Alys waved her wand with a flourish. ‘Ceiling reparo!’
Sparky, her diminutive dragon, looked up as several stray flakes of plaster dislodged themselves.
Alys waved her wand again. ‘Plaster mendaro!’
The cracks in the ceiling made by the bogus dragon inspector stubbornly remained.
Alys lowered her wand. ‘I don’t know, Sparky. I’m no good at these DIY spells.’
‘Maybe we should call someone.’ He flew over to the bookshelf and pulled out a thin volume with a bright yellow cover. Sparky started leafing through the flimsy pages.
They were interrupted by a loud thud on the doormat heralding the arrival of two stocky little men wearing blue overalls. One held a large bucket and the other carried a ladder. ‘You called, Miss?’ they said in unison.
Alys turned to Sparky. ‘Did we?’
Sparky shook his head.
‘Aha,’ the two little men pointed at the ceiling. ‘We see your problem, Miss.’
‘Can you repair it?’ asked Alys hopefully.
‘Of course.’ Fred rubbed his hands together. ‘We’ll have this done in a jiffy.’
Alys returned to the kitchen where a hair preparation ‘for constantly flowing locks’ was gently simmering in her cauldron. Sparky followed carrying his new copy of Dragon Detectives’ Monthly which had arrived by doormat that morning. He’d only just settled down to read when a loud hiss of crimson steam issued from his nostrils.
‘BEWARE THESE COWBOY CONTRACTORS!’ the heading screamed. Sparky hastily silenced the article with a swift pat of his paw.
‘What is it, Sparky?’
Sparky put a purple claw to his mouth. He beckoned to Alys and pointed at the photograph. The faces of the two stocky workman stared out from the article. ‘Wanted in two counties for preying on the unwary, these practitioners of make and mend have been wreaking mischief and mayhem on unsuspecting clients’ homes. They extort money on the promise of rectification and then disappear without completing the work. Their most recent victim was Agatha of Agador…’
Alys looked up. Agatha was one of her best clients. ‘Poor Agatha!’ she exclaimed.
Alys ladled a couple of spoonsful of the preparation from her cauldron into a glass jug and muttered an incantation. The mixture fizzed and bubbled, then slowly cleared to a pleasant lemony colour.
She poured it into two glasses, winking at Sparky. ‘Refreshments, gentlemen,’ she called out cheerfully, carrying the glasses into the next room and putting them on the table.
The two men seized the glasses and drank. ‘That really hits the spot,’ said Bob.
‘Just as well,’ said Fred. ‘This job is trickier than we thought. We’ll need to come back tomorrow.’
Alys eyed the ceiling where there was now a gaping hole.
‘We need more materials,’ Fred rubbed his hands together, ‘and an advance on the payment.’
Sparky snatched up the Dragon Detective’s Weekly and flew across the room, dropping it on the table in front of the two men. A threatening shower of sparks spurted from his snout.
Fred put his hands on his hips. ‘So? D’you want the job finished or what?’
Bob nudged him. ‘Your hair, it’s… it’s green and it’s growing!’
Fred turned to him. His jaw dropped open. ‘So’s yours!’
Within seconds grisly green hair was pooling at their feet.
Alys glared at the two men. ‘Put my ceiling right and your hair will go back to normal.’ She twitched her wand and the hair began to curl and tighten around their bodies. ‘And finish all those other jobs,’ she pointed at the article.
‘That’s blackmail!’ Fred mumbled indistinctly through a forest of green beard.
‘Just do it,’ said Alys sweetly.
Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #42
The challenge this week was extort. Photo credit: dreamtime.com