Sunday, May 14, 2017
1st 5 Pages May Workshop - Garrett Rev 1
Name: Catherine Garrett
Genre: Young Adult with the genre Urban Fantasy
Title: Randa Rune and the Erie Street Witch
In the snow-covered front yard of the alleged haunted house of Erie Street, I stand with a tree branch in my hands. The glow from the street lights illuminates the crumbling heap of a house. Sections of siding are missing that expose a wooden skeleton beneath, and cedar roof tiles stick up like jagged teeth.
The attached conservatory’s dome of stained-glass panels are soiled from time and neglect. My breaths drift high in frosty white pillows, my gaze following to the peak where three ravens rest. They always squawk when anyone draws near. Now they are as silent as death.
A rhyme flits through my thoughts as with me, rhymes always do.
There is a house on Erie Street,
Where ravens, and spiders, and rodents creep.
The man who lives there is a witch you know,
With gnarled fingers and a crooked nose.
Under Asher’s arm, Chester Pug whimpers. He hates when anyone holds him, except me. All I need is my dog and rhyme journal back; then I’m out of here. As Asher grips Chester Pug tighter, I open my mouth to protest, but before I can speak, he snaps his fingers near my cherished companion’s buggy eyes. Chester Pug’s little legs go limp, his tongue lolling out the side of his mouth like it does when he’s settling in for a nap.
“Quit stalling and smash a window, Rhyming Randa,” Asher says in a sharp tone.
I hate that stupid nickname. Why didn’t I scream when Asher sprang from behind that tree? Because he’s the boy from school who beat up a senior jock, and I’m just Rhyming Randa who everyone picks on.
“What did you do to my dog?” I say squeezing the branch. Does he know hypnosis or something?
“Don’t worry about your dog. I have a way with animals so just hurry up and break a window,” he says.
I stare at the tree limb in my hands, then at Chester Pug under Asher’s arm, my treasured rhyme journal tucked between them. Bolting to the street is not an option, but neither is breaking my neighbor's window to appease some bully. “Break it yourself.” I pitch the branch on the ground.
Asher huffs and picks it up. With his eyes on me, he raises it like a one-handed batter. I stagger backward and stumble onto my knees. Then Asher faces the conservatory and swings. The tree limb makes contact with a window, but nothing happens; not a crack, nor a shatter, or even a dull thud.
“Now, you take a shot.” He tosses the branch to the ground in front of me. All but my heart remains statue-like as Asher crouches before me, his dark eyes unblinking beneath pierced eyebrows. “Just hit a window, Rhyming Randa.”
“Why?” I let free a held breath and breathe out the word. “If you can’t break it, what makes you think I can?”
“Just do it,” he says, his voice now calm as if he’s soothing a child who’s tumbled off a bike. But I’m not buying it.
With my vision blurred by tears I won’t dare let slip by the border of my eyes, I snatch the branch and haul myself up. Behind me, an old oak’s limbs sway in the frigid winter wind; it’s shadow like gnarled fingers summoning me to escape. I step near the dome of glass, my long blonde hair whipping across my face. Taking aim at a single pane, I swing with all I’ve got.
The branch hits my mark. I know it because the impact stings my hands and vibrates up my arms, but as with Asher’s attempt, nothing happens, not even a sound. Staggering back a few steps, I toss the limb aside when a shower of glass rains onto the snow followed by Asher’s cry of victory.
Before my brain can register the peculiar pause that took place before the glass shattered, sparkling green vapor seeps from within the conservatory. It curls around the edges of the pointy shards, followed by finger-like slithering vines.
As the vapor drifts in the air around us, I detect a sweet aromatic fragrance, perhaps flowers, but remain fixed on the creeping plants filling the jagged gap. I glance at Asher, who also watches with his mouth hanging open, then I look back at the window. The glass has reappeared. The vapor and vines are gone.
“See, that’s proof there’s a spell on this house,” says Asher. He shoves Chester Pug into my arms, but my rhyme journal remains in his grasp.
I inch near the window. Not a mark or a crack is visible, so I slip off a mitten and bravely tap the glass. “A spell? What just happened?” The words glide across my lips in barely a whisper. The longer I ponder what I just saw, the more my mind spins.
Asher grabs the passive dog from my arms and says, “Randa?”
I’m paralyzed, but feel every beat of my heart and hear the rush of blood in my ears. Tingles run up my back raising the hair on the nape of my neck.
“Look,” says Asher. He shoves his palm so close to my nose that I’m set off balance and stumble. Then I notice he’s holding a red pyramid-shaped stone.
I recover my voice, and with no regard for who hears, I shout, “Did you see that? The window…how did that happen?”
“Yes, I saw it. The rumors are true, and you just proved it. The old guy is a witch. Look a this.” Asher holds up the stone. “I found this yesterday buried under that snowdrift. See those?” He points over his shoulder to a snowdrift rimming the conservatory.
“See what?” I can’t take my eyes off the dome of glass, half expecting more of the eerie green gas to ooze out.
“Those indents in the snow. I bet more of these rocks are buried there.”
I laugh. It’s not a hearty, joyful laugh, but one that stems from nerves on overdrive, which releases some of the tension in my chest. Asher’s right. There must be over ten divots spaced evenly apart, yet I can’t shake what I saw.
From inside his coat, Asher produces a cloth sack and drops the stone in. Who carries stuff like that around? Asher Eastwyke isn’t just a bully; he’s nuts.
While Asher digs, I scoop up Chester Pug and sneak backward, then dash toward the street. Before I can even make it to the oak tree, Asher seizes my arm.
“I didn’t say you could leave.”
“Let me go,” I yank free. “Keep my journal. Show everyone at school my rhymes. Like that will make my life any worse.”
“Just help me dig up the rest of these stones, then you can have it back.”
He latches onto my sleeve and hauls me back to the snowdrift. With no help from me, Asher digs up twelve more stones.
“You have your stupid rocks, now give me back my rhymes,” I say.
Ignoring me, he says, “There’s a window by the porch. I think we can see inside the house.”
“I’m not snooping in windows. I’m taking my dog home before he freezes.” I shove Asher and turn to leave, but he’s relentless and grips my elbow, tugging be behind a barren bush. We crouch down beside the front porch.
“Stay down while I take a look,” he whispers.