The Thirteenth Boy

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
It is Halloween. A boy takes his sister trick or treating. Both of them are dressed as witches. Despite wearing a dress at the time (or perhaps because of it) the boy meets and finds romance with a girl from his school. She too is dressed as a witch. The three fake witches continue trick or treating together, until they encounter a real witch – a witch who drains the blood from living victims for her evil craft. There follows a tale of terror, death and destruction, from which only two of the three will survive.

Submitted: August 23, 2015

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Submitted: August 23, 2015

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The Thirteenth Boy

 

‘I can’t wear this!’ cried Connor Blatt as he looked aghast at the costume that his mother had laid out for him.

‘Why ever not?’ asked Mrs Blatt, genuinely surprised.

‘It’s a dress!’ wailed Connor.

‘Of course it’s a dress,’ said Mrs Blatt. ‘What did you expect a witch to wear?’

Mrs Blatt was perplexed at Connor’s outburst. It was his idea to dress up as a witch for Halloween in the first place. His sister Becky had assured her of that, so what was his problem? Perhaps he had expected a shop bought costume. Well, tough! After spending a small fortune on Becky’s costume, she wasn’t going to throw more money away on one that Connor would most likely wear only once. She was sure to find something suitable for him in her wardrobe, and so she did – well, near enough.

What she found was the ‘little black dress’ that she had worn when she was young and petite. Having grown somewhat dumpy with the passing years, she hadn’t worn it for a very long time. It had short sleeves, a high neckline and a white Peter Pan collar. It didn’t look much like a dress that a witch would wear; but it would have to do. It was the only black dress she had.

‘It’s a bit short,’ she said, ‘but you can wear some black tights under it and pretend to be a modern witch.’

‘But I don’t want to be any kind of witch,’ protested Connor.

Mrs Blatt rolled her eyes. ‘Then why did you tell Becky that you did?’

‘Becky’s a liar,’ said Connor hotly.’ I never said anything like that!’

‘Watch your tongue young man,’ said Mrs Blatt. ‘Becky’s a good girl. She would never lie to me, so don’t you start. If you’ve changed your mind about being a witch, that’s tough, but it’s too late now. There isn’t time to sort out another costume for you.’

Connor flushed and stared at the carpet. The little bitch has done it again! Mum always takes her word over mine. Now she’s got me into wearing a bloody dress!

***

Becky was Connor’s ten-year-old sister. She was such a sweet little girl. She had curly blond hair, big blue eyes, and an engaging grin that could melt the coldest heart. Everyone knew that such a child could do no wrong; but that’s where everyone was wrong. Becky was, in fact, a malicious little vixen. She thrived on Connor’s misery. When she did wrong, which was quite often, she was adept at getting him blamed for it.

Becky liked it best when she could get Connor to take the rap for a caning offence. Mrs Blatt was not a cruel woman but she had faith in the adage ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’. She took no pleasure from caning Connor – or so she said – but she at least caned him without malice. Becky, on the other hand, took malicious pleasure from each caning session. She always hoped for at least three strokes. It took that many before Connor would start to cry.

Mrs Blatt worried that Connor needed punishing so often. He just didn’t seem to learn! He had been a dear wee boy when the Blatts adopted him; but he became troublesome when they later adopted baby Becky. The Blatts assumed that Connor was jealous of Becky. They thought he was just trying to get attention. He would get over it in time, they thought, except he didn’t. Becky made sure of that. The Blatts never suspected that sweet little Becky was the real villain. Nor did they suspect that she was an impostor. She wasn’t the baby the agency had arranged for them to adopt.

***

Connor knew he was in a no win situation. He always was when Becky was involved; but he had to try and get out of this mess.

‘Why do I have to go trick or treating anyway? That’s just for kids,’ he grumbled.

‘You know very well why,’ replied Mrs Blatt. ‘I can’t let Becky go trick or treating by herself. Dad and I are busy tonight so we need you to be with her.’

 ‘I can do that without wearing a costume can’t I?’ said Connor hopefully.

‘Of course you can’t! You know I can’t abide kids who beg for treats without bothering to wear costumes.’

‘But ...’

‘No more arguments. I’m beginning to lose my patience. Now get undressed and let me help you into your costume. Then I will go and attend to Becky.’

Connor objected to wearing nylon tights, but Mrs Blatt didn’t have any woollen ones so his objection was overruled – as he knew it would be. The tights were a snug fit, and felt strangely comfortable once he got used to them. The dress was a good fit, too, which wasn’t surprising. Connor was much the same size as his mother had been before she got dumpy. A pointed hat made out of black cardboard was the only part of his costume that made him look vaguely like a witch.

Mrs Blatt stood back looked at Connor appraisingly. Without the hat, he looked just like she had when she was young, but she wisely refrained from telling him so. ‘I didn’t know you had such nice legs,’ she said.

‘Mum!’ admonished Connor.

Mrs Blatt hastily left the room.

***

Mrs Blatt returned some time later with Becky, who looked adorable in her expensively tailored witch’s costume. She wore a long black velvet dress and a black velvet cloak with a silky lining. Her legs were startlingly clad in red and white striped socks. Her new boots were adorned with large silver buckles. On her head, she wore a pointed felt hat with a wide brim.

Connor was furious, but not at all surprised. His mother could have bought half a dozen Superman costumes for the cost of Becky’s outfit, and here he was stuck in her old dress!

Becky walked over to Connor and grinned at him. ‘You look nice,’ she said. Then she leaned close to him so only he could hear. ‘You look like a girl!’

‘Shut up!’ snarled Connor.

‘Connor! Don’t talk to your sister like that!’ snapped Mrs Blatt. Tears welled up in Becky’s eyes. She was very good at faking tears. ‘Apologise this instant!’

‘Sorry,’ mumbled Connor, who wasn’t in the least bit sorry.

Becky’s tears vanished instantly. ‘Mummy,’ she asked, ‘why is the front of Connor’s dress all crumpled up like that?’ She grabbed the skirt of the dress and tugged it clear of Connor’s nylon clad legs. It zapped right back again. ‘Oh, it sparked!’ Connor tried to smack her hand away and missed.

‘It’s the static,’ said Mrs Blatt. ‘I used to wear a black slip to prevent that from happening. I wonder if I have still got it.’

‘No,’ said Connor hastily. ‘I’m fine ...’.

‘Wait here kids while I go and have a look,’ interrupted Mrs Blatt.

As soon as she left the room, Becky said in a teasing sing-song voice, ’Ha-ha-ha. Connor’s got to wear a petticoat.’

‘Shut up you little bitch! This is all your fault. Why did you tell Mum that I wanted to dress up as a witch?’

‘Ooooo – temper!’ said Becky. ‘Actually, I told Mummy that you wanted to be Superman; but she thought it would be cute if we both went out as witches. She said you were too much of a wimp to be Superman.’

‘You are a rotten liar!’ said Connor.

‘No I’m not,’ said Becky.

‘Are so!’

‘Am not!’

‘Here, knock it off you two,’ said Mrs Blatt hurrying back into the room with something black and silky in her hand. ‘I found it. Come on Connor, step into this’. Connor reluctantly stepped into the little black half-slip while he glowered at the grinning Becky. ‘There,’ said Mrs Blatt smoothing down the front of Connor’s skirt, unconsciously giving him an unwanted little thrill in the process. ‘That’s done the trick. The dress is hanging nicely now.’

***

Mrs Blatt watched the two witches as they went hand in hand down the street. The little one was skipping. The larger one was more inclined to stomp.

Despite their mutual hatred, the evening started off well. Becky was so busy gathering treats and dishing out tricks (really nasty ones) that she pretty much ignored Connor. He, on the other hand, took his role as her minder seriously. He let her do all the trick or treating, but he stayed close to her the whole time. It would have been more than his life was worth to let anything bad happen to her. When a lout started throwing eggs at them, he jumped in front of Becky ready to ‘take the bullet’ just like on TV. He lost his hat to a putrid egg before sending his assailant off with a bleeding nose.

His hat was a write-off. That was no great loss, except he no longer looked even remotely like a witch. An observer would be hard pressed to decide whether he was a boy in a dress or a girl with short hair; but it was Halloween, so nobody really cared.

The evening started to brighten up a little for Connor when they encountered Kayla Wiggins and her mother. Connor had a bit of a thing for Kayla but had always been too shy to do anything about it. She probably didn’t even know he existed; but she knew Becky well.

They all said ‘hi’ to each other, except Connor, who hung back in a vain attempt at making himself invisible. He didn’t want to meet the girl of his dreams dressed as he was. To his relief, neither Kayla nor her mother seemed to notice him. Their whole attention was on Becky. Then Becky had to go and open her big mouth.

‘This is my brother Connor. He’s wearing Mummy’s dress.’

‘Really?’ said Kayla and Mrs Wiggins in unison. They focussed their attention on the not so invisible Connor.

‘Cool,’ said Kayla with a grin.

‘Good for you,’ said Mrs Wiggins. ‘It’s an old Celtic custom for young people to dress up as the opposite gender for Halloween.’

Becky didn’t know that, and the knowledge did not please her. The Wiggins were meant to see Connor as some kind of a sick weirdo. She decided to twist the knife a little.

‘He’s wearing Mummy’s petticoat too,’ she said smugly.

‘I can see that,’ said Kayla.

‘You can?’

‘Yes, it’s hanging down a bit.’

‘The elastic must be loose,’ said Mrs Wiggins. ‘Here, let me fix it.’ She crouched down in front of Connor and thrust her hands up under his dress. Connor yelped in surprise. Mrs Wiggins rolled the waist band of the slip to shorten it and make it sit more firmly on his waist. ‘There,’ she said. ‘That should hold it.’ She smoothed down the front of Connor’s dress, giving him another unwanted little thrill. I wish ladies would stop doing that to me. I’m a boy, remember?

‘He’s wearing Mummy’s panties too,’ shrilled Becky in a desperate last attempt at branding Connor as a super sick weirdo.

‘I am not!!’ exploded Connor, breaking silence at last.

‘Of course he isn’t, Becky,’ said Mrs Wiggins. ‘Why would you say such a thing?’

‘Oh ... um ... I thought ... Mummy told me ... uh ...’ she finished lamely. I’ll have to be more careful. I have just been caught out on a lie.

‘Never mind,’ said Mrs Wiggins. Look, I have some shopping to do ...’

‘I know who you are,’ cried Kayla suddenly, cutting her mother off. ‘You are in a class above me at school. All the girls in my class think you are really hot!’

‘Ugh!’ said Becky.

‘Uh!’ said Connor, blushing furiously. Me? Hot? She can’t be serious. Girls don’t even notice me.

‘I was just going to ask,’ continued Mrs Wiggins, ‘if Kayla could tag along with you two. I can pick her up from your place later.’

Becky minded. This wasn’t part of her plan. ‘I’m sorry Mrs ...’.

‘Of course we don’t mind,’ interrupted Connor hastily. He smiled at Kayla. She smiled back at him. Wow, she thinks I’m hot.

‘I’m sorry about the way I’m dressed, Kayla,’ said Connor, ‘but ...’

‘That’s OK,’ said Kayla. She smiled. ‘I’ve got a dress that would look much better on you. Would you like to see it?’ 

‘What? Seriously? Uh ... no, I don’t think so,’ he stammered. ‘I don’t usually ...’

‘OK’, said Kayla. Maybe some other time.

‘Uh, yeah,’ he replied. Not bloody likely.

***

The three walked off together, hand in hand. Becky held Connor’s hand possessively. Kayla slipped her hand into Connor’s other hand. She gave it a gentle squeeze. The touch of her cool fingers on his sent a thrill coursing through his body. Oh how he wished he could send Becky somewhere far away so he could be alone with Kayla.

They made several more trick or treat visits. The two girls were dressed as witches, so they did the door knocking. Connor, who no longer even remotely resembled a witch, hovered nearby as their minder.

‘I think we are just about done,’ said Connor at last. ‘We ought to head home now.’

‘No,’ said Becky. ‘Not yet. There’s still one place we have to visit.’

‘Where is that?’

‘Come on, I’ll show you.’

Becky led them to a poorly lit street in the oldest part of town. Midway down the street, far from the nearest unbroken street light stood a large old house in serious need of maintenance – if not demolition. An old lady lived there alone. Connor and Kayla knew of this house. Some said it was haunted. Some said that the old lady who lived there was a witch. Every once in a while, a boy with more bravado than good sense would walk down the street at night just so he could boast about it to his mates next day. During the past 50 years, twelve of those boys disappeared and were never seen nor heard of again.

‘We’re not going down there!’ declared Connor.

‘Why not?’ demanded Becky. ‘What could be cooler than trick or treating a real witch on Halloween?

‘She isn’t a witch you silly twit; but it’s a bad neighbourhood,’ said Connor. ‘A lot of boys have gone missing from around here.’

‘Hah!’ said Becky. ‘You are such a pantywaist. Nobody believes those stories.’

That stung. He didn’t believe the stories, either, but there could still be bad people lurking in a street like this. His job was to keep Becky out of harm’s way, but if he refused her challenge, both girls might think him a coward.

‘Alright, I’ll go,’ he said. ‘I’ll just wish the old girl a happy Halloween and be on my way. She’s probably harmless but I’ll go on my own. Kayla, will you wait here with Becky? I’m not supposed to leave her by herself.’

‘No,’ said Kayla. ‘I’m coming with you.’ She believed that this street was a dangerous place for boys; but so far no harm had come to any girl. Connor would be safer if he had a girl with him, particularly a girl with her special gift. Unknown to anyone but herself, she had the remarkable ability to move objects with her mind.

‘In that case,’ said Connor, ‘you’ll have to come too Becky. Or we don’t go at all.’

‘I’ll be right behind you,’ said Becky, clinging to her bulging bag of goodies. She would have asked Connor to carry the bag; but she couldn’t trust him to keep his sticky paws out of it.

Hand in hand, Connor and Kayla walked cautiously down the dark street, with Becky following a few steps behind. There were too many shadows here. Connor wished they had thought to bring a torch. They reached the old house without incident. Connor pushed the sagging gate open. It scraped on the concrete path and screeched on rusty hinges with a sound disturbingly like that of a screaming child.

They crept up the cracked, weed infested path. Something scuttled across in front of them and vanished under the house.

‘Was that a rat?’ whispered Kayla. ‘It was huge!’

‘It might have been a cat,’ said Connor, but he didn’t really think so.

They climbed the warped steps that led up to a porch and the main entrance to the house. The door was cracked, mouldy and uninviting. It was very old but looked strong enough to withstand a battering ram. Connor’s timid knock made little impression on it. They waited. A sudden breeze moaned eerily through the porch like a dying banshee. Kayla shivered and gripped Connor’s hand so hard that he feared she might crush a bone or two. The door remained firmly closed

‘Nobody home,’ said Connor, trying not to sound relieved.

‘Wait,’ said Kayla. ‘Nobody would hear your knock. There must be a door knocker or bell push somewhere on here.’

‘Nah,’ said Connor. ‘There’s nothing on this door but patches of mould.’

‘Try pulling that’, said Kayla. She pointed to what looked like an old lavatory chain hanging beside the door. Connor reached up and pulled the handle. He half expected to hear the sound of a toilet flushing. Instead, a loud bong reverberated through the house. A shower of dust fell from the porch roof above them as several crows took screeching flight.

‘She must be deaf to need a bell that loud,’ said Connor.

Suddenly, the door flew open, startling them. The stench hit them first. Then something with papery wings fluttered into Connor’s face. Was that a bat? He swept the creature aside and stared at the hag who stood in the doorway glaring down at them.

She was ugly enough to make a vampire bat look like a beauty queen. Even her warts had warts. Her bloodshot eyes blazed red and her jagged teeth had shreds of her last meal clinging to them. The rank odour of evil exuded from every pore.

This is no little old lady, thought Kayla. This is a witch! A real witch!

At the sight of her visitors, the witch’s face split into a ghastly grin, revealing more jagged teeth. She didn’t seem to notice the fat maggot that crawled over her lower lip and fell from her mouth, only to be snapped up in mid-fall by the bat-like flying thing.

‘Well goodness me,’ said the witch, oozing charm from every wart. ‘Some pretty girls have come to pay an old lady a visit. How nice.’ She heaved a contented sigh, discharging a foul gust of breath that would have peeled the paint off the door if there had been any paint left to peel.

Pretty girls? Connor thought. What’s the old bat on about? Oh, it’s me. She thinks I am a girl. He wasn’t sure whether to be flattered or offended by the word ‘pretty’. It didn’t matter much either way. This disgusting crone would probably see a baboon’s backside as a thing of beauty.

‘I was expecting a boy. Did you see a boy out there? A boy and a little girl, perchance?’

‘No,’ said Kayla. ‘Ain’t nobody out here but us girls, ha-ha. Look, we can’t stay. We just popped in to wish you a happy Halloween.’ The witch knew Connor was coming! I’ve got to get him out of here!

‘Oh no,’ said the witch. ‘I can’t let you go yet. You must come in and have tea with me. I don’t get many visitors. My name is Crunella. Tell me, what are your names?’ Two more maggots slithered from her mouth.

‘I’m Kayla, and we really must go,’ said Kayla, trying not to stare at the maggots.

‘I’m Connor and ...’

‘What?’ screeched Crunella, spitting out three more maggots. Did you say Connor? Are you the boy I have been expecting?’

‘Connie!’ said Kayla urgently. ‘She said Connie! Connie’s my ... my sister.’ Lying didn’t come easily to Kayla; but she had to save Connor from this terrible woman.

‘Liar!’ said a small voice behind them. Struggling with her bag of goodies, Becky had fallen behind. She caught up just in time to hear Kayla’s pathetic attempt at hiding Connor’s identity.

‘Becky,’ said Kayla, ‘don’t ...’

‘He’s not anybody’s sister,’ interrupted Becky. ‘That’s my brother Connor and he’s wearing Mummy’s dress.’

‘Foolish boy!’ thundered the witch. ‘Did you imagine that you could fool me by coming here dressed as a girl?’

‘No, I ... it was Becky ... I didn’t mean to ... she tricked ...’

‘Silence!’ A stream of maggots flew from the witch’s mouth.

It was now plain to both Connor and Kayla that he was the boy that Crunella had been expecting. That little bitch Becky brought him here on purpose – but for what purpose?

‘You knew we were coming!’ said Connor. It wasn’t a question.

‘Of course I knew you were coming. Becky brought you to me, just as we planned.’

‘But Becky is my sister. Why would she bring me here? We don’t even know you,’ said Connor.

‘The girl you call Becky is your sister by adoption,’ said the witch, ‘not by blood. I am her birth mother.’

‘You? Her mother?’ Connor was stunned by this revelation. He had known for a long time that Becky was evil; but he never suspected for one moment that she might be a child witch.

‘I stole the baby who was destined to be your sister and put Becky in her place so she would be adopted into your family. She has pretended to be your sister for the past ten years for just one purpose. She was to bring you to me on the day before your thirteenth birthday.’

‘But why?’ demanded Kayla. ‘What are you going to do with us?’

‘With Connor – not you. You shouldn’t even be here; but since you have crashed Conner’s birthday party, I can’t let you spoil the fun by leaving.’

‘Are you going to kill me?’ asked Kayla defiantly.

‘Not necessarily,’ replied the witch. ‘You could join my coven. How would you like to be invested as a novice witch?’

‘Ugh!’ said Kayla.

‘Don’t be too hasty with that thought my dear. I have hungry pets. A meal of fresh young virgin would be a special treat for them. You are a virgin aren’t you?’

‘I’m only twelve,’ Kayla retorted.

‘So?’

‘You are disgusting!’

‘Flattery will get you nowhere,’ cackled the witch. ‘You have until tomorrow to make up your mind, after we have finished with Connor.’ She belched, ejecting a cascade of maggots onto the floor.

‘Drat those damned maggots,’ she complained. ‘It comes from sleeping with your mouth open. Those pesky flies will lay their eggs anywhere.’

Connor seized the moment of her distraction and ran for the door. ‘Come on, Kayla, run!’ He grabbed the door handle with both hands and tugged, then twisted it one way and then the other. The door did not budge.

‘You fool!’ shouted Crunella. ‘Did you think you could escape that easily? Look at me!’ They turned and looked back at the witch. As they looked, her eyes began to glow like hot coals, and then grow until they appeared as large smouldering disks. Kayla and Connor felt the strength draining out of them under the witch’s hypnotic stare. Then darkness came.

***

Kayla and Connor came out of their trance to find themselves locked in a cage. It seemed to have been recently occupied by a large carnivorous beast. The floor was strewn with chewed bones and animal poo. Some of the bones looked suspiciously human. The cage had been built against the wall of a cavernous basement, which was dimly lit with hurricane lamps hanging from the walls. A steep wooden stairway led up to a closed door, which could barely be seen in the dim light.

The basement felt dry, despite the dampness seeping down some of the walls. A gas fired heating furnace stood in the far corner opposite the cage. The floor was cluttered with old boxes, disused furniture and other debris.

A cauldron sat over an unlit gas fire in the centre of the room. Suspended above this was an ankle harness on a long chain. The other end of the chain was looped through a pulley attached to the ceiling. It looked like a device for torture or perhaps for ritual sacrifice.

‘I’m sorry I got you into this Kayla,’ said Connor as he looked around for a place where they could rest without sitting in poo.

‘You didn’t get me into anything,’ replied Kayla. ‘Becky got us into this by goading you into coming to this house. It was my decision to come with you. I am glad I did.’

‘How can you say that?’ said Connor. ‘Tomorrow, you are going to become a novice witch or end up as live pet food. Aren’t you even a little bit afraid?’

‘Of course I’m afraid; but there is something about me that you don’t know. I think I can get us out of here.’

Before Kayla could continue, the door at the top of the stairs opened, and Becky appeared. She stayed on the top step, well out of range of anything that might be thrown at her. There was no trace of the charm with which she usually masked her wickedness. Her voice sounded older too – more harsh and not at all like the voice of a ten year-old.

‘Becky, I can’t believe that you have done this to us,’ cried Connor. ‘You are my sister!’

‘And I have hated you since the day I was born,’ snarled Becky. ‘I have looked forward to this day for so long.’

‘What’s so special about this day?’ asked Kayla.

‘Nothing much, except this is the day I was to bring Connor here to my birth mother. The special day starts at midnight.’

‘That’s my birthday,’ said Connor. ‘I have one every year. What’s so special about this one?’

‘It’s your thirteenth birthday,’ said Becky, ‘that’s what’s special about it.’ She giggled. ‘I don’t think it will be a very happy one for you.’

‘What ... why?’

‘I’ll tell you why,’ said Becky. ‘Half a century ago, my birth mother found the recipe for an ancient potion that could bring back her lost youth and beauty. The ingredients were hard to get. She specially needed the blood of thirteen boys. It had to be drained slowly from each living boy, starting at midnight on the day of his thirteenth birthday. My mother has spent years saving and preserving the blood of twelve boys. She needs just one more to complete the recipe.’ Becky paused for dramatic effect. ‘You are the thirteenth boy!’ She would like to have conjured up a bit of lightning and thunder to accompany that statement, but she had yet to reach that level of witchcraft.

‘That’s horrid!’ cried Kayla. ‘Is that what the chain and the cauldron are for?’

‘Oh yes,’ said Becky, warming to the subject. ‘Would you like to know how it works?’

‘No!’ said Kayla and Connor together.

Becky told them anyway. Connor was to be stripped naked and hung upside down over the cauldron. He would be cut to make him bleed, but only slowly. Eventually, he would bleed out. His blood would be collected in the cauldron and mixed with the blood of twelve previous victims. It would not be quick. He would be kept alive and conscious for maybe twelve hours or more, during which time he would scream and scream. That was the part that Becky looked forward to most. It would be heaps better than watching him being caned. Crunella would then bathe in the blood drained from thirteen boys on their thirteenth birthdays and her youth and beauty would be magically restored.

Kayla and Connor were speechless with horror. Connor came close to peeing in his trousers – if he had been wearing any. He sensed that Kayla was about to yell defiant insults at Becky.

‘Don’t give her the satisfaction,’ he whispered. Kayla understood. Despite the terror that consumed them both, they remained expressionless. They even managed to look bored.

‘Argh!’ said Becky. ‘You guys are so boring.’ She swung on her heel and stalked out the door, locking it behind her – as if that made any difference. They would never get out of the cage.

‘This doesn’t look good,’ said Connor shakily after Becky had gone. ‘What did you mean before; when you said that you might get us out of here?’

‘I haven’t told anyone else about this, but I have a gift.’

‘A gift?  What kind of gift?’

‘It’s called telekinesis. I can move things with my mind.’

‘Oh, I’ve heard of that. You mean you can bend spoons just by looking at them?’

‘I can do better than that,’ said Kayla. Watch that chain over there.’ The suspended chain suddenly gave a violent jerk and swung wildly back and forth.

‘Wow, did you just do that?’ said Connor in awe.

Kayla smiled. This was the first time she had demonstrated her power to anyone. She was glad that Connor was impressed.

‘Can you do something with these bars?’

‘Watch,’ said Kayla as she stared at the bars. For a while, nothing happened, and then two of the bars began to vibrate. Slowly, the bars began to bend away from each other. Kayla grunted and gasped as if she were forcing the bars apart with her bare hands. She made a gap just large enough for them to squeeze through.

 ‘Come on. Let’s get out of this animal poo.’

Once outside the cage, Kayla forced the bars back into their original position. ‘That should have them guessing,’ she said with a grim smile.

‘Now what?’ Connor asked.

‘First things first,’ replied Kayla. We need a place to hide.’

‘Not down here,’ said Connor. ‘There’s only one way out and we’ll be trapped if anyone comes.’

They quickly climbed the stairs. Kayla used her telekinetic skill to turn the key, which Becky had left in the other side of the lock. They locked the door behind them as they left, and then tried the next door. It was unlocked and it opened on to an empty room. ‘We can hide in here,’ said Kayla.

‘Shouldn’t we just leave now?’ enquired Connor.

‘I don’t think we can,’ replied Kayla. ‘We have escaped from the basement, but some kind of supernatural force is keeping us in the house. Our only hope is to break the spell by killing the witch.’

‘Killing the ...?’ said Connor, ‘Oh gee! I have never killed anything bigger than a cockroach.’

‘This is no time to get squeamish,’ said Kayla. ‘The witch isn’t human, and she has already killed at least twelve boys. She has probably killed other people too.’

‘Can witches be killed?’ Connor asked.

‘I think so,’ said Kayla. 'They used to burn witches at the stake.’

‘Yeah, they did, too. So fire can kill them. There’s a lot of stuff in the basement that will burn. We could start a fire while the witch is down there. Do you think you could use your gift to do something with that furnace?’

‘I don’t think so. It’s too big and heavy. I’ve never tried to move anything that heavy before,’ said Kayla doubtfully.

‘How about those hurricane lamps? Could you toss a couple of those among those empty cardboard boxes?’

‘I think I can do better than that,’ said Kayla. ‘I saw a can of oil for those lamps down there. I could splash some of that around. It would help spread the fire.’

‘That’s it then,’ said Connor. ‘All we have to do now is wait until the witch goes down there.’ He knew it might not be that easy; but he could think of no other way of defeating the witch. The waiting might have been the hardest part; but it was closer to midnight than they had thought. They had barely settled down to wait when they heard footsteps coming along the hallway, followed by the sound of the key grating in the lock of the basement door. They jumped when the door slammed back against the wall. Footsteps clattered down the stairs. By the time the pair had made their way cautiously to the open basement door, Crunella and Becky had reached the bottom of the stairs.

‘She’s got my sister with her!’ said Connor.

‘She’s not your sister,’ said Kayla. ‘She never has been. She’s not even human.’ Even so, Connor had qualms about burning alive the girl he had known as his sister for so long.

Downstairs, Crunella suddenly screamed with rage. She had seen that the cage was quite empty, although still securely locked. A stream of maggots gushed from her mouth like water from a burst main.

‘Eew,’ said Kayla. ‘That’s gross.’

‘How did they get out?’ screeched the witch. She glared at Becky, her eyes blazing red. ‘You! Did you let them out?’

‘No I didn’t,’ said Becky, frightened by Crunella’s anger but unable to explain the empty cage.

‘Liar!’ shouted the witch.

Suddenly, Becky flew backwards as if pushed by an invisible force.  She struck the concrete wall and fell to the floor, with her broken neck twisted at a grotesque angle.

Kayla gasped. ‘Crunella did that without even touching her,’ she said. ‘I think she might be too strong for me.’

‘Don’t say that,’ said Connor. ‘She doesn’t know you have the gift. Surprise is on our side. Quickly, start heaving those lamps right now, before she starts looking for us.’

Before Connor had finished speaking, two hurricane lamps flew from the wall. One crashed against the stairs. A small fire flared up briefly, and then went out. The lamp must have been almost out of oil. The other crashed among some empty boxes. Burning oil splashed over the boxes and set them alight, but the fire was slow to spread – much too slow. The noise attracted the witch’s attention. Her eyes widened in surprise, but she quickly recovered and ran toward the fire muttering some kind of incantation. The flames began to die down.

‘The oil can,’ shouted Connor. ‘Quickly.’

‘I can’t get the top unscrewed,’ wailed Kayla. ‘It’s too far away.’

‘Then pick it up and dump it,’ said Connor.

Kayla didn’t hesitate. The five litre can of lighting oil suddenly flew up toward the ceiling, and plunged like a kamikaze into the concrete floor between the witch and the fire. The can burst on impact, spraying oil over a wide area. It reached the flames in one direction and soaked the witch’s dress in the other. The flames spread quickly across the oil-soaked debris and set fire to the witch’s dress. Forgetting her incantation, she beat frantically at the fire with her hands; but the hungry flames soon engulfed her. Crunella’s screams of frustration, rage and then pain were terrible to hear. Connor and Kayla felt no remorse. They watched as the fire consumed her and stole her malefic life force.

‘Ding dong the witch is dead,’ said Connor without a trace of humour. Suddenly, his eyes widened with alarm as he saw a new danger. The fire had reached a cluster of gas bottles. Conner knew what that meant. The flames would heat the gas, which would expand until it burst out of the bottles with explosive force. The escaping gas would mix with the oxygen in the air. At some point, the explosive mixture would ignite in a sudden massive fireball. Connor knew that this would happen, but not when.

‘Come on, we’ve got to get out of here right now!’ he cried, grabbing Kayla by the arm and pulling her away from the basement door. He slammed the door hoping to delay the fire by cutting off the draft, but it was too late for that. Once the fire had taken hold, it grew with amazing speed. Flames had already burst through the basement ceiling and into the floor above.

Together, Connor and Kayla charged at the front door. They did not pause to wonder whether the spell that kept them in the house had been broken. It had! They hit the door together like twin battering rams, bursting through as easily as if it had been made of wet cardboard.

Driven by fear of the explosion that could come at any second, the terrified pair rushed out into the cool night air and ran. They made it as far as the street before a massive fireball blossomed behind them, silhouetting their running figures. The blast blew them off their feet. They picked themselves up and ran on, racing to get clear of falling debris.

‘Damn,’ said Connor. ‘I’ve got a run in Mum’s tights. She will be furious.’

By the time they reached the end of the street, they could hear sirens approaching. They didn’t wait. They weren’t ready to answer the questions that were bound to follow. They continued running.

***

It was well past midnight when they reached the Blatts’ house and told their story to distraught parents. It wasn’t the true story. Nobody would have believed that. Instead, they told a tale of kidnap and murder, of a madwoman who killed children, of brave little Becky who rescued Kayla and Connor from the killer’s cage and paid for it with her life.

Later, police working the crime scene would find many bodies; including those of an old woman, a young girl, and the exsanguinous remains of twelve boys. They found no trace of the mystic eaters of living flesh that Crunella had conjured up from some dark corner of Hell.

***

Before Mrs Wiggins took Kayla home on the night of their adventure, Kayla asked for a few minutes to say goodbye to her new friend. She went to Connor and, to his astonishment, clasped her hands behind his neck and kissed him full on the lips. His mind almost exploded. It was the most wonderful moment of his life.

‘Gee, Kayla. Will you like me this much when I am not wearing a dress?’ he gasped.

Kayla smiled at him. She reached over to smooth down his Peter Pan collar.

‘Of course I will,’ said Kayla. ‘You are my best friend ever – Connie,’ she added wickedly.

Connor blushed.

 

End


© Copyright 2017 Joe Stuart. All rights reserved.

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