A Witch’s Tale
Orlando and his best friend, Ophelia, were daredevils. One Halloween, they made a top-secret plan to investigate a folktale they heard at camp the summer before.
It was a tale about a witch that died seventy-five years ago, whose spirit remained in her bedroom in an old run-down house. If someone entered the witch’s bedroom and stayed for nine tantalizing minutes, her flesh would begin to grow back until she was fully formed and alive again. But little did the daredevils know, that was only part of the story. A very important piece was omitted for a very important reason.
The witch’s house was never sold or demolished because it was considered cursed. When a realtor tried to sell the house, she fell down the stairs and broke her neck. One potential buyer had a heart attack in the kitchen and died instantly.
When the county tried to demolish the house, a worker was accidentally crushed by a wrecking ball. Another worker fell face first onto a wooden plank with rusty nails and lost both eyes.
After these series of unfortunate events, no one wanted anything to do with the house. It just sat there dilapidating at its own pace.
The daredevils snuck out of their houses in the middle of the night. They rode their skateboards, passing their school, a fire house, and a century-old graveyard. The witch’s house was at the far end of a dark dead-end road.
When the children arrived and saw the house, they could see the beginning stages of demolition that had been halted. The wooden planks were falling apart. All the windows were broken and boarded up. Shingles had fallen off, and all but one shutter remained.
When the children got to the front door, they rested their skateboards against the house and removed their flashlights from their backpacks. The front door was slightly ajar. They slowly pushed it open further, and a breeze with the stench of a thousand deaths blew right into their faces. Orlando nearly regurgitated his mom’s meatloaf. Ophelia had to elbow him to compose himself.
The children turned on their flashlights, then slowly walked across the foyer, looking hesitantly from right to left. They heard tiny feet scurrying along the floor and could feel furry bodies brush up against their feet. Once they reached the dusty staircase, they climbed. CREAK! CREAK! CREAK! went the sound of each step.
The children walked down the musty carpet hallway, swatting cobwebs from their faces. All but one of the bedroom doors were open. The furniture inside the bedrooms were covered with white sheets that looked like ghosts warning them to turn back.
The children were both thrilled and terrified at the same time. They could feel their adrenaline pumping through their bodies. There was no turning back now. Ophelia opened the door of the last room on the left. Her hands were shaking, but she was relishing every minute.
Despite stillness and silence, the room felt alive. Even with flashlights, it was hard for the light to penetrate the deep, drowning darkness. The children scanned their flashlights around the room. There was no sign of a dead witch. They looked around for any evidence, glancing at their watches for the nine-minute mark. But when that time came, the children froze holding their breath, but nothing happened. The children’s hearts sank. They cursed their camp counselors for making up such a ridiculous story and mocked each other for believing in it.
Orlando and Ophelia turned around to leave, but as they reached the door, it slammed in their faces. Ophelia screamed, dropping her flashlight and shattering it into pieces. Orlando dashed to open the door, but there was no longer a knob. The children were trapped.
Only Orlando’s flashlight worked now, but the light suddenly began to flicker and then snuffed out. For the next nine minutes, the children desperately searched the room in darkness for another way out.
Suddenly, the children’s bodies began to tingle. Their skin shriveled. Their muscles dwindled. Their bones began to break.[CW1]
Although the children’s vision began to blur, they could see an iridescent figure begin to form on the bed. It was composing bit by bit. First bone, then muscle, then skin.
The children’s limbs shrunk until they were just stubs. The form on the bed grew two arms and two legs. Ten fingers, and then ten toes. Facial features began to appear on its face as Orlando’s and Ophelia’s disappeared altogether.
The children were now melting to the ground like hot candle wax. The witch gasped her first breath as the children breathed their last. She opened her eyes and grinned. Her spell had worked. The witch was alive, and the children were dead!
The witch had been the originator of the folktale. Something she’d started to revive herself after an untimely death. Obviously, she’d omitted the part where she dissolved the body of the one in her room to make her own. Foolish children. Fortunately for the witch, she got a two-for-one deal. The witch was as strong and spirited as ever. Starving, she scraped up what was left of the children with a garden trowel, took them into the kitchen, and tossed them into her black iron cauldron.
The witch simmered the children’s remains in hot bubbly water, adding house rats and spices for a delicious, heartwarming stew.