Ghost, Empty Shoes, Living Curiosities

This week the witch is living in a half-destroyed warehouse right on the edge of one of the impact craters, close enough that your phone won't stop interrupting your conversation with alerts about impending exposure. She says it's fine, though, so you just swipe them away.

The city is always a bit too aggressive about geofencing their alerts, so it's not like you're unused to being told to ignore them by people who really should know.

Besides, it's nice here. It feels abandoned. Hardly like part of the city at all. It's just comfortable.

Other than your phone, the only noises are her voice, yours, and the occasional click of spoon against teacup.

... and the soft steps of a pair of shoes wandering around the apartment, which you've been trying to ignore, but ... well, eventually it gets too much.

"So," you ask, "what's up with the shoes?"

The witch glances over at them–they're up on tiptoes in front of one of her bookshelves, the vines and flowers cascading down it fluttering gently before them.

"Oh, them? They're an experiment, sort of. Well. Not really the shoes."

"... go on."

"Yeah, uh." The witch rubs the back of her head. "It's sort of embarrassing, honestly. I was trying out a new technique for managing being this close–"

"Wait, it's not safe?"

"No! It's perfectly safe. I know the risks, I'm not stupid. But it could be safer."

"That's not the most reassuring thing you've said," you say, wondering why you didn't just suggest meeting in a cafe or something. The tea would be worse, and your conversation would have had to be more tightly circumscribed, but maybe ...

"Really, it's fine. There's just so much I could do with this space if the entire area was safe, you know?"

You really do know. The witch has never been shy about what she would do with a well-positioned parcel of land, and the city is lousy with ley-lines.

"Okay, but the shoes?"

"Oh yeah. They're, uh. So I was trying to build a filter so that I could actually get down into the crater without, uh," she waves her hand vaguely. No one likes talking about what happens to people who get too close, not even her.

"So I tested it by wrapping it around my doll–you've met her, right? I'm sure you have. Anyway, uh, it turns out that I was either a bit too aggressive or didn't manage to properly build in exceptions. I'm not really sure which."

"You made her invisible?"

"No! Just imperceptible."

You stare blankly at the witch for a moment. "Is there a difference?"

"Of course! It's, uh. Actually sort of technical." She shrugs. "It matters to me but I don't think it would to you."

"... yeah, okay," you reply. She always says something like this when she just doesn't want to explain something. "So you put the shoes on her so you'd know where she is?"

"Yeah," she says.

"It extends to anything she picks up too, and I kept on bumping into her and then forgetting what had just happened. Doesn't spread outward from her feet, though. Probably because of the planet's narrative inertia."

"Huh. Wait. Bumping in her? Like, more than once?"

"She kept on getting in my way!"

"Like, on purpose?" you ask, laughing.

The witch bristles for a moment, and then slumps back. "Mostly when I tried to take the filter off her, yeah. She likes it better this way, so we're waiting for it to run down by itself."

"That's actually sort of cute."

The witch hums in agreement. "And she's still able to do all of her tasks, so ... it doesn't really change much. And it means I don't have to give her money when she goes out to the store."

"How wicked of you!"

She smiles evilly for a moment–and then a shoe catches her in the back of her head, sending her teacup flying as she jerks in surprise. Most of it ends up on you.

A moment later, as you're still blinking in surprise, a carefully folded towel materializes in your lap.

"... yes okay I do still give her money. She doesn't like stealing, heaven knows why, no matter how many times I tell her that those corporate fucks can afford it."