Broommates: The Door in the Basement

Part 3 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.

* * * *

Anthony, Booker and Parker clustered in Anthony’s room, which was its usual semi-organized jumble of candles, chalk, and miscellaneous spell components. Black curtains completely obscured the window and prevented any outside light from seeping in, a necessity for his sporadic sleep schedule. And, of course, for privacy.

“We can’t let them stay here,” Parker said. “Mucking about with their feminine magics. Their wards are already… mingling with ours.”

“Mingling how?” Anthony asked. “I haven’t felt a problem.”

Parker sighed and stood up to pace. “It’s not weakening anything, it just… feels icky. Didn’t you ever have a sister?”

“You know I was an only child.”

“Right, right.” Parker peeked out the curtain at Kitty, who was skipping around the garden below, and despite himself he smiled. “Well if you’d ever had a sister, you’d know how weird it is to, like… find her underwear in the bathroom. All frilly and girly and weird.”

Anthony shook his head. “You know we can’t kick them out because you’re afraid of getting cooties.”

“There is one thing we need to worry about,” Booker interjected. The other two looked at him and he blushed.

“What?” Anthony asked.

“The door in the basement.”

* * * *

Miranda and Beatrice stared at the door. The basement was surprisingly clean compared to the rest of the house, with a high ceiling and thick-looking stone walls. The floors were hard-packed earth with a grubby round rug covering the center. And of course, on the far wall perpendicular to the rickety wooden stairs, there was a door.

“Wine cellar, you think?” Beatrice asked.

“Doesn’t feel like a wine cellar,” Miranda said. “It feels like… nothing.”

The door looked like a perfectly ordinary white wooden door, with a very large and very new steel padlock securing it closed. Magically, however, it felt like an empty hole, an absence where one shouldn’t be.

“You want me to break it?” Beatrice asked, cracking her knuckles.

“No,” Miranda said, staring at it pensively. “Let’s have Kitty take a look.”

A few minutes later, Kitty stood in front of the door, her eyes wide.

“Well?” Miranda asked.

Kitty pursed her lips. “Illusion.”

Miranda and Beatrice looked around nervously. “The whole thing, or just the door?” Beatrice asked.

“Just the door. And the wards on it, of course.”

“It’s warded?” Miranda asked. But of course, now that Kitty had told her, Miranda could see it, too. The reality of the door faded until it was almost translucent, and behind it, electric blue lines crisscrossed in front of a dark tunnel.

“Good illusion,” she said. She couldn’t believe she hadn’t seen through it.

“You want me to break it?”

“No, Beatrice.” Miranda walked up and stood in front of it, feeling around its edges with her open palms. She realized that some strands of the ward veered off onto the walls of the room and turned to follow their path.

“Kitty,” she said. “This whole house is warded.”

Kitty nodded. Miranda was floored.

Really good illusion. How long have you known?” Kitty started to respond but Miranda cut her off. “From the start, I’m sure. Right. The important question now is, whose wards are they?”


The women turned to see Parker leaning against the doorjamb at the top of the stairs. Anthony stepped past him and stood on the top step, crossing his arms.

“Ladies,” he said. “I think we need to talk…”

There was an enormous roar from outside, like a space shuttle crossed with an elephant.

“…right after we figure out what the hell that was.”

* * * *

The men and women clustered around separate windows on either side of the front door. The house shook with the impact of the creature outside slamming its front legs against the wall, which to everyone’s amazement actually withstood the blow. The thing was about double the height of the mansion, with thick red scales, legs like stubby tree trunks and a long neck topped by a wedge-shaped head. Broad wings spread out from its shoulders, making it look about three times as wide as it was tall. And, most importantly, smoke was beginning to leak out of its nostrils and mouth.

“Your house is being attacked by a dragon,” Miranda said in what she thought was her most calm and reasonable voice.

“Well, what did you expect?” Anthony said. “This place is on an enormous convergence! Did you think nobody else but you had figured that out in the last few thousand years?”

“You could have warned us!”

“Oh, yes, very good,” Parker said snidely. “Charming mansion, plenty of room, occasional attacks by mythical creatures.”

The house shook more violently, sending everyone tumbling to the ground except Beatrice, who kept her balance.

“Excellent,” Miranda said, blowing hair out of her face. “Smashing. Do you gentlemen have procedures in place for dealing with dragons?”

The three men looked at each other. “How are the wards holding, Parker?” Anthony asked.

Parker shrugged. “Well enough, but I’m not sure how good they’ll be against dragon fire.” He turned to Miranda. “Weren’t you putting up your own wards against fire?”

“Sure, but not against dragon fire. That’s magical, not mundane.”

“I wonder what kind of dragon it is,” Kitty mused.

“Welsh red, I think,” Booker said quietly, blushing when everyone looked at him. “They’re p-pretty vicious.”

The air was suddenly sucked out of the room and replaced with a painful dry heat. Through the curtains, they saw that the dragon had loosed a jet of flame directly at the front door. Parker turned an unpleasant shade of aubergine and groaned as his eyes rolled back into his head. Kitty immediately ran over to him but recoiled when she felt his skin.

“He’s hot as a frying pan!” she exclaimed.

“Not good, not good,” Anthony muttered.

“Maybe we could find out what it wants?” Kitty asked.

Anthony shook his head. “It wants what they all want. To get through the door in the basement.”

Miranda shot him a look that would have cowed a bear. “When this is over,” she said, “you’re going to explain this basement business. Meanwhile…” She nodded at Beatrice, who cracked her knuckles and smiled.

“Beatrice, go break it.”

* * * *

Part 4: In Which Dragons Are Dueled

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12 Responses to “Broommates: The Door in the Basement”

  1. Marisa Birns says:

    Ooh, this is getting better and better!

    Laughed at the girl “cooties” line.

    “Your house is being attacked by a dragon,” Miranda said in what she thought was her most calm and reasonable voice.

    Yes, hah, one should use a calm/reasonable voice when announcing this. Love it!

  2. Valerie says:

    Thanks, Marisa! It does pay to be cool-headed in hot situations. And I made myself laugh with the cooties line so I’m glad you liked it, too. 😀

  3. My shared house experiences were never this fun!

    I too chuckled at the cooties and at “space shuttle crossed with an elephant” 😀

  4. Sam says:

    Another great installment! I love the inter-play between the two groups of characters in this series.

  5. I had to go back an read from the beginning — what a great series! Welcome to the #fridayflash serial about witches club! If there is such a thing. Maybe we should make one. We just need a third, apparently. 🙂


  6. ganymeder says:

    Awesome post! Waiting on the next installment. 😀

  7. 2mara says:

    I am really loving these… so much fun!

  8. Good story. Loved the playful dialogue. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

  9. Valerie says:

    Thanks for reading, everyone. I hope you will like next week’s arc finale. Stay tuned!

  10. Gracie says:

    This is quite fun. I’m enjoying this world, and love the dragon. And the “feminine magics.” That made me chuckle. 🙂

  11. Xanto says:

    Wow, the action just jumped right in there, didn’t it? And dragons no less. 😀

  12. “space shuttle crossed with an elephant” makes an interesting comparison bringing to life a sound brought together by two normally incompatible sources. That and the nature-vs-machine combination keeps with the lightness of the story and infuses curiosity in the reader leading to the mythical beast. Fun.

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