Henry, his mother, Julian and Oliver returned home as darkness was silently falling. Henry could not stop thinking about the noise he heard in the woods: was some strange creature calling him? He was so taken by curiosity and the desire to avoid sitting down to complete his homework that he would make up any excuse to just leave the house. But his mother was already preparing tea, the mugs clattering, some scones warming up in the oven that there was no way he could make it out of the door without being noticed.
So he sat, his pile of books and his notebook ominously set in front of him. He decided he would concentrate and go through it like a breeze.
“C’mon my little guys” said the mom cheerfully, “tea is ready and so are your books. Let all sit together and do our homework!”.
Holding Oliver in her arms, she arranged the fragrant scones on a plate and sat there, sipping her tea.
Henry had to sit and endure.
Few hours of struggle later, it was finally time for bed.
Henry made it upstairs to his room. His mother was still tidying the kitchen, Oliver now asleep in the cot next to the table and Julian ready for bedtime stories. Henry ensured that Titus, his little astronaut monkey, was already in bed and Zavoom, his zebra on wheels was next to him.
“Guys”, he whispered, “I must tell you a story…I went to the woods for a walk today and there was something..hiding”.
Titus looked at him with an alarmed faced: “Something..as in what?”.
Zavoom was very attentive.
“I couldn’t tell, Titus, but we should return there and find out..” replied Henry.
“Uhm..I am not entirely sure I would like to do that..” said Titus.
“Oh now! What are we scared of?” said Henry in return, but he could not fully believe himself.
“Let’s think about this tomorrow, yes?!” left it Titus. “Hmm-mm” added Zavoom, trying to sound approving.
A deep silence fell into the house and Henry felt his eyelids slowly drooping.
His bedside lamp was still on, just in case of monsters’ attack or some other non identified danger attempting to enter the room.
Sleep was tenaciously holding its grip on him and he was about to surrender, feeling reassured that tonight too, his bedroom was safe.
Drip…drip…drip…a muffled sound of liquid falling on the floor gently pulled Henry from his sleep.
With heavy eyelids, he opened his eyes but he almost jumped out of bed in bewilderment and fear when he saw what was happening.
Some black liquid shapes were slowly creeping into his room and making their way, with malignant faces, towards his bed.
They had somewhat familiar shapes…they were…they were…the letters of the alphabet!
Henry grabbed his blanked and pulled it up to his face, Titus gulped, Zavoom watched.
Fear was gripping the three of them.
Henry could see that the letters were leaving a black trail of drops on their path. What could he do?
“We have a message for you”, hissed the letter A.
“Yes” added the R.
“Something quite extraordinary is happening”, the letter S continued, “We have finally freed ourselves from the books pages and we used them to build our tower. We challenge you to get there before everything is enveloped in a black storm and swallowed by the ocean of ink”.
Henry gasped.

2018 All images and content copyright Isabella Thermes