Is She For Real?
Angel is given a doll for her 12th birthday. But there is something creepy about her...
Welcome to this year’s Storyberries Halloween Serial!
This story is about a girl called Angel, who receives a creepy doll for her birthday. It has scary themes, so is best for ages 7 and up.
“I CAN’T WAAAAIIIITTTT!” Angel screamed, knocking her mum back with the force of her scream.
“Angel, I KNOW your birthday is in 2 days, but chill out, please!” Angel’s mum laughed and picked herself off the floor.
“Sorrymumit’sjustthatit’sgoingtobemytwelvethI’mturningTWELVEAndAUNTSYLVIAISCOMING!! and … and …”
“OK, OK, I get it, I get it!!” Her mum laughed.
“Sorry, mum, are you OK?” Angel hugged her mum. “I’m just so excited! I wonder what Aunty Sylvia will bring me this year? She always brings me cool stuff.”
“Creepy stuff, you mean,” teased her mum, tucking back into her dinner.
“I like creepy stuff! It’s awesome!!” exclaimed Angel.
It was true. Angel was fascinated by creepy stuff, so it was a good thing that she had a penpal, Jasmine, who lived in Malaysia. Asia was full of super creepy stuff like jumping ghosts and demons that sat on your chest when you were sleeping and stole your breath. Angel loved it all!
“Yes, well, just don’t crawl into my bed at night when you’re scared about something or the other,” Angel’s mum smiled at her.
“Mum! I’m too old for that now! Sheesh!” Angel clucked her tongue in mock disgust. They laughed together and finished their dinner.
After dinner Angel went upstairs to figure out more party decorations. It was going to be … a Halloween theme, of course! Angel’s birthday was right smack on October 31st – Halloween – so it was no wonder she was so into the spooky, creepy and freaky.
“OK, so I’ve got the severed arms dangling by spiderwebs from the ceiling … oh! I’ve got to make sure my spiderwebs are still OK! Wait … what do I care? They’re spiderwebs! The more torn-up the better! Now, the ghosts … I’ve got to make them scarier than last year’s … I wasn’t so into them then!”
Her thoughts drifted to her Aunt Sylvia. Aunt Sylvia was her mum’s older sister, but she was, Angel had to admit, way cooler than her mum, who was already pretty cool. She was into all the same things that Angel was – namely the spooky and macabre – a word that her aunt had taught her. Aunt Sylvia lived and worked all over the world, but she always made it a point to come visit Angel on her birthday – and this year was a big one – the last year before she was officially a teen.
Angel loved the gifts her aunt brought her – last year it had been a shrunken head from South America where she had gone on a holiday. That had caused a huge row between her aunt and her mum, who wanted her to be interested in more ‘normal girl stuff’ as she put it. In the end, she had allowed Angel to keep it on the condition that she not have any nightmares about it. So far she hadn’t. Then the previous year’s gift had been a real, stuffed rabbit’s foot.
“For good luck,” Aunt Sylvia had said.
Aunt Sylvia also told interesting, creepy, stories. Angel loved creepy stories that made her shiver a little at night, and her aunt was a master storyteller. Angel’s favourite story so far was the one about the beautiful long-haired woman who drivers sometimes saw on the road in the middle of the night. She wouldn’t talk, but would hitch a ride from you – only to turn out to be a ghost. This story was from Malaysia, and Jasmine had confirmed that it had happened to lots of her mum’s friends.
Angel drifted off to sleep with creepy stories on her mind.
Little did she know that soon she’d be wrapped up in a terrifying story of her own …
“GOOOODDD MOOOORRRNINGGGG!!!!” Angel shrieked and pounced on her mum’s bed. “WISH ME HAPPY BIRTHDAYYYYY!!!!”
Angel’s mum rolled over and hugged her. “Happy birthday, darling. Now go organise your birthday stuff and leave me alone.”
Angel bounced downstairs to the fridge to check on the ‘blood’ punch. The floating eyes, fingers and toes bobbed around in the red punch as she scooped a cup for herself.
“Don’t drink that stuff in the morning!” her mum said, coming down the stairs.
“Aw mum, it’s my birthday, give me a break!”
By noon, Angel was bouncing around the house. “When is Aunt Sylvia coming!?!??
“Right now, my little ghoul!” said a voice from behind her. She jumped and squealed.
“AUNT SYLLLIIVVVIIIAAAAA!!” She ran and squeezed her aunt so tight that she forced out a little ‘oof’.
“OK, relax, Angel, my angel, you don’t want to kill me before I give you your gift!” laughed Aunt Sylvia.
“Ooh, what is it?!?!” exclaimed Angel, spinning around like a top in her excitement.
“Here you go. Be careful, it’s porcelain.”
Angel peeked inside the bag.
“A … doll?” she said, puzzled, “But … Aunt Sylvia … you know I’m not into girly stuff. Sheesh, has my mum been talking to you?” She put the bag down, disappointed.
“Girl, you know I wouldn’t get you just any old doll! Take her out and have a good look at her. She’s got a story that you’ll want to hear.”
Angel took the doll out of the bag and held it up. Then she saw that as pretty as it was, with its brown curls, big black eyes and long eyelashes, it actually was uber-creepy too. Its blank eyes stared at her, sending a little shiver down her spine. Did they flash a little just then?
“O-kay … I get it, Aunt Sylvia. Dolls are creepy and, yup, this gal is pretty creepy. She’s staring at me like I’m supposed to talk to her or something…”
“This isn’t just any old doll, Angel. Sit down and listen to her story.” Aunt Sylvia patted the couch next to her. Angel sat down and put the doll on the floor next to her. It didn’t seem like the type of doll you cuddled. Aunty Sylvia looked down at it.
“I bought this doll at an old shop at the edge of town. It’s one of those shops that sells things nobody wants, until the right person comes along and wants it – you know what I mean? I like to pop in there every once in a while to see what could be waiting for me to find it. When I walked in a few months ago … she was waiting for me.”
Angel shifted uncomfortably. Was she seeing things or did an annoyed frown just flash on the doll’s face?
“The moment I saw her, I knew I had to get her for you. And when the shopkeeper told me how it came to be there, it was perfect.
“Tell me, Aunt Sylvia! TELL me!!” Angel started to bounce again in anticipation.She tried to avoid looking at the doll, but couldn’t stop sneaking glances at it.
“Well, the shopkeeper said that she arrived at the shop one morning and there it was, in a little basket, as if it was a baby. There was a note attached to it. Hang on, it should still be attached. The shopkeeper said she didn’t take the note off. She didn’t like to touch the doll too much – she even left it in the basket all these years, she said.”
“Where’s the basket now?” Angel asked, leaning down and sweeping her hands across the floor, feeling for the note.
“I took it out of the basket. I knew if I left it in there, you’d really not appreciate it!” Aunt Sylvia chuckled. Angel nodded.
“For sure … a little baby-doll … seriously! Ah!” She jumped up with a little scrap of paper in her hands. “I think this is the note.”
“Read it out loud. I’ve not read it, I wanted to leave that honour to you,” Aunt Sylvia said.
Angel unfolded the note and read it out loud to her aunt.
“She is a naughty girl and naughty girls get punished. May she learn her lesson or forever hold her peace.” Angel felt a weird wave pass over her. “What does that mean!?”
“I have no idea. But … It’s the perfect gift for you, do you see? Your mum will think I finally got you a normal, girly thing, but we’ll know better, won’t we?”
“Yes … we’ll know better …” Angel was in deep thought.
There was something about the doll, something she felt she should have been noticing, but she just couldn’t put her finger on it yet…
That afternoon, Angel’s friends started to come. They were all dressed up. There were vampires, witches, two Frankensteins and a couple of devils. Her BFF Tessa was Carrie from their favourite author Stephen King’s book, and Bryana and Dominique, her other close friends, were the twins from ‘The Shining’.
Angel always dressed up as horror story character, and this year she was the creature from The Ring. Angel always had a ball creeping her friends out with her super-creepy decorations, food and games. But today she found it was a little different to usual. She just couldn’t shake her weirded out feelings about the doll. When Tessa had arrived, she had quickly put the doll on the shelf of dolls in her bedroom and vowed to forget about it until later. But she couldn’t quite forget that little glint she thought she had seen in its eyes.
When night fell, Angel’s mum gathered everyone together to go trick or treating. Angel went into her room to grab her socks. But as she turned, she found herself staring at the doll. Was it staring pleadingly at her?
She really didn’t want to get into anything right now, just as she was about to go do one of her favourite things. But she knew she had to have a closer look. Angel went up to the shelf. She could swear it was asking her for something with its eyes. She wanted to pick it up to give it a cuddle, but … it was just so creepy! She shook her head and went back downstairs.
Trick or treat was as awesome as it was every year. Her next door neighbour had decorated his house up to the max and invited them in for the annual ‘Terrible Tour’. It was better than any lame amusement park haunted house. But all Angel could think about was the doll. It made her skin crawl but she felt kind of sorry for it at the same time. She decided to talk to her girls about it later when they were settled in for the sleepover.
“Guys, guys, huddle up…” Angel pulled her friends’ arms as they were sitting together on her bedroom floor later that night.
“What’s up, Angel? You’re actually looking kind of white … were you seriously scared by the ‘Terrible Tour’?!” Dominique teased.
“No, no, it’s not that. Look, my Aunt Sylvia gave me this really creepy doll for my birthday and normally you know I love stuff like this, but there’s something really weird about this doll.”
Angel blushed to see their surprised faces, but she went on. “I really feel like it’s trying to tell me something,” she admitted.
“Like what, ‘Take me to your leader?’ Bryana snorted. Dominique and Bryana, though into the creepy stuff, didn’t take it so seriously. Tessa, on the other hand, GOT Angel.
“Bring it down, let’s check it out. If it came from your Aunt Sylvia, it’s gotta be something interesting, but I don’t think she’d have given you anything … like … bad.”
“That’s the thing. It’s creeping me out but I’m not feeling …. bad. Just … weird.”
Angel didn’t know how to explain it. She took the doll down from the shelf.
“She’s so pretty!” said Dominique. Bryana went to take the doll from Angel, but Angel stopped.
“I’m not sure you should touch her. I feel … this weird connection to her … like she’d only like it if I touched her.”
“Wow … OK. You’re really affected by her, I can see that,” said Bryana.
Tessa, who’d been quiet the whole time, spoke up.
“OK, I take it back. There is something uber-creepy about that thing. Could it not be in here when we sleep?” Then she added, as if it was an afterthought:
“In fact, if I were you, I’d get rid of it, Aunt Sylvia or no.”
Angel had a gut feeling that, much as it creeped her out, she couldn’t just chuck it in the bin. Tessa was right, thought, they’d never get any sleep with it in her room. She took it out to the garage and put it on her dad’s workbench. She almost said sorry to it, but shook her head and chuckled nervously.
“It’s only a DOLL, Angel, get it together,” she whispered to herself.
Then she went back in to her friends.
Something she should never have done.
The girls had a great time and fell asleep at 4am, but Angel jerked awake at 6am, shaking. She looked around … her friends seemed OK. She must have had a nightmare, which was not normal for her.
She wished she could call Aunt Sylvia. She could have spoken to her about it, but Aunt Sylvia had already gone off on another trip to a new faraway destination. So instead she shook her head as though trying to shake away the scary thoughts, rubbed her eyes and went back to sleep.
When everyone woke up, Angel and her friends decided to go to the mall to distract themselves. They were still pretty disturbed by the doll and nobody had had a great sleep.
Then Angel suddenly remembered – they would have to go through the garage to get to her mum’s car! She stopped short, Tessa banging into her.
“What’s up, Angel!?” Tessa squealed.
“The garage … the doll … I put the doll in the garage!” Angel stammered.
“Angel!” her mum called, “What’s this doing in the garage??”
Angel knew she meant the doll. “Sorry, mum, sorry! Erm, just a little joke. I’ll come get it – her!”
“I don’t want to see that thing!” jumped Bryana.
“OK OK, you guys, I have to get it back. You guys go wait in the living room, OK?”
Angel pounded down the stairs and ran into the garage. Her mum watched her all the while, arms folded. Was the doll staring accusingly at her? She gulped and gingerly crept towards it.
“Angel, you’re being extra weird today. I’ll chalk it up to not enough sleep. Get going, girl, if you guys want a lift to the mall!” Mum said.
Angel grabbed the doll, ran upstairs, plonked it down on the shelf and ran all the way back down.
“Let’s go,” she panted.
When Angel got home that afternoon, she was nervous. She didn’t know what to expect. She had meant it when she’d told her friends that she didn’t feel it was evil, but it did seem like it had feelings, and her chucking it in the garage the night before might not have been very nice. What if the doll was angry at her? What might it do? What could a doll do, in the middle of the night?
Angel was so worked up by all her thoughts that when she got back to her room, she gave a little scream to notice that
The doll wasn’t there!
She was sure she’d left it on the shelf before going to the mall.
It wasn’t on the floor under the shelf either.
She ran around her room looking for it, just in case she’d remembered wrongly.
Her mind whirled … had it come alive and run away? Had it come alive and hidden somewhere to pounce on her that night??
She freaked out and ran out of the room. She would sleep on the couch tonight. No way she was going back into her room.
Then she heard April’s voice talking to someone. Who was April talking to?
OMG was the doll in there!?
She rushed into her sister’s room, ready to fight a demented, demonic doll.
The doll was there, but it wasn’t demented, or demonic … it was … normal. She was already in freak-out mode, though, and she shrieked and grabbed the doll from her sister. April started to cry.
“What on earth is going on in here??” Angel’s mum stormed into April’s room, “I was trying to write!! Angel, you KNOW I’ve got something due! I was counting on you to play nicely with April so I could finish it!”
“Mum, I’m sorry, I … I freaked out. I … thought …” She looked down at the doll. Was she imagining a smirk on its face?
“You didn’t think, that’s what! Go to your room until dinnertime. I want some peace in this house. Got it?”
“But … Mum …”
“NO BUTS, YOUNG LADY! GO!!!”
There was no point arguing. Angel went to her room and put the doll back on the shelf.
When she had calmed down, she figured that since she was stuck in her room until dinner, she’d better get going on her homework. Today was maths – she hated the stuff. Two frustrating hours later, Angel hadn’t figured anything out. She stomped down to help her mum with dinner. They ate mainly in silence until April coughed and snorted peas out of her nose and Angel and her mum burst out laughing. After that they chilled and Angel wanted to talk to her mum about the doll. Then she felt weird and didn’t.
And so it was that after dinner, Angel plodded back upstairs to try to tackle her maths again. She opened her notebook. And couldn’t believe her eyes!
The sums were all neatly done in her handwriting!!
She shook her head, rubbed her eyes and stared at the book again. Had she actually done them, but forgotten because she was so tired? What was going on!? Then she looked up at the doll on the shelf. What…!
The next morning Angel didn’t wait to tell her best friend.
“Tessa! Tessa!” Angel shrieked, running towards her. “You’re never going to guess what happened last night!!! You know that homework Mr. Buo gave us?”
“Yeah … It took me ages to figure it out. I don’t even know if I got it right!” Tessa rolled her eyes.
“Yeah, me too … but get this. I gave up on my maths homework after only halfway because I had to have dinner. But when I went back up to try to finish it, it’d been done! See?” Angel pulled out her maths book and showed it to Tessa.
“Uh … dude … that’s your handwriting.” Tessa stared at Angel. Angel could tell her best friend didn’t believe her.
“That’s the thing…” she tried to continue. “I’m 99% sure I didn’t! I mean … I was trying like mad to figure it out before dinner … I threw out pages and pages of calculations … but then … after dinner … there they were! Finished!”
“Hmmmm…” said Tessa. She appeared to be thinking. Eventually, she said,
“OK fine. If the doll did do it, how are you sure she’s not doing it to make you think she’s on your side?” Her eyes grew round. “And then, when you’ve relaxed … WHACK!” Tessa whacked her hand into her other fist and then laughed. It made Angel jump.
Get a grip, Angel! she whispered firmly to herself.
“Angel! Tessa! Hey!” Angel and Tessa turned around and saw Whitney, a friend from their home room. “Hey, guys, I’m having a party this Saturday, just a small thing to introduce an exchange student who’ll be staying with us for a month. Can you come? Please say you’ll come!”
“Cool! Thanks, Whitney, we’ll be there!”
Angel was happy to have a distraction from the doll. She was so confused. Was Tessa right? Had it done her homework just to get on her good side?
“Cool! Great! See you guys at home room!”
After that, Angel had a terrible week. She couldn’t concentrate on her schoolwork, she couldn’t sleep, and she couldn’t eat. All that was running through her mind were questions like Was the doll bad? Was the doll good? Was it helping her or plotting against her?
Her head was spinning. Bad stuff started happening, too. She dropped her homework folder into a puddle and got in trouble with her teacher, who didn’t believe her excuse. Her sister got the measles (luckily Angel herself had already had it, so she couldn’t catch it again.) She got stung by a bee and her hand swelled up to twice its size. She hoped it would get back to normal by Saturday.
But by Saturday, she was starting to think that maybe Tessa was right. The doll was doing bad stuff to her. Her swollen hand hadn’t gone back to normal. She hadn’t slept well the night before and she had panda eyes. She couldn’t find her favourite dress and her mum was in a really bad mood and had threatened to not take her to the party if she didn’t keep her sister quiet for a couple of hours.
Finally, Angel got to Whitney’s house. She crossed her fingers and went inside. Tessa was already there. Tessa did a double take when she saw Angel.
“Are you OK, girlfriend? You look like you’ve been trampled by bison.”
Angel sighed, “I don’t want to talk about it. Let’s just try to have fun, OK?”
“Angel! Tessa!” Whitney called them over to where she was standing with a nice-looking boy. “This is Sam. He’s from England and he’s staying with us for the month.” Sam smiled at them.
“Hi, Sam, how are you liking the States so far?” Angel asked Sam.
“It’s cool. So many things are different here, but then so many things are the same,” Sam said.
Angel was curious. She was always curious about other cultures.
“Like the music you guys like here. I’m so happy to hear Imagine Dragons on the radio everywhere here too.”
“You like Imagine Dragons? Get out! They’re one of our favourite bands too!” Tessa exclaimed.
The three of them settled down to talk and Angel started to feel normal for the first time since she’d gotten the doll.
But things weren’t normal, as she’d soon discover. Even out of sight, the doll was still watching her, waiting for something, that strange little smile on its face…
On Monday morning, Angel was in a much better mood. Saturday night was the most awesome fun she’d had, maybe even better than her birthday. She really liked Sam, he seemed cool, and he seemed to like so many of the same things that she did, even books and… weird stuff. They had talked all night and said they’d catch up in school.
The next day Angel bounced into school looking for Tessa and Sam. She found Tessa, but Sam didn’t show up before home room.
The two girls chatted about how the interesting stuff he’d said. “Remember all that stuff he was telling us about the Tower of London? The beheadings and stuff? Cool! I’m going to research more into English history … so many crazy things went on there!” Angel enthused.
But they didn’t see Sam in class either. Whitney was also not there.
“Class, class, I need your attention please. Whoever attended Whitney’s party on Saturday, please report to the matron,” Angel’s teacher announced to the class.
Something started niggling at Angel again. “Tessa … it’s something bad, I know it. The doll …”
“Angel … Angel…” her friend whispered in reply. “Don’t start with that doll stuff again. I told you… if it’s freaking you out this bad, get rid of it. Your Aunt Sylvia will understand. Seriously, she wouldn’t want you to be going nuts.”
But that didn’t sit well with Angel. She shook her head. As they walked to the matron’s office, she decided to try talking to the doll when she got home later. She knew it sounded silly, but no-one would know, would they?
When they got to the office, the matron told them that Whitney and Sam were down with some kind of weird virus that even she’d never heard of. Alarm bells clanged in Angel’s head.
“I don’t wanna hear, it, Ang.”
They were sent home, just in case.
When she got home, Angel went straight to the doll.
“Look, I know I haven’t been very nice to you, but… it’s because you’re creeping me out! I’ve got the heebie jeebies! I”m not sleeping, I’m not eating … I don’t know if it’s real or not, but I feel like there’s something going on with you. I don’t think you’re evil like Tessa says, but… but I wish I knew what’s the deal.”
She stopped. What was she doing – talking to a doll?! She was really losing it. She shook her head.
“Anyway, I want to be friends. I’ll try to be nicer to you… but can you quit creeping me out? And… and… if there’s other stuff… please…” She stopped. She was sure the doll’s eyes had flashed again. Suddenly her mood shifted.
“OK! Deal? Deal!”
She relaxed. Something had changed… she was sure of it.
After her strange conversation with the doll, Angel had a great dinner. She found herself laughing with her mum about lots of little things. She even seemed more relaxed than usual, which was weird because of the virus alert.
“Mum, aren’t you worried about the virus? I mean, I was at the party too.”
“I’m worried, sure, but I’m pretty sure you’re protected from a lot of things. We eat right, use essential oils, your immunity is strong. I’m not stressing out.”
Well, according to both Angel and her mum then, things were looking good.
After dinner, Angel went up to her room to do her homework. She joked with the doll,
“Hi! Could you help me with my maths again? I hate maths SO much! Nah, just kidding…”
But did she see the doll’s mouth turn up a little bit? She smiled back and got down to her homework. It was surprisingly easy… was the doll actually helping her??
Later when she was snuggling into bed, she turned to look at the doll.
“Can I ask one thing?” she said to the doll. “If you’re really making things happen, can you please help my friends Whitney and Sam? They’re sick with some weird virus and I’m scared for them.”
Then she turned over and went to sleep.
The doll’s mouth turned up even more.
A few days passed and Angel’s plan seemed to be working. Maybe the doll was working with her now. Things didn’t seem to be going so badly as they were before. Sam and Whitney were still in hospital with the virus, but Angel knew these things took time to get better and luckily nobody else seemed to have caught it. Then, on Thursday, Whitney’s mum called her mum and told her that Sam had been asking to see her! The doctor had cleared it, so, on Friday, Angel and Tessa went straight to the hospital from school.
“Hi Whitney! Hi Sam! OMG how are you guys??” Angel and Tessa came into the hospital room with a whole bunch of balloons and cards from friends in school.
“We’re contagious! Stay away! Who said you could come here!” shrieked Sam, waving them away in alarm.” But on seeing their shocked faces, he laughed, “Just kidding guys, thanks for coming to see us.”
“Yeah guys, thanks for coming!” Whitney rolled her eyes and tilted her head towards Sam. “I’ve been going stir crazy cooped up in here with this joker. Who knew English people could be so hilarious,” she drawled in a mock-English accent.
“You, my dear little buttercup, appreciate me, I just know it deep down inside,” joked Sam. He turned to Angel. “Fill me in on creepy stories, Angel, I’ve been deprived of my daily dose of creepiness!”
“Ha ha… well uh…” Angel had the perfect creepy story to tell him, but since it involved him and Whitney, she wasn’t sure she should tell them. “Actually it’s been a boring few weeks, guys.” She crossed her fingers behind her back. “I’m also waiting for something to happen.”
“Wait, what about …” Tessa began
“… the weird noises that old lady Hinkley has been hearing in her garden!” Angel cut Tessa off. “You’re right, Tessa! How could I forget! She’s called the police, like, 3-4 times now to investigate, but they’ve always told her to not bother them about this stuff.”
“Yeah…” Tessa side-eyed Angel. “Very weird.”
“Ooooh… what do you think it is? Bigfoot?” Sam sat up, very interested.
“No idea… I don’t think Bigfoot hangs out in our neck of the woods, though,” Angel said. “Anyway, tell us more about creepy stories from England…”
Angel’s mum drove the two girls back home. Tessa was going to stay over because her parents had to attend an event.
“Ang, I hope that creepy doll isn’t going to be sitting on the shelf in your room staring at us the whole time,” Tessa said. “You know how I feel about it.”
Angel sighed, “Tess, I already told you… it’s on our side now. It won’t hurt us, I swear!”
Tessa shrugged, “That’s what you believe, you don’t know that for a fact.”
Angel took Tessa’s arm, “Tess, babe, trust me. I’ve been sleeping with it in the room every night. I feel safe and… even protected. Give it a chance, OK?”
Tessa shrugged again. “Let’s see.”
When they walked into Angel’s room, Tessa tensed up, but quickly relaxed. “Hey, you’re right! It doesn’t feel weird anymore!” She walked up to the doll, “Wow, it DOES look like it’s smiling more. Just a trick of the light, I’m sure, but … cool!
The girls settled down to watch TV after dinner. Paranormal Activities, their favourite show, was on that night.
“Oh… I’m supposed to message my mum to check in with her,” Tessa jumped up during an ad. “Give me a shout if it comes back on.”
Tessa ran upstairs. But shortly after, Angel heard her scream, and run back down the stairs.
“It MOVED! Angel, it moved!! I swear that thing is possessed get it OUT of the house NOW before anything bad happens!!!!”
Angel was shocked when Tessa actually burst into tears. She pounded up the stairs and into her room and, sure enough, the doll was facing the other way. She shrieked, grabbed it and threw it out of the window as hard as she could.
The doll landed on a hedge outside.
Its mouth turned down into a frown.
Angel was back to being a nervous wreck – not eating, not sleeping, not concentrating on anything. Her mum had been so worried she’d caught the weird virus from Sam and Whitney that she had actually brought her to the doctor’s for the first time in years.
Angel had obviously not told her mum what was up with the doll. Her mum didn’t believe in all this stuff and would really be angry at Aunt Sylvia for filling her head with ‘all this nonsense’, as she’d said many times before.
Floating through school like a zombie, Angel got a lot of weird stares from everyone. Mrs. Karmalita, her favourite teacher who taught English Literature, asked if she needed to go to Matron. She started wearing hoodies pulled up over her face.
The one good thing about it all was that the doll was gone. She’d finally plucked up enough courage to go check the hedge where the doll had landed. It had vanished. She hoped that the cleaners had picked it up and sent it to the incinerator, and not that it had run away by itself.
But then, a few days later, Angel opened her closet and… the doll was there!
She was really scared now, and pretty convinced it was evil. Rushing to school and freaking out, so she just decided to leave it in the closet until she got home and figured out what to do.
She ran into school to look for Tessa, but Tessa wasn’t at their usual meeting spot in front of the lockers.
She was really freaking out now … Tessa had always been against the doll and she was pretty sure the doll knew it. It had been Tessa who had blown the final alarm bell, too.
Sick with worry, she tried to text Tessa.
The bell rang for class and she kept texting throughout homeroom even though she knew phones weren’t allowed in class. Sure enough, Mr. Dobson caught her.
“Angel, you know you shouldn’t be using phones in class. Please report to detention after school today.”
“But, Mr. Dobson, Tessa might be in trouble!” Angel blurted out, panicked.
“What do you mean?” Mr. Dobson gave her a funny look. She knew she couldn’t say anything.
“Sorry, Mr. Dobson, I mean, Tessa’s not in school today and I’m worried she might have caught that weird virus Whitney and Sam had.”
She was going nuts. After detention and being screamed at by her mum, Angel grabbed her phone and frantically tried to reach Tessa again.
She tried her cell, her home, her mum … nothing. She sent her dozens of texts but Tessa didn’t see or reply to any of them.
She couldn’t sleep that night. She had refused to go back into her room and she’d gotten April to bring all her sleeping stuff out to the couch, which had made her mum mad again, but she didn’t care. She tossed and turned, stressing about what had happened to Tessa. Shifting and tugging on her blanket, she tried to figure out what had happened to her BFF. She was also freaking out about what the doll would to to HER.
The next day, Angel ran into school hoping to see Tessa, but there was still no sign of her. Sweating, she ran around the school searching everywhere for Tessa. The kitchen, the science lab, the English/creative writing class, everywhere. Tessa was nowhere to be seen.
At home, freaking out, she tried calling her BFF again, and this time Tessa replied!
“Tessa! Where have you been? I’ve been worried sick about you!!!” Angel screamed into her phone.
“Sorry, Angel, my grandma fell and broke her leg and we had to follow mum over to help her cos dad’s out of town. I forgot my phone. Did you think the doll had gotten me??”
“YES! Sheesh … don’t EVER do that to me again!”
That night she finally screwed up the courage to look into her closet again. Sure enough, the doll was still there, a small frown on its face.
“I’m sorry about what I did. I just… wish you weren’t so creepy. Did you really move??? Are you evil???? You know what? I kinda wish you could move and talk so that you could tell me what in the world is going on!!!”
And then she gave a little scream and dropped it.
It had blinked and smiled at her!
Angel slammed the closet door shut.
“I take that back! I take that back! I don’t want you to come alive! Don’t!”
She slammed the door and ran down the stairs.
“That’s it! I’m getting rid of it! I’m gonna burn it! I don’t care if bad luck comes… I’ve had enough!”
She calmed down a while later, though. This was a creepy adventure and she always wanted creepy adventures, right? Now she knew what she had to do. Figure the whole thing out. She would lay low with the doll, pretend to be on its side and talk to it and stuff. She would research and try to find out more about the doll. There was definitely some history behind it… was it a magic cursed doll brought to life? Was it a cursed person’s soul put inside the doll by a witch? This was the stuff she was made for.
She got Tessa on the phone, “Tessa, Tessa, I know what to do now! It’s a creepy mystery!! It’s totally something we read about every time… and we’re in the middle of it!! We’ve got to solve it!!”
Tessa was quiet for a long while. “I guess you’re right, Angel. All this time I’ve been freaked out by it, but… yeah… it’s something we love freaking ourselves out with… okay, let’s do it!”
“Awesome! Wish you were here tonight, but it’s OK, I’ll start researching on my own. Come over tomorrow, OK?”
“I’ll try … I might have to help with my grandma.”
“Cool!” Angel felt a whole lot better now that she had decided what to do. She got online and started reading up on cursed dolls, witches, souls trapped in objects… it was uber creepy but the more she read into souls being trapped, the more it made sense. Maybe that’s why she never really felt the doll was evil… maybe it was just a trapped soul trying to get out and back to its own life?
She went to the closet and took a deep breath. She opened it and… All her clothes were neatly folded and arranged: shirts on the shirts pile, shorts on the shorts pile, dresses, skirts and jeans hung up. She smiled down at the doll.
“Hey, thanks for helping! First my homework, now my clothes… I could get used to having a friend do all this for me!”
She took the doll out of the cupboard and propped it against her pillow on her bed.
“So what’s the deal with you? Are you like Slappy in Goosebumps or… are you an actual person stuck in the doll?”
She saw a gleam in the doll’s eye. Was that a tear running down the doll’s cheek?!
“Oh… hey… don’t… don’t cry!! Omigosh… here…” Angel grabbed a tissue and dabbed at the doll’s face. She picked it up and gave it a cuddle – it didn’t feel weird anymore. “It’s OK. I’m your friend. I’ll try my best to help you, and my BFF too. We’ll get to the bottom of this. I wish you could talk… that would really help us along. I know! Maybe I can ask you questions and you can give me a sign for yes and a sign for no. Hmm … Can you blink once for yes, twice for no?” She nearly dropped the doll when it blinked once.
She shook her head and held on.
“OK! Great! We can talk! Kind of. Soooo… are you a doll curse to come to life or are you a soul trapped in a doll?”
The doll didn’t respond.
“Oh, ya sorry. Ummm… are you a doll cursed to come to life?”
The doll blinked twice.
“So you are a soul trapped inside a doll?”
The doll blinked once.
“But, whose soul? How am I going to find that out?” She mulled it over. “I know! I’ll research into people who have disappeared! But… there must be millions! Where am I supposed to start? Can you help me?”
The doll did nothing.
“I guess I will have to figure it out in the morning. Can you wait?”
The doll blinked once.
Angel could barely sleep that night from the excitement of it all. She knew she was on the right track. The problem was… how on Earth was she going to find out exactly whose soul was trapped inside the doll?! She figured she could ask the doll about each and every missing person she could find out about… but that would take ages! She didn’t want to go to school the next day; she needed to get cracking on the case! But she knew her mum wouldn’t have any of it.
“Heya,” Angel greeted the doll before leaving for school. “I have to go to school. I’ll try to do some research during my free period, OK? Hopefully I’ll find something!” The doll didn’t reply.
In school, Angel rushed to Tessa.
“Tessa! Tessa! You’ll never guess what happened last night!”
“Hey Angel! You look a whole lot better today. Awesome!” Tessa hugged Angel.
“That’s because I’ve finally figured out something and I think I can really do something about the doll! Listen. After we talked, I did a ton of research about cursed dolls and souls being trapped inside objects and I found a way to talk to the doll!” Angel was breathless with excitement.
“It spoke to you?!” Tessa’s eyes were wide.
“Well, no, but I told it to blink once for yes, twice for no. I asked it if it had been cursed to come to life and it blinked twice for no! Then I asked if it was a soul trapped inside the doll… it blinked once! It’s a soul trapped inside the doll! So now all I have to do is find out whose…” Angel sighed, “That’s the toughie.”
“Yeah … there could be millions of possibilities. Where are we gonna start?” Tessa mused.
“You’re gonna help me?” Angel grabbed Tessa, excited.
“Of course! You didn’t think I’d let you have all the excitement, did you?” Tessa laughed.
“Cool! OK, I was planning on using my free period to hit the computers. I figured I’d write down all the names of missing people that I can find then read them to the doll when I get home,” Angel said.
“Good plan,” Tessa nodded. The bell rang for assembly.
“Oh … and she helped me fold my clothes!” Angel giggled. She nudged her friend. “I told her I could get used to all the help she was giving.”
The girls linked arms then and went to assembly. Mrs. Weston, the principal, looked very serious up on the podium.
“Girls and boys, today is the 60th anniversary of the disappearance of Meghan Montgomery,” Mrs. Weston told everyone. “As you may recall, Meghan was a student here from 1954 until her mysterious disappearance in 1959. Nobody knew where she had gone, not even her parents, and the police never found any leads, Nothing is known of her disappearance until today.”
Angel’s ears pricked up and she grabbed Tessa’s hand. Something was niggling at her.
“Let us have a moment of silence as we look through the pictures of Meghan and remember her in our hearts,” called Mrs. Weston.
Angel squeaked as pictures of Meghan started flashing onto the projector screen. They looked like the doll! Even Tessa did a double take.
At free time, the girls rushed to the library to research further into Meghan’s story. Angel was all but convinced that it was Meghan’s soul in the doll… but how? What was the story behind it?
“Get this, Tessa, Meghan was 12 just like us when she disappeared.” Angel showed Tessa the newspaper article about the disappearance.
“Yah and she was also into all the creepy stuff that we like too,” Tessa read from another article she was reading about Meghan.
“I think we’ve got it, Tessa!” Angel jumped up. A few people turned around and looked at her and she quieted down, “I can’t wait to get home to ask her!”
Angel ran into the house and up the stairs. She ripped the closet door open… but Meghan (she’d started to think of the doll as Meghan) wasn’t there!! Panicked, she ripped around the room looking for it – throwing the covers on her bed back, pulling all her drawers open, even scrambling under the bed. Meghan was nowhere to be found.
“April if you’ve taken the doll again I’ll kill you!!!” she screamed, as she pounded into her sister’s room. Her sister started to cry.
“April no take!” she sobbed and Angel’s mum ran into the room too.
“Angel! You’re grounded! Calm your sister down, I don’t have time for this.” Her mum stormed out of the room.
“April, I’m sorry.” Angel hugged her sister, her brain still whirling. Where WAS Meghan? “But … are you sure you didn’t take it? Just to play? I won’t get mad if you did, just tell me where it is.”
“April no take,” April sniffed and hiccuped.
“OKOK, I’m sorry. Look, I’ll play with you later. I just need to find my doll, OK?” Angel hugged her sister again.
“OK!” April’s face brightened up.
Angel tore around the house looking for Meghan, but she was nowhere to be found. She collapsed onto her bed. She had no idea what to do. How was she going to help Meghan if she had vanished?
Later that evening, as she was helping her mum with dinner, Angel asked, “Mum, did you see the doll that Aunt Sylvia gave me for my birthday? It’s gone missing.”
“Ohhhh… That’s why you were tearing around the house and screaming at your sister. I saw it on the closet floor along with a bunch of your old clothes and toys so I thought you wanted to donate it away… remember the school charity drive asking for old clothes and toys? I gathered everything to send in today.”
“MUM! Aunt Sylvia gave it to me! How could you think I’d give it away?!”
“Well honestly, honey, I figured that you didn’t want it anymore. You’ve been acting very weird since you got it and, to be honest, I was glad you decided to give it away.”
“Mum!!!” Angel didn’t know what to do. “Call them NOW and ask for it back!!!! I NEED it!!!!”
“You’ll just have to ask them tomorrow when you go to school honey.”
Angel’s head started to pound. Would Meghan think she’d abandoned here again?? Would she be sad or angry? Would bad stuff start happening again?
She was back to not being able to concentrate and that night, she couldn’t fall asleep. Just as she was finally falling off to sleep, Angel heard a tapping sound. She jerked out of a half-dream and stared around wildly. Where was that sound coming from?
She suddenly realised it was coming from the window.
“What the … !?!?”
She ran to the window and pulled the curtains open. Meghan was standing right there on the ledge!! She ripped the window open and Meghan climbed in. Climbed! With her own little doll legs and arms, like an agile plastic spider.
“Meghan! You came back! Wow… you can move all on your own now???”
“Hi Angel. Yes, I finally got enough energy to move and talk on my own. Thanks to you! You believed in me!”
Angel was a bit freaked out, watching the doll move and talk.
“Wow… this is awesome! Now you can finally tell me what is going on!!” Angel hugged Meghan.
“First of all, thank you for not giving up on me,” said the Meghan-doll as she hugged Angel back. “I’m so glad I came to you rather than someone else who would definitely have thrown me out.”
“Yah, you’re lucky I’m into creepy stuff! Even then, I was ready to get rid of you… I was getting really creeped out and bad stuff started happening all around me,” Angel admitted.
“I don’t think I did that,” Meghan said. “I don’t think the curse makes me give bad luck to anyone.”
“Well then what’s been happening?? Anyway, tell me your story!! How did you end up like this???”
And the little doll settled itself down on her bedspread and began to tell her story…
Meghan was silent for a while.
“I’m still not clear on everything that happened. One minute I was standing outside her house, the next minute I was… I was…”
“Meghan… Meghan… can you start from the beginning? Whose house?”
The little doll turned its eyes to Angel and her face, though fixed, seemed sorrowful.
“I was always fascinated by things that made my skin crawl.”
“Creepy stuff, just like me!”
“Yes, I think we have a lot in common. I heard about a woman who lived on the outskirts of town. She was rumoured to be… to have… powers.”
“A witch!? Cool!”
“Well, it wasn’t done to say that word in those days,” said the little doll, still looking with that curious, sober face. “People said it would bring bad luck. But yes, it was said that anyone who got on her bad side would end up with bad luck… or worse. Being curious, I had to investigate.”
The little doll paused as though to collect her thoughts. Angel waited.
“I went out to the woman’s house on a Sunday. I just wanted to see what she looked like, maybe see her doing something… out of the ordinary. I didn’t want to disturb her or cause any trouble, though, I promise. I just approached the house and peeped in through the window. The lady was cooking something… I couldn’t see what. I could smell rosemary. She stirred and stirred. I would have done anything to see what was in that pot. It was just a normal pot… just like my mother used at home to make spaghetti sauce… but who knew what she was cooking? Then she turned off the stove and sat down. She just sat there for a long time, not doing anything. At least I thought she was doing nothing, I wasn’t sure. Suddenly, she turned and looked straight at me. I froze. I could feel her eyes boring into me. I felt something strange happening inside of me and, suddenly, I unfroze and I ran. I ran all the way home and hid under my covers. I was shaking like a leaf – so frightened that I refused to come out. I spent the next few days in bed and everyone assumed I was sick.”
“You mean you didn’t turn into a doll straight away?” Angel felt like a doll herself. She was rooted to the spot, fascinated.
“No, I was just scared. I didn’t feel anything happen to me at all.”
Angel felt relieved, though she knew the story was bound to turn out badly. She was surprised to feel how much she was investing in the story. How vividly she could picture Meghan’s story. She felt like she was the one who had seen the old woman, stirring that pot and then gazing at her so strangely…
“But then, on the third day after she had seen me,” said the doll. “I woke up in a strange place I had never seen before. I went to bed as usual the night before, and I have no idea how it happened. But I was in some kind of shop! I worked out soon enough that it was an antique shop. I looked around and everything seemed bigger to me. I thought the strange lady had made me sick after all and that I was hallucinating. But after a while of walking around the shop, I realised it was real and something awful had happened… I finally looked into a mirror and was shocked… a doll was staring back at me. The doll looked like me.” Her pretty face was so shiny and fixed that it seemed to glisten with tears. “I guess I’ve been in that antique shop ever since…” she rounded off sadly.
“That’s terrible! You never saw your family again?” Angel felt so bad for Meghan, she could feel tears pricking her eyelids.
“No, never again.” Meghan put her head down and started to sob. Her stiff little body shook. Angel held her until she calmed down.
“I saw in the articles about you that your family never stopped looking for you,” she told the doll. “Your sister, especially, never gave up.” Angel tried to remember more from the articles. “I’ll bring you to the library to read them all again, if you want.”
“I’d like that,” Meghan said. She seemed to compose herself. She gave a sad smile to Angel. Then Angel had a sudden flash of inspiration.
“Hey! That woman who did this to you… maybe we should try to find her and get her to change you back!”
“That’s a great idea, but…” Meghan was quiet for a while. “It’s been a long time…”
“60 years…” said Angel, realising.
“Yes.” Meghan put her head down, “She may not be alive anymore. She seemed old to me even at that time.”
“Oh man…” Angel hugged Meghan.
Was it possible they could find the woman who did this? And even if she was still alive, was there a chance that she would she change poor Meghan back?
Angel smuggled Meghan to school in her backpack. Meghan wasn’t sure she wanted to do it – she didn’t want the memories to make her even more sad than she already was – but Angel thought it might actually make her feel better to share her stories of the good times she’d had in school.
“Everything looks … the same!” Meghan exclaimed quietly, as she sat half-in, half-out of Angel’s backpack. “Well, nearly everything. The wallpaper is different and… Oh! That whole wing wasn’t there when I was here!”
“Yep, I think the West Wing was added 10 years ago. It’s our performing arts centre where we do drama, music and film stuff.” Angel realised she was actually quite proud of the school.
“Film!” Meghan exclaimed. “You make films here? It doesn’t look like a large enough space!”
“Well, anything and everything can be filmed, you don’t need a big space, really…”
“Things have really changed,” Meghan said sadly. Angel wanted to cheer her new friend up.
“Oh! Hey! Tell me about your friends… what did you guys like to do together? What sports did you play?”
“Friends … well I didn’t have many friends, to be honest, because not many people understood why I was interested in… creepy stuff, you called it? I had just one very close friend who had the same interests as me. Her name was Jilly. We did everything together. She was supposed to come with me that day to the old lady’s house, but she was sick. Lucky for her,” she said regretfully.
“So you guys investigated creepy stuff together? Just like me and Tessa! Tessa’s my BFF. She’s not here today, she had to go to help her grandma out. She was one of the reasons I was so worried about you being evil… last week she vanished and I couldn’t get her on the phone, she wasn’t replying to my texts… I thought you’d done something to her!”
As soon as the words were out of Angel’s mouth, she regretted them. Angel thought that she felt the doll stiffen. But then Meghan said gently,
“Don’t worry, Angel. I understand why you thought that.”
Angel breathed a sigh of relief.
“BFF means Best Friends Forever,” Angel added, realising she might not have used that phrase so many years ago. Then she decided to change the subject altogether. “What was your favourite subject in school?”
“My favourite subject? I loved English Literature. Aside from being fascinated by strange things, I loved to read and write strange stories.”
Angel clapped. “Me too! Wow… we’re so alike, it’s…. creepy!” She laughed.
The bell rang and Angel went to homeroom. She kept getting weird looks from everyone, even the teachers, but she figured that was because she was carrying a really realistic-looking doll, and she supposed at her age, it was a little strange.
During lunchtime, Angel was walking down the corridor to the cafeteria when Mrs. Karmelita walked by and did a double take.
“Angel! Who… I mean… what is that in your backpack?!” the teacher blurted out.
“It’s just a doll, Mrs. K. It seems to be bothering everyone… should I put it into my locker?” Angel definitely didn’t want it taken away.
“No, there’s no need… it’s just that…” Mrs. Karmelita seemed flustered, which Angel had never seen happen. “Angel, did you know that your doll resembles Meghan? The girl who we held a vigil for at assembly?”
“I know! That’s why I brought her… I mean, it, to school… to show my friends. It was weird when I saw the slideshow of Meghan. I thought to myself ‘Oh wow! She looks exactly like my doll!’
Angel knew she was babbling and forced herself to stop. Mrs. Karmelita looked at Angel and then at the doll for an uncomfortably long time.
“My dear, why did you say ‘her’? What I mean is, obviously it’s a female doll, but a doll nonetheless, and you know we use the pronoun ‘it’ for inanimate objects.”
“Yes, sorry Mrs. K., I’m just kinda hungry and can’t concentrate right now. Can I go to lunch, please?” Angel kicked herself for that mistake. She knew Mrs. Karmelita, old as she was, was still as sharp as a pin, especially when it came to grammar and spelling.
“Yes, yes, of course, my apologies for keeping you from your lunch.” Mrs. Karmelita waved Angel off, then called to her. “Angel? Could I trouble you to come see me after school today, please? I have something I’d like to discuss with you.”
Angel really wanted to get home to discuss things properly with Meghan, but there was something strange in Mrs. K’s voice…
As soon as Mrs Karmelita walked away, Meghan tugged at Angel’s hair and whispered urgently, “That’s Jilly!!!!”
Angel spun around, forgetting that a) she was in the middle of the school hall and b) she was talking to someone in her backpack.
“What?!?! What do you mean that’s Jilly??”
“That teacher you were talking to… Mrs. K., you called her… that’s my best friend when we were in school together! K. stands for Karmelita, right? Jilly Karmelita!”
Meghan sounded so happy Angel didn’t want to say anything to upset her, but she knew how weird this was going to be.
“I can’t believe Jilly’s right here!” Meghan sounded over the moon. “She became a teacher… just like she wanted! And of course she’s teaching English Literature… she loved reading and writing!”
“What did you want to become?” Angel was curious.
“I wanted to become a writer. To put all the strange stories I had in my mind down on paper,” said Meghan dreamily, “After investigating the old lady, I had planned to build a story around it. I guess I became the story instead.”
Angel couldn’t help but smile at that. “Well, this is cool! You’re going to see you BFF for the first time in a long time!”
Angel knocked on Mrs. Karmelita’s classroom door after school. She was bursting with curiosity about how it would play out. Would she tell Mrs. K? Reveal Meghan? She actually wanted to, but was worried Mrs. K. would think she was going crazy. Mrs. K. was cool most of the time, and Meghan did say she was into creepy stuff when she was young, but she was old now and that could have changed.
“Come in, Angel,” Mrs. Karmelita called from her desk. “Sit down, my dear.”
Noticing Angel’s worried face, she smiled, “Don’t worry, Angel, you’re not in any trouble. I just wanted to find out more about your doll. It really gave me a shock when I saw it this morning. You know, it really does look like Meghan.”
Angel decided to take a chance. “Mrs. K., did you… did you know Meghan? I think she was the same age as you when were you in school together or something?”
Mrs. Karmelita sighed.
“Yes, we were schoolmates here. As a matter of fact, we were the best of friends.”
“Wow! Tell me more!” Angel felt Meghan twitch in her backpack.
“May I request something, dear. Could you put the doll on the table please? I would very much like to look at it.” Mrs. K almost sounded awkward.
“Sure!” Angel took her backpack off, put it on the table and gently took Meghan out.
“My, the resemblance is uncanny!” Mrs. Karmelita whispered, staring at Meghan. “Meghan was… she was such a sweet girl. She was my best friend – we did everything together. We loved to read and write… well, that’s why I’m an English Literature teacher now.” Mrs. Karmelita smiled wistfully.
“Just like me and Tessa!” exclaimed Angel. She was trying really hard to pretend she didn’t know this already.
“Yes, we’re more similar than you know, Angel.” Mrs. Karmelita smiled at Angel. “We were both fascinated with the unusual too, again like yourself and Tessa. Our dream was to investigate the paranormal and write about it.” Mrs. Karmelita suddenly drew closer to Meghan. “Did I just see a gleam in the doll’s eye? Meghan’s eyes used to gleam like that when she got excited about something…”
“Hi, Jilly! It’s me! Meghan!” Meghan winked at Mrs. Karmelita.
Mrs. Karmelita jumped back and screamed. “What ! How…?”
She staggered back and Angel rushed to help her.
“Calm down, Mrs. K., here, sit down. Let me explain everything.”
Angel beckoned Mrs Karmelita went into the hallway. She closed the door behind them, leaving Meghan in the room. Mrs Kermelita looked so overwhelmed that Angel thought it was better to prepare her before she came face-to-face with her transformed friend again.
“Mrs. K., I know this is going to be hard to believe, but… you know how Meghan disappeared?”
Mrs Karmelita, breathing heavily, nodded. She sat down on one of the chairs in the hallway. Angel sat down next to her.
“Well, she didn’t go anywhere,” Angel told her. “You remember that old lady you were going to investigate with her? The one everyone thought was a witch?” Mrs Karmelita winced but said nothing. “Well, she went to the house, but the old lady caught her snooping around. So she cursed her and put her soul in a doll.”
“That doll?” Mrs Karmelita looked back at the room where they had left Meghan.
“Yes,” Angel confirmed. “When Meghan’s soul was sent into the doll, it started to look more and more like her as time passed, but nobody noticed because she was stuck in an antique shop.”
“How did she come to be with you?” Mrs. Karmelita said, still sounding stunned.
“My Aunt happened to walk into the antique shop and saw her. She bought her for my birthday. She’s the one who kind of got me into creepy things, so every year I can’t wait to see what gift she’ll find for me.” Angel looked down. “I wish Aunt Sylvia was here… she’d know what to do.”
“I was supposed to go with Meghan to that woman’s house,” Mrs. Karmelita thought out loud. “Imagine what would have happened if I had? You would have an entirely different English Literature teacher and I… I would have ended up a doll, just like Meghan.” She shuddered. “Poor Meghan. She must have been terrified, and all alone. I should have been there for her.” She put her head down and wiped her eyes. Meghan sniffled too.
“Mrs. K., I know it’s freaky… believe me, it took me a long time to relax into the idea. But I think Meghan wants to talk to you like you guys used to. Would you be OK doing that?”
Mrs. Karmelita’s eyes teared up even more. “Yes. Yes, I’d like that. Please give me a moment to compose myself.” She dabbed at her eyes with a handkerchief andthen finally stood up. They went back in the room together. Mrs Karmelita took Meghan in her hands and hugged her.
“Meghan, my best friend!” she cried.
“Jilly!” Meghan’s eyes lit up. “I’ve been waiting for so long to talk to you again! I wasn’t even sure I would ever have the chance again.”
It was funny, but as Mrs Karmelita spoke with Meghan, she lost all traces of the teacher in her voice, and sounded only like a young girl again, animated, talking with her friend.
“I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you, Meghan. I should have been there… you should have waited for me,” Mrs. Karmelita’s eyes teared up again.
“Jilly, you know me, I wouldn’t have waited for the world once I got wind of something! I’m just happy to see you again.”
“Meghan, you know your sister never gave up looking for you?” Mrs. Karmelita told her.
“Yes, I know. Angel showed me the articles. Thank goodness for Angel!”
Meghan turned to Angel. “Thank you for keeping me, and for looking a little deeper below the surface. I am so lucky to have your help!”
Angel blushed, “Awww… I wasn’t always very nice to you, Meghan. Sending you to the garage, then the charity bin!”
“How could you have known? I don’t hold it against you!” Meghan laughed.
Angel blushed deeper, “I’m glad to hear that! But what do we do now? I mean… you don’t want to be stuck in a doll anymore, do you?”
Meghan shook her head violently. Mrs. Karmelita suddenly sat up.
“Meghan! I’ve read something on this before. Cursed dolls. The only way to break the curse is for the original person who placed it to lift it.”
Angel shook her head. “Mrs. K., I’ve already thought of that but, surely the old lady who did this to Meghan is already… has already…”
“Passed away,” Mrs. Karmelita sighed. “That is most likely the case. Oh dear, what can we do?”
“I’ll research into it,” Angel said resolutely. “Don’t worry, Meghan, I’ll try my best!”
“As will I,” chimed in Mrs. K.
Angel left the two old friends to catch up. She meant what she had said. But where would she start?
Meghan tried to remember where the old lady’s house was, but it was difficult. They ended up narrowing the possibilities down to five old ladies who were rumoured to dabble into supernatural practices.
“What should we do now? Go check out each of these old ladies?” Angel asked.
“I think that’s the only thing we can do. Angel, call your mother to let her know you’re with me,” Mrs. Karmelita advised.
“OK, good idea,” Angel agreed. She went to call her mother, then got into Mrs. Karmelita’s car. As they drove out to the outskirts of town, the three of them discussed their plan.
“I don’t think we should show Meghan to her straight away,” Angel said. “She might get angry and zap us all into dolls, then we’d be in big trouble. Omigod, maybe we should have written a note and left it on your table, Mrs. K., in case something happens to us.”
“That sounds rather melodramatic, but given the circumstances, you might be right, Angel,” Mrs. Karmelita agreed.
Angel gasped, “I know! I’ll text Tessa and tell her where we’re going. She’ll definitely keep an eye out for me.” She pulled her phone out, but then noticing something, she stopped.
“Hey, are you OK Meghan?” She felt Meghan trembling in her arms.
“I… I’m terrified. I never wanted to see that woman again, and here we are looking for her,” Meghan stammered.
Mrs. Karmelita assured her, “Don’t worry, Meghan, we’re here to help you.”
Angel wasn’t so sure about that, but she didn’t say anything.
“I know you mean well, Jilly,” said Meghan. “But you didn’t see the look in her eyes.” The little doll shuddered. “It was as if she was looking right into my soul! I’ve never forgotten it!”
“We have to try, Meghan. I promise we’ll be as careful as possible,” Mrs. Karmelita reassured her.
They reached the outskirts of town and started looking around for the closest address on their list. After a while of driving around, they finally found it. “It definitely looks like the house of a witch!” Angel excitedly exclaimed. Mrs. Karmelita and Meghan winced.
Mrs. Karmelita parked the car and they looked at each other, not sure what to do.
“I think we should try to observe the house first, before talking to anyone,” Mrs. Karmelita suggested.
“That makes sense,” Angel agreed. “Meghan, does this house look familiar to you at all?”
“No, it doesn’t. But it was so long ago. I’ll never forget her, though, so the easiest way to find her is if I see her… which I definitely do NOT want to do,” Meghan repeated again. “I’m not sure I want to be peeking into anyone’s window anymore!”
“Right now we’re just observing, Meghan. We can decide what to do when and if we find her,” Mrs. Karmelita said gently. Her little friend was trembling more than ever.
They waited and waited and finally the postman rang the doorbell. Everyone in the car tensed when the door was opened by an old woman, but Meghan said, “That’s not her.”
They went to the next house. And then next one. And soon they had visited all of the houses on the list. But Meghan said that none of the old ladies who lived in the houses were the same one as the woman who had enchanted her.
It was getting late and they didn’t want to be there in the evening.
“Don’t worry, Angel, we’ll come back tomorrow. I’m free the whole summer and I want to help my friend out,” Mrs. Karmelita said, patting Meghan on the arm. But everyone was disappointed. Angel could feel it in the air.
They rode home in silence. “I”ll pick you girls up at 9am tomorrow and we’ll get a fresh, early start,” Mrs. Karmelita promised as she dropped them off.
But 9am the next morning, she didn’t come.
Angel and Meghan waited until ten in the morning for Mrs. Karmelita to come, but still she didn’t come.
“Where could she be??” Angel paced the living room. “I hope nothing bad happened to her! Omigod omigod! What if the witch knew we were coming to look for her and zapped Mrs. K. first?!”
“Poor Jilly! Let’s give up, Angel. Thank you for all your help, but maybe I should just be contented as a doll for the remainder of my days.” Even Meghan’s eyes, which were glass, seemed overshadowed with worry.
“No! Mrs. K. was right,” Angel suddenly exclaimed. “We have to at least try to see if this works. I’m not going to give up! If Mrs. K.’s in trouble, I’m going to try to help her too!”
“That’s one of the things I most admire about you, Angel, your courage in the face of all odds. You’re right, if Jilly is in trouble, we’d better help. And we should see this thing through.” The little doll took a breath. “OK, I’m ready to face the witch!”
Meghan’s about-turn surprised Angel, but she was glad.
“Let’s go! I’m going to take the bus out there… hmmm, what should I tell my mum?”
“Well, much as I hate to tell fibs, you could tell her the same thing you did yesterday… that you are with Jilly, to work on a special writing project,” Meghan suggested.
Angel went to look for her mum and tell her, with Meghan accompanying her inside her backpack. After Angel had told her mum the excuse they’d invented (and thankfully her mum believed every word…), they headed for the bus station.
As they rode the bus, they whispered their plans – in case somebody who shouldn’t hear happened to be around.
“Where do we start now? We’ve checked out the ladies we thought could be the ones. Now we’re at zero.”
“Perhaps we could ask around?”
Meghan still seemed hopeful. Perhaps it was her bravery that was making her so positive and determined.
“Hmmmm…. it’s gonna be so random,” Angel frowned.
“We don’t have another option, I think,” the doll reminded Angel.
The bus pulled up to their stop then.
“Here we go,” said Angel, moving off the bus. When the bus had pulled away from the kerb, she looked around. “But where do we go now?”
“Your guess is as good as mine!” Meghan would have shrugged if she’d been able to.
“OK… let’s go… right.”
Angel turned and walked down the street. She screwed up the courage and asked anybody she could find if they knew of any ‘strange ladies’ she could interview for her school project. She got a lot of stares and evil eye signs, but no help. By mid-afternoon, they were losing steam.
“Nobody knows anything!” Angel exclaimed, annoyed. She sat down on the pavement and put her chin in her hands. Suddenly a shadow fell over them.
“Are you looking for Mistress Selina? Heard you’re looking for her,” a small voice enquired. Angel jumped up and in the backpack, felt Meghan shiver against her spine.
“W-what? How did you know that? Who’s Mistress Selina??” she stammered.
“Follow me,” the boy said, not answering.
They walked for what seemed like miles and miles. Angel looked down at her watch but it had stopped so she couldn’t tell the time. Meghan seemed tense in her backpack. “Do you think this is it?” she heard the small doll’s voice whisper at one moment. Angel turned a little and whispered back,
“I feel all tingly … I don’t know if it’s a sign.”
They finally arrived at a tiny shack way out near the swamps. The mysterious boy turned to them, “Mistress Selina is waiting for you.” He pointed at the door then walked off.
Angel stared at the door of the shack. Then she remembered Meghan, and took the doll out of her backpack. Poor Meghan was shaking.
“I feel her! I feel her! Oh no! Please get me away from here! This was a bad idea!”
Angel tried to calm Meghan as much as she could but she was shaking just as much as the doll was. There was a creepy feeling in the air and they couldn’t stop jumping at every sound. Then the door opened. —-
Angel stepped in, trembling like a leaf. Meghan was vibrating in her arms and she had to hold on tight so she wouldn’t drop her.
“O-OK, you’re right, Meghan, m-maybe t-this wasn’t such a g-good idea,” Angel whispered.
They looked around the room they had just entered. It was dark and smelled like incense.
“The air feels like it’s watching me,” Angel whispered.
“Me too,” whispered Meghan.
“So… you have come back to disturb Mistress Selina again,” a quavering voice floated out of the gloom.
Angel spun around, trying to see where the voice was coming from.
“Come closer, child, so that Mistress Selina can see you with her old, failing eyes,” the voice crooned. Exactly like a witch, Angel thought.
“I remember you, child, you were snooping around my house,” the voice continued, and Meghan let out a little squeak of fear. Angel jumped again. Her eyes darted around the dark room. Where was Mistress Selina??
Suddenly a light clicked on and they were staring at two sunken eyes in a very wrinkled, thin face. Long straggly hair surrounded the face and a toothless grin made Angel’s skin crawl.
“Ah, child, it wasn’t enough that you came to disturb me all those years ago, but now you have brought another curious thrill-seeker to gawp and stare at me?” The witch pointed accusingly at Meghan. Angel quickly hid the doll behind her back, took a deep breath and let it all out in one long desperate sentence.
“Wait… Mistress Selina we are sorry but we really didn’t come here to disturb you. Meghan is really sorry she disturbed you all those years ago but she’s learned her lesson. Mistress Selina, she really has, and she’ll never bother anyone again if you change her back to her human self. And me? I’m just trying to help her…”
The witch’s eyes stared long and hard at Angel until she couldn’t stand it anymore. She was about to try to turn and run when Mistress Selina beckoned to her with her finger. She couldn’t resist walking towards the old crone even though she felt like she was walking on an earthquake. She nearly dropped Meghan twice and had to fumble to keep holding her.
When Angel was standing too near to Mistress Selina to run away, the witch suddenly stuck her long nose closer to her and took a long sniff.
“I’m checking if you’re telling the truth, child. My eyes tell me you are, but my nose must tell me the same story too, or you’ll meet the same fate as your friend.”
The witch sniffed longer until she was satisfied.
“As for you, my snooping child…” the witch held out her hand for Meghan, who screamed and pressed herself so hard against Angel that it was Angel’s turn to squeak. “Out with you, my little snooper, unless you want to be turned into a croaking toad instead!” Mistress Selina’s voice was so angry when she spoke to Meghan.
“I’m sorry, Meghan, I hope it’s going to be alright” Angel whispered. She handed the doll to Mistress Selina. Mistress Selina peered hard at Meghan, then sniffed her for a long time too.
“Lucky for you, snooping one, your brave friend was telling the truth,” Mistress Selina said to the doll. She set Meghan on the table. Angel quickly took Meghan back and hugged her.
“So why are you here, if not to snoop on me again? I am an old woman now, why can’t I be left alone?” Mistress Selina sat down on a very old armchair.
“Mistress Selina,” Angel tried to sound calm. “Meghan has been a doll for many many years. She’s very sorry for what she did. She’d like to go back to being human. Please, could you change her back? She promises to never disturb anyone again.”
“Hmmm… I guess it’s been long enough. I’ll do it, but you’d better keep your word, now, do you hear?”
Angel and Meghan hugged excitedly. “We promise!!” they said together.
“You’ll need to get three things for me from the swamp,” Mistress Selina said slowly, “Now, let me see…”
Angel and Meghan looked at each other, worried again.
“…I’ll need a cup full of crocodile tears, two pinching princes and ten lump raisers,” the witch said.
“But we…” started Angel. To no avail.
Mistress Selina waved them away and walked back into the gloom.
What could they do !
Angel stood outside Mistress Selina’s shack, not sure where to turn.
“What on Earth are crocodile’s tears, pinching princes and lump raisers?!” She scratched her head. “Well, I guess they sound like things from the swamp, so I’ll head there, what do you think, Meghan?”
“Yes, you’re right, they do sound like swamp things, especially as Mistress Selina said so. But… how on Earth are we going to figure it out?” Meghan was puzzled too.
“No idea,” sighed Angel, “But we’ve come this far, I guess we have to try.”
They walked for a while and finally got to the edge of the swamp.
“Ergh! I’m NOT going in THERE!!” Angel stepped back. The swamp stank of mud, stale water and green.
“But it’s the only option we have,” Meghan reminded her.
“Okay for you,” said Angel. “You’re plastic!” Despite the seriousness of the situation, the two girls almost smiled at each other.
“I will help you,” a voice suddenly said, startling them from behind. Angel jumped and spun around. It was the mysterious boy once more.
“How… how did you get there?!?!” Angel stammered.
The boy didn’t say anything but turned around and walked into the swamp.
“Ergh! I guess we have no choice,” Angel sighed and followed him in.
They walked for what seemed like a long time but Angel couldn’t see anything that could be crocodile tears, pinching princes or lump raisers.
“Hey! Hey boy, where are we going? Do you actually have a plan?” she called after the boy. The boy just waved them on and kept walking. After a while, he stopped and turned to them.
“Now what?” Angel asked, confused. There was nothing around them but swamp and more swamp. The boy sat down and started fiddling with a weed. Angel looked around. “Stinky swamp, stinky swamp, stinky swamp. Hmmmm …”
Suddenly the water splashed up in a huge wave and an alligator snapped at Angel! She jumped back and screamed, managing to avoid the snapping jaws. She tried to run, but her legs had turned to jelly and the mud was sticky. She avoided the snapping jaws but the alligator turned for another lunge. Meghan screamed from inside the backpack, “Watch out, Angel!!!”
Suddenly the alligator fell. Angel looked around, confused but grateful. The boy was holding a catapult and had shot a big stone at the alligator.
“But… but… how could a stone stop an alligator???” Angel puzzled.
Meghan screamed, her voice loud and muffled from inside the backpack,
Angel didn’t need to be told twice. She sprinted out of there. She ran for a long time. She plunged through sticks and swampy mud until she finally had to stop when she couldn’t run anymore.
Panting, she looked around. She was surrounded by… swamp, swamp and more swamp. The boy was nowhere to be seen.
“Meghan, we’re in big trouble now!” Angel said slowly. The sounds of the swamp were getting louder now and Angel figured it was coming to evening. She did NOT want to get stuck here when night came, but she had no idea how to get out.
It was all a bit much, even if she was now eleven years old. She sat down and started to cry, really scared now. But after a few minutes she felt better, as crying often makes people feel better. She sat in tired silence for a few moments, thinking. Meghan was silent in her backpack. Then all of a sudden, clear thoughts ran back into her mind. She jumped up.
“I’ve got it!! I think I know what ‘crocodile tears’ means! I think it’s just salty swamp water!!”
Meghan’s little voice piped up from the backpack, “You might be right, Angel, now it rings a bell in my head… I think I’ve heard that expression before! I’m sorry I didn’t think of it before.”
Angel took Meghan from the backpack and hugged her. It was amazing how hugging a doll can always make you feel better.
“No worries, Meghan, we’ve been through a lot of scary stuff today!”
She took the vial that Mistress Selina had given her out of the backpack. “Ergh, I don’t even want to be touching this yucky stuff and now I have to scoop it up?!”
She scooped the water until the vial was full, then capped it.
“OK, hopefully we’re right about this first thing, but… how am I going to get it back to Mistress Selina?”
Angel looked around the swamp again, and realised with dread that she was lost. Hopelessly lost.
Angel turned around and around, a sinking feeling in her stomach. Her voice came out shaky.
“Meghan… I think… I think we’re really lost now.” Angel’s voice broke and she started to cry again. The sky above was getting dark and the animal sounds were getting louder all around them.
“Oh no… oh no,” Meghan panicked. Angel took a deep breath and pulled herself together.
“I’m going to keep walking in this direction. Hopefully I’ll get to the other side of the swamp or something.”
“It’s… it’s getting darker, Angel!” Meghan’s voice was filled with fear. “Maybe we should find a shelter to hide in for the night.”
As soon as Meghan said that, a loud clap of thunder shook the trees around them, followed by a bright flash of lightning. A heavy rain began to crash down. Soaking wet, Angel started to run blindly. Crashing into fallen branches and scraping her legs, she eventually found an old abandoned hut. She ran inside and tried her best to avoid getting any more wet.
Meghan started to cry, “This is the hut I tried to hide in when Mistress Selina saw me! Her magic still found me, nevertheless!”
“But wait… If Mistress Selina’s magic found you then, then she can find us here now!” Angel realised.
“Yes but how do we get the message to her?” Meghan pointed out.
Suddenly, Meghan’s little mouth opened and Mistress Selina’s voice came out!
“Follow me. I am in her now.” Mistress Selina said through Meghan. The doll jumped out of the backpack and started to walk.
Angel gave a little squeak of shock, then realised it was probably because Mistress Selina’s magic was strong enough to reach them in the swamp. She followed Meghan out into the rain… but they weren’t getting wet!
“What … how is it happening??” Angel looked around in wonder. Then she realised that Mistress Selina was actually helping her along the way! “Way to go, Mistress Selina!”
Angel cheered up and kept following Meghan. They walked and walked, not turning left or right for a long time. Angel was enjoying the weird sensation of seeing rain all around her but not feeling it touch her and soak her. “I could get used to this!” She jauntily strutted. A stream of rain poured down onto her head. “Oh! Oh … OK, OK, I won’t expect VIP treatment. Sorry!” Mistress Selina was actually watching them! Angel wondered if it was through a crystal ball… but she hadn’t see one at the witch’s house…
They finally found their way back to the shack and went in.
“Will she get angry if we wet her floor?” Angel wondered, but couldn’t do anything about it.
“So, my child, you figured out the first puzzle.”
Mistress Selina’s voice made Angel jump. “Y-yes, Mistress Selina, at least I think I did,” stammered Angel.
“Come here and give them to me, then, child!” The witch’s voice suddenly sharpened and Angel ran over to give her the vial of crocodile tears.
Mistress Selina took the vial, opened it and poured it into a giant black pot that Angel hadn’t seen in the room before. Puffs of stinky green smoke puffed out.
“Ergh, I hope you don’t have to drink that,” whispered Angel to Meghan who shushed her fearfully. Muttering, the witch stirred the concoction in the pot. Foul smelling steam rose up and choked Angel. Even Meghan gagged a little.
“Good, good, this will do. Now, off to find the other ingredients! It doesn’t matter what order you bring them to me in, they all go in the pot, just the same!” said Mistress Selina.
“Erm… does it have to be tonight, Mistress Selina? It’s getting late and I need to be home before my Mum freaks…”
For Angel had suddenly remembered her Mum.
“Off with you, then!” Mistress Selina cried. “But if you want your friend to ‘get better’ soon, you’d better work fast!”
Angel got out of the witch’s house as fast as she could, and made her way back to the bus stand. As she was half-running down the street, a page from a newspaper got caught on her foot. She glanced at it and saw… a picture of Mistress Selina!
She grabbed the page and read it frantically. Mistress Selina was wanted for questioning in a few disappearance cases! So she was still at it! Or… was she being wrongly accused?
Angel’s head started to pound… maybe this was the way to help Meghan: to turn Mistress Selina in to the police and ask them to force her to change Meghan back. On the other hand, Mistress Selina was already helping Meghan and this might take longer. Who knew what the authorities would do? Would they even be able to force Mistress Selina to change all those people back into human form, or would they just throw her in jail? Either way, Meghan would be stuck waiting and Mistress Selina might also be so angry she might refuse to help.
“What do we do?” Angel asked Meghan.
“I don’t want to turn Mistress Selina in to the authorities,” Meghan replied. “I know why she did what she did to me… I don’t think she was evil, she just didn’t want people snooping around on her. Maybe she just doesn’t think much about how her action affects others. But she’s helping us now… I think we shouldn’t say anything.”
Angel nodded. “I agree. I just hope she doesn’t get caught before we can turn you back into a human!”
The next day, Angel planned to tell her mum that she was spending the day with Tessa.
“Mum, I’m off with Tess now! See you!” Angel said to her mum, as casually as possible. But her Mum had other plans.
“No, Angel, I don’t think you and Tessa should go out what with these disappearances. I’m sorry to ruin your summer fun, honey, but you’d better play it safe.”
“But… but…” Angel was desperate. “We’re just going to Mrs. Karmelita’s house! We’re working on a summer project.”
“Hmmmm… how about Mrs. Karmelita bringing Tessa here? I’m sure she’ll understand.”
Angel knew her Mum was trying to compromise.
“Nooooooo Mum. Look, how about I call you when I’m there? Just so you’ll know I’m OK?” Angel felt horrible lying to her Mum, but she had no choice – she HAD to get out there.
“Hmmmm… OK, I could live with that. Make sure you do!” Angel’s mum said at last.
“OK!” Angel felt worse and worse, but there was nothing she could do. She ran off towards Tessa’s house, but then turned the corner to the bus stop.
“I really hope we can figure this out today!” Angel whispered to Meghan on the bus. “Mistress Selina could get nabbed anytime and then our chances of turning you back into a human will be zilch!”
“Zilch?” Meghan asked, “What’s that?”
“Oh … I mean zero,” Angel explained.
“Yes, if I could cross my fingers, I would!” Meghan gave a small laugh.
“Hey! We still cross our fingers, for good luck!” Angel exclaimed.
They sat in silence for a while, enjoying their first ‘happy together’ moment ever since the whole adventure started.
The bus finally arrived at their stop and they got out.
“Back to the swamp it is, then!”
For some reason, Angel was feeling upbeat. She walked into the swamp and started looking around.
“Pinching pincers… pinching pincers… hmmm…”
But by mid-morning Angel wasn’t feeling so positive anymore.
“If Mistress Selina could help us yesterday with the rain, why can’t she help us find all this stuff she needs?” she muttered, stirring the mud with the tip of her sneaker. “The rain was an act of nature that had nothing to do with our quest to find the potion ingredients. I think the quest was set to work off my bad deed…”
Meghan looked abashed.
“Sorry, Angel, to put you through all this for me. I wish I could do it myself.”
Angel patted Meghan.
“Hey, don’t get down on yourself. I offered to help, right?” Then Angel’s stomach started to growl. “Aw, man, I didn’t eat any breakfast! I’m starving! That’s probably why I’m so grouchy,” she sighed. “Wish I’d remembered to bring some snacks!”
By noon, Angel felt dizzy. “I didn’t even bring water!! I’m gonna die in this swamp,” she cried and sat down again.
Angel sat crying for a long while. Nothing Meghan said helped. Suddenly, Angel jumped up. “Hey! Something pinched me!”
She hopped around, her toe bleeding a little and saw… crabs!
“Hey I didn’t know there were crabs here!! Wait… crabs! Pinching pincers… crabs! Wow, I figured it out!!!”
“Good job, Angel, I think you’re right!” Meghan cheered Angel on.
“How many did Mistress Selina say she needed? Three? Zoiks… how am I gonna catch them?” Angel wondered.
“Well, normally there are cages for them to crawl into and then they snap shut, but we don’t have cages. I’m afraid you might just have to use your hands!” Meghan volunteered. Angel thought she could certainly only say this because her own hands were dolls’ hands, and made of wood.
“Zoiks! I wish I had gloves,” said Angel. “OK, here goes!”
Angel ran around grabbing crabs, which wasn’t too hard, but she got pinched so much that it hurt! The crabs she had caught kept crawling away from the rock she had put them on, too.
“Man … this is NOT working!” Angel exclaimed, furious. Her hands were covered in red marks from being nipped by the crabs and she hadn’t managed to keep one crab still.
“Here’s some string from your backpack,” Meghan offered, “Maybe you can try tying them to something? I also found some handkerchiefs to wrap around your hands… ugh… this one might be dirty.”
“Hey, thanks!” Angel tied the handkerchiefs around her hands and went after another crab. “Got it!” She quickly tied it to a big root and kept on going after crabs.
Pretty soon, she had three all tied up.
“Whew! I should have thought of that from the start! Thanks Meghan!”
They brought the crabs back to Mistress Selina, who threw the shells into the potion pot and made a crab salad with the meat. It wasn’t until they had eaten every last thing in the bowl that Angel realised it was getting late.
“Thanks for the yummy food, Mistress Selina, but I’d better get going home! I’ll come back tomorrow to figure out the last thing in the puzzle.”
On the bus, Angel’s tummy started to squeeze.
“OMG! OW! What’s happening!? Did Mistress Selina poison me?? Was it bad crab?? I can’t be sick now, I’ve got to finish this!!” Angel was freaking out. When she got home, Angel’s stomach was churning but as soon as her key hit the door her mum came flying out.
“YOUNG LADY WHERE ON EARTH HAVE YOU BEEN?! You promised to call me but you didn’t! It’s so late now and I’ve been worried sick! You’re grounded until further notice. Go to your room!”
Angel had never seen her mum so mad. She started to say she was sorry but then something crazy happened. A giant burp escaped instead! She looked at her mum, stunned, then they both burst out laughing.
When they stopped, her mum looked at her.
“Angel, you look sick! Well, I’m still mad at you for freaking me out, but come on to bed, I’ll get you something for your tummy.”
Angel didn’t feel well at all, so she accepted the offer gratefully and fell into bed. When she finally woke up, it was the next morning! Luckily her tummy felt fine.
She sniffed, smelled icky swamp and went to bathe.
“Yuck, I was so tired I didn’t even bathe!”
She ran downstairs to tell her mum she was off with Tessa, then she remembered what had happened when she got home yesterday.
“Uhm, Mum, erm… I’m so sorry for not calling you yesterday when I promised I would. I got so into the project I… I forgot! I know I freaked you out… I’m so sorry… I promise I will today…”
“Today?” Mum said brightly.
Angel was on high alert – her mum’s voice sounded too cheery.
“Oh no, Angel you’re not going anywhere today… or for the rest of the summer break. You’re grounded, young lady because you freaked me out and also for your own safety. When I’m in the mood, I’ll let you invite people over, but until then, you can spend your time helping me around the house.
“BUT MUMMMMMMMM” Angel wailed, but she knew she was fighting a losing battle. Her mum was too calm to be OK. After breakfast, Angel packed her bag and climbed out the window.
“I’m a dead duck with mum, but I have to finish this thing!” she thought to herself, as she shimmied down the drainpipe, against all sense and reason…
On the bus, Angel was quiet. She sensed that Meghan wanted to say something, but didn’t know what to say. So when they arrived, Angel walked to the swamp without a word.
Suddenly she jumped! The boy was right in front of her!
“Where did you come from?!?!” Angel blurted out, but she was glad to have him around, though he didn’t say much. She hoped he would stay around longer than he did last time. “Guess what! I found out what ‘crocodile tears’ and ‘pinching pinchers’ were! Now all I need to find are the ‘lump raisers’. Any ideas?”
As usual, there was no reply from the boy. They walked quietly for a while, then the boy stopped. Angel looked around. There wasn’t much around except more swamp. Suddenly she felt her foot being nipped.
“Hey! Ouch! Oh man, not again!” she hopped around. “Dude,” she said to the boy, “I’ve FOUND the pinching pincers already!! Or, they found me, or whatever, but that’s done! I’m looking for lump raisers now!”
But right then Meghan screamed, and Angel whipped around to see… another crocodile! Its giant mouth was wide open, coming straight at her!! Angel screamed and jumped backwards.
“I’VE FIGURED OUT WHAT CROCODILE TEARS WERE!! GET THAT THING AWAY FROM ME!!”
She turned to run, but then remembered what had happened the first time.
“SHOOT IT, OR SOMETHING!!!!” Angel screamed at the boy. Finally the boy whipped out his catapult and shot at the crocodile who fell to the water and crawled off.
Angel glared at the boy.
“Are you bringing all these things to me? I told you, I’ve already figured out those two things. If you really are bringing stuff to me, help me with those lump raisers!”
She immediately realised she should be extra nice to the boy if he was actually doing all this because a) he was helping her, in a way, and b) he also had some kind of weird ability.
“OKOK, I’m sorry I yelled at you. Can you please help me figure out what lump raisers are? I really need to help my friend turn back into a human and then get home… I’m in a gallon of hot soup with my mum.”
The boy didn’t say anything. Angel walked around the swamp until she felt like she was wandering around in a circle.
“Argh!!! What are lump raisers! Come on!! Ouch!” She slapped at her leg. Then her arm. Then her face, “Yeow!!! Get OFF me, silly mosquitoes!!!”
“Mosquitoes?” Meghan suddenly piped up. “Angel, look down at your arms and legs!”
“Oh! Ohhhhhhh! LUMP RAISERS!!! Mosquitoes!!!!” Angel shouted, “But… how do we catch ten of them?!”
“Well, they’re attracted to you…” Meghan guessed.
“Zoiks… you mean… I’m supposed to be bait??” Angel squeaked. “Gosh, when you put it like that, I don’t feel very good,”
Meghan regretted what she’d said. “
No… no… it’s brilliant! I’m just gonna need a whole lot of ointment after this!” Angel felt surprisingly good. “It’s bizarre, but it might work! OKOK… erm… boy … I’ll stand with my arms out and, when the mosquitoes land on me, smack ‘em! Not too hard, though, don’t forget!!”
The boy came over and nodded. Angel steeled herself and stretched her arms out. Almost immediately a mosquito landed on her!
“Whack it! Whack it!” Angel shouted. The boy smacked it and it fell into the swamp. “Oh dang! I forgot to tell you, you gotta catch them in something to keep!” Angel smacked her forehead. “What can we catch them in?”
“How about the sweet tin you have in here?” Meghan asked from Angel’s bag.
“Perfect!” Angel emptied the sweets out and gave the tin to the boy. “We need ten! Go go go!”
They actually had a lot of fun catching mosquitoes, but by the end of it, Angel was covered in big red welts.
“Mum’s gonna be even more furious! But… I think we’re finally done! And you’re gonna be OK, Meghan!”
Angel was really happy for the first time since all this had begun.
“Let’s get this back to Mistress Selina. Which way do we go?” Angel asked the boy.
They got back to Mistress Selina’s house and handed her the tin of mosquitoes which she emptied into the pot. A ghostly green light flared up.
A flickering scene’ started up in the green smoke coming out of the pot. As they watched, they saw Meghan creeping up to the window of Mistress Selina’s house and peeping in. The witch was stirring something in the same pot that they saw in front of them right now, just as Meghan had described to Angel. The green smoke of the scene spread all around and seemed to waft out of the pot in the scene too, which made Angel feel woozy and disoriented. Then, as they watched the images in the green smoke, Mistress Selina put her spatula down and turned off the stove. She moved slowly to a chair that was facing the window and sat down.
Angel jumped as the perspective of the scene suddenly changed from the view of someone looking in, to… the view from the witch’s eyes! She gave a little shriek and jumped back. Through the witch’s eyes, she stared at a swirling purple vortex in front of her. Then, suddenly, the view swooped to the window where Meghan was peeping in! Angel/the witch saw Meghan! At that instant, the swirling purple vortex shot out and swirled around Meghan. Then the whole scene dissolved and Angel was left shaking like a leaf.
“You did send a curse to Meghan that day, Mistress Selina. I saw it… it was purple… swirling… “ Angel said, dazed.
“Yes, I did,” said Mistress Selina. “As I said, I was sick of busybodies poking about my business and laughing and staring at me. All I wanted was to be left alone. I taught her a lesson she wouldn’t soon forget.”
“I… I didn’t want to cause you any trouble, Mistress Selina, and I wasn’t going to gossip,” Meghan spoke up timidly. “I was just curious and very interested in all the good things that ladies like yourself can do, like healing without medicine, helping people who feel bad feel better, connecting people with a loved one who has passed…”
Mistress Selina looked at Meghan, thoughtful.
“You know, nobody has ever talked about the good that we do… they only ever focus on the ‘bad’ things we do… curses, revenge spells… You’re the first to be interested in how we can actually help people. I do believe I was wrong about you, Meghan.”
The smoke rose. The scene swirled up from the pot again and all eyes turned back to watch it. This time, it showed…
“My house! My home sweet home!” Meghan cried, delighted. “I never thought I’d see it again!” Then her voice became sad. The front door of the cute little semi-D opened and…
“MUMMY!” Meghan cried. A tear started from her eye. In the scene, Meghan’s mum had her head down and was sobbing. A man walked out to cover her shoulders with a cardigan and put his arm around her. He led her to the porch swing and they sobbed together for a long time.
“Daddy…” Meghan whispered in tears, “I’ve never seen Daddy cry!”
The smoke swirled and now a new scene showed up. Angel and Meghan watched search parties combing the swamp and surrounding areas.
“They’re searching for you, Meghan,” Angel whispered, choking up herself.
“Sissy…” Meghan sobbed as a pretty girl who looked like Meghan, but older, led a search party. The next scene was especially hard to watch – a church service dedicated to Meghan. A pretty picture of her smiling at the camera – the same picture Angel first saw at the memorial assembly in school was standing on an easel next to the pulpit. The minister spoke for a while, then invited Meghan’s father to say something but he was crying too hard, so her sister went up instead. Meghan wailed as she watched her sister cry on the pulpit. A loud sob came from Mistress Selina too.
“Enough! I see now that no harm was intended, Meghan, but that I caused so much harm by reacting angrily. I give you my apologies, although I know they don’t mean much to you now.”
“No, Mistress Selina, thank you. I don’t blame you, I know how you must have felt that day,” Meghan was gracious to the end.
“Come, I will undo what was done, late as it is,” said Mistress Selina. “Come, child.”
She took Meghan in her arms and started to chant…
Angel stepped back and watched as Mistress Selina waved her hands around Meghan, who was shaking so much she nearly fell off the table. Mistress Selina muttered some words under her breath and Meghan quietened down. Mistress Selina continued to mutter under her breath and green smoke started to swirl around Meghan.
“Dude…” Angel whispered, staring at Meghan.
Meghan started to get taller and… bigger.
She started to look… real.
After a few moments, Meghan looked exactly like the girl in the photo that Angel had first seen in school. She looked at herself in a mirror with a big smile on her face. She shook her hands and jumped up and down, happy to be human again.
“I feel exactly like I remember!” Meghan beamed. She grabbed Angel’s hands and they jumped and danced around. A smile played around Mistress Selina’s lips. Then Angel gasped.
“Dude… look…” She pointed at the mirror. Meghan turned to look and gasped out loud!
She was getting older by the minute… now she was a teenager… now she was a young adult… now she was in her 30s… now her 40s… she got wrinkles on her face and her hair got whiter and whiter… Finally Meghan stopped transforming. She was in her 60s… the age she would actually be if she’d stayed human all these years. She stared at herself in the mirror and a tear rolled down her cheek.
“I’m old now. I look like my grandmother,” Meghan said.
“I’m sorry, Meghan, I can’t imagine what that must feel like.” said Angel with feeling.
Meghan looked herself over once more, turning her wrinkled arms in the light.
“Well, at least I’m human again,” she finally said. She turned to Mistress Selina. “Thank you Mistress Selina.”
“Go now, and live your life. Once again, I apologise for having stolen so much of it. Take this to help you live the rest of your days in happiness and peace. Hang it in your room on your bed.” Mistress Selina gave Meghan a small drawstring bag which smelled a bit funny.
“Thank you Mistress Selina!” Meghan said as she took the bag.
“And you, young lady,” Mistress Selina said, turning to Angel, “I commend you again for your bravery and persistence in helping someone you barely even know, even in the face of danger and fear!” Angel stared down at the floor, embarrassed. “Take this as a reminder of your good deeds and may it keep you happy and well in your years to come.”
Mistress Selina also gave Angel a small drawstring bag, but it smelled slightly different from the one she had given Meghan.
“What’s in the bags, Mistress Selina?” Angel couldn’t help but ask.
“Enough questions, young lady!” Mistress Selina said shortly. But… was she actually smiling a little?
“I do have one more question, Mistress Selina, a serious one,” Angel suddenly remembered.
“Oh all right, what is it?” Mistress Selina grumbled.
“Did you… I mean… erm… OK… a boy I just met, my BFF and my favourite teacher all had something weird happen to them and I thought it had something to do with the doll… I mean, the curse that Meghan was under. I thought the person who put the curse… er, you…was cursing them too, for some reason.”
Mistress Selina stared at Angel for a long time, until the younger girl nearly just turned and ran out of the door.
“Sometimes things just happen that we have no control over,” she said quietly.
“What do you think that means, though?!” Angel asked Meghan when they were on the bus on the way home.
“I have NO idea!” Meghan lifted her hands up. She couldn’t stop moving some part of her body, enjoying her long-awaited freedom.
“But… but… so… what happened to Tessa and Mrs. K.??? I mean, I hope Tess is at her grandma’s house… but how about Mrs. K.? And what happened to Whitney and Sam? Why did they get sick???”
There were no answers.
“I can’t believe I’m back to being human again!!” Meghan squirmed in her seat, shaking her arms and legs and touching her hair. “It feels so freeing!” She blinked her eyes at Angel who laughed, then got serious.
“I’m in big trouble back at home. I bet my mum’s already called for a search party. She was pretty freaked out by the disappearances that were blamed on Mistress Selina,” Angel said. “I don’t blame her. I mean, I guess she’s just worried for me cos she loves me.”
“Yes, mothers do seem to be the bad guys… always scolding us and nagging us. But they’re just trying to protect us from ‘the big bad world’.” Meghan reflected. “I wish I’d listened to my mother that day. I’m sorry, Mummy…” Meghan started to tear up again. Then suddenly she perked up. “But… what an adventure!” Angel saw a flash of the curious young girl she’d met so briefly at Mistress Selina’s house before Meghan had aged to her actual age. She kind of felt sad that she’d ‘lost’ a new friend.
“Gosh, I hope Mistress Selina doesn’t get in trouble. I mean, yeah, she made you disappear, so I guess she could have done it to those others too, but she did listen to us and change you back and… hey… wait a minute!” Angel nearly jumped up, she was so excited. “We can tell people your story and convince them that, if she DID make those other people disappear, she’ll reverse the spells! Then we can tell them about all the good stuff she can do for people that you mentioned… the healing potions and that stuff…”
Meghan grabbed Angel’s hand. “That’s a GREAT idea, Angel! We can use my story to help her! Who do we go to? Who do we tell? Oh, I’m so excited! But first… can we go back to my home to see if anybody is still there? I would love to see my sisters and brothers if I could and tell them what happened.”
Angel squeezed Meghan’s hand. “Sure! Of course! I guess you should tell them your story before the whole world knows and they get a shock.”
They got off the bus at Meghan’s street. Meghan looked around sadly.
“Everything has changed. That used to be my favourite sweet shop where I bought lemon sherberts. There used to be a small park there where we’d play all through summertime. I carved the initials of my first crush on a tree there, but it’s gone now. I wonder what would have happened if I’d stayed human,” she said quietly. “Would I have stayed in the old house? Gotten married? Had children there?” A tear slipped from her eye and Angel patted her hand.
As they got nearer Meghan’s house, Meghan held tighter to Angel’s hand. “I’m not so sure about this anymore, Angel. What if they tell me to go away? They might be frightened… Oh maybe I should just leave. It’s been so long… perhaps they’ve forgotten about me…”
Angel squeezed Meghan’s hand. “Hey, listen… they haven’t forgotten about you. Remember I told you that your sister’s still asking the police about you? She’ll still looking for you!”
They got to the front door of Meghan’s house; a cute little cottage with lots of flower pots everywhere.
“Here I go!” Meghan rang the brass bell hanging at the side of the door.
“Who is it?” An old lady’s voice asked from behind the door.
“That’s sissy!!” Meghan whispered to Angel, excitedly squeezing her hand. “You answer first, I don’t want to scare her!”
“Hi! I’m Angel! I’m selling cookies to raise money for my school!” Angel blurted out the first thing that came to her head.
“Oh… how nice!” the voice said, and the door opened. Angel saw a sweet little old lady smiling at her. “I love chocolate chip – do you have any chocolate chi …” The little old lady looked up at Meghan. “Who?” Her jaw dropped. “Meghan?!?!?!?”
“Sissy!!! Yes, it’s me!” Meghan cried and hugged her sister. Both of them were crying. Even Angel got a tear in her eye, which she quickly wiped away.
“What… where… how… why…?” Meghan’s sister turned from Meghan to Angel, looking for answers. Confused, she blurted out, “My, you’re pretty. Are you my niece?”
“What? No! I’m, erm…” Angel turned to Meghan to fill the story in for her sister.
“Sissy… I think you’d better sit down so I can tell you the whole story.”
Meghan didn’t let go of her sister. Meghan and Angel spent a whole hour telling Meghan’s sister the story. Her eyes grew wider and wider and she kept grabbing Meghan’s hand.
“Oh my! You’ve been… a doll for all these years?? Meghan’s sister stared at her.
“Yes,” said Meghan. “I know it’s hard to believe, but if not for this brave girl,” Meghan patted Angel’s hand, “I would still be a doll in an antique shop – alone, scared and… eventually… forgotten.”
“No, Meghan, I wouldn’t forget you! I kept looking for you!” Meghan’s sister turned to Angel. “Thank you, dear girl, you really saved the day!”
“Awww… like I told Meghan, I very nearly chucked her out of the window, I was so creeped out!” Angel was embarrassed again.
“We should celebrate your homecoming, Meghan! Throw a big party! Tell the whole town who were so kind to help look for you!” Meghan’s sister was excited.
“Oh goodness, no need to make a thing of it!” It was Meghan’s turn to blush.
“Yes! We HAVE to!” Angel jumped up. “So many people are still thinking of you, Meghan. Let’s do it! Also, this is a good way to help Mistress Selina!”
Angel sighed, “Well, I guess I’d better get home and face Mum. I’m in a deep bucket of trouble as it is. If I don’t get home before evening I’ll never be allowed out again for the rest of my life!”
Angel got home and opened the front door, and, as expected, got a huge blast from her mum straight away.
“Young lady, you are in the biggest trouble of your life!”
“Hi, mum… sorry mum… I know I’m in deep doodoo…”
“You bet you are! You snuck our when I specifically told you to stay in! You stayed out all day without even letting me know you’re safe! Do you know how worried I was? I called the police! I thought you’d been kidnapped!”
“I know, I’m sorry, mum, I’ll never do it again. It’s just cos… Meghan… Mistress Selina…” Angel tried to explain.
“Exactly! You’ll never do it again because you’re never going out of this house again! You’re grounded for the rest of your life, Missy! Go to your room right now!”
It was no use. She couldn’t talk to her Mum. Angel went to her room. She was so tired, she fell asleep. A few hours later, she woke up, thirsty.
“Gosh, I wonder if mum’s still mad at me? I really need to get a drink.”
Angel decided to try going downstairs, but when she got to the top of the stairs, she heard voices downstairs.
“Ma’am, you sent us a missing person’s report?” Angel heard a man’s voice ask. The police! Her mum had really called the police!
“Yes, my daughter went missing for a couple of hours and I was very worried, what with the disappearances and all, but she’s back now, thank goodness. She’d just snuck out and gone ‘adventuring’ without telling me. It’s weird, it’s not like her at all. She’s normally very responsible… But I called you to cancel the report, didn’t I?”
“Yes, you did ma’am, thank you. That’s good news that she’s back now, we’ll cancel the report. But we’re also here because you mentioned that your daughter mentioned a ‘Mistress Selina’? Do you know she’s actually a person of interest in our ongoing disappearance cases?” the officer told her Mum.
Mistress Selina!!! Angel clapped her hand over her mouth. She’d said the name to her Mum! She had to act, and act fast, to clear Mistress Selina’s name.
Angel ran down the stairs.
“Hi! Oh! Hi! Officer! Sorry to interrupt, sorry I was listening, but I need to talk to you about… about…” She saw her mum’s thunderous face and knew she was still in trouble, but she had to talk to the officer. “Mistress Selina,” she blurted out.
“What! How do you know anything about that?” Then Angel’s mum realised something. “Wait, Angel, is that where you’ve been going these past few days? When you’ve said you’ve been going to Mrs. Karmelita’s? Angel, do you know what you’ve been getting yourself into?!!”
Ma’am,” the officer put his hand up. “Wait. Please calm down. Can I talk to your daughter please? If she has any information about this individual, we need to find out.”
“Ok, ok, but I have to be here too,” Angel’s mum stood firm.
“Yes, ma’am, we need a parent to be present when we’re talking to minors. Ok. Angel, is it? I’m Officer Gomez. Tell me everything you know about Mistress Selina.”
But Angel was worried about her mother, who already looked wide-eyed with fear.
“You’d better sit down, Mum, it’s a long and weird story. Remember that doll that Aunt Sylvia got me for my birthday?” Angel was relieved that the whole story was finally going to come out.
“Yes… that thing was bad for you. You were freaking out so much about it. I’m going to have another serious talk with your Aunt Sylvia when she gets back from her trip. No more freaky stuff for you!” Angel’s mum was getting riled up again and Angel quickly cut her off.
“Listen, mum, please listen,” Angel begged. “Well, yeah, at first I was totally freaked out by it… it seemed alive! I couldn’t sleep or eat or focus on anything. Then weird stuff started happening. Tessa vanished…”
“What?! Tessa vanished?? Is she ok?” Angel’s mum started freaking out again.
“Mum, please let me finish!” Angel said, a little too loudly. But her mum didn’t look mad anymore, just worried. “Anyway, yeah… I thought the DOLL made her vanish because she’d said bad stuff about it. Turns out she just went to help out her sick grandma. But Sam and Whitney got sick… and Mrs. K. disappeared… she’s still not back… well, I’m not sure, but I think she would have tried to get a hold of me if she’d come back because… oh man, I’m getting the story all mixed up.” Angel stopped, flustered.
“It’s ok, just carry on, Angel,” Officer Gomez prompted her.
“Yeah… anyways, I thought the doll was making bad stuff happen. All that was happening and I was getting into accidents and stuff – though now that I think about it, that was probably cos I wasn’t getting enough sleep and I was totally distracted by the doll.” Angel was now talking more to herself than Officer Gomez.
“And…?” Officer Gomez prompted.
“Huh? Oh! Sorry. So finally one day at assembly we had a memorial service for Meghan – a girl who had disappeared 60 years ago with no trace. Search parties, some even with those sniffer dogs, checked everywhere but they couldn’t find her.” Angel continued, “When I saw the picture of Meghan that they put up, I freaked! It looked just like my doll!!”
“Angel, what are you saying?” Her Mum had stopped being angry and was staring at her.
“The doll was Meghan!” Angel blurted out.
“Now, hold on, wait a minute… are you telling me that this little girl who had disappeared 60 years ago had been turned into a… doll??!!” Officer Gomez stared at Angel.
“Ye-es…” Angel trailed off, not liking all the staring at her.
“Angel, are you telling the truth?” her Mum asked.
“Mum! I don’t lie… I mean… erm… well I’m not lying about this!” Angel spluttered.
“Ok, let me go talk to Meghan,” the officer got up. “Can I get her address?”
“I’ll take you there!” Angel jumped up.
“You’re grounded, remember, Angel?” her Mum interjected.
“Aw Mum!” But Angel knew she was. And so she had to go home with her Mum.
But once she was back in her bedroom, she spent the rest of the night wondering if Meghan would be able to convince the officer that Mistress Selina was going to reverse whatever bad spells she’d done. The only way Angel could possibly help was if she could find some way to find out what was going on…
“Argh! I can’t STAND it!! Why hasn’t Officer Gomez called? I should have told him to call me straight after he’d talked to Meghan! I’m dying here!!” Angel was bursting at the seams for some news.
“Be that as it may, it’s bedtime, young lady,” Angel’s Mum said firmly. “You’ve had waaaaay too much stimulation for the past few days… maybe that’s why you’ve completely forgotten that I care about you and your safety.”
“OK, OK, mum, I’ll try.” Angel didn’t want to get her Mum mad again. “But I just woke up and… I’m too…” Angel saw her Mum’s face go dark. “OK, OK, I’m off to bed!”
But she couldn’t sleep for hours and hours. The next morning was no better. Angel just couldn’t stop pacing around.
“Angel, stop it. You’re giving me a headache! Come eat your breakfast.” Her mother put a plate of pancakes on the table.
“Sorry, Mum, I just …” The doorbell rang and Angel ran for the door. “I’ll get it!”
“Meghan!” Angel practically screamed. “Thank goodness you’re here! Did Officer Gomez talk to you? Did you tell him everything? Is Mistress Selina still in trouble?”
Meghan hugged Angel. “Yes, I spoke to Officer Gomez and told him everything. He’s agreed to let me speak to Mistress Selina first to try to convince her to change anyone she’s cursed back to their original human selves. If I can also convince her to only use her magic for good from now on, then the police will leave her alone.”
“Oh good!!” Angel relaxed, then sprang up again. “Wait… I just had a thought. How about the other people who were affected by the curse… like Sam and Whitney… and Mrs. K.! She’s vanished without a trace! Did the curse spread to them too? Will she help them?”
“Well, we don’t really know if Sam and Whitney were affected by the curse… people get sick all the time,” Meghan thought out loud. “But Jilly vanishing just when we were about to start looking for Mistress Selina… that’s strange. I’ll ask Mistress Selina about it.”
“We’ll ask… OK, let’s go!”
Angel went to grab her backpack but her mum stopped her.
“And where are you going, young lady??”
Angel didn’t like the sound of her Mum’s voice.
“I’m… we’re going to talk to Mistress Selina about lifting the curses.”
“And did you forget again that you’re grounded until further notice?” Angel’s Mum reminded her.
Angel’s shoulders slumped and she whined “Awwww, Mum, PLEASE let me go, just this once, please, please, please, please!!””
“No, Angel. Grounded is grounded. You weren’t responsible the other day when you scared me half to death because you didn’t call me.” Her Mum was firm. “And now things are dangerous. What if Mistress Selina gets angry and turns YOU into a doll? Then what??” Angel gulped.
“It’s OK, Angel,” Meghan reassured her. “I’ll go and talk to Mistress Selina and come straight back here, OK?”
“OK, I guess…” Angel wasn’t happy but knew she couldn’t argue with her Mum. Angel spent the rest of the day pacing and tapping nervously. “Where IS she?! Where IS she?! Did she convince Mistress Selina??? What’s going ON?!”
The doorbell rang and Angel sprinted to the door and pulled it open for Meghan. “Did you do it? Did you do it?”
Meghan didn’t answer, but only held out a crystal ball. “Mistress Selina wants to talk to you.”
Angel stared. “Through that?! Er… OK?”
Meghan put the crystal ball down and muttered, “Mistress Selina, Angel is here.”
They stared as green smoke filled the ball and started swirling around the room. Then, Mistress Selina’s face appeared in the ball. Angel jumped and gave a little scream.
“Greetings, Angel, brave one that you are,” Mistress Selina’s old crackly voice floated out of the ball. “I suppose you’re wondering what I have to say…”
“M-m-mistress Selina!” Angel stuttered, feeling like she was in a movie. “A-are you OK? Did you get into trouble? We’re trying to figure it all out with the authorities…”
“Yes, yes, my child,” Mistress Selina’s voice was calm. “Meghan has told me everything you both are doing to help me and I am very grateful. I now realise the error of my actions over the years and I have agreed to reverse any damage that I can. From now on, I will only use my powers for good to help those who need me.Now, Meghan mentioned that you had a few questions for me?”
“Yes, Mistress Selina, I was just wondering… after you curse someone, can the curse also affect people who helped the cursed person? Because me and a couple of my friends had bad luck after I got Meghan. Two got sick, two went missing… but my BFF Tessa came back… that was a false alarm because her grandma was sick… Then again, she’s kind of vanished again so I hope she’s gone to visit her grandma again…” Angel realised she was rambling and stopped.
Mistress Selina didn’t say anything for a long time and Angel started to worry that she’d made her mad. Finally she nodded slowly.
“Yes, it could happen that the curse could reach out beyond the originally cursed and affect those that come into proximity. You were very blessed to not have been affected by it. I do apologise for the inconvenience caused and that’s why I hope to set things right.”
But how could Mistress Selina set things right? She didn’t say. The ball grew dim, and went dark.
The next two weeks were very weird for Angel. She had been caught up in the whole doll thing and now things were supposed to go back to normal. Being grounded didn’t help her restlessness. Her mind kept drifting to what had happened over the last month.
One night her Mum rushed into her room and shook her awake.
“What’s up Mum? I was sleeping!” Angel was very grouchy when she got woken up.
“I heard you scream ‘Get away from me you crazy crocodile!’ and you sounded so panicked I thought I’d better wake you up!” Her Mum hugged her. “I hope you start forgetting about whatever’s happened this past month soon, Angel, you’re really not having a good time of it.”
“I don’t think I”ll EVER forget, Mum! And I don’t think I WANT to forget! It’s been the most amazing month of my life! Scary, yeah, but amazing!” Then Angel’s eyes lit up. “I know! I’ll write a story about it!”
“That’s a GREAT idea, Angel! That will be a great way to get all the thoughts and feelings out. I’ll help you to get it published!” Angel hadn’t seen her Mum so excited about something in a long time and felt a whole lot better.
About a month later, the authorities finally went to all of the people that Mistress Selina had remembered cursing. Meghan stayed with her sister in their old house and was helping Mistress Selina by talking to the families of those who had been affected by her actions’. She was so happy to reconnect with her old friends, but she missed Jilly.
“I really wish I knew where she’d vanished to,” Meghan told Angel sadly one day when she was at Angel’s house, “Mistress Selina hasn’t been able to help with that.”
Angel was still grounded except for school and Meghan came to fill her in on what was going on when she could.
Angel was super busy with her book, but she was really worried about Tessa. Where had she got to? She hadn’t been answering her phone again, and Angel had no idea what was going on. She was all ready to talk to Mistress Selina again.
One day before the big celebration that the town was going to hold to celebrate Meghan and all the other cursed people’s return, Angel’s doorbell rang.
“Meghan! What are you going to…” Angel stopped. It wasn’t Meghan… it was Tessa!!
“TESSA GIRRRRRRRL!!!! Angel grabbed her friend and hugged her tight. “Where have you been?!?! You missed the whole adventure! Were you at your grandmother’s? Is she OK?”
Tessa hugged Angel back. “I missed you too, girl. Well, it’s weird. I WAS at my grandma’s… after I last talked to you she got bad again. But then… I can’t remember after that at all! I just woke up one morning and I was in my bed again. My Mum and everyone was being normal… I don’t know WHAT happened!!”
Angel and Tessa never figured out what had happened to Tessa. They asked Mistress Selina, but even she had no idea.
Eventually, things settled back to normal, but every once in a while, Tessa would get a weird look in her eyes and mutter, “Pigeons …”