The landline was as dead as Elvira’s mobile phone reception.
Outside in the dark, cars pulled up in front of the house, their engines stopped, and people got out before slamming the doors behind them. There followed a series of sounds, including breaking glass, that made Elvira certain that her little blue hatchback was being rendered undrivable. Joe Grimolochin, one of Elvira’s kindergarten students, cuddled in against her leg while his father, from what Elvira could see in the poor light, was intently following what was going on outside. They were in the Grimolochins’ house and Joe was shaking with fear. Elvira was only there because she’d driven them home after the end of the school Halloween event had found their car vandalised in the carpark.
“This is what happened last time,” whispered Joe. “When they killed Mama and, and the others. It was dark and we were trapped…”
“It will turn out better this time,” promised his father quietly.
From outside a voice called out, rasping in unusual ways, “Grimolochinn! Ssurrender to uss nowow and youu and yourr people will die cleanlyy. Make uss fight and youu won’tt.”
Joe’s father, Tybalt, gestured and Elvira was aware of their cats padding around the room with purpose. A few more cats, surely, than the two she’d seen come outside when Tybalt had opened the door. “Why are you doing this?” Tybalt had stepped away from Elvira and Joe before speaking loudly. “Your King has declared you rebel and outlaw for what you did before. Why repeated it?”
“The Kingg, ourr Kingg, desires the wholole line of Old Tomm dead.” The voice from outside managed to sound flat and gleeful at the same time. “Ii do do nott need to knowow why, just thatat hee wants itt.”
Tybalt muttered just loud enough to be heard, “I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that he’s two faced – he does have ten bodies and ten heads.”
The voice from outside went on, “Wee will doo ourr worst on the count of tenn!”
“They’ll move on the count of eight then,” said Tybalt firmly. “Get ready.”
Elvira clung to Joe who’d started clinging to her first and wished she’d taken a self-defence class.
“One.” The voice from outside was getting sharp with excitement. “Two. Three. Four.” Elvira could hear footpads on the verandah. “Five.”
There was a high pitched scream of pain and surprise from outside.