The silence of the night was shattered by an ear splitting BOOM, followed by the screech of many scared bats who were rudely awakened from their beauty sleep, in a dark, peaceful, hidden corner of the cave. "No, no it is not possible," screamed Sheila, "I don't understand, that should not have happened. What did I do wrong?" "You must have put the wrong ingredients at the wrong time." said Icarus, her wise pet owl. "You should be more careful. That boom must have woken up everyone within a radius of a hundred miles. If I were you, I should stop with the experimentation. After all you did get a notice from the CRMHS just today." "I didn't give you the ability to speak so that you can criticise and advise me on all that I do." said Sheila, quite irritated, as she pointed her wand to clean up the mess that the explosion had created. "I know about the notice," she continued, "but I was so close to getting that potion correct."
"My dear Sheila, if you would just listen to me whenever I tell you to, nothing would ever go wrong." said Icarus, as he flew down from his perch onto Sheila's shoulder. "I did listen to you. In fact, I did exactly as you told me to," said Sheila, "I put in all the ingredients, timed it well…" "But you didn't add the pumpkin seed essence." Icarus interrupted. "The essence! I completely forgot about it!" exclaimed Sheila. "There, what did I tell you?" said Icarus, "well there's nothing you can do about it now. Go to sleep. Tomorrow we will start again and this time if you forget something I will screech in your ear to remind you." "Alright." said Sheila, as she put away her wand and surveyed the now clean room. She blew out the candle and walked away with Icarus on her shoulder.
Sheila was a plump, forgetful, middle-aged witch, having long untidy black hair with a streak of white in the middle. She was neither too tall nor was she too short. She was never fussy about her appearance and always dressed in long billowy robes, usually of black. She rarely wore anything coloured except on special occasions. As for jewellery, she had never even heard of that word. She always wore her black pointed witch's hat that she had been awarded on the day she graduated from the Witch's University (W.U.). She had keen, intelligent, brown eyes and was very sharp. Due to her age, she had to wear spectacles, which always fell off her nose. For this she had tied them to a silver chain, which she wore around her neck. She rarely wore them, as she felt that they made her look older than her forty odd years. She had always been a brilliant student, a brilliant witch and potion maker, but because of her forgetfulness, she always used to get into trouble. (Most recently with the CRMHS- Committee for Regulation of Magic in the Haunting Society, for her exploding potions, which were disturbing everyone). To help her remember things, she had got Icarus, who from the day she had bought him had shown exceptional intelligence. Sheila had been able to sense his intelligence and had given him the power of speech. Icarus had always helped her with her work and it was usually on his advice that she used to get out of the trouble she was in. When Sheila had once asked him why his name was Icarus, he had replied that he had been inspired by the Greek legend of the first human who was able to fly. "He was very intelligent and I admire him. So I call myself Icarus." he had replied. Icarus was a tawny screech owl though he rarely screeched as normal owls do.
The cave, which was Sheila's home, was located on an isolated hillock in the middle of a forest in the haunting dimension. In the actual earth dimension, the cave was situated somewhere in the Himalayas though the actual vegetation and climate near the cave, in the haunting dimension, matched that of an equatorial rainforest in contrast to the harsh winter conditions in the earth dimension.
Though to many the idea of living in a cave would appear unimaginable, Sheila's cave was as posh and comfortable as a millionaire's mansion. The cave, though it appeared small to outsiders had everything Sheila needed from a bedroom to a kitchen to a living room and even a bathroom, which would rival the one in the Mayor's house. The most impressive room however was her spell room, which had many kinds of potions, instruments, books, cauldrons, a collection of wands (broken and otherwise), ingredients, brooms, a huge stove in the middle of the floor and many other odds and ends.
Now that night when Sheila had been cleaning the room, she had forgotten to clean up the cauldron containing the failed potion. As the night progressed the potion underwent a series of unusual changes. First it changed from its initial colour of pale yellow to a deep reddish purple and then to a light fluorescent green, which started glowing, first softly then brightly. After a while the glowing stopped and the potion started emitting a soft hissing sound. Suddenly the sound stopped and after a few minutes of silence the potion started bubbling and frothing violently as if it was set to boil. Then the potion began changing from its liquid form to a fine greenish vapour, which started to get accumulated above the cauldron in the form of a cloud. After the entire potion got converted to vapours the greenish cloud changed into a fine, almost transparent, silvery mist, which was quite invisible to the eyes and was only faintly visible in complete darkness. The mist hovered above the cauldron for a few minutes after which it started drifting towards the small window at one corner of the spell room. The mist after coming outside divided into six branches, which drifted in six different directions to the different parts of the haunting dimension.
Early next morning Sheila was rudely awakened from a deep sleep by a raucous screech by Icarus, who was reading the daily newspaper 'The Haunted Express', perched on top of Sheila's bed. She jumped out of her bed and landed on her bottom. "Ohhhh! That hurt…" she moaned. "Why did you screech like that? That must have woken everyone in the entire dimension." she said angrily. "Take a look at this!" said Icarus, as he thrust the newspaper into her hands. Sheila shot him a dirty look and started reading the paper. "What do want me to read?" she said, as she scanned the paper, "I can't find anyth… Oh dear!" she said as she found out was Icarus was asking her to read. As she read on, Sheila's complexion changed from red to pink and finally she turned pale as she finished reading the article. "The potion. I am sure it was the one which caused all this." said Sheila quite worried. " You didn't clean up the potion yesterday," said Icarus, almost hysterically. "No I completely forgot." said Sheila woefully. "What are we going to do?" said Icarus, as he snatched the paper from Sheila's hands and feverishly began reading the article.
"A very strange and disturbing phenomenon has occurred which has left everyone astonished. It started about quarter to midnight yesterday when people living in the Upper North Woods felt a strange tickling sensation in their noses and started sneezing which has been continuing since then. When asked nobody was able to give any clue as to what was causing such a mass sneezing spell. It was thought to be some random virus till 'The Haunted Express' got information about similar peculiar conditions in five different parts of the Haunting dimension. People living in the Central Witches Avenue were affected by a same tickling sensation and have since then started coughing. People of Lake Madgick have been affected with the worst colds in history; those living in the South Forest Extension have been affected with very bad headaches and those of Eastern Tilly Hills have been affected with Fainting spells. But the most serious of these phenomenons has occurred in the Coral Oceanic Sector, where the people have been affected by a bout of Beetle-itis, which is a very rare disease. The entire area has been filled up with all type of beetles because of this.
The authorities have no idea what is causing all these unusual phenomena. But it is general belief that some terrorist organisation is behind all this. Though the Mayor, who is a resident of the C.W.A and has been suffering from a coughing fit, has pooh-poohed the idea of any such organisation and has told the media (between his coughs) that he believes this is the work of some irresponsible witch, wizard, warlock etc. He has urged the C.R.M.H.S and the I.M.I.D (Irresponsible Magic Investigation Department) to investigate and search for the culprit as soon as possible. He has also announced (in a fit of rage) that he will take away the culprit's magical license and kick him\her out of the Haunting Dimension.
If anyone has any information regarding who caused this can contact us at
For more information and continuous updates watch H.D.B.N (Haunting Dimension Broadcasting Network)."
Icarus finished reading the article and looked at Sheila with anxious eyes.
"What do you think you should do?", asked Icarus, "do you think that you should own up that it was your potion which caused all this. If you don't own up and are discovered as the culprit you'll be thrown out of the Haunting Dimension." "And so will you," said a miserable Sheila, "Well I think I will own up. I'll go right now and call the C.R.M.H.S." Sheila got up and went to her living room. Icarus flew after her giving suggestions as to what she would say. "You could tell them that it was an accident or maybe you can say…"
"No. I'll tell them the truth." Said Sheila firmly, as she opened her living room cupboard and took out a shiny crystal ball but having odd symbols arranged like the numbers in a telephone. Sheila pressed a few symbols and waited for the call to go through. "Hello, this is the C.R.M.H.S information centre. How may I help you?" said a female voice at the other end, after a few rings and slowly a face started forming on the surface of the crystal ball. "Um.. this is Sheila and I want to talk to the head of the potions regulation department," said Sheila, "It's about the unusual phenomena," she added with hesitation. "Okay. Please be on the line till I connect you to his personal phone." Said the woman as she connected the line. After a few seconds another voice, this time male, sounding angry came from the other end. "What do you want? Isn't it enough that we have deal with all this nonsense." Said , the head of the potions regulation department, as his red, fat and angry face came in view. "If it's about those exploding potions, then I don't have any time to deal with them right now. We are very busy taking care of the present crisis. You can tell me lat…" "But , the thing I'm about to say is about the crisis," Sheila said, interrupting his monologue, "it's… it's my fault. I mean, I m…made a potion but it went wrong. I… I forgot to clean up…" Sheila started stammering and her face drained of all colour as she saw face, which looked as if it would explode. "YOU WHAT!" he screamed. Sheila felt like sinking through the floor. "Give me strength," moaned, as he put his hands on his head.
"I should have known that it was your doing," he continued angrily, "Really Sheila I expected better of you, but you are becoming worse with age. You are a brilliant witch but why are you so forgetful? What about that owl of yours? Didn't he at least remind you to clean up the potion?"
"He did, but I didn't quite get it. You see I was thinking how to get it right next time," said Sheila, "I discovered what I did wrong. I didn't…"
"I am not interested in what you did wrong. I'm only interested in how you can put this mess right," said sternly. "Look Sheila, I know you're a good sort," he added kindly, "I may be angry with you but I can't help laughing at all that you do. You are so funny sometimes, always doing the wrong things then having to set them right. I don't want you to be thrown out of the Haunting Dimension, so I'll request the Mayor to wait for twenty four hours so that you can put things right. Remember Sheila only twenty four hours so you'd better get to work." hung up. "Right. We'd better get to work," said Sheila, "come on Icarus. You have to help me find a solution to this problem." Sheila walked towards the spell room. Icarus flew behind her. "You'll have to consult various spell books," said Icarus, "too bad the potion broke up into six different branches. It'll be very difficult to find a solution in only twenty four hours." Sheila gave him a Look, which made him shut up. "Thanks a lot for that piece of information." She said cuttingly, as she took out her wand. With a flick of her hand all the cupboards in the spell room burst opened and many different kinds of spell books flew out. One such book crashed into Icarus who dropped onto the floor with a loud screech. Sheila pointed her wand at all the books, which landed on the floor near the cauldron in a neat pile. "Okay, here we go," said Sheila as she put away her wand and took up the topmost book from the pile and handed another to Icarus. Both of them opened their books and started reading them quickly.
Meanwhile had told the Mayor about Sheila through the crystalphone. "So you see Mr. Mayor, she has twenty four hours to put things right. If she crosses the limit then you can do whatever you want with her." Said . "Alright Binks (cough cough) she can try," said the Mayor, between coughs, "But I won't give her a minute more (cough cough)."
The Mayor terminated the connection. "Well Sheila I hope you do find a solution, at least for your own sake." Said .
As the hours passed by Sheila became more panicked, as she was not able to get find any cure for the potion's effects. Icarus had gone out for a while to see the condition of the people in the Haunting Dimension. "Sheila, Sheila," panted Icarus as he flew in at full speed and crashed onto the huge clock present at the corner of the spell room. "Ow! My head," he moaned, rubbing his forehead with his wings. "Sheila you'll never believe what's going on," he said as he slowly made his way to Sheila. "What?" said Sheila, as she feverishly scanned a book, "what's happened?" Icarus flew onto her shoulder and started telling her what he had seen. "All the people are looking miserable and their constant coughing, sneezing, sniffing, moaning is causing such a din that it enough to give an unaffected person a bad headache," said Icarus, " the people in the C.O.S have the worse case of Beetle-itis ever seen. The beetles coming out along with their coughs and sneezes have formed a huge cloud all around the Dimension. The sky can't be seen at all. Whatever you have to do, do it fast 'cause the people are getting annoyed and they will throw you out if you don't find a cure." "Oh Icarus! I am trying to find any spell, any potion that will cure at least one side effect but I've come across none." Said Sheila helplessly. "Sheila we have find something soon. We have only six hours left," said Icarus. "I know, I know I'm trying," said Sheila as she took up another book. Icarus flew down from her shoulder and looked through another book. Both of them searched and searched for five hours but they got nothing. Suddenly Sheila gave a small scream. The silence of the room was so intense that the scream seemed magnified and it made Icarus jump. "What?" asked Icarus, irritably. "Look at this," said Sheila joyfully, as she pushed the mouldy old book under his nose. Icarus read what she was showing him and gave a hoot of delight. "Of Course! If we make a potion by adding the same ingredients in the reverse order and cast a spell for its fast diffusion throughout the affected areas then may be it will cancel the formers effect," said Icarus, "How come I didn't realise it before? It's one of the oldest remedies for any spell or potion gone wrong."
"We must get to work immediately," said Sheila as she magically lighted a fire under her cauldron and started adding all the ingredients in the reverse order with Icarus' help. For once Sheila didn't forget anything. Once all the ingredients were added, Sheila cast a spell for the potion to simmer quickly.
The potion attained a brilliant golden colour. "Hurry Sheila. We don't have much time left." Said Icarus absolutely panic-stricken. Sheila took out her wand and waved it over the potion and chanted a spell.
"Potion so brilliantly golden,
Before changing to solid from molten,
Turn into a gas,
So that you can pass,
Through the smallest hole,
Between the largest poles,
To cure the people of their ailments,
Divide into six branches and go fast,
To those affected places,
And make those side effects past."
The potion instantly started bubbling and frothing and then turned into a fine golden vapour, which divided into six branches and floated away. Sheila, completely exhausted, collapsed and fainted.
The six branches of the new potion flew to the different affected areas of the Haunting dimension. Almost immediately the effects of the former potion stopped and the people felt better. The beetles popped and disappeared in smoke and the sun was visible again for it was already morning. The Haunted Express team and the H.D.B.N team gave live updates on the sudden disappearance of the symptoms. The Mayor stopped coughing and gave a speech to the people in which he praised Sheila. was delighted and went to Sheila's house to visit her. Sheila was advised complete bed rest for three days by (who was a big black mite and had somehow acquired a degree in medicine, but was a good doctor who got hundred percent results). The people forgot their anger on Sheila and when she got up from bed and made her public appearance at the C.W.A. square she got a huge three cheers from the people. Icarus was also congratulated for helping Sheila find a cure. Sheila having learnt her lesson, made a promise to herself that she would never forget anything in her life. True to her word she hasn't forgotten a thing till date.