- Grades: 6–8
It was only a game, wasn't it? It wasn't real, was it? If you do the ritual and say the words, nothing happens, does it? RIIIIIGHT. That's what Luke thought, too, before he disappeared, the morning after he'd decided to do the ritual, just for fun...
At first, Malice was only a comic book that was incredibly hard to find. Then the rumors started about its power, about the ritual and the words, and how they could make it real, and drag you into its terrible world of torture and death.
Heather was afraid of it. The kids looked too real, and their fear and terror too convincing. Luke laughed at her. He'd prove it wasn't real-he knew the words and he had everything he needed to do the ritual. He put the ingredients into the small bowl between them on the floor-a black feather, a twig, a knot of cat fur, a tear, and lock of his hair. Then he picked up his lighter, and added the last ingredient, fire. As it burned, he repeated "Tall Jake, take me away. Tall Jake, take me away," over and over-he had to repeat it six times before the little fire burned out. Heather tried to stop him, but she couldn't. "See," he said afterwards, "nothing happened. It's just a story kids tell. It's not real."
Just then, the lights went out. Luke laughed. "That fuse has good timing. I'll go down to the basement and trip the breaker." But as he made his way through the dark house, he had the feeling that he'd done something incredibly dangerous, and now he couldn't undo it, or stop it, or fix it, or wish it away. Then, just days later, Luke vanished. He didn't tell anyone, he didn't leave a note, and he didn't even take his phone. He was simply gone.
Had Luke's repetition of the ritual and the words opened the door to evil, to Malice? Was Luke trapped inside, with those children, hunted and tortured? Would Luke's face be staring out of its pages sometime soon?
This talk was written by Joni Richards Bodart, university professor, author, school/library consultant, and internationally known booktalker.