There was a thunder storm that night and a terrible wind. Outside it sounded like a team of wolves and a
team of ghosts were having a Ďbeing noisyí competition. Every now and then, a giant clapped his approval
after a particularly good effort by one of the teams.
Erin tossed and turned in her bed. She could not get to sleep. Lightning flashed and cast momentary shadows
of dancing monsters on the bedroom walls. Erin was scared. She needed to hide. She needed to get away
from the wolves, away from the ghosts, away from the giant and away from the monsters. She got out of bed.
Lottie was fast asleep beside her, dreaming pleasant dreams, blissfully unaware of the noisy competition.
Erin went out onto the landing. She heard footsteps coming up the stairs and froze with fear. The footsteps
got closer but Erin couldnít move. Then around the corner came a figure a little taller than her. Louis
stopped in his tracks, startled to see someone standing there. Then they both recognised one another and
began to laugh.
"I canít sleep," said Erin.
"Me neither," Louis replied. "I hate thunder storms. Letís hide somewhere. Iíve brought my torch.
What about in here? The monsters will never find us in here." Louis pointed to the little door at the
top of the stairs. Erin nodded. Louis opened the door and they stooped a little to go inside. Then they
both stood with mouths agape as they suddenly found themselves somewhere quite unexpected.
In front of them was a long wooden path. The wood of the path was dark and shiny and smooth at the sides,
but down the middle it was rough and worn, as if many feet had passed this way before. Either side of the
path was a high fence. It was too high to see over and there were no gaps to look through. Louis tried to
reach up to the top of the fence. He could not. He tried jumping. Still he didnít come close. Then he tried
lifting Erin up to see if she could reach. But it was no use. Louis reached into his pocket and found a coin.
He took it out, threw it over the top of the fence and waited to hear what sound it would make on
the other side. He waited some more. He looked at Erin. They both waited some more. No sound ever came.
On walked the intrepid adventurers, feeling more than a little uneasy about the coin experiment, but
determined to see what lay ahead. Eventually, the path led to a tall arch. After walking through the arch
they found themselves in a small room. A thick red carpet covered the floor. It also covered the ceiling
and the walls.
"How strange," Erin thought. "A carpet on the ceiling. What ever can that be for? Nobody ever walks on
the ceiling. Well, spiders do of course, and flies and daddy long legs. Maybe the carpet is for them."
In the middle of the far wall was a picture frame. There wasnít a picture in the frame. It just had a
large red letter A in the middle on a plain white background. In the centre of the room was a small black
table and on the table stood a white box with a single red button in the centre of it.
Before Erin had time to think about it, Louis strode confidently forward and pressed the button.
Suddenly the letter in the picture frame changed quickly to a B and then a C and then a D. It kept
changing again and again, going through all the letters in the alphabet. After Z it changed back to A
again and then B again and then C again. This continued until all the letters in the alphabet had appeared
three times. Then the changes became slower. Each letter stayed just a little longer. Eventually the letter
stopped changing. It stopped at the letter W. A faint cracking noise could be heard and the outline of a
door began to appear around the picture frame.
Erin and Louis looked at each other, their eyes wide, and then looked back at the newly appeared door.
They looked at each other again. Without speaking, they both began to move towards the door. The new door
had no handle. Louis pushed on the right side of the door. It seemed stuck. Erin pushed on the left side.
This time, the door swung open and they walked through into what appeared to be a shop. There were a
counter and various shelves with bottles and bags of what looked like crushed up dried leaves on them.
Behind the counter, a woman stood over a stove on which stood a large black cooking pot with steam rising
from it. The woman wore a blue dress and an apron with red and white checks. Her hair was fiery red and
was tied neatly in bunches. Her eyes were deepest blue with delicate wrinkles either side and her skin was
pale with brown freckles.
"Hello there, my dears," said the old lady. "What can I do for you?"
"Who are you?" asked Louis.
"My nameís Claria. Iím a witch. What brings you here? I donít think Iíve seen you two before."
"Are you a good witch or a bad witch?" asked Louis.
"Iím not sure I know what you mean," replied the witch.
"You know! Are you wicked or are you kind?" Louis explained further.
"Hmmm," pondered the old lady, rubbing her chin for an extra boost of thinking power. "Do I have to choose
one or the other?"
"Yes, of course! Everyone knows that all witches are either good witches or bad witches. You can generally
tell by looking at them. You know: the bad ones are green with warts and great big hooked noses. They
talk in croaky voices and cackle instead of laughing. Whatís more, the things they laugh about are usually
not funny at all, but really horrid," explained Erin.
"Thatís right!" Louis agreed. "And good witches are beautiful with pretty pink dresses and wands with stars on and
silver crowns and they use big bubbles to fly around in instead of broomsticks and their voices are like a
carol-singing choir, only with the volume turned down a bit." Louis often saw little point in separate sentences.
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