In hindsight, I feel like this one should have come before yesterday’s, since this one feels like more of a direct continuation of the Lyte Brigade Heroes’ Eve party from Tuesday.
Of course, that would have largely depended on actually having the idea for this one sooner…
Oh well, whatever. Everyone likes a good ghost story, right? So here’s one. Or at least a story about a ghost story…
“We should tell ghost stories!” Pela offers.
“Okay,” Matilda says. “Anybody know any?”
Sally eagerly surges to her feet, standing up on her chair. “I do! I do!”
Matilda looks sceptically at her little sister. “Is this just going to be another ridiculous story about Count Bunnyescu?” she asks.
Sally shakes her head indignantly. “Count Bunnyescu is a bunny, Matilda,” she says. “Not a ghost.”
She lowers herself back into her chair and gives the others a stern look.
“If anybody has to go to the bathroom, go now. I don’t want you interrupting my story.”
The six members of the Lyte Brigade look expectantly at Sally and she begins her story:
“On a dark and dreary night, a hundred years ago this very night, on the gloomy streets of the slums of Goldharbour began the reign of terror of the vile fiend known to history as… the Baleful Saucier!“
She pauses for dramatic effect and, satisfied that she has created enough drama, continues her grisly tale:
“He’d stalk the streets, they say, wearing shoes three sizes too big, ever on the hunt for the unwary.”
“And what did, uh, what did he do to the unwary?” Amara asks — Nolan can’t help but notice she’s moving closer and closer to him as the story goes on.
“Why,” Sally answers, “he’d snatch them up and stuff them into his terrible stewpot. And they’d never be seen again. Because, you know, he’d cook them into soup.”
“How horrid,” Amara says, the colour draining from her face.
“And his soup, they say, paired delightfully well with a nice Middelmerish white wine!” Sally adds dramatically.
“Sally,” Matilda interjects, “do you even know anything about Middelmerish wines?”
“Not even in a little!” Sally says, on such a roll that she uses the same dramatic tone. “Now, are you going to let me finish my story?”
“It’s not much of a story,” Matilda mutters.
“That’s exactly the kind of attitude that would get you boiled into the Baleful Saucier’s soup,” Sally says.
“It’s true,” Nolan agrees. “The ghosts always eat the doubters first.”
Matilda glowers at him. “Nolan.”
Sally clears her throat at her siblings. When they quiet down, Sally continues her story, telling all about the Baleful Saucier: how he’d snatch up his victims and stick them in his stewpot, how he’d nearly be caught again and again just to disappear in a flash of fire and brimstone, and all sorts of other macabre details.
Again, Nolan finds himself somewhat distracted from Sally’s story by the fact that Amara is clinging onto his arm for solace.
At the conclusion of her story, Sally leans forward and lowers her voice to a whisper.
“And how do I know so much about so much about the Baleful Saucier?” she asks. “Because the Baleful Saucier… was me!”
The terrified shriek comes from Tancred’s mouth. His voice reaching a pitch his companions could not have previously thought physiologically possible from him.
Tancred recomposes himself and bashfully clears his throat. “Which is to, um, say, Eek-cellent ghost story, Miss Sally. Quite utterly plausible, if I may say so.”
“Waaaaait a minute,” Pela says. “You said the Baleful Saucier happened a hundred years ago! You’re only seven. He couldn’t be you!”
Sally’s only response is to give her best, most impressive, evil laugh.
Now, do bear in mind that Sally will have been doing all this while wearing a squid hat…
You know what to do: