Gordon led them out of the house and they headed for the apple orchard. As they walked away from the house, the back door suddenly flew open with a crash. No one was standing there.
"What if she's gonna kill our parents while we're gone?" Donald asked.
"That's what the poison's for," Gerdie said. "To kill "˜em."
"Well the door flew open," Donald said.
The wind picked up and Alice ran for the apple orchard with her switchblade out.
"You're not supposed to run with scissors, let alone a switchblade," Gerdie called, ever the voice of reason.
Alice stopped to wait for the rest.
As they headed for the apple orchard, one of the apples on the ground flung itself at them, flying over their heads and barely missing Gordon.
"What was that!?!" George cried out.
"Maybe we shoulda brought more pumpkins!" Donald said.
"How can pumpkins protect us?"
"Maybe you're hiding it and they can't see it."
"It's right here!"
"Well! Why are they flying at us?"
"Well-well-well-well, we can - we can conduct an experiment," Edward said. "If we - if we - if we light one of the pumpkins and see if it happens and, if it happens again, then they don't protect us."
"Yeah, light it up!" Donald said.
"There's not a candle in this pumpkin," George said.
He still held Edward's jack-o-lantern.
"Put one in there," Donald said.
Gerdie took one of the black candles out of the pillowcase and put it in her terrible-looking jack-o-lantern. She lit it and it flung strange lights all over the place.
"That's not even a jack-o-lantern!" George said to her. "It's just a pumpkin with weird holes in it!"
"So's yours," Gordon said.
George looked at Edward's jack-o-lantern.
"This is a jack-o-lantern!" he said. "Will be if there's a candle in it."
Edward lit one of the black candles and put it into the jack-o-lantern. Alice did the same, taking one of the black candles into her own and lighting it up. Gordon put a regular candle in his own jack-o-lantern and lit it. A couple of more strange things happened but neither was anywhere near Alice's or Edward's jack-o-lanterns. Donald guessed it was because they had the black candles in them. Edward and Gordon figured the well-carved jack-o-lanterns, when they had a black candle within, were keeping the terrible spirits away.
"E-e-e-excuse me, group," Edward said. "I-I have an announcement. My hy - my hypothesis was correct."
"Your what?" Donald said.
"Oh. What's that?"
"It-it-it-it is - it is a reasonably concluded prediction based-based-based on a "¦" Edward said.
"What did you find?" Alice asked.
"I-I think that - that the - that the pumpkins - that the pumpkins that turned out - that turned out well," Edward said. "Sorry - sorry Gerdie. W-w-when they - when they have the candles in them, they-they n-n-nothing bad has happened to people who have those."
"Just "˜cause mine's different doesn't mean that it's bad," Gerdie said.
"I-I-I-I-I didn't mean - I didn't mean - I didn't mean to say that but-but-but..." Edward said.
"It's bad, Gerdie," George said. "It's so bad."
"What do you know!?!" Gerdie said.
"I have eyes!" George said.
"But-but-but-but what I, well..." Edward said.
"Looks like a potato!" George said.
Edward, with some difficulty explained how the other two pumpkins with black candles seemed to be keeping the things at bay while Gerdie's hadn't.
"Well, you didn't give me your pumpkin," Gerdie said.
"Mine sucked anyway," Donald said.
"Why, you want this one?" George said.
"Yeah," Gerdie said.
"All right, here," George said.
He handed Edward's jack-o-lantern to her and she put her own on the ground. Gordon replaced the candle from the kitchen in his own jack-o-lantern with Gerdie's black candle. George picked up Gerdie's pumpkin.
"Don't hurt my pumpkin!" she said.
George moved it from the center of the path, putting it next to a tree.
"So nobody steps on it, dummy," he said.
Alice continued walking through the orchard. The strange things stopped happening to them completely, as if whatever was causing it feared the jack-o-lanterns and was keeping its distance. They crossed the apple orchard without any other problems. On the other side was Great Grandpa Silas's cornfield, which had very few stalks left though a few still stood, scattered around the field.
Gerdie noticed some of the scarecrows seemed to be missing.
"Gordie, you did take the scarecrow costumes, didn't you?" she said.
"I did not!" Gordon said.
"You took it down!"
"I did not!"
"Well, where is it then?"
"They're right over "¦ oh," Gordon said.
The other children looked around.
"Oh, there it is!" George said. "It's over there."
"Wait a minute," Donald said.
"That's closer than it was."
"Didn't you say they walked around? You said they walked around."
"I thought they were bodies!" Alice said.
"Maybe they were," Donald said.
"They shouldn't be able to walk around," Alice said.
"We're not supposed to be out here late," Gerdie said.
It looked like several of the scarecrows were missing. One was nearer to them off to the right, not in the same place any of the children remembered it being during their hayride earlier. Alice pointed it out.
"I told you they moved!" Gerdie said. "You didn't believe me!"
"This is strange," Alice said.
"Hold on!" Edward said, not stuttering at all. "Nobody look at that scarecrow!"
"I already did," Donald said.
"Then look away!" Edward said.
"Okay," Donald said.
All of the children looked away from the scarecrow. Edward waited a little bit and then turned back. The scarecrow was standing right next to him. Then it lifted up its arms and brought them down on the boy.
"My hypothesis was correct!" he cried out as the scarecrow beat on him.
Edward was not hurt though he was terrified.
"Hey guys!" he cried out. "Hey guys! Gimme a hand with this!"
Two other scarecrows stood up in the cornfield where they had been laying down and started shuffling towards the children. Alice ran over and grabbed Edward's arm.
Donald rushed the scarecrow with his butcher knife, stabbing the thing. It didn't seem to do much of anything. He grunted in frustration. Gerdie moved towards the scarecrow and held up Edward's jack-o-lantern so the light from it fell on the thing. There was a strange hissing noise as the light seemed to burn the cloth that made up the body of the scarecrow.
"Look out!" George yelled.
He rushed the thing, swinging away with his baseball bat. He struck it in the head, knocking the painted on smiling face of it's horrible burlap-sack head sideways. The thing stumbled but did not fall. Gordon, having seen the light hurt the thing, also rushed forward and shined the light from his own jack-o-lantern on it.
Alice started to pull out her switchblade but, when she saw the light from the other jack-o-lanterns hurt it, she moved forward to shine her own upon it. Edward backed away, cowering from the scarecrow.
"Get behind me!" Gerdie said.
"That's a very astute observation with the jack-o-lantern Gerdie, thank you!" Edward said quickly.
The scarecrow beat George about the head and shoulders but it didn't seem to really hurt the boy. Hay flew from the thing, scattering around the field and the children. Donald held up his lantern but the light from it didn't seem to do anything to the scarecrow.
"Get him, Donald!" Simon called.
Donald stabbed the scarecrow but didn't seem to harm or injure it in anyway. He cursed. Gerdie held up her jack-o-lantern, burning the thing once again.
"Home run!" George yelled.
He swung and completely missed the scarecrow, leaning back to far during the swing.
"You call "˜home run' after you hit it," Gerdie said.
"Shut up, Gerdie!" George yelled.
"Whoopsie daisy!" Alice said.
Gordon put down his jack-o-lantern and pulled his axe out of his belt. He swung away, cutting the scarecrow in half. The burlap tore, straw flew out, and the scarecrow crashed to the ground in pieces.
"See, that's how you do it, George!" he said.
"Now you can shout "˜home run,'" Gerdie said.
George stared at the two for a moment.
"I loosened it for you," he said lamely.
"That could've been my head," Donald said.
Alice stared down at the scarecrow. She had not been expecting just hay, but thought a person was in the scarecrow or at least a dead body. Edward was also surprised that the scarecrow was only filled with hay. It had felt like something a lot heavier had struck him before. He looked around and saw Gordon's jack-o-lantern on the ground. He picked it up and pointed it at the nearest scarecrow, quaking in fear.
The things walked towards the children. Donald didn't think his knife was hurting the scarecrows so he backed up, putting the children with jack-o-lanterns between him and the scarecrows. Gerdie moved a little in front of Edward, guessing he was terrified. George moved just in front of the children with the pumpkins and waited with his baseball bat, choking up on it. Gordon joined him. Alice moved up to where Gerdie and Edward shined their lights at the scarecrows.
Edward let out a cry as the scarecrows stepped into the jack-o-lantern light.
"It's okay, Edward!" Alice said. "It's okay!"
The scarecrows started to blacken and burn. They still tramped forward and beat on George and Gordon. The one beating on George didn't really hurt him but the one attacking George injured him a little but, smacking him in the head. Donald, behind everyone, looked behind them to make sure nothing was sneaking up on them. Nothing was.
As the light burned the terrible scarecrows, George swung away again, knocking the scarecrow's head off and then smashed the body and the legs of the thing, hay flying as it collapsed and stopped moving.
"You got your costume now, Gordie," Gerdie said.
"Yeah," Gordon said.
He brought his axe down, cleaving the scarecrow right down the center and ripping it to shreds.
"Cut in twain!" he shouted.
"That costume's no good anymore Gordie," Gerdie said.
"We have two others," Gordon said.
George was still smashing the scarecrow he'd knocked down, bringing his baseball bat down again and again on the clothing lying in the dirt.
"George, you don't have to prove a point," Gerdie said.
"You're right," George said.
"I just did."
"Wow, you guys," Edward said. "That was - that was - that was some really good fisticuffs."
"What?" Donald said.
"You did really good with your pumpkin," Gerdie said.
"Thank you!" Edward said.
"Yeah, you just keep holding that," Gordon said. "And I'll hold onto my axe."
They continued across the cornfield, George and Gordon leading the way with their weapons ready. A few stalks still stood, along with a few overlooked corncobs. About halfway across, some of the stalks leaned in and the corncobs tried to bite at them. When the light from the jack-o-lanterns hit the stalks, they started burning.
"The corn's getting revenge!" Gerdie yelled. "It's eating us! I knew this day would come!"
Donald grabbed one of the cornstalks, brandishing his knife to cut it. Gerdie held up her jack-o-lantern and some of the nearby stalks burned.
"Ah!" Donald yelled. "I never liked corn!"
"Me either!" George replied.
George smashed some of the stalks with his baseball bat. Gordon smashed a few stalks that didn't seem to be moving. Alice and Edward brandished their jack-o-lanterns, Alice burning an ear of corn, the corn teeth falling out. She reached over to pick up the horrible teeth and found them just pieces of corn. Edward held his jack-o-lantern over his head in defiance of the terrible field.
Corncobs came at Gordon, one of them biting him with strange, corn teeth. He was bleeding and it hurt. Donald cut the stalk that he had grabbed. Gerdie burned more stalks with her jack-o-lantern and then George tore through numerous corncobs and stalks.
"Die! Die! Die!" George cried as he smashed at the field. "You okay, Gordie?"
"Yeah," Gordon said.
They crossed the rest of the cornfield without incident.
As they entered the forest, they found an old trail. Gordon and Gerdie realized there had never been a trail there before.
"Hey guys, it's-it's-it-it's a convenient trail for us to follow," Edward said.
"Yes, very convenient," Alice said, suspicious.
She reached down and touched it.
The ground of the trail looked black and they realized it was a very old trail that had been overgrown. The reason it was visible was all the plants growing on it were dead. Plants on either side of the path seemed to be fine.
"Maybe they won't attack us anymore," Alice said.
"W-w-w-what this reminds me of-of-of-of-of when the Romans salted the earth in the Battle of Carthage," Edward said.
They all looked at him.
"I guess so," Alice said.
"Okay," George said.
"Or maybe the witch poisoned it," Gerdie said.
"Weird," Donald said. "Maybe there was a fire."
They followed the trail, that led up into the hills of Dunwich. The dark forest of nearly bare trees loomed all around them and they couldn't see far to either side. It was deathly quiet. No nighttime animals made any noises.
Eventually, they came to a large wooded hill. Strange stones all around the base of the hill glowed softly in the darkness. They examined the stones and found odd writing upon them. Gerdie recognized it as Hyperborean and saw the words spelled out "Zerrow's Tower." Other strange writings and glyphs upon the stones didn't spell out anything in particular.
A little boy was standing not far from Donald. He wore out-of-date clothing and a newsboy's cap. He had dark hair and looked to be about nine years old.
"Hey-hey-hey-hey-hey-hey-hey group," Edward said. "Who's that?"
He pointed at the little boy and Donald noticed he was pointing right at Simon. Donald looked past Simon but didn't see anyone there.
"Hey!" Alice said. "Who are you?"
Simon looked behind him too.
"No," Gordon said. "You with the hat, dummy."
"Me?" Simon said. "You can see me?"
"Yeah," Gordon said.
"Yes," Alice said. "Of course."
"Why wouldn't we be able to see you?" Gerdie said.
""˜Cause I'm always around," Simon said. "My name's Simon."
"Wait," Donald said. "You can see "¦ Simon? Oh."
"It's me!" Simon said. "They see me."
He suddenly frowned.
"Oh," he said. "They're all dead. You're all dead."
"No," he said.
"They must've died," Simon said.
"Are we dead now?" Gerdie said.
"What are you talking about!?!" Alice said.
"You mean you're already dead?" Gerdie asked Simon.
"You could see me when you were alive," Simon said to Donald.
"Yeah," Donald said.
"Do you know him?" Alice asked Donald.
"Yeah," Donald said.
"I'm Simon," Simon said. "I'm his friend."
"Yeah," Donald said.
"Hey "¦ does that mean I'm the only one with an imaginary friend?" Edward said quietly.
"I hear voices," Gerdie said. "Does that count?"
"Oh that's-that's-that's good too," Edward said.
"I'm not imaginary," Simon said. "I'm dead."
"Yeah, he's dead," Donald said, dazed.
"So, you're a ghost," Gerdie said.
"Ah "¦ okay," Simon said.
"Yeah," Donald said.
"Why-why don't you float?" Gerdie said.
"Iunno," Simon said.
"What happened to you?" Alice said.
"I died in a carriage accident," Simon said.
Edward had raised his hand.
"Ed, just ask the question," Gordon said. "We're not in school."
"Ex-excuse me," Edward said.
"Yeah, I got killed in a carriage accident," Simon said. "I got squished."
"Excuse me, Simon," Edward said. "Excuse me, Simon. Are-are there little people in your intestines?"
Simon looked at him.
"See? I told you!" Gerdie said. "He got squished but he's no longer squished."
"I dunno," Simon said. "I don't know. I can't get in there. See?"
He poked at his midsection.
"See?" Gerdie went on. "Ghost's spirits aren't affected by..."
"Yeah, I got squished," Simon said.
"That's why I thought Uncle Randolph's story was weird," Donald said.
George and Alice just stared at the little boy. Alice was a little surprised she couldn't see through him. He looked solid.
"But you're not see-through," Alice said.
"I wanna poke him," Gerdie said.
She poked Simon but her finger went right through him.
"Ah!" he said.
"Does that feel weird?" Gerdie asked.
"No, it doesn't feel like anything," Simon said. "Don't do that."
Simon poked himself.
"Hey, he can't get in there but you can get in there!" Gordon said. "See if there's little people."
Gerdie bent her head down and moved towards Simon, shoving her head into his midsection. He leapt away from her.
"No!" the ghost said. "Get away from me, you crazy girl!"
"Ghosts are different," Donald said.
"You've seen him?" Alice said.
"He's been here the entire time. I kept it a secret "˜cause people would think I'm crazy."
"I didn't know he was a ghost! I thought you were joking!"
"Uh "¦ yeah."
"Yeah Donald!" George said.
"I didn't see any little people, but "¦" Gerdie said.
"No little people," Gordon said.
"What?" Donald said. "What'd I do?"
"He's real!?!" George said.
"Yeah, he's real. You wouldn't have believed me!"
"No way there's little people," Gerdie said.
"You were lying to us all this time?" George said.
"You wouldn't have believed me if I said I saw ghosts!" Donald said.
"I might've. I might've. Would I have told you? Maybe."
"You would've told me I was crazy and I was lying."
"Well, you are crazy. And you are obviously a liar if you told us he was an imaginary friend."
"He's right there now. Now you can see."
"Yeah, but you were lying before!"
"He's not the only one I see!"
"He just hangs around me all the time."
"Wait. Wait," Alice said. "Why can we see you now?"
"Iunno," Simon said.
"Is it the lights?" Donald said.
"I-I-I-" Edward stuttered.
"Iunno," Simon said.
"That's-that's the connection that I made!" Edward said.
"Huh," Donald said.
"Maybe," Simon said.
"This doesn't hurt you does it?" Alice said, pointing her jack-o-lantern at Simon.
"What?" he said.
He noticed her jack-o-lantern.
"Nope," he said.
""˜Cause he's good!" Donald said.
"That-that was - that was - that was - that was - that was a good experiment," Edward said. "Thank you."
Alice looked at her pumpkin and nodded in agreement.
"Anyway," Donald said, a little embarrassed that his secret was out.
"Lying to me all these years," George said to himself.
"Well, you wouldn't have believed me!"
"Seeing ghosts "¦ there any ghosts in my house?"
"I dunno! I never been to your house!"
"Yes, you have. Oh. That was a long time ago though."
"I don't remember then."
"That was five years ago."
"I don't think so."
George started to describe the last time Donald had come to visit when the two families had met for dinner for some occasion that Donald didn't remember at all.
Gerdie dug around the large rocks but didn't find anything else of interest on them.
"Hey-hey," Edward said, noticing Gerdie staring at the letters. "Excuse me. Can-can-can-can-can you read that?"
"Yeah, but I don't know what it means," Gerdie said.
"What's it say?" Donald said.
"Zerrow's Tower," Gerdie said.
"Who's Zerrow?" Donald said.
He turned to Simon.
"Do you know who Zerrow is?" Donald said.
Simon shook his head.
"C-c-c-c-could you teach me?" Edward asked Gerdie.
"No one taught me," she said. "But I've always been able to read it. No one taught me. I don't know how to teach people."
She tried to point at the lettering and read out what it meant. Edward took notes. Then she took out her coins and read out what was written on them. Edward took more notes.
"She put her hand in me," Simon told Donald.
"Wait, you put your hand through him?" Donald asked Gerdie.
"Yeah," Gerdie said.
"That's rude," Alice said.
"Then I tried to stick my head in him," Gerdie said.
"What'd you see?" Donald asked.
"I was trying to look for little people, but he ran away."
"Oh. I've never done that before. Simon, can I stick my head in you?"
"No!" Simon said.
"Aw," Donald said. "But I've never done that."
"What is wrong with girls? Don't talk to girls!"
"I'm not a girl!"
"She told you to do it! Don't listen to her!"
Edward realized he didn't really have time to listen to Gerdie's translation of all her coins.
"W-w-w-w-we should exchange - exchange notes later," he said.
She looked at him. Then she put the coins away.
They headed up the trail through the silent and brooding woods. George kept glancing nervously at Simon as they walked.
"When did you die?" Alice asked the ghost.
"I don't know," Simon said.
"When were you born?" Gerdie asked.
"I don't know," Simon said. "I was nine."
"Your name's Simon," Alice said.
"My name's Simon," Simon said. "I don't remember my last name."
"D-d-d-d-do you remember your birthday?" Edward asked.
"No," Simon said.
"That's what I asked, dummy," Gerdie said.
"I never got a party like all the other kids," Simon said.
"What if today was your birthday?" Gerdie asked.
She looked at Edward.
"Happy Birthday!" they both said together.
"Happy Birthday!" Alice said.
Simon looked like he was going to cry.
"Thank you," Simon said quietly.
"Why didn't you ever give him a birthday?" Gerdie asked Donald.
"Yeah!" Alice said.
"I do!" George said. "But I can't tell anybody "¦ so we do it in my room."
"Aw," Alice said.
"They said it's today," Simon said.
"Yeah," Gerdie said.
Edward realized the young boy's clothing looked like something from the early 19th century.
"E-e-e-e-excuse - excuse me, y'all," Edward said. "It looks like his-his clothes, they're pretty - they're pretty old, probably-probably ninety- ninety or a hundred years old."
He made a surprised face.
"So, that's - that's her grandpa," Edmund said. "That's a grandpa right there."
"What?" Alice said.
"I'm not a grandpa!" Simon said.
"He's only nine!" Donald said.
"Yeah!" Simon said. "How can I be a grandpa?"
"Not nine - ninety," Edward said. "He's..."
"He's only nine!" Donald said.
"But he died!" Alice said. "When he was - he was nine!"
"But it - but it - but it - but-but-but-but-but-but it-it..." Edward said.
"But nothing!" Alice said. "It makes no sense."
"But his-his clothes," Edward said. "His clothes - hundred-hundred years ago when-when-when-when he woulda wore those clothes."
"But he died when he was nine," Alice said.
"How many birthdays has he had when he was dead?" Edward said.
"That doesn't mean he's a grandfather!" Alice said. "You're not making sense."
"He's saying it was a hundred years ago when he died!" George said. "He just says it poorly."
"I guess," Donald said. "He's still nine."
"Ninety-nine," George said. "A hundred and nine."
"No!" Alice said.
"No, he's only nine," Donald said. "He's been around for a bunch of years though."
"Oh God," George said. "Girls are so dumb!"
Alice took out her switchblade and, with the push of a button, the knife popped out.
"I'm not a afraid of you Alice," George said with a pout.
But he did walk faster.
"But he's only nine," Donald said.
"But if he - but if he can have a - but if he can have a birthday - if he can have a birthday when he's a ghost, then he can get older when he's a ghost," Edward said.
They saw light coming from the top of the hill as they approached. It flickered like firelight.
At the top of the hill was a small clearing. A fire burned in the center, just visible through the trees. Once atop the hill, they found a ring of six poles, each nine feet tall. The poles were set upright and hung with bones, claws, feathers, and bundles of sticks tied into strange shapes. The ring of poles was about 20 feet across with the fire burning in its center, over which boiled a large, black cauldron. Strange wisps of green and white rose from the bubbling fluid inside the cauldron. They seemed to defy the wind and drifted about, slowly vanishing into the forest
"I think this is the witch's place," Donald whispered.
Edward and Gerdie both realized some kind of terrible spell was in the process of being cast. Gerdie, Edward, Alice, and Donald all noticed glowing eyes in the wisps of vapor, making them feel a little uneasy. Gerdie, Gordon, Donald, and George all thought they heard low cries for help coming from the cauldron. They recognized them as the voice of their parents, aunts, uncles, and other relatives currently asleep at Great Grandpa Silas's farm.
"H-h-h-h-hey y'all," Edward said. "W-w-w-w-with my studies of - of - of witches - of witches and Wiccan culture I think that th-there's a spell being cast and we should - we should - we- we should dump some dirt in the cauldron."
"Dirt?" Donald said.
Alice didn't think he was correct in that regard.
"What do you mean!?!" Alice said.
"I mean - I-I-I mean - I mean - I mean - I mean - this-this-this-this is the source of the - of the spell - that-that-that was in the book," Edward said. "The sleep spell."
"No it's not!" Alice said. "Don't you anything about nature!?!"
"Why would you put the...?" Donald said.
"Things like this are normal!" Alice said.
"I-I've-I've-I've-I've read several books on the topic," Edward said.
Alice thought on it and realized she might have been mistaken in her assessment of the situation. It certainly did look suspicious.
"That sounds like my dad!" George said.
"I'm gonna agree with egghead here," Gordon said.
"Dad!" Donald said.
At the far end of the clearing, within the ring of poles, was a large, glowing rock. It was flat and covered in strange runes that Gerdie immediately recognized as more ancient Hyperborean. Edward and Alice could make out strange noises but had not yet recognized their parents.
"I hear voices!" Donald said.
"We-we-we-we need - we need to figure out how to stop the spell," Edward said.
"Did you say put dirt in the cauldron?" Gordon said.
"Well, maybe there's instructions on the altar," Gerdie said.
"Bust the poles?" George said.
"Why dirt?" Donald said.
"Instructions?" George said. "Like a manual?"
"Yeah!" Gerdie said.
George rolled his eyes.
"Well, there's no witch's book!" Gerdie said. "Do you see a witch's book?"
"He had a book," George said, pointing at Edward.
"What if that kills them if you put dirt?" Donald said.
"What - who - who - who..." Edward said. "Who's in the cauldron?"
"You didn't hear it?" Donald said.
"Hear-hear what?" Edward said.
"Voices!" Donald said. "It sounds like my mom and dad in there!"
Edward listened more closely and then realized the noises coming from the cauldron were voices, calling for help. He recognized the sound of his parents.
"See!?!" Donald said.
"Simon, do you know anything about this?" Alice said to the boy's ghost.
Simon just shook his head.
"I ain't never seen nothing like this before," Simon told her.
"Okay!" Edward suddenly said. "Okay! Uh "¦ we need to figure out - we need - we need - we need - we need - we need - we need - we need to figure out what to do pretty quick!"
"So, we don't put dirt in it!" Donald said. "What if their souls were in there? No. Well, if they were souls, they'd look like him."
Donald pointed at Simon.
Alice had overheard their conversation and heard her mother's voice coming from the cauldron as well.
"That's my mom," Alice said. "That's everyone! What are "¦ what are they doing here?"
"Well, they went to sleep..." Donald said.
"You're the witch!" George said. "You tell us!"
"Excuse me?" Alice said.
"What?" Donald said.
"Girls are witches!" George said, looking around, obviously terrified.
"Maybe the witch wants to use their souls to make her live forever," Gerdie said.
Donald slapped George.
"Ow!" George said. "God dammit, Donald!"
He slapped the other boy back and a slap-fight ensued.
"All right! All right!" Alice said. "Stop this! You boys are all the same."
George picked up his baseball bat. He'd dropped it when the little fight had commenced.
"Well, he's being dumb!" Donald said. "I was..."
"I would - I would - I would - I would make a counter - counter argument that - that if - that if Grandpa - if Grandpa's story w-was true, maybe the witch is c-coming - coming back for revenge f-from when they stopped - from when they stopped her ritual before," Edward said.
"Well, put her back in a hole," Donald said.
"Yeah!" George said. "Put her in a hole!"
"Maybe she's finding a baby then," Gerdie said.
"But "¦ what?" Donald said.
"What?" Alice said.
"Grandpa was a baby when she stole him," Gerdie said.
"Yeah, but "¦" Donald said.
"Are-are-are we babies?" Edward said.
"I don't - I wouldn't think so," Gerdie said.
"Oh no!" Donald said.
"You are!" George said to Edward.
"I'm 13!" Alice said.
Gerdie took Edward over to the altar, going around the circle of poles. Gordon followed her. George held back, staying near the trail that led to the hilltop, looking around nervously. Alice and Donald went to the cauldron. As soon as they stepped foot in the ring around the altar, Cousin Maureen walked out of the dark woods nearby and stood near the altar. Gordon, Alice, and Donald, just for a moment, saw her as a moldering corpse and could smell the stench of death about the woman. Donald gasped.