Hetty Rae stacked the black leather bound volumes in the centre of the chalk-drawn circle. The candlelight glinted on their gold leaf titles. Advanced Spellcasting for Witchlings. Earth, Wind & Fire - A Musical Guide to Magic. 101 Essential Money $pells. Hex Appeal - A Guide to Love & Curses. They were just the volumes she could see. She pushed her hands through her tangled mass of curls and sighed. The black cat on the dresser tutted.
"It's no good, Ripley. There's no way I can learn all of this by tomorrow," said Hetty. She gestured to the small mountain of books.
The cat twitched its tail and wrinkled its nose.
"Don't look at me like that! I did try, but I just had too many distractions. Do you know how many Spellville game requests I get every day?"
Ripley jumped off the dresser and stalked out of the room. Hetty scowled at the retreating cat and returned her attention to the print out in her hand. The circle now drawn, she just needed to light the quarter candles.
“Iridio!” She flicked her wand at the Earth candle at the north point of the circle. Sparks sputtered and fizzed from the tip of the wand, spraying the floor with a shower of iridescent specks.
Hetty threw her wand onto her bed and dropped to her hands and knees. She crawled around the circle, lighting each candle with a match. She glared at the wand, cursing the sticky tape holding both ends together.
“Good job I don’t need that useless thing for this spell,” she muttered.
The candles lit, Hetty snapped off the overhead light and stepped into the circle. She consulted the print-out once more and drew a symbol in the air above the books, careful to follow the design on the paper. Hetty cleared her throat and read the words.
“Avicus, avirum, libri gruder,
Toeticus, toetivum, libri ruber!”
The candles flared red, and went out. Hetty felt her way across the room, her foot connecting with both the pile of books and a candle. She fumbled on the wall for the switch. Light flooded the room.
Hetty gasped. One candle was on its side in a pool of rapidly hardening wax. The books lay in a tumble in the circle, their leather bound covers now scarlet. Hetty snatched up the top volume to find all of the pages were now crimson, their barely discernible text now maroon.
The door opened and Hetty’s roommate walked in. Sassy Fae cradled Ripley in her arms. Hetty pulled a face at the cat’s smug expression.
“Harriet! You’re supposed to be revising! What on earth happened?” asked Sassy. She surveyed the toppled pile of bright red books.
“I did a spell...it went a bit wrong.”
Hetty handed over the print out. Sassy raised an eyebrow.
"Where did you get this spell?" she asked.
"Witchipedia." Hetty dropped her gaze to the floor.
"Oh you little idiot - I'm guessing you didn't run it through the spell checker?"
“Ruder means red as in colour, not read as in ‘read the book and learned every word because she didn’t revise’!”
Hetty sighed and sat on the floor at the foot of her bed. She hauled the nearest book into her lap and flipped it open. She squinted to read the dark red text against the bright red page.
“What are you doing?” asked Sassy.
“I’ve got an exam tomorrow, don’t I? Seems these books aren’t going to be read by themselves.”