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April Fool's Day 2021 - It's Never Too Late To Be An April's Fool by Joey Payne (PG)

Out of all of the Holiday Witches none was more feared, more reviled, more gossiped about than the Witch of Fools Day, with her golden locks that twisted from her scalp like pale snakes, and her ice blue eyes that pierced the soul of anyone she gazed upon. It was said that her mind was a maze of madness created by the Trial of Pranks that she endured to achieve her position. But gossip as they might there was not a Holiday Witch that would ever challenge Mistress Tiffany Cinnamon Brightbolt of the Massachusetts Brightbolts, though the family has denied any relation to her.

While it is the sacred duty of every witch in the coven to make their assigned holiday magical, and to keep excitement about it going year round, Mistress Tiffany takes it to a whole different level. None in the Coven of Holidays know what the Trial of Pranks is except the Keepers of the Day of Fools but rumors abound. It is said aspirants are put into a maze and are forced to live there for a year. Inside the maze are constant pranks that grow more and more vicious as the year grows longer. None understand why the witches of Fools Day undergo this torment. None seek it except the Brightbolt family. The Brightbolt family had always been the Keepers of Fools Day. The first female born was always destined to follow in the path of her mother or aunt or grandmother and in very rare cases their brother or father or uncle but that is a tale for another time.

Before her trials Tiffany was a bubbly young lass full of curiosity and wonder. She loved fluffy things, unicorns, candy, and pink princess dresses. Like all Brightbolts jokes came naturally to Tiffany and she would often gather the family together for joke nights and they would laugh and laugh. After the trials Tiffany still liked all those things but something was different. Her jokes took a darker turn and her timing was forever off. Her pranks grew more terrifying the culmination of which ended with the Brightbolt family estate ablaze as Tiffany stood in the courtyard screaming “Am I funny yet Mother? Am I funny enough yet?!” as she threw gasoline-filled balloons at the fleeing servants. It was very soon after that Tiffany was sent for her formal training with the coven.

The Academy Of Holidays was a very strict place with very strict teachers. What they show you in cartoons and movies – that fanciful happy magic – is a load of hooey. The truth of the matter is you have a group of moody and anxious teenagers with the ability to alter reality that grows stronger as their chosen holiday approaches, and if they are not trained in how to control that power then they just might wind up cracking the earth in half. That training begins with a strict regiment of rules and consequences for breaking those rules. Future coven elders will agree this did nothing to help the Tiffany situation and hindsight being 20/20 they actually gave her a challenge to rail against.

Tiffany began referring to herself in the third person. She drove three roommates insane. She would have been spellbound and exiled from the coven except for the very real situation that no one else was willing to go through the trials. The holiday had chosen her just like her aunt before her, and her aunt was old and tired –she was so old her first prank was said to be Mount Vesuvius & Pompeii – and she needed to retire. Knowing this, the elders made the only decision that they could, even though they knew the only way a witch could be removed from her holiday after the coronation was death or the witch had to willingly step down. This actually caused something of a split within the coven. There were those who felt that letting Tiffany loose on the world would be a crime against humanity – that it would be a stain on the Academy – which is what brings us to our present situation.

As history creeps forwards sometimes holidays fade from the memories of humans. Traditions change, new rulers come into power and sometimes holidays are outright banned. Witches who lose their holidays are sometimes retrained and transferred or, if they choose, they would be placed as trainers in the Academy. And even though there is officially no loss of honor or standing (unless it can be shown that the holiday was lost because of the witches own incompetence) witches who lose their holiday switch their obsession to their new found occupation. Thus was the story of the Aveline sisters. Lucie Aveline, former witch of The Feast of the Ass. And Zoe Aveline, Former witch of Bals Des Victimes. For years they were known as the strictest of teachers at the Academy, so naturally they slammed headlong into Tiffany.

Their disdain for each other grew into a bitter rivalry, then into outright hatred. Now it is an almost year-round battle. It all began with a simple prank where Tiffany changed Zoe's hair to spaghetti. A simple spell of alteration that would have been easy to reverse and written off as the future Witch of Fools Day stretching her magic wings. However in Tiffany fashion she took it a step too far and as Zoe slept, Tiffany snuck into her room and ate her spaghetti hair. No one ever figured out the strange ritual that was caused with the eating of the hair, some unknowable prank magic that only the insane can fathom. But ever since that day Zoe’s hair would grown like Play-Doh being pushed through a cheese grater and smelled constantly of Parmesan. No one knows what slight Zoe had inflicted upon Tiffany for her to take such drastic measures but the gauntlet had been thrown down and the sisters had found a new focus for their obsession.

When Tiffany left the Academy of Holidays it was with no fanfare. She had her diploma pushed into her hands as she was dragged to the front door and thrown out. In protest of her “graduation” Zoe and Lucie Aveline gave up their Academy positions and became witches of nomadic holidays. They would never again have the full power of a Holiday Witch. Their powers would change with the force of the nearest holiday's pull since they had denied a set holiday to tie their power to a single festival. That feeling mortals get sometimes where they think of a random holiday out of the blue and smile is a sign that a nomadic Holiday Witch has passed nearby. And though their power had been diminished they dedicated their lives to keeping Tiffany in line. They would never be allowed to spellbind her and leave her holiday to wither and die without a witch to empower it, but they could do their utmost to foul her work at every turn.

And this was the story that Lucie reminded her sister of as they hung upside down above the latest death trap Tiffany had devised. “This is all your fault,” Lucie said in the sort of matter-of-fact fashion that lay nerves bare. “You never got over the hair cheese thing,” she finished with a huff, the fumes from the burbling acid pit they hung over stinging her eyes. Deciding she had not vented her annoyance enough, Lucie cut Zoe off before she had a chance to reply. “All we had to do was observe her. Figure out what madness she has decided to wreak this year. But that was not enough for you. You had to be the hero-” Zoe cut in angrily “She was taking parts out of planes so they would fall out of the sky! What on Earth did you expect me to do? Let it happen?” Zoe spat. Lucie sighed as her sister railed. She knew because of the holiday Zoe used to oversee that she had a dislike of the death of mundanes. Year after year of hearing stories of the horror times, the beheadings and the blood made her protective of the handful that celebrated La Bals Des Victimes. Lucie had made the conscious decision to focus on support for her sister, even in her hatred of Tiffany. Now that support had led to them being hung upside down over a vat of acid as they squabbled like school girls. Lucie realized that if they were going to live through this it was going to be up to her to figure a way out.

As she looked around for something to help them escape a noise caught Lucie's attention. The low clump-clump of heavy boot heels coming closer. She swung her body to twist the chains so she could look around at the opening door, the vapors from the bubbling acid twirling around her and making her eyes water. As she blinked away the tears a figure emerged through her watery gaze. Even before she could make out who it was her sister’s sudden explosion of profanities left no doubt that it was Tiffany. After months of tracking her across 12 countries, after being one step behind as her pranks drove the mundanes to war, after all of the blood ,why would she pick this moment to show herself?

“Why now?” Lucie inquired “You had us dead to rights in Syria back in ‘83. Why didn't you just let the Syrians kill us? Why now?” Tiffany's hand slowly, shakily rose to the bridge of her nose and rubbed it like the question had caused her physical pain. “Because, Lucie, with an I-E, it wasn't funny! There is no joke that ends with ‘and the Syrians shot them to death’ is there? And if the two of you didn't suck at your job of keeping me in line then I wouldn't have had to kill all those people in ‘97. But you got made by MI-6 so I had to pull that subway thing to throw them off your trail just to keep coven secrets. So...ya know...who’s the real holiday witch with a purpose and who are the old sisters who will forever be one step behind Mistress Tiffany the ever-hot?” Zoe growled from the pit of her hate. “Enough prattle” she spat. “We know how this works, Tiffany. We know you won't kill us because there is no one around to appreciate your victory. So why don't you just go ahead and tell us your plan so we can get on with this?” Tiffany stood there for a long moment waiting on Zoe to slowly spin back around and catch her eye. She had been working on her timing lately and forced herself not to tap her foot impatiently. Her psychic had told her that giving an air of professionalism and patience would be very appreciated by others and she really wanted the people who lived to worship her as a Goddess and liking her was the first step. But these sisters she thought...these damned sisters had to be taught a lesson. Tiffany let Zoe have a full rotation to anticipate the answer to the question to her question. As their eyes fully locked, Tiffany simply said “No” before pulling the lever and plunging both sisters head first into the vats.

The burning was instantaneous. Lucie fought the urge to scream and her eyes began to burn out of her head. Both sisters began to flail and struggle as they felt their skin become fire. Tiffany's combat boots clumped against the floor and the ruffles of her pink princess dress floofed in the air as she jumped up and down laughing at the sisters misery. “It’s not acid!” she shouted, pointing. “It's ghost pepper juice!” Her laughter turned into a low, guttural chuckle and she whispered “April's Fools” in a little girls voice. She watched the sisters thrash and struggle for a couple more minutes before growing bored of the spectacle. She knew once they got the pain under control that even with their minor magics they should be able to get out of this. Tiffany stood up with a huff and screamed into the vats “You two need to work on your act. Next time try and keep Tiffany entertained. I’m heading to Finland for a thing. Tiffany hopes you do better next time. Tiffany out!” And with that the young Holiday Witch, the Mistress of Fools, took her leave to the sound of the gurgling screams of her haters. To hell with Conan, she thought, this is what was best in life.

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