So. Here we are. Grandam is acting like a complete loon, and Jestine won't speak to me…she just moons over this stupid house. There's nothing good about it; it's just gigantically, humongously, enormously huge. No one needs a house that big. Unless they have something humongous to hide, like, a desert. Maybe these people do.

I mean, no one else I know is betrothed to some freaky evil lineage man who they don't even know. It is not a normal activity for a girl my age. Maybe I should call the 1-800-Abnormal Hotline. But I'm not sure if they'll take my calls anymore—Jestine and I called one too many times asking if their refrigerator was running. Some lady told us she was going to send us a phone hex.

Howev, luckily for us, we were using Gertrude's cellie. (Gertrude is particularly nasty old bean. She went to Jestine's birthday party once and gave Jestine a real skunk in the guise of a stuffed animal. Then she stuck it with a pin. I think you can take it from there.) Well, now I've distracted myself from the horror currently unfolding before my sad, traffic light hued little eyes. Gradam is knocking on the door…to the tune of "Knick, knack, patty-wack, give a dog a bone."

But then, I forgot all about Grandam, the awful puce and ginger shoes she'd chosen to wear with lime colored stockings, her knock, and my bethrothal. The scariest woman I had ever laid eyes on suddenly stared out at us from the doorframe.

"Roaveanokes…welcome." The skeleton woman did not smile, just said her two words with all the warmth of a glacier. And I'm supposed to live in her house for two flipping years? Nooooooooo flipping way. I beamed at her, something I can't contain when I'm nervous. Talk and smile…it'll get you everytime.

Skeleton lady looks at me like a curiously irritating bug. Then, she turns her eyes t Jestine. Tightly, she deigns to utter, "Come, and we'll settle you in." Jestine's mouth falls open. And that's when Grandam butts in.

"Oh, that's Jestine. She's not a witch. Our witch is right here." Grandam takes a meaty hand and shoves me forward. "Here's Tasia."

If looks could kill, I would be dead. About 900 times over.


Zacharius ambled through the woods, walking as slowly as he deemed possible, without actually standing still. If I never get home, I'll never have to meet her. The hag's little horrible, powerful, beastly creature. Probably got warts, and fangs. He shuddered.

And he did, eventually, reach home, for otherwise physicists around the globe might have simultaneously gone into comas, and then, Zacharius halted dead in his tracks. His grandmother stood on their porch, imperious as always, but he could tell she was absolutely furious. Her mouth was pinched like a wrinkled prune, and her eyes spat fire.

Zacharius grinned; he liked whoever it was that caused her anger. But then his eyes fell on the rest of the assembled group, and he forgot all about his grandmother. Two old women, more unalike than anyone he'd seen, stood behind two younger girls. One woman had a mop of white hair, wearing a bright lemon raincoat, and carried an iguana on her shoulder. A zookeeper?

The other wore the most hideous array of hues Zacharius thought he had ever seen…and he was a guy. That's saying something. The two girls, however, were also extremely diverse. One, tall, dark, and slender, had her profile towards him; he could see she was exceedingly pretty. The other, shorter, had her back to him, and all he could see was an explosion of red ringlets, and the fact that his grandmother's yelling seemed to be aimed at her.

No point in prolonging this, is there? He thought perhaps there was a great point, but his better half waved it away. The boy stepped from the woods, and bravely strode onward to the porch.

There, his grandmother, too preoccupied with screaming, did not notice him. The tall girl, however, did.

"You," she breathed, staring at him intently with a goofy expression crossing her face. Her prettiness instantly decreased.

That got the rest of the groups' attention.

"Zacharius!" his grandmother began…but her words were lost as the second girls turned, and electric blue eyes sizzled through him.

"You," he breathed, feeling slightly like and echo.

"You!" she yelled, her eyes widening, and confusion blatantly twisting her features.

And, oblivious to the tension charged atmosphere, the hideously attired woman inquired heartily, "Do you eat lunch around here?"