By Faiza Chowdhury
Two kinds of beings rule this world: the human and the wiz. They have separate niches that should never overlap or exchange because if the order is broken, all hell will break loose.
Since the dawn of time, two powerful kinds have been put down on Earth to regulate order: mankind and wizkind. The man masters the tools, and the wiz masters magic. A wiz cannot master the tools just as a man cannot master magic.
Procax specialized in using the ax. He rose and submerged with the sun, cutting away his hours. His carefree hours began to fog by the time winter arrived. It started in the neighboring houses; Procax could hear its drumming proximity. It was nature’s punishment, banging at every door and demanding to be let in. He heard the bloodcurdling wails from the far distance, and soon enough, he heard nature’s punishment linger outside his window, whispering to be let in. Sometimes Procax woke up in the night and saw villagers ring around a fire, chanting and attempting to harness the wizkind.
It didn’t take long for nature’s punishment to infiltrate every inch of the village. It drained the life of every living thing it touched, and Procax could smell the stench of death strengthen by the day. Procax was left deserted; he knew he was being preyed on, and though nature’s punishment was taking its sweet time—prowling every acre of the empty village, observing and plotting—it would make its final pounce one day.
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Procax was completely open to falling prey. Being consumed by it meant to be finally freed from his loneliness. Procax wanted it to be over with, for he couldn’t fathom the endlessness of it all. Amidst his anticipation, however, something dark and sinister began to plague him. He tried to resist it, but the dark wisp began to conquer with every passing day. The only thing that kept him grounded was his ax. He was a master of the tools, the only master of tools the village had left. His ax was his sole purpose now.
But one day, he found himself stopping amidst his swings and raising his ax to eye level. He always studied the instrument with great respect, but this expression was unrecognizable, something void of respect.
I’m the only survivor. Surely, I am destined for greater things if I’ve survived this long. I may not have much time left before it finally strikes me, but if I’ve survived this long, I will survive through it all.
Something as mundane as an ax would not help him survive through it all. Most mundanes couldn’t even make it past a week, yet here Procax was, having dodged the punishment’s exposure for a year now. He was no mundane. He tossed the ax away; tools were for the mundane.
To survive through it all, I must master magic.
There was a local legend about the woods; a mere mention sent immediate shudders amongst the villagers. For there was talk that a wicked witch inhabited the woods and constantly broke the world’s order. They called her the portal between mankind and wizkind; she’d grant those who were worthy a taste of forbidden knowledge.
After surviving this long, how could Procax not be worthy? He left for the woods the next morning and spent days and nights searching. He would never dare to set foot in this territory a year ago, but he had seen the real, mythless horrors since then.
He stumbled upon a cave, and after hours spent circling the same steps taken, he was sure that if there was a witch at all, she had to be inside. It didn’t take Procax long to find the witch inside; her grotesque features nearly illuminated the cave. She greeted him with a crooked smile.
“I’ve come to—”
Her hoarse snicker cut him off. “I know why you’ve come.”
Procax stood stunned. “You do?”
She nodded. “Of course. I’ve been looking for a human who deserves to know the knowledge of magic. Amidst this atrocious state the world is in, you’ve survived.”
Procax grinned sheepishly. “I’m the only survivor in my village …”
“I know. You don’t have to prove yourself to me. Do you want to master magic?” She asked.
“It’s all I’ve wanted.”
Her sly lips curved into a smirk as she held up a glass of sparkling substance. “Upon consumption, the divide between the two kinds will fall. Only then will you sense the magic.” Before she could thrust the drink forward, Procax leaped to take the glass and gulped its content all too quickly.
When he finished, he looked back up at the witch, blinking and looking around. “Am I supposed to sense anything yet?”
The witch smiled, and suddenly, Procax could hear the familiar, haunting whispers swallow the atmosphere. “Oh you stupid, stupid boy. Don’t you see? I’ve harbored a plague down on your people and you’ve fallen at last. I’ve been sent to eliminate those who dare to break order, and your village was corrupted with greedy disobeyers. Good riddance! And now you’ve proven that you’re no different!”
Procax felt something sharp in his lungs, and his mouth began to foam in an instant.
“A human must never seek magic,” the witch hissed, “or there will be consequences.”
Raised Muslim, I grew up hearing numerous scary stories about djinns. During sleepovers, my cousins and I would take turns telling djinn stories in the dark. Djinns are supernatural beings in Arabic/Islamic mythology and are the inspirations behind the less-malevolent mythological creature known as the genie. Just mentions of black magic and the world of djinns would send shivers down my spine and I was puzzled to see the western depiction of djinns in the form of genies. In my story, djinns are the inspiration behind the wizkind.
I love the horror genre and I love all things supernatural. This was my first attempt at writing something of the horror genre. I don’t think there is enough supernatural horror about djinns despite how much these beings scared me and continue to scare me. Writing “Good Riddance” was an opportunity for exploration; not only did I get to dip my toes into the realm of horror, but I also got to dive deep into my Muslim culture and identity. The Girls Write Now horror workshop helped me feel more confident about this piece as I had been nervous about the story not having typical horror elements.
Faiza Chowdhury (she/her) is a current Writing 360 mentee. She loves writing because she finds that it is the best outlet for her to express her voice. Faiza loves to write historical fiction and short stories but wants to explore more genres and creative mediums. Recently, for example, she has developed an interest in journalism through her school newspaper. In addition to writing, Faiza loves biology and hopes to pursue simultaneous careers in pediatrics and novel-writing. Fun facts about Faiza: 1) she’s a huge Taylor Swift fan and 2) she has a heart-shaped birthmark.