Every boy, more often than not, has a crush on the wrong girl. Don't get the wrong idea - /I/ didn't like Witch, but my best friend did. His name was Peter. But I'm getting ahead of myself here. My name is Tuck. When I was eleven years old, roughly eighty years ago, I died. Nice to meet you.
Witch was what you'd call a trouble maker. She couldn't have been more than twelve, but you could never really be sure about exacts with girls like Witch. They were all vagueness and mystery and fogginess on the moor. She had a habit of fluttering her eyelashes too much and answering questions with questions.
I wish I wasn't the one writing this story, but I'm the only one who can write, and the only one who had a pad and pencil in his pocket when we died. But Peter's making me tell it. Peter is pretty anal about not forgetting things.
This is a story, a wicked one, about a girl - a girl named Witch. All I can say is to look past the beauty and charm and try to see the wicked person she really is.
About the only thing more interesting than a bunch of pre-adolescent ghost boys is a dark, mysterious castle in the middle of the woods. The woods where someone died last summer. Could a bunch of trees and a piece of architecture and a death be more lovely? The children worshiped it. The stories, the lore, it all gave everything a magical taint, and we thrived on uncertainty. It didn't matter that no one ever went into the woods. Well, what happened then didn't even phase Witch. "One day," I remember her saying. "I just up and left."
"But weren't you scared that you would die?" my brother Cubby had asked.
"Never", Peter had finished for her. "Witch isn't scared of anything."
She wasn't. What other kid would wander into this god-forsaken forest all happy-go-lucky? Besides myself, Peter, Cubby, and the rest of the lost boys, that is. But those were some special circumstances. We were real, legitimate outlaws, on the run from the government, living by the skin of our teeth. Not even the cops were crazy enough to chase us all the way into the woods. They marked us off as dead a hundred yards in.
I won't even tell you everything we found in there - I hardly understand it myself. Half-dead and starving, we came across a clearing. We've stayed here ever since, in a castle that doesn't touch the ground, high up in the trees where nothing can get us.
I was the first one to spot her, up
stargazing in one of the castle towers. She was so pitiful in a sparkly grey dress that might've been expensive once and leaves in her hair and dirt on her face. All the light from the moon and stars seemed to gravitate to her dress and dirty blonde hair, so that I thought I was dead and an angel was coming to take me to heaven. (There wasn't, a few months later, when I died.) I hadn't seen a real girl since we became outlaws. This one was almost ethereal.
She had a pistol in her hand. It swung loosely from side to side as she glided through the trees, like a deadly swan upon a lake at night. It was a cold night, but my cheeks were hot. I watched transfixed as the fairy flitted through the trees and into the clearing. She would have missed the castle entirely if an owl hadn't hooted, startling her, willing her to look up. I heard a muffled gasp.
I knew I should have been alerting Peter but all I could do was stare. I wondered: Why was a girl in the forest? Didn't she know? But she either didn't know or was just stupid or really, really crazy. As she approached the castle I attempted to scream out to her, /Don't open the door!/, but she did, and that was where the trouble started. I started frantically, sounding the alarm. She looked up at me in my stargazing tower, standing at the threshold of the enchanted castle, and you won't believe what she did. She /smiled/. And then she went in.