “We are witches. We were hired by the people you are trying to investigate to… stop people from investigating them.”
“Witches,” said Jones, allowing himself a small smile and a snort of disbelief. “Are you a husband and wife? Like in that old television show?”
“No,” said the man with a slightly bigger grin. “We are partners. Each of us has a job and we work together. We are not married. It is a beautiful working relationship, though.”
“You each have a job,” repeated Jones. “That works out. And what is your job?” These people were obviously crazy. Except they’d made one of the best intelligence teams in the world, which meant that either they weren’t crazy, or the fact that they were crazy didn’t matter. So Jones had to treat them seriously either way.
“I do rituals. They’re very powerful, but they take forever. It’s not like in stories where you can just zap people with a magic wand. Everything has to be very precise. And people won’t sit still while you do them, of course.”
“Okay. You do rituals.” He smiled. If his team had to have their cover blown, this way would at least make for a good story back in that nondescript basement. “What does she do?”
“She sees the future. That’s how I knew where to aim.”
“Aim what?” Jones started to look around, wondering if the funny story was about to turn serious.
“The ritual. I knew you’d all be sitting where you were sitting right about… now.”
Before he could respond, a circle of red light flared out of the floor. It lasted barely long enough for him to see it. But just like that, he couldn’t move from the neck down.
Craning his neck, he saw that Smith and White looked very alarmed. He hadn’t seen circles around them – it had been far too quick. But he suspected they were in the same predicament. He took a deep breath and drew on his training.
“I don’t know what you did…” he started to say. But the other man opened his mouth and suddenly he couldn’t speak, either.
“I told you. Magic. A spell. A long, complicated spell. Which would have been useless without my brilliant partner.” The man turned and nodded his head to the blonde woman, who smiled.
“As far as what happens now? That’s easy. The rest of the spell will start to kick in soon. Don’t worry. It doesn’t hurt.”
“What doesn’t hurt?” He could speak as long as the other man wasn’t talking, but he could barely do more than whisper. His mind was whirling trying to think of a way out of this.
“Being drained. Being filled.” The smile on the other man’s face scared Jones worse than anything he’d ever seen, including the time an entire street gang had threatened to chop him to pieces.
“Drained? Filled?” He couldn’t help it. The fear was in his voice. Just a note, but it was there.
“Drained of who you were. Filled with who we want you to be. See, as long as we make sure you don’t get any information, we can do whatever we want with you. It’s the deal we have with our… employers.” Both the man and the woman were smiling evilly. She was looking at Jones as if she were hungry and he was a fine cut of meat.
“I don’t… I don’t understand.” His head was starting to swim.
“What was your mother’s name, Mister Jones?” the woman asked him. She had an accent very similar to the man’s. He still couldn’t place it, though.
“I’m not…” He started to reject the question, but then realized he couldn’t remember his mother’s name. His eyes widened and he swallowed.
“That’s what I mean,” said the man. “Draining all your memories. Filling you back up with what we want you to be. The minute she saw you…” he nodded at the woman… “She decided you’d make a fine toy. So in a few minutes, that’s all you’ll ever remember being.”
“That, that’s impossible,” said Jones. He was frantically trying to remember things about his life. His father’s name. Where he went to high school. His first girlfriend. Every time he thought of a question, the answer popped like a soap bubble in his mind. He could barely move. The only thing he could do was shake his head softly.
Smith and White, though he couldn’t see them, were doing the same thing. White’s lips were slack and in the dim light an observant person might have noticed a thin line of drool running down her chin. Smith’s eyes were closed, and a few tears ran down one cheek. Her mouth was drawn in an expression of quiet horror.
No. No. Not like… Not…
After a few minutes, he stopped shaking his head and just stared into nothing.
A few minutes after that, the woman spoke to him in a quiet voice.
“Who am I, slave?”
He blinked and his eyes focused on the real world again.
“You’re my Mistress, Mistress.” he said politely. “I’m sorry. I was… thinking.”
“Good boy,” she said, her smile sharp and hungry. “And what will you do for your mistress?”
“Anything. Everything. It’s what I was born for, Mistress” he said, his voice low but adoring.
“Good boy,” she said again, and he shuddered with pleasure to be praised.
The other man got up and walked first to the table where Smith was sitting, and then to White’s. He spoke a few words to each in turn and they stood up and followed him back to where Jones and his Mistress were sitting. She nodded at White.
“What do you think of her, slave?” she asked quietly.
He glanced at the unfamiliar woman, then turned back to his Mistress.
“She’s attractive, Mistress,” he said just as quietly.
“More attractive than me?” she asked.
“Of course not, Mistress,” he said in a confused voice. “You’re the most beautiful woman in the world.”
Jones’s Mistress smiled with satisfaction and ran a hand through her lank hair. He took in a deep breath and his face flushed with arousal. His Mistress’ simple gesture seemed to have inflamed him.
“And you don’t recognize her? Don’t know her at all?”
“No, Mistress. Should I?”
“I suppose not,” said the woman. The man turned to White.
“Do you know him, slave?” he said in an equally quiet voice.
“No, Master,” she said, sounding just as confused.
The woman turned to face Smith. “Do you know him…” She pointed at Jones. “…Or her?” This time she pointed at White.
“No, Mistress,” she said.
With a nod, the woman turned to the man, who was standing next to White. “As we agreed. This time I get two, and you get one.”
He smiled. “I wonder how many more they’ll send before they give up? I’m going to need a bigger house. Or at least a bigger bed.”
“Letting them sleep in the bed is weakness,” she answered with a sneer on her sallow face. “These two will put on an amusing show for me tonight, pleasure me as I see fit, and then sleep on the floor with the others. Where animals belong.”
“You are such a cruel Mistress,” the man said jokingly. “But you are a good partner. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.” He turned to White. “Come along, slave.” She nodded eagerly and walked out behind him.
The woman finished her wine. No one seemed to pay any attention to them, despite the fact that Smith was still standing at the side of the table. When she was done, she stood up and beckoned to Smith and Jones. They followed her as eagerly as White had followed the man.
Jones couldn’t quite remember what the Mistress might mean by an “amusing show,” though somehow he recalled having spent years… a lifetime… amusing the Mistress. Pleasing her.
And that was all he needed to remember.