Stories, poems, and stuff kids would like.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Böseboy Brews a Potion

Once upon a time there was a young boy who always did what he was told, always cleaned up his room without being asked, and never did anything mean. This story is not about him. Rather, it’s about a boy we’ll call Böseboy (the first two letters are pronounced like ‘bo’ in ‘book’), which means naughty boy. He never cleaned up his room, especially when asked, and was generally a rotten kid through and through.

There was a kind old lady who knew the Böseboy. She always had a fresh-baked apple pie cooling on her kitchen window, and spent her time knitting socks for the homeless while feeding stale bread to the pigeons in the park. This story is not about her. Rather it’s about a clever old witch that had befriended the Böseboy years ago. Kindred spirits, you might say. She had a long crooked nose with warts on it that she tried to conceal by keeping her wide-brimmed hat tilted down in front of her face. The witch spent most of her time making potions to sell to her many clients. Love potions, hate potions, sleep potions, and a mean barbeque sauce were here specialties, but she made all kinds of others too.

On this particular morning, she had invited the Böseboy over to learn some basic potion-making techniques, since he aspired to be a pharmacist. In fact, the Böseboy had shown some proficiency in the art of grinding powders and boiling cauldrons, and the witch had high hopes for him.

Early in the morning, a raven tapped on the witch’s door with a message. She was being called away to an emergency council of the Witches of Mass Destruction (WMD) to account for some missing yellowcake. She would have to leave before the Böseboy arrived. This could be a disaster, she knew from experience, because the Böseboy could easily trash her house and ruin her potion materials. She pondered what to do. Of course, it would have been easy if she’d just had a cell-phone, and could have called him. But she was an old-fashioned witch and didn’t find much use for such new-fangled inventions.

So it happened that the Böseboy found himself in front of the witches house that evening. The lights were on inside, and he notices muddy footprints leading inside. Everything seemed hazy for a minute or two, but this soon cleared. He stepped inside.

On the bench in the middle of the room, where the witch did her potion-making, was a piece of parchment with the witch’s spidery handwriting on it. He read:

Dear Böseboy,

I have been called away to a meeting. Please do me a favor and follow the recipe below to brew an important potion that I will need on my return.

The Böseboy looked at the recipe in interest. It was rather long, and would require a fair bit of work, he noted. Because he was rather lazy, he decided to take a break before he started. He went to the cupboard where the witch kept the juicy apples found in the forest. On bin was for good ones, the other for poisoned apples, he knew. He took the last two good apples. “Strange,” he thought to himself, “the apple bin is usually full.” Then he noticed several apple cores on the floor. It was unlike the witch to leave such a mess, but not unlike the Böseboy at all. He ate half of each apple and left the rest on the floor. He just wasn’t that hungry.

Finally he turned to the recipe for the witch’s potion.

Get water from the well. Dump the first bucket on the ground and bring back the second to put in the cauldron.

The Böseboy fetched the bucket, which was laying on its side. It was already wet, he noticed. He took it to the well, with was surrounded by mud despite the fact that it hadn’t rained for a week. He did as instructed, dumping the first bucketful of water into the mud at his feet, and then filling the bucket again to take inside.

He took the cauldron off the workbench and put it on the floor. The rug underneath squished under his feet—it was soaked. He poured the water into the cauldron, spilling even more water on the floor. He checked the instructions again.

Build a fire and get the water boiling.

The Böseboy noticed that there were still glowing embers in the fireplace. A good thing, since there wasn’t much kindling left beside the chimney. He threw some branches on and looked at the directions again.

Take three pickled salamander tails and three garlic cloves, grind them, and put them in the pot.

The Böseboy knew right where the salamander tails were. But when he opened the large jar, there were only two and a half left! He supposed that would have to do since he didn’t have time to pickle another one. Into the steaming cauldron they went. Garlic was easier, since the witch had rows and rows of garlic in the kitchen. Someone had made quite a mess, though. There were pieces of the white paper-like garlic shell everywhere. He got what he needed and plopped them into the pot.

As the Böseboy worked through the remaining tasks to make the potion, he noticed that in every case he was using the last of the witch’s supplies. He wondered why, if it was so important, she hadn’t been more careful.

Finally, the Böseboy carefully decanted a pretty green liquid from the black pot into a clear glass bottle. He was about to put the stopper in it when a wonderful smell wafted by his nostrils. He hesitated, and looked at the witch’s handwriting one last time.

Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to sample the potion!

“But surely,” thought the Böseboy, “I can smell it, at least?” He eagerly stuck the open mouth of the bottle under his nose. The aroma was delicious, changing between that of a fine gourmet meal (French), and popcorn, hotdogs sizzling on grill, bubblegum, and café mocha. His tummy rumbled. Without really thinking about it, he stuck his pinky finger in the bottle and then in his mouth. That couldn’t really be called a ‘sample’ anyway, could it? It was just barely half a drop.

Flavor exploded in the Böseboy’s mouth like taste-bomb. His mouth watered for more. Even his eyes watered. “Just one proper taste,” he thought. “Just enough to wet my tongue, and the that stopper goes right in the bottle.”

Well, you can imagine what happened next. He tipped the bottle up to his mouth, oh so carefully, so that just a drop or three would run out. But it came out in a rush instead, filling his mouth with a sweet sensation like a whole candy store had opened inside. He had to sit down, his head was spinning so fast. When he could walk again, he wandered out into the witch’s front yard, where it was getting dark. Ever so slowly, the wonderful tastes faded, and a fog settled over his mind…

So it happened that the Böseboy found himself in front of the witches house that night. The lights were on inside, and he notices muddy footprints leading inside. Everything seemed hazy for a minute or two, but this soon cleared.

So it happened that the Böseboy found himself in front of the witches house that evening. The lights were on inside, and he notices muddy footprints leading inside. Everything seemed hazy for a minute or two, but this soon cleared. He stepped inside just as the witch returned from her long day.

You see, the clever old witch knew that if the Böseboy were left to his own devices, he’d make a REAL mess of her house. So she left the instructions and the ingredients to make about ten potions—that smelled oh, so wonderful, but if you drank one (which the Böseboy was sure to do), would make you forget everything that’s happened for the last couple of hours!


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