Poe rapped on Prysm’s front door. When she opened it, her cat, Bella,
darted out the door. “Oh no! She’s escaped. Come here, Bella.” Prysm
called for her cat, but the feline ignored her owner and ran across the
street. “We’ve got to catch her before we go to school. I don’t want her
running around all day.”
“Uh, not this month you don’t. We’d better find her before one of those
ravens sees her.” Poe handed Prysm his backpack and she dropped it inside
the door. “She went that way, over to Mr. Hex’s house.”
hope nothing happens to her. Bella was sitting right at the door, just
waiting for an opportunity to get out. Sneaky cat. There will be no catnip
for her tonight.” Prysm and Poe ran into Mr. Hex’s backyard, looking
behind every rose bush and tree.
“Look at these roses. These ones are black and those are blood red.” Poe
was careful not to prick his fingers on the thorns.
like these orange ones though. They don’t smell like roses. Ugh. They
smell like,” Prysm sniffed, “like blood.”
“There she is. Bella just hopped over the wall into Mrs. Hally’s yard.
This is just great. We’re going to be really late for school. My mom will
not be happy.” Poe shook his head.
“But we can’t go. I have to find her. I saw five huge crows flying
overhead. If one of them sees Bella, it will eat her. Oh, Bella. Where are
you?” Prysm was on the verge of crying.
Poe noticed. “Don’t cry. We’ll find her, even if we have to miss a whole
day of school.”
They chased the gray-blue cat from yard to yard, climbing over stone
walls, wooden fences and sprinted through fields of ruby red poppies with
black stems and leaves. “We’re getting further and further away from home.
What time is it anyway? It feels like we’ve been out for hours. I’m hungry
and tired and angry. Bella! Bella! Come to Prysm, Bella, please?”
After walking for hours, exhaustion set in. The two children sat on a
boulder next to a flowing river of blood. “I’m pooped and I’m starving.
I’m past starving. I’m famished.” Poe patted his tummy. “Can you hear it
“No. I can’t hear anything except my own tummy growling.”
“We need to get home. Look how low the sun is. My mom will be worried
about me and wonder where I am and why I didn’t go to school. So will your
mom. It will take us a while to get home and we half to be home before the
sun sets.” Poe threw a pebble into the blood river. It splashed, sending a
drop of blood through the air and landing on Prysm’s face.
“Stop it! The last thing I want is blood on me. Remember, there are
piranhas in there. What if there’s a vampire nearby? Let’s head for home.
Poor Bella. I hope she’ll come home by herself safely.” Both of them
jumped from the boulder and were about to leave when they heard Bella’s
meow. “It’s Bella!” Prysm took off after her cat. “Wait, Bella.”
Poe chased Prysm, calling after her. “Wait for me.” Prysm kept running,
seeing glimpses of Bella ahead. By the time Poe caught up the sun was
about to set. He found her at the bottom of a flight of worn wooden steps.
“Oh no. It will be dark in five minutes and look where we are.” They
tipped their heads backwards. “It’s a candy corn mountain and home of
Witch Lilith. Great. Not only do we have to hide from monsters and
vampires and werewolves, but your cat is going up the stairs right to
Witch Lilith’s haunted house.”
“I’m going after her. I don’t care if you come with me or not. I’m not
letting anything bad happen to my cat. Besides, it’s probably safer up
there than it is down here.” Prysm climbed the steps, being careful not to
trip on them.
“Ew! What is all over these steps? It’s sticky and slimy. Maybe I don’t
want to know.” Poe kicked his shoe and some dark green slime flew off,
landing on a dead tree. He leaned over and sniffed it. “Yuck. It stinks
like dead people.”
“How would you know what a dead person smells like? Just ignore it and
hurry up.” Prysm nearly fell backwards when a loud moan floated towards
them from the haunted house.
was that? I heard that same noise last night.” Prysm’s eyes bulged with
“Let’s hope it’s not Bella.” Poe turned and looked down. Misty Valley was
full of dark shadows, moving through the streets. “Don’t look now, Prysm,
but we’re dead meat. All I can see are vampires and bats and ravens and
crows and tons of black cats. That Frankenstein monster is walking up and
down in front of our houses. You can see everything from up here.”
“There it is again. What is it, Poe?”
“Dunno. We’re about half way up the mountain. Have you seen Bella lately,
or is it too dark now?”
“The last time I saw her she was running up the stairs towards the haunted
house. There is nowhere else for her to go.” Prysm saw the full moon
reflecting off a pool of water. “Is that blood or water over there?”
saw something in it. What if it’s Bella? Let’s go and see.” Prysm jumped
off the stairs and landed on dry ground. Clouds of dust flew up into her
face. She coughed and waved her hand back and forth to blow the dirt away
and then stepped over to the pool of blood. “What is that in there? It’s
too small to be Bella.”
Poe stood next to her and gazed down. “Wait until that cloud passes in
front of the moon and then we’ll be able to see.” They waited patiently
until the cloud disappeared. Poe gulped. “Eyeballs. Those are eyeballs
bobbing up and down. Look at that one.”
Prysm squatted. “They are eyeballs. Gross. Sicko. Who would put eyeballs
“Duh, Prysm. Who do you think? We’re right by the haunted house. A witch
lives there. She probably keeps them fresh in this pool so she can use
them in her spells.”
“Spells? Do you think she has a cauldron and a broomstick and magic wand?
What about a black candle?” Prysm headed back for the stairs.
“She’s a witch. Of course she does.” Poe turned in a circle. “Watch out!”
He pushed Prysm to the ground. A bat flew past them, swirling above their
“Get away! Is it a vampire bat or a regular bat?” Prysm tried to swat it
with her hand. “Go away! I hate bats.”
Poe picked up a dead branch that had fallen off a nearby tree. He swatted
the bat, chasing it away. “It’s gone now. We’d better hurry before it goes
and tells the other bats. I do not want to have my neck sucked on by a
vampire. I wish I was home. I could hide under my bed.”
“You hide under your bed?” Prysm giggled.
“Only when I’m really scared. Don’t you?”
“Never, but I’m scared now. If there was a bed, I’d hide under it with
you.” A cold breeze blew down the mountainside, chilling Prysm. She rubbed
her arms. “Bella! Bella!”
“Shh. Do you want Witch Lilith to hear you and know we’re here?” Poe put
his hand over Prysm’s mouth. “Shh.” They climbed to the top step.
don’t know. It’s dark in there. She doesn’t have any lights on. Maybe
she’s not here?” Poe thought for a few moments. “You run around to the
back and hide. I’m going to knock on the door and run. I hope I don’t slip
with all this slime on the bottoms of my shoes.”
“Are you nuts? What if she answers?”
don’t think she’s here right now. Go and hide. I’ll be there in a few
minutes. Keep still and very quiet.” Poe pushed Prysm gently, showing her
which direction to go. He stepped onto the front porch. The board creaked.
Poe was sure everyone in the valley had heard. He turned and looked down.
The shadows were still wandering about Misty Valley. He took another step
and then another until he stood in front of the rotting wood door. His
fist inched its way toward the rusted door-knocker. With one last gasp of
breath he lifted it, knocked it as hard as he could, and then jumped off
the porch, slipping and sliding all the way around to the back. He joined
Prysm behind a pile of tumbleweeds.
“Did you do it? Did you knock?” Prysm’s curiosity blurted from her mouth.
“Did she answer? She didn’t see you, did she?”
“Shh.” After a few minutes had passed, Poe stood. “I don’t think she’s
here. Stay right here and I’ll go and peek through the window.”
“Poe, I’m scared.”
“Me too, but it’s kind of fun. Nobody else is brave enough to come out at
night and nobody would dare come to Witch Lilith’s haunted house, except
Shayde and Drake. I wouldn’t be here either if I wasn’t desperate to help
you find Bella.” Poe tiptoed to the window and stood on a broken piece of
wood jutting out from the old house. He twisted his head to the left and
then to the right. When he’d seen enough, he jumped down and ran over to
Prysm. “It’s empty. Nobody is here.”
“Oh yeah? Then what is that noise? It’s coming from inside the house.”
“Maybe there’s something in the basement. Do you want to go inside?” Poe
pulled Prysm up.
“Are you nuts? Go in there with a moaning monster? No way.” The girl
yanked her arm free from Poe’s grip.
“It’s too bad we’re both such chickens.”
“Look, Poe! Bella’s in there. She just looked at me from inside on that
ledge. Let’s get her and go home before some zombie gets us.” Prysm ran to
the door, but hesitated. “You go first.”
“Me? Nuh uh! It’s your cat.”
“Oh, all right. I’ll go first” Prysm turned the knob and pushed the door
open. It creaked and rattled as the rusty hinges moved. “Noisy door. I
hope nothing heard that.” She stepped inside. “Great. The floorboards
squeak too. Bella! Bella! I know you’re in here. Come to Prysm. Come on,
Bella. I’ve got some cat treats for you.”
“Your cat is much smarter than Bruja. Bella knows you don’t have anything
and she isn’t going to come. We’re going to have to find her. Close the
door so she can’t get out. If she’s still in here, we’ll catch her.” Poe
moved across the wooden floor, each step echoing throughout the empty
building. “I wish I’d brought a flashlight.”
“You don’t need one. Look right here; it’s a candle and there are matches
next to it.” Prysm lit the match and touched it to the wick of the candle.
It burst into flame.
“At least it’s not a black candle. Wow. Look at this room. It’s full of
spider webs and moths. Bring the candle over here, Prysm. I want to see
what this is.” Poe waited patiently while his friend walked over to him.
“It’s a cauldron; a witches’ cauldron and it’s got something green inside.
It’s the same stuff that is all over the steps.”
“But there’s no fire?”
“Maybe Witch Lilith took what she needed and this is extra. I wonder what
Prysm shook with fear. “Maybe it turns people into toads, or makes people
grow three eyes, or turn into zombies.”
“What a drama queen you are, Prysm. It’s probably her dinner. It stinks.”
Poe sniffed the thick mixture. “It smells like rotten rutabagas mixed with
leeks, cinnamon and old eggs.”
“Why don’t we go and look in another room. Bella’s not in here.” Prysm
moved in a circle so she could see the entire room.
“Okay. That came from below us. Whatever it is hears us moving around. I
say we stay out of the basement and go up those stairs.” Poe blew his
bangs off his forehead.
the top of the steps was a hallway with four closed doors. “Now what, Poe?
Which door do we pick?”
say we start with number one.” He moved to the closest door. The rusty
knob left reddish-brown marks on his hands. He turned it a teeny bit at a
time until he heard it click. “Here goes.” He pushed it open. “Let me have
your candle.” Holding the flame in front of him, Poe stepped into the
“What’s in there?”
“Skeletons. Tons of them. Some have heads and some don’t and they’re all
covered with cobwebs.”
From off in the distance they heard a loud cackle. “Uh oh. It’s Witch
Lilith and she’s coming back here.” Prysm pushed Poe into the room of
“Hey, what are you doing?” Poe tripped and the candle fell, rolling across
the floor. The flame went out.
“We have to hide so she can’t find us. I hope Bella hides too. I’d hate
for her to become part of that icky stuff in the cauldron.”