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Picture Book
Halloween Fun

Three hags dressed in black capes stood around a big black kettle filled with bubbling brew. It was a magic potion, though it looked more like apple-green soup. Floating on top of the brew were rats toenails, lizard tails, worms, and crow feathers.

Zerlinda, the ugliest of the three hags, stirred the brew with an oar-like spoon. Her hair was as red as the flames burning under the kettle. It stuck out from beneath her black pointed hat. Her black cape was long, hanging to the ground and stained with spider guts. She had a wart on her fat, blubbery nose. It had little hairs growing out of it. Her eyes were dark purple and bloodshot. "Come sisters, chant with me," Zerlinda cackled and stirred some more.

Mardella and Milla started chanting around the potion. They were almost as ugly as their older sister. Mardella had brown hair, though one couldn’t tell if it was natural brown or brown from all the dirt in it. She had a long pointed nose and two warts were on the end of it. Milla looked much the same as Mardella, though her hair was yellow and streaked with mud. Both wore pointed hats and long black capes like Zerlinda.

Tonight was Halloween. The hags had waited for months for this day. It was the only day their spell would work. "We’ve got to drink this potion. It will turn us beautiful for three hours. We have to bring children back here to our cave before midnight, and add their hair to our potion, or we’ll be hags for another year. Now, the question is, how do we lure them back here?"

Milla cackled, "We can throw a party. We’ll tell the children that we’ll play games and give them Halloween sweets. They’ll come with us."

Mardella added, "Good idea. I think we need to decorate the cave first, before we drink the brew, so we don’t waste time."

"I think you are both right. Let’s get started then," Zerlinda said.

The three hags found one of their old kettles and filled it up with water. Milla went outside and picked a dozen or so red apples from a tree and dropped them into the water. "They can play ‘Dunkin for apples’," she laughed.

Mardella dug twenty large turnips out of the garden and brought them inside. "They can carve these and hollow them out. Do we have any candles?" she asked.

"Just these black ones," Zerlinda said, pointing to a box of them. She continued placing photographs of the three of them around the room. "This is my favorite photograph of me," she added, admiring herself.

"Black candles it is then," Mardella cackled, grabbing the box.

"What about sweets?" Milla asked.

"We’ve got some leftover from last year. Now, let’s drink the potion," Zerlinda ordered. She filled three dirty glass vials with the bubbling brew. "Hee, hee, hee," she snorted. "Drink up girls." The three hags swallowed the potion. Within seconds they had transformed into three beautiful women. "We’ve only three hours. One hour for each of us. Now, let’s go and find those children."

It was evening when they went outside. The moon was full and bright and millions of stars twinkled in the sky. Zerlinda, Mardella and Milla walked down the street. They noticed that all the children seemed to be dressed up in costumes. "Oh look. It’s a child dressed up like a witch. That does look a little bit like you," Milla said to Mardella.

"That doesn’t look a thing like me. It looks like Zerlinda. See the red hair?" Mardella cackled.

"Why, you’re right. It does," Milla agreed.

Zerlinda wasn’t pleased with that comment. "Sisters!" she cried out. "We must get the children. Time is going by quickly."

Mardella saw a group of children carrying bags filled with sweets. "Children," she softly called. They looked at the pretty witches and walked towards them.

"I like your costumes," one of the little girls said. "You all look beautiful. Witches aren’t beautiful though. They’re ugly hags," she added.

The three hags had to bite their tongues. Zerlinda smiled at the children. "We’re having a big party at a cave down the street. Would you like to come to it? There are all kinds of sweets and games."

"We’re even going to play dunking-for-your-apple games," added Milla.

"I’d love to go," the girl said. The others agreed.

Soon the disguised hags were leading a group of children back to their cave. When they went inside a small boy said, "Wow. Look at the pictures of those witches. They are so ugly." He was pointing to Zerlinda’s favorite photograph. "And look at this one," he said. "She’s ugly too. They are all ugly, but this one is the ugliest of all. Where did you get those good photographs?" he asked.

Zerlinda smiled at him. "Why don’t you come over here and play some games. Try your luck at bobbing for apples," she said.

The children had a lot of fun. They kneeled on the floor next to the kettle of water and had to stick their faces into it and try to catch the apple with their teeth, using no hands. Most of them couldn’t do it, but had fun trying.

Some of the other children carved turnips. "What kind of candle is this?" a boy asked. "It glows a black flame. How can we see the eyes we carved if it glows black? That’s stupid," he said. Milla ignored him and helped the other kids carve theirs.

Mardella tied a treacle scone to a string that dangled from the ceiling. She told the kids they had to eat it without using their hands. Those that tried were a sticky mess and had treacle all over their costumes.

"I’m getting tired," a small girl whined. "I want to go home now."

Just then Zerlinda ran over and locked the doors. The three hours were nearly up and in a few minutes they’d turn back into ugly hags unless they finished their potion. "You can’t go. I need to cut all of your hair," she cackled.

"You can’t cut my hair," the small girl cried. "I want my mommy." She sobbed and sobbed.

"You can’t cut my hair either," said another child.

Soon all the children were crying. "We want to go home right now," one of them demanded.

"None of you can go until we cut your hair. We need it for our potion," Mardella told them.

"I don’t think you are beautiful witches at all. I think you are all ugly hags," a bigger boy snarled.

The clock started to chime. Time was up. Bong! Bong! Bong! Zerlinda grabbed a small boy and screamed, "Milla, cut her hair. Mardella, grab them, cut their hair quickly, or we’re doomed to be ugly hags for another year!"

The children kicked the witches’ legs and ran out of the house just as the last bong chimed. The hags turned instantly from beautiful witches into ugly old crones again. Zerlinda started to cry. "Now we’ll have to wait until next Halloween; another year of looking like this!" The three sisters cried and cried as the children all ran home. So next Halloween, when you see three beautiful witches walking down the street, RUN!

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