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titel-schutz > Witch Water > Part 13
At once he was glancing abruptly upward, as though some inner monitor of his subconscious had so directed him. Why?

Yes, he was glancing upward, at the trapdoor...

Again: why?

He'd already been up in the attic, and had found-just as Mr. Baxter had-nothing out of the ordinary. Nevertheless, next, he was standing once more on the bed, reaching up, and unprizing the trapdoor. Moments later, he was standing stooped in the warm, wood- and dust-scented s.p.a.ce. He swept his penlight to either side, and if anything- This place is even duller than it was when I first came up...

Why he paid this second visit to the attic he couldn't guess. He came back down, now sweating and irritable, and replaced the panel in the ceiling.

He undressed, presumed to prepare for bed but now...

Same as the impulse to return to the attic, he found himself standing before an opened dresser drawer. He was not conscious of the reason he'd chosen to do so, but then he looked down and saw...

...that d.a.m.n looking-gla.s.s.

He couldn't even remember opening the drawer that he'd stashed it in. Why haven't I put it back where it belongs? What might Baxter and Abbie wonder if they discovered it missing, so soon after Fanshawe had asked about it?

Tomorrow! he charged himself, I'll put it that thing back in the case and never touch it again! Enough s.c.r.e.w.i.n.g around!

Once in bed, Fanshawe found it easy to ignore his previous aggravation, by thinking about Abbie. He smiled in the darkness, sinking into the pillow. My first date in ages... He fell asleep knowing that he couldn't wait to see Abbie again.

Wouldn't it be nice if he saw her in his dreams?

(II).

He doesn't see her, but he hears her, as he did so recently during his first nightmare in the Wraxall Inn. Her voice echoes like drips in a cavern as the black mental fog seeps away to show him a mob of irate townsfolk in colonial dress forming a riotous half-circle on Witches Hill. Two more townsmen drag a distraught young blond woman into the clearing's center-point. She's in shackles and dressed in rags, smudge-faced, and beaten.

They drag her to the barrel with the hole in it.

When the blond convict sees the barrel, she silently screams; her face reddens in horror as the townsmen lower her into the barrel.

"They'd put the witch in the barrel," Abbie's voice repeats, "pull her head out through the hole and keep it in place by sliding this thing called a U-collar around her neck..."

A townsman's hand reaches into the hole in the barrel, then pulls the woman's head through. Someone else immediately locks her head in place with the horse-shoe-shaped collar. The woman's eyes bulge each time she tries-and fails-to dislodge her head. She looks as though her very spirit is being wrenched out of her.

"Like a pillory only...with a barrel?" Fanshawe hears himself repeat the question he'd asked only hours ago.

"Well, sort of. See, after they did that-"

Sh

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