Seymour knocked on the big door. It always made him feel a little scared; the doorbell was shaped like a pumpkin carving like it was still Halloween, and the house always felt stranger and stranger later in the day. One of the first times he had visited Jon, he had brought the family dog along. It had been such a nuisance, with its barking at nothing and newspaper-tearing, that he had to take it home again. But Jon was a friend, so he still visited.
There was a klunk-noise from inside as the latch was drawn and the door opened. Claudia stood in the doorway, holding a mug of something hot. “Ah, Seymour. Jon’s upstairs,” she put the mug on a stand by the door and waved him inside, out of the cold, “You’re here to see him, right?”
He began removing his scarf and coat, putting them on the part of the coat-rack that was held empty for him. “Yes Mrs Cobbler, he said he had something to show me.”
Claudia picked up her mug again, blowing at the steam rising from it. “Ah yes, that thing he got for Christmas. Well, go on up. I’ll bring some hot cocoa up.”
He removed his boots and walked up the stairs. On the 1st floor, the door to Jons room was open.
“Jon?” He peered round the corner into the room. His friend was sitting on the floor, reading a paper booklet.
Hearing his call, Jon looked up while keeping the booklet behind him. “Hi Seymour. Come in, just let me pack this away.”
Jon’s “thing to show” was a boardgame; Munchkin Quest, something they had both wanted for Christmas but that Seymour had lamented not getting. While Jon showed it to him, the wind really got to work outside, branches clattering on the window looking into the garden. The sun had set completely now, and it was very dark outside. The only thing Seymour could see of the outside world was the brown branches occasionally smashing feebly against the window. When they had finally set the board up and divided the cards, there was a crash from the window. One of the panes had been smashed, struck by a branch that was now poking through. Seymour had to stop himself from screaming, but Jon just sighed and got up. “Better tell mum.”
They found her in the kitchen, absent-mindedly stirring a pot of hot cocoa. As they hold her what had happened, her face took on a surprised and scared expression. She told them both to grab their clothes and shoes. While Jon was quick to listen, Seymour had to ask. “Why?”
She knelt down and put a hand on his shoulder, probably to reassure him. “We don’t have a tree anywhere near the house.”