The man was waiting by the gate when the two women pulled up outside the ramshackle house. “Mr Hargreaves?”, the elder enquired as they got out of the car. “I’m Susan Spencer.” She frowned slightly towards the passenger side. “And this is my daughter Simone. Please accept our condolences on the death of your aunt.”
“A pleasure to meet you both. And thank you. She passed peacefully.” Hargreaves pushed the rusty gate, which whined in protest. “Let me show you to the house.” He made his way up the garden path, fumbling in his pocket. Behind him, the mother negotiated the gauntlet of potholes and overhanging weeds, alien to the surroundings in her flower-print blouse, pleated skirt, and tasselled suede jacket. The daughter loitered unimpressed by the gatepost.
Hargreaves produced a keyring. “I think this one is for the front door… yes”. He turned to see the mother contending with some goosegrass that had ensnared her tights. “Let me help you, Ms Spencer”.
“Thank you”, Susan smiled, as Hargreaves stamped away the clinging weeds. Her long, honey-blonde hair billowed in the breeze. Marine-blue eyes perused the house from a heart-shaped face, her forty years all but masked by expensive make-up. She studied the narrow eaves and intricate window arches of the Victorian Gothic frontage, the wood now rotting and several panes cracked. A gargoyle leered down at her, all the more grotesque for half of its face having crumbled away.
“I’m afraid my aunt didn’t keep the place to its potential.” Hargreaves stroked his salt-and-pepper beard as he followed her gaze. “Pity, it was a fine house when I was a boy. Did you ever visit her here?”
“Never”, Susan shook her head. “In fact, I never saw Professor Hargreaves again after leaving my course. Twenty years ago, that was. I’m amazed she even remembered me, let alone left me her academic articles in her will.”
“Oh, she remembered you alright”, Hargreaves remarked. “The most talented student she ever had, so she said. Thought it a terrible shame you didn’t complete your course.”
“Some things aren’t meant to be.” Susan pursed her lips and glanced at the daughter whose birth had curtailed her studies. In terms of facial features, Simone Spencer was a near carbon copy of her mother, save a smaller mouth, a slighter chin, and amber eyes that seldom saw the father she’d inherited them from. But when it came to apparel, the pair diverged at right angles. Frayed jeans and a vulgar t-shirt stretched themselves over the girl’s boyish figure. Her hair was dyed jet-black, cropped and spiked, and a nose ring completed her punkish look.
“She didn’t have many friends towards the end”, dwelt the nephew. “Folk were scared of her. There was this fear that if you incurred her displeasure then…” He trailed off.
“…Misfortune would befall you?”, Susan blurted. “Sorry… I shouldn’t have said that. Complete nonsense, of course.”
“It’s what everyone thought”, Hargreaves shrugged. “Surprising how supposedly learned people can be so superstitious.” He tugged at his beard. “Anyway, Ms Spencer, all the best gathering up your inheritance. I would stay and assist you, but it’s my son’s birthday.”
“You’ve already been very helpful, Mr Hargreaves. How old is your son?”
“Sixteen. Such a busy time – exams and all that. What about this one?” He gestured Simone, who still languished at the gatepost. “GCSEs or A-levels?”
“Second year of uni, actually”, Simone informed him. “I’m twenty years old.”
“Simone’s on her break between terms”, said Susan through gritted teeth. “I brought her here to make herself useful for once. I’ll put the key in the post to you, shall I, Mr Hargreaves?”
Simone’s amber eyes followed Hargreaves with a withering look as he walked off to his car. “GSCEs or A-levels”, she sneered.
“If you will act like a stroppy teenager… Now, why don’t you get the packing cases out of the car, instead of just standing there?”
“Because I’d much rather be spending the weekend with my mates than stuck with you in this old dump”, scowled Simone, not budging.
Susan harrumphed and turned the key in the lock. The sight that greeted her made the house’s exterior look spick and span by comparison. Stretching before her into the dingy hallway lay precarious piles of papers, haphazard heaps of boxes, and furniture seemingly arranged with an absence of any underlying logic. Beside the doorway a stack of leather-bound books teetered, and Susan barely jumped clear as they came crashing down.
She turned back to Simone. “For your own sake, you better pull your weight”, she warned. “We’ve got our work cut out here, and we’re staying as many hours – or days – as it takes.”
The day wore on. Simone acquiesced to her mother’s pestering and knuckled down to sifting through the late professor’s junk. By the afternoon’s end, she was actually enjoying herself, though she would never admit as much. She holed herself away in a long, gallery-type room that was lined with display cases. Professor Hargreaves had been an anthropologist, and the cases exhibited various totems and trinkets she had acquired on her fieldwork. Simone examined each one before she bubble-wrapped and packed it. Most were crude, and many downright creepy, but a few were charming in a simple way.
One piece in particular caught Simone’s eye. It was an oval pendant, beset with a russet gemstone, rimmed with tarnished but ornate bronzework, and suspended from a string of interwoven bark fibres. Simone went to the window and held up her find, the gemstone glowing warmly in the sunset. Casting a furtive glance around the room, she slipped the item over her neck. It hung heavily against her t-shirt, bringing out the contours of her small breasts. She took a selfie on her phone and smiled at the result; the match with her eyes was perfect.
“Simone?”, called Susan. “Simone, can you come here?”
Simone tucked her acquisition out of sight inside her t-shirt, knowing that her mother would only take it off her. Anything nice that came Simone’s way, her mother coveted. She hogged Simone’s books and DVDs, waltzed into the pubs Simone drank in, meddled in Simone’s friendships. The cow even dared to flirt with Simone’s boyfriends. Simone resolved that her mother would not get her hands on the pendant. This was her find to keep. The cool bronze against her breastbone made her feel accomplished, powerful even.
“Simone can you hear me? I’m in the kitchen. SIMONE!”
“I’M COMING!!”, roared Simone. She stormed across to the cluttered kitchen where Susan was gingerly sifting through filthy pots and crockery.
“Ah, there you are. Can you fetch the suitcase from the car before it gets dark? Oh, and get some groceries while you’re at it. I think I saw a Co-op down the lane.”
Simone frowned. “Why do you need the suitcase? It’s only got our overnight stuff in it.” Her eyes widened. “…You can’t seriously be thinking…”
“Of staying here? Of course we are. There are two perfectly good bedrooms upstairs.”
Simone screwed her face. “Can’t we go to a hotel? Or a B&B? Or anything but this?”
Susan snorted as she turned to the sink. “Are you going to pay for it?”
“It’s your lousy inheritance!”, Simone puffed. “Though I can’t see why we’re bothering to collect it. Do you seriously want all this mouldy old junk?”
“Oh, so it’s ok for you to swan off to university at my expense, but if I want to study, to enrich my knowledge, that’s a different matter?!” Susan clattered plates together as she rummaged in the sink. “Did you hear what the nephew said, about me being the Professor’s most talented student? I reckon this inheritance is her way of giving me a second chance. This was my passion, my aspiration, my future career. And I had to give it all up to raise you!”
“It’s not my fault you let some loser put his dick in you without protection”, Simone flashed back.
“I didn’t have to keep you, but I did.” Susan slammed crockery together. “And look what I get for it!”
Anger bubbled up inside Simone, and at the same moment the plughole gurgled. A stream of globby green grime spewed upwards and splattered over Susan’s front. Susan shrieked and leapt back, convulsing in disgust.
“Oh my god, what’s THAT!?”, Susan shrieked, her hands quivering. “Get me a towel! GET ME A TOWEL!!” The lumpy slime dripped down Susan’s designer blouse and clung to the ends of her hair. It had also caught her lower face, sticking in nasty green gobbets around her mouth. Simone made no effort to fetch the requested towel, but stood with arms folded enjoying the spectacle, adding insult to Susan’s injury.
“Let me know if you still want those groceries”, Simone tittered. “But if I were you, I’d phone for a takeaway!”
Simone skipped off down the hallway, leaving her mother to grimace and splutter in distress. What a shot! The house’s dodgy plumbing couldn’t have better expressed Simone’s sentiments if she had willed it. Indeed, it felt like she had willed it.
Simone fished out the pendant from under her t-shirt and held it before her. Glinting in the dim light, the russet stone appeared to wink at her.
Even after a long soak in the bath, the drain stench still lingered in Susan’s hair. She emerged from the bathroom to find that Simone had bagged the guest bedroom, leaving her with the late professor’s abode to sleep in. Susan shuddered as she pushed open the creaking door and eyed the bedroom’s faded chintz. She’d only opted to stay in this house to spite her daughter, and now she wished she’d booked alternative accommodation after all. Even with the professor gone to the grave, ill-will permeated the air.
That incident in the kitchen was the just the kind of thing…, she started thinking, then stopped herself. Rumour and superstition, she reassured herself, just as the professor’s nephew had said.
The bed was surprisingly comfortable, if a little musty, but Susan lay awake for some time, her eyes tracing moonlit shadows through the curtains, her ears attuned to every creak. It’s just rumour and superstition, she repeated, rumour and superstition… rumour and superstition… rumour and…
The graffitti-pocked bench squeaked as a twenty-year-old Susan fidgeted. She crossed her arms over her abdomen, hoping to hide her growing bump from her fellow students. In front of her, chalk clacked on the backboard as a freshly-appointed lecturer delivered her maiden seminar. The lecturer was about twenty-five, attired severely in a stiff white shirt and black pencil skirt, with frizzy red hair in bunches and large, steel-framed spectacles.
“Poppycock”, muttered a voice beside Susan. She turned to discover Professor Hargreaves seated in next to her, her profile crone-like in the dimmed lighting of the lecture theatre. “Dr Jones, your methodology is quite discredited”, the professor croaked, “as you would know if you’d read my paper on the subject.”
The lecturer blinked behind her owlish glasses. “I’ve read your paper, Professor Hargreaves. And with all due respect, it’s your reasoning that’s faulty.” Dr Jones proceeded to outline Hargreaves’ errors, and Susan observed the middle-aged professor’s lip curl in displeasure. A few students whispered in anticipation.
“…so I believe that vindicates my approach, Professor. Do you have any further questions?” The plucky young academic permitted herself a small smile as Hargreaves sat silent and seething. “Then I shall continue.”
Dr Jones picked up the water jug to replenish her glass. The heavy vessel began to tilt in her delicate grip. She fumbled in alarm, but nothing could stop the jug tipping. The prim young woman shrieked as the cold water engulfed her front, turning her shirt see-through to reveal a surprisingly raunchy black bra. As she leapt back, her skirt snagged on the lectern and dropped to her ankles, exposing her pantyhose and a pair of black panties to match.
The elder contingent of the audience gasped; the younger chortled; the politically-incorrect wolf-whistled. As for the distraught lecturer, she staggered backwards in a daze and crashed into a set of shelves. On the upper-most shelf, a king-size ink pot wobbled and then toppled. Its royal-blue payload glugged mercilessly down on the hapless Dr Jones, saturating her bouncy red bunches until they hung dark and lank. The ink covered her face and ran down her shirt and tights. It was carnage.
Laughter reverberated around the theatre and students thumped their benches. Dr Jones removed her now opaque glasses with a trembling hand, took one last look at the mirthful audience, and fled the room in tears, never to deliver another lecture at that university.
As the jeers echoed down the corridor after the humiliated young woman, Professor Hargreaves sat quietly chuckling. The skull-like head rotated to face Susan, green eyes glinting with malice. “That’s what she gets for contradicting me!”
40-year-old Susan’s eyes snapped wide open.
In contrast to her mother’s fitful night, Simone slept like a log. The pendant remained around her neck throughout, and her first action upon waking was to pull it from under the covers and admire the russet stone in the morning light. She vowed never to take it off; it belonged close to her heart.
Downstairs Susan was clattering about in the kitchen. Simone rose and dressed. In no mood for a confrontation over cornflakes, she slipped out to explore the back garden. Like the front, it was neglected and overgrown, but someone, perhaps the nephew, had recently made inroads in mowing the grass. Simone followed the garden’s gentle gradient down to a babbling brook. Removing her shoes and socks, she sat with her feet in the fast-moving stream. The water was bracingly cold, but refreshing at this time of the morning.
She took out her phone and perused the latest social media updates. There had been a gig in her home town last night and her friends were raving about how great it had been. Simone bristled as she scrolled through her timeline, all the more annoyed that her mother had dragged her out to this dump.
A shadow fell across her. “Ah, there you are.” Susan stood over her daughter, attired in a similar blouse, skirt and jacket to the day before. “Come and fix yourself some breakfast if you want some, then it’s back to work. The sooner we finish here, the sooner we can leave.”
Simone didn’t look up, but kept fiddling with her phone.
“Excuse me, I’m talking to you!”, scowled Susan. “There’s work to be done – no time for sitting around.”
“You can’t tell me what to do”, growled Simone. “I’m not a kid anymore.”
“Oh really?” Susan stood with her hands on her hips. “If you’re so grown up then why don’t you get your own place, pay your own bills, and support yourself through university? I gave up my studies to have you; now I’m paying for yours and all I get is your shirty attitude! Well I tell you, girl, whilst you’re living under my roof, spending my money, you’ll do as I say and you’ll show me a bit of respect…”
Simone’s ire intensified, and with it a strange groaning emanated from the Earth. She watched as fissures developed beneath her mother’s feet; the riverbank was giving way! Susan continued to rant, oblivious to the unfolding peril, while Simone willed the cracks to grow.
It’s time for your morning bath, you miserable old cow!
“Look at me when I’m talking to you!”, Susan shouted.
The ground crumbled. Susan pitched forward, her body maintaining a straight posture as her eyes boggled with alarm. Her arms windmilled to no avail. She accelerated towards the clear, frigid water, her body horizontal as she made splashdown.
Susan’s head re-emerged, her hair lank and her face frozen in shock, followed by her torso. Her suede jacket hung heavy, ruined, and her blouse clung to her small, pert bust. She tried to stand up, but tottered in the rapid flow, landing on her arse on the riverbed. She bleated with distress as her stilettos bobbed away on the current.
Simone made no move to aid Susan. She sat with a contented grin, even taking photos on her phone. What a perfect start to the day!
Gasping, Susan hauled herself onto the bank. The weight of her saturated garments was incredible. As she crawled onto terra firma, something white splattered onto her shoulder. A jackdaw squawked, circling overheard.
“Uggh, you little bastard!”, she muttered.
Simone looked on nonchalantly. Again, again!
A gull swooped across from a nearby tree. Susan looked up to be met with a second, larger splodge of white, square on the forehead.
“I… do… not… believe it!”, she seethed.
As the two women listened, a rustling crescendoed in the trees. The birds of the neighbourhood took to the skies, as if summoned by an inaudible signal. Susan whimpered in incredulity as poo after poo plopped down onto her hair and clothes. Simone, just a few feet away, remained unscathed.
The sky grew noisy as birds flocked from far and wide to congregate above their target. As the shower of guano intensified, Susan took to her feet and fled. Simone looked on in astonishment – and ever-mounting delight – as the avian cloud chased her mother like a curse. In her distress and disarray, Susan tripped headlong into a pile of newly-mown grass cuttings. She wriggled out with grass stuck all over her wet form, while her feathered pursuers continued to cack on her from above.
Simone put a hand to her chest, clutching the pendant through her t-shirt. There could be no doubt, it was responsible for the unfolding calamity. Or rather, she was responsible. The pendant was a mere conduit, channelling her rage into slapstick retribution. Simone had years’ worth of resentment pent up in her, and boy did it feel good, turning her smug, stylish mother into a bedraggled, wailing wreck!
She watched as her sprinting victim veered close to a wooden partition. During her earlier exploration of the garden, Simone had discovered there was a compost heap on the other side. Recent heavy rainfall had turned the compost into a thick slurry.
“In there”, she commanded.
Right on cue, Susan vaulted over the partition in a desperate attempt to escape the birds. Too late she realised her error. She screamed in anguish as she careened face-first towards the gloopy brown broth.
“YES!!!” Simone pumped her fist as Susan’s feet disappeared behind the partition, quickly followed by a brown wave surging over the top. She pulled out the pendent and kissed it. Relations in the Spencer household were going to be a bit different from now on.
Over the following weeks, Simone subjected her mother to a constant stream of messy misfortunes. In the beginning, the pendant acted on her impassioned impulses, but over time she developed a more discerning control over its power, able to conjure up minor mishaps on a whim. If Susan said something to incur Simone’s distaste while they were walking along the street, Simone would arrange for a bus to splash Susan. If Susan scolded Simone at the breakfast table, Simone would treat her mother to a faceful of porridge. If Susan went to the pub to demand, in front of Simone’s friends, that Simone come home immediately, Susan would end up leaving with beer in her hair and her tail between her legs.
And every time, Simone would stand innocently by with a wry smile.
As for Susan, the poor woman’s nerves were fraying. She knew it was no coincidence that her unlucky streak had started after visiting Professor Hargreaves’ house. History was repeating itself. Just as bad luck had befallen anyone who had crossed the late professor, now she suffered whenever she locked horns with her daughter. But Susan was at a loss as to how this was happening. She had no knowledge of the pendant; Simone took care to keep it concealed beneath her clothing.
This was to change when the pair attended a wedding. Susan, exquisitely attired in an expensive peppermint dress and matching hat, was turning heads at the buffet reception, especially among the male contingent of guests. She was in her element, the unpleasantness of the past weeks all but forgotten as she clinked glasses and lapped up compliments. Simone, hatless in a cheaper, plainer, grey dress, smouldered in the corner of the marquee with a plate of salad, watching her mother flirt with a dishy Italian closer to her own age-group.
The cool kiss of bronze on her chest caught Simone’s attention, and an idea came to her. Why not? Why not flaunt what was hers? She deserved to look nice too. Simone pulled out the pendent from inside her dress and let it hang in view; it was just the sparkle the dull garment needed. Imbued with a new confidence, she strolled into the throng.
“Well ello, oo’s thees?”, grinned the Italian. “Your-a younger seester, Susan?”
“Oh Marco, stop it!”, Susan giggled, playfully slapping his chest. “Simone is my daughter.”
“Surely not”, crooned Marco. “You can’t-a be old enough, no?”
“She is – Mum’s forty-one next birthday”, chirped Simone, causing Susan to flush.
Marco reached forward and gently took the pendant between his thumb and forefinger. “What-a charming beauty”, he remarked. His deep brown eyes swept upwards to meet Simone’s. “Much-a-like the wearer.”
“Marco, would you excuse us a moment?” Susan took Simone aside. “Where did you get that?” She jabbed a finger at the pendant.
“Don’t lie!”, hissed Susan. “You took it from Professor Hargreaves’ house, didn’t you?”
“So what if I did?”, Simone shrugged.
“It doesn’t belong to you. It’s my inheritance. Give it to me.”
Simone simply glared at her mother.
“I said hand it over!”, barked Susan. “Right now!”
Susan reached forward to snatch the contested item. As her fingers closed in, an arc of electricity leapt from the pendant towards them. She yelped and leapt back. A few guests looked round at the commotion.
“It belongs to me”, Simone told Susan, who nursed her smoking digits. “As does your ass, Mother Dearest!”
Simone nodded at a catering trolley, which began to roll of its own accord. It slammed into Susan’s front, winding her and whisking her off her feet. Sour cream and houmous dip splurted outwards as Susan landed with her front in the buffet. Her hat tumbled off her head.
“You want something interesting to wear?”, grinned Simone. “I’ll give you something interesting to wear!”
The trolley again launched into spontaneous motion, this time lurching forward. All Susan could do was cling on for dear life, as alarmed guests jumped clear. The string quartet scarpered with their instruments as she whizzed through, making a beeline for the giant, multi-tiered wedding cake.
“NOOOOOOO!!!!”, Susan yelled, as the humongous white confection filled her vision. Her head and torso ploughed into their target in an explosion of icing. The cake merged with the human vehicle, with Susan’s completely white head and cream-engorged cleavage poking out the front, and her tight-encased legs kicking helplessly at the back. With no signs of slowing, she ripped through the wall of the marquee and out into the grounds of the country hotel where the wedding was hosted.
“Gosh, what a novel way to cut the cake!”, gushed a voice beside Simone. The guests poured through the hole, excitedly chattering.
Simone looked on with satisfaction as the trolley hurtled across the lawn towards a large lake. Susan’s eyes bulged on her cream-covered face. The wheels hit a rock by the edge, sending the exquisite milf-turned-white-blob into a whirling somersault. The poor woman plunged into a stinking morass of algae and duckweed.
Marco arrived by Simone’s side. “My-a God, what appened!?”
“I’m afraid my mother can’t handle her champagne”, Simone sighed, as she savoured the sight of Susan thrashing like a swamp monster in the stringy weeds. “Something like this always happens – very embarrassing.” She leaned into Marco, sniffing his delicate aftershave. “But I can handle mine. Why don’t we get a bottle and go up to your room?”
Susan’s knuckles hesitated at the heavy oak door. Stealing a deep breath, she knocked.
“Come in”, croaked a voice.
Susan ventured into the office. Hawkish green eyes stared from a face shrouded in the glare of the behind window, framed by two stacks of paper that stood like the twin monuments of an ancient civilisation. Susan shuffled from one foot to the other in front of the mahogany desk. A carriage clock punctuated the awkwardness with piercing ticks.
“Ahh Spencer, it’s you”, grunted the professor. “I must say, you disappoint me. That girl has got you over a barrel, hasn’t she? Made a slave of you in your own home. What a disgrace.”
Susan bowed her head, shamed by the stark truth of Hargreaves’ words. She had lost count of the times Simone had summoned her, any hour of the day or night, to fetch a bacon sandwich or cup of tea. Or the Sundays she had spent mopping up the aftermath of Simone’s house parties. Simone’s return to university for the new term brought Susan little respite; her daughter forced her to deliver a hamper of goodies every Saturday. Susan dared not disobey for fear of the consequences. She flinched at every bird that flew overhead. She cowered from every mud puddle. She was a broken woman.
A tear trickled down Susan’s makeupless face as she looked down at the unflattering sweatshirt and joggers that Simone forced her to wear. “It’s that thing round her neck, isn’t it?”, she mumbled. “What is it? Is that how you…?”
“The biggest disgrace is that you let her get away with it.” The Professor’s gnarled fingers drummed the desk. “She has none of your brains, none of your brilliance.”
“Then what can I do?!”, cried Susan. “Tell me!”
A grim smirk spread across Hargreaves’ haggish countenance. “You know I never hand out answers to students! Especially those who haven’t done their reading.” The wrinkled face softened with the faintest hint of kindness. “Do your reading, Spencer. Good luck.”
Susan’s eyes opened to find daylight streaming into her bedroom. “Do your reading”, she whispered back to herself. But of course! Why hadn’t she thought of that before?
Susan prized open the boxes of papers from her inheritance, which had hitherto lain unread. After several hours of skimming, she found her answer. Immediately, she jumped into her car and embarked on the long journey to the professor’s house. All the way her pulse thumped in her ears; she was terrified that Simone would somehow know what she was up to and put a stop to it.
“So where did Hargreaves keep it?”, Susan pondered as she drove. “Very close to her, surely… in her bedroom!”
She arrived at the house to find a “For Sale” sign outside. Several workmen were carrying out renovations. Susan jogged up the pathway, praying she wasn’t too late.
“Can I help you?” A decorator looked up as Susan entered the front door.
“I’m viewing the property”, she blurted, striding up the stairs. She shoved open the door to Professor Hargreaves’ bedroom, relieved to find the room as yet untouched by the renovators. Susan yanked open the drawers one by one, but didn’t find what she was searching for. She ransacked the wardrobe. Still no luck.
“Where is it? Come on, think!”
Susan crouched on the musty carpet and peered beneath the bed. She could just make out a faint glinting in the gloom. She extended a hopeful hand into the void.
A beatific smile spread across Susan’s face as she pulled out the object, coated in cobwebs but unmistakable. She tossed back her blonde hair and laughed her first laugh in weeks.
Simone sat on a bench in the campus, awaiting her weekly delivery. Her peers nodded warily to her as they walked by. They’d noticed the change that had arrived with Simone’s new fashion accessory. The russet stone had stolen some sparkle from those amber eyes. She’d grown cold, impassive, self-absorbed. An aura of portent surrounded her. Just last week, a lecturer had suffered a bizarre accident with an ink-cartridge after admonishing Simone for poor attendance.
Not that Simone lamented the widening gulf between her and others. She cared only for one friend, and it glinted loyally at her chest.
Susan’s car pulled into the car park. “You’re late”, Simone growled, striding over. “You’d better have brought everything I asked for.” Her displeasure heightened as she noted Susan’s attire. “And when did I give you permission to wear knee-high boots? You’re going to be punished for this!”
Susan said nothing, smirking as Simone opened the boot of the car.
“Is this some kind of a joke?”, snorted Simone. Instead of the treats she had requested, the boot’s contents comprised rows of foam pies and several buckets of colourful gunge. “Well, let’s see how funny you find this!” Simone nodded at one of the pies, which levitated and glided out of the boot towards Susan.
But the projectile halted, suspended in mid-air, equidistant between mother and daughter.
“Huh?” Simone furrowed her brow, focussing her mental energy on the creamy weapon. And yet it wouldn’t budge.
“What are you waiting for?”, taunted Susan. “C’mon, hit me with your best shot!”
Simone strained her will for all it was worth, but the pie steadily tilted in her direction, until the layer of foam hung parallel with her face. “Uh-oh”, she whispered.
“Surprise!”, grinned Susan.
WWWMMMFFFFFF!! The pie sprang forth and socked Simone in the kisser. The foam engulfed her features, surged into her nose and mouth, and splattered into her spiked hair. Stung and stunned, she pulled away the foil plate, gaping in horror at two further pies heading her way.
“No, not me!”, she spluttered. “Her! You’re meant to get her!”
The pies paid no heed to her protestations, slamming into the sides of her head like a pair of concert cymbals. Cream further covered Simone’s hair and filled her ears.
The foamy missiles kept coming. Every time Simone wiped her face, another smacked into it. The pies walloped her breasts, her tummy, her crotch. It was Susan’s turn to stand nonchalantly by, smirking with grim satisfaction, while the pies brutally transformed her miscreant daughter into a creamy white mess.
Spitting, rasping, Simone cleared her eyes to discover a bucket of gunge hovering just above her forehead. She grasped at the foamy pendant. “Not me! Not me!” With her pleas ignored, she turned to physical means, clutching the vessel with both hands, but its rotation proved irrepressible.
“Oh no! Oh no!”, Simone groaned, as the green gunge spilled forth, thick, sticky and cold. The slime flattened and buried her foamy mass of hair, plastering it to her scalp. The flow quickened as the bucket tipped further, slopping down on her shoulders and neck, oozing onto her forehead. Simone gasped at its gloopy heaviness.
No sooner had the first bucket emptied its cargo, a second came floating out of the boot. Abandoning any attempt to control the situation, Simone turned and bolted. One by one, the buckets took to the air in pursuit, bobbing along in a neat queue behind her.
“Leaving so soon?”, cooed Susan.
But sprint as she might, Simone was going nowhere. Her feet found no traction. Her legs flailed as she jogged on the spot, cartoon-character style. She was levitating!
The buckets encircled the helpless, horrified girl. They danced rings round her like fairground waltzers, their colourful contents sloshing teasingly over their rims. Several passers-by stared aghast at the spectacle. Up on a hillock, two students sharing a joint looked at one another.
“Man, this is some strong shit!”
A pair of buckets soared above Simone and titled, pouring yellow and blue goo down the sides of her head and onto her shoulders. Another floated at her eyeline, swaying back and forth before slinging its lumpy purple load into her face. As Simone spluttered, yet another of the vessels inserted its lip into the neckline of her t-shirt.
“Oh no! Please no!”, whimpered Simone. Merciless, the bucket unleashed an avalanche of pink gunk into the garment. Simone moaned as the coldness engulfed her breasts, spasmed as the goo dragged nastily over her belly.
Susan strolled around to stand in front of her mortified daughter. She reached up and took the last remaining bucket in her hands. “Revenge is sweet.” She upturned the bucket, smothering Simone’s head and face with sludgy black goo. With a satisfied smile, she banged out the dregs, then plonked the bucket over the humiliated’s head.
The force pinning Simone in mid-air evaporated as suddenly as it had arisen. She tumbled, bucket and all, into a messy heap on the ground. Susan knelt down and bundled her disorientated daughter over her knee. She pulled down Simone’s jeans and knickers, exposing the girl’s lily-white bottom to the burgeoning crowd of her fellow students.
“Now your ass belongs to me, Daughter Dearest!”
“What the hell are you doing!?”, wailed Simone.
“Something I should have done years ago, you wicked girl. I’m going to spank you!”
SMACK! SMACK! SMACK!! Susan’s hand meted retribution upon those tender cheeks until they glowed like an electric fire. Simone’s sobs resonated inside the bucket, tears mingling with the foam and gunge. “Please stop! Please!!” Wriggling in despair, she clutched at the trashed pendant. “Why doesn’t it work?!”, she bawled.
Susan yanked the bucket off her daughter’s head. “I’ll show you why.” She undid a button on her blouse and began pulling on a string of interwoven bark fibres. Simone’s reddened eyes stared over her shoulder at the majestic russet radiance that confronted her.
“Professor Hargreaves picked up two magic pendants on her travels”, Susan simpered. “And this is the bigger one.”