Freelance Witch

Everyone in the States knows that if you need a witch, you can’t do better than Emerson Shrike. Not if you want to hire domestic, anyway. There’s a guy out of the Czech Republic people talk about like he’s the second coming of Merlin, and Lady Jabang, who works out of her grove in The Gambia, draws clients from all over the world, but if you want to avoid navigating the mess of international witchcraft trade law, you go with Emerson.

There are trade offs, of course. Lower-end witches tend to be very accommodating, despite their lack-luster success rates. Emerson, on the other hand, stopped keeping regular office hours as soon as they became well enough established to survive in the industry with a few eccentricities. That might have been manageable if they had an answering machine, but they don’t; you just have to keep calling until Emerson happens to pick up the phone.

They live and work alone in a modestly luxurious house on an isolated patch of scrubby desert no one actually knows how to find. According to rumor, the IRS has a hell of a time figuring out what to do about it every year. Their clients simply make their way there and back, remembering having gone, having had their appointment, and having returned, without any understanding of where they’ve actually been.

Emerson themself is a private sort of person who only enjoys the company of others when it comes in carefully moderated doses, and sees their job as a way of inviting people over for a visit on a controlled timetable. They stand around 5-foot-10, not counting the modestly pointed hat, and they usually dress simply and utilitarian in a pair of jeans and a plain t-shirt, with a long, voluminous apron. The apron is covered in odd glyphs and sigils and patched together from odd-shaped scraps of leather, with a different material for each of its many pockets, which never seem to have anything in them except for exactly what Emerson needs at any given moment.

The atmosphere of strangeness that always radiates from the supernatural is undercut by Emerson’s gracious hospitality. The entire appointment feels more like meeting a good friend for coffee than paying to manipulate the path of the universe. It’s a pleasant experience with very little of the drama most customers expect.

The witchcraft community at large is quite certain: if they didn’t get such reliable results, they’d be out of a job by now.

Published by

Mal McInnish

Professional public library goblin, hobby-hoarder, and writer, located in Texas, USA.

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