8 Gone is the Witch

Free 8 Gone is the Witch by Dana E. Donovan

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Authors: Dana E. Donovan
too. One size fits all. I hope. Now hurry. Dr. Lowell’s trail is getting colder by the minute.”
    “ So, where do we start?” asked Tony, fidgeting with his robe to figure out where the arms go.
    I handed the bolo to Carlos and waited for Tony to free his arm s before giving him the bayonet. “We need to learn more about this place. Rub elbows with the locals. Ask questions. Find out what we can about Dr. Lowell.”
    “ Where do you suggest we start?”
    “Where else ?” I pointed across the street. “The local pub, where everyone knows your name.”
    “ Wait a sec.” Carlos shredded the hood off his robe and pitched it into the gutter. “Okay.”
    “Why`d you do that?” I asked.
    “Too greasy.”
    “Oh. You good now?”
    “I`m good.”
    “`Kay. Let’s go check it out.”
    A tattered tin sign hanging out front of a two-story wooden structure creaked on rusty hooks as it swayed in a nonexistent breeze. Hell’s Tavern.
    We walked in through saloon styled doors onto sawdust-covered floorboards. The bar sat opposite, stretched along a mirrored wall. A half-dozen tables filled the room, each with a single kerosene lamp and four chairs spaced equally around them. Except for a few stragglers at one table and a couple of cowboy types sitting at the end of the bar, the place appeared deserted.
    Carlos, having walked in ahead of us, held the procession up just inside the doorway. “Looks like something out of the old west,” he muttered.
    “ Anything wrong?” Tony asked.
    He shook his head. “Just a feeling. This place ain’t right.”
    “This place is electric,” I said.
    “What do you mean?”
    “I don’t know. It’s weird. This room is a hotbed of energy. I can feel it.”
    “Aye,” said Ursula. “`Tis a strong force indeed.”
    Carlos suggested we not enter. “It’ll serve us no purpose .”
    “ Maybe not, but it’ll serve us drinks.” I pushed past him and bellied up to the bar. “Barkeep.” I love saying that. “Barkeep, give me a beer.”
    A burly-looking tree stump of a man came over and wiped the bar down in front of us. “Name’s Tiny,” he said. “Not barkeep.”
    “Okay, Tiny. I’ll have a beer.”
    “Beer?” I could hear the amusement in his voice. “We don’t serve beer here.”
    “Y ou don’t?” I supposed he could hear the surprise in mine. “Why not? It’s a bar, ain’t it?”
    “ Sure.”
    “Well?”
    “Well,” he said sarcastically, “we don’t serve beer because there ain’t no hops or barley to make beer. No hops, barley, grain, yeast or any other of them things that go into beer. And because you’re all new here, I’ll tell you something else.”
    “ What?”
    “There ain’t nothing anywhere resembling food or food stuff on this entire sphere. You want to know why?”
    “I do,” said Carlos .
    Tiny gave him a stern look, but gave it up after deciding Carlos meant it. “Because no one ever eats or drinks. That’s why. Don’t need no farms growing no food if no one’s gonna eat it.”
    “But you run a bar,” I said. “Sur ely you must serve something.”
    “I do.”
    “What?”
    He cracked his lips and hatched a crooked smile. “Ain’t but two things worth serving round here. Gunji and punjab.”
    Carlos laughed. “Sounds like a couple of Bollywood movie stars.”
    “You mean Hollywood, don’t you?”
    “No . Bollywood. It’s the Indian version of Hollywood.”
    “ Indian? Like Tonto?”
    “No like…. Say, how long have you been dead?”
    “Dead? I ain’t––”
    “Gunji!” I said. “What ’s that?”
    T iny stole a glimpse over his shoulder, perhaps making sure no one was playing a practical joke on him. “Man, you are new. Did you just drop in this afternoon?”
    “Yes,” Tony answered. “We did. So if you wouldn’t mind, humor us.”
    He reached below the bar and produced a bottle filled with a putrid-looking slime the color of algae. “This,” he said, “is gunji, nectar of the Gods.”
    “Looks awful,”

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