“Tell a ghost story, dad!”
“Heh heh, he wants a ghost story,” Brady said looking at Alayna.
“Don’t do it,” she warned.
“What? Dad told excellent ghost stories!”
“Dad told horrible ghost stories!”
“Pah! You were just a scared little girl.”
“Whatever. Traumatize your child if you want.”
“Julian…I’ll tell you an excellent story!”
“Once upon a time, there were three bears…”
“Oh brother…,” Alayna said.
“These three bears were the princes and princess of the bear kingdom, and everyone was jealous of them. But only one of the bears could be king or queen. When the bears became of age, the papa bear–the king–sent them out on a quest as it was custom to decide which one would be the next ruler of all the bear kingdom. While on this quest, each of the three bears knew they were in competition and plotted against the other two. The oldest bear attempted to lure them into a trap. ‘Come! Come! There are fresh honeycombs over here,’ he said to them. But they were too smart for him and decided to trick him instead. ‘Brother, come share these berries with us! They are delicious, and father says they will make you strong.’ The oldest bear devoured the berries because he wanted to win, but the berries were poisonous, and he died.”
“[gasp] They killed him,” Julian shouted.
“Brady…I think this story is a bit too much for him,” Viviana said.
“The sister bear said, ‘He was never as smart as he thought he was. Come, brother.’ The two remaining bears continued on their quest. The younger brother knew the sister bear was very smart and was discouraged. He didn’t know how to outsmart her. The sister loved the younger brother, but she wanted to win and came up with a plan to get rid of him. The sister waited until they came upon some raging water to take a rest. ‘Brother, let’s stop and eat. Catch us some fish.’ The brother looked at the raging water and was afraid. ‘Sister, the water is too great to fish. Let us go downstream to safer waters,’ he said. ‘But, brother, look how the fish jump up out of the water! Surely you can just reach out and grab some. Please, brother. I am too famished to walk further.’ The brother loved the sister, and so he went out into the water to catch some fish. But the water was too great, and the bear was too small, and the water carried him away and he drowned. The sister went back home to present herself to the king, and he crowned her to be the next queen. That night, while she slept in her chambers, the ghosts of the brother bears came to her. ‘She may have outsmarted us, but we will torture her forever,’ the older brother shouted. They had sacks filled with all kinds of spiders and snakes and bugs and all manner of creepy crawly things. They emptied the creatures into her room and woke her up. ‘Sister! Sister! Wake up!’ She woke up and saw all the creatures in her room and was terribly afraid. She screamed and tried to find a place to hide from the creatures, but they were everywhere. There were so many of them, the creatures began to crawl on her! She screamed and tried to shake them off, but they were great in number. They were all over her, and some crawled in her nose and ears, and she died of hysteria.”
“Brady! You’ve scared him,” Viviana shouted.
“It’s a ghost story, Viv,” Alayna said flatly. “It’s supposed to be scary.”
“He’ll never go to sleep now! He’ll have nightmares all night!”
“He’ll be fine,” Alayna said. “We all lived.”
“Dad! I hear something in the bushes!”
“See! He’s already hearing things,” Viviana shouted.
“I hear something, mom! Something is there!”
“Honey, I promise there is nothing out here,” Viviana said.
No sooner than he said that, something tapped him in the shoulder and startled him. He slowly turned around and…
“PLEASE DON’T EAT ME!”
As Julian was cowering in fear, the bear laughed.
“You’re in trouble, you know,” Alayna whispered.
Later that night, as Brady and Viviana were preparing to go to bed, they were intercepted by a voice in their room.
“Callie! Go to sleep,” Brady yelled.
“She’s already in bed!”