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They sat around in the sitting room, faces drawn, quiet apart from the soft click clack of Mrs Hutton’s knitting needles. The uneasy silence stretched on and on until young Alan couldn’t stand it any more.

“This is ridiculous,” he said, standing up and pacing across the room. “We can’t just sit here like this!”

The clicking stopped. Mrs Hutton looked up from her knitting with wide eyes. “Well… What do you think we should do, dear?”

Alan didn’t have an answer. He waved his hands in frustration as he paced. “Something! I don’t know, this is not exactly my area of expertise!”

His uncle Geoffrey snorted. “Why don’t we have a look in the telephone directory then? Under O for Occult Experts, perhaps?”

Mr Hutton leaned forward. “The lad has a point, Geoff. We can’t just sit here with those… things prowling around outside.”

Geoffrey sighed. “And my point, James, is that none of us have any expertise in this sort of thing, so either we do just sit here or we’re going to have to figure something out for ourselves.”

Alan leaned on the edge of the dresser. “That would be easier if we knew what the damn things are. Aside from unnatural, that is.”

“Right then,” Mr Hutton said, standing up and tucking his thumbs into his braces. “Let’s start with what we do know.”

“They appeared after we heard that funny noise,” Miss Martin offered.

“Right,” said Alan, “The chanting from the woods.”

“They don’t seem to be able to come inside, at least,” added Alan’s sister Jessica.

“They’re bloody vicious,” muttered her husband, peeling the towel back from his arm to peer at his wound. “But shoot ’em and they fall down all right. For a while, at least.”

“Oh Frank, do leave that alone,” Jessica said, tapping his hand impatiently. “Else it’ll scar.”

There was a brief uncomfortable silence again. Mr Hutton coughed and crossed the room. “So what resources do we have to hand?”

“Two shotguns and a handful or two of shells,” Frank said. “Wasn’t exactly expecting to go hunting.”

Alan paced across the floor again. “There’s plenty of knives in the kitchen, if it comes to that. Garden tools, too, and a few walking sticks and the like, in the cupboard under the stairs.”

Mrs Hutton looked pale. “Is more violence really the answer? Look what they did to poor Frank’s arm!”

Her husband patted her on the shoulder. “It’s defence, love, not violence. Just in case. Geoff and I will take the shotguns, one at the front door, one at the back. The other gents should arm themselves as best they can, and be ready.”

Jessica folded her arms. “Well that’s all well and good, but defence is not really going to get us out of here, is it? We need a way to get rid of those monsters and shooting them doesn’t seem to be working very well.”

“Um,” Miss Martin stood up hesitantly. “There’s a lot of funny old books in Mr Co- I mean, the late Mr Coxworthy’s library. I saw one that looked awfully like a spellbook, of all things!”

Mr Hutton smiled. “Marvellous, Miss Martin, I think that makes you our occult expert. If we split our resources between defence and research, we should come out all right!”

Mrs Hutton smiled faintly as the rest of the group got up and started to sort themselves into two groups. “Dinner will be ready at seven,” she said. “I’ve made apple crumble for afters.”

Alan looked like he was about to say something, but Mr Hutton stopped him with a hand on his shoulder. “Don’t say anything, Alan,” he whispered. “After what she saw out there, that crumble’s probably the only thing keeping your mother sane.”

© Kari Fay

(Author’s Note: The Three Word Wednesday prompt words this week are Crumble, Drawn and Uneasy.)

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