Written by Bertie.
Illustrated by Chiara Civati
Read by Richard Scott.
A spooky story dedicated to Stephanie and Matthew
Hello, this is Richard, and this is the latest episode in our series about a boy called Jake whose best friend is a talking crow called Birdy. And to find out how and why we are dedicating it to Stephanie and Matthew, listen at the end of the story and I’ll tell you some of our news.
Jake’s mum always did the best and the scariest Halloween face painting. When she had finished with Jake and his sister they both looked like proper little ghouls with fangs and stitches, scarlet gashes and wonky eyes.
Jake went up to his room to wait until it was dark enough to go trick or treating. He had been sitting on the bed for about five minutes when he heard a familIar ‘tap, tap, tap’.
‘Birdy!’ he exclaimed, and he went to open the window. His best friend, a black crow, was perched in his favourite spot on the sill. He opened his beak and said, “Quoth the raven, Nevermore!”
“What does that mean?” asked Jake.
“Oh, it’s just a bit of a spooky old poem,” said Birdy.
“Well it didn’t spook me,” said Jake, “talking of which, do you think I look scary?”
Birdy put his head on one side and considered, while Jake pulled his top three scariest faces: “Well I suppose you might look sort of scary to some people,” said the bird at length.
Jake was disappointed. “Is that all?” he said. “Wouldn’t you be scared enough to give me some sweets?”
“Naaaah!” said Birdy. “If you want people to hand stuff over you’ve got to scare them good and proper. That’s what King Henry always used to say, and he was too right.”
“Well what If I do it like this?” asked Jake. “What if I jump out of a shadow and go waaaaaaaaaaah!”
“Nope, won’t do,” said Birdy. “Not at all scary. Look, I’m a bird and I’m supposed to be easily frightened, but I’m not one bit. What you need to do is scare people out of their tiny minds, and then they’ll hand over every sweet they’ve got in the house. And if you say that it isn’t enough they will run down to the shop and spend all their money until you say that you are satisfied.”
“Well how am I supposed to do that? I’m just a kid?”
“You need help,” concluded Birdy. And when Jake looked downcast he added, soothingly, “Don’t worry, I’ll help you to put the frighteners on your neighbours because I’m your friend. Wait five minutes, then come out into the garden and I’ll introduce you to someone who will sort all this out for you.”
Five minutes felt like a century, but when it was time, Jake ran downstairs and out into the garden. It was dark and he could not see much.
“Birdy, are you there?”
“I’m here, and there’s someone I would like you to meet,” said Birdy. “But don’t scream or run off or anything because she isn’t going to hurt you.”
“Right,” said Jake, but he felt pretty scared already, and that was before what happened next. In front of his eyes a sort of misty shape started to appear, and it gradually took the shape of a lady. Soon he could see that she was dressed in a long velvety gown and that she wore lots of pearly strings, including around the edges of a cap. She had reddish hair and a slightly long face.
“Do, do I know you?” stuttered Jake.
The lady did not reply, but Birdy said, “Jake, the correct thing to do now is to kneel on one knee before her royal ladyship, Queen Anne Boleyn.”
Jake did as he was told. He looked up and asked, “Are you for real?”
“Yes, I’m for real,” said Queen Anne. “Didn’t you know, I’ve been haunting your house for several hundred years? There’s a tunnel that connects your cellar to the palace.”
“No, I didn’t know that,” said Jake. “But excuse me, your royal majesty, if you don’t mind me saying so, even though you are a ghost, you don’t seem very scary. I mean, you’re a nice sort of ghost, aren’t you?”
“Well I can be scary if I want to,” said Anne. “How about this for a freaky trick?” And so saying, she held her head in her hands, lifted it off her shoulders, and placed it under her left arm.
“Er yes,” agreed Jake, “that is properly scary.”
“Scary enough to persuade people to hand over some sweets?” asked Birdy.
“Yes, that will do the trick, I should think.”
It was not much later when Mum called for Jake. A big crowd of kids and their parents were gathering; all dressed up as freaks, ghosts, vampires, ghouls, and monsters, and all in a great state of noisy excitement, and that was before they had got sugared up. Annee Boleyn slipped in among them and did not look at all out of place, but whenever it was Jake’s turn to go and knock on a door she stood behind him - and you know what? He received so many sweets that he could have spent the entire year munch nothing else, only his mum and dad hid most of them because they were afraid he would make himself sick.
And that was Birdy’s Halloween, written for Storynory by Bertie and read by me Richard. In case you didn’t know Anne Boleyn was the second wife of Henry VIII who had six wives in all - though not at the same time! He lived part of the time at Hampton Court Palace on the river Thames, and in this story, Jake’s house is not far away.
Now some news. We’ve set up a Patreon account - which helps you support Storynory with donations small or large. We’ve set out some nice rewards for supporters, and set ourselves some goals for making Storynory even better. It’s early days and we hope to make both the rewards and the goals even more exciting. Well almost as soon as we had set up our Patreon page, our first patreon pledge came rolling in. So Bertie and Storynory would like to say a big thank you to Stephanie and her seven year old son Matthew for setting the ball rolling. They tell us that their favourite story is quite possibly The Samurai and the Tea-master from Japan and that they also enjoy all the world stories and myths, including the ones from the Phillipines.
Well thank you very much - also we would like to send an long overdue thanks to our existing supporters including Millicent Turk from Minnesota - who is one of our many grown up listeners. Also huge thank yous to Janine Cate, David Barnett, David Tougas, Steven McMillen, Julia Gage, Gina Herrman, Henny Naumann-Cain, Sarah Gupta, and families - sorry we haven’t mentioned everyone who has helped us over the years, but drop us a line and we will give you a shout out.
In the meantime, if you would like to check out our Patreon page you can find the link from storynory.com
For now, from me Richard, Have a super Spooky Halloween !