Wednesday, February 24, 2016

shelter from the storm

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the highway was dark and empty and bumpy. the pickup truck rattled along, occasionally bouncing when it hit a really big rock or pothole.

“can’t you go any faster?” petronia asked sarah.

“i am sure she is going as fast as she can, and so is this truck,” ohyoukid told her. “you are doing fine, sarah, don’t pay attention to her.”

petronia looked back. “the storm is doing fine. too. i don’t think we are going to outrun it.”

“i just hope my poor sheep will be all right,” said sarah. “and that henry has enough energy to go out and make sure they are not too frightened.”

“henry!” exclaimed ohyoukid. “let’s hope henry doesn’t have any energy, so he can’t follow us. not that we can’t take care of him if he does.”

“could henry follow us if he wanted to?” petronia asked sarah. “i didn’t see any other vehicles back there.”

“he could try to borrow a truck from the millers,” sarah answered. “they have the next farm over. but i don’t think he will. i hope he makes sure the sheep are all right.”

“let’s not worry about henry or the sheep,” said ohyoukid. “let’s worry about ourselves. is there anyplace along this road we could take sheller in if this storm gets really nasty.”

sarah hesitated. “there’s the old chuttlesworth place. it’s about two miles down the road.”

“the old chuttlesworth place,” ohyoukid repeated. “it has a nice ring to it.”

“does anybody live in it?” petronia added. “like some old chuttleswoths?”

“just old mrs chuttlesworth, the last i heard,” said sarah. “and a few servants, but they might be dead.”

“dead servants? ha, ha!” ohyoukid laughed. “i didn’t know folks around here went in for things like that.”

sarah flushed. “i meant, i don’t know if the servants she had are still alive. they were getting old and she would never hire any new ones.”

“i was just funning you,” ohyoukid said. “but she’s still alive herself?”

“yes, the last i heard.”

they could hear thunder behind them now, getting louder. and the wind picked up, and sarah had to fight to keep the truck on the road.

“how big is this old place anyway?” petronia asked.

“oh, it’s huge. wait until you see it.”

“good, i guess that means she can’t refuse poor wayfarers.”

sarah was fighting harder to keep the truck steady. “oh, there is no telling what old mrs chuttlesworth will do.”

“she’ll take us in,” ohyoukid said confidently. “we’ll make her take us in.”

“and feed us too,” petronia added. “if she has anything at all to eat.”

“you know, girls,” sarah said hesitantly, “maybe you can take shelter there and i can go on by myself. i appreciate all you are doing for me - “

both girls laughed. “oh no, sarah,” petronia said. “that is not how it works. we have decided to help you. and once we decide something - “

“we go on to the end,” ohyoukid finished for her. “stopping what you start, changing your mind, going back and forth - those are things humans do, not us. that’s what makes us demons.”

“are you - really - demons?” sarah asked weakly. “that sounds so awful.”

“it’s just a word,” said petronia. “you can call us something else if you want - like sprites.”

“yes, that sounds better,” sarah agreed.

“or pixies,” added ohyoukid. look! there it is!”

they were approaching the old chuttlesworth place and a series of lightning flashes lit it up.

“that is big!” petronia exclaimed. “they don’t make them like that any more.”

“it must be at least seventy rooms,” shouted ohyoukoid over the suddenly rising wind. “maybe a hundred.”

now the rain caught them and started hammering on the thin roof of the truck. the two girls laughed and whooped and hollered.

“mrs chuttlesworth, here we come!” shouted ohyoukoid.

“i just hope she is home,” sarah muttered. she peered forward at the road, as the windshield wipers were having a hard time with the deluge of water.

“home or not, we will make ourselves at home,” petronia assured her.

to be continued