Something Wicked This Way Comes. RAY BRADBURY

“Who’ll believe?” she wailed.

“I believe,” Will said.

And she lay back against the tree, her hands in her lap, trembling, very thin, very white, very lost, very small.

“Can I go now?” he said.

She nodded.

And he walked away.

At the edge of the lot, Jim stomped his feet in disbelief, almost hysterical with outrage and declamation.

”It can’t be!”

“It is,” said Will. “The eyes. That’s how you tell. Like it was with Mr Cooger and the evil boy — There’s one way to be sure. Come on!”

And he took Jim through the town and they stopped at last in front of Miss Foley’s house and looked at the unlit windows in the morning gloom and walked up the steps and rang the bell, once, twice, three times.


Very slowly, the front door moved whining back on its hinges.

“Miss Foley?” Jim called, softly.

Somewhere off in the house, shadows of rain moved on far windowpanes.

“Miss Foley…?”

They stood in the hall by the bead-rain in the entry door, listening to the great attic beams ashift and astir in the downpour.

“Miss Foley!” Louder.

But only the mice in the walls, warmly nested, made sgraffito sounds in answer.

“She’s gone out to shop,” said. Jim.

“No.” said Will. “We know where she is.”

“Miss Foley, I know you’re here!” shouted Jim suddenly, savagely, dashing upstairs. “Come on out, you!”

Will waited for him to search and drag slowly back down. As Jim reached the bottom of the steps, they both heard the music blowing through the front door with the smell of fresh rain and ancient grass.

The carousel calliope, among the hills, piping the “Funeral March” backwards.

Jim opened the door wider and stood in the music, as one stands in the rain.

“The merry-go-round. They fixed it!”

Will nodded. “She must’ve heard the music, gone out at sunrise. Something went wrong. Maybe the carousel wasn’t fixed right. Maybe accidents happen all the time. Like to the lightning-rod man, him inside-out and crazy. Maybe the carnival likes accidents, gets a kick out of them. Or maybe they did something to her on purpose. Maybe they wanted to know more about us, our names, where we live, or wanted her to help them hurt us. Who knows what? Maybe she got suspicious or scared. Then they just gave her more than she ever wanted or asked for.”

“I don’t understand — “

But now, in the doorway, in the cold rain, there was time to think of Miss Foley afraid of mirror mazes, Miss Foley alone not so long ago at the carnival, and maybe screaming when they did what they finally did to her, around and around, around and around, too many years, more years than she had ever dreamed of shucked away, rubbing her raw, leaving her naked small, alone, and bewildered because unknown-even-to-herself, around and around, until all the years were gone and the carousel rocked to a halt like a roulette wheel, and nothing gained and all lost and nowhere for her to go, no way to tell the strangeness, and nothing to do but weep under a tree, alone, in the autumn rain…

Will thought this. Jim thought it, and said:

“Oh, the poor…the poor…”

“We got to help her, Jim. Who else would believe? If she tells anyone, “I’m Miss Foley!” “Get away!” they”d say, “Miss Foley’s left town, disappeared!” “Go on, little girl!” Oh, Jim, I bet she”d pounded a dozen doors this morning wanting help, scared people with her screaming and yelling, then ran off, gave up, and hid under that tree. Police are probably looking for her now, but so what? it’s just a wild girl crying and they’ll lock her away and she’ll go crazy. That carnival, boy, do they know how to punish so you can’t hit back. They just shake you up and change you so no one ever knows you again and let you run free, it’s okay, go ahead, talk, “cause folks are too scared of you to listen. Only we hear, Jim, only you and me, and right now I feel like I just ate a cold snail raw.”

They looked back a last time at the shadows of rain crying on the windows inside the parlour where a teacher had often served them cookies and hot chocolate and waved to them from the window and moved tall through the town. Then they stepped out and shut the door and ran back toward the empty lot.

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Categories: Bradbury, Ray