Something Wicked This Way Comes. RAY BRADBURY

They showered the roof.

Below, someone put down a window.

“Mom.” Jim laughed, bleakly. “She thinks it’s raining.”


The rain ceased.

The roof was clean.

They let the hose snake away to thump on the night grass a thousand miles below.

Beyond town, the balloon still paused between unpromising midnight and promised and hoped—for sun.

“Why’s she waiting?”

“Maybe she smells what we’re up to.”

They went back down through the attic and soon were in separate rooms and beds after many fevers and chills of talk quietly separate listening to hearts and clocks beat and now lay too quickly toward dawn.

Whatever they do, thought Will, we must do it first. He wished the balloon might fly back, the Witch might guess they had washed her mark off and soar down to trace the roof again. Why?


He found himself staring at his Boy Scout archery set, the big beautiful bow and quiver of arrows arranged on the east wall of his room.

Sorry, Dad, he thought, and sat up, smiling. This time it’s me out alone. I don’t want her going back to report on us for hours, maybe days.

He grabbed the bow and quiver from the wall, hesitated, thinking, then stealthily ran the window up and leaned out. No need to holler loud and long, no. But just think real hard. They can’t read thoughts, I know, that’s sure, or they wouldn’t send her, and she can’t read thoughts, but she can feel body heat and special temperatures and special smells and excitements, and if I jump up and down and let her know just by my feeling good about having tricked her, maybe, maybe…

Four o”clock in the morning, said a drowsy clock-chime, off in another land.

Witch, he thought, come back.

Witch, he thought louder and let his blood pound, the roof’s clean, hear!? We made our own rain! You got to come back and re-mark it! Witch…?

And the Witch moved.

He felt the earth turn under the balloon.

Okay, Witch, come on, there’s just me, the no-name boy, You can’t read my mind, but here’s me spitting on you! and here’s me yelling we tricked you, and the general idea gets through, so come on, come on! dare! double-dare you!”

Miles away, there was a gasp of assent rising, coming near. Holy cow, he thought suddenly, I don’t want her back to this house! Come on! He thrashed into his clothes.

Clutching his weapons, he aped down the hidden ivy rungs and dogged the wet grass.

Witch! Here! He ran leaving patterns, ran feeling crazy fine, wild as a hare who has chewed some secret, delicious, sweetly poisonous root that now gallops him berserk. Knees striking his chin, shoes crushing wet leaves, he soared over a hedge, his hands full of bristly porcupine weapons, fear and joy a tumble of mixed marbles in his mouth.

He looked back. The balloon swung near! It inhaled, exhaled itself along from tree to tree, from cloud to cloud.

Where am I going? he thought. Wait! The Redman house! Not lived in in years! Two blocks more.

There was the swift shush of his feet in the leaves and the big shush of the creature in the sky, while moonlight snowed everything and stars glittered.

He pulled up in front of the Redman house, a torch in each lung, tasting blood, crying out silently: here! this is my house!

He felt a great river change its bed in the sky. Good! he thought.

His hand turned the doorknob of the old house. Oh God, he thought, what if they are inside, waiting for me?

He opened a door on darkness.

Dust came and went in that dark, and a harpstring gesticulation of spiders. Nothing else.

Will jumped two at a time up the crumbling stairs, around and out on the roof where he stashed his weapons behind the chimney and stood tall.

The balloon, green as slime, printed with titan pictures of winged scorpions, ancient phoenixes, smokes, fires, clouded weathers, swung its wicker basket wheezing, down.

Witch, he thought, here!

The dank shadow struck him like a batwing.

Will toppled. He flung up his hands. The shadow was almost black flesh, striking.

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Categories: Bradbury, Ray