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The Devil, The Banshee and Me <empty>
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  Chapter One

“I’m in a pickle, Will.”

Mrs. D was standing at the counter making banana bread. “What’s wrong?” I asked, sliding onto a chair.

“We’ve a guest arriving tonight and I don’t have any eggs to serve for breakfast. Your parents are out gallivanting who knows where, O’Flaherty’s closes early on Mondays, Mr. D won’t talk to anyone when he’s watching his game shows, so that leaves you.”

Mrs. D started smooshing the bananas with a potato masher. “All I need are three eggs.”

“And just where do you suggest I get them?”

“Why, across the road, of course. Mrs. MacGregor’s sure to have some. Neighbors help each other. That’s what they do. Now go.”

I hadn’t met Mrs. MacGregor, but I knew one thing — everybody thought she was strange. She’d been in town about a month, but nobody’d seen her set foot outside her door. And I sure didn’t want to set foot inside it. Yet, here I was, on my way to get eggs from a lady who lives in a cemetery.

As I got near the front gates, I kept repeating, “It’s just an old cottage. Somebody’s moved in and it’s going to be fixed up. This is a good thing.”

I stood in front of the rusted iron fence, took a deep breath, then pushed open the gate. The cottage was set pretty close to the road, but it was hard to see because so many bushes had grown around it. It was made of wood, like most of the houses in our town, but because it was so old, the wood had turned completely gray. It looked really creepy.

As I walked toward the door, I noticed dry, spindly vines stretching across the front windows. They looked like a hand with long, bony fingers. When I got closer, I saw that the shutters were hanging loose, half the chimney bricks were missing, and the roof was caving in.

There weren’t any lights on. Maybe Mrs. MacGregor wasn’t home. I’d knock once. If nobody answered, I was out of there.

The steps creaked like crazy. That made me feel even more nervous. I stood in front of the door, lifted a big brass knocker that looked like a lion’s head and knocked — once.

Then I waited.
No answer.
Good.

Just as I turned to leave, the door burst open. Standing there was the fattest sumo wrestler I’d ever seen! He was wearing a big black diaper and had shiny gold hoops dangling from his ears. I yelped but couldn’t move.

The sumo wrestler grinned at me, reached into his diaper and pulled out an egg. Then he pulled out another one and another. He tossed the eggs up in the air one after the other and began juggling them. His hands moved so fast they became a blur. He must have had a dozen eggs whirling around all at once. I couldn’t take my eyes off them.

Then …
One dropped.
Right on top of his head.

The shell exploded and slimy yellow goo ran down his face. The other eggs fell, one after the other, smashing all over his body.

The big guy looked at me, his eyes bugging out. His fat face turned really ugly. “It’s all your fault!” he screamed. Then he let out a wild cry. I think I had a heart attack, but it didn’t kill me because the next thing I knew I had jumped off the porch and was bolting for the gate. Just as I got to it, it slammed shut. I spun around. The big guy was coming right at me! I made a quick left turn and took off through the cemetery screaming at the top of my lungs.

Moving as fast as I could, I ran around the gravestones, but when I got to the edge of the cemetery I remembered that the whole place was fenced in. There was no way out! All I could do was keep running and keep screaming. Maybe somebody would hear me.

As I neared the mausoleum, I felt the crazy guy’s breath hitting the back of my neck. I ran in a zigzag to throw him off. Right, left, back, forward. He stayed right with me. It was like he knew which way I was going before I did.

My side ached and my legs cramped but I kept moving. On our second time around the cemetery, I thought I heard a sound. It came from up ahead, so it couldn’t be the crazy fat guy. My eyes darted around. Then I spotted someone sitting in a tree! It was a man about
thirty years old with blond hair down to his shoulders.

And he was laughing.

“Help me!” I shouted, speeding past him.

He just kept laughing.

As I ran beside the fence, my eyes scanned the iron bars. I prayed for an opening. Nope. Nothing.

On my third lap, my muscles seized up so bad I was sure I’d be crippled for life. When I neared the tree where the laughing man sat, I heard him say, “Jump!”

“Jump?”

“The fence.”

“It’s too high!”

“Jump anyway.”

“I can’t!!”

“Okay.”

Around I went again.

The guy chasing me was huge. How could he run so fast?

At one point I thought I’d given him the slip, but then I heard his earrings jingling and I knew he was still behind me. Suddenly, he let out a loud roar. I had another heart attack.

This time, as I neared the tree where the man was, I shouted, “He’s going to kill me! Do something!!”

“Jump!”

“Are you nuts?!”

I glanced behind me. The big guy whipped out a skipping rope. A skipping rope? Where’d he get a skipping rope? He still chased me but he was skipping now — somehow it made him move even faster!

All I could hear was my heart pounding and the man laughing even harder than before. I was so angry my blood boiled. How could he just sit there and not help me?

As I sped by him again, my feet spinning so fast they barely touched the ground, he shouted, “Jump!”

This time I screamed, “Fine! I’ll jump!”

I closed my eyes and leaped into the air.

You’re never going to believe what happened
next.

I sailed right over that fence, like some Olympic pole-vaulter, and landed clear on the other side — right in the lake.

I came up coughing and sputtering, but at least I was alive.

The blond-haired man was standing beside the sumo wrestler. Both of them were laughing their guts out.

Then, they disappeared.

__________________________

Excerpted from The Devil, The Banshee And Me by L.M.Falcone. Copyright © 2006 by L.M.Falcone. Excerpted by permission of Kids Can Press. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

  The Devil The banshee and Me

Published by Kids Can Press

Published in French by
Les éditions de la courte échelle

 

• Winner, British Columbia Red Cedar Award, 2009
• Honour Book – Manitoba Young Reader’s Choice Award, 2008
• Nominated, The Arthur Ellis Award, 2007

 
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