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Witch Boy

Witch Boy by Russell Moon
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The spirit is willing...

Strange but true: I can move things with my mind. Even stranger, but just as true: Lately, I've been looking in the mirror and seeing a face I don't recognize. I've been knocking down trees and throwing boulders without touching them. And I've done some seriously heinous something to my girlfriend in this kind of ... I don't know ... freak out. I don't know what it was. I don't know if she's dead or alive.

You think I'm scared that I'm melted in the head? You don't know the half of it. Melted in the bead would be a blessing, compared to this. I'm not afraid of being crazy. I'm afraid of being whatever I am.

What am I?

HarperCollins; June 2009
208 pages; ISBN 9780061954818
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Title: Witch Boy
Author: Russell Moon

Chapter One

I am looking at myself, in the reflection of the still water in one of the many here-today-gone-tomorrow pools that appear in the woods. My woods.

Hands and knees sink into the damp earth at the edge of the small pool as I crouch lower, lower and lower to examine myself more closely. My bluetick hound, Chuck, is hard on my shoulder, he and his reflection every bit as confused by me as I am.

The frayed tips of my long black hair contact the water, and I stop. The reflective me and the actual one meld, a sort of liquid hair frame boxing us in together, stuck with each other. For moments, I cannot move.

This is no Narcissus here. I am not loving what I'm seeing, and would in fact be the happiest guy if I looked down and saw something else, someone else. I keep checking, every day, as I pass every reflective surface.

But I always find this face. And I ask again, "Who in hell is this?"

By the time I look around, I have no idea where my dog is. They are familiar woods, our woods, and Chuck could be in any part of them. Something happens, I guess, when I go looking, when I go thinking, when I go down there into reverie. I don't know what it is, but it upsets Chuck, and he's gone.

"Chuck," I call out, and hear my voice roll out, around, and back to me. Birds alight, critters skitter, but Chuck does not return.

I know he hears me. I hate it when he does this. He's being dramatic. Either that or he's getting laid.

"Chuck!" I bellow.

He has no sense, no discretion, no discrimination. My dog feels about sex the way most cats feel about killing: anything that moves.


I surprise myself with the intensity of my yell. He makes me get like this. It's not that he has to be obedient and stupid all the time like other dogs. We don't have that kind of relationship. It's well beyond that. We're more like brothers. It's like if your younger brother were going around having loads of sex before you ever even ...


The entire woods shake with my rage. I squeeze my eyes shut, my fists pulled so tight my fingertips just might pop through the backs of my hands.

I open my eyes to see it actually happening, the trees trembling, pine needles and leaves parachuting to the ground, branches snapping.

One old maple, thirty yards ahead, finally gives up and falls with a cracking, snapping fanfare. Three younger trees are flattened underneath.

"Cool," I say, coolly. I used to scare myself when I did this kind of almighty crap. But you get used to it. What else can you do?

The dog yelps. He remains in hiding.

I am patient.

The tree quietly shifts, rustles, as if settling down into death. Only it's reversing. It comes up off the ground a foot, then three, then six, as if pushing itself up, then slaps back to earth.

I did that, you see. It's what I do.

The dog yelps again.

"I see a big boulder," I say out into the distance. "Chuck, would you like to see the big boulder?"

Chuck does not want to see the big boulder. He comes slinking out of the brush. He won't look at me as we resume our walk, to our place. First I scared him into the trees with my inexplicable behavior, then I scared him back out likewise.

This of course is totally unfair, but what isn't? It is not Chuck's fault that I am tense and frustrated. But it's not mine either.

"What was it this time, Chuck, you pervert? A chipmunk? A duck?"

It is not his fault, what is happening to me, to us. It is not his fault that we are not what we once were. We are not a boy and his dog. Haven't been for about six months now, since around when I turned seventeen, and things have gotten weirder and weirder. Things like not recognizing my own reflection. Things like knocking down trees and throwing two-ton rocks. Without even touching them.

You know, things like that.

And that is the extent of what I know.

There is more to know. You know there's got to be more to know.

So who does know?

Maybe Chuck. My best friend, my better me. The further I get from myself, from knowing myself, the more I feel I need him by my side. I have no explanation for this, I simply feel it.

But if he does know, he's not talking.

"Sorry," I say to him as we reach our spot. I crouch down, run my hand lightly over his flat, velvety head and make sure his eyes catch mine. "Sorry," I say.

He snorts, then circles around behind me and climbs on my back. I climb us up the tree.

This is as close as we get, these days, to rightness. We are sitting in our tree, in our woods. Like we do. We are above it all, away from it all, yet somehow in control of it all.

When we're up here, I immediately feel a different relationship with everything. I look across the woods, the fields, the nearby houses, and on a good day, across the far hilltops. And if I can see it, it is mine.

Like I said, I move things. With my mind. The rocks, boulders, rotting tree trunks in the woods below us.

Cows in the meadow beyond. I look at them, stare at them, think about them where they are and think about them someplace else. And there they go. Haven't you always wanted to do that? You have, of course...

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