The wedding party went home. They had to deal with whatever legalities are necessary when a group of people are enchanted into chess pieces by a relative and then go missing for several months. “I don’t envy them the paperwork,” Melinda’s mom said.
Melinda had managed to avoid Miss Ganon since then. Hopefully, she’d be able to keep it up for the rest of her life. She didn’t like the idea of sitting in that dark living room gathering dust and waiting for someone to come sneeze on her.
So, when her mom sent her out to play, Melinda went to the park on the far side of the neighborhood. She met up with her friend Mabel, who was already playing explorers with Lenny and John and David and Susan. “Lenny thinks there’s a clearing in the middle of the bushes over there. We can set up camp there,” Mabel said.
“Hey! I’m the leader,” John said. “I get to decide what we do next. You’re just the navigator.”
“Then I say the map says to go that way,” Mabel said. “What do you think?”
“I think we need to decide on a job for Melinda,” John said. “Any ideas, Lenny? You’re my vice-president.”
“I thought I was First Mate,” Lenny said.
“No, you’re the First Lieutenant,” Susan said.
“What was my job again?” David asked.
Just then, there was a rustling sound in the bushes. Everyone turned to look just as Miss Ganon stepped out. Melinda stepped behind John and hoped Miss Ganon would just go away. Instead, Miss Ganon looked at all the children and nodded. “You’ll do, she said. “Lions, I think.”
She pointed to each of them and muttered. Then she snapped her fingers. Melinda felt hot and cold and sick. Everything looked blue for a moment. She tried to yell for help, but all she could hear was a roaring sound.
She looked around. She could see five other lions. Miss Ganon smiled a not very nice smile and clapped her hands together. The world went blue again and everything around them blurred.
When the dizzy feeling faded, Melinda realized that they were now in a large white tent. There were also zebras and elephants and two bears. Miss Ganon looked around. “Hmmm,” she said. “It’s a good start. Listen up now, children. You have just run away and joined the circus.” She cackled.
The animals all began to roar and bellow. Miss Ganon frowned. “Silence,” she said. “Or I will turn you all into bacteria.” The animals quieted at once. “Very good,” she said. “I recently found this tent abandoned after a wedding I attended. I have decided to sell it along with a circus to go with it. It will have the added bonus of making the neighborhood much quieter.” She cackled again.
She began to stalk around and mutter to herself as she examined the animals. Most of them backed up as she approached. This always made her laugh. She stopped in front of the lions. “Six lions? What was I thinking? I’ll make half of them tigers,” she said. She held up a finger.
One of the lions turned and ran. Melinda watched him go and tried to decide if there was another way out of this. Was there a way to make yourself sneeze? It worked with the enchanted chess pieces. But would it still work to end the spell if you were the one enchanted? Would the witch just turn her into something that couldn’t sneeze?
Miss Ganon clapped and the lion was back in place. “No you don’t,” she said. She looked around and smiled her not very nice smile again. “I expect all of you to obey me. If you don’t, there will be consequences.”
She pointed a finger at a zebra and muttered. She snapped, and its stripes all turned red. She pointed to the circus tent and muttered. She snapped, and it turned yellow. She pointed to the lion that ran. He shivered as she muttered. She snapped and it was as small as a kitten.
Miss Ganon laughed. “None of you can stop me,” she said. She pointed to another lion and muttered. He stood tall. She snapped and he grew and grew. His head brushed the top of the tent and he had to crouch. The other animals moved out of the way.
The witch pointed at him again and began to mutter. Before she could finish, the giant lion ate her in one bite. A few seconds later, all the children turned back. In the place of the giant lion, Lenny lay on the ground clutching his stomach.
“I don’t feel so good,” Lenny said.
Melinda and John helped him up. “I’ll help you get home,” John said. “After all, you’re my vice-president. Or First Mate or something.”
“You probably shouldn’t eat anything for lunch,” Melinda said. “Just in case.”
The children left the tent, which had been set up in Miss Ganon’s backyard. “It looks bigger on the inside,” Mabel said.
“I hope that’s the last we ever see Miss Ganon,” Melinda said. “That was awful.”
“She’s eaten up, isn’t she?” David said. “I don’t think you come back from that.”
“I hope not,” Melinda said.