James had been tattooing for eighteen years.
He was one of those punk kids who had started tattooing stick-and-pokes out of his college dorm before realising that he really liked it and had dropped out of college to pursue
an apprenticeship. He had, of course, been too embarrassed to say he had been doing stick-and-pokes for many of his late teens and early 20’s but that is besides the point.
He got to do what he loved.
James had two things going for him: one was the tattoos, the other was more occult themed. He was a witch. Not one of the fake kinds either.
He had actual magic powers and came from a long line of women and men who all had various gifts of the same sort.
James never had people over to his cramped apartment as it was overflowing with magical items and of course his familiars: a black cat named Horatio and a raven named Montague.
One day, a woman came into the tattoo parlour looking for a large piece to cover her back.
She seemed embarrassed when she asked about it too, wondering aloud if she could have a private consultation. James accepted the challenge and they retired to a room in the back.
There she introduced herself as Luna and explained her circumstances. Her back was entirely burned scar tissue and although it had healed well, she still felt it was unsightly.
James did not pry into the causes of the scar, but upon noticing the pentacle around Luna’s neck, he instead asked if she practised magic. Her eyes widened, and she nodded.
Then he asked if she would be open to perhaps using healing magic on her back. He clarified that it would not be enough to heal the scars, but would make tattooing over them much easier.
She agreed and laid across the tattoo table. James fetched his emergency supplies from his backpack and set about creating a salve. He spoke words into the potion and applied it to her back.
The salve glowed ever so slightly blue. Luna sighed as the scars healed, exclaiming that it tingled. James assured her that it was supposed to feel like that, and that it was working.
Eventually, the glowing stopped and the scars had lessened. James asked her to come in the following day so they could discuss the tattoos more.
Over the next week they met regularly for sessions. The tattoo was ambitious and expensive but Luna did not mind. She said it would be worth it.
When the tattoo neared completion, James began to notice strange things about it. The tattoo was a shifting its self around, as though it was animated.
The tattoo was a complex organization of puzzle pieces, fruit, stars, and centered on her back was a snake eating itself, but the snake had moved.
When James placed the tattoo needle on Luna’s skin, the snake recoiled from its tip. James gasped and Luna looked bewildered, twisting on the table.
James explained what had happened and Luna’s eyes widened. She rushed to the full length mirror and held up the hand-held one to look.
Sure enough, the snake continued to twist, the stars twinkled, and one of the fruits, an apple, appeared to be eaten by an invisible mouth before reappearing again.
Luna asked why it was happening. James was not sure, but he guessed it was the magic he had infused into her scars. She was entranced by the movements of the tattoos.
The snake slithered in a circle, mouth still on its tail. The stars pulsed with life.
The puzzle pieces pieced themselves together before scattering again yet when another one of the artists opened the door to their private room to tell them that the parlour was closing soon,
the tattoos stopped. Luna and James looked at each other in surprise. When the other artist left, as James suspected, the tattoos began to move once again.
Luna laughed and wiped her eyes, saying that she was happy now that she was over the initial shock. She said that her back was once an embarrassment and now it was enchanted.