|By T.K. Millin|
The pounding rain and tumultuous thunder seemed a blessing to him as he crossed the county line into Whisper Cove; because if there was one thing he liked more than surprises, it was being the surprise.
He slowly drove past a row of dilapidated buildings and brought the bus to a squeaky stop and grinned, it was perfect.
Whisper Cove was not the first town he had arrived in unexpectedly, and it wouldn’t be the last.
Just like all the other towns before, by the time Halloween morning had loomed, Whisper Cove had a new resident and every lamp post throughout town was adorned with colorful flyers announcing the grand opening of Boris’ Haunted House of Wax.
Caitlin swayed back and forth on the porch swing hoping there wouldn’t be another storm tonight. She wanted to look perfect in the costume her mother had made her for Hannah’s Halloween party. She liked dressing up and being someone else and she also knew her costume would be the best out of all the other sixth graders.
“Hey Hannah wait up!” Caitlin swung open the front door, grabbed her red hoodie and trotted down the steps.
“Did you hear the news?” Hannah continued walking.
“No.” Caitlin slipped her hoodie over her head, blindly trying to catch up.
“There’s a haunted house of wax in town.”
Caitlin slid her hood back and tucked her hair behind her ears. “Since when?”
“Since last night. It suddenly popped up out of nowhere and just in time for Halloween.”
“Wow! Where is it?”
“Over by the old abandoned school and grocery store.”
“Is that where you’re going?”
“Yeah, want to come along?”
Caitlin reached inside her pockets. “I do, but I don’t have any money.”
Hannah pulled an orange piece of paper from her coat pocket, unfolded it and handed it to Caitlin. “This says any visitor's brave enough to enter get in free.”
Caitlin glanced over the page. "Let's go!"
In anticipation of who his first guests would be, he made sure the lighting was perfect and everyone was in their proper place. Then he stood back and smiled.
An echo of the pounding door knocker woke him from his fantasizing and he briskly made his way toward the door.
“Welcome to Boris‘ Haunted House of Wax.” He bowed and gestured for them to enter.
Caitlin nudged Hannah in the side and Hannah nudged back.
“Please do not be afraid, we have a splendid show for you.”
Hannah hesitated and then stepped forward. “Are you Mr. Boris?”
The right side of his mouth curled up, leaving the left side frozen in place. “You will meet Mr. Boris in a little while. I’m the caretaker.”
Hannah looked back at Caitlin and shrugged and then stepped over the threshold. Caitlin took a deep breath, gulped and stood next to Hannah. The caretaker closed the door and then silently turned the lock.
They kept their distance between them and the caretaker as they followed him down a dimly lit corridor. “You young ladies must be best of friends.”
Hannah reached over and grabbed Caitlin’s hand and squeezed and replied, “We do everything together.”
Caitlin returned the gesture. “Since the second grade.”
He turned to the right and walked through a black draped curtain. They looked at each other and nodded. Hannah walked through first and Caitlin slowly followed behind.
“Wow how cool!” They said in unison.
They ran from one display to the other not noticing the caretaker had slipped out of the room or that each of them had turned a different direction.
“Look Hannah, it’s all the Wizard of Oz people! They even have Toto.” She reached out and touched the stiff fur.
"It feels so real."
"It feels so real."
She turned around in a circle only to find herself alone in a room filled with not only the Wizard of Oz people, but Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and the Seven Dwarfs, Alice in Wonderland and, even, The Three Little Pigs. All her favorites.
Hearing footsteps, she said, “Hannah? Mr. Caretaker? Is that you?” The footsteps became louder and the room suddenly became cold. She pulled the hood of her hoodie up over her head and called out again, getting the same response.
Remembering it was a haunted house of wax, she stepped over the red velvet barrier between her and Toto and hid behind the Cowardly Lion.
When the footsteps faded away, Caitlin stepped out from her hiding place and there in the middle of the room she saw The Three Little Pigs running around huffing and puffing; Cinderella scrubbing the floors, Alice drinking tea as the Cheshire Cat floated in mid-air, and the Seven Dwarfs combing Sleeping Beauty’s hair while she laid snoring.
Caitlin jumped back behind the Cowardly Lion and when it turned and growled, her screams disappeared in the sudden outbreak of the melody, Follow the Yellow Brick Road.
“Caitlin where are you?” Hannah shouted as she ran from room to room.
Suddenly, she heard the echoes of voices from down the hall and she ran in hopes of finding real live people. As she approached the room it became dead silent.
“Caitlin? Mr. Caretaker? Was that you?” She stepped inside the room only to discover she was alone.
Awestruck by another room filled with lifelike wax figures, she reached out and petted Toto. She looked around and giggled at The Three Little Pigs; she wished she could be Cinderella or Alice and she wanted to be as beautiful as Sleeping Beauty. But, the one display she liked the most was, Little Red Riding Hood.
Hearing footsteps approach the room, she quickly stepped over the red velvet barrier between her and Little Red Riding Hood, and she hid behind the long red cloak.
When the footsteps faded away, Little Red Riding Hood turned and smiled and Hannah screamed, “Caitlin, no!”
Total word count: 990