“Once upon a time a man named Orrin Bennett left is family. He did not bid them farewell, he simply strolled out the door. Mrs.Bennett thought nothing of it, for Mr.Bennett was fond of taking evening walks, until supper time came and
went and still Mr.Bennett did not return. Rumors spread like wildfire across a meadow in a drought. Some said he was a deserter, others that he’d been scandalously murdered, and still others said that they’d seen him making away with a woman in the dead of night! What were the other Bennetts to think?
“He may be dead! Or…..Well, just how are we to know what happened to your father, Junior? ” Mrs.Bennett would ask her son.
“Mother, we can only hope and pray that he is alive and well.” Her son would reply.
After Mr.Bennetts disappearance things were rough on the Missus.
She tried to manage the large estate and all the servants, as well as raise Junior, the best she could, but vicious rumors tore the servants trust to shreds, soon the only ones left were a cook, a butler, and a maid. They, along with the Missus and Jr., tried their best to keep the Manor clean, and the bills all paid. Sometimes that proved quite a task for the six hapless inhabitants of Bennett Manor.
And so they waited, hoping, that one day, Mr.Bennett would return. It was a thin shred of ambition and they clung to it, without it they may not have survived the ten harsh years of whispered lies, falling like venom from a snakes fangs
sinking into the flesh of the name of Bennett, blemishing it forever.
It was a foggy, wet day at the Manor, when Mr.Bennett walked back into the lives of his wife and son, just as abruptly as he had walked out.
He returned, not empty handed as he left, but was burdened with a strange looking bag.
Mrs.Bennett wept for joy, Junior, though almost twenty, pranced about like the boy his father left so long ago. But Mr.Bennett himself was cold and distant, he was not the same man that left the Manor ten long years ago.
“What happened to you? We were so worried about you, dear! Where on earth have you been?” Mrs.Bennett asked her husband as they sat at the dining table.
‘I haven’t the faintest idea…” He muttered, staring blankly at the bag that he’d carried inside.
“Look, Mother.” Junior pointed to the bag.
She looked at it and gasped, for on the bag was a faded tag, it read, ‘Switzerland’. “Oh my goodness, that’s halfway across the world!” Mrs.Bennett stared, even more incredibly, when Mr.Bennett suddenly opened the bag and out came- IT.
“What is that—thing?” Junior asked shocked at the massive black hooded figure that rose out of the small carpet bag.
Mrs.Bennett screamed in horror, ‘Oh my God!’
The monster screeched, a high, piercing screech and rushed forward, covering in them in darkness.
The shadow tormented the Bennetts, day in and day out. For a year or more, they couldn’t tell how long it had been since their oppressor had arrived, they were a wisp of themselves, shadows of their former fullness.
One day Mr.Bennett decided he was through being ITs puppet. He built a vast cage for IT, luring it in with live bait. Himself. He begged his son to lock the cage behind him, and sorrowfully, Orrin Bennett the Second did as his father commanded.
To this day, IT is confined in that cage, never to ensnare the Bennetts again.
‘Is it true, Mum? All that about the monster? Is IT real?’ A little boy with dark brown hair and vivid green eyes stared up at his mother, who sat on the edge of his bed.
‘What do you think, Orrin?’ His mother asked, smiling as she tucked a thick brown curl behind her ear.
‘I think IT is real!’ Orrin breathed.
‘Are you almost done tucking him in, dear?’ A tall man with fair hair stepped into the dark bedroom, ‘You know we’re already late for the dinner party.’ He chuckled.
‘Oh yes, Father, but Mum was telling me about the first Orrin Bennett and IT. Do you think IT exists, Father?’
‘Why of course! You didn’t think it was just some old fib, did you?’ Mr.Bennetts brown eyes twinkled.
Mrs.Bennett laughed, ‘Goodnight Orrin, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite.’ she kissed his forehead and Mr. and Mrs.Bennett walked out.
‘Goodnight Mum, goodnight Father!’ Orrin called after them.
‘Goodnight, Orrin Bennett the Eighth!’ His Father called back.
As the sun began to rise in the sky and the birds began to warble out their melodies, the inhabitants of Bennett Manor were bustling about, preparing for the family reunion that was to be held at noon.
Poppy, the Bennetts head maid was instructing the other maids on what to clean and what to leave to her delicate care.
Cecile, or Cookie as they called the young chef, was putting the final touches on a few cakes, and beginning to toss a salad large enough to feed an army.
Guy, the gardener and handyman, was trimming the hedges, not a single leaf should be out of place.
And Poppy’s son, Siegfried, the Manors 12 year old butler-in-training, was answering the phone and was to show the guest inside when they arrived.
“Father! Mum! Are you ready yet?” Orrin called from the front hall, “A few relatives have arrived!”
“Oh, good!” Mrs.Bennett smiled sweeping down the stairs wearing a light summer gown of linen her brown hair hanging loosely about her shoulders.
Mr.Bennett came into the front hall, burdened with shovels and sacks. “A little help, darling?” he asked his wife.
She laughed and came to his aid, “I told you that you shouldn’t endeavor to take everything in one load! You see how you’ve overwhelmed yourself? You really should have let Guy help you.”
Ding dong ding! The door bell chimed.
“Good day, sir. May I show you to the sitting room? The Bennetts are still preparing.” Siegfried explained to the guest.
“Hello Uncle Teddy! Aunt Beatrice!” Orrin walked over to his relatives,”How nice that you could make it!” he said cordially, “Are the cousins coming?” He looked around hopefully for one of his aunt and uncles twelve children.
“Yes, Orrin, they’re already in the orchard. Siegfried, you can show us to the sitting room now.” Aunt Beatrice smiled.
“Mum, I’m going to run down to the orchard!” Orrin called, running out the door.
Orrin found his six girl cousins pushing each other around in wheel barrels in the orchard. “Where are the boys, Bee?” Orrin asked his oldest cousin, Beatrice Jr.
“In the trees, silly.” She said snootily. Orrin pulled a face at her and climbed a tree, on one of the higher branches he found Roger, the youngest cousin.
“Hullo, Roger!” Orrin grinned, he and Roger were the best of friends, they were both seven, the babies of the Bennett family.
“Hullo, Orrin! Do you want to collect the mushy apples and play apple smear?” Roger asked hopefully.
“Maybe later, first I think we should play pretend.” Orrin said.
“Alright, who should we be this time?” Though they were the same age, Orrin tended to dictate everything they did, from what they played to what they ate.
“Let’s be guards! And when a person we don’t want to enter the Red Palace, we cream them with rotten apples!” Orrin grinned wickedly.
“Roger that!” Roger smiled, “I’ll collect the mushy apples that have already fallen!” he volunteered, dropping out of the tree.
“And I’ll be the scout…” Orrin muttered.
“Welcome to Bennett Manor!” Mrs.Bennett said entering the sitting room which was steadily filling up with relatives from both sides of the family,” Was Joseph not able to come? That’s to bad! You did bring the children though, didn’t you?” Mrs.Bennett said to her younger sister, Valery.
“Of course I did, Sibyl! They’ve already run down to the orchard, I believe a heated battle of apple smear is already underway!” Valery chuckled, “Do you remember when we used to play that game?”
“How could I forget! Remember Papa banned us from playing it after Josalin got smeared in the face? Mama and Papa had to buy her a new pair of spectacles.” Mrs.Bennett smiled.
“Oh, listen? Do you hear it? It’s Mamie in her new fangled automobile! Those contraptions are as loud as thunder!” Valery laughed.
“Let’s go meet her in the hall, it’s getting cramped in here.” Mrs.Bennett suggested.
“You picked a fine day to be outside, Sibyl!” Mamie said, coming into the front hall of Bennett Manor. “Have you seen the children? They look as if they’d been dipped in apple sauce!”
“You know, Papa isn’t here to tell us not to, so when Josalin arrives, shall we join the children in a game of apple smear?” Sibyl asked her sisters.
“Do you really think she would agree to it after what happened last time?” Mamie asked doubtfully.
“She more than likely will turn up her nose at the thought of such childish behavior.” Sibyl grinned, “But will you play?” she asked Mamie and Valery.
“YES!!” they cried in unison.
Ding dong ding!
“Hold on, perhaps it’s the stickler!” Mrs.Bennett answered the door.
“Why, Josalin! How lovely to see you! Come in, come in!”
“Hello, sisters.” Josalin said curtly as she entered the hall, “Sibyl, did you know that your husband, as well as Mamie’s, and Beatrice’s are out in the orchard playing with the children?”
“Why I had no idea!” Sibyl said, shocked, “If I had known, I’d have joined in sooner!” She laughed as her older sister frowned. “Won’t you join us, Josalin? I’ve already persuaded Mamie and Val.”
“I’d rather stay inside and visit with the elders.” She sniffed disdainfully at her younger siblings.
“Oh, do entertain Mama and Papa when they arrive, will you? The main sitting room is packed with older relatives, they seemed to enjoy each others company so I left them alone, you wouldn’t mind playing hostess for me would you?” Sibyl pleaded.
“If you insist.” Josalin sighed adjusting her glasses.
“A thousand thanks, Josalin!” Sibyl cried, running out the front door with Mamie and Valery.
“What a wet blanket!” Mamie laughed as they walked down the path to the orchard.
“Oh, she’s not so bad!” Sibyl said defensively.
“Oh, no?” Mamie said, “Playing? How childish! Grow up sisters! Hahahaha!” Mamie laughed.
“Okay, maybe she is a little stiff…” Sibyl admitted.
“In coming!!!!!” someone shouted from the orchard. SPLAT! An apple whacked Mamie on the arm. Boys laughter sounded from the trees. “Oh ho, I want a name! Who threw that? I’ll smear you for that!” And Mamie began climbing the nearest tree.
The May sun flooded the orchard with golden light, the afternoon was a warm one, and all the people in the orchard were covered in apple residue, which was beginning to crust over.
“What say you to a truce?” Mr.Bennett asked the children still perched in the branches of the apple trees.
“What do you suggest, Orrin?” Roger asked.
“I’ll agree to a pact!” Orrin shouted down at the adults.
“What are the terms?” Mamie asked.
“We all get second helpings of dessert!” Orrin grinned.
“Deal! But don’t blame me if you all get belly aches!” Mr.Bennett grinned, “Don’t say I didn’t warn you!”