Tuesday Obituary: The Witch

Tuesday Obituary: The Witch

by Sahar Tavakoli

The Witch has died on an unspecified date in the Hyborian Age. Born on the supercontinent some time between 14,000 and 10,000 BCE, it is unclear if she went by any other name.

Not very much is known about The Witch and, to be honest, one suspects she wanted things that way. Why else would she take up residence in a stone cabin in the semi-arid steppes located between Isolation and Nowhere? It’s possible that she wasn’t even a witch. I mean, one rarely meets a Chandler who sells boating supplies. Perhaps she’d been Christened* ‘The’. Maybe ‘Witch’ was her family name. What can be said with certainty is this: She was a collector of wolf pelts, using them to line the floor of her home and fashioning them into at least one mullet skirt. She knew how to start a fire and how to do a smokey eye.

In 1976, she’d feature on the cover art of Jefferson Starship’s third studio album, Spitfire. Captured in Shusei Nagaoka’s signature neons, she sat atop a dragon conjured out of the saucer of her opium pipe. When she’d taken up this habit is unclear but, considering the events that marked the end of her life, it is possible that her dealings with Aunti Emma were purely therapeutic.

(Cassandra Gava is alive and well)

In 2019, Don Holloway, author, rapier swordsman, and 811 times Yelp responder wrote “The character, called simply ‘Witch,’ served as a foreshadowing element”.** So much is left incomplete: her full name, an explanation of what is what that she ostensibly foretold, whether her foreshadowing was prophetic, symbolic, or evocative. Half-messages not only defined her life, they also lured her to her death. Leaning on the doorframe of her cabin on that last evening of her life, she offered shelter to a stranger. “There’s warmth and fire. Do you not wish to warm yourself by my fire?” she asked. “They said you would come. From the north: a man of great strength”.

They weren’t wrong, he’d come from that general direction and he was absolutely stacked. Where the message had cut off early was that this man would also take her life. His name was Conan the Barbarian but perhaps it ought to have been Conan the Brute. In the midst of passion he would throw her into that fire she’d so generously offered him not so long before. Her soul, furious that her body had been incinerated before climax, slammed itself against the walls of her home, breaking clay pots and wooden furniture before streaming out the door and into some great eternity.

The Witch is survived the camel that Conan punches in the face a few scenes later,*** and by Neil Young who may want to reconsider whether burning out is really all that preferable to fading away.

*Or Crommed


**I thought he’d killed it but it makes a reprisal in Conan the Destroyer.

Sahar Tavakoli writes The Stopgap’s late news (10 letters). 

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