It was a slow day in WarioWare, Inc. No ideas were being pitched or made. Nothing was getting done. All the workers lazed around doing whatever they wanted. This was one reason why they liked working there, even though no one ever got paid; loafing, except when there were deadlines to be met, did not just go unpunished, it was nearly encouraged. For you see, the big boss had the same lack of work ethic.
The same rules didn't apply to being absent, however. If you were late or missing, when you finally showed up, you were given a most merciless taunting.
Wario looked up from his newspaper when he heard the ring of the bell on the door. "Well, well, well," he started in. "If it isn't Ms. 'Doesn't-come-into-work-for-like-more-than-half-the-month'. Explain yourself, Doesn't-come-into-work-for-like-more-than-half-the-month."
"I have a good reason," she shot back. "Someone is trying to kill me."
There was a dead silence. Then one of the cabbies, Spitz, spoke up. "No way! You serious? Awesome! 'Bout time!"
She gave him a venomous look. "Gee, thank you for your support. I'll remember that when I'm haunting people."
The cat bristled. "I ain't afraid of youse no more."
"What makes you so sure," Mona asked, "that someone's out to get you? I mean, beyond the obvious reasons why."
"Because..." She counted them on her fingers for effect. "Twenty-one days ago, all the water in my house turned to blood. A week later, frogs infested my mansion. In two days, I had a case of ridiculously huge head lice. The next day, biting flies swarmed the mansion. Does this ring a bell yet?"
Some of the people in the room started to chuckle at that. "Okay, Little Miss Conspiracy Theory," Wario said, "we see what you're getting at."
"It's not a theory! These line up too perfectly with the plagues in the Bible! It's got to be orchestrated!"
"Look here," the resident doctor interrupted. "As a man of science, I'm from whichever is the Show Me state. Do you have any proof of a modern-day Moses persecuting you, aside from the 'plagues'?"
"Yes! He left notes and demented little presents!"
"Well, one of them was an encyclopedia set-" she was cut off as the room filled with mocking laughter.
"Priceless, just priceless. Child, all it is is that you're hilariously unlucky."
Wario got up. "You're obviously delirious. Here, take a week of sick leave off. Unpaid, of course."
"You just go on home and take a nice, long Rip-Van-Winkle-type rest. And if you don't wake up, we'll admit you were right."
"Good lord, I thought you guys would be more sensitive than this!"
"Why, hello!" Mona piped up. "You must be new in town. I'm Mona. Welcome to WarioWare, Inc."
"You can all go to Hell!" she snapped as she left the building.
"Already there, sweetie-pie!" everyone yelled after her.
Outside, she stretched out on the sidewalk. "I really should have expected all of that."
"It was worth a shot anyway," Red reassured her.
She stayed on the sidewalk as the dusk faded into complete darkness. "Well, this is uncomfortable," she complained finally.
"Then... Why won't you get up?"
"Because it hurts to move. Not even that - it's like I just can't move at all."
Red managed to carry her back to the mansion. He never left her side all night, thinking that this would be her last day alive.
The mysterious illness kept her from eating. Eventually it cut out her voice. There was nothing to do but lie there and sleep while awaiting her inevitable death.
She had a dream of what seemed to be a totally unimportant memory.
It took place just a year ago. As usual, a salesman was at the door trying to sell his encyclopedias. She invited him in, as she always did. There was but one thing different about this one.
Normally, she would knock the salesmen out, or otherwise kill them before they could tell what was happening. It was the closest to humane she got. But this night, she was starving. It would have felt like an eternity while the soup cooked.
She knew the dangers, but tonight, she ate this one raw.
He didn't suspect a thing until it was too late. "Nice place you got here," he went on with petty small talk. "Hey, a cauldron! You wouldn't happen to be a--"
She cut him off, grabbing his shirt by the lapels. "Hey... What are you..." he asked as he saw her lean in on him. "H-hey! Stop that, I'm married!"
He didn't realize that she wasn't forcing herself on him as a woman, but as a predator.
Suddenly her teeth clamped around his neck, sinking in to the throat. He screamed and tried to pull away, but it only made things worse. She tore a chunk out of his throat, taking part of the voice box with it.
The salesman fell to the floor, the wound on his neck spurting blood. He stared up at her in shock, then raised an accusing finger at her. "Y-you're a monster!" he choked out with what little voice he had left. "I thought witches were good!"
She calmly wiped the blood off her mouth and spat out the neck cartilage. "Now, what made you think that?" she asked. But he was already dead.
She woke up to the sound of knocking on the door. As she came out of the dream, it struck her that the salesman in the dream wore a plain blue bow tie... just like the one that had been placed on her doorstep.
Red was lying next to her on the bed, asleep. The knock persisted. Without thinking of it, she slid out of bed, and she was able to stand. The illness had passed, and she was still alive.
"Red. Red." She watched him stir and open his eyes, then sit straight up in surprise "That's right," she told him. "I'm alive."
The knock at the door got louder and more annoying. They went to the door, expecting, at last, a travelling salesman. But what they found was a clear sign that this wasn't over yet.
On the doorstep lay a piece of wool, and a trail of lamb's blood that stretched out into the forest. They looked to each other knowingly, and followed the trail. Wherever it led, they were sure they would find their Moses there.
The trail led deep in the forest, along a river. It cut out at a spot where the water ran red. When they got there, they heard a voice quoting scripture: "'...About midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt: and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts."
"Come out!" Ashley yelled.
"'And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there was none like it...'" Up to the river came a woman: another witch like Ashley. She had green hair that curled around her neck in a braid, and she wore the blue color of nighttime. In her right hand she held a staff, which she raised as she said: "'...nor shall be like it any more'!"
"Wh-- who are you?"
"Moses, as you've called me; but my name is Sarissa. Born under the waxing crescent."
"So you're the one..." Ashley sunk to the ground as the illness began to return. "You're the one who's been plaguing me over the salesmen."
"What is wrong with you?!" she snapped. "They're just travelling salesmen! Nobody cares if they die! In fact, people would be glad to see them dead!"
A flash of hate swept over the good witch's eyes. "That's what you've always thought. But it's not true. Travelling salesmen aren't your livestock to be eaten at your will. Believe it or not, there are people who will miss them: their families. But I guess as long as no one would come after you for all the murders you've commited, that made it okay."
Ashley stared at the ground. "Okay. I'll give you that. But why do you care so much about them, anyway?"
"Because," - Sarissa threw a plain blue bow tie over to her - "you killed my brother."
"But I couldn't have known he was your brother!"
"You shouldn't have had to! I know better than to get you to stop eating salesmen - it's your nature as a bad witch to be a cannibal, after all. But you prey solely on them, and the only reason for that is because you think you're doing society a favor by getting them off the streets."
"Okay, okay," Ashley begged weakly. "You've taught me the lesson nine times over. There's no need to make it ten, right?"
"If you'll apologize for treating salesmen like trash."
"Very well, then." Sarissa walked off. "I'll give you until noon to think about it. And if you haven't apologized by then, the Angel of Death will come knocking."
Red, who had also been struck by the illness, wriggled over to Ashley. "Ashley, please. All you have to do is say you're sorry. If we're lucky, you might not even have to mean it. It's not worth keeping your pride and losing your life."
She was too torn to reply.
The illness lifted, and they made their way back to the mansion. And Red tried one last time to talk sense into her. But she wouldn't listen to a word he said.
Then came two minutes to noon. A knock sounded at the door. "Will you apologize?" Sarissa asked.
"I will not," came the adamant reply.
The illness struck Ashley one last time, and she collapsed on the floor. It didn't kill her, but it struck much worse than the times before it.
She started to cough. Blood came into her mouth, blood that strangely wasn't hers: it was more of the type O that marked the first plague. She kept coughing, and tried to swallow it, but more blood flowed to replace that which she got rid of.
Red, who hadn't been struck, rushed to the door. "Don't do this! Please!" he begged Sarissa helplessly. "She's learned her lesson! This is enough!"
"Not unless she apologizes."
"But she's too proud to apologize!"
One minute to noon. Sarissa began to enter the mansion. Red pushed on the door to keep her out, but she struck him with the illness, and then with the door. "Out of my way, Sparky."
She went up to Ashley, who was struggling to breathe through the blood. "You know, I'm actually being merciful," she told her, "and giving you one last taste of that blood you love so much. Type O, high white count, full of adrenaline. I know you like that kind the best, because you thought my brother was the best salesman you've ever eaten." With that, she rose her staff, preparing to stab Ashley through her heart.
The clock struck noon, and she brought the staff down...
"I'm sorry," Ashley choked through the liquid. Sarissa stopped, the point of her staff a mere two inches from Ashley's heart. "I'm sorry for acting as if salesmen aren't cherished lives. They are. I realize that now."
A minute passed. Then the flow of blood stopped, and the illness was lifted. Sarissa took her leave, saying "Thank you. That's all I wanted."
Ashley lay still, breathing in some well-earned air. Red dragged himself next to her. "You see? Was that really that hard?"
She spat out the last of the blood, having lost her taste for it. "Yes, as a matter of fact, it was." She scrunched up, upset over something.
"What is it, Ashley?"
"That wasn't the last we've seen of 'Moses'. This little fight was only the beginning."
Red sat up. "Why? You think she's not through avenging the salesmen?"
"She probably is. But now that we've fought once, we'll keep on fighting. She's my foil now, and she's started a feud that will last our lives. It's a witch law."
"Ashley..." He slumped on the ground. "Can't you just let it go?"
"I said it's a law! What are you, deaf?" She stood up. "I don't like it any more than you do; but that's how things are going to be." With that, she went to leave.
Red got up and went after her. "Where are you going now?"
"To say 'I told you so' to a choice few of my coworkers. And by 'choice few', I mean the whole dumb lot."
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