A dazed Lynne sat up, rubbing her temple as the world spun relentlessly. She leaned her face against the cool attic wall, trying, in vain, to grasp at some sort of equilibrium.
Kate's motionless body was slumped on the floor, a trickle of bright red blood oozing from her lip.
Josua froze a few feet away, staring wide-eyed at the befuddling scene before him. He made no sound, although it felt as though he was mouthing something.
Neither Lynne, nor Josua seemed to remember how they'd got here, or why. Lynne was the first to move, gingerly edging her way towards her sister and trying to coax her back to consciousness. But to no avail.
"Wake up Kate!" she wailed in a thin, weedy voice. "Please wake up. You're the sensible one, you'll know what to do."
She shook her with increasing urgency, in as much as her throbbing head and weak limbs would allow, but Kate remained comatose.
Josua found his voice then and began to howl.
"What's going on? Why is this happening?"
In unison, both children stopped sobbing, their eyes drawn to the damp old book in the corner. With a growing sense of unease, they realised that, in some way, it must be responsible for whatever had happened before - Lynne's injuries, Josua's catatonic fear and poor Kate's unconsciousness.
And yet they found themselves moving towards its ancient pages again, as if by some clandestine magickal force. Wait!
"Clandestine?" they both chimed together, as if reading the other's thoughts. How had that word landed in their minds, when neither of them had said it, or even knew what it meant? They must have seen or heard it somewhere, but where? The fragile pages of the book were blank and there was no-one in the room besides the three of them.
"Doesn't it mean secretive?" whispered Lynne. "In a scary sort of way?" This book had some hidden hold over them, that was for sure. The gooseflesh on their arms confirmed that it must be for some untoward purposes, yet they were completely mesmerised by the scruffy old grimoire.
It would be so easy to walk over to the attic door, turn the key that lolled so temptingly in the lock, and go back to.... Well, where would they go back to? Where had they come from in the first place and how long had they been up here?
But the book held them in it's unfathomable grasp and they could only wait for it reveal more. What was its secret hold and why were they the victims of its cruel pranks?
As they stared at it, perplexed, shadows began to dance around the attic walls and scrawling, inky letters materialised. With a sinister feeling of deja vu, Josua and Lynne knew that they'd experienced this before and rushed to read the emerging word.