The cats arrived a few moments later, coming
in pairs; the black furry creatures formed a circle around Prysm and Poe.
Behind the cats came the rats. Hundreds of them clustered together making
a tight net around the two children. Their long, wiry whiskers bobbed up
and down in rhythm with their squeaks.
“Um, Poe? Don’t look now, but we have visitors.”
“I can see that, Prysm. There’s no doubt Witch Lilith
is behind this. She probably commanded them to trap us until she gets
“What can they do to us? They’re only cats and rats.
We can stomp on them.” Prysm and Poe stood.
Poe kicked dirt into the cat’s faces. The felines
backed up a few steps, causing the rats to pile on top of each other. The
noise was deafening. Poe did it again and then Prysm followed his example.
“Keep kicking the dirt until we clear a path. When you see an opening, run
to the haunted house. The witch must not be there right now.” Inch by inch
they made their way closer to the rickety building. The creatures stayed
close, but were clearly annoyed by the dirt, stones and broken twigs
pelting them. One of the rats bit a cat, which turned and shredded the
rat. Blood spurted everywhere. Everything went silent for several moments
and then the rats attacked. The sharp toothed rodents outnumbered the cats
twenty to one. Soon hisses and high pitched screeches filled the air.
“Run, Prysm. Now’s our chance.” Without hesitation they scrambled to the
witch’s house, slamming the door behind them. For a few minutes they gazed
out the window, watching the animals biting, clawing and tearing at each
“Now there’s something you don’t see every day, you
dirty rat.” Prysm burst out laughing and Poe joined in.
“It’s awful quiet in here. Stupid Witch Lilith must be
gone to the bat cave. Let’s go downstairs and see if the cats are there.”
Poe led the way down the stairs. “Hmm. The cage is empty.” He pulled the
flashlight out of his pack and aimed it around the room. “No cats. Okay,
where do you think she’d keep them?”
“Do you think there are secret doors that might lead
to a cave, or another room?” Prysm pushed on some of the stones. “They’re
slimy.” She wiped her hands on her jeans.
“I think you watch too much television.” Poe chuckled.
“There could be one. Don’t make fun of me.” Prysm
scowled and continued pushing the bricks. “Help me.”
Poe shook his head from side to side. “All right.”
They pushed every brick on the back wall and then made
their way along the two side walls. Prysm felt cool air blowing through a
crack. “Poe, come here. Do you feel that?” Poe stuck his hand up and
nodded. “There is a secret room, or a tunnel. Help me push this brick.”
Together the two shoved the brick. It moved into the wall and then all the
other bricks above and below it separated. The grinding sound of stone on
stone echoed in the small room as the hidden door opened. As soon as they
could squeeze their bodies through they made their way inside.
“It’s a tunnel. Wait, what if this door closes behind
us? How will we ever get back?” Poe looked on the ground. “Here.” He
handed her an old tin bucket. “Stick this between the door and the wall.
If it shuts, at least it won’t close all the way.” Prysm did as asked.
Both of them felt a wave of relief. “It stinks down here.”
“It’s putrid. It’s like being in a tunnel full of
elephant poo.” Prysm waved her hand in front of her nose to blow the smell
“More like dinosaur poo. Let’s see where this goes.
Wait a sec.” Poe aimed the flashlight’s beam at the ground. “We’re safe;
no poo, no dead animals, no snakes, or spiders, or rats, or bats.”
“Bats live on the ceiling, not the floor.”
Poe aimed the beam of light upwards. “No bats. I hate
tunnels. This is spooky down here.”
“Are you claustrophobic?” Prysm touched Poe’s arm.
“Am I what?”
“Claustrophobic. That means you are afraid of being in
tight confined spaces like this.”
Poe exhaled. “I might be, just a little.”
The tunnel went on for what seemed like miles,
straight, yet slanted. “I think we’re heading downward. I wonder where it
leads.” Prysm kept her hands in her pocket.
Another hundred yards the tunnel veered to the left.
Instead of a smooth surface, steps had been chiseled out of the stone,
taking them deeper and deeper. “This is freaking me out, Prysm.”
“Do you really want to walk all the way back? It would
be uphill the whole way; I say we keep going.”
“Okay. Watch your step; it’s slippery.” Poe shined the
flashlight near his feet. “Ew! What is all over the steps?”
Prysm moved closer for a better look. “Blood maybe?
Sick. I hope nothing has happened to the cats. She wouldn’t kill them,
Both of them heard a noise at the same time and froze.
Poe whispered. “What was that noise?”
Tink! Clink! Tink!
“I don’t know.” Prysm whispered into Poe’s ear.
Poe took a few steps forward and shone his flashlight.
He saw that the tunnel turned abruptly to the left once again. “We’re near
the end, I think.”
The tapping sound made its way up the tunnel to Poe
and Prysm. “It’s tinking again. Do you think it is Morse code?”
Tink! Clink! Tink!
“How would I know that? It sounds like someone tapping
on a metal pipe.” Poe tiptoed to the turn and stopped. “I’m going to have
a look. Be quiet. No sneezing, no coughing, no tripping!” He stuck his
head around the corner and saw that the empty tunnel continued. “There’s a
dim light ahead.”
Prysm followed being
careful not to slip on the blood pooling beneath her feet. She spotted Poe
lying on his belly. “No way, Poe! I am not lying in blood.”
“Squat then, at least
until I see what’s in the room. It looks like a huge cave. Sounds carry so
no more speaking.” Poe pulled himself to the edge of the tunnel and peered
over. Twenty feet below sat a cage. Next to it were other cages. The
entire cave was full of different sized cages. The one directly beneath
him held three werewolves. Black cats, wolves with snarling teeth and
beehives sat next to the werewolves. “Oh boy. This is bad.”
“What? What is it?” Prysm
pushed her way to the edge. “Cages full of animals?” Her gaze wandered
around the room. “There’s the cage with our cats, way over on the other
side. Oh no! There’s Bella; at least I think it’s her.”
“Don’t let her see you.
She’ll start meowing and draw attention to herself.”
“There’s nobody in here,
just cages. Is that…is that Candi and her parents down there?” Prysm
shoved her fist into her mouth. “I think it is.”
Poe struggled to see. “I’m
going to turn on the flashlight again. There’s only one light bulb and
it’s way too dark to tell. Hold on.” Poe aimed the light at the cage below
them. Golden eyes looked up in recognition. “It’s Candi all right and her
mom and dad. How did they get caught? If that witch hurt Candi again I
“Let me hold the
flashlight.” Prysm focused the beam on the cage of cats. Bella’s green
eyes lit up as the light hit them. “There must be fifty cats in that cage.
Poor kitties. They’re all scrunched together and probably starving.”
“We’ve got to climb down
there and open the cages.”
“Yeah, right. How in the
world do you think we can do that? If we jump we’ll break our legs.”
Prysm’s voice reeked of sarcasm. “We don’t have any rope unless you
brought some in your backpack.”
“I’m going to lower myself
down legs first. That will knock it down to fifteen feet. If I land on top
of Candi’s cage, that will knock off another six or seven feet. I’ll be
okay. You stay here until I try it.” Poe turned towards Prysm and sank to
his hands and knees. He lowered his shoe-clad limbs over the edge. “That
blood is slippery.” After finding a secure place to hold onto, he let his
whole body hang loose and dropped onto the werewolves’ cage. He landed
with a thud. One of his legs went into the cage, but the father werewolf
pushed it out. Poe climbed down. “It’s your turn, Prysm. It’s easy.”
“I can tell. You almost
broke your leg.”
“Just do it. You’re
wasting time.” Poe watched as his friend dropped to the cage. She did it
with ease and then slid from the bars to the ground.
“Okay. That wasn’t too
bad. Hi, Candi.” Prysm squatted in front of the baby werewolf. “How in the
world did you end up here again? At least you’re with your mom and dad.
Poe, open their cage.”
“I don’t have a key. We
need to find something to hit the lock with. One good thing is that
everything is rusted and old. Witch Lilith is too cheap to buy new cages.”
Poe and Prysm searched the cave, being careful to avoid the cages with
wild animals in them. Poe came to a cage that held nothing but bones. “You
guys didn’t make it.” He reached in and pulled out a leg bone. It was the
size of his own body. “What kind of animal was this, an elephant? Maybe I
don’t want to know.” He marched over to Candi’s cage and told the
werewolves to move to the back. As soon as he started hitting the metal
bars, the wolves started howling and all of the other animals became
restless. It took about ten hits before the lock fell away. Poe opened the
door and smiled at the werewolves. “You stay here with Prysm. I’m going to
free the cats and maybe some of these other animals and then we’re outta
The werewolves didn’t
move. Poe broke the lock and freed the caged cats. Bella ran over to Prysm
and leaped into her arms, purring and rubbing against her. The other cats
galloped through a hole in the cave. Poe went from one cage to another,
releasing all the harmless animals. He left the wolves, bears and black
panthers where they were, much to the creatures objections. “Oh be quiet.
I’m not letting you go so you can eat me.” Just then Candi’s father put
his paw on Poe’s back and nodded. “You think I should let them out?” Poe
gazed into the father’s eyes. The werewolf nodded again. “Okay, but don’t
blame me if they eat us.”
Once all the animals were
free, Poe, Prysm, the werewolves and Bella made their way to the hole.
“Hmm. I wonder where it leads. Are we going from the frying pan into the
fire?” Poe yawned. “I wonder if it’s still daytime.”
“I am not staying here in
this room. It stinks too much of blood and suffering. Wherever it leads,
can’t be worse than this.” Prysm pushed her way to the front. “Candi,
how’s your leg? Do you want to come up here with me?” The baby werewolf
leaped out of her father’s arms and rushed up to Prysm. “Good girl.”
“So what?” Prysm’s
forehead scrunched up in confusion.
“So what was that tapping
“It didn’t come from the
cage room. There must be another room. Oh great. I suppose that means we
have to go and rescue whatever is making the tapping sound. Am I correct?”
Prysm gulped in air and then blew it out.
“What if it’s people?
Candi, why don’t you and your parents go and find a way out and take Bella
with you. Prysm and I have some unfinished business.” Poe turned in time
to meet the werewolves’ gaze. They frowned at Poe, their teeth showing,
and shook their heads no. “You want to come with us? What about Candi?
She’s just a baby. Can we take Candi and Bella and put them somewhere safe
first? Witch Lilith is mean. Do you guys have names? I can’t call you
Candi’s mother and Candi’s father all the time.”
Father werewolf growled
his name. “Conri.”
Mother werewolf stepped up
and grumbled hers. “Leeloo.” She then pointed at Candi. “Cailean.”
“Cailean? Her name is
Cailean? Should we call you Candi or Cailean?” Prysm knelt in front of the
baby creature. Which do you like best? Cailean?” The baby didn’t stir. “Do
you want to be called Candi still?” Candi jumped up and down and snarled
and snapped. “Okay. Okay. Your name is Candi.” Prysm turned to the
parents. “I hope you don’t mind.” Both adult werewolves grunted. “I take
it you don’t care. So we have Conri, Leeloo and Candi. My name is Prysm
and his is Poe.”
“Great. Now we’ve all been
formally introduced. Can we get out of here?” Poe’s impatience grew.
Leeloo and Conri moved to the side and made all sorts of strange noises.
When they’d finished, Leeloo picked up Candi in one arm and Bella in the
other. The cat didn’t seem to mind. “I get it. Leeloo is taking Candi and
the cat somewhere safe, but you’re coming with us. Did I get that right,
Conri?” The male werewolf growled. “Let’s go and rescue whoever or
whatever is in the other cave. First of all we need to figure out where
that other cave is.”