Vampire Bratpart #4 of Araminta Spook Series by Angie Sage / Fantasy / Humor
Things have been happening in Spookie House--weird werewolf and vampire things. It all started when Aunt Tabby tripped over Sir Horace's treasure chest. Sir Horace is our best ghost. He lives inside a suit of armor and wanders around Spookie House, so you never know where he is going to turn up next.
Recently I rescued his ancient treasure chest from his old castle, and since then it has been sitting in the hall because it is so heavy that no one wants to move it. I liked it being in the hall but Aunt Tabby did not. She said it smelled funny, which is true, but then so do a lot of things in Spookie House. You probably know that Brenda, Barry, and Wanda Wizzard all live in Spookie House with me and my aunt Tabby and uncle Drac, which can be quite fun. It can also be very annoying. And this day was one of the annoying ones. "That chest will have to go, " said Aunt Tabby, rubbing her shin. "Go and get Barry to help you take it upstairs out of the way. " Barry, who is Wanda's dad, did not want to take the chest upstairs out of the way. He said he had enough smelly, heavy weights to lift as it was. But Aunt Tabby won as usual, and Wanda and I helped Barry take the chest up to the ghost-in-the-bath bathroom at the top of the stairs. There is definitely no ghost-in-the-bath there anymore, which I know because I have waited there for hours trying to catch a ghost having a bath with no luck at all.
Anyway, why would a ghost want to have a bath? They don't need to, since they do not get dirty. We had just dumped the treasure chest down beside the bath when Brenda, who is Wanda's mom, came in. Her cat, Pusskins, had been missing for three days, and Brenda was getting slightly hysterical. "Is Pusskins in there?" she asked, pointing at the treasure chest. "I don't think so, " said Wanda. "Pusskins wouldn't like the smell. " I did not think that was true because Pusskins is a smelly cat. "Maybe Pusskins is the smell, " I suggested. Brenda gave a little scream. "Open it, open it, " she yelled. So we did. Pusskins was not there. Barry took Brenda away to sit down somewhere quiet.
Sir Horace had already shown us what was in the treasure chest, but since it was open, Wanda and I took another look, just in case he had missed something interesting the first time. But he hadn't. There was no real treasure at all, just lots of papers, Sir Horace's moldy lucky rabbit's foot, and a battered old silver whistle. In fact Sir Horace had already given us the only treasure--two gold medals--which we always kept under our pillows. Brenda spent the rest of the morning walk- ing around Spookie House going, "Here pussy-kins, come here, my little puss-cat, come to your mummy-wummy . . . " and gen- eral yucky stuff like that. Even Wanda, who can be a bit like that herself, got tired of it. But Brenda would not stop.
I think she loves Pusskins more than anything else in the world--although I suppose she might prefer Q Wanda a little bit more, but it would be a close call. Pusskins is not even a particularly nice cat; she likes to hiss at you if she thinks you are doing anything wrong. She is also quite fat and getting fatter all the time, because whatever Wanda may say, I know she feeds Pusskins my cheese and onion chips. By the afternoon even Aunt Tabby was get- ting tired of Brenda moping around looking for Pusskins, so she said we had to help search the house. She and Brenda were going to start at the top, and Wanda and I had to start in the basement. Then we would all meet in the middle. I like the basement of Spookie House. It is full of wiggly, winding corridors that lead to little kitchens, big kitchens, laundry rooms, -6- larders, junk rooms, and all kinds of hidden places. A secret passage runs behind some of the walls, too. I have been down there a few times, but to get to it you have to go through a little door underneath the attic stairs right at the top of the house. Then you have to go down in a scary elevator thingy and a rickety ladder. I have often thought there must be a quicker way to get there--like a secret door somewhere in the basement too, but I have never found it. Although I did not tell Wanda, I decided not to waste my time looking for Pusskins, who would not come to me however nicely I called her. I do not like Pusskins and Pusskins does not like me.
As Uncle Drac says, the feeling is mutual. So while Wanda went off down the big corridor that goes past all the kitchens, calling out, "Pusskins, here pussy- kins, " and sounding just like a squeaky version of Brenda, I zoomed off down the corridor that leads to the bat poo hatch. I was heading for Creepy Corner, where Barry keeps all the sacks to put the poo in, as I have never had time to explore there. Somehow Aunt Tabby always knows where I am and says, "I really don't know why you want to go down there, Araminta. Come away at once. " But this time I knew Aunt Tabby was far away, at the very top of Spookie House. In fact she and Brenda were out on the roof, looking for Pusskins. I was safe. Well, safe from Aunt Tabby anyway. The bat poo hatch is at the bottom of Uncle Drac's turret, where he keeps all his bats. Every day Wanda's dad, Barry, shovels the bat poo into sacks, which is why, as I turned the 8- corner, my way was blocked by a huge pile of bat poo, and a voice said, "What are you doing here, Araminta?" "I am looking for Pusskins, " I told him, even though that was not entirely true, as I was really looking for a secret door. But it wasn't really a fib because obviously if I found Pusskins I would not ignore her. Barry's face appeared just above the poo. He looked suspicious. "Have you hidden Pusskins, too?" he asked. I sighed. I knew this was because of the frogs. Barry has some acrobatic frogs and they can do some good tricks. You would think that would make him a fun kind of person but it does not. He is generally grumpy and suspi- cious.
For instance, he thinks I stole his frogs not long ago, which I did not. In fact I tracked them down and returned them to him. Was he pleased? No. Did he say, "Oh thank you so much, Ara- minta, I am eternally grateful"? No, he did not. So I shall not bother with the frogs again. They are more trouble that you could possi- bly believe. Still, Aunt Tabby says I should make an effort to be polite, so I said, "And how are your frogs, Barry? Are they well?" He gave a funny smile and said, "You're not fooling me that easily, Araminta. " Then he continued shoveling bat poo. "Excuse me, " I said in my best Aunt Tabby voice. "Please may I get past?" "No, you may not, " Barry replied. "I have just spent the last hour shoveling bat poo and I am not going to spend another hour shovel-ing it all back in just so that you can wander by.
In fact I've got another shovel here if you want to help fill up these sacks. " "No thank you, Barry, " I said. Now, if you don't know about Spookie House, then you probably wonder why Barry was shoveling bat poo. My uncle Drac keeps tons of bats in his bat turret. He used to run a bat poo business but now he knits instead. For a long time the bat poo just piled up and got totally disgusting until Barry took over the bat poo business. Now Barry shovels it out through the poo hatch in the basement (although Uncle Drac still does some at night), then he puts it into sacks and sells it at the garden gate. He gives Uncle Drac half the money, which Uncle Drac uses to buy lots of weird yarn for his new knitting business. I think he is knitting gherkins at the moment.
He gave me a knitted bar of chocolate for my birthday, which was okay I suppose, but I would rather have had a real one. Barry disappeared through the bat poo hatch to get another shovel load. As soon as he had left, I held my nose tight and climbed over the pile of bat poo. It was disgusting--all squishy and my shoes sank right into it. Why would people want to buy that stuff? I had never been past the bat poo hatch before and I was really excited--and not a bit scared. Not really. I was sure that any minute now I would find a secret door just like the one under the attic stairs that would open straight into the secret passage that winds inside the basement walls. As soon as I got around Creepy Corner, the corridor got really dark, so I switched on my flashlight, which I always have in my pocket.
I Q was surprised how narrow it was. And it was full of empty sacks, all piled up waiting for bat poo. I squeezed past them and set off down the narrow winding passage. I could tell that no one had been there for years, as the spiderwebs were huge. They felt like sticky bits of string and got tangled in my hair. Great big spiders were dropping off them all over the place. I was glad that Wanda was not with me because she hates spiders and when one lands on her she yells so loud that my ears feel funny. But when I went around the next corner I really wished that Wanda was with me. Because suddenly I heard a low, rumbling growl from somewhere near. I was so scared that I dropped my flashlight, and as it fell the -13- beam of light lit up two glittery eyes. I didn't dare move. Another long growl made my hair stand up on end and two green eyes glinted at me out of the dark. That was not Pusskins. Pusskins may make some weird noises but I have never heard her growl, and besides, her eyes would not be three feet off the ground like these were. Whatever it was was a whole lot bigger than Pusskins, that was for sure. It felt like forever as the eyes stared at me and I stared back. But I did not do my fiendish stare or anything like that. I stared at them because I didn't dare look away. And I didn't dare look away because I had worked out what they were--they were werewolf eyes--and if you look away from werewolf eyes for even a split second, the werewolf will pounce. Your only hope is to walk backward very slowly and then run for it. And that is what I did. I left my flashlight where it had fallen and I ran. Straight into the pile of bat poo. Yuck.