I told Grace everything that had happened, after checking that Tom wasn’t lurking outside my door.
“I need you to hunt around, listen in on conversations. Find out everything. We need to get out of here.” Grace nodded and headed to the door. “Wait.” I nearly yelled out. She turned.
“You need to look expressionless and have an unnatural walk.”
“Right.” She said. She let her eyes glaze over and turned.
“Much better.” I giggled. Now I would have to wait.
When she returned with my lunch, a jam sandwich and a packet of crisps, she told me what she had found out. I didn’t understand all of what she had found but she told me this;
“Once I left the room I got to the end of the corridor. Tom stepped out in front of me and I nearly gasped. Luckily I managed to hold it together and he let me pass. I wasn’t sure what to do so I followed a group of four children.”
“Blank faces.” I corrected her. They were not children.
“Blank faces,” she continued, “who were marching around the house. They walked passed a room in which I could hear a voice. It was the woman’s, I think. She was talking about books. She said that one was in your room, one was in her room, and the last was hidden behind the door.”
“Which door?” I asked. Grace shrugged.
“I don’t know.” I asked her whether she had seen the others but she hadn’t.
“I’d better go before they suspect anything.” I nodded.
When the woman next visited my room I asked her if I could have a book to read because I was bored. She replied,
“There are only three books in this house. If you can find them you can read them.” She left quickly. I immediately began to search my room. I found the book easily. It had been pushed under my bed. Its hardback cover was slightly dusty so I cleaned it before reading it. I don’t like seeing books being uncared for. As I settled down to read it Grace came in with my tea.
“You must find the book in the woman’s room. I think it is of great importance.” Grace agreed and left.
The book I was reading was a story. It was set in 1959. It was written from the point of view of the librarian at that time and was set in Barton. It described a young woman, about twenty five years old, who had been an orphan since she was born. The man loved her; he loved her shining blond long hair, her pale complexion and her glowing red lips. At this I stopped. The book was describing the woman whose house I was now in. I continued. One day, as the librarian was looking out from his library across the street to the woman’s house, he noticed a light which was shining out of it. The librarian hurried across and opened the door. The light had gone and he could see the woman lying on the floor. He hurried across to her and asked her what was wrong. For a while she didn’t reply then she choked out, “a child, I need a child.” The librarian went to get his son, who was working in the library with him. He took him to the woman who then sucked his soul out.
So that was what she was doing. She was taking the children’s souls. But why? I read on.
The librarian couldn’t understand what had happened. The woman laughed as her face, which had been wrinkly and old, smoothed out and became as beautiful as ever. “I need children to live, their souls feed my strength.” The librarian left. He formed a group who all pledged to rid the world of the woman. They planted trees around her garden to trap her in her house. They read curses, prayers, and banishments to her to send her to hell. But nothing worked. One by one the members of the group passed away and the woman was left, trapped in her house.
That was where the story ended. I knew it was about the woman. All the features matched up, even the library opposite her house. But she hasn’t aged a day. She did in the book. Maybe she aged and when the trees were removed, I presumed they were because there were only two left in her front garden, and so she had to take more children. Once a year a child went missing, Rebecca had said. Children’s souls make the women stronger so maybe she is now trying to become stronger still by taking more and more children.
At this point Grace came hurrying in. I jumped. I had been lost in my own little world, figuring out everything. It was all so much clearer in my head. I told Grace what I had discovered.
“Well, who’d have thought it.” She said. I looked at her, puzzled.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Well, at the beginning of the holiday we were hoping for something to happen. You joked about getting into Narnia. We haven’t moved from this village and we’ve managed to find magic. Even if it isn’t so great.” Her last line brought back the reality of it all. We had lost everyone. Rebecca was missing. And we were trapped in this house with a crazy woman who stole children’s souls to, I guess, rule the world.