Tommy walked toward the stone chimney with his back to the others. “They say a witch used to live here. She used to burn up kids in this fireplace. ”
“Baloney! You’re making that up,” Richie said as he took a step backward.
“No, I’m not. Dylan told me all about it.”
Kevin moved with Tommy toward where a building once stood.
Tommy walked around the chimney, one hand gliding across the time worn stones as he went. The smooth texture under his fingers reminded him of the rocks in the creek behind his uncle’s house. Kevin picked up a small rock and threw it in the air. It bounced off the chimney and landed in the grass to Tommy’s left.
“Geez, man! Watch it!”
“Sorry.” Kevin shrugged. “I almost got it in the top though.”
Tommy looked up and laughed. “Never going to happen. You never could aim worth crap. Chicken shit over there’ll get one in there before you do.”
He looked over his shoulder at his little brother. Richie didn’t seem to notice that he’d been called a name. Kevin knelt and picked up another rock. He tossed it to Tommy then snagged one more for himself, but paused when a rustling in the bushes behind the fireplace caught his attention. Tommy backed away from the bushes and nearly tripped over Kevin.
“C’mon, guys. Let’s get out of here,” Richie said, still a good distance away–a safe distance away.
Tommy stared at the bushes as they shook again. He took a step backward. “Yeah. That’s a good idea.”
“Do you smell that?” Kevin said, still hunched over with the rock in his hand.
Tommy stopped and sniffed the air. “Smoke?”
Kevin nodded, but Tommy didn’t see it. He was too busy staring at the bushes. Tommy backed up to join Richie, leaving Kevin kneeling before the fireplace. An old woman pushed through the bushes and brushed a few stray leaves from her haggard clothes.
“What have we here?” she said. Her eyes–one of them blue, the other green–studied the boy with the rock in his hand.
“Run!” Richie screamed. “It’s the witch!”
Kevin dropped the rock and bolted toward him. He pushed between Tommy and Richie and disappeared into the trees. Richie wasn’t far behind. Tommy didn’t move. He old stared at the woman–almost laughed.
“You’re not a witch,” he said.
“Maybe I am. Maybe I’m not.” She moved slowly toward the boy. Her long, patchwork skirt swayed as she walked.
“If you’re a witch, then I’m an astronaut.”
She stopped and leaned down to whisper in his ear. “There are things in this world that are far worse than witches, dear boy.” She licked her lips. “I’m even worse than those.”
She tipped her head back and her mouth opened wide–unnaturally wide. Tommy tried to back away, but the woman’s arms were around his waist. He smashed the small rock in his hand against the side of her head. A small trickle of crimson danced down the woman’s cheek, but her grip only tightened.
This story was written for Storybook Corner. I went a dozen or so words over the limit with this one, but I can live with that. Be sure to go read the other stories!