The Well of Malevolent Evil, by Bananamondaes.
“They all knew it was there. The well of Malevolent Evil. All the villagers steered clear of it. The local birds refused to perch on it. Flowers refused to grow near it. And yet, there it stood, in the midst of the Darewood common, a mere stone’s throw from the bakers, a hop skip and jump to Jim’s useful shop of odds and sods. There it was. Defiant in the daisies of Darewood common. The well of Malevolent Evil.
If anything went wrong in the village, if you got a flat tire, or it rained too much or the bread didn’t rise, everyone said it was due to the well of malevolent evil.
It had been pronounced evil some time in the 17th century and no one had thought to question it. All except, Felicity Featherby.
Felicity was not afraid of wells and not even a bit of afraid of evil. In fact, she was the antithesis of evil. She lived in the rectory cottage with her mum the Revered Featherby. She sang in the choir and did good deeds every Sunday. She read romantic novels and loved grey rainy days and made her mum smile when she was sad. Every day on the way to school she would walk right past the well and the barbed wire that surrounded it, whistling her favourite tune, “Wouldn’t it be Nice” by the Beach Boys.
One day in English class, Mrs Tingle set Felicity and her classmates an assignment.
“Write an essay about something in the village to present back to the rest of the class next week,” said Mrs Tingle adjusting her enormous glasses.
Everyone started talking excitedly amongst themselves about what to write about. The boys were fighting over who should write about Derek, Darewood’s policeman who thought he was Clint Eastwood and wore cowboy boots under his police uniform. The girls were torn between writing about the village’s talent show or who the most good looking boy was and why. Felicity, however, looked out the window to the well. There was nothing else she wanted to write about but the mysterious well.
The next day was Saturday, so Felicity took her notebook and marched up to the well. She studied it, she drew it, she made a crayon rubbing of its stone sides. Then plucking up all her courage she stared right over the side into the heart of the well. It was pitch black. She threw a penny into it to see how long it would take to splosh.
“Hmmm,” said Felicity.
“You sound disappointed,” said the well.
“I am rather,” Felicity replied.
“Do tell me why?”
“I was expecting something more.”
“Everyone always does,” said the well, sadly. “Would you have liked black smoke or a noxious gas, or perhaps a swirling vortex of insanity.”
“That seems a bit show-offy. I’m Felicity.”
“I’m writing my presentation on you.”
There was a long pause. The well was taken a-back. Although it didn’t show it.
“Would you like to sit on my side? I can hear you better then.”
Felicity perched on the well, her back to its wooden beans.
“Why are you writing about me?”
“Because they say you are a well of malevolent evil.”
“I see,” said the well. “And do you also think I am a well of malevolent evil?”
“I don’t really judge people or wells. Plus I don’t think anyone can be pure evil.”
“How old are you Felicity?”
“Thirteen, nearly fourteen.”
“You sound wise beyond your years.”
“I don’t really know what that means,” replied Felicity.
“It means that your soul has been recycled many times. You have been in this world many times.”
“Oh,” said Felicity. She didn’t know whether that was a good thing or not.
“Can I ask you some personal questions?”
“I like you immensely Felicity. Yes, you may ask me some personal questions.”
“Why are you a well of malevolent evil?”
“That’s a very good question Felicity. I’m glad you started with that, rather than go for the obvious or more boring background questions. It shows great strength of character.” Felicity blushed. “I used to be a wishing well, but I wasn’t able to make wishes come true. I am full of the wishes of thousands of broken hearts, and dreams that have not come true. I am a well of sadness. I have died every day for a thousand years because I could not make anyone’s dream come true. How could I not be anything but a well of despair. After time, that becomes hate, and eventually evil. Which is the state you now find me in.”
“You don’t seem evil?”
The well remained silent for a moment, before saying, “do you see that daisy?”
Felicity looked down. There was one tiny daisy with pink tips about a metre away from the well. It was the only one that had dared to come so close and was struggling to get a tiny millimetre of sunshine She watched as it slowly turned brown and shriveled.
“There you go. Evil,” said the well.
“Hmm. That’s more cruel than evil. And anyway, I don’t like daisies, so you were doing me a favour. What if I had wished for that daisy to disappear. You would have just made it come true.”
The well laughed so hard its stone edges shook.
“Do you have a wish, Felicity?”
“No. No wishes for me. I’m quite happy already. And if I wasn’t then I’d just go and do something about it.”
The well laughed again.
“There you go. If you were really evil, you wouldn’t have laughed twice now. And even if you were evil, you would have used an evil laugh. That one certainly wasn’t.”
“Interesting and unusual logic. You are very clever Felicity. I like you even more. Will you come back tomorrow?”
“Of course,” said Felicity. “I have a whole presentation to write and we aren’t proper friends yet.”
Every day that week after school, Felicity came and spoke to the well. On Monday she sang silly songs about cats with fleas and vacuum cleaners and Revolting Rhymes and played her favourite Beach Boys songs to him. The well told her sad stories of unhappy people that had thrown pennies into it.
On Tuesday she read him classic love stories, Romeo and Juliet, Heloise and Abelard, and some Pride and Prejudice. The well told her countless stories of people wishing to be with people who didn’t love them.
On Wednesday, she told him about great inspirational adventurers and explorers. She told him how she had explored the dark woods around Darewood all on her own. The well told her about all the curious little boys who had slipped and fell into him, their mothers wishing to find them again.
On Thursday she fed the well all her favourite foods. Roast chicken, mashed potato and treacle scones with clotted cream. The well liked the treacle and asked for more.
“I’ve never heard of treacle before. So dark, black and evil in appearance, yet so sweet and delicious.”
“Appearances are deceptive,” replied Felicity, “a bit like a well of malevolent evil.”
On Friday she read him fairy tales featuring wells, the Dormouse’s Treacle well from Alice and Wonderland and even a bit of H.G.Wells. She told him how the word treacle actually came from the ancient word ‘treat-all’ and how people believed that treacle wells could cure them.
“I admire your persistence Felicity. Do you believe you have cured me of evil?”
“I hope so,” she said. “You are just a well, it’s not your fault you couldn’t make wishes come true. You shouldn’t blame yourself. They should have made themselves happy.”
The well sighed a deep sigh.
“If I had a heart, Felicity, I think it would be yours by now.”
On Saturday, for the first time in her life, she felt desperately sad. She did not visit the well that day and the ground around it looked darker than usual.
That night, it rained and rained and rained. The crops were waterlogged and the banks of the river burst. The village had the worst flooding in years. And of course the well was blamed.
Everything would have gone on as normal in Darewood if it wasn’t for Jim and Derek the policeman getting a bit tipsy in the local pub that evening. Things got heated, and the well was brought up. Soon an angry mob was making its way across the sodden common brandishing shovels and torches intending to dig the well up and fill it in.
Felicity was already in bed, but something made her wake up with a jolt. Looking out the window she saw the mob and their torches. She grabbed her wellies and rain coat and ran towards the well.
The mob was shouting and chanting at the well. “Let’s dig it up,” said one. “Let’s blow it up,” said a very drunk Derek. “Let’s get rid of the evil once and for all.”
“Its not evil,” shouted Felicity at the top of her voice. But the mob was too loud, so she pushed her way through and climbed up onto the well’s sides.
“ITS NOT EVIL”, she shouted again. “I will jump in this well and show you.”
“What are you doing Felicity?” said the well.
“I’m protecting you.”
“Because that’s my wish. And I’m going to throw myself in.”
“If you jump you’ll die. I’m over 100 feet deep and my water is black like tar and will fill your lungs and suffocate you. You cannot do this.”
“I trust you,” Felicity said.
“You’re willing to die for me?”
“If I was evil Felicity, then stealing your heart and then robbing you of your life would be the definition of evil. Who’s to say that wasn’t my plan from the very first time we said hello.”
Felicity thought for a moment, wiping the rain from her eyelashes.
“I trust you, well. You won’t hurt me.”
Felicity turned back to the mob.
“We have thrown our hopes and dreams in here. We have put an enormous burden on it and given nothing back. This well is not evil and I will show you.”
“Wait,” cried her mother.
“Don’t worry mother, I’m not afraid to fall.”
Felicity closed her eyes, took a step backwards and fell into the well. Everyone gasped.
They all stared at the well in silence, shocked by what had just happened. After what seemed like an eternity but was really only 5 minutes, they could hear a rumbling beneath the ground. The well seemed like it was boiling. Seconds later, black goo bubbled and overflowed over its sides. A fountain of the blackness shot up out of the well, pushing little Felicity to the top, up and out of the well. She landed back on the ground completely unharmed, but a little sticky. All around her was a pool of blackness, speckled with a hundred million copper pennies.
The mob sighed with relief and her mother cried.
Derek the policeman who had got a drop of the black stuff on his hand licked it off without thinking.
“Wait” he cried. This isn’t evil water. It’s treacle.”
The mob stopped and tasted the black sticky goo. It was treacle. The well had turned itself into a real treacle well, black, sugary sweet treacle.
They forgot why they were angry and started shoveling the treacle into giant jars. They gave the hundred million pennies to Felicity for being so brave. The village became famous for its wonderful treacle tarts, scones and cakes. Felicity grew up and got married. And she looked after the well until the day she died – although it never spoke again. Her children and her children’s children also looked after the well. Today you can see a small plaque on the side that says “To my darling well, a thousands hearts will always care for you, forever. Your Felicity”.
Treacle Scone Recipe (adapted from Kirstie Allsop’s recipe)
500g self raising
50g dark brown sugar
½ tsp vanilla essence
½ tsp salt
60g butter (salted)
250ml buttermilk (you can make buttermilk with milk and the lemon juice from half a lemon)
3 tbsps treacle
1 tbsp Caol Ila whisky
1 egg beaten with a dash of water – to glaze the top of your scones.
1. Mix the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and milk powder together in a bowl.
2. Add the butter and rub into crumbs.
3. Next, add the buttermilk and vanilla essence and bring the ingredients together with a knife. Don’t work the dough too much, just enough to bring it together.
4. Put the finished dough on a floury surface and press it flat with your knuckles (do not use a rolling pin). It should be about 4cm thick.
5. Then simply cut it with a cookie cutter and put onto a greased baking tray.
6. Glaze with a bit of your beaten egg.
7. Cook your scones at about 210C or Gas Mark 7 for 20 to 25 minutes.
Uncle and the Treacle Trouble by J.P. Martin is part of a series of Uncle books. I’d never heard of them until this week – but they seem to be a wonderful combination of Roald Dahl surrealism and Babar-ness. These books are very rare however.
Check out Bella Sinclair’s short story of a treacle well here.
The Magic Treacle Jug by Enid Blyton.