13 - Black Magic Grandma

A pair of empty-nesters get into black magic and witchcraft as a way to pass the time; but when they accidentally curse a neighbor to death, they have to find a way to break the curse before it can come to pass.

Janet Schmidt, 65, lives in Florida with her husband, Humphrey. They moved to Florida a couple years ago, and are now a thousand miles from their nearest child, which neither of them is too pleased about - though their kids seem pretty happy about it. Their life is boredom; neither of them has any interesting hobbies, and they don’t like their neighbors. In fact, they kind of hate them; the only entertainment in their life comes from getting in arguments with the Bakers, who live next door.

On her birthday, Janet rummages through some boxes that they still haven’t unpacked, looking for a particular recipe book. She can’t find it, but she does find a spellbook that belonged to her grandmother - a witch. She shows it to Humphrey, and they decide to try out a Withering Curse on the Bakers’ prize rosebush. It works beautifully.

They decide to place a Curse of Decay on the Bakers’ entire lot, scouring it clean of all plant life. But that curse doesn’t work. They’re disappointed, so they try again. And again. And again. It keeps not working. Then Humphrey realizes two of the pages got stuck together, and they were casting the wrong spell: they were casting the Curse of Painful Death by Hideous Boils on the Bakers. And they just did it five times over.

They may not like the Bakers - they may actually hate them - but when Janet and Humphrey see the Bakers developing sores, they know they have to undo the curse. But, they can’t find the countercurse.

They go to a local witchery store and buy a talking disembodied head named Quasimodo. Quasimodo was supposedly a great wizard in his day, and he assures them he can talk them through magic - instruct them on the nuances, even provide a list of many spells and rituals from memory. Quasimodo isn't sure they can undo the curse, but he has some ideas.

Immediately after getting home with Quasimodo, there’s a knock at the door; it’s an Inquisitor named Morton. He’s sensed death magic in the area, and knows Janet’s grandmother was a witch; he’s curious if she’s been around. Janet assures him she’s dead, but he just shrugs. He warns that if he finds out they’re hiding her, they’ll get the same punishment for death magic that she does. They ask what the punishment is, and as he relays the grisly details, they kind of wish they hadn't.

Janet and Humphrey beg Quasimodo to tell them the counter-curse, but he says there isn’t one, not really. They refuse to accept that until he gives them an object lesson on how much easier it is to tear buildings down than build them up; he compares the curses they cast to tearing the Bakers’ health down, and says it'll be terribly difficult to build it back up. He says it’d be pretty easy to fix with some human sacrifices, but they’re not willing to go that far.

He’s not completely out of ideas, but the best alternative spells he does know will require them to make physical contact with the Bakers. They try to prepare those spells, but the Bakers find them creeping around their house and call the cops. They barely avoid a restraining order, but they do manage to collect some hair samples.

They start working on some magic rituals to at least slow their curses. Inquisitor Morton shows up at their house again, right in the middle of the biggest, most involved ritual. They have to hastily cover it up, and they say they were just having some trouble baking. Well, okay, a lot of trouble baking. They're getting old, maybe they should be in a home, you know.

They manage to get him to leave, but he’s still a little suspicious. He tells them before he leaves that they should visit the Bakers and say goodbye, because they won’t be around much longer. He also warns that before the Bakers buy the farm, the Inquisitors are going to do a backtracking of the curse that's been laid on them, hunting down the source of the curse.

Janet and Humphrey are out of time and out of options. They discuss it each other, and decide to move the curse to themselves - basically using themselves as human sacrifices. Quasimodo reluctantly coaches them through the process. He makes some alterations to the ritual which involves them eating a live spider or a live bat - Humphrey chooses bat, which Quasimodo recommended, but Janet can’t do it and eats a spider. At the end of the ritual, they start developing all the sores and sicknesses that the Bakers had.

When the Inquisitors show up at the Bakers, the Janet and Humphrey peek through their windows. They see the Inquisitors be thoroughly frustrated, and their leader chastises Morton for bringing them all here when there wasn’t any black magic around. They leave.

Janet and Humphrey's illness progresses rapidly. Quasimodo teaches them some spells that can ease their pain, but they don’t help much. They’re on the cusp of hopelessness when Inquisitor Morton shows up to apologize. When he sees the sorry state they’re in, he thinks they were always the target of the black magic, and assures them that the Inquisitors have ways to break curses like this. He takes them in.

The Inquisitors examine them, and are astonished at the hatred that went into the spell. They say the curse is nigh-unbreakable due to the hatred poured into it, and ask who could’ve hated them so much to perform a curse like this. With nothing left to lose, they explain the whole story. The Inquisitors are kind of pissed, kind of amused, but also impressed that they took the curses upon themselves rather than let the Bakers suffer. Morton tells them that they’ll have to be executed, but that’s okay, because execution is the only way to break the curse. He promises their deaths will be swift.

They’re given an official send-off, and the inquisitors chop off their heads. But their heads don’t die. Instead, Janet’s neck sprouts big old nasty spider legs, and Humphrey’s ears turn into bat wings, and they crawl and fly away, laughing.