Part One: "The Three Amigas"
Ms. Alvira Jones, substitute Chemistry teacher, had been their homeroom teacher for nearly two weeks now, and the Three Amigas decided that she had to go. Brenda Foster, who considered herself the "brain" of the Three Amigas, knew she had to come up with a plan to rid Helmswood High of this malevolent presence.
"The way I figure it," Brenda said in between bites of her lunchtime kelp salad, "Ms. Jones must have something incriminating in that god ugly bag she brings to school every day." As a star member of the swim team, Brenda was always watching her weight, and trying to eat ‘power’ foods rich in vitamins. Her latest craze was sea vegetables.
"You’d think she’d have the sense to look around and see what the other teachers bring," a second Amiga, Tracy Steed, spoke up. "Briefcases, book bags, portfolios - anything but that rag satchel. Of course, what can you expect from somebody who wears dark print dresses and way-past-used black hose every day." Tracy was the fashion bug of the Amigas. Her long blonde hair was also split-end-less, and she prided herself on fashions that accented her trim, long-legged figure. Like the hunter green sweater, just-above-the-knee tan wool skirt, and tan pantyhose she wore today.
The Third Amiga was Noreen Greene, co-captain of the Helmswood varsity cheerleaders. Noreen prided herself on the ability to cut other people to shreds in an upbeat and positive way. "It’s kind of a shame. Except for the sloppy clothes, drab appearance, physical unattractiveness, strict attitude about schoolwork, and uncaring attitude toward her students’ important extracurricular activities - Ms. Jones isn’t that bad a teacher."
Brenda continued. "Yeah. But in the case, the ‘Excepts’ are what count. And since nobody seems to know when Ms. Klein is returning, we could be stuck with Jonesy for the rest of the year."
"Yecchh!" grimaced Tracy.
"School spirit can’t take that kind of hit," observed Noreen.
"Exactly. And that’s why we’re going to do something about it. We can’t get out of Ms. Jones’ homeroom. So we’re going to have to get Ms. Jones out of homeroom. Permanently." Brenda leaned in over the middle of the table, and the other Two Amigas leaned in with her. "And I, of course, have a plan to do just that."
As the three girls whispered, gasped, and giggled, they didn’t see a familiar figure sitting just a couple of tables behind them, observing. Alvira Jones fingered her sandwich, and grinned like a hungry cat, as she watched and listened to three very naughty mice.
The hallway outside Ms. Klein’s homeroom, crowded with students preparing to leave school just minutes before, was already eerily quiet, as Brenda stood in flip flops and a short robe, impatiently staring at her watch. She soon heard the echo of heels coming down the empty hall, and looked up as Tracy was attempting a strange tiptoeing walk toward her.
"Why don’t you just carry castanets?" Brenda said sarcastically.
"That’s not a very good suggestion, Brenda. Castanets make a lot of noise, and I thought we were trying to be quiet . . ."
"I was being sarcastic!" Brenda raised her voice, and then quickly looked around as her voice echoed through the empty halls. She then slowly lowered her arms and took a deep breath to calm down.
"Never mind about the castanets – are you all set in the Sewing Room?" Brenda asked.
"Jimmy Drew left me the pattern. It’s ready to be ironed on."
"Great. Where’s Noreen?"
"She can’t meet with us. The cheerleaders are practicing late – they really want that Statewide championship plaque this year. But she said she’d be in position down the hall from the teachers’ meeting to stand watch," offered Tracy.
"She’d better! We need her to be a lookout while we get our ‘surprises’ ready for Ms. Jones." Brenda looked up and down the hall, and put her finger to her lips for quiet as she listened carefully. "I don’t hear anybody. Let’s go for it." She reached into the pocket of her robe and pulled out a funny looking cigarette.
"Geez, Brenda. Do you know what would happen if Ms. Morgan saw that?"
Ms. Morgan was Helmswood’s tough principal. "Yeah. No more swim team. No more convertible. No more spending time with Matt." Matt was Brenda’s steady. "But once Ms. Morgan finds this in the Ugly Bag’s ugly bag – no more Ms. Jones." The girls laughed, and Brenda opened the door to the Chemistry lab/home room. "This shouldn’t take too long. Go get those T-shirts ready, and we’ll wait for Noreen to bring one of those security strips from the library. When the teachers get back from their meeting, and Ms. Jones tries to carry her bag out through the security gate – BUSTED!"
Tracy headed down the hall, while Brenda slipped quietly into the room. Neither saw an older lady emerge from the shadows, softly cackling. Alvira Jones wouldn’t be carrying marijuana in her bag, but she would leave today with three even better treasures.
The ugly cloth oversized bag was sitting on a file cabinet next to Ms. Klein’s – currently and temporarily Ms. Jones’ – desk. As she walked to the front of the room, Brenda had a brief moment of self questioning. Maybe a stunt like this was beneath her. After all, she was eighteen now, as were her two close friends, and only months away from college. Maybe they should just wait the old girl out. But the moment of maturity passed quickly. The Three Amigas could call this their last great scheme.
As she arrived at the front desk, she realized this was the hardest part – actually reaching in to that musty smelling monstrosity to carefully place the joint so it couldn’t be readily seen by Alvira Jones, but would be found by Trooper Trent, the school security guard. Brenda opened the bag to look for a hiding place, and quickly moved around a few tissues and papers, gently placing the marijuana at the bottom. Mission accomplished . . .
"Is there something I can help you with, Miss Foster?"
Brenda jumped at the sound of Alvira Jones’ voice. She quickly backed away from the desk, hoping the old lady had come in after she had taken her hand from out of the bag.
"Uhh, no, Ms. Jones. Sorry to be in here without your permission, but I needed to borrow a . . . a stapler . . . for a poster I’m hanging on the front bulletin board," she quickly reached down and picked up a stapler. "I’ll be on my way, then . . ."
"But, Miss Foster, surely you didn’t think the stapler was in my bag, did you?" Ms. Jones walked in and shut the door behind her.
"Your bag . . . uhh, what do you mean, Ms. Jones?" Brenda was trying to quickly think of some logical reason for looking in the old bat’s bag that wouldn’t get her suspended or arrested.
"I mean, I saw your hand in the bag." She continued to walk toward the front of the room where Brenda stood nervously beside the desk. "Normally, that would make me suspicious and uncomfortable, but since the bag is completely empty, I suppose there’s no harm."
Ms. Jones walked to the bag and opened it. Brenda was nervous on two counts: first, because she was obviously in the room with someone not playing with a full deck. The bag was full of stuff when Brenda put the joint in. And second, the joint itself. How would someone so unstable handle things when she looked through the bag and found the drug? The young swim star was glad for her athletic training – she might have to make a run for it at any moment.
"Just as I thought," said Ms. Jones, looking in. "Nary a trace of anything."
Brenda’s next move should have been toward the door, but curiosity got the best of her, and she leaned over the bag. It was empty! Just as Ms. Jones had said.
"But, but . . . I don’t understand . . ." she stammered.
"Why I carry an empty bag? Well, I knew I had to pick up a few things today: something for my aquarium, some under things, and a knick-knack for my mantle. So I needed the space."
There was a look of shock and surprise still on Brenda’s face – like a little kid at her first magic show. "But where . . . how . . ."
"Oh, you must be referring to the marijuana cigarette you put in a few moments ago. You should know a couple of things, my dear. First, things have a way of just appearing and disappearing from this bag." She said, sweetly. But then an evil, threatening look shot from her eyes. "And second, you have messed with the wrong person, young lady!"
Brenda backed away slowly. "I don’t know if you’re some kind of witch, or just nuts. But threaten me, and it won’t matter what you are when my parents get done with you." Brenda quickly ran to the door to leave. But, the door was locked. She tried to open it, but it wouldn’t budge.
"What’s going on? This is supposed to lock from the inside – but it won’t . . . open." She continued to struggle with the door, and then looked toward the desk, where Ms. Jones was reaching into her bag.
"An interesting choice you posed a moment ago, Miss Foster. Let me reassure you, I’m not ‘nuts’." She reached into the once empty bag, and pulled out a glass vial, filled with a thick green fluid. The old lady held the vial up and inspected its contents. "Yes, this will do just fine. As I said before, I need to take something home for my aquarium. Now why don’t you come up here and take your ‘medicine,’ like a good girl?"
Brenda tried the door a couple more times, then turned away and looked around the room. Her eyes fell on a long pole with a hook on the end, used to pull down the high hanging movie screen. She rushed to it, picked it up, and brandished it at Ms. Jones.
"I don’t know how you’re doing this crap, but I know when I’ve been threatened. Now unlock that door and maybe I’ll give you enough time to get out of town before my Dad calls his lawyer and the cops, in that order." Brenda’s tone was dead serious, which made her all the madder when her foe only chuckled.
"So. The quarry turns, does she? Well, that’s a mighty fine pole you’ve got there, but when I fish, I prefer - " she reached into the bag, " - a net." Ms. Jones pulled a huge fishnet out of the bag and threw it high into the air in Brenda’s direction. The young girl was frozen in place by this act of magic, and could only watch as the gossamer black netting descended upon her. At the last minute she dropped the pole and put up her hands to ward it off, but to no avail. Not only did the net come down and cover her, but it began to wrap itself around her body, tighter and tighter as she struggled. Brenda dropped to the floor and rolled for a moment or two, but by then she was wound tightly in black fishnet.
Ms. Jones walked slowly over to her, ripped open the section of netting over Brenda’s face as if it were paper, and squeezed the young girl’s nostrils tightly. When Brenda opened her mouth to breathe, the old woman poured the thick green fluid into Brenda's mouth and down her throat.
As Brenda gagged, and then began to groan, Ms. Jones walked back toward the front of the room. She pulled a large plastic freezer pouch out of her cloth bag, and began to fill it with water from the sink near the outside wall. Once it was filled, she turned back toward her bundled captive, to see the changes begin.
The green potion soon began to effect a transformation in the lovely young swimmer. Brenda’s lower torso began to turn a dark shade of green – similar to that of the potion. Her shapely legs and strong thighs – conditioned for swimming competition – first began to kick and vibrate with such force that her sandals fell off. Then her feet, legs, and thighs began to meld together. Still turning green, her lower half was now becoming scaly, and her two lower limbs had become one.
Changes began to affect her upper body as well. Her short brown straight hair began to grow rapidly, curling as it fell to her shoulders and beyond. Her small shapely breasts also began to grow rapidly, filling and pushing out and over her one-piece swimsuit, even jutting outside her robe. And as her upper half took on these voluptuous features, the lower half was now a giant green fin. Brenda’s last thought, before her mind emptied of all things from this world, was an incredulous but correct observation: Ms. Jones has turned me into a mermaid.
The transformation from coed to mythical creature was only part one of the magic. Once Brenda became a beautiful life-size mermaid, she felt herself begin to get smaller. The netting became looser and looser, as did her clothing. Her human upper half and long fin seemed to be moving toward each other. When the halves finally stopped moving, Brenda the mermaid looked up to see a giant Ms. Jones standing over her. The old woman reached down with her giant hand, and gently scooped up her creation. Brenda flopped around only a little before Ms. Jones dropped her into the water filled plastic bag. The old woman watched the tiny beauty swim around for several seconds, before sealing the container, taking it to the front, and placing it carefully in her cloth bag.
A few waves of the old woman’s hand made the giant net, Brenda’s shoes, robe, and bathing suit, and all other traces of their encounter disappear. Satisfied all was in order, the old woman picked up her bag, and walked out the door.
"Now, to pick up some lingerie," she said, as she started toward the Sewing Room.
Tracy wiped the sweat from her brow as she ironed Jimmy Drew’s pattern into another T-shirt. She had ironed four now, and although Brenda had told her to do at least a half dozen, the attractive blonde was not used to all this physical labor, and decided four was enough.
Setting the iron down on the end of the ironing board, Tracy lifted the T-shirt to admire her handiwork. An aging hippie’s face was smoking a joint, and underneath was lettered, "Legalize Marijuana Now!" Brenda’s constant barbs and criticisms sometimes got on Tracy’s nerves, but she had to admire her friend’s scheming ingenuity. A joint in Ms. Jones god-awful bag, along with a few of these T-shirts and some wadded up bills indicating the old woman was selling something at school, and she’d be out on her behind. The Helmswood principal, Ms. Morgan, had already enforced the school’s zero tolerance drug policy with several suspensions. So even this highly suspect evidence would spell the old woman’s doom.
Tracy carefully folded the T-shirt, added it to the short pile on the counter near the sewing machines, then sat back on the couch. She picked up a nearby fashion magazine, kicked off her short heeled tan pumps, and tucked her stockinged feet underneath her as she reclined. Brenda and Noreen should be here any moment to put the finishing touches on their plan to get rid of Alvira Jones.
The door to the sewing room opened, and without looking up from her magazine Tracy called out, "It’s about time you got here. How’d things go in homeroom . . ."
The attractive teen glanced up and a look of shock spread over her face as she saw Alvira Jones waddle into the room, carrying her worn cloth bag.
"Things went exactly as planned, Miss Steed," the old woman said, closing the door softly behind her.
"Ummm, Ms. Jones, I didn’t expect to see you . . . I mean, the teacher’s meeting, and all – must’ve got out early . . . " Tracy knew she was babbling, and knew she kept glancing at the stack of incriminating T-shirts, which was exactly the wrong thing to do. But why was the old woman here? Had she caught Brenda red-handed, and was ready for the next conspirator? And why the hell hadn’t Noreen warned them that Ms. Jones was coming?
The substitute had apparently noted Tracy’s glances, and strolled over to the stack of T-shirts. As she held one up, Tracy debated whether to play it cool or make a run for it. Deciding that the latter would be the same as an admission of guilt, she hoped she could talk her way out of this.
"Hmmm, very clever," Ms. Jones was looking over the T-shirt, "what’s the word nowadays – "with it" or "cool" – I always get confused?"
"Oh, yeah, those T-shirts. I saw them there when I came in. I guess someone’s trying to play a joke – but not a very good one," Tracy thought that was a pretty good explanation. Maybe Ms. Jones had stopped here first, and didn’t know about Brenda’s scheme. But, no, that couldn’t be right, she had her bag and that had been in the homeroom. So she must’ve been there. She must know. But where is Brenda?
"You’re quite right, my dear. Not a very good joke at all. I like the hippie on the front, though. Some old person trying to act young. I have to admit, I try to do that, too. But I don’t use T-shirts, or drugs. You know how I do it?" She reached into her bag and pulled out some shiny golden needles. "With these."
Great, thought Tracy. I’m stuck here alone in this room with a mental case. As soon as I find out what’s happened, I’m outta here. "Oh, yeah, acupuncture. That’s, uhh, real interesting," Tracy began.
The old woman chuckled - cackled, really. "Oh, no, not acupuncture. I actually use these needles to obtain a very special kind of pantyhose. Pantyhose that makes me feel more vibrant, more energetic," Alvira Jones stared covetously at Tracy’s stockinged legs. "pantyhose that makes me feel younger."
Tracy sat straight up, pulled the hem of her skirt as far down as she could, and began to feel around with her feet for her shoes. "Well, it’s really, uhh, neat that you sew your own pantyhose, but I think I should be going now," the student said with a fake smile, ready to bolt for the door as soon as her shoes were on her feet. Finally, her toe felt one, and she started to slip her foot into it –
"No need for that, my pretty!" Ms. Jones said, and waved her hand. The shoe flew to the other side of the room as Tracy gasped. The old woman did the same to the other shoe, and then focused her attention, and hand, on Tracy. "Now, just lay back and relax, and let me tell you a little story."
Though Tracy’s mind was screaming to run, her body was obeying the old woman. The young girl slowly laid back, lifting her nyloned legs and feet onto the couch until she lay completely prone. Alvira Jones walked slowly to the couch, talking as she approached the helpless girl.
"I don’t use these needles to sew my own hosiery. These needles are hundreds of years old. Long ago in Ancient China, a sorceress created these needles and endowed them with a special magic. She would lure beautiful young women to her home, promising to make them a new silk kimono. But instead, she used these needles to transform each girl into a silk kimono. The victim’s youth and vitality were trapped in the cloth, and when the sorceress wore her "new" robe, she absorbed that youth and beauty – the very soul – of the young victim." The old woman sat on a chair next to the couch and carefully laid the four needles next to Tracy’s legs. "I acquired the sorceress’ last kimono, and her special needles, many years ago. But since women do not wear silk kimonos throughout the day, I had to choose a more useful garment - one close to the original silk fabric of the ancient kimono. At first, that garment was silk stockings. But, one must keep up with the times . . . ."
Tracy didn’t really understand what was happening. She knew that Ms. Jones had done something to make her body so heavy she could hardly move. And she knew that something very awful was about to happen to her. She wanted to scream out – but like someone stuck in a terrible nightmare, her shriek caught in her throat. She was only able to whisper a brief question.
"Brenda? What happened . . . Brenda?"
Alvira Jones smiled and nodded. "Yes, my first acquisition. Your Brenda is right here in my bag." She reached into the old cloth bag and pulled out the large plastic bag filled with water. Tracy’s eyes grew wide as she recognized her friend, now only inches tall, and half girl, half fish. After watching her new pet swim in the plastic pool for a few seconds, Ms. Jones lowered Brenda’s plastic prison back into her bag.
"Now it’s your turn, my dear."
Before Tracy could even try to whisper a plea for mercy, the old witch had picked up one of the needles, and was choosing a spot on Tracy’s upper leg to insert it. As she gently pushed the needle in, Tracy felt no pain, but did hear Alvira Jones intone a sing song chant:
"One needle and you vibrate from your head to your toes,"
And indeed, the young student felt her entire body began to vibrate in an unnatural way. Once more, Ms. Jones picked up a golden needle and inserted through the nylon into Tracy’s leg, chanting:
"A second needle and your passion grows and grows,"
The vibrating continued, but now Tracy felt waves of intense pleasure began to course through her entire body. She began to moan softly as she experienced a feeling greater than any she had ever had, not even noticing Alvira Jones insert a third needle:
"A third needle and your whole lovely body glows,"
Now, an eerie glow spread over Tracy’s moaning, vibrating form. The young woman was being assaulted by an ancient and evil magic. The old woman picked up the last needle, paused briefly to stare at it and smile, and then inserted into Miss Steed’s leg:
"And with the final needle, you become . . . PANTYHOSE!"
With this, the old woman stepped back, and saw the vibration escalate, the glow of Tracy’s body become blindingly bright, and the force of the young girl’s pleasure reach a crescendo. After but a few seconds of intense sound and motion, Tracy’s whole body arched high in the air, and then slowly descend into a thick smoke that had formed around her. The young girl’s moans now ceased, as did the bright glow and the intense vibration. In a moment, the smoke began to dissipate, and when it had finally cleared away, all that remained on the sewing room sofa were the four golden needles, and a beautiful shiny pair of pantyhose.
The old witch reached over to pick up the garment. As she held them up by their waistband, she saw the imprint of Tracy’s face on the panty portion of the garment. There was even a faint movement in the outline of the eyes and mouth, as the beautiful girl settled into her new existence as magical fabric. Alvira lightly chuckled as she saw the imprint try to speak.
"Yes, my dear, it’s all true. You’re still alive, but very different. You belong to me now. But don’t worry, you won’t stay in your nylon prison for long. Once I wear you, your youth and beauty and spirit will come into me, and then you will be just a regular pair of pantyhose." The old woman held the stockings up close as to whisper in Tracy’s ear: "I plan to save you for a special occasion, so you’ll be in this form for a while yet. But I have a nice clean spot in my dresser drawer saved especially for you."
Cackling softly, Ms. Jones placed the needles back in her bag, and then gently folded the nylon form of Tracy, and placed her carefully in her cloth bag as well, next to the plastic container holding her mermaided friend, Brenda.
"Two down, one to go," the old woman said, as she left the sewing room and headed for the hall where Noreen stood watch.
Principal Morgan’s clear and authoritative voice could be heard even outside the closed door of the classroom where the teachers’ meeting was being held. Noreen Greene leaned against the wall just outside the door, and slowly moved her head so she could just glance inside the door glass. She saw several of the teachers sitting in the back, including Ms. Jenkins, who was the school French teacher and cheerleader advisor. A couple of seats down from Ms. Jenkins was Mr. Clyde from the English department. And in the row directly behind Mr. Clyde, noticeable due to her shabby attire, was the infamous Ms. Jones. The old woman’s head was bent down slightly, as she alternated glances from the knitting in her lap to Principal Morgan at the front of the room. Once she glanced toward the door but Noreen quickly jumped back so she wouldn’t see her.
Catching her breath, the attractive brown haired girl dressed in her cheerleader’s outfit walked back down the hall toward the sewing room on the other end of the building. She laughed to herself about her caution. Why should she worry whether Ms. Jones saw her? The old woman wouldn’t know why Noreen was keeping such a close eye on the meeting room.
Noreen turned another corner, almost halfway to the sewing room by now. She felt in her skirt pocket for the library security strip she had snuck off the librarian’s desk during Study Hall. It was a good plan Brenda came up with, Noreen supposed. A little harsh maybe. The cheerleader had suggested maybe they should just make the old woman’s life miserable until she left, or they graduated. Not that Noreen minded the old woman getting kicked out. It just seemed the greater the risk, the greater the possibility of failure.
She stopped next to the large glass trophy case near the entry stairs. She always did, and even with the girls’ scheme in motion, she still had to stop and stare. There it was, on the top shelf in a place of honor among the championship basketball and football trophies. The plaque honoring the last Helmswood High School cheerleading squad to finish first in the statewide competition. It was the class of 1974 – her mother’s class, her mother’s squad. Other squads had come close, but none really had a chance to duplicate the feat, until this year. Ms. Jenkins had pushed the girls hard in practice, although they took it easy during sporting events and pep rallies. That was taking a chance, risking losing the support of their school. But Ms. Jenkins wanted the girls to focus. "Don’t just want the plaque – BE the plaque!" She told the girls, and encouraged each of them to stop and stare at the trophy case every time they passed by. Noreen remembered something else Ms. Jenkins said: "The greater the risk, the greater the reward." So what Brenda had in mind for Ms. Jones was worth it after all. Instead of a long protracted war with the old lady, a quick decisive victory was just around the corner. Which was where Brenda and Tracy waited for her - around the corner in the sewing room, only a half a hall away. But first, one more look at the plaque.
It was a beautiful cherry wood, with deep bronze lettering "In Honor of the 1974 State Champion Cheerleaders from Helmswood High School." And then the girls’ names. And at the top of the list was her mom’s name, "Julie Winters." Beside the letters was the bronze figure of a cheerleader, fist raised in triumph. Noreen’s mom once told her she imagined that the figure was modeled after her. Noreen now did the same, as she stared at the figure.
And then, suddenly, something started to happen. The figurine began to sweat – no, not sweat - it began to melt. The figurine was melting right off the cherry wood, the bronze dripping into a large brown puddle on the next shelf of the case. Noreen moved her glance to the writing, and it too was melting. The words, the year, "State Champion Cheerleaders," and then, Noreen gasped as her mother’s name began to melt and run off the plaque. What was wrong? Was it too hot? Was it some kind of chemical?
"Sad, isn’t it, how past glories can just fade away?"
Noreen turned toward the voice, and saw Alvira Jones standing just a few feet away, in the hall leading toward the sewing room. Her ragged cloth bag was in one hand, but her other hand was lifted and pointing toward the trophy case. Toward the disintegrating cheerleader’s plaque within.
The cheerleader looked quickly down the hall the other direction, toward the meeting room. Then turned back to the substitute. "How . . . when did you walk past me?"
"Oh, don’t worry. You’re a fine sentinel. I didn’t get past you. In fact, I’m still in the meeting. Just as I was a few moments ago when you last looked. I guess I just have trouble with old sayings – you know that one, ‘can’t be in two places at the same time.’
Nope, don’t like that one at all."
Noreen was still unable to take all this in. The old woman must be crazy, but she couldn’t have come all the way from the meeting to here without being seen. Unless. But no, that’s crazy, all that talk she heard about her being a witch. But then Noreen remembered the plaque, how it had melted away for no reason, except perhaps the wave of an old woman’s hand. . . .
Suddenly, the cheerleader jerked her head as a startling thought occurred to her. "The girls – Brenda. Tracy. Where? What?" She couldn’t even complete a thought, the old woman had her so befuddled.
Ms. Jones lowered her hand, finished for the moment with the plaque. She bent down and undid her bag, then waved Noreen over. The student paused, then her white bucks slowly shuffled over.
The teacher reached into the bag and pulled out a folded up pair of pantyhose. "My new stockings – courtesy of your lovely friend, Tracy."
Noreen was confused. Tracy was supposed to put T-shirts in the bag – why should she put hosiery instead. But confusion turned to horror as Ms. Jones unfurled the stockings and Noreen saw the face of her young friend imprinted in the panty, her lips imploring Noreen to help her.
"Oh, my God! What have you done to her?" Noreen gasped.
"You girls wanted to get rid of me, but I forgive you. In fact, I’ve decided to take all of you home with me," this time, Ms. Jones pulled out the bag holding the mermaided Brenda, "permanently!" she cackled.
Noreen had seen enough. She turned and ran down the hall toward the meeting room, hoping to find help. But as she turned the corner, she ran right into the arms of Ms. Jones.
"You left before I could show what I have in my bag for you," the old woman said as Noreen struggled in her arms. Alvira reached into her bag and pulled out a white pom-pom. She shook it a couple of times, and a white smoke emerged. "Sis boom bah!" she said, and then shoved the pom-pom into Noreen’s face. The girl coughed and sputtered, and then began to feel lightheaded as she breathed in the white smoke coming from the shards of paper. It was almost as if she were being lifted off her feet and carried away, as Ms. Jones and the things of this world became fainter and fainter. And then, her eyes closed and she drifted off. . . .
. . . . when she awoke, the pom-pom was gone. So was the white smoke. She was still rather groggy, and didn’t know exactly where she was. Noreen felt something hard underneath her, and then thought she must’ve fainted and was on the floor. She remembered seeing her transformed friends, and then thought that maybe she had fainted before any of that happened. That was it, she had fainted, hit her head, and had those terrible hallucinations. She looked to her left and right and saw no sign of Ms. Jones or her awful cloth bag, and was temporarily relieved that it had all been a bad dream.
But then she realized that she couldn’t move. The cheerleader panicked. What if she had hurt herself badly in the fall, and couldn’t compete in the state finals. She was an important part of the squad. They couldn’t possibly win without her. No championship. No honor. No plaque. No, it couldn’t be. Someone had to go get help.
Out of the corner of her eye she saw a boy. Her vision was rather blurry, but he had a basketball under his arm, so he must be a member of the varsity squad, judging from his height. "Please, help me," she said faintly, "I’ve fallen and I think I’m hurt real bad. Please go get a teacher, or call an ambulance."
But the blurry boy stood completely still. Noreen shut her eyes for a few moments, hoping the blurred vision from her fall would get better, and she could see who she was talking to. Maybe he thought it was some kind of joke. This time when she opened her eyes she did seem to see in front of her more clearly. It was the entrance to the school, although it looked a mile away. She turned her head slowly to address the basketball player once more. And then, she screamed.
It was a basketball player beside her, but not a person. It was a trophy, as big as she was. She looked past him and saw more trophies. And then she felt beneath her and felt smooth polished wood. A glance to the other side revealed the remnants of melted bronze letters. She had somehow, by some evil magic, been reduced in size and affixed to the cheerleader championship plaque in the trophy case. How could this have happened?
Her last question was answered when the giant form of Alvira Jones appeared directly in front of her outside the trophy case. Noreen screamed and screamed, but it was just a tiny sound coming from inside the glass case.
"I see you’ve awakened," Alvira said. "I let you move your head a little so you could see where you were, and have some idea what was about to happen."
About to happen, thought Noreen. What did this witch mean? What was going on?
The old woman raised her hand and pointed to Noreen’s head. Immediately, the shrunken cheerleader stopped moving completely, and could make no sound. "You’re going to have to be real still for this next part," Alvira said. She slowly raised her hand while pointing at the girl, and Noreen’s right arm raised stiffly in the air, forming a fist at its apex, just like the bronze figurine there before. And although she couldn’t speak, Noreen believed she knew what was coming.
Once the witch had her tiny charge posed correctly, she pointed to the small pool of bronze that had been the figurine. A stream of the brown liquid began to flow upward, and began coating the white bucks, ankle socks, and bare legs of the tiny cheerleader. The bronze stream moved up the girl’s body, drying quickly as it went. In seconds, Noreen legs, waist, and chest were completely bronzed. Her eyes remained open as the bronze stream covered her face and brown hair, hardening almost instantly. The last of the puddle soon covered her outstretched arm and fist, and Noreen Green was now a bronze figurine on the plaque she had so long admired.
There was one more touch. A shorter stream of bronze flew onto the wood beside the bronzed girl, and began spelling out the name of Julie Winters, then Noreen Green. And then "Helmswood High Champion Cheerleaders: 1974, 1998." With that done and dry, Ms. Jones opened the trophy case and removed the plaque. She placed it in her old cloth bag, careful not to puncture the plastic bag of water, nor put a run in her special pair of pantyhose. She then closed the door of the trophy case, picked up her bag, and walked down the front steps and out the door, anxious to take her new keepsakes home.
To Be Continued
Read "Alvira Jones, Pt. 2"
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