“Happy Halloween,” April cried out with enthusiasm as she rushed out of their new house and took two suitcases from the trunk of the car. Will rolled his eyes and got out of the car with a sigh. “This Halloween will never be happy,” he thought, “as long as my sister keeps on talking about mythical creatures and paranormal abilities as if they were real!”
Will shouldered his backpack, grabbed a heavy box with his belongings and followed April into their new house. Why? Why did they have to move into this creepy log cabin in the mountain on the night of Halloween, when he was supposed to have fun with friends?
Someone pressed hard on his shoulders and whispered in his ear: “Scary, ha?” Startled, Will dropped the box on the floor. He frowned at April’s soft voice and picked the box up.
“It’s not funny,” he said, going up the stairs. “We left our life behind for a remote broken-down cabin!”
“The cabin is not broken-down at all. It’s wonderful – away from the hustle and bustle of the city. There are no crowds, no neighbors…” started April.
“No friends,” Will reminded her.
They put the baggage near the beds in their new bedroom. His gaze landed on April’s face. She hadn’t developed friendships valuable enough for her to feel any sorrow. In their hometown, April used to spend much more time on her own; not only did she avoid people, but also it seemed as if she felt relieved doing so. And she believed in magic. In a word, Will had the strangest sister in the universe.
Unlike April, he loved hanging out with friends and he just couldn’t accept having to part from them.
While the siblings were unpacking the bags, they could hear their parents chattering excitedly about the cabin and arranging their belongings in the living room. It appeared his whole family was okay with the cabin but him. Will couldn’t get rid of the feeling of being in danger. For as long as he could remember, he could sense that something bad was going to happen; as if there was somebody – or something – watching them from the corner of the room.
“Stop it!” Will said to himself. “April is starting to influence me. She is the one who believes or at least pretends to believe in supernatural forces”
Suddenly, the lights went out and the house plunged into darkness.
Photo: John Anster Fitzgerald / Wikimedia Commons
“I told you the cabin is haunted,” April gave a spooky laugh, making her nine-year-old brother shiver.
“The bulbs burned out,” came their mother’s voice from the first floor.
“All of them?” Will murmured with suspicion.
“Don’t be such a coward. It’s just a… coincidence,” April said.
“Yeah, another hint that the cabin isn’t worth it,” Will replied. His sister snorted.
They heard a sound of approaching steps and, in a few seconds, a bright light dazzled them.
“Your dad and I are going to the nearby town to buy some bulbs. He’s already starting the car,” their mum handed April two flashlights. “Take these and carry on unpacking.”
Will didn’t notice when the two were left alone. April passed the flashlight to him and they went on unpacking in silence. While Will was tidying away his clothes, he cast a glance at the silver beam of the flashlight. He couldn’t help sensing hostility.
Will put some clothes in his drawer and turned towards April. She was listening with both ears and by the cautiousness in her eyes he got the feeling that there was something wrong with the continuing knocking.
April put her index finger before her lips giving Will a sign to keep silent. Then she pointed the wall where the knocks were coming from. Will approached her and stood on tiptoes in order to ask in a hardly audible whisper: “Is that some kind of joke?”
April grinned at him. “You won’t scare me,” she said.
“Neither will you,” Will replied refusing to pay attention to the sneaking feeling of being watched.
The siblings went out of the room and down the stairs, lighting their way with the torches. Will was positive his sister was trying to play a prank on him – it was Halloween after all – but he would not let her fool him.
They scanned the living room but, despite the constant knocking, there was not a soul. April and Will checked the dusty kitchen, which turned out to be empty as well. The boy caught a glance of his sister, who was digging through the box with food, and opened a couple of cupboards whose doors creaked creepily. Will frowned at the sight of bugs crawling across the dusty shelves, remembering the close-at-hand facilities, the neat apartment and the funny friends he had at their old place. In the darkness of the old cabin, Will felt more lonely than ever. Instead of going door-to-door in a costume of a monster and collecting candy, he had to go through his sister’s tricks and settle down in the solitary cottage.
Will heard the knocks on the wall and shivered. He looked around, but April had disappeared. Great! He had walked straight into her trap, distracted with his past as he was.
Shining the flashlight in front of him, Will went into the living room and shouted: “Sis, come out. I know it’s a joke.”
April showed at the top of the stairs. “Shh, Will! The knocks are coming from behind the wall. I looked around the whole house, but I didn’t see anyone.”
Something about the concern in her voice suggested she wasn’t playing a trick on him. April walked up to him and took him by the hand. This came as a surprise since his sister disliked touching anyone, as if she was suffering from an infectious disease.
Then the knocks were replaced by a crunch. The siblings looked at its direction and saw a fluffy squirrel eating the biscuits that had been left on the coffee table by their mother.
As soon as the flashlights’ beams fell over the animal, it cast the biscuits away, jumped off the table and hid in a hole in the wall.
“It’s been a squirrel all along,” April sighed and laughed with relief.
“Did you really think it could be a ghost or something?” Will asked and picked up a handful of biscuits.
April said nothing but he could read in her eyes that, for a moment, she had been scared the knocks had been caused by a supernatural being.
As their parents were late, the siblings had supper, put on their pyjamas and huddled together for warmth in the cold double bed. April brought up the story of the last fantasy book she’d read. Feeling safe next to his elder sister, Will thought their new home was not so bad.
Then they heard steps approaching the bedroom.
“These should be Mum and Dad’s,” said Will with surprisingly low voice.
“I didn’t hear the car,” April replied. Did Will sense a fear in his sister’s voice?
At that moment, the flashlights cast their white beams over a tall shaggy creature whose picture Will had only seen in April’s encyclopedia of myths. It was called ‘satyr’ – a being half-man-half-goat.
The creature standing in front of the siblings was holding a familiar plate and eating the rest of the biscuits. And if the man was wearing a costume, God, it looked quite real.
At this point the boy reluctantly believed in his sister’s stories.
The satyr swallowed another chocolate biscuit and revealed its crooked white teeth in a grin. “Come on, you always knew magic was real. Halloween has its secrets. Don’t you know them?”