Short Story
                                     Spells and Persuasion
                                                                         By S.J. Budd


 “There’s a trick that I use on boys that I like and it always works,” Lucy whispered excitedly, “But you can’t
tell anyone. Have you ever used magic?” I shook my head.

 “Have you heard of sigil magic? It always works, but precision is vital,” Lucy warned raising her eyebrows.

 “How does it work?”

 “It’s a magical text. You think about what it is you want and write it down. When that’s done, you take out
any repeating letters. Then whatever you’re left with, you convert into a magical text by reducing the letters
to simple shapes.  You need to include all the letters or else it won’t work. It takes ages, “Lucy moaned,
“But with practise you’ll get really good at it. You then use the shapes to design your sigil on paper and
once you’ve charged it with intention, you burn it and release the magic.”

 For the last three months, I had tried in vain to get Matthew to notice me but he wasn’t interested. My
problem was that I was just an average ordinary girl, no one noticed me. Sometimes it was a good thing
when you worked as a housemaid in a large house fit for a queen, but not when you wanted someone to
fall in love with you. Lucy had offered her assistance and I thought, why not? I wasn’t doing anything wrong,
I wasn’t forcing him to love me. I was just offering him a little persuasion, and who knows, maybe the spell
wouldn’t work and it would have been a waste of time anyway. Once he had noticed me and considered
me, he would then be free to make up his own mind. It was just a little nudge in the right direction.

 So I put pen to paper. I want Matthew to fall madly in love with me. After we watched it burn, I squeezed
Lucy’s hand and we ran back inside excitedly. We resumed with our morning duties of tending to the main
function rooms of the house. Each day they needed scrubbing, dusting and polishing it wasn’t finished if
there were no blisters on your hands.

 After tackling a particularly stubborn stain on the carpet, I paused to stand up and straighten my back that
ached terribly. It was not yet 6:00pm but already I was longing for my bed. I couldn’t believe the spell had
worked. Stood right in front of me peering in through the large bay window was Matthew. His hair was
ruffled as it blew in the breeze, there was an intent look to his dark brown eyes, after catching sight of me,
and they narrowed further. Then he quickly disappeared.

 I smiled triumphantly and checked my appearance as best as I could in the glare of the window, but what
did it matter what I looked like when I had magic on my side. I went back to my work, content that at last of
months of watching him from afar, he had now noticed me. It was what I deserved. It had taken him more
unusual means to realise I was the one for him but he had gotten there eventually.

 “Hey you, girl? What’s your name?” I turned and swallowed hard when I saw him there standing in the
doorway leaving a heavy trail of muddy footprint on what had been, a few minutes ago, a pristine cream
carpet. The small stain I had been dealing with earlier was no match for what I would have to endure now. It
was going to take hours to put right. I’d certainly have no time to get lunch.

 “It’s Katrina. Do you mind taking off your boots?” Instead he bounded up to me. I squealed in horror at the
mess he was making. He took my hands and held them very tightly, in the end I managed to pull free. My
pulse was racing but not in the way I had hoped it would when this moment finally came about.

 “I’m Matthew.” he grinned with a mouth full of misshapen teeth that I had never noticed before. There was
a strange odour on his breath which I could easily detect by being in an enforced close proximity with him.

 “You must go, “I warned him, “I’m not allowed to speak with boys, and you’re certainly not allowed in here.”
The smile dropped from his face and he looked uncomprehending at me.

 “I don’t want to leave you, not when we’ve just met.” He grabbed my hair and pulled me in closer. I knew
he was going to kiss me. His salty saliva got on my lips and chin before I managed to pull away. He
slapped me hard on the shoulders, “Don’t worry I’ll find you later.”

 I watched him leave and let out a long sigh and looked once again at the poor state of the carpets. There
was no time to despair, I had to put them right before anyone noticed. Mrs M the housekeeper would
check on me soon and if she saw these, I’d be in a lot of trouble. I cursed Lucy, she had gotten me into a
lot of trouble.

 The results had been so sudden, I did not have a chance to get used to my changing situation with
Matthew. Three times he had sought me out and each time he had found me, and believe me, I tried very
hard to not be found.  He grew more persistent and desperate to have me. I couldn’t be sure of what he
meant when he vowed to have me, that I would be his forever? It seemed to go beyond taking me as a
wife. He wanted complete possession of my soul. He wanted every molecule that made up my body. He
would not rest until it had been granted to him.

 That evening I feigned a headache and went to bed early, glad to rest my weary self after all the extra
cleaning. Lucy had come up to check in on me and I took every opportunity to reprimand her and make it
clear I was very unhappy with her interfering with my life. At least she felt terrible when I relayed to her the
events of my day. She promised she would visit the local witch and see how the spell could be reversed.
There must be a way, she promised. I really hoped so.

 I couldn’t sleep for dread of what would happen tomorrow, and was still awake when Lucy who shared a
room with me came to sleep in the bed next to mine. Just as she had got settled in and blew out the lamp,
we were disturbed. There was that noise coming from the attic again.

 Many a night it had woken us up. The only way to stop the incessant banging was to physically climb up
into the attic and move the old wardrobe against the loose window. After much arguing and pleading, I
realised unfortunately it was my turn to fix it. I hated going up there, alone in the dark.

 The chill of the air wrapped around my cold legs as I pulled down the rope ladder that lead up to the attic.
The steps hurt my bare feet. I should have lit up the lantern so I could find them but I just wanted to stop the
noise as quickly as possible so I could get back into my warm bed. My back still ached and I longed to be
horizontal again.

 But it was not dark when I popped my head through the narrow opening to the attic. The window had not
come loose either. I had realised this too late, by then I had already climbed up.

 Matthew was triumphant. He held out his arms beckoning for me to run in to them, instead I wrapped my
shawl closer around me to keep out the cold from permeating through my thin night dress.

 “I knew you would come. I just knew it.” he tapped his head hard and laughed manically. I wondered how
long he had been up here waiting for me. Did he know where my bedroom was?  He banged a piece of
metal piping against one the attics supporting beams to illustrate how he had lured me up here. Again,
Lucy was in a lot of trouble.

 When I made to move to close the safe distance between us he sprang up and grabbed my hands and
pulled me close. I tripped and fell onto him which he delighted in and held me down. I fought hard to get
back up again and became increasingly angry and frustrated that he wasn’t reading any of my signals.

 “I love you.” He confessed as he roughly grabbed my hair. I began to cry in despair, he was so much
stronger than I had ever imagined.

 “Please Matthew,” I whispered, though it seemed he didn’t hear me and went in for a kiss. This time he
lingered and would not let go. I could feel his teeth biting down on my lips and I let out a cry.

 “I love you so much, it hurts.” he growled and pushed me down hard onto the bare wooden floor, I must
have hit the back of my head on something hard as I soon began to feel dizzy and sick. He blew out the
candle.

 I begged for him to let me go but I could not push the weight of him off me, it was as if he had not realised
I was even there. My left hand reached up above my head trying to locate what had hit me as I fell. I found
something cold and hard.

 I lifted up the object as high as I could and with all my might I brought it down on his head. It felt so good to
regain control that I did it again and again. Until he protested no more. He convulsed slightly and his weight
bore down on me even more. I worked up a sweat whilst wriggling out from under him. In the commotion
my shawl had fallen off and felt very welcome when I wrapped it around my shivering body.

 My legs trembled as I climbed down the ladder. I missed a few steps but I got down alright. It was dark
when I entered my bedroom.

 “Did you fix it?” Lucy asked barely awake.

 “Yes,” I hissed which brought her to attention. I sighed and got into to bed. Lucy had a lot to answer for.

 “Gosh, you’re shaking.”

 “I’m cold. Go back to sleep.”

 Sleep had not released me that night and all day I thought of little else other than what to do with the body
in the attic. People seldom went up there, only Lucy and I. If there was a large wooden chest or something
similar I would be able to use that to hide him inside it. No one would ever know he was there. It was only
Lucy who knew that we had shared a very strange and brief connection. She would know to keep quiet.

 Not one person that day had asked me whether I had seen Matthew and I felt flooded with relief. I knew
things would work out. I was still upset with Lucy when I caught up with her at bedtime, but I did not want to
fall out with her. I needed a friend. She told me that Matthew had gone missing but if she had spotted a
connection she had not given me a reason to suspect she knew anything.

 My head hit the pillow I longed for sleep to wash over me and clean my thoughts. Tomorrow was going to
be a new day. I had become wiser now, tomorrow I would be more sensible.

 There was that noise again. I sat up in bed and looked over to Lucy who was already getting up out of
bed.

 “No!” I hissed vehemently, I could not let her go up there, “Let me go. You look exhausted.”

 Once again I stood clutching at the rope ladder leading up into the darkness of the attic. I knew what was
waiting for me. Slowly I climbed up as bile began to rise up and sour my mouth. There was no foul smell
that was something to be thankful for.

 There was a large dark shape on the floor and I carefully avoided it as I made my way to the window.
Luckily there was just enough moonlight to guide my way. But when I stepped over, I saw the window had
not become loose. Yet there was still that noise.

 “Katrina it’s me,” came a whisper. I peered into the darkness and saw nothing. I checked the dark shape
was still there and gave it a nudge with my foot. It was a dead body and nothing more.

 “Who’s me?” I began to make my way back to the exit when something pushed me hard.

 “Matthew of course. Who did you think it was? I’m still here where you left me. It wasn’t very nice what you
did but I forgive you. Because I love you. I need you.”

 My mind struggled to keep up with the changing emotions I felt. He must still be alive, if so what was the
dark shape on the floor? My limbs began to shake and in the darkness, I ran for the attic door. Again I was
pushed hard and fell down. The third time I grew desperate and threw myself down the hole not even
pausing to descend on the ladder.

 I hit the floor hard, very hard. I must have blacked out for the next thing I remember was being carried to
my bed by Hutchins, our butler. Many concerned faces illuminated with candles looked down on me with
horror, and very gently he laid me down on top of my blankets. Lucy was crying and had to be led away.

 Again, sleep did not come to me that night. I was in terrible pain and my muscles seemed so cold and
hard. I tried to move my neck to look around me but I didn’t have the strength. I lay in fear that he would
come back again. Slowly the sun rose once more and with that came visitors. No one spoke as they came
in to check up on me, they just looked down and sad. Mrs B the cook came in and sat by my side, she
stroked my cheek with her warm hand and quickly left.

 It had been many hours since my fall and I still couldn’t move, at least the pain had gone. I felt more
relaxed than I had ever been but I was eager to get up out of bed and get on with things. Finally Lucy came
in, her eyes were red and puffy. She had a lot to answer for.  The doctor followed closely behind her,
hopefully he would give me some medicine to make me feel less sluggish.

 He looked me over and felt my neck. He didn’t open his bag. Instead he walked over to Lucy’s bed, took
her top blanket and place it over me. I heard the door click and then nothing more. I must have lain like that
for some hours but finally I was able to sit up. It was then I realised something was terribly awry. My body
still lay on the bed under the blanket, I could not bear to look at it. I was not alone either.

 Mathew was sat upon Lucy’s bed smiling in his smug way I had quickly grown to detest.  “I knew we were
meant to be together always. Don’t worry I’ll never leave you alone again.” He grabbed my hands roughly
and again I began once more to run from him.
About S.J. Budd

Before developing a
passion for writing S.J.
Budd attended Kent
University in Canterbury,
UK and gained a BSc
(Hons) in Biochemistry. As
well as reading and writing
her hobbies include
brewing alcohol. Originally
born in Cornwall, south
west England, her
childhood was
surrounded by myths and
legends and she has
always been fascinated by
anything out of the
ordinary. It was in this
strange and noble land
where she developed a
passion for writing.
She loves writing short
stories exploring dark
fictional worlds and its
mysterious inhabitants,
and
is currently working on
her first novel. Her day job
involves working as
journalist for
www.findahood.com and
she also blogs on her site
http://www.sjbudd.co.uk
Her work has appeared in
Sanitarium Magazine,
Siren’s Call Publications,
Deadman’s Tome,
Innersins and Bewildering
Stories.
To read other short stories,
click one of the titles below.