Amanda slumped forward in her desk as she waited for the first day at her private school to end. One delicate hand supported her chin; the other held up a Mickey Mouse watch in front of her sleepy eyes. Still half an hour left.
Her classes were a breeze, of course. One syrupy smile was all it took to keep the teachers in love with her. Everyone there knew she was Don and Ellen Buckman's daughter. Even the burns worked to her advantage; she could walk without her designer crutches if necessary, but they earned her sympathy points. The boys fell over each other to carry her books. She'd received love notes from nine of them today, which was probably a new record.
But all she could think about was two black braids, a dulcet voice, and a sinister gloating smile beside a flame.
Her hands lowered to her notebook and squeezed, crumpling the open pages. Amanda had lain awake for most of last night, deciding how she would take her revenge. The chauffeur ran her secret note over to the Addams' house as requested. A bribe from her generous allowance ensured that it would stay secret, most importantly from her parents. They were going to sue Camp Chippewa for what had happened to her. But that could work to her advantage too.
At long last the final bell rang. Amanda looked up as if waking from a dream. She'd better go home and get some sleep before the big night—if possible.
She hoped her plan would work.
The moon rose, and Wednesday waited patiently among the graves.
It had been a while since she last played 'Wake the Dead,' but she could feel her ancestors' spirits close by. They were as curious as she about the stranger who wanted to meet her on the family plot. Few 'normal' people in town ever trespassed on the farther reaches of the Addams' land. Those who did came back deeply disturbed, if they returned at all.
The more she thought about it since the night before, the more Wednesday doubted her first guess about who sent that note. No bitter enemy of hers—or even a casual friend—would have the stomach for something like this. Not even Joel liked hanging around here very much, and he was out of town with his folks. They were making him go to Disneyland.
Wednesday shuddered, both at the thought of such a punishment and at the sudden feeling that she was being watched…by something not Addams.
She was correct. An unseemly shadow cast by the statue of Uncle Knickknack was in fact an emerging figure. Clad in a bizarre ensemble of black designer spandex and a matching ski hat, Amanda Buckman stepped silently into view.
Wednesday moved not a muscle, but her eyes betrayed her shock. The rich, spoiled starlet of Camp Chippewa was still alive. She looked like a dancer about to rob a bank in a music video. And upon closer inspection, she was shaking from fear as well as the chill wind that rattled in the dead trees. But she was here, standing on the bones of Wednesday's ancestors and daring her to do something about it. That took…courage? Madness? Morbid stupidity? Whatever it was, it commanded a certain degree of respect she was loath to give.
She frowned and tried to force all emotion from her voice. "What…are you doing here?"
Amanda glanced around nervously for a moment, as if wondering the same thing. But then her eyes settled on her rival and she smiled. "Oh, really. Is that how you greet all your guests?"
"Yes. Would you like to see how we greet our trespassers?"
The blonde brat giggled and rolled her eyes. "Me? I'm a friendly visitor! I'm here in your yard, talking to you. By your standards that means we're best friends. And let's face it, who wouldn't want to be my friend?"
"I thought that fire started at your feet, not at your brain."
Amanda stopped shivering. Her eyes narrowed and she took a few steps closer. Even with a pronounced limp, she was a picture of defiance. Wednesday blinked. Her rival had announced her dream of being an actress to anyone at camp who would listen. As strange as her behavior was, Wednesday did not think she was acting now.
"See for yourself." She pulled off her sneakers, revealing a network of ugly bandages on both feet.
Wednesday did not flinch, but she did not smile either. In truth she wasn't sure how to feel. She understood that the other girl could have been badly hurt or worse by her actions, but hadn't really thought about it at the time. All that mattered was revenge, and escape from that deplorable Camp Chippewa.
"I bet that stunt at the play was just your idea of a good time," Amanda said, face to face with her now. "Well, summer is over, and so is camp. But I'm still here. And my feet are still burning. And you'll never get rid of me."
For an Addams, those were fighting words.
"There are ways." Wednesday promised her.
"In the real world, you get punished for hurting people. My parents have even more money than yours do, and they'll probably sue you for everything you have. So will the camp."
"We're a fortunate family, Amanda. Our problems tend to disappear." Wednesday sounded more sure than she felt. Two previous adversaries from that 'real world'-Uncle Fester's mother and then his fiance-had nearly torn the family apart before they were disposed of. She wasn't so confident that they would survive a third money-hungry sociopath. What a pity. They had so much in common.
Amanda smiled like a kitten who had eaten a canary. "That's what you think! But I've done my homework, and I happen to know the Addamses aren't very popular around here. In fact, lots of people are looking for an excuse to run you right out of town, and my parents are about to give them one. Except...that's not what I really want."
Wednesday frowned suspiciously and tilted her head.
"I want to settle this between us. Just you and me. And we'll do it your way. I'll even call off my parents."
"I knew you were smarter than you looked. Here's the deal. I come back and meet you here at midnight every [i]Wednesday[/i]," Amanda smiled mockingly. "Nobody will know about it-not your family, not mine. Neither one of us can get any help. And I'll give you half an hour to get rid of me. Any way you can think of. I'll be your victim!"
Goosebumps rose on Wednesday's skin. It sounded much too good to be true, but she wanted it. Badly. "What's in it for you?"
"If you can't get rid of me by Halloween...then I win."
"Meaning, I can do whatever I want to you, silly!" Amanda smiled. "And that's a Halloween you'll never forget."
Wednesday tried to imagine what awful things she might have to do then. Dress up like a ballerina? Become Amanda's maidservant? Join her in a sleepover? Watch a Disney marathon?
Still, she thought, there was no way it would ever come to that. From now until Halloween? That was six weeks away. Six chances to do away with Amanda Buckman. And on her property, after all her years of torturing her brother...surely that wouldn't be a challenge. Besides, she was bored to tears.
She stepped up to the girl who was everything she despised and looked straight into her blue eyes. "I guess I was wrong about you. You're not just a spoiled, superficial narcissist. You're also suicidal and insane. I accept."
"Hooray!" Amanda beamed and clapped her hands. "This is going to be SO much fun..."