The House of the Twelve Keys
Part 7. The Awful Attic
“How on earth did we fall up to the attic?” Pat asked, waving dust away from her face.
“This house makes no sense at all,” Raj agreed.
“I hope that monster is okay,” Pat said.
“Yeah. Seemed kind of nice, actually. So what do you think we have to do up here?”
Pat shrugged. The room was filled with furniture, old clothes, newspaper. “Junk,” Raj said, opening a trunk filled with old magazines.
“Nothing mysterious over here either,” Pat called out. She opened a box of photos. Pictures of the monster as a baby, smiling and surrounded by its parents. Pictures of the monster graduating from school.
“Hey, look, a box of trophies,” Raj said. “Monster played a lot of stuff. Hockey. Basketball. And there are even ribbons in here for reading achievement.”
“Seems like our new friend used to be pretty active,” Pat said.
“I wonder what happened?” Raj said, opening a box of books. “Scary Potter,” he read. “Scareborne. It Happened at McMonster Hall.”
“It must be a terrible curse,” Pat thought about how even mentioning it had completely frozen the monster.
Raj nodded. Then he looked up and gave a tiny “eeek.”
“What is it?” Pat asked. But she knew right away. The ceiling was covered in thick white spider webs. Raj hated spiders. Some of their favourite Random Knowledge books were about animals. But if Pat pulled one out that even looked like it might have spiders inside, Raj asked her to put it back.
Pat, on the other hand, loved spiders. She even had a pet arachnid at home named Webby.
“Oh, Webby,” she said. She looked more closely at the webs. “You know, one cool thing about spiders is that they are natural decorators. Just look how intricate these designs are!”
“I’ll take your word for it,” Raj said. Something moved and he gave another squeak.
“They sometimes hide messages in them.” Pat got on top of a stool for a closer look.
Raj watched in horror as an enormous spider appeared in the rafters. Pat was too engrossed in the webs to notice and Raj was too scared to speak.
“Stop squeaking,” Pat said. “Most spiders are completely harmless.”
Raj was pretty sure the spider marching toward them was NOT one of those.
“The hidden messages are these things called “stabilimenta.” The patterns they weave might be warnings to other spiders to stay away, or that a predator is close by. Hmmm, I wonder….”
The spider was now right over top of Pat. It opened its fangs, and Raj found his voice. “Pat!” he yelled.
Pat saw the spider and leapt off the stool just as it struck. The fangs lodged into the wooden rafter. The spider thrashed to get free, ripping the webs.
“Oh no!” Raj said.
“I saw the message,” Pat said. “The webs are lined up to form an arrow.”
“Pointing to what?”
Pat didn’t answer but got on her knees and felt along the floor. The spider had turned the rafter into sawdust and was now scrambling toward them across the ceiling.
“A handle!” Pat said. The spider leapt just as she opened the trap door. They jumped inside and landed with a splash.
“Scary Potter”… “Scareborne”….”It happened at McMonster Hall.” Can you take the title of another book and make it “scary”?