If Mae had to think of when it all started, she would blame it on Charles Crown.
The Winters twins had been sent to the town of Echo for fresh air during the summer. Their uncle William had been happy to have family work in his tourist trap of a paranormal museum - Horror Hall.
Mae and her twin Anna had quickly discovered Echo's secret: it was full of paranormal. The forests and Echo Lake were full of monsters. Mae had started writing a journal to document everything. Yet nobody seemed to notice the magic.
Except for Charles Crown.
The fake psychic had fallen heads over heels for sweet Anna. After using her natural empathy to pressure her into several dates, the girl had begged her older by six minutes sister to break up from Charles for her.
That had gone well.
(As well as Mae being lured to a warehouse in the middle of the night to learn that Charles might be a fake psychic, but he was an excellent magician. Thankfully, Anna had realized that he had deserved a honest breakup and broke the amulet that gave him his fake psychic powers.)
The next weeks had been full of his attempts to steal Horror Hall's deed from William: hiring vampires by promising Mae's virgin blood, messing with their boat when the lake opened for fish so that the lake monster would eat them... There had been a lot of attempts.
It all came to a head one rainy afternoon.
Anna groaned as Mae knocked over her white king. "You cheated."
"No I did not."
The twins were identical from their flaxen hair to their hazel eyes and the freckles they had gotten from being outdoors so much. But the similarities ended there.
Mae styled her long curls into a high ponytail, pairing it with jean pants and jacket. For all her time in the woods, she wore hiking boots. She was studious and smart, always keeping her blue journal in hand to write all the magic she encountered. Unfortunately, she was still in the 'body parts growing in different rates' phase.
Anna was the pretty one. Her body parts had all grown at the same rate, making the younger twin taller than her sister and giving her a elegant grace. She liked sweaters and wore long skirts and flats, being sweet and kind.
"Oi, kids! Come down here!"
The twins shared glances and shrugged. Carefully stepping past the buckets to catch the leaks, the girls hurried downstairs.
In the armchair, brunette William watched the TV. The Hall's two other workers- cashier girl Leah Regan and handyman Mark were watching with him. "I need you to laugh at this with me."
On the TV, an ad for Charles' still running psychic tent was running. The platinum blonde himself was grinning at the camera.
"Ugh." Mae shivered, remembering running around in the warehouse, trying to avoid all his fireballs. "Charles."
"Remember when he vowed to destroy us?"
"I think that was just aimed at me."
"He's always trying to trick me into losing the Hall." William said.
There was a loud crash.
"You mean, like now?"
The small group hurried to the office. William opened the door to reveal Charles Crown, soaking wet and messing with the safe that held the deed. "Crown!"
"Well, William Winters." The boy grinned at their uncle. "It seems that we've entered another dangerous game of cat and mouse again. But the question remains: who is the cat and who is-"
"Not the broom!"
The remaining four watched as the male chased the other out of the house. Charles hissed as he hit the rain. "You just wait! I'm gonna get that deed!"
"You wish!" William slammed the door shut.
The boy growled, nobody seeing him pull out an old book. "Oh, I wish." He stopped at a page. He smirked at the drawing: a circle with a plus I'm the center of its eye. "And it's gonna come true."
"He put the old in gold!"
Mae ignored the TV show that was playing, and her sister trying to switch it to something she liked. Right now, she was busy carefully finishing the sketch of the unicorns she had seen a few days ago.
She looked up at a screech from the kitchen.
"There's a possum in the kitchen!" Mark yelled.
"Mae, go take care of it."
She looked up at William. "Why me? Anna's taller."
"Because life isn't fair."
Mae groaned and headed to the kitchen.
An hour later, Mark and Anna bandaged Mae up. "Why does he pick on me?" the girl groaned. She winced as a bandage was tightly placed on her hand. "Think about it! William always gives me the most painful or difficult chores. Why doesn't he pick on you guys?"
"It's a mystery. Like whether or not it's possible to lick your own elbow." Mark gestured to his elbow.
"Bet you can't."
"Bet I can."
"Lick it, lick it!"
Mae watched her twin and her friend run out of the room with a sigh.