Wednesday Addams stood in a room, in front of a closet. She opened the closet.
Oh, there’s more to the story than that, I’ll acknowledge. There’s a great deal that isn’t contained in that simple sentence. In fact, the body of the story is contained in the bits that are not composed of that single sentence. However, that stuff really all boils down to one sentence, and you’ve just read it. But, here’s the rest anyway.
Wednesday had turned fifteen. This, Father had always said, was to be expected. She was a survivor; she could easily be expected to make it to her hundredth birthday with losing an ounce of her homicidal tendencies. The fighting spirit, Father was fond of saying, came from his side of the family, to which Mother would reply that her brains came from the Frump side. At this, they would exchange endearments in French and Italian, and practically ravish each other on the tabletop to the sweet music of pretend gagging and vomiting, thoughtfully provided by Pugsley.
There was, Wednesday thought, nothing wrong with growing old. Being able to reach Grandmama’s poison cupboard by yourself instead of having to ask Lurch (or use your own supplies) was a practically dizzying freedom, and the ability to swing a cat-o-nine-tails like you really meant it was fun. The only downside was Mother’s constant badgering to begin to, quote, ‘use her feminine wiles to her advantage.’ The only man her feminine wiles would work on, Wednesday argues, would be one who found pure evil (or, close to it, at least) to be insanely attractive; and since those wackos were almost always caught be the police in the, what was the point? Oh, Mother might point out Uncle Destrangia and Aunt Dellamorte, who went their entire lives without seeing each other, having met, courted and married entirely by mail while in two separate maximum security prisons, but what girl would actually want that sort of relationship? No husband around to torture and hex? Feh. Not that she was going to get one her way, either, but she supposed she could get a cat, and turn they thing into a zombie when she was done with it.
She’d always wanted a zombie kitten.
Other than that, life was good. The people at her expensive private academy were frightened to death of her. She really had no idea why.
Well, to be honest (never a good idea) it might have had to do with the extremely pro-Elizabeth Bathory speech she had given in history class- one had to stand for the ancestors, after all- or maybe the skill with which she wielded a scalpel in Anatomy. No one could perform an autopsy on rat as quickly and precisely as Wednesday.
No one else saved bits for later, either.
She sighed as she left the Principals office. It was the first week, and she had already been strictly forbidden from taking home leftover dead things (or scalpels, but she had enough anyway) and Wednesday figured that they’d be needing a new principal sometime soon. Mrs. Denton had been a nervous wreck when she had left the office. There was something about a young girl who just stared at you, like she was marking out where she place the first cut when she vivisected you, that sent a chill down the spine of the bravest person, which Mrs. Denton was not. In fact, she struck Wednesday as an older version of Mary Sue.
“Merciful Mephistopheles,” she muttered under her breath, “those sorts of people shouldn’t be allowed to breed.”
“The very thought,” a voice droned, “of such people as the principal engaged in the act of procreation is enough to make Vlad Tepesh ill.”
Wednesday shuddered at the very thought, and turned to face the person who had been brave enough to speak to her. The boy sitting up in the tree (the Principals office being situated conveniently close to the doors for the convenience of any student who wanted to run hone and sharpen their skinning knives after a session with her) wasn’t all that intimidating, to be honest, although certainly wasn’t in the Joel Glicker category. He had dark blond hair that was a greasy as cousin Severus’s, teeth that seemed to be straight but yellowed, and pale skin broken by the occasional but relatively rare pimple. His greasy hair had probably not seen a comb in a month, he had dark circles under his eyes that were only barely hidden by his glasses, and his eyes were only nominally hazel, being more the color of a necrotic toad’s back, or a bog. He had a small paperback novel dangling from one hand, his finger keeping his place, and a pendant engraved with some sort of runic design hung from his neck.
“I assume,” he added, “given the proximity to the Principals office that you’re talking about her.”
“She reminds me,” Wednesday agreed, “of a girl named Mary Sue.” A disgusted look crossed the boy’s face.
“Tall, slim, blond, curvy beyond her years, sunny disposition… I.Q. of a turnip?” he asked incredulously.
“You know it?”
“It,” he replied, “is in my Chemistry class. I’ve often been tempted to slip poison into her drink at lunch.”
Wednesday frowned. “I have that class. Perhaps we could meet to plan an extermination.”
The boy smirked. “Galen Smith,” he introduced himself with a small bow. “Delighted.”
“Wednesday Adams,” she returned. “Charmed.”
“Ah. Wednesday’s child, so full of woe,” he recited with a grin. “You’re well named indeed, milady.”
“Galen,” Wednesday said analytically. “From the Roman physician who disected gladiators. I’m not the only one who’s well named. What are you reading?”
“‘If I were an Evil Overlord.’ A primer for life.”
They both laughed.
In her office, looking out the window, the principal crossed herself in terror.
It was psychology class. Galen and Wednesday sat next to each other, their desks moved out of the teachers textbook-approved, orderly rows, facing each other. The teacher was far too frightened of Wednesday- and Galen, to a lesser extent- to object.
Wednesday looked up from her essay- ‘The Psychology of the Modern Blond, and How to Hunt Them’- to regard Mrs. Binda. “And what are you writing about, Wednesday?” she asked heartily, trying to keep from sweating. Wednesday showed her the title. Since Mrs. Binda was, in fact, blond, she scampered, doing proper justice to the term.
“Know your enemy,” she explained to Galen. “The dumb kind of blond,” she added, glancing up his hair. “Not you.”
“Well,” he murmured, “that’s half of Sun Tzu’s advice out of the way.” She frowned. “‘Know you enemy and know yourself, and you will be victorious.’”
She snorted disdainfully. “Please. How much self knowledge do you need to poison someone?”
He didn’t reply, only returned to his book on the Bathory trial with a mysterious smile on his face. Wednesday couldn’t help but smile, too, even if she hid it quickly.
Oh, for Hells sake, she thought irritably. Stop acting like Mother does around Father. He isn’t that attractive, anyway, and I doubt he’s even maimed anyone, much less murdered.
But, nevertheless, she couldn’t stop herself from admiring his deathly pale features, greasy hair, and the delicious dark circles under his eyes as he read his book.
But eventually she realized that she did need to know herself. She needed to know just what she was (besides being a homicidal maniac; it went with being an Addams) before she could make a decision that had been troubling her all month.
And so she stood in front of the ancient cupboard. There are some cupboards that are gateways to magical realms where lions talk and fauns drink tea and the good guys win nine times out of ten (in our world, it’s pretty much the other way around), where evil witches can be defeated by pure decency… this wasn’t one of them, however. This wasn’t the type of wardrobe that scared the crap out of you when you were a kid, either. You know, the kind with demonic faces holding the knobs in their mouths, the kind that seemed to whisper in the shadows at night. No, this cupboard would have given those cupboards heart failure. This was a cupboard who ate demons for breakfast.
This cupboard contained a boggart.
Now, a boggart is related to a boogeyman in much the same that an Addams is related to a Dahmer; they’re less violent, but almost as scary. While a boogeyman could literally scare you to death with his shape-changing, after which he ate you, the boggart simply scared you by changing into the form of your worst nightmare.
Now, it was perfectly acceptable for an Addams to be afraid of something. Look at poor Father; he had a phobia of suburbanites that bordered on the insane. Uncle Fester was terrified of bunnies (except Vorpal Bunnies, but we won’t go there), and Pugsley hated butterflies. He was constantly having nightmares about giant poisonous butterflies taking him back to their nest to plant their eggs in him. “That’s tarantula wasps, idiot. They don’t grow that big, either,” she would sneer; but it did no good.
Yes, it was fine for an Addams to fear. It was, after all, a scary world out there, filled with disturbingly normal people. Some of those people were not only aggressively normal, that actually hated anyone who differed in the slightest from their idea of normal. Even people who seemed as plain as vanilla ice-cream to Wednesday where considered disgusting and- here was what really got her dander up- evil, simply because they worshipped a goddess or many gods or none instead of one, or because they read books instead of watching football, or because they… well, any reason, really. If these people wanted to see evil, Wednesday thought, they should leave the Wiccans alone and come home with her for a day. Then, once the strait-jacket came off, they could tell all their friends what evil really looked like; they’d stop hating the weirdoes, and people would be happier.
On second thought, maybe they wouldn’t let them leave, after all. They did have such a spacious graveyard. One more corpse would be no problem.
Bah. Enough thinking. ‘Pressure forges blades,’ she reminded herself of the saying that Galen had taught her, ‘sloth makes decay.’
She looked at the cupboard. She wasn’t afraid of the boggart, not really. What she was afraid of was finding out just what her fear really was. What if she was secretly afraid of something normal? What if she had a hidden suriphobia? What if she was really weak?
Bah! She was an Addams. She wasn’t normal, thank Hecate and Ereshkigal, and she never would be. Torture her, bleed her, break her; she’d come back for more (and revenge, but still). And why? Because she liked it. She was an Addams, damn it.
She took a step towards the cupboard. It promptly retreated. “What the hells?” she muttered, and stepped again. Again, it scooted back.
“Cut that out,” she hissed. “I need to know what I’m afraid of.”
A hollow laugh drifted out of the cupboard. “I’m afraid,” a hoarse voice whispered, “that it’s rather the other way around.”
A smile of almost Satanic evil and malice crossed Wednesdays face. “Now, that’s more like it,” she said.