"Are you sure your brother will be safe out there?"
"Oh, yeah, no doubt! This one time I had this monster with hundreds of eyes come out of my dreams and Franz came into my room swingin' a baseball bat, and it–"
"Stay focused you guys, don't let them back here."
Robbie West's heart skipped as the banging on the front door of the Burton house grew louder. He was wishing he had a baseball bat just about now. He stood in the entryway adjacent to the door, terrified, and trying to do his best to hide it. Jake, Franz Burton's kid brother, stood behind him, and their older sister, Eris, down the hall in the other room trying to reverse the spell. Their farm was miles away from anywhere else, and the party wasn't due to start for at least another hour. The teenagers had almost finished setting up too, that was until Jake ran into them – bloody murder on his face, and strange book in hands.
"Hmmm. I know! I know! If they start to get in we're gonna need weapons," said Jake, jumping with a grin and another idea. "Oh, yeah, I know what could stop 'em up!"
"Uh, I don't know." Robbie stared at the door. He was still new to town and to Dodgson High, Franz and Eris being his only new friends. He wanted to be brave for them and their brother, but he found himself struggling not to hide in the closet next to him.
Jake then ran down the hall without a second thought, "If they get in before I get back hold 'em for me!" Slamming the door to what must have been his room.
"Hold them for you? With what?" He was left alone defending a house that wasn't even his, and he did not believe himself to be a fighter. Or at least not a good one.
The pounding at the door petrified him, its wood started to splinter and snap. Robbie had no idea what was behind it. Whatever it was, whatever Jake had unleashed, it seemed to be growing angrier.
"No way. I can't do this." He had the urge to run but instead walked towards the end of the hall.
Her hair had colorful streaks, and she held a stoic, unamused expression. Eris sat on the floor of the kitchen, pouring salt into a circle with one hand, and clutching the same book that Jake had found in the other.
The book was enormous. If it was once a hardback, its binding, whatever it was made of, was now loose, coming undone.
"Um, Eris, hey."
Eris said nothing, flipping through pages, still pouring the salt.
"No sign of anything at the windows yet, but, um, the door, however, is about to, um–"
She shushed. "Damnit, don't ruin this." Drawing angles with the salt onto the floor. "Jake!" she shouted, almost at the top of her lungs, over the other noise, "do you have any idea of which page you found the spell?"
Then, from somewhere else in the house, Jake shouted back, his lungs probably ready to burst too, "Uhhh, I think it was somewhere in the back!"
"That helps," said Eris, flipping to the back once again. "It'd be way easier if this thing had a table of contents."
"H-How can you be joking right now? What is that thing?" Robbie pointed towards the book.
"Oh, relax, dude." She waved him off. "This isn't the first time he's read from my spellbook."
"Our family's, but yes, pretty much my spellbook. I'm the one whose being trained on how to use it. It's called the Grimoire of Shadows."
"Are your family witches?"
Eris laughed. "I wish," placing the final touches upon the pentagram.
From a couple of doors down, Jake slid out into the hallway. He was wearing roller skates and a motorcycle helmet that was too large for him, visor up to reveal a monkey-like face. Throw pillows were tied around his front and back, and a wrist rocket wrapped his left hand. Around his belt were what appeared to be a satchel and a single pair of nunchucks.
"We are all geared up!" He swiveled up and down the hall in his skates.
"Where's my weapon?" Robbie asked.
"Oh, yeah," Jake said as if he had forgotten. He stopped for a moment, then rummaged around between the front pillow and himself, tossing Robbie a toy laser sword.
"Wait." Surely Jake was joking, he thought. "No, give me the nunchucks."
The pounding on the front door at this point was a noise that the trio had grown almost accustomed to. That was until the door cracked and hands poked through from outside tearing away at what was left of it.
"No." Jake flipped his visor down, then reached into his bag, pulling out a marble, placing it into the sling, and firing at whatever was attacking the door.
"Jake, holy shit, give me the nunchucks!"
"I can't! They're my backup weapon." Winding another marble into the sling, and letting it rip.
Robbie was anxious. He turned to Eris, hoping she would say something to her brother, but she remained buried in her book, probably still searching for the spell to fix all of this. He rushed down the hall attempting to steal the nunchucks, but Jake zipped right by him, skating along the floor.
"No! Get away!"
"Robbie, leave him alone," Eris said from the other room, turning another page.
Robbie turned back to the kitchen, he knew they were all about to die, but it seemed like neither Jake nor Eris cared. "I don't have a weapon and it's about to get in! Don't you guys have a gun somewhere?"
"I would not give you a gun," said Eris.
The front door of the house came crashing down then, and standing, just outside of it, was an awful-looking scarecrow with a wide-brimmed hat. Its stick fingers wrapped around the doorway as it moved unnaturally into the house. After a few steps, Robbie could tell that it wasn't human. Each step it took bending its legs and twisting its knees in places legs and knees should not ever bend. It was unreal, like something out of a bad dream.
Robbie stood at the end of the hall, and with no other weapon in hand, swung open the laser sword. "Shit, shit, shit," he said under his breath. Hoping that he would at least look cool in front of Eris, even though she wasn't watching him and Robbie only felt so cool holding a toy.
Jake skated back towards him as the scarecrow crept closer, like a rag doll losing its balance. He started to fire slings of four or five marbles at a time, sometimes more. "Sis, it's coming!" he said, dropping the sling as he pulled the nunchucks from his belt and started swinging them in movements where it almost looked like he knew what he was doing.
"Yeah, I can hear it. I'm not deaf."
Robbie grabbed onto Jake's belt, pulling him back. He wasn't going to let him die. No matter how annoying he found him.
The scarecrow was advancing and they soon found themselves backed into the entryway of the kitchen where Eris was still searching for the spell. Jake's nunchaku arts and Robbie's skills with a plastic sword seemed to be no match for it.
"Eris! Do something!" Robbie shouted, swinging the toy in direction of the creature, much like a lion tamer would to a lion.
Eris sighed, rolling her eyes. "Fine," flipping away to the front of the book. She placed her finger on a page, stood up, and faced the pentagram, and just as she started to recite the incantation, an even larger scarecrow appeared in the front of the house.
The figure was wrapped in burlap head-to-toe with two eye-slits poking out at the top of its head. It was huge. The floor creaked under it as it lumbered into the entryway. There was something different about this one, something about the way it moved. Then, almost like lightning, it ran down the hall.
Robbie screamed and closed his eyes, wailing the sword around.
Jake pointed at him and laughed.
Eris stopped reciting and watched.
The large figure hurdled right towards them, grabbing the scarecrow by the waist, bringing it down much as a wrestler would, severing its torso from its legs. Straw was everywhere.
"That was awesome!" said Jake, flipping up his visor. "Franz, I thought you were like their leader or something at first! You scared the bejeebus outta me!"
The figure stood up off the floor, pulling the sack from their face. It was Franz. "Yeah, well, just call me the burlap-warrior." He laughed, no one else did. "Pretty sure, they thought I was one of them with this getup. I had no trouble, no trouble at all," he said, then noticed Robbie huddled in the corner, holding the toy sword. He nodded. "Hey, thanks so much, man. I knew I could count on you."
"Uh, yeah. . ." Robbie felt like he was going to be sick. "Anytime."
Eris walked out into the hallway. "I take it I don't have to reverse the spell now?"
Franz scratched his face, patches of facial hair growing along it. "Eh, you might still want to. I think a couple of them saw me tearing them up and ran into the woods." He shrugged. "Also, we're probably gonna need new scarecrows before mom or dad get back, and a new door."
"Alright, well you guys hurry and clean up. People are going to start showing up soon," she said, walking back into the other room to find the correct spell.
"Cool," said Franz.
"So cool," said Jake, jumping to give his brother a high-five. "This is just like that one time when I used our radio to make contact with the Martians and they came and visited us in the middle of the night, and Eris had–"
"Ugh, I'm still shaking. That sucked. Franz, you or your parents should really keep a bat or something nearby."
"Hey, relax, man. We're gonna have a party tonight, right?" He walked over to Robbie and swung his arm around him. "And we do, front entryway closet. I'll show you, betcha you remember it next time too." He smiled, leading Robbie down the hall to it where the dustpan and broom also happened to be.