The Good Witch
by Blake Linton Wilfong

Editor's Notes by Blake Linton Wilfong

      "The Good Witch" appeared in the Winter 1998 issue (#38) of Marion Zimmer Bradley's FANTASY Magazine. Readers voted this story a winner in the Cauldron competition, ranking it among the magazine's top 12 that year.
      Featuring both Satan and spellcasting, "The Good Witch" is clearly fantasy. But it also qualifies as borderline SF in the scientific description of the way one of the witch's spells is used. Regardless of your preference, it is fun to read.
      I wish to thank Marion Zimmer Bradley for accepting works by unknown authors, and Barb Armata for the beautiful illustration that accompanied my story in print.

"Get real."
Sheila Marsh was reviewing patient records in her office when the intercom buzzed. It was the receptionist:

"Dr. Marsh, there's a Mr. Lucifer here to see you."

Sheila sighed. "Send him in and hold all calls."

A tall, red figure in a business suit entered. He removed his hat and sunglasses to reveal small horns and glowing eyes.

The Prince of Darkness leaned over Sheila's desk menacingly. "What the blazes do you think you're doing?" he bellowed.

"I'm the president and CEO of Marsh Rehabilitation, Inc.," Sheila answered calmly. "I use the 'spell of hatred' you gave me to make addicts hate the drugs to which they're addicted. The profits go to charity."

"You can't do that!" the devil cried. "You're a witch. You're supposed to wear a pointy hat, fly around on a broomstick, and be evil!"

"Get real. This is the 20th century. Besides, our contract doesn't stipulate any of those things," Sheila retorted.

The Devil grunted and pulled a document from his breast pocket. "The contract we signed does clearly state that in exchange for the continuing use of one spell, you agree to wreak unhappiness and discontent!"

Sheila removed a file folder from a desk drawer and waved it before Satan's nose. "Here are the names and phone numbers of all the physicians and clinics that cared for my patients before they came to Marsh Rehabilitation. I can assure you, I am making everyone on this list unhappy! They've lost a fortune. And the drug lords and pushers are becoming more discontented by the minute."

Satan turned a darker shade of red and returned the contract to his pocket. His next words were ominously quiet and controlled: "You think you're clever, don't you? I can't go back on my contract, but I can change which spell I let you use. I hereby retract the 'spell of hatred' and give you the 'spell of sickness'. The words of the spell are illaroth avagore." He smiled fiendishly. "Just try thinking of a way to use that for good deeds!"

The Devil donned his sunglasses and hat. He left, whistling a melody from Faust.


Sheila Marsh was examining financial statements in her office when the intercom buzzed. It was the receptionist:

"Dr. Marsh, there's a Mr. Beelzebub here to see you. I--I think he's a singing telegram or something."

Sheila sighed. "Send him in and hold all calls."

The Prince of Darkness entered and angrily slammed the door behind him. He had dispensed with disguises: the horns, glowing eyes, and forked tail were all plainly visible. He pounded a taloned fist on Sheila's desk. "What are you doing this time?"

"I'm the president and CEO of Marsh Miracle Cures, Inc.," Sheila answered calmly. "I use the 'spell of sickness' you gave me to make my patients' viruses and bacteria sick. This enables my patients' own immune systems to overcome infections. The technique is similar to the use of antibiotics, but much more effective."

Satan scowled. "No doubt the profits go to charity," he said sarcastically. "No doubt the patients' prior physicians are unhappy. And no doubt several major manufacturers of antibiotics are becoming more discontented by the minute."

Sheila nodded. "Good for you! You're learning!" she said brightly.

"You are clever, Sheila," admitted the Prince of Darkness. "But not clever enough. I hereby retract the 'spell of sickness' and give you the 'spell of toadmaking'. The words of the spell are bufonis sacaru." The Devil smiled devilishly. "All you can do now is turn things into toads. I'll wager you can't think of a way to use that spell to do good deeds!"

"No problem," said Sheila, rising from her chair and pointing a finger at Satan. "Bufonis sacaru!"

Poof! Satan became an unhappy and discontented toad.

A horned toad, of course.

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