Snow looks up at the tall Town Hall. It looks taller and more angular at night, even with the light of the near full moon. ‘Scary,’ she thinks. A breeze picks up and she shudders, wrapping her red sweater tighter around her. She didn’t change into her school uniform, just put on her sweater and Mary Janes. She figures she’ll do a quick job and then she’ll curl under the blanket on the couch at Jack’s house.
She climbs the stone steps to the front door and pushes it open. Stepping inside, she observes the whole interior, wondering how she’s going to do what she wants to do. “Hmmm…” She spots the pile of drapes. “That’s it!”
She runs over and pulls out one really long, white drape. Holding up part of it, she looks up at the walls. She scans the room for a ladder. There! Right in front of the podium! Snow tries to pick it up, but it’s too big and heavy for her. She tries pulling it across, but it threatens to fall over, and she lets it go with a squeal. Putting a hand to her chin, she wonders how she can get it across the room. She absentmindedly stares at the wall across from her, then she stares at it intently. “Why not?” she mutters under her breath.
It takes her a while, but she finally gets the ladder open, and, once it’s open, she manages to scoot the ladder closer to the wall. She picks up the white drape and climbs up the ladder, trying to get as high up with the drape as she can. Fortunately, the wall doesn’t extend straight up to the ceiling. There’s a balcony that circles the Hall and has a railing protecting people from falling down. Snow reaches out and manages to touch the railing with the drape. Being careful not to fall off, Snow twists the end of the drape into a knot around one pole of the railing. She sighs in accomplishment. “One done.” She stares up at the ceiling, seeing a small hook. Staring back at the knot she just made, she has an even better idea. Climbing down the ladder, she finds the stairs and goes up to the second floor. She’s making her way over to the drape when she passes a closet marked Flying Broomsticks. “Ooh, cool!” she says. “That can help me get up high!” She opens the door, and the broomsticks are just lying there against the wall. Not one of them flying. “Huh.” Nevertheless, she grabs the nearest broomstick and pulls it out, gazing at it. “Fly, broom.”
She feels it pulling on her hands until it breaks free from her grasp and hovers in front of her face.
“Wow. Please really is the magic word. Thanks.” She grabs the wooden tip and pulls the broom behind her until she reaches the knotted drape. She pulls and tugs at the knot until it finally comes undone. “Uh…” She looks up at the hook. She feels a nudge and sees the broomstick waiting right next to her. “Um…” It nudges her again. It wants her to ride it.
Slowly, unsurely, she swings her leg over the broom and sits down and, before she has a chance to prepare herself, it takes off suddenly, making her gasp. “Whoa!” She grabs hold with the hand that’s not holding the white drape and tries to steady it, pretending it is a wild reindeer. Sometimes the wild reindeer would come too close back home and everyone would have to work together to calm the reindeer and shoo them out of town.
She pulls up hard on the broom, and it finally comes to a stop. “Whew.” She then, slowly, flies her way up to the top. Tying one end of the drape to the hook, she flies to the railing and tucks the drape around the railing. It falls out. “Grrrrr.” She takes part of the drape and pulls it through a loop she made with the drape and the railing, and (finally!) she makes another knot. Snow fluffs the drape out from top to bottom, so that it doesn’t look straight and taut.
Flying back a ways, she inspects her hard work. “I like it,” she decides. Swooping down, she scoops up another drape and flies up to the next hook, doing the same thing across the way until she has six drapes hanging spaced out along the right wall of the Hall. She’s grinning proudly, until she happens to look left and see, across from a spotlight, a clock reading 12:45.
“What?!” she cries out. Three bats, which were asleep on the spotlight, wake up at the sound of her voice, and they fly out the open doors and off into the deep night. She shrieks and leans backward on the broom, nearly toppling off it. Gasping, she clings to the wooden stick as it bobs in the air for several seconds. When it’s still, and she knows she’s not going to fall off, she releases her breath and the tension in her shoulders. Glancing back at the clock to make sure she didn’t misread it, it says 12:45. “How can it be that late?” she moans.
Grumbling (and yawning) at the time, she hurriedly swoops down and picks up the next drape, working along the wall across from the one she’d finished. When she’d tied and fluffed the six drapes on this side, she flies back, inspecting her work, and glancing back up at the clock. She’s been sneaking glances as she worked, trying to make time stop or make herself go faster when she realized what time it was. Unfortunately, it did nothing to help, and now the time is 1:14.
“Aw, come on!” she whines to no one in particular. Sulking, she flies to the stage and turns around, inspecting the whole thing. It looks nice, but very plain. “Frost!” she gasps, an idea popping into her mind. “He can put spider web designs on ‘em!” She gets excited – until she remembers that Frost is still at Jack’s house, and if she went back, she’d want to stay there and sleep. “Never mind,” she grumbles. She stares at the pews, wondering what she can do with pumpkins.
Wait a minute. The mini pumpkins that Shock shrank! She could use those somehow! Oh, wait a second, those are for Sally’s headpiece. “Maybe I can ask Shock to shrink some more,” she muses. “If Barrel can help us, I’m sure she could too. But…where do they live?”
She gasps and whirls around. “Zero!” she cries, then in a quieter voice, “What are you doing here?” He just smiles and pants, his pink tongue hanging out of his mouth. “Hey, do you know where Shock is? I could use her help with shrinking some pumpkins.”
He barks and drifts toward the door, stopping partway when he realizes Snow isn't following him. He looks back at her and barks. “Oh, are we going now?” He nods. “Okay, I guess.” Jumping off the broom and wrapping her red jacket tighter around her, they set off through town, into the pumpkin patch, and across the patch to a big tree house. “Is this it?” Zero ruffs. “Okay. Um…should we wait until morning, or…”
He flies behind her, bites her jacket and nightgown, and starts lifting her up. She gasps and jerks in a way that makes Zero release her. “Oof!” she groans, standing up again and brushing the dirt off her sore butt. She takes off her jacket to make sure it doesn’t have any rips from where Zero was biting. There’s a small hole that’s barely noticeable, but to be on the safe side, she folds it hastily and sets it down on the ground. “Ready?” she asks the dog. He takes her by the collar again and flies upward, toward a window in the tree house.
“Almost there,” she whispers when they’re only a couple feet away from the windowsill. She stretches her arm up, her fingertips curling around the edge – and just in time, too. Zero can’t hold her much longer, and as soon as she grabs the sill he lets her go. She gasps, swinging a little in the wind.
“What was that?” she hears Shock’s voice slur sleepily.
“I didn’t hear anything,” Lock grumbles.
“Must be the wind.” A minute later, Snow can hear snoring. Biting her bottom lip to keep herself from making any sounds, she pulls herself up until she can sit on the sill. Looking in, she sees Lock sleeping with his mouth open, surrounded by candy wrappers. Shock is curled up with her broom on the other side of the room. Snow opens her mouth to wake them up, but then shuts it shyly. She realized that she just snuck into their house, in the middle of the night, all just to ask for some help with decorating. She turns to call out the window to Zero –
At the same time Shock stirs. ‘Uh oh,’ Snow thinks. She slowly turns to face the siblings, a breeze blowing her nightgown around.
Shock’s sitting up, rubbing her eyes, and when she opens them and sees Snow, she screams. Lock snorts awake and bolts up. “What I miss?” He sees Snow and also screams. “Ghost!”
“Please don’t hurt us!” Shock cries. She and her brother crawl backwards, staring fearfully at Snow.
Snow doesn't know why they’re so scared of her. She was actually thinking they were going to make fun of her for coming all the way in her white nightgown and her white hair in disarray. She mentally shrugs it off and says, “I’m not gonna hurt you.”
They blink. “Y-you’re not?” Lock asks.
“Nope, but I want you to do something for me, please.”
“Anything!” Shock blurts out. “We’ll do anything! We’re sorry if we upset your grave or insulted your family! It was his idea!” She points at Lock.
He glares at her. “No, it wasn't!” he retorts.
“Lock! Shock!” Snow shouts. She usually never shouts, but she’s getting tired of this sibling rivalry, and sitting on the windowsill with the breeze blowing around her makes her chilly. “I’m not gonna do anything to you, as long as you help Jack and Sally on their wedding.”
Immediately there’s a chorus of “What?” and “That’s not fair!” and “You can’t do that!”
“All I want,” Snow interrupts (again, something she never does), “is for you to shrink some pumpkins down to a smaller size.” She counts in her head the number of rows of seats in Town Hall. “At least a dozen.”
“That’s it?” Shock beams. “I can do that.” Lock crosses his arms and grumbles something about girls.
Snow doesn't want to leave Lock out; she knows how that feels. “Lock, you can help whoever needs help.”
“Aw, why?” he moans. “I’ll be good. I promise.”
“I know you will.” She remembers the deal Jack made with them earlier in the day. “But if no one gets anything done, the wedding will be a disaster, and Jack will be very unhappy.” Lock’s scowl grows fearful as he considers this. “Will you help out around town?”
Snow smiles brightly. “Great! You two will start in the morning.”
They groan. “We better get back to sleep, then,” Shock groans, crawling back to the spot she’d been sleeping on. She curls up with her broom as Lock brushes all the wrappers away and returns to his spot. “We’re just doing this to make up for your grave,” Shock grumbles as her eyes shut.
Snow still has no idea what they’re talking about, but before she can ask them anything she feels something tug her back off the windowsill. She gasps, expecting to fall to her death – instead, she feels herself lowered down gently. When her feet touch the ground, she whirls around to see Zero panting with his pink tongue hanging out. She smiles. “Thanks, Zero, for getting me down.”
His nose glows in response.
She looks back up at the window she’d occupied a minute before. “What were they talking about a ghost and upsetting a grave?” she wondered aloud.
Zero snickers. Obviously, he knows what the two troublemakers were talking about.
Another breeze picks up, this one sharper. Shivering, she goes over to her red sweater and puts it back on. “Let’s go back home.”