The Bitch was bent. The plan she had so carefully conspired to put in place had backfired and now she was desperately seeking to control the damage that could spiral to engulf her. Meanwhile, the Wimp was sulking in his corner thinking of lost opportunities and wondering why he was feeling so depressed. It wasn’t as if his endeavours to attain fulfillment were exactly unsuccessful, as he had achieved a whole lot with his inventions. The problem was, for him, the lack of appreciation and the downright dearth of admirers that he so dearly craved.

They made a seriously odd couple – she being squat, bulky and with no attractive physical features, and he being the personification of the nerdy wimp and looking the part as well. They had problems hooking up with most folk they found to be attractive mainly because of their looks for one thing, and also due to the major psychological problems they had with their lack of self-esteem, which penetrated their pretense to the contrary.

The Bitch, also known as Elenore to her circle, practiced witchcraft in her spare time after having followed a correspondence course she chanced upon whilst surfing the net for charms. She even bought herself a raven and called it Edgar, after her favourite author, and spent much time trying to teach it the ‘Nevermore’ poem – one his best known, and one of her favourites. Her experiments with casting spells had mixed results – for instance, the Weight-loss Spell she picked off some Internet ‘Witchcraft and Magick Spells’ site only seemed to work backwards, as she had a sudden increase in weight for no apparent reason. Then there were the Spells for Bad Dreams and the Job Spells that seemed to work fairly well, but the Lesbian Love Spell she was paid to cast for the friend of a friend had no effect whatsoever. Her virtual instructor, however, let her know in no uncertain terms that her rate of success depended on her entering the optimum state of mind as dictated by the instructions she had to follow, the degree of her immersion in the process, and on the accuracy of her actions whilst performing the motions described. But she would persevere until she could do what it took to turn her from what she looked like, to something she figured would make her irresistible.

The Wimp, on the other hand, was infatuated with his own prowess at assimilating information and dispensing it with his added twist to it so that it would be both attractive, as well as informative without being too obviously misleading. The few folk he knew that were attracted to his works and sought him out looked to him as a kind of Barnaby Rudge (“three-fifths of him genius and two-fifths sheer fudge“) type of ‘guru’, finding his sharp sense of humour and quick wit right up their alleys. The ones that questioned his logic were quickly dispensed of for being blasphemers and banished from the little band of followers he had. Known to them as The Wiz, he held virtual court frequently, summoning the members at regular intervals to display his latest observations on cybernetics and the opportunities it presented to further their cause.

They had moved in together recently, figuring it would kill many birds with just the one action, and it had seemed to work. He was particularly fond of that special dish she turned out for him – his favourite pope’s nose curried in garlic, but the only thing that was driving him round the bend was the raven, when it wasn’t caged and flew around the room leaving lumps of raven-shit where it pleased. That, and the raucous squawking it did trying to learn the ‘Nevermore’ poem Elenore was teaching it, made things a bit stressful for The Wiz, but he figured that once the raven did learn it, as Elenore predicted, half the battle would be won as far as the success of her spells were concerned. And then, she told him, they would both look as attractive as they wanted to. However, he thought to himself, if the pesky bird failed, he would banish it to the Plutonian Shore.

Elenore’s most recent effort had been, she thought to herself, a flash of genius. She had carefully planned a series of spells to act sequentially on a few of her chosen subjects so that their desirable qualities would be exchanged with her undesirable ones. Her virtual guru had warned her of the dangers of such spells, how results could reverse if the actions and ingredients were not absolutely perfect. However, she had enough faith in her abilities to follow instructions perfectly, so her confidence was not dented in the least. And so she went ahead with it. To make matters even more opportune, the raven had finally mastered the poem and could now squawk it at will – a definite plus. The Wiz was also pretty perked about this, and so she went ahead with the complicated process.

It wasn’t easy for her to get the bits and pieces that were very personal to the subjects – stuff like strands of their hair, nail clippings, clothing like hankies or underwear that would bear traces of secretions. But get them she did – with a little help from The Wiz. And so it began – the rather complex process that demanded meticulous attention to detail and proper procedure, until finally, it was done. The raven played its part as well, so she expected nothing less than total success – and now all she had to do was wait. Her virtual instructor told her that these sorts of spells took time to work and for the results to manifest, so she was patient.

The Wiz hadn’t paid much attention to the goings on, being busy with his creation, answering the irritating queries from his clients and coping with the splatters of raven shit that was slowly driving him bats.

It took a whole week for Elenore to figure out that something wasn’t quite right. She found that large clumps of her hair were falling off – and a bit later, The Wiz started answering questions that she never even asked. However, it was only when the raven started reciting the ‘Nevermore’ poem backwards that she knew something had gone horribly wrong. Her virtual instructor suggested a series of steps to neutralize what could have gone wrong and Elenore hurriedly put those into action.

The Wiz had taken to babbling incoherently in between periods of absolute lucidity and didn’t even realize there was anything amiss. Elenore checked out the wigs on the Net, as her hair was in very bad shape and showed no signs of regrowth. The steps she had taken to counter the effects of the previous ones would take time to work, her virtual instructor told her, and the signs would be unmistakable.

And as they waited for better times, the raven kept them occupied with her favourite poem – recited backwards.