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The Misty Valley
by Margo Fallis
Volume 2 Chapter 1



Local police have been swamped with phone calls from upset children and parents complaining that their cats have gone missing. The locals are aware that they must keep their cats indoors during the month of October, but strangely, the complaints are coming from families whose cats were indoors when catnapped. Residents are baffled.

     “Poe, have you looked at these headlines?” Mrs. Merlin put the paper down in front of her son. “This started happening right after your adventure to Witch Lilith’s haunted house. Do you think that has anything to do with the missing cats?”

     “Mom, I don’t know.” Poe downed a glass of grape juice, leaving purple stains around his mouth, which he wiped off with the back of his hand.

     “Witch Lilith flies around every night on her broom, cackling and keeping residents awake. That’s all the kids in my school class talk about. Half of them don’t do their homework because they fall asleep while I’m teaching. She’s got to be behind this.”

     “Lock Bruja in the basement today while we’re at school. I don’t want her catnapped.” Poe grabbed his backpack and headed for the door. “See you at school, Mom.” He sprinted to Prysm’s house, only to find her darting around her backyard, screaming for her cat.

     Prysm glimpsed Poe standing at the fence. “Bella’s gone! I didn’t even open the door. She disappeared during the night. Help me look for her.”

     “Uh oh. My mom showed me an article this morning’s paper; a lot of cats are going missing and she thinks it has something to do with Witch Lilith.”

     “Bella! Bella!” Prysm parted a bush covered with black roses. “Do you think she took Bella? The witch was awful mad at her. What are we going to do?”

     Poe sighed. “Stay right here.” He ran back to his house. His mother stood at the kitchen counter. “Mom, Bella’s missing. Now, before you say no, listen to me.”

     “Oh no you don’t, Poe! You’re not going back to that haunted house.”

     “Mom. Will you please listen? Prysm and I know all about the haunted house. We know where the dungeon is and we know where some deep pits are on the way there. I know where the creatures live. Nobody else does, except maybe Drake and Shayde and they’ve already gone to school. We want to go and find the cats. Bella is missing and Prysm swears nobody in their house let her out.”

     Mrs. Merlin shook her head. “I don’t know, Poe. It’s too dangerous.”

     “Mom, we survived last week. It’s only for one night and this time we’ll take bottled water and some snacks with us. I’m taking my backpack. Nothing will happen to us. Witch Lilith is trying to punish us by catnapping the cats of Misty Valley. Prysm and I are not afraid of her. She’s nothing but an old windbag.” Poe’s eyes grew wide, like a puppy dog. “Please, Mom. Trust me. Oh, be sure and tell Prysm’s mom where we are, but wait until we’ve been gone an hour or two.”

     She gave in quickly. “I never could resist that look, Poe. Be careful and if there is any sign of danger, come home immediately. Try to hurry and get back before dark.” She kissed him on the cheek.

     “Mom, if we’re not home before dark, don’t worry too much.” Poe filled his backpack with snacks, a flashlight, and two bottles of water. He bounded back over to Prysm’s. “Let’s go.”

     “Let’s go where?”

     “To get all the cats back. Do you think we should allow Witch Lilith to get her slimy fingers on our cats? She’s not going to be nice to Bella after what happened last week.”

     “Let me go and get my sweater.” Prysm ran in the house and came back out wearing blue jeans, a long sleeved dark blue shirt and a black sweater. “We’re both wearing dark clothes so she won’t be able to see us so easily. You are taking your backpack?”

     “It’s full of snacks. I brought a flashlight too this time.”

     “I guess we’re ready. Where should we start?” Prysm glanced at the pale orange sky.

     “Let’s go straight to Witch Lilith’s haunted house. I know that’s where she is keeping the cats. She won’t be expecting us. Maybe we can do something to shut her up. I’m sick of hearing her cackle all night long.  I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in the last week, since we got back.” Poe led the way. They raced through town, not stopping until they were at the bottom of the candy corn mountain. “This brings back memories.”

     “It gives me nightmares,” Prysm said. “I suppose those ugly black cats will be slinking through the woods. I wonder if the Frankenstein monster ever got out of the pit. I’m sure he’s going to be furious with you.”

     “He hasn’t got enough brains to remember me.” Poe laughed. “I guess we should start climbing the stairs. Hopefully she’ll be off on her broom somewhere gathering frog noses and lizard ears for her next potion.”

     “After you, Poe.” Prysm stepped back and let Poe lead the way.  As they climbed the stairs, Prysm chuckled to herself. “I can’t believe you wanted to do this. Aren’t you scared?”

     “Of course, I’m scared, but I’m sick of Witch Lilith controlling Misty Valley. She’s noisy and she is stealing our cats. Do you want Bella back or not?”

     “Yes, Poe. Don’t ask such dumb questions. You’re right about not letting her get away with it. Let’s go and get Bella.”

     About half way up they stopped for a breath. “I don’t remember it being this hard of a climb the last time we were here. Am I imagining things or did this candy corn mountain grow bigger?” Poe glanced to the bottom.

     “The witch probably cast some sort of spell to make it a higher mountain, so we wouldn’t want to climb it. That proves her guilt.” Prysm counted the steps. “We’ve climbed two hundred steps already and there must be another four hundred to go. We’re going to be worn out by the time we get to the top.”

     “Maybe we shouldn’t climb the stairs. Maybe we should cut through the trees and make our way up by zigzagging to the top. We won’t get as tired and if the witch has spies watching for us, they’ll never see us coming.” Poe noticed some ravens and crows flying around higher up near the haunted house. “She’s got spies all right. Look at them all.”

     They hurried into the trees and clambered up through the dead ferns and rotting bracken. Dead branches cracked under their feet and rocks slid down towards the bottom with every step. They stopped two times for a snack and drink of water and then finally made it to the top. Poe sat on a rock next to a withered pine. “Let’s rest for a while. I’m pooped.”

     Prysm huffed and puffed and lay on her back with her arms under her head. “Those clouds bug me. They all look the same, like skeleton faces. I am so tired of orange sky and black leaves and all the plants being dead. Thank goodness there are only three weeks left of October before we’re back to normal.”

     “One good thing; Candi isn’t trapped in the dungeon and is safe with her mom and dad. I wonder what the werewolf family is doing. I miss Candi, don’t you?” Poe pulled a granola bar from his backpack and took a bite.

     “I miss her a lot, but I’m glad she’s safe and isn’t being tortured any more. Now it’s our cats instead.” Prysm glanced at Poe. “Will Bruja be safe?”

     “My mom locked her in the basement. I hope she will be okay.”

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