Jump to content






Photo

Halloween in Dunwich Part 2 - Research and Preparations

Posted by Max_Writer , in Call of Cthulhu, Campaign Log 14 November 2017 · 388 views

CoC 1-6e Jazz Age

Donald looked around, nervous.

 

“Why are they sleeping?” Alice said. “The story was just getting good.”

 

“That’s rude,” Gerdie said. “Grandpa hadn’t finished with his story!”

 

“Grandpa’s sleeping too!” George said to Gerdie. “How’s he going to finish?”

 

Gerdie turned and shook his shoulders but the old man didn’t awaken. Gordon went over to his parents and shook them but they wouldn’t wake up. The other children likewise tried to rouse their parents without any effect. Donald slapped his father firmly across the face. It didn’t wake him.

 

“Why are we still awake?” Gerdie said.

 

Donald hid under a pillow.

 

“Well, if they’re breathing, at least,” Alice said. “They must be dog gone tired.”

 

“What?” George said.

 

“We did do a lot today,” Gerdie said.

 

“Yeah,” Alice said.

 

“What?” George said again.

 

“Do all adults fall asleep at midnight?” Gerdie asked.

 

“I guess so,” Alice said. “I mean, we should be asleep right now.”

 

“No!” George said. “That’s … no! They didn’t! Something’s wrong!”

 

“Uh-huh!” Donald said from under his pillow.

 

“How do you know?” Gerdie said. “It’s past our bedtime.”

 

“I’ve stayed up late lots!” George said. “I’m a city boy, remember? We do what we want.”

 

“I-I stay up - I stay up - I stay up late too,” Edward said. “But … it’s usually to read.”

 

“Your parents are up late sometimes, right?” George said.

 

“I guess,” Edward said.

 

“Right?” George said.

 

“Yeah-yeah-yeah-yeah,” Edward stammered. “He-he-he reads too.”

 

“See?” George said. “It’s not just midnight, they go to sleep. Something’s wrong.”

 

He shook his dad very hard. A little too hard.

 

“Hey, I’ve got an idea,” Alice said.

 

“Oh no,” Donald muttered from under the pillows.

 

“Get out of there!” George said to him.

 

“You know how all the adults are asleep, so there’s no one stopping us from going into the attic!” Alice said.

 

“Grandpa did say it was upstairs,” Gerdie said.

 

“Yeah!” Alice said.

 

“I know something that’ll wake my dad up,” Gordon said. “Hey, pa. I’m gonna go get some of that moonshine.”

 

Donald perked up. Gordon’s father didn’t even stir in his deep sleep.

 

“Oh … wow,” Gordon said. “He really is out.”

 

Gordon nudged Donald and they headed for the kitchen. Edward followed them.

 

Gerdie, meanwhile, went over to the grandfather clock. It was an ancient machine but had been kept in tip-top condition, the exterior polished and very clean and the beveled glass on the lower door spotless. She opened it up and saw it was working normally, the weights and chains hanging pristinely and the pendulum swinging back and forth. It ticked contentedly and was empty aside for a few clock keys on the floor in the back.

 

In the kitchen, Gordon and Donald opened up one of the bottles of applejack.

 

“C’mere Boomer!” Gordon said to Great Grandpa Silas’s bloodhound.

 

Donald sniffed at the applejack and was appalled at the stench of something that had been dead for days. He felt his stomach turn at the horrible smell.

 

“This doesn’t smell like mommy’s wine,” he said, shoving the jug at Gordon.

 

He gagged. Gordon smelled the bottle and it almost made him sick as well. It wasn’t moonshine. It was like the stink of a dead rat he’d found under an abandoned shed two years ago, late in the summer. The stink was terrible.

 

“Who brought the moonshine?” Donald asked.

 

“Cousin Maureen,” Gordon said.

 

“She’s a witch!” Donald said.

 

Gordon called Boomer over and put the jug near the sniffing dog. The animal turned his nose up to the terrible smell, stumbling away.

 

“Boomer eats everything,” Gordon said, concerned. “Boomer’ll eat anything.”

 

The girls entered the kitchen. They’d heard what sounded like the boys getting sick and decided to investigate. Donald looked a little green and Boomer was in the corner and didn’t look well.

 

Gordon took the jug back out to the living room and held it under his father’s nose. The man didn’t react at all.

 

“J-J-J-J-Jiminy,” Edward, who had followed him, said. “Smells like something died in that.”

 

“How ya figure, Ed?” Gordon said. “How ya figure that Ed? Was it the smell?”

 

“It-it-it … was the smell, yeah,” Edward said.

 

“It was the smell,” Gordon said. “Ah.”

 

They returned to the kitchen.

 

“Maybe it poisoned them,” Gerdie said. “But Cousin Maureen wouldn’t do that.”

 

“She’s really nice,” Donald said.

 

“What?” George said. “No!”

 

“They’re still breathing!” Alice said.

 

“Let me see that stuff!” George said to Gordon.

 

“Yeah, here, have some,” Donald said.

 

George took the jug from Gordon and sniffed it carefully. He made a face.

 

“That smells like Cousin Maureen smell!” he said.

 

“What?” Donald said.

 

“Oh, you smelled it too?” Gordon said.

 

“What?” George said. “Didn’t everybody?”

 

“I did,” Gordon said.

 

“What are you talking about?” Alice asked.

 

“She looked all messed up and stank!” George said.

 

“Why didn’t you say anything, dummy?” Gordon said.

 

“Why didn’t you? Dummy!”

 

“Because they didn’t act like it!”

 

“You didn’t either!”

 

Donald looked at Simon, standing nearby.

 

“Did you know about this?” he asked the ghost.

 

Simon shrugged and shook his head. He went over and sniffed at the jug George held, making a face.

 

“You can smell?” Donald said.

 

Simon nodded and smiled at him.

 

“Yeah, Cousin Maureen, there’s something wrong with her!” George said. “Right?”

 

“Yeah,” Gordon said.

 

“Okay, it wasn’t just me,” George said.

 

“Looked all bloody and weird,” Gordon said.

 

“Did she smell like─?” George said.

 

“I-I-I-I thought she was really - she listened - she-she really liked when I talked - when I talked about─,” Edward said.

 

“Nobody likes when you talk, Edward!” George said. “That should be a clue right there!”

 

“Shut up!” Alice said. “What are you talking about?”

 

“Cousin Maureen. There’s something wrong with her. And she brought─”

 

“She’s a wonderful lady! How dare you say that about her!”

 

“Where is she now? Why isn’t she here, helping us?”

 

“She’s probably gone home. It was getting late!”

 

“You know Cousin Maureen?” George said to Gerdie.

 

“Well, she says she was around here,” Gerdie said.

 

“Do you?” George said to Gordon. “You ever seen her before?”

 

“I never seen her,” Gordon said.

 

They all looked at each other.

 

“C’mon Edward!” George said. “Wake up! You’re the smart one here!”

 

“What?” Edward said. “What? What? What? Well-well-well looks like - looks like we found a common element in this mystery puzzle.”

 

Donald gave him a look.

 

“Didn’t the adults seem to know her?” Gerdie said.

 

“Pa didn’t even know her,” Gordon said.

 

When the children all talked about it, they realized none of the adults had acted like they had ever seen Maureen before in their lives.

 

“Well, she was invited, right?” Alice said. “Someone had to have known her!”

 

“Yeah, Grandpa wouldn’t let her in if she was a stranger,” Donald said. “Would he?”

 

“Grandpa’s mind ain’t what it used to be,” George said. “Maybe he didn’t remember and so he just … why would … how we she even know about the party?”

 

“What─?” Edward said.

 

“Iunno,” Alice said.

 

“If she wasn’t invited?”

 

“Iunno.”

 

Edward raised his hand.

 

“Just talk, Edward!” George said.

 

“What─?” Edward said.

 

“We’re not in school,” George said.

 

“What-what-what-what- what did - what-what did - what did she - what did she look like to you?” Edward stuttered.

 

“Looked like she was all rotten,” George said. “Like her skin was all tight up, close to her skull. She was all messed up in the face. There was blood! There was blood!”

 

“Yeah,” Gordon said.

 

“It only lasted a second,” George said.

 

“Don’t it make her seem like the ghost in the forest?” Alice asked.

 

“I didn’t know about the ghost in the forest when I saw her earlier!”

 

“But you’re just saying it now! After we heard the story!”

 

“You’re trying to spook us, aren’t you?” Donald said.

 

George sighed.

 

“C’mon,” Alice said.

 

“Both of you,” Donald said.

 

“Cross my heart, hope to die,” George said, going through the motions of crossing his heart. “Stick a needle in my eye, if I’m lying. May my parents never, ever wake up if I’m lying.”

 

“But what are we─” Alice said.

 

“Cut me!” George said. “I’ll give you a blood swear.”

 

“Ew,” Donald said.

 

“As much as I’d like to, I’d rather not,” Alice said.

 

“Gor-Gordie-Gordie I’d like to hear your end - your end of the story,” Edward said.

 

“I agree with him,” Gordon said. “And I never do that.”

 

“Yeah, we don’t get along,” George said.

 

“I never agree with this dummy,” Gordon said.

 

“That’s true,” Gerdie said.

 

“Yeah, he’s so mean,” George said.

 

“You’re trying to scare us,” Donald said again.

 

“You make a little mistake and he’s all over you,” George said.

 

“Uh-huh,” Gordon said sarcastically.

 

“Uh-huh.”

 

“City boy.”

 

“Country hick.”

 

“Now now,” Donald said.

 

“W-W-W─” Edward said.

 

“I ain’t lying,” George said. “Don’t say I’m lying! I’m not lying.”

 

“Well-well we need - we-we-we need to find an explanation for - for why - for why the rest of us didn’t see an-an-an old - an old skin bag, and instead saw the - the beautiful lovely woman who likes talking about a-a-astronomy with me,” Edward said.

 

“I thought it was alligators!” Gerdie said.

 

“How we gonna do that?” George said.

 

Donald looked at his sketchbook sadly.

 

“I-I read - I read - I read a - I read - I read a lot - lots of things,” Edward said.

 

“Wait!” Gordon said to Donald. “If we describe it, can you sketch it?”

 

“Probably,” Donald said.

 

They did so, Gordon and George describing what they saw over several minutes and Donald sketching it as best he could. In the end, the boys agreed Donald had made a passable image of what they both had seen. It was unpleasant and none of them liked what he’d drawn. Cousin Maureen’s face was drawn and bloody and disgusting-looking.

 

“This is what they said she looks like,” Donald said, handing around the sketch but still unsure.

 

“That’s pretty good,” George said. “You’re pretty good, Donald.”

 

Donald just stared at it in disbelief.

 

“Maybe we should go upstairs and find Grandpa’s ‘proof,’” Gerdie said.

 

“That’s what I’ve been saying!” Alice said.

 

“Let’s go!” George said.

 

“All right I-I-I-I-I like proof,” Edward said.

 

“The proof is in the pudding,” Gerdie said.

 

“Yeah!” Alice said. “Let’s go.”

 

George rolled his eyes but followed the girls, as did the rest.

 

The second floor had three small bedrooms, all with the doors open. They quickly found Great Grandpa Silas’s room and searched it. Gordon, Alice, and Gerdie all found a box under a floorboard in the closet. The box was wooden and locked. Donald and Edward found, in a woman’s dressing table in the room from when Great Grandpa Silas was married, a drawer with a false bottom. When they removed the bottom, they found a rotten, ancient book.

 

“I-I-I-I-I-I heard - I-I - I read once─” Edward said.

 

“Just read it,” Donald said. “Just take it.”

 

“I-I … okay,” Edward said.

 

“Alice, give me your knife,” George said. “I want to cut open the mattress.”

 

The book fell apart when Edward carefully lifted it out of the drawer. The binding was rotten and the pages loose and moldy. He held the pages together as best he could.

 

“If there’s any pictures, show me,” Donald said.

 

Edward found that it was a handwritten journal in English. It was obviously the journal of Maureen Whateley-Morgan.

 

“I-guys!” Edward said. “I-I-I - I found her - I found her journal.”

 

“What?” Donald said.

 

“Who is she?” George said.

 

“We found something too!” Alice said.

 

Donald looked over Edward’s shoulder.

 

“What is this?” he said.

 

“It’s-it’s-it’s Cousin - it’s Cousin - it’s Cousin Maureen’s journal,” Edward said with a smile. “Well …”

 

“What?” George said.

 

“See, she-she was invited,” Alice said.

 

“She’s sixteen,” George said. “That book is 50 years old.”

 

“We shouldn’t be going through her diary!” Alice said.

 

Gordon went to get his axe to smash the box open.

 

“Maybe Grandpa has a key,” Gerdie said.

 

“I’ll go check,” Gordon said.

 

“Hey! Gordon!” George called. “Get my baseball bat!”

 

“Yeah, I’ll look for it,” Gordon called back.

 

“He don’t even know where it is,” George said.

 

Alice made sure everyone knew about the book and the box. Gordon came back with his axe and a small ring of keys from Great Grandpa Silas’s pocket. One was small, just the right size to fit in the box. Gerdie took the key and opened the box. Inside was a wicked-looking dagger that seemed to have a black blade. It took them a few moments to realize it was a silver blade that was badly tarnished. It had a wavy blade and a handle wrapped in black leather. There was also three short, fat, black candles.

 

George went to get his baseball bat.

 

“This must have been the knife the witch had,” Gerdie said.

 

Alice noticed something on the bottom of the candles. It looked like some kind of dried vegetable matter. She picked up the candles and smelled the bottom but they didn’t smell like anything and the vegetable matter was old and dried up. She thought it was old pumpkin residue. Then she looked at the dagger in awe.

 

“Can I have that?” she asked.

 

“You already have a knife!” Gerdie said.

 

“I want that one!” Alice said. “It’s so wavy.”

 

“Do you wanna trade?”

 

“No! This is mine!”

 

“Okay. This must be the knife the witch had that Grandpa was talking about.”

 

Alice pouted. George returned with his baseball bat.

 

Alice asked to see the knife and Gerdie handed it to her. She thought it was a bad knife, guessing it might have been magical and might have even been used to murder or sacrifice people.

 

“Oh, this is bad,” Alice said.

 

“Hey-hey-hey-hey-hey-hey everyone,” Edward stuttered. “I-I found - I-I found - I found some neat stuff about Cousin Maureen. You want - you-you want me to read - you want me to read it to you?”

 

“Please,” Donald said.

 

“I told you not to read her diary!” Alice said.

 

She want to Edward and looked over his shoulder.

 

“‘… fears of death are no longer within my mind,’” Edward read dramatically in a deep voice, his stutter suddenly gone. “‘The pain and suffering that brought me to death’s door will be only a memory. My master has consented to teach me yet another ritual, one greater than all the others. There is a price I must pay, a deep one, but one I willingly pay. I will mourn, cry perhaps but I will pay it just the same. I would fear for my eternal soul in paying this price, but the thing I will obtain will make such concerns a thing of the past. One cannot be sentenced to eternal damnation after death if one lives a life everlasting. I shall be as deathless as the turning of the seasons, able to further serve my lord and master for all times. I must not fail, I cannot, the price of failing in this will be great.’”

 

Donald moved away from the boy while he read.

 

“That’s-that’s all I - that’s-that’s-that’s-that’s all I’ve read so far,” Edward said.

 

“Ed, you’re some sort of freak, aren’t you?” Gordon said.

 

“I-I-I-I-” Edward said.

 

“How come you can’t always talk like that?” Gordon said.

 

“I-I-I-I-I-I speak - I speak better - if the words are in front of me,” Edward said. “Not in my head.”

 

“That was Cousin Maureen?” Alice said.

 

“I … this is her diary,” Edward said.

 

“Very good, Ed,” Gordon said.

 

Gerdie was glad she hadn’t shown Cousin Maureen her coins.

 

“Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh guys,” Edward said. “H-h-h-here’s another one. You want - you-you-you-you want - you want to hear it.”

 

“Yes,” Gordon said.

 

“‘Edith spoke out against me in the market place,’” Edward read. “‘She claimed to have seen me meeting with a strange man in the woods while she looked for a lost lamb. Luckily, my husband knows of her spiteful nature and I was able to convince him that her words were nothing but lies.’

 

“‘Other whispers she does against me, drawing eyes to me. Her jealousy of me has been a thing I have put up with for far too long. Her husband has great wealth; her family good standing. She thinks she can slander me, say anything she likes and get away with it. She is wrong. Tomorrow when she awakens her voice will be gone, ripped from her and devoured by a spirit I have summoned.’

 

“‘I am certain her husband will speak out on the pulpit, voicing his suspicion of vile magicks and witchcraft. I cannot have him stirring up trouble. I will give him a chance, one chance. If he takes his wife’s punishment as a warning and heeds it I will spare him. If he is filled with words of warning and damnation I will poison him with the Venom of Midnight’s Sleep. His sleep will deepen through the hours between midnight and dawn, death claiming him with the first cock’s crow.’”

 

“What?” Donald said.

 

“Hey!” Edward said.

 

“That’s what our parents have!” Gerdie said.

 

“That-that-that-that-that-” Edward stuttered.

 

“What?” George said.

 

“That-that-that-that-that’s-that-that’s exactly - that’s exactly what I was going to say,” Edward stuttered.

 

Donald ran out of the room, going down to the living room and grabbing his father, screaming “Dad!” in his face, slapping and hitting him, and trying desperately to wake him up. The man didn’t stir at all.

 

“Nooo!” Donald cried out.

 

Gordon came into the living room, the others following behind. He tucked Great Grandpa Silas’s keys back into his pocket.

 

“But what if we need ‘em?” Gerdie asked.

 

He took the key to the box off the little keychain and handed it to her.

 

“But what if we need the other ones?” she asked. “Who knows what they go to?”

 

“Fine,” Gordon said. “I’ll hold onto the keys.”

 

“How do we fix this!?!” Donald yelled.

 

“Yeah, Edward!” George said.

 

“What?” Edward said. “What-what? Well-well-well-well what I - what I always say is ‘for every concoction, there’s a cure.’”

 

“But what is that!?!” Donald said.

 

“I-I-I-I-I-” Edward stammered.

 

“Have you read any more about this?” Alice asked.

 

“You’re the smart one!” Donald said.

 

“That’s magic!” George said. “How do you cure magic?”

 

“Well-well-well-well-well I’ve never - well-well I’ve never - I’ve never heard of a thing called a curse of midnight’s sleep,” Edward said. “But I am … I-I-I-I’m sure - I’m sure - I’m sure there’s a way we-we-we just have - we just have to put together the pieces of the puzzle.”

 

“I bet Cousin Maureen would know,” Gerdie said. “Maybe she has some sort of magic book.”

 

“But if this is her stuff …” Donald said.

 

“Wait, but Grandpa said … wait …” George said.

 

“But she looks like this?” Donald said.

 

He pulled up the terrible drawing he had made of the other boys’ description.

 

“Yes,” George said. “Something’s wrong with her.

 

“Then why are we going to her?” Donald said.

 

“But if that’s her, that books hundreds and hundreds of years old,” George said.

 

Edward didn’t think it was that old.

 

“Well, this looks hundreds and hundreds of years old!” Donald said, gesturing towards the horrible sketch.

 

“W-w-w-w-w-well she did - she did talk about a-a-a-a-a life everlasting,” Edward said. “So-so maybe she - maybe - maybe she - maybe she found the fountain of youth.”

 

“Huh,” Gordon said.

 

“Or maybe she’s a ghost,” Alice said.

 

Donald looked at Simon.

 

“I-I-I-I-I-I don’t - I don’t - I don’t think ghosts are scientific,” Edward said.

 

Donald looked at Edward.

 

“Well, Grandpa said the ghosts will be at Altar Rock, right?” Gerdie said.

 

“Yeah!” George said. “Yeah! He did!”

 

“She’s being controlled by someone else!” Alice said, looking at the scattered journal pages. “She has to be. This isn’t her!”

 

“W-w-w-w-well, she did say she had a master,” Edward said.

 

“Exactly!” Alice said.

 

“What do we do?” George said.

 

“Go to Altar Rock,” Gerdie said.

 

“Wasn’t the master the devil or something?” Donald said. “Like Grandpa said?”

 

Alice grabbed the knife back from Gerdie.

 

“And we’ll end this!” Alice said.

 

“You’re gonna kill her?” Donald said.

 

Gerdie gave Alice a dirty look. Edward grabbed Alice’s hand and looked more closely at the knife. He thought it was some kind of sacrificial knife.

 

“Hey-hey-hey-hey-hey look,” he said. “I read - I read - I read - I’ve read books about - uh - about South-South American in-in-indigenous people-tribes. They used to sacrifice people on altars. With knives like that.”

 

“What’s indigenous?” Donald said.

 

“It-it means - it means a group of people who live - who live natively to the land,” Edward said.

 

“So, are we indigenous?” Donald said.

 

“Oh, I thought that meant when you were mad at people,” George said.

 

“I know it’s not good,” Alice said. “But this might be the only way we can solve this.”

 

“W-w-w-w-what I want to know is-is w-why-why-why-why did - why did - why did …” Edward said.

 

“Get it out!” Alice said.

 

“W-w-why did Grandpa - why did Grandpa keep the knife?” Edward said. “That-that they tried to use on him?”

 

“Yeah,” Donald said.

 

“He wouldn’t have,” George said. “He was just a baby. He said he couldn’t even walk. Which means Great Great Grandpa kept it.”

 

“Oh,” Donald said.

 

“Also, if he kept it that means the witch can’t use it,” Gerdie said.

 

“Ah,” George said.

 

“So, should we put it back?” Donald said.

 

“No!” Alice said.

 

Gerdie took the knife they’d found back from Alice. The other girl pouted.

 

“You already gots one!” Gerdie said.

 

“I don’t have one,” Donald said.

 

“You know how to use that thing?” George asked Gerdie.

 

“Sure!” Gerdie said. “You stick the pointy end at the bad guys.”

 

“Oh c’mon!” Alice said.

 

George gave Gerdie a look.

 

“Uh-huh,” he said.

 

“Says the guy who uses a baseball bat,” Gerdie said.

 

“I know how to use it!” George said.

 

“Anyone can use a baseball bat!” Gerdie said.

 

“And poindexter here knows how to use a - use a axe,” George said, pointing at Gordon.

 

“At least my kind of has a sharp end though,” Gordon said. “Yours is just blunt.”

 

“I’m not comparing ‘em, moron,” George said.

 

“Uh-huh,” Gordon said.

 

“H-h-h-h-hey - hey guys,” Edward said.

 

“Any dummy can use a baseball bat!” Gerdie said.

 

“Get back in the hayloft!” George said to Gordon.

 

“Hey guys, the pen is mightier than the sword,” Edward said with a grin.

 

They all looked at him. Then Gordon smacked him in the back of the head.

 

“Aw jeez!” Edward said. “Aw!”

 

“Shut up Ed!” Gordon said.

 

“You really - you really got me that time,” Edward said.

 

“Wait, do you know where a sword is?” Gerdie asked.

 

“W-w-w-w-what will - swords-swords are - swords are usually kept-kept-kept near the - near the armory in castles,” Edward said. “I read a lot about ‘em.”

 

“But this isn’t a castle!” Gerdie said.

 

“Well …” Edward said.

 

“A man’s home is his castle!” George said.

 

“That makes no sense!” Donald said.

 

“We only have until dawn!” Gordon reminded them. “If that journal this is … ‘cause they fell asleep at midnight if that was what that moonshine stuff is.”

 

“It seems time’s of the essence!” Edward said.

 

“But why our parents?” Donald asked.

 

“I-I-I-I-I like - I like the idea - the idea of r-r-r-running an experiment where we - where we go out to Altar - to Altar Rock and-and see if - see if - see if there really is something - something there,” Edward said.

 

“You use big words,” Donald said.

 

“We need lights first,” Gerdie, ever practical, said. “We need to find some lanterns.”

 

As there was no electricity in the house, it was easy to get together a half dozen full lanterns.

 

“What about them candles?” George asked.

 

“I’m not using candles!” Gerdie said. “You can’t see far with candles!”

 

“Okay,” George said.

 

“You can’t,” Donald said.

 

“Okay!” George said.

 

“I mean you can take ‘em!” Gerdie said.

 

“Oi-oi-oil-oil burns longer than - than wicks too,” Edward said.

 

“Okay!” George said.

 

“What he said,” Alice said.

 

Edward examined the black candles but wasn’t sure what occult significance they might have had. When he looked at the vegetable matter on the bottom, Alice piped up.

 

“It’s pumpkin!” she said. “I’m sure of it.”

 

“If she uses these candles for spells, maybe she needs ‘em to reverse the spell,” Gerdie said.

 

She got a pillowcase, using it as a sack, and put the candles into it. Everyone but Gerdie and George remembered Great Grandpa, in his story, mentioned using jack-o-lanterns to protect him from evil spirits.

 

“Hey-hey-hey-hey guys,” Edward said. “I gotta small - I gotta small pumpkin! And Grandpa did say they used pumpkin to scare off the spirits so, if the spirits are there, we should - maybe - maybe some of us should carry - carry pumpkins. I-I don’t - I’m not─”

 

“Maybe we could put the candles in the pumpkins,” Gerdie said.

 

“That’s what I was going to say!” Donald said. “It already has pumpkin stuff on it.”

 

“I ain’t putting ‘em in mine,” George said. “Mine looks like crap.”

 

“My didn’t come out the way I wanted,” Donald said.

 

Edward got his own pumpkin, which was small, and Gordon got his, which was huge. Alice’s was normal sized, still needing two hands to carry. Those were the three that looked the best.

 

“I’ll bring Leopold,” Alice said. “He’ll ward off any bad spirits.”

 

“Leopold?” Donald said.

 

“You named your pumpkin?” George sneered.

 

“Yes!” Alice said. “You can do that! It’s not in the rules!”

 

“Hey, don’t knock it,” Gordon said. “I named mine Terry.”

 

“Mine’s-mine’s name’s L’il Ed,” Edward said.

 

“Lead?” Donald said.

 

“L-L’il Ed,” Edward said.

 

Gerdie wanted to take her strange-looking, twisted pumpkin.

 

“It has runes on it!” she said.

 

They gathered some of their jack-o-lanterns and made sure they had plenty of wooden matches.

 

“The kitchen probably has more knives,” Gerdie said.

 

Gordon hefted one of the big jugs of the poison moonshine. It was very heavy.

 

“Should we pour that out?” Donald said.

 

“Either pour it out or pour it in something smaller so we can take some with us,” Gordon said.

 

Donald found a mason jar and they poured some of the moonshine into it. Gordon tucked it into his overalls. Donald went to look for a Bible but only found the really big family bible. He couldn’t find another one.

 

Gerdie went looking for guns, remembering several on a gun rack in the living room. There was a Remington Model 14A slide action rifle, a Springfield M1903 rifle, and a Remington M1894 double barrel shotgun. She couldn’t find any ammunition for any of the guns except for the Remington rifle, which had five bullets in it. She took the rifle to Gordon, who she knew was a good shot. He checked to see how many bullets there were and shouldered it.

 

Gerdie also grabbed a kitchen knife.

 

“Hey, Ed, you wanna hold this book?” Donald said, coming into the kitchen with the huge family bible.

 

“Oh I’m good at holding books,” Edward said. “I do it all day.”

 

Donald handed him the large family Bible.

 

“Oh,” Edward said, disappointed.

 

“Thanks Ed!” Donald said. “Keep that book. Remember, he said he had to bring the good book. I think that’s what he meant.”

 

“I-I-I-I-I’ve read a lot - I’ve read a lot of good books that didn’t - that told me more about the world than this,” Edward said.

 

“Wow!” Donald said.

 

“Wow,” Gordon said. “Hey, George, you can have your own wood axe now.”

 

He had seen another one behind the house.

 

“I don’t want no damned wood axe,” George said. “I got my baseball bat. I’m gonna beat some witches.”

 

Gordon got some other candles in the kitchen so they didn’t have to use the black ones. He cut them in half as they were very tall.

 

“Didn’t they say something about dogs?” Alice said. “Hunting dogs?”

 

“Boomer!” Gordon called out.

 

They found Boomer in the corner of the kitchen, still distressed from sniffing the horrible poisoned applejack. Gordon tried to get the dog to come with them but he was terrified of everything and snapped at the boy. Donald tried to pet him but he shied away from the boy, showing his teeth.

 

“Well, no dogs for us,” Donald said. “But we’ve got a Bible. Ain’t that right, Ed?”

 

“Yeah,” Edward said. “I-I-I-I still - I still have it.”

 

“Good!” Donald said. “We’re gonna need it, probably. I don’t know.”

 

He looked at the loaded down Edward with the Bible, jack-o-lantern, and matches.

 

“Maybe we should bring a backpack,” he said.

 

“Why?” Alice asked.

 

“So he don’t have to carry all that,” Donald said.

 

“I-I didn’t bring a backpack,” Edward said.

 

“You got one?” George said. “No!”

 

“I was gonna look!” Donald said.

 

“ None of us have backpacks!” George said.

 

“I’m going to look and see if Grandpa does,” Donald said.

 

He looked in Great Grandpa Silas’s closet but didn’t find anything they could use.

 

“H-H-H-Had we been on - had we been on a school trip, I would - I would always have my backpack,” Edward said.

 

“That’s great!” Donald said.

 

“And his pencil box,” George said.

 

“Yeah!” Edward said. “And-and my pencil box.”

 

“You can put it in this pillow case,” Gerdie said.

 

George grabbed Edward’s jack-o-lantern and tucked it under his arm.

 

“You can’t walk around like that, you idiot,” he said.

 

“What?” Edward said. “I-I-I-I-I was doing just fine.”

 

“You’re … shut up,” George said. “Put the matches in your pocket, dummy.”

 

Edward did so.

 

Donald grabbed a big butcher knife. His mother wouldn’t let him hold the one at home. Simon gave him a big smile.