Danny’s Story

22. in which danny tears a page from the book


Danny approached the book slowly, one eye and both ears turned toward the crone. If she craned her neck, she could just make out what was on the wide, opened pages of the book: a huge green tree whose branches and leaves swirled over the paper. Danny felt a jolt of excitement.

She was almost to the pedestal. As she reached the corner that it stood near, she came in full view of the rest of the room. She could see the crone again. The old woman was hunched in front of a pantry at the other side of the shack, rummaging through the contents. Danny ducked down and prayed that she remained preoccupied.

So much of her attention was divided between the crone and the book that she did not notice the perils in her path. Suddenly, she tripped on the poppet, which was still lying where the crone had dropped it near the foot of the pedestal. She stumbled forward and let out a cry of dismay.

“Ey!” cried the crone.

“Oy!” cried the rabbit.

“Shit!” said Danny. She stumbled to the book and clutched the pedestal, finding her balance there.

“I’ll skin yer!” shrieked the crone. Danny looked up to see her running straight at her with the fire poke.

Danny had no time to think. She only reacted. She grabbed the page with the tree on it and ripped.

“No!” said the snake.

Danny ducked under the crone’s arm and past her, sprinting for the door.

“What? What?” the rabbit was yelling.

“A page!” cried the venison. “She tore out a page!”

“Throw you in the pot!” screamed the crone.

The poker whizzed by Danny’s head, so close that she could feel the force of the displaced air. She hit the door at an all-out run and shot out into the forest clearing. As she ran, she glanced down at the page. It was fading already, barely legible. It was disintegrating in her hands.

“Your skull!” yodeled the old crone.

Danny spoke the word at the bottom of the page as it crackled and turned to dust. Then, she tripped, flew, and hit the ground hard. Her face skid across the ground, burning and stinging. The wind was knocked out of her. For a moment, she was stunned.

The heavy footfalls of the crone struck the ground like hailstones. The ancient woman was surprisingly fast. Gasping, Danny fumbled for the rough linen sack she wore at her back. From inside, she pulled a black book with the inscription of a silver ankh.

“I’ll teach you a lesson!” screamed the crone, fast closing the distance between her and Danny.

Danny slammed the book down in front of her, flipped it open to the first page, and smacked her hand onto it.

An object whizzed toward Danny from behind. The crone grunted from a foot away.


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Christie “Iamba” Bailey