Broommates: Hedgehog’s Dilemma

Part 13 of the serial Broommates. Start from the beginning or read the previous episode or click the “Broommates” link at the top of the page to see the full list.

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It had been Miranda’s idea, of course. Dinner together, like one big happy family. They all sat around the old wooden table in the dining room, eying each other warily over the tops of big silver serving dishes full of food.

“Please pass the salad, Parker,” Miranda said, and he did. There was a chorus of forks ticking against plates and teeth, with rests for mastication.

Miranda swallowed. “This pork is delicious, Anthony.”

He threw his fork down and glared at her. “Come off it, Miranda, we all know what this is really about.”

She stared back coolly. “Fine. I thought we could have a nice dinner and then chat but if you want to plow right in, let’s.”

Everyone else froze, food in mid-air or mid-slice. Beatrice crossed her arms, a piece of bread in one hand. Booker stayed frozen while Parker reluctantly followed Anthony’s lead. Kitty, after a pause, resumed gleefully shoveling green beans into her mouth.

“You want to know who’s devious and reckless enough to set a cockatrice on us,” Anthony said.

“A cockatrice that is currently nesting in MY closet, yes.”

“Right, where should we start.” Anthony held up a hand, ticking off names on his fingers. “First you’ve got Crystal Salazar, Spanish aristocrat who pines for the good old days of putting commoners in their place with a liberal application of magic. Last I heard she was sequestered in a fort on some Caribbean island having it out with the local mambo.”

“Yes, there was a zombie war,” Miranda said. “But that was over a year ago.”

“Oh yeah? How’d that end?”

Beatrice shrugged. “Zombies are strong, but squishy.”

Anthony curled his lip. “Ugh. Then you’ve got Simon Farkas, the wizard from Hungary. Known as the Wolf.”

“The hunter?” Miranda asked.

“That’s the one. Fancies he can hook up with the Wild Hunt or some such if he can get Below.”

“Or at least face off against a real challenge, I expect,” Miranda murmured. “Right, who else?”

Anthony leaned back in his chair until it balanced on two legs. “Well, there’s a few others, but I’m not sure any of them are crazy enough to steal an egg from a cockatrice.”

“Don’t be daft,” Miranda said. “She could just be rich enough to buy one.”

“Or he.”


Parker reached for his fork again. “What we’re trying to explain is that we’re as clueless as you, Miss Marple.”

“Although, of course–” Anthony curled his hand into a fist. “–there’s always Grant.”

“Yes, that’s him!” Kitty said through a mouthful of carrots. Five pairs of eyes turned to her and she furrowed her brow. “What? My precog’s not on.”

“Grant,” Miranda said. “As in J. P.”


“John Preston Grant,” Anthony said. “You’re sure?”

Kitty nodded and swallowed. “He sent the dragon, too.”

Anthony slammed a hand on the table, his eyes narrowed. “Why didn’t you tell us if you knew, damn it?”

Parker stood up, jabbing a finger at Anthony. “Now see here–”

“Shut it, you,” Anthony snapped. “This one’s been keeping secrets and you’re going to take her side?”

“Why didn’t you tell us, Kitty?” Miranda asked.

“Because they don’t trust us,” Kitty said quietly.

Silence fell again. A few mouths opened to say something and then closed again just as quickly. Houdini jumped on the table and deftly stole the piece of pork that Booker had been holding aloft on his fork during the entire exchange.

“Grant is completely mad,” Anthony muttered.

Miranda snorted. “You think? The man once poisoned an entire village’s water supply to raise enough death energy for a grand summoning.”

“I heard he strangled a unicorn just to watch a perfectly good creature die, and then tore off the horn with his bare hands,” Parker said.

Booker whispered, “I once read that he’s been alive since before the Civil War and he keeps pretending to be his own son.”

They looked at Beatrice and she shrugged. “Never paid much attention to gossip.”

“So what are we going to do?” Miranda asked, fiddling idly with her knife. “We need to come up with a plan, set up extra wards–”

We are not doing anything,” Anthony said. “You are packing up and leaving before this gets any worse.”

Miranda stood, picked up her knife and stabbed it into the table, where it quivered. “The hell. We. Are.”

Anthony slowly got to his feet and Booker sneezed as the magical energies in the room suddenly thickened like a fog rolling in. Miranda’s hair rustled as if stirred by an intangible wind, and Anthony’s eyes darkened almost to black, whites and all.

“Stop it,” Kitty said.

The old electric light over the table crackled and went out in a burst of static that grounded itself in the knife next to Miranda. Everyone touching the table yelped except for the two whose eyes were still locked. Miranda’s lips moved and the temperature in the room rose like someone had opened a huge oven door. Anthony raised an eyebrow and swirls of frost formed on the metal serving dishes.

“I said STOP IT.” All the built-up magic vanished as Kitty’s voice boomed throughout the house. Houdini snarled and backed into the corner, hissing. Everyone else stared at her in shock.

“The trivium is reached, and each much choose his path,” she intoned, some deeper voice superimposed over hers as she spoke. “The simple road is wide, and leads to doom and wrath. The middle way beguiles with choices left deferred. But by the narrow troubled trail is victory assured.”

Parker took a hesitant step towards her. “What… what does that mean?”

Kitty turned to him and said something in another language, then collapsed.

* * * * *

Part 14: The Best Defense

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18 Responses to “Broommates: Hedgehog’s Dilemma”

  1. Gracie says:

    Still loving it. I love the voice that comes through Kitty. Could hear the difference in timbre.

    Well done! 🙂

  2. Pamila Payne says:

    Love it. So witty and the pace just snaps along.

  3. Lena S. says:

    Good pacing throughout. I look forward to seeing where Kitty’s prediction leads!

  4. John Wiswell says:

    Hedgehog’s Dilemma is one of my favorite mass-appropriated titles. There are so many ways to interpret it. Yours was just as neat as I expected. My favorite slice was, “Beatrice shrugged. “Zombies are strong, but squishy.””

  5. Nice job. Love the ending! Can’t wait for the next installment.

  6. T.S. Bazelli says:

    … and the plot thickens! A very eerie warning at the end there. I sense an adventure?

  7. Uh-oh. An ending like that can’t be good for the group. Good installment. Looking forward to what happens next!

  8. @lil_monmon says:

    DUM dum DUMMMM!! Ooh! Can’t wait to meet Grant. He sounds like fun on a bun! Enthralling as always, m’dear. ∑:

  9. I just wish you could write faster. The waiting is killing me.

  10. An incredibly fun read. I love the visuals as the magic builds up like static in the room. Great work!

  11. Sam says:

    This serial continues to get better and better with every episode I read. I love it! 😀

  12. Valerie says:

    Oh, you’ve met Grant already… a man who’ll steal life from his own grandchildren is no one to be trifled with. Glad you’re all enjoying it, and thanks for reading!

  13. ganymeder says:

    Curses! You’ve left me wanting more… Shame on you. 🙂

  14. Laura Eno says:

    Love the booming voice coming from Kitty! You’ve left me wanting more again!

  15. Oh man, John stole my favourite line: “strong but squishy!” Loved that!

  16. Valerie says:

    Sorry, sorry, one episode per week or I’d get nothing else done. 😛

    I liked that line, too, so I’m glad it worked. I know sometimes the darlings have to get killed but it’s nice when other people enjoy your darlings and you get to keep them.

  17. Dad says:

    I wonder when the group will morph from confrontational to cooperative…

  18. Xanto says:

    I liked the pissing contest between Anthony and Miranda! I’m glad we’re finally getting to the meat of the series!

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