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Ever since Countess Winifred Pale's appearance on Halloween, Rosemary Morgan had grown accustomed to vampires and other monsters entering her backyard via interdimensional portals. But she had never had the pleasure of meeting one Abigail Pale, stepmother to the young countess. Even without a formal introduction, Abigail's reputation preceded her, and that reputation was unmistakeable. The sway of her tipsy stagger was matched only by that of her barely contained bosom. Looking at her corsets and jewelry, her long bustles and very short skirt, Rosemary couldn't decide which side of trashy or extravagant she fell on.
Half a glass of wine swirled in Abigail's hand as she entered Rosemary's home uninvited. That's two myths dispelled,
Rosemary thought as Abigail wrestled with the sliding patio door. There's no way the one glass lasted the walk from Pale Manor to here,
Rosemary also decided. No doubt Abigail discard the bottle somewhere along the way.
"Mrs. Morgan, we need to talk." Abigail's voice was surprisingly composed.
"Rosemary, please. What seems to be the matter?"
"It's about your daughter. And her... influence
on little Winifred."
Rosemary nervously cleared her throat. There was no denying that something strange had happened to her daughter. Her waifish teenage daughter had come home from school a large, jolly, elderly woman obsessed with Christmas and baking. A witch in her own right, Rosemary vowed to find a way to reverse the bizarre yet cheery spell with no luck. It had occurred to her that the spell might have effects on people Angela came into contact with, but keeping Angela in one place was very difficult. She was quite the escape artist for her size and apparent age. She tried locking her in her room, only to find it empty with the windows still shut. She later found Angela putting lights and tinsel on the roof.
"What kind of... influence?
" Rosemary asked, poorly feigning ignorance.
"I don't know, she's just so... so... chipper! She's been prancing around the castle ensconsed in velvet, hanging garlands of popcorn, and endlessly prattling on about some Santa Claus fellow. Do you know him?"
"Um... not personally. But what makes you think this is Angela's doing?"
"Well, it's probably some human thing. I don't know, she's always hanging around ths world. She could have picked these strange habits up anywhere. She's trying to take this place over, you know. Whatever for
is beyond me. Her father's at his wit's end with this conquest business. Anyway, I'd be more concerned with your daughter if I were you. It looks like she's put on a little weight. Winifred looks so tiny next to her these days!"
"Well, you know kids at this age..." Rosemary trailed off, hoping to find the end of the conversation.
"It's probably all these snacks you leave out," Abigail said, gesturing at a tray of cookies in the living room. "You don't mind, do you? I'm a bit famished after my walk here."
The cookies were shaped like Christmas trees and gingerbread men, decorated with frosting and colored sugar. They proved to be irresistable as both Rosemary and Abigail took a bite. That's when Rosemary realized that she hadn't set those cookies out at all.
"Oh, sugar plums."
Rosemary's head begin to feel fuzzy. Butterflies filled her stomach as her vision began to sparkle like the sugary coating of the cookies. The gingerbread tree felt like it was growing in her hand. When her vision cleared, the living room loomed high above her. Abigail was happily nibbling on her gingerbread man's neck. Her clothes had completely changed. Her revealing outfit was now a long plaid dress with a black velvet top. A white ribbon was cinched high around her waist. Her wild hair was in a tight bun with a single white stripe running up it. Rosemary looked down at herself to see that her large sweater was now a sleeveless red velvet dress, adorned with white trim and little rhinestones. It made her think of snow, just as the ribbon around her waist made her think of presents.
Just then, both girls heard the faint jingling of sleigh bells. They both gasped, until they saw that it was just the ones on Angela's dress. She towered over them as they looked up at her. Her face beamed like a moon from above the tray of freshly-baked cookies in her hands.
"Have you been eating the cookies I made for the children?" Angela asked with a big smile. "Well, no matter now. Right, girls?"
"We heard the bells!" Rosemary said excitedly. "We thought it was... you know!"
"Oh, I think I do, girls." Angela said. "But you both know he won't come if you're awake! Come on, Rosie, Abby! Off to bed with you. And if you're good, you might find a surprise in the morning!"
"YAAAAAY!" Both girls shouted in unison as they scrambled upstairs.
"Oh, my! If only everyone could be this happy all the time!" Arranging the cookies on her tray, Angela knew that in time, everyone would be.