Beneath the waning moon, assembled the four esteemed members of the midnight reading club. The Witcher stood to greet everyone with a thick, red coloured bound book folded in his arms and a wry smile on his face. He was called by that name as he had long silver hair just like his namesake in a book series. Also, the other members felt that they were completely bewitched whenever he began reciting poetry or reading passages from his book.
Goofy looking Alan had plopped himself down and said lazily “Good lord! Why is it taking that little rat so long to come out of his hole?”
“Hush Alan!” said Lara, “He is only a child and he’s joining us for the first time. It might take him some time to find his way.”
“I had offered to escort him tonight but he wanted to be such a big boy. Said he’ll be here dot on time.” fumed the irritated pony tail girl, Liz.
“Elizabeth, it’s alright. Maybe the boy doesn’t want to join us and that’s perfectly fine. I’m sure that his parents wouldn’t approve.” calmly said The Witcher.
“What are we reading tonight? Is it some thing like the sorcerous story or the elegant vampire?” asked Alan, scratching his head.
“No Alan. We discussed Fantasy and Horror last month. Actually, tonight I wold like to know what would you all like to read? Do you have any recommendations? Any author or specific genre?” enquired The Witcher.
“I love mysteries and detective novels. I know you guys won’t appreciate Nancy Drew and I haven’t got the taste for Agatha Christie. But, there is this author who writes about a woman in Botswana who runs a detective agency. That could be interesting.” said Liz enthusiastically.
“It’s Sci-fi for me” chipped in Alan. “I’ve heard that Asimov’s daughter is co- producing his Foundation series for Apple TV. Let’s read them.”
“The Foundation is not for the light headed.”, smirked Lara. ” Might I suggest O.Henry? I’m greatly moved by his short story – The Last Leaf. It always make my eyes well up.”
“Rikki-Tikki-Tavi!” shouted a voice from the dark. Then they saw a boy emerge dressed in shorts and a faded sweat shirt. His eyes were as dark as the night and hair as red as the sun at dusk. He smiled brightly yet seemed a bit shy. He was holding a teddy bear in his arms.
“Gosh! You gave me a scare. I thought you’ll never make it.” said Liz giving him a squeeze. “Bookworms, meet Henry, our youngest member of The Midnight Club!” announced Liz, proudly.
Everyone welcomed Henry warmly and he was made to feel comfortable.
They all gathered in a semi circle and The Witcher opened his book. “I’m going to take your recommendations under consideration and we’ll take up each one, turn by turn. Meanwhile, I would like to read aloud a poem by William Blake. I’m sure it’ll capture the imagination of our Ricky -Tikki-Tavy as well.” said he, winking and smiling at Henry.
The Tyger By William Blake
Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
recited the eloquent Witcher. His voice was gentle yet powerful and all of the members were attracted to him like moths to a flame.
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?
A high pitched sound broke the silence of the night!
“It’s the warden! Go go….” yelled Liz in an urgent whisper
“What’s that idiot doing here?!” voiced an annoyed Alan
“I thought it was his night off!” said an exasperated Lara.
“All remain calm. Don’t panic. Let’s move fast and don’t forget to duck before the light beam hits you. Liz, Henry is your responsibility. Now, disband.” All the members scattered in a jiffy.
Slow crunching footsteps were heard, followed by huffing sounds. The torchlight swept over the place. “I swear I could hear voices or maybe it was the wind.” said the old watchman on duty. He walked back to the gate and just before he switched off his torch he noticed a teddy bear lying next to a grave.
Story by Harshi