About this Story
Charlotte and Leo Klein are invited to their uncle's manor in Germany for Halloween. The invitation is strange already, but could things get stranger?
Charlotte and Leo Klein are invited to their uncle's manor in Germany for Halloween. The invitation is strange already, but could things get stranger?
“DAAAAAAD! Please stop singing Spookley the Square Pumpkin’s theme song for the 99th time! I can barely hear myself think!” Charlotte Klein exclaimed.
“I love Spookley,” ten-year-old Leopold replied with a frown.
“You’re ten,” Charlotte reminded, rolling her eyes in frustration.
“C’mon, kids! I’m just trying for us to get into the Halloween spirit!” Mr. Klein said with a smile, massaging Leo’s brown hair. Leo pulled away.
“I think I’d feel more ‘Halloween spirit’ if I was trick-or-treating with my friends…back home…not singing crazy songs with my dad in the airport. Dad, seriously, everyone can hear you! You’re embarrassing us!” Charlotte said, putting her hands over her ears.
“Honey, you’re embarrassing the kids,” Mrs. Klein said with a sigh, lugging her suitcase along.
“Alright. For you, honey, I’ll stop,” Mr. Klein replied with a smile. Mrs. Klein breathed a sigh of relief.
“So, why exactly are we doing this?” Charlotte asked.
“Doing what?” her father replied.
“Going to Uncle Klein’s house…for Halloween…in Germany of all places! I’m going to miss my friend’s Halloween party. Grace and I were going to dress up as Captain Marvel and Black Widow,” Charlotte explained, brushing aside her red hair from her face.
“Yeah! What about the candy?!” Leo piped.
“I’m sure your Uncle Johannes has something wonderful planned for you two. Now, hurry up! We have to find our ride!” Mrs. Klein said with haste.
It was busy in the airport. There were shouts and hollers coming from everywhere, frantically late passengers scurrying around, and the smell of fast food. Charlotte couldn’t believe they had a McDonald’s in Germany, but that’s where they had eaten their breakfast at 2:30 a.m. That was already strange, but it could get stranger.
“Hold my hand, Leo. You can’t get lost,” Charlotte said, taking Leo’s hand.
“I’m not a little kid.”
“Neither am I, Leo. But you can’t get lost or else we’ll spend the next thirteen days looking for you.”
“Thanks for caring about me,” Leo said with an eye roll.
There was a lot of shoving and elbowing through the crowds before Charlotte spoke again. “Don’t you think it’s weird?”
Leo shrugged. “Mom and dad do a lot of weird and sudden things.”
“Yeah, Leo, but…I don’t like this. I haven’t even heard of Uncle…What’s his name again?”
“Johannes,” Leo reminded, taking care to step around a rogue suitcase.
“Right…Isn’t it just weird that mom and dad would instantaneously change our plans to hop on a plane and go to Germany?” Charlotte inquired.
“Like I said,” Leo responded, “mom and dad are unpredictable.”
“C’mon, kids!” Mrs. Klein hollered. “We have to find our ride!”
Mrs. Klein opened the doors to the outside world. It was dark outside with only a crescent moon to light the sky. There were only a few lights illuminating the sidewalk outside the airport. But also, it was riotous. People were shouting for their rides and one woman was shoving her luggage on a poor driver.
“Well, this is fun,” Charlotte said.
Charlotte jumped as she felt something furry rub against her legs. It was a black cat!
“Awww! How adorable! Can we keep her?” Leo asked, scooping the cat in his arms, and hugging it tightly. The cat didn’t seem to mind.
“Well, your uncle will have to be the judge of whether a cat ends up in his house, but I suppose it’s fine for now,” Mr. Klein explained, patting the cat with his hand.
“Yay!” Charlotte and Leo exclaimed in unison.
“Alright. Uncle Johannes said that the man who would get us would hold up a sign for us…Oh! There it is,” Mrs. Klein said, pointing to a sign that said “KLEINS”.
The family maneuvered toward the sign, and found it was being held up by an unusually tall young man. He had black hair and a black suit with a red tie. He lowered the sign and opened the door to a slender black car. “Herr Klein,” he said, reaching out to shake Mr. Klein’s hand.
“Hello!” Mr. Klein said with spirit, shaking the man’s white-gloved hand.
Dad’s going to shake his arm off, thought Charlotte.
Surprisingly, the man was not phased by the action. He was rather stiff as he turned to Mrs. Klein. “Frau Klein,” he addressed, bowing in an elegant fashion.
“Oh, thank you,” Mrs. Klein said with a giggle. Charlotte rolled her eyes.
“Fräulein Klein…Meister Klein…” the man said, addressing Charlotte and Leo. “You can just call me Lottie,” Charlotte explained, clearly annoyed by the formality.
“You can call me Leo!” said the young boy, energetically shaking the man’s hand.
Once Leo retrieved his hand, the man stood back up straight and tall. He fixed his tie and cleared his throat. “My name is Franz. Meister Johannes Klein sent me here to pick you up. Come into the car,” he said succinctly. Then, he opened all the doors, and the family boarded.
“So cool! It’s genuine black leather,” Leo exclaimed.
“Yeah…It’s fine…I guess…When are we getting there?” Charlotte asked with a yawn. She placed the cat on her lap.
“We will arrive in six hours, fräulein. I suggest you all get some sleep. You all have a very big day ahead…”
That was the last thing Charlotte remembered. She fell asleep…partially because of boredom in the formality, and partially because it was now 3:00 a.m.
When she woke up, they were driving on a narrow pathway through a large field of grass. A thick blanket of fog covered the ground. She yawned and stretched her arms. She had fallen asleep on her mom’s shoulder in the car. The cat was curled up on her lap. Leo had leaned on Charlotte.
“Wake up, kids. We’re almost there,” Mrs. Klein whispered gently as she kissed them both ‘good morning’.
Charlotte looked outside the window. The cat aroused and yawned. They had just driven up to a black, iron gate with the words Schwannstein Manor carved on the top. It opened as they drove through. Then, there was a long, winding path that led up to the biggest house Charlotte and Leo had ever seen. Leo and Charlotte opened their mouths in wonder.
There was a red brick house in front of them that towered up to the sky. It had a grey roof, and white bordering. In front of the house there was a white fountain that was ejecting water high into the air. There were hedges and flower bushes lining the fountain. It looked like it was straight out of a movie…
“Hey! That reminds me of the Haunted Mansion in Florida!” Leo exclaimed.
“It sure does, Leo,” Charlotte said with a shiver.
“Are you shivering?”
“No,” Charlotte replied, clearing her throat, “I’m fine.” Leo shrugged.
The car drove around the fountain and stopped in front of the house. Franz got out first and opened up all the doors. Charlotte put the cat down and it went to do its business on the grass.
Franz had gone up to the door and knocked using a brass doorknocker. An older, much shorter man appeared in the doorframe. He had white hair and a white beard.
“Ah, Franz! You are back with our visitors, no doubt…Adam!” the man exclaimed, brushing aside Franz to hug Mr. Klein.
“Uncle Johannes!” “Irene!” “So nice to see you!”
Pretty soon, Mr. Klein, Uncle Johannes, and Mrs. Klein were all forming a little circle. Needless to say, Charlotte and Leo felt left out…not to mention awkward.
But soon Uncle Johannes saw them and smiled. “Are these the kids you have written so dearly about?” he asked.
“Yep! Our two lovable kids! Charlotte who’s fourteen, and Leo who’s ten. C’mon kids! Say ‘hi’!” Mrs. Klein encouraged.
Uncle Johannes came up to the kids and squeezed them in a hug…or that’s what he called it. “I’m so excited to eat…err…meet you!” he exclaimed with a grin.
“Uh, thanks,” Charlotte said, trying to pull away.
“Come inside, please! The forecast said it would rain,” Uncle Johannes said, as he waved his hand for them to follow.
“No thanks,” Leo mumbled.
Charlotte took Leo’s hand. “He was definitely ‘eating’ us with that hug,” she said with an eye roll.
“Lottie, you’re squeezing my hand.”
The cat had wandered back to Charlotte, and she picked it up as it meowed. “Don’t worry. Food is coming. I wonder what we should name you.”
“Ebony! Name her Ebony!” Leo said.
Charlotte raised her eyebrows. “That’s a good idea. Alright, we’ll name her Ebony.”
Uncle Johannes sauntered inside, and the family followed. Franz went up to Charlotte before he closed the doors. “Psst…Schwannstein Manor is very…dare I say…peculiar…As long as you don’t touch anything, you should be fine,” he murmured.
“Thanks…I guess,” Charlotte said.
“Wow! Is this a real suit of armor?” Leo asked, running up to a panoply on display.
“Yes, it is! It was my grandfather’s,” Uncle Johannes exclaimed with enthusiasm as he hobbled over to the twisting, wooden grand staircase.
“How’d you get all this?” Leo inquired in awe.
“I’m a count, you see, Leo. My formal title is Count Schwannstein. Anyways, your room is the 5th door to the right. I have a surprise for you, Irene and Adam, when you get downstairs,” he said with a twinkle in his eyes.
“Ooooh! I love surprises. We’ll hurry down,” Mrs. Klein exclaimed as she motioned her family to follow up the stairs.
“Yep, not coming down,” Charlotte mumbled as she followed her parents up the staircase.
Charlotte was in awe of the house. There was an elegant burgundy wallpaper, and classy white trim. There was a dark, mahogany table between every white door. Each table had a flower on top.
“I didn’t know uncle was a count,” Charlotte said.
“Yes, he is!” Mr. Klein said, “I remember being just as fascinated with this place as you are.” He pretended to march up the hallway. Mrs. Klein laughed and took up his arm, marching along with him.
“Oh, brother,” Leo said with an eye roll.
“5th door on the right! Here it is!” Mrs. Klein said, turning a brass knob and opening the door. It opened up to a grand bedroom. On the right, there was a large four-poster bed that had clean white sheets and blankets, and there was a bunk bed on the left. Night tables were beside the beds. There was a fireplace with a beautiful white Victorian mantle. Candles flanked the mantle, and in the middle, there was a clock. There was a colossal window on the other wall.
“Wow!” Leo exclaimed as he jumped on the four-poster bed. “I like Uncle Johannes!”
Mr. and Mrs. Klein laughed. Charlotte placed the cat and her luggage by the bunk bed. She flopped on the lower mattress of the bunk bed. She took out her phone, took a quick picture of the room, and sent it to Grace. But it wouldn’t send. Hmm…
“Alright, I think we can head downstairs for that surprise!” Mrs. Klein said.
When they went downstairs, Uncle Johannes was waiting for them. “Come, come!” he said, as he waved for them to follow. He led them down some corridors and presented the family room.
It was elegant. They walked first into the dining room. There was a glass chandelier hanging overhead, and the fireplace was crackling with heat. The dining room was adjoined to the family room, which was elegantly decorated. Charlotte took a seat. She jumped a little when she heard Leo squeal. “That moved!”
“What did, my dear boy?” Uncle Johannes asked, turning around to face the little boy.
“The…the broom!” He pointed to a broom leaning against a scarlet couch.
“Why, don’t be so silly, Leo. It’s clearly leaning against the couch. Sit down,” Mrs. Klein ordered, pulling out a chair for him. He sat down reluctantly, muttering to himself.
“On that note, I…well…I forgot to do something in the library. I’ll be right back,” he said with a nervous chuckle, promptly leaving the room.
Leo looked at Charlotte. She shrugged. Leo shifted uncomfortably. But Johannes was back sooner than later, and there wasn’t too much of an awkward silence.
For a little while, the adults had much fun discussing about old memories and their plane trip to Uncle Johannes. Ebony abruptly waltzed into the room and jumped up to Charlotte’s lap.
“Oh? What’s this?” Johannes asked.
“We found this stray at the airport. You won’t mind if we…”
“No! Of course, not,” Uncle Johannes said as if he were reading her mind. “I don’t mind any animals in my house.”
Leo and Charlotte exchanged wary glances with each other at uncle’s intuition.
“Well, it’s about time for that surprise, isn’t it?” Uncle Johannes said.
“Oh, yes! I forgot!” Mr. Klein said with a smile.
“Well, first, I’ll take you on a tour of the house. Then, Irene and Adam, I made reservations at a restaurant, and I’ll take you on a tour of the town!” Johannes said excitedly.
“Oh! That would be incredible!” Mrs. Klein exclaimed.
Uncle Johannes slapped his hands on his knees and got up, stretching his back. “Shall we begin on our tour?” he asked with a smile.
“Yeah!” the family exclaimed in unison…except for Charlotte.
Charlotte was promptly ignored and the family took a tour of all the rooms. Each room had the same elegant wallpaper and the same fancy white trim. Some rooms had pieces of art, panoplies, and flags on display. Others had antique furniture. One was a music room. There was a grand library and a ballroom.
After the tour, the adults got ready for their outing. Mrs. Klein slipped on her coat by the doorway. “What are we doing?” Charlotte asked, leaning against the wall.
“Franz will take care of you. He’s my butler, and he cooks excellent meals,” Uncle Johannes said with a smile. Then, drawing closer to Charlotte, he said, “You may explore the house as you like, but don’t touch my office.”
Charlotte nodded in understanding. “So, I can read as many books as I want to?” Her face lit up with excitement.
“You may,” he said with a smile. Then, he hugged her. “It’s good to know that there’s another bookworm in this family.”
“Have fun, kids! We’re going on a trip!” Mrs. Klein squealed with delight.
Mr. Klein took his hat and bowed to his kids. “Without further ado, goodbye!”
Charlotte rolled her eyes and started walking over to the dining room. Leo skipped behind her, carrying Ebony. Franz followed, stopping to check his pocket watch.
“So, Franz, what’s for lunch?” Leo asked.
The butler’s face lit up with a smile. “My famous spaghetti and meatballs,” he replied.
And that meal was perhaps one of the best Charlotte and Leo had ever had.
“How’d you learn to cook like this, Franz?” Charlotte inquired in surprise, slipping a piece of meatball to Ebony.
“From my grandmother,” Franz answered.
“May we be excused?” Leo asked.
“Yes, you may.”
“We can play hide-and-seek, Lottie!” Leo announced.
“No, I want to read in the library,” Charlotte objected, crossing her arms in discontentment.
“Please, Lottie! You can hide in the library and read there!” Leo said, starting to count. “I’ll count to twenty!”
Charlotte grumbled, and dragged herself to a hiding place in the library. She took up a book and hid underneath a desk. With that, Charlotte and Leo entered an intense game of hide-and-seek. Once Leo hid in a panoply, another time, in a wardrobe. Charlotte hid under the bed and behind planters, lugging a book with her, complaining all the time. It got difficult toward the end for both the seeker and hider. It was tiresome to check both floors, and to stay in one spot without moving.
After two hours, they had discovered every nook and cranny in the house, and had developed several rules, such as choosing which floor they were going to be on because the house was so large.
Once, Charlotte was looking for Leo, and found him standing out in the open. “You really don’t get this game, do you?” she reprimanded. But he kept staring ahead of him. She marched over to him. “Hey! You were supposed to hide!”
Leo turned around to Charlotte with an impish smile. He pointed to the door ahead of him. “That’s uncle’s office! No one’s looking. We should check it out! Now’s our chance!”
“I don’t know if that’s a good ide…”
Leo turned the knob anyways and it opened up to a rather commonplace looking office. There was a desk in front with its own swivel chair, a velvet scarlet chair, a grandfather clock, and a few bookcases. Leo sat down on the chair and scooted to see what was on the desk. There was a large, old book on the desk. The pages were crinkled and worn. The cover was a deep burgundy.
The book was opened up to a page which read:
If you have seen this text,
You cannot go back.
You must read the following passage,
Or your heart will not be content,
And will pine forever more,
For the excitement the passage will bring.
“I’ve been enchanted!” Leo exclaimed, turning to Charlotte, who was creeping into the room. Charlotte furrowed her eyebrows.
“I have to read this passage!”
“That might not be a good…”
“Vivos producite inanimatum! Animae exanimes! Vivos producite inanimatum! Animae exanimes...”
Charlotte ran over and closed the book. “What were you thinking? You can’t just open a book and read without knowing what it means,” she chastised.
Suddenly, they heard footsteps, and Franz appeared in the doorframe. “What are you doing in here?!” he asked, his eyes flashing in anger. Charlotte and Leo cowered.
Charlotte gulped. “It wasn’t my idea…” “It was mine, and I had to say this passage…”
Franz suddenly ran over to Leo and clapped his mouth. “Don’t touch my brother!” Charlotte exclaimed, forming fists with her hands.
“Stop talking, you two! Listen!” Franz whispered.
In the hallway, there was a clank-clank. Franz, Leo, and Charlotte crouched behind the desk. They peered around and saw Ebony running toward them. Leo scooped her up, whispering, “Where were you?”
But the clank of metal persisted…A knight appeared in the doorway!
“What is that?!?!” Charlotte exclaimed in a whisper.
“Thanks to your brother, the house just came alive!” Franz replied. “What?!” “I have to say the reversal passage,” Franz responded, and he tried to stand up, but the knight was still in the doorway, looking left and right.
“He’s looking for Ebony,” Leo said, his brown eyes big with fright.
“How did a knight get here?” Charlotte inquired.
“It’s the armor,” Franz corrected.
“OWWW!” Leo exclaimed. “You stepped on my foot!”
“Hush!” Franz scolded.
But it was too late. The knight entered the room, and Franz took out a dagger from his coat pocket.
“You carry a literal dagger around?!” Charlotte said. Franz put his finger to his lips and rose up to fight the knight. The armor drew its sword.
“Franz!” the two children exclaimed in horror.
“Run, Leo!” Charlotte ordered, taking her brother’s hand and running out of the room. It wasn’t much better in the hallway.
Anything they saw was alive! A blackened dead rose was swaying from side to side. The people in the paintings were moving. The lion on a flag on the wall was blowing its trumpet. The eyes of the portraits were glaring at them.
“Run where?!” Leo replied, repositioning Ebony in his arms.
“Anywhere!” They darted, turning corners, feverishly running from the armor. Charlotte ran to the ballroom and opened up the door to hide. When she turned around from closing the door, she saw chaos erupting. Panoplies were fighting each other. The piano had begun to play. Charlotte and Leo screamed and turned to open the door again, but there was a knight in the doorframe.
The knight drew its sword and called to his fellow knights to do the same, but Franz pushed the armor to the ground, and it fell to pieces.
“Come, you two!” Franz said, extending his hand. Leo took it, and they ran like they had never run before.
“What’s going on?!” Leo asked out of breath.
“Johannes gets lonely sometimes, and he found that passage. As you can see, it worked. He alone has made friends with his paraphernalia and antiquities,” Franz breathed.
“That explains everything!” Charlotte said with an eye roll.
They dashed into a gallery with stuffed and wax animals and were met with chirping, trumpeting, growling, and purring. Ebony meowed. “Why are we here?!” Charlotte exclaimed.
“The reversal passage is in a book in the library. The only way to the library is through that door on the other side of the room,” Franz explained, pointing to the door. “We’ll go across the room quietly, or else, they’ll be set off.” Leo and Charlotte nodded timidly.
They crept across the room, looking at the smallest rabbit to the tallest elephant. The animals parted as they stared at the humans in their midst. Leo squeezed Ebony. Charlotte watched a horse rear on its hind legs in awe.
As they approached the door, a wax werewolf came and stood in their way.
“Why does uncle have a werewolf?! What do we do?” Charlotte whispered. “We show him we’re not afraid,” Franz said. Then, he began to wave his arms and shout. “Join in!”
“I don’t know…”
“Look! Our survival counts on it. Just do it,” Franz declared, looking at Charlotte with understanding eyes.
Charlotte took a deep breath, and began to wave her arms and stomp her feet. “Leave us alone!”
Ebony began to hiss and it heartened Leo. “Yeah! Back off!”
The werewolf shook itself and stared at the humans. Then, it stood on its two hind legs, opening the door with his front paws as if they were human hands. The werewolf went back on all fours, backed away, and stood at a distance. The children, Ebony, and Franz tiptoed to the door and closed it behind them.
“Phewww! That was close,” Leo said. “Why didn’t anything happen?”
“Werewolves admire bravery, and the other animals were glad someone was standing up to him,” Franz explained.
“I thought you said the library was through this door,” Charlotte groaned.
“I said the way to the library was through here. We have to go through some corridors and some galleries before we get there. Oh my,” Franz said. They were in the music room, and the various instruments played a tune on their own. The harp, the piano, the organ, the violin, and the cello began to play Burgmueller’s Opus 100 No. 15, a notoriously spooky ballade.
“This sets the mood,” Leo chuckled.
“So, where do we have to go now?” Charlotte asked, tapping her foot with impatience. “We have to go into this gallery right here,” he said, turning the knob and opening the door.
Immediately, a spear was put to his throat. “I do believe I opened the wrong door. This is the chivalry room,” Franz said, and the knights told him to be quiet. Leo and Charlotte held on to each other.
Suddenly, Ebony jumped upon the knight with the spear and forced him down. Franz seized his dagger and started to fight the knights. Charlotte and Leo watched in amazement.
“The door! It’s over there! Down the stairs, hallway to the right, and 2nd door to the right, hear me?!” Franz shouted, still fighting the armory.
“Bolt the door when you’re out! The book is on the highest shelf!”
“Oh, Franz!” Charlotte said with a sigh and a tear. She grabbed Leo’s hand. Ebony followed and they went out the door. Reluctantly, Charlotte sealed it shut.
“Hey! We’re back by the grand staircase!” Leo said with a smile. He stroked Ebony. “You saved us, you know.” Ebony meowed in reply. “I’m going to tell others that the black cat thing is just superstition,” Leo promised.
“Hurry, Leo! Franz won’t last! We’ve got to find the book!” Charlotte reminded.
“Which way?” “Down the stairs, hallway to the right, and 1st door to the right, I think,” she stammered.
The two children scurried down the stairs before they could find anything else that wanted to kill them. The doorknobs rattled…a door creaked open! Finally, they found the 1st door to the right. But it didn’t lead to the library. It led to an outside cemetery. That was when they realized how dark it had gotten outside. It was pitch black, a steady fog had completely blanketed over, it was raining, and there was lightning and thunder.
Charlotte and Leo looked at the tombstones. There were ghosts rising out of the ground. With a scream, they darted back inside.
“Wrong door! Let’s try this one! Ah!” Leo shouted, glancing at a fully alive venus flytrap. It was opening and shutting its powerful jaws. The plant, pot and all, were sliding toward them.
“Open the door!” Leo pleaded. Charlotte did, and pulled Leo inside. But they had to kick…They were underwater.
“What is this?!” Leo yelled, putting Ebony on his head.
“Look! The water’s emptying out of that painting!” Charlotte exclaimed in disbelief. They were in the library, alright. But there was a massive ship in front of them. A pirate ship.
“Leo, swim away!” Charlotte said. But it was too late. The pirates had snatched them up with a net. The two soggy kids were hoisted to the deck of the ship. You see, that’s how massive the library was.
“So, crew. What ‘ave we ‘ere? A couple of servants, eh?” the lead pirate said. The others chuckled. The pirates were all skeletons!
“I think we’re in some old pirates’ tale!” Leo whispered.
“I don’t care if it’s a legend! Do you really need to paint it?” Charlotte replied.
One pirate took hold of Charlotte. “It’s a girl!”
“Let go!” she shouted in pain.
“Hey! You leave my sister alone!” Leo stated, punching that pirate in the face, and (as what usually happens when you punch a skeleton) the parts disassembled. Charlotte fell to the floor of the deck. Leo was taken ahold of by the pirates.
“You earned it, mate. You don’t have to walk the plank, but I reckon you’ll ‘ave to swim!” they said as they hoisted him into the ocean.
Ebony ran into a fury and began nipping, biting, and scratching the pirates.
Charlotte scrambled to her feet and to the side of the boat. “Leo, are you ok!?” she asked.
“No! There’s a shark in here! AHHHH!” he said, climbing onto a small book shelf, inches away from its deadly jaws.
“I’m scared, Leo!” Charlotte admitted. “I try to act cool, but…”
“It’s ok, Lottie!” Leo replied with a smile. Charlotte smiled at his bravery. She bit her lip. What could she do? Everyone she cared about and who cared about her were about to die. That was uncool. She thought of her dog, Woofie. She had to get home for him!
Charlotte had read many books about sea adventures. She knew what to do. Her blue eyes flashed with determination. She took ahold of a rope and jumped off the boat, swinging over to the library ladder with a Tarzan-like shout. “Whooooooeeeeee!”
She bumped up against the ladder, which hurt a little, but she took ahold of it. The pirates had secured Ebony and they were running about for their cannons. Charlotte struggled up the ladder and found the book. She opened it on the shelf, flipping through the pages. She found it! She took a deep breath…
“Redde omnia ubi quondam fuerunt! Revertere vivos ad statum inanimatum! Redde omnia ubi quondam fuerunt! Revertere vivos ad statum inanimatum!”
Suddenly, the pirate ship swirled as it if were being sucked by a whirlpool and it returned to the painting. The waters retreated!
“Yahoooo! We did it!” Leo exclaimed, jumping up and down. Charlotte slid down the ladder.
“We have to check on Franz,” she said dutifully. Leo nodded and took Ebony in his arms. As they opened the door, they saw the Venus Flytrap still. The paintings were motionless…
They ran up the staircase and reopened the door. They found Franz lying on the ground.
“Franz?” Charlotte asked, her voice quivering. But he stood up (much to their relief) and put his hands on their shoulders. “Would you believe that I was five seconds away from being…well, you know…dead? I owe you one.”
“Well, we do too,” Charlotte replied.
“Yeah, I’m never touching strange books again,” Leo said. Ebony meowed. They all laughed.
When Mr. and Mrs. Klein and Uncle Johannes returned, the kids were carving a pumpkin and had just put a lantern in it.
“Ah! I see you’ve been keeping busy. What have you done while we were gone?” Mrs. Klein asked, taking off her coat.
“Just hung around,” Leo said with a grin.
“Well, now you can ‘hang around’ with some candy. Happy Halloween, children!” Uncle Johannes said, handing the kids a bag of candy for each.
“Thanks, uncle! Maybe staying in Germany wasn’t so boring, in fact, this was more of a thriller than I had anticipated,” Charlotte said with a wink to Franz and Leo. “By the way, how was your tour…in the rain?”
“Well, since you asked…”
When Franz, Charlotte, and Leo were alone again, Charlotte said, “I’ve been dying to ask. What were the passages we said? What language were they in?”
“The first was: Bring alive the inanimate! Animate the lifeless! The second: Restore all things to where they once were! Return the alive to their inanimate state! And they were in Latin,” Franz explained.
“What?” Leo asked.
“Oh, I was just thinking about how they say Latin is a dead language.”
“Things looked pretty alive to me!”