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Chapter 1 The Adventures of Lana and Si
Lana shook her dark wet locks as she sat down on the old rocking chair by the fire, towel drying her wet hair, mesmerized by the rain pouring endlessly against the windowpane. As she stared out at the stormy night, her mind wandered restlessly…
Her mom had asked her to run down to Lila Funrer’s little cottage which was not even a mile away from their own to fetch Michael’s medication-Lila was like an apothecary of sorts- and Lana had obliged, happy to leave the stuffy and musty old cabin to wander in shade of the old forest. Lila was always a pleasure to visit and treated Lana as if she were a grand daughter, but the poor old thing was lonely since her husband George passed away; a fact she often forgot.
“Please stay, my dear for a cup of tea and I’ll tell you a nice little story of how me and George became betrothed.” Her voice was sparked by a short burst of excitement as she hobbled merrily across the small cottage. “George! ” Lila hollered up the rickety staircase, “Come down, George!” Lana sighed, too embarrassed to say anything. “It’s okay Lila, I should be getting back, really.”
“Nonsense, child. George’ll be down in a minute. George, you lazy old coot!” she bellowed, “Lana’s here. You know Lana, she’s a dear.” Finally, she had given up and had reluctantly allowed Lana to leave. “Now you tell Michael twice a day for that medicine. I know it tastes a bit funny kinda like my sister’s cookin’ but it’ll clear him all up.”
It had been a humid evening but a drizzle had just began to set in and Lana, clutching the bottle from Lila carefully to her chest, was running, weaving her way amongst the scattered boughs and fallen branches when….SCREECH! Almost like?…a rusty car that couldn’t start up. Lana’s heart was pounding suddenly, thumping violently in her chest as she turned and ran. From behind a huge maple she glimpsed a dark cloaked man his face hidden by his hood. He was pale and had a long, withdrawn face and reminded Lana of Scream. Lana sprinted, her mind filling with thoughts of What if he kills me? What if I die? She felt like she was living a nightmare and she pinched herself for a reality check. Yep, it was real. Oh shit, she thought. Now what? Nervously, she ventured a look back, wishing she was back in Lila‘s cottage listening to her chatter away about George, but the suspicious man had disappeared and without her even realizing it, the light drizzle had turned into a relentless downpour.
Lana had just finished towel drying her long hair when her mom stepped in to announce that dinner was ready. “Mum!,” Lana rushed forward, “Mum, it was so scary. On my way home there was this guy.. .Nooo.. not that kind of guy,” she replied to the expression on her Mum’s face.
“This guy was…well, first I heard this really loud screech and then I saw him and he had on a black cloak and I know this sounds stupid but he looked like a death eater from Harry Potter or something!” She studied her Mum’s face, expecting her mom to laugh but strangely her mom’s face was a pallid hue and her eyes were staring off into the distance.
“Mom. Mom…..,” Lana waved an annoyed hand around her mom’s face, but it remained blank.
“Come. Come, now or else your dinner will go cold,” her mom, Mrs. Hart, had finally awoken from her reverie and was now hurrying into the kitchen. Just like that the subject was dropped.
Lana wondered if she should tell her dad when he arrived home from work, his hair sopping wet from walking home from the bus stop. “Hugh, how many times must I remind you to keep an umbrella in your briefcase?” Mrs. Hart grumbled.
“Honey, it’s just extra weight. I’m heavy enough as it is.”
Lana, who was just finishing her pasta, put her plate away to tell her dad about the strange man. She studied his face, but all she could read was concern, “Now did he chase you or say something…did he have a gun?”
“No, no…he just freaked me out cause he was staring at me from behind a tree, but he didn’t actually do anything.”
“Honey, I don’t think you have anything to worry about…He’s probably just some weirdo. But next time don’t go off in the woods on your own. Bring Ally or someone if you’re going. How many times do I have to tell you. The woods are not always-”
“Okay, okay I get you dad…I probably just over reacted…but he freaked me out!”
Michael, Lana’s twin, walked in just having finished his third plate of pasta and, box of cookies in hand, he plopped down on the sofa. “What’s this I hear about a death eater freak in the woods?” he smirked searching under the seat cover for the remote.”
“Shut up, Michael. At least I was nice enough to fetch you your medicine.”
“Uuugh,” he groaned, “You should have saved me the pain. That stuff tastes like shizzit.”
“Michael,” Mr. Hart spoke in his I-am-a-dad-trying-to-be-mean-and-fatherly voice, “Be nice to your sister and don’t eat that whole box.”
“I didn’t cuss dad. I said shizzit. And I didn’t even say anything mean she started it, little miss attitude with her ‘Shut up, Michael.’ No, Dad, I was a perfect little gentlemen.” Lana rolled her eyes. Although he was her twin and they got along half the time, he could be such a pain and made the corniest remarks.
“There you are you little devil!” exclaimed Michael, his happiness achieved from finally finding the remote.
The next day at school Ally caught up with Lana by her locker before second period. “Al!, I have the weirdest story to tell you.” Soon Ally was informed about the man in the woods but Lana was crestfallen to see the bemused if not skeptical expression on her best friend’s face. “And you said your mom got all weird about it?”
“Yeah, she got really pale.”
Ally replied as she slammed her locker shut, “She knows something and you’ve got to squeeze it out of her somehow.”
“Okay, but how am I gonna do that. I’m not a skilled talker like you.” Ally was in her speech class and she was, although she denied it, the teacher’s pet.
Ally rounded on her, “It’s your Mum for crying out loud, Lana! Its about time for some mother daughter bonding.”
Lana just rolled her eyes at her as they trod across the courtyard.
They trudged to the lunchroom, backpacks heavy with textbooks that looked as if they came from the Stone Age that’s how old and decrepit they were. Teachers had ruthlessly began assigning homework although it was only the second week of school. Lana complained about all the honors classes they were taking and how tiring cross-country practice was.
They sat down at an empty round table and Lana noticed a glimpse of someone in a narrow pinstripe suite and hair in a painfully tight bun. The women was petite yet intimidating and marched through the crowded lunchroom with a very annoyed expression on her face. “I’m guessing that’s a new teacher.”
“Yea, that’s Miss Gunther.” Simon whispered with a frightened look upon his already mousy little face as he dropped his lunch tray on the table, plopping himself down next to the two girls. “Rumor has it she was kicked out of her last school because she made students do these weird chores for her as punishment. And then, if they couldn’t do them she would whip them with her alligator skin handbag!”
“Weird chores?” Lana questioned in disbelief.
“Yeah Lana, like she’d make ‘em go in the woods to look for weird stuff like frogs and then she’d make ‘em dissect them and grind ‘em all up? Some even say…”
“Cut the crap, Simon.” Al disgustedly rose from the table and went to throw out her trash.