Chapter Two: Rumors
Henry looked around as if to check that no one was eavesdropping. He gestured for the others to follow him further into the shadowed space behind a stack of crates. Away from prying eyes, he seemed confident enough to continue his story.
“Her name is Eliza Pratchet. She and her husband moved here years ago. Legend says they were never normal folk. Their cabin’s always been boarded up. The curtains are drawn and no one ever comes to the door. Several people tried to visit them when they first arrived, but no one ever answered.”
“They moved in, but you could never see them?” Roland asked. “Are you sure they actually lived there?”
“Well, that’s the thing. As time went on, people weren’t sure what was going on. They said maybe the Pratchets never settled in. Maybe they died before they could move in. No one knew. The town had a meeting and the people decided they were going to take down the cabin, but the night before they were to do it, she appeared, white as a ghost and...well, different than normal folk. She said she and her husband still lived there and demanded they be left alone. Now she comes to town once in awhile to buy goods but everyone stays clear of her.”
“That’s spooky,” Roland said.
Annabelle’s curiosity was piqued again. “How does that make her a witch? I mean, just because they only see her at night, and she wanted to be left alone doesn’t give her supernatural powers. And what about her husband?”
“They say she killed him because no one has seen him in--”
Annabelle interrupted him. “That’s what they say but that doesn’t mean it’s true.”
Henry stumbled for answer. “Her husband disappeared and no one’s seen him. People don’t vanish. She had to have done something.”
“Well that’s not entirely true, Henry. His ghost walks the woods,” Tom said.
Annabelle and Roland looked at each other. She saw disbelief in her brother’s eyes and wondered if this was all a game. She hoped with all her heart that it was.
Henry continued, “The story is she killed him and burned his body for firewood.”
Annabelle’s stomach turned.
“What’s worse...” Henry continued.
“There’s worse?” Roland said.
“Yes. There are the bodies.”
“The townspeople figure she’s been making sacrifices.”
A shiver prickled down Annabelle’s spine despite her intention not to believe any of this.
“We can’t prove the bodies were from her,” Thomas interrupted.
“Each of them, animal or human, was found in the woods drained of all their blood.”
Annabelle couldn’t believe what she was hearing. A frightening thought crossed her mind, but she dismissed it. She had been reading her book of monsters too often. There was no way such a thing could be true.
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