Witch Hunt

She laughed. It was quiet at first, to herself. But then the laughter became more uproarious the higher the flames rose around her. She knew they thought that they were “getting away with something.” That they were serving justice. Because Agatha was meant to be a witch. And all because they had taken notice of the birthmark on the side of her head that she usually covered with her hair. It happened while she was at the market, picking up some beetroot for a spell. She had briefly forgotten herself long enough to expose the mark, at which time a fellow woman cried out, “Witch!” and it was all over. How easily we are sold out by our own kind.

Granted, even though she was an enchantress, she would have rather been accused of it for the right reason. Didn’t they figure out by now that beetroot was highly witchy? But no, they would rather accuse women of being a ghastly sorceress simply for not being married, speaking out of turn, being financially independent–that sort of thing. In other words, not much has changed since Salem in the 1600s. But Agatha had a plan. The perfect stratagem for revenge that would finally give the men who started this whole thing a sampling of their own bitter tincture.

Although they had already bound and gagged her, and thrown her in a rat-infested cell, she was able to work through the night before her scheduled burning at the stake. Calling upon her witch sisters telepathically, near and far, she used their powers to tap into a spell that would come back to haunt these men eons from now. And the decision to make it happen four centuries from this moment was also calculated on Agatha’s part, who wanted to be sure that the world would be advanced enough in its thinking for the stipulations of the hex to work at their full effect. Also she didn’t want to somehow still be blamed, called a witch yet again when the magic finally came to roost. For yes, she would be there to watch it all go down. So she laughed and laughed her fucking head off as they all watched her burn, genuinely believing there would be no consequences for what they repeatedly did to “her kind.” And for no real reason whatsoever. She, on the other hand, would have a reason. Just like so many other women.

***

By early 2017, Agatha was alive and well, passing herself off as a college student interning at mid-level talent agency in Century City. It was run by some equally as mid-level celebrity named Augustine Loom. He had been the one to personally hire Agatha–who had now switched her name to the more modern “Alice”–after placing his hand on her leg and telling her he thought she had “a lot of potential.” Yeah. Potential for what? Fucking his brains out without asking any questions in the hope he would give her a better title? What a load of absolute bullshit. But she played the part to perfection: cooing sweetly, batting her eyelashes, parting her legs slightly so that he could just make out the fact that she wasn’t wearing underwear. That last thing was the real clincher for Augustine, who practically drooled all over himself as he told her she could start tomorrow.

Little did he know, she had already started quite some time ago, and had been waiting for the perfect toadish man to serve as the catalyst for the new modern witch hunts. There was a brief period, in the 1950s, when she thought that the witch hunt she had preordained had arrived early in the form of the House Un-American Activities Committee. But no, that was definitely not the case, as further solidified by Arthur Miller throwing himself into the fray as some kind of martyr for the cause with The Crucible. Did he really think he could talk about her pain? Her era of persecution? Fuck no. Rather than killing him as punishment, she made him live with the guilt of Marilyn Monroe’s death.

Now, here Alice was, making sure everything went smoothly as the reckoning descended upon the men. Just as they had made it descend upon the women, century after century after century. She suddenly realized how appropriate it was that she was working in Century City. And it didn’t take long for Harold to come along. He was working on one of Augustine’s productions, some horrible action movie attempting to be “camp” called Machine Guns and Fishnets. It didn’t take him long to notice Alice, licking his lips overtly at her and going right over to tell her she should be an actress. She reacted in all the ways she was expected to, pretended she was flattered–couldn’t believe the Harold Feingold was talking to her. An invitation was made, and she accepted it.

After the party, she was brought up to his hotel room. Talk of “advancing her career” was loosely bandied, but she knew what that meant. And she was ready for it. She had even prepared a spell that would allow her to dissociate her mind from her body when it happened. While it did, she ensured the entire thing was taped. She then sent that footage to the most poetic possible person to blow the lid off the story: Dolan Sparrow. As the son of a sexual predator, he was the perfect choice to entrust the material with. Plus, Alice knew he had a personal vendetta against his dear old dad, a celebrated auteur who had evaded scrutiny for his own sexual misconduct thus far. And that if Harold could be toppled, then at last his own father could. But that would come another four years later, with a certain HBO special. In the meantime, Dolan had to gather the information on Harold, and Alice’s evidence and testimony was the domino he needed to get the likes of Rose, Asia, Salma, Uma–the entire goddamn coterie of actresses–to come forward and announce what Harold had done. He was a monster. But he was only the tip of the iceberg.

Harold’s purpose, for Alice, was to serve as a jumping off point. He would be the impetus for an entire movement. What men like to call “modern witch hunts.” Alice smiled to herself as she drove her red Corvette down the Pacific Coast Highway. They thought it was a witch hunt now? Oh boys, just you fucking wait. You haven’t seen anything yet. All of L.A. was going to burn for this. Indeed, it was shortly thereafter that California’s worst wildfires began to rage, flames insatiably licking the air like the tongues of men who thought they could go on forever having a taste of whatever they wanted.

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