Wintera's House of Wonders and Horrors
“You can’t go in there! That’s Miss Wintera’s house!”
Onetwo and Toale just laughed in their brother’s face.
“Arr don’t be pathetic, Rep, me hearty brother!” Toale snickered. He was normally a speckled Bori, but donned himself as Captain Scarblade for Halloween, and was definitely getting into character.
“Don’t call me your hearty brother!” Rep the Hissi (but dressed as Eliv Thade) scowled. “It sounds like you want to eat me. But if we go in that house we’ll probably get eaten by something!”
“There’s no need to worry, Rep,” assured Onetwo (who had no need to dress up as his mutant Ixi appearance was quite frightening as it was). “We’re not going to go inside; we’re just going to trick or treat like we have been all night!”
Rep eyed the house suspiciously. The decorated street and other neopets running around to people’s doors and giggling disappeared, and all he could see was this house against complete black. Rep shook his head. What was he so afraid of? It’s not like it had a menacing facade. Actually, it was more like a small cottage, painted with bright welcoming colours.
No, it wasn’t the house he was scared of. It was Miss Wintera. There had been stories about her, kids being lured in and never coming out, or coming out as a completely different person.
Almost to prove his fears rational, the back door of Miss Wintera’s house opened and two neopets walked out as if in a daze. They walked to out of her flowering garden and stood in the gutter next to the road, glanced warily at each other, and emptied their baskets of all their treats onto the ground. Then they ran off in the opposite direction home.
“Arr, let’s claim their booty as our own!” Toale growled and scampered over to the pile of lollies with Onetwo right behind him, scalding him while laughing.
“Just stop it with the pirate accent, please!”
Rep stayed behind as he watched his two brothers scoop up the abandoned treats and drop them into their own baskets.
“Come on, Rep! Don’t you want some of this?” Onetwo called. “Look, a raspberry sweetie, your favourite!”
Rep hesitated. He didn’t want to leave his brothers alone near Wintera’s house, especially after that creepy incident that just happened. And he hadn’t got any raspberry sweeties from anyone yet...
“If you come over ‘ere, I promise to stop the accent!” Toale called.
“Oh, please do come over!” Onetwo laughed.
Rep couldn’t help but laugh as well, and his reluctance swept away as he ran to his brothers and took his share.
“You three look hungry. Come here and I’ll give you some that hasn’t been thrown in the gutter.”
The three jumped at a creaking voice, like a rusty metal door. They turned and saw Miss Wintera herself, staring at them from her door. Rep’s reluctance came flooding back in waves, accompanied with regret.
Toale and Onetwo stood up, realising how ridiculous they looked, and walked over to the old Bruce, who was smiling sweetly. Rep felt that there was something behind that smile that his thick brothers could not see. He stayed crouched by the pile, too scared to hiss at his siblings.
“So, what have you got, miss?” Toale asked, trying to sound polite but really just wanting to get his paws on some loot.
“What a wonderful costume you have!” Wintera beamed. “I could swear you were really that awful Lupe who tried to destroy Maraqua. Captain... um...”
“Scarblade,” Toale finished.
“That’s the one!” Wintera laughed. “And you,” she looked at Onetwo now. “You must be very proud of your appearance. Especially around this time.”
Onetwo smiled shyly and muttered a timid thanks.
“You two come inside and I’ll get you your favourites. I bet I can guess what they are!” She stood aside to allow them room to go inside.
Rep suddenly remembered how to breathe, and he came to his senses when they started to walk slowly into her house, huge grins planted on their faces. Toale seemed in awe of the interior of Wintera’s home.
Rep slithered as fast as he could just as Onetwo clopped inside and Wintera hastily shut the door.
“NO!” Rep screamed. He slammed his head on Wintera’s door. The small stained-glass panes at the top shook slightly, and a second later the old Bruce yanked open the door and Rep, who was pushing all of his weight on it, stumbled into the house.
The first thing he noticed was how plush the carpet his face landed on was. The second was, when he looked up, that his brothers were nowhere to be seen.
“What have you done with them, you old witch!” Rep screeched at Wintera, who pushed the door closed gently. She seemed briefly offended, and then the smile returned to her face.
“Your friends simply went to explore my house, the dears,” Wintera grinned. “I told them whatever they liked was in the next room.”
“Don’t lie!” Rep yelled. “They were in here a few seconds ago! Where are they now?”
“I have no reason to lie to you, darling,” Wintera assured him. “I hardly know you. Now why don’t you just sit down and I’ll get you a raspberry sweetie? Those are your favourite, aren’t they?”
Rep gasped and looked away from Wintera, suddenly feeling guilty at his outburst. But how had she known he loved raspberry sweeties?
“Here, sit down,” said Wintera sweetly and guided him to a lovely big couch in which he sat. A robot-painted Warf, who was resting on the couch, woke up momentarily, looked annoyed at this disturbance, then laid his head back down to sleep. Oh, of course, Rep thought. She just must’ve heard Toale talking outside, that’s how she knows. Yet he still felt the sneaking suspicion that she looked deep within his mind to claw out this information like a psychic from Mystery Island.
As the old lady whisked away into the next room, Rep took the time to look around the room he was in. Toale was right to be in awe; the house was beautiful. Antique furniture was perfectly placed around the living room, and the wall paint complemented them perfectly.
But what most likely impressed Toale (Rep could hardly see his brother being in awe of pretty furniture) were the shelves upon shelves of chocolate lining the wall opposite the door. Rep was so distressed when he first came in he didn’t even notice them. There were all the kinds you could think of; it was like the Chocolate Factory outside the Neopian Bazaar... except, Rep realised then, he could take whatever he wanted.
Rep got up and made his way over to the shelves to observe. The shelves themselves were, like everything else in the room, antique and splendidly designed, but these only held Rep’s attention for a few moments. He opened up one of the intricately decorated boxes and picked out a strawberry Techo cookie, and carefully placed it on his tongue. The thought that eating food from an old lady’s house that he didn’t even know was a terrible idea didn’t even cross his mind and he chewed the delicious treat and swallowed, and reached back for more.
“So much for raspberry sweeties!” cackled Wintera, who had returned from the neighbouring room. Rep suddenly remembered about his brothers and hastily shoved put the lid back on the box and turned to the Bruce.
“Take me to Onetwo and Toale. Now!” he demanded. He didn’t sound as tough as he would’ve liked, there was something in the air of Wintera’s house that made him feel... relaxed, like he needn’t worry about anything.
“Okay, they’re both in here.” Wintera smiled. “And they are having all the chocolate and candy they can eat!” She then disappeared into the room again, but this time Rep followed.
Sure enough, there were Onetwo and Toale, Toale’s fake scabbard and pirate hat cast aside, stuffing their faces with... pretty much everything Rep could think of.
“Rep!” Onetwo called, a mouthful of Sugar Bunny flying everywhere. “Come in! This room is magic or something! You can just think of stuff and it like... appears!”
Rep almost sub-consciously thought of the box of strawberry Techo cookies he didn’t get to finish. Then a box identical to the one on Wintera’s shelf floating down from somewhere above and landed softly in front of Rep. He opened the box and, to his amazement, there was a fresh supply of strawberry cookies! He just couldn’t resist after that. He jumped into the already massive pile of chocolate and lollies next to his brothers, who both laughed while they thought of all of their favourites, and they immediately floated down from absolutely nowhere.
All the while Wintera observed the three boys, laughing. She knew their lesson would soon be learnt. “When greed overcomes you, beware the consequence,” she said. But they ignored her.
Rep was about to unwrap another raspberry sweetie, when all of a sudden everything around them literally turned to sludge. Onetwo gagged, because his newest mouthful of chocolate had also become sludge, and he spat it all out in a gooey black mush.
“Hey, lady! What happened to your room?” Toale called to Wintera.
“Yeah, where’s all our food gone?” Onetwo spluttered, still coughing and spitting out sludge.
Rep didn’t scold them for being so rude, because he found himself agreeing with them and nodded.
“I might know all your favourites,” Wintera replied, unscathed by their rudeness, “but I also know your worst fears.”
And with that, she backed out of the room and slammed the door. The room was plunged into complete darkness.
Toale whimpered and Rep felt his brother clutch him protectively.
“What are you doing?” Rep hissed. Toale’s claws were digging into his skin and it hurt.
“I’m just...” Toale sounded hesitant. There was a scratching noise from an unknown direction in the room and Toale let out a short cry. “I’m scared of the dark, alright!!”
“What?” Rep whispered. He didn’t even know why he was whispering. The seeming infinity of the room pressed in on him, as if speaking too loud would cause something horrible to happen.
Even though it already was.
Onetwo had screamed, and Toale followed and dug his claws even more into Rep’s shoulder, making him wince. But Onetwo continued to scream and scream.
“WHAT IS IT?!” Toale shouted.
“SPYDERS! THEY’RE EVERYWHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE...” Onetwo’s voice faded into the distance, like he was being dragged down a dark tunnel.
Toale was sweating now, and gasping in absolute fear. Indeed, Rep could see writhing masses of spyders with their gleaming red eyes crawling all over the floor, baring their fangs.
I know your worst fears...
Rep knew that he was next and braced himself... WHOOM!
Toale had disappeared; he noticed immediately when the pain of his brother’s claws embedding themselves in him subsided. But the downside was that he was now all alone. Everything around him was pitch black, except the rotting leaves bouncing across the ground, pushed by an unfelt and silent wind. And the Brain Tree, glowing bright orange directly in front of him, beckoning with a splintered branch.
“Come closer, Rep,” the Brain Tree growled, followed by a hollow, maniacal laugh. “I have something to show you!” It then seemed to move forward, its mouth gaping open. Rep couldn’t move; the orange leaves were latching on to him, holding him to the ground while the terrifying tree moving forward to consume him. He screamed.
When he opened his eyes, there was a green door.
After all that happened, Rep was petrified of doing anything else. Besides, wasn’t he just eaten by the Brain Tree? Where had the door come from?
But something told him that this was the only way out of his biggest fear.
He slithered slowly towards the door. It was emitting a strange sound; a high-pitched ring followed by... children’s laughter. He pushed it open and stumbled onto the street outside Wintera’s house.
His two brothers were sitting there, deadly still. The rest of the street was perfectly normal, children running around proudly in their costumes, knocking on doors. However, Rep felt some pairs of eyes watching them from across the street...
When Onetwo and Toale realised Rep was there, safe, they all exhaled simultaneously. They also noticed their baskets of Halloween treasure neatly placed next to each of them. They knew immediately what to do.
They picked up their baskets and walked to the gutter. They glanced warily at each other and emptied their baskets onto the ground and ran the opposite way.