Storytime with Erika
Halloween story for middle-grade children
Nikki and her impish cousin, Jack, find a mysterious black pumpkin in the forest on Halloween. A wise talking skeleton, Wishbone, tells them that the ghosts of the Trinity of Wishmothers are trapped inside the pumpkin and can’t be freed without their wands. The children offer their help, so the skeleton takes them on a journey to the world of Creepy Hollow. This is a fun, humorous and touching story for kids, with plenty of character interaction woven into a backdrop of scary danger, heroic action and lessons to be learned.
When Nikki, Jack, and Wishbone emerged from the other side of the Ectomagic Gate, it closed behind them without a sound and vanished as if it had never been there at all. Nikki was a bit disappointed; she had expected something more spectacular, such as magical sparks or a shimmering doorway. But Jack couldn’t have been happier, for they had entered a lovely cemetery with bright green grass, colorful flowers, and trees of all kinds growing everywhere. Even though it was autumn, everything was still in full bloom. Delicate, silvery spider webs graced the leaves and branches, from which hung Jack O’Lanterns and strings of twinkling lights, like the kind of lights you would use to decorate Christmas trees, except that these were green, purple, and orange in color. A bright, warm sun shined down upon the headstones that marked each and every grave.
Nikki glanced at the dark blue sky and saw only a few clouds floating above the graveyard. But when one cloud floated down to the ground and melted into one of the graves, she realized that those weren’t clouds at all. They were ghosts, and with their appearance, the colors of the cemetery faded to bluish-gray.
“Welcome to Wormbelow,” Wishbone said to Nikki and Jack.
“I thought this was Celestria, the Realm of Spirits,” said Nikki.
“Oh, but it is,” Wishbone told her. “Wormbelow is just our nickname for it. Almost everyone who dwells here calls it that. But its proper name is Celestria.”
“Why do you call it Wormbelow?” Jack asked.
Nikki rolled her eyes at him. “Duh, Jack! What lives below the ground?”
Jack frowned thoughtfully and scratched his head. Then his eyes went wide. “Worms,” he said, smiling. “Worms live below the ground.”
“Took you long enough,” said Nikki.
“Wormbelow is a more fitting name,” Wishbone cackled. “The bodies of everyone lay below ground, but their ghosts flow above freely as celestial beings. I think that’s where the name, Celestria, came from.”
“This place is totally awesome,” said Jack. He pulled out his phone. “I’ve got to take some pictures.” He took a picture but when he tried to post it he couldn’t. He mumbled, “What’s going on? I don’t have a single bar. Check yours, Nikki.”
Nikki took her phone out of her pocket, stared at the screen and said with a disappointed look on her face, “Me neither. Not a single one. There’s no reception here.”
“Hey, look!” Jack showed Nikki his phone. “I took the picture but now it’s just a blur. What’s going on?”
Wishbone chuckled, “This is Creepy Hollow. We don’t have such things as Wi-Fi, cellular towers, or the internet here. And you can’t take pictures, either. This is a secret place. Nobody in the outside world, other than you two, is allowed to know about it.”
“That’s bad!” said Nikki, wondering and worrying what they would do if they had to call home for help. She frowned and put away her phone.
Jack was disappointed, but he shrugged and took it all in stride. “So, Mister Wishbone,” he said, putting his now useless phone back inside his pocket. “What do we do now? What do you want me to do with this pumpkin? It’s getting kind of heavy.”
“See that building over there?” Wishbone asked, pointing to a small, rectangular building made of gray stone, and sitting between a pair of willow trees to their right. The building had a brass door with small, stained-glass windows on both sides of it. “That’s called a mausoleum. The Trinity of Wishmothers lives there… or rather, they are buried there.”
Once again, poor Jack looked confused. “What’s a mausoleum?” he asked.
“It’s like a grave,” Nikki explained, “except that it’s above the ground, not below it.”
Jack nodded. “Oh, I see. Their bodies are buried in there but their ghosts are now stuck inside the black pumpkin.”
“You can set the pumpkin down, near the entrance, Jack,” said Wishbone.
“Okay,” said Jack, happy to set the heavy pumpkin down. As an afterthought, he removed his empty messenger bag and set that down near the pumpkin. He didn’t want to carry the bag around anymore, either.
At that moment, two tall, dark figures emerged from the darkness of the surrounding trees and slowly walked toward them.
Jack and Nikki looked at each other, uncertain whether they should be afraid or not. One of the figures was a black cat that walked like a man, and the other was a young woman who looked like a Goth vampire.
Wishbone, still being held by Nikki, shook his whole bony silver body, sounding just like the wind chime that he was. “My friends are here,” he said happily.
“Wishbone, you’ve come back!” cried the man-like black cat who wore a brown vest over a blue shirt, blue-striped brown pants, and dark brown boots. A large pouch dangled from his leather belt. “Curse that evil Hobgoblin!” He wiped tears from his bright golden eyes.
The woman’s silver eyes flashed like 4th of July sparklers. She lowered her head for a moment and wiped the tears from her eyes.
She likes him, she likes him a lot, Jack thought. And I bet Mister Wishbone likes her, too. In many ways, the woman reminded Jack of his classmate, Cassandra, who always dressed in black clothes. He had a huge crush on her but was too shy to ask her to come to his birthday party.
“I missed you, my friend,” the pretty Goth woman told Wishbone. “After we heard what that awful Hobgoblin did to you, I went to the Seer Witch. She said you’d be found on the Other Side by children who would bring you back to us.”
Her long, black gown trailed behind her, and her long black hair flowed past her shoulders.
“Yes, I’m back, but look at me now.” Wishbone sighed, gave an admiring glance to the young woman and thought: She still wears the turquoise headband I gave her. She didn’t forget me. And she still paints her nails black. He fought back the feelings of sadness and hopelessness that were creeping up on him.
Storytime with Erika. Enjoy!
Erika M Szabo
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