Twist the Bones and Bend the Back
"Twist the bones and bend the back," whispered the first hag, waving her gnarly fingers at him.
"It-ip-a copita Melaka mystica," the others murmured, swaying back and forth.
Thackery stood there, weak, afraid. I couldn't believe this was happening.
"Trim him of his baby fat," Winifred muttered again, a gleeful grin on her hideous face.
"It-ip-a copita Melaka mystica."
"Thackery," I whispered. "Thackery Binx, don't you dare allow them to jinx thee. I will kill thee if thou does." The words didn't do any good. Thackery started shaking in pain. Tears sprang to my eyes and I squashed them down. I started tugging at my dress corner, caught in a chink in the wall. If Thackery couldn't get out of the way, I'd get him out.
"Give him fur as black as black, just..."
"Like..." Mary, the plump one, was grinning too.
"Thisssssss!" All three began to hiss, holding out their hands to him. Thackery moaned and went down. He writhed on the floor, obviously in pain. Then, the oddness started.
His bones rearranged, a horrible sight. Shifting and splitting and moving lumps beneath the skin. Black fur sprouted, his head became smaller... the pained howls became the yowling of a cat...
And where my friend Thackery Binx had once stood, there sat a thin black cat.
"No." I blanched, and my knees started wobbling, buckling together. "No no no no no no no."
The blonde one, Sarah, reached out to touch the cat, then screamed and jumped back when he hissed at her. The others cackled.
Finally I ripped my dress free. And then everything seemed to blank out.
"Thou art terrible, horrible monsters of Satan!" I screamed, scrabbling out from under the table and raising my hand to slap one, certainly the younger blonde one, for she seemed the most defenceless and easy to hit.
I brought my hand down with as much force as I could muster. Sarah flinched.
""Do not strike my sister!" A searing pain shot through my hand, and I dropped it helplessly.
"You meddlesome child, you've followed us," Winifred reproached, glaring menacingly. "I think this child should suffer the consequences," she said to the others.
"Oh! Yes, sister!" they cried happily.
"What is your name, child?"
"I will never tell the likes of thee."
"Thou art so troublesome," Winifred tsked.
"Very troublesome," simpered Mary, edging closer to Winifred. "Can I...?"
"No!" said the redhead sharply.
"I wanna..." started Sarah in her breathy voice.
"No! I have a much better idea." Winifred held out her hands. "Come to mummy, dear." Once again the eyed book flew into her outstretched mitts. "Let's see," she murmured, flipping through it.
"Can't we do what we did to the itty bitty boy?" Sarah pleaded.
"No. I have a better idea."
I started to creepy away while they were absorbed in their grotesque book, but Mary snatched my sleeve.
Winifred snapped the book shut with a smile plastered across her face. "Of course." She turned to me. "Since thou would rather die than be separated from thy dearest love..."
"I never said he was my dearest love," I cut in, blushing.
"Nonetheless, we would only be doing thee a favour if we performed the same spell on you. So..." She gathered her sisters around her. "Remember, number fifteen."
"Clog the throat and stop the heart."
"Anama gikila whitila fistima!"
"Make the wretched soul depart."
The others repeated their words.
Thackery, I thought. I'm sorry, I'm so sorry. Thackery looked at me with bright green eyes. He seemed to be saying, It will be okay. Then he leapt out the window.
"Make the skin as cold as the heart."
Pain. Pain. That was all that I knew.
"I...Hate...Thee!" I spat.
"I'm so surprised," Winifred retorted. She turned to her sisters. "Come, let us go."
Shaking, I sank to the ground. My stomach lurched, and I vomited. My heart felt as though someone were squeezing it as hard as they could. Sweat beaded on my forehead.
Thackery, I thought.
"Three children have perished tonight!" cried the pastor. "And all by the hand of the Sanderson sisters, now hanged, and dead. We must comfort their families!"
"Amen!" yelled a man.
"Thackery and Emily Binx!"
A young woman burst into tears.
"And Elizabeth Dee!"
Another woman sobbed.
A large painting was presented, and hung upon the church wall.
Three children- two teenagers, one younger- were lying in a bed of roses with folded hands.
Thackery was wearing his usual garb, surrounded with rosemary. Emily was wearing her white dress and bonnet, trimmed with flowers. Roses lay on her bare feet.
Elizabeth was wearing a black frock trimmed with white, with no bonnet at all over her brown curls. Lilies were at her feet.
"May their souls rest in peace," the pastor intoned.
Come little children,
I'll take thee away!
Into a land of enchantment.
Come little children,
The time's come to play!
Here in my garden of shadows.
Here is a farm- boy,
Strong was his love!
His sister the reason for life.
And this young farm-boy,
The young Thackery!
Called into Heaven sweetly.
Here is a small girl,
With innocence sweet!
No, nothing could take all her happiness.
Yet this Emily,
She died in agony!
And is surrounded by angels in Heaven.
Here is a bold girl,
With such bravery!
Rescuing our dear farm-boy.
But young Elizabeth,
She vanished with him!
And is greeted in heaven by God.
Come little children,
Take heed of my words!
Do not become lost in the shadows.
Shun the sweetmeats,
Ignore the siren song!
And live your life in full.