This story was first published in an anthology titled Nasty Snips, a collection of short horror. This one is indeed short, clocking in at a little over 500 words.
It was the witch’s fault.
There were other contributing factors. Paul’s friends had convinced him that a new club in the Industrial Flats was the place to be for a steamy summer night costume party. They had goaded him into wearing the wool Sherlock Holmes costume that was now causing him to sweat and itch uncontrollably. Yes, his friends were partly to blame. And alcohol had been involved; enough said about that.
It was the sight of the witch across a dance floor crowded with trendy, costumed partiers, however, that had caused his present predicament. He had caught just a glimpse of her; alabaster skin, raven black hair that refracted the spinning lights like a prism, the flash of a slim yet curvy body between the folds of her black satin cape. Beneath the cape a Moebius strip of leather, lace and chrome that revealed more than it concealed. Her boots were leather, intricately laced; wickedly high heels that pulled the sleek muscles in her calves taut. She held a mysteriously oversized black leather purse protectively against her body.
The witch was dancing by herself, spinning in slow, looping circles. Her body seemed to catch and hold the music, like each note was her own private lover. Paul watched her with an attraction that bordered on physical need; he felt like a small planet in orbit around a novaed sun. Their eyes caught just once. She held his gaze with eyes the color of anthracite, until he had to look away, dizzy.
When she left the club Paul followed, helpless.
He was lost. Paul had no idea how long he had been following the witch. It was as if he was hypnotized by her impossible beauty, a moth drawn to her black flame. He vaguely remembered scrambling up and over a concrete bridge abutment, scraping his hands raw on the rough edge. He had crossed a railroad trestle above water mossy green in the moonlight, making his frightened way in the dark from one precarious foothold to the next. There was a long-deserted factory, rusted scrap metal piled into angular mountains. The witch moved with fluid grace, always too far ahead to catch, yet always in sight. At some point, they went underground.
The witch stopped. Paul stepped into a cavernous room where old fluorescent lights sputtered fitfully, sending hard-edged shadows careening across the space. Shapes moved in the darkness all around him. As they staggered into the spastic light, the shapes became people, dozens of them, dressed in rags and cast-offs. They carried bags or pushed squeaky shopping carts filled with bags and trash. They’re just bag people, Paul thought, and started to laugh. He had been spooked there for a minute.
The first rock caught him by surprise. He was on the ground before he realized what had happened, blood running into his eyes. They advanced methodically, stoning him with surprising precision. When they stopped, the witch was standing in front of him, smiling. She set her bag down next to him with great care. Something moved inside it.
The last thing Paul saw before his connective tissue began to dissolve was the creature that oozed from the bag. It wrapped its many arms around his body, releasing a fluid that burned like napalm.
When Paul’s body was suitably prepared, the witch’s master laid eggs in the flesh jumble. The bag people danced long into the night, in celebration of the birth to come.