A chorus of “no!” rang out in high-pitched squeals, but the louder volume of “yes!” won out in the end. Counselor Alice and several of the children carried out the story's ritual: tap, tap, tap. Thomas! they all cried. For a long moment, nothing happened, just as the storyteller knew it would, so she encouraged them to try again. Once, twice, then a third try. It was on the third attempt, just as they were all starting to feel their jittery nerves settle down, that a pair of boots suddenly appeared inside the firelight and a man shouted “You called?” as loudly as he could, terrifying all the children.
Half of them screamed while the other half tried to act like they hadn't been startled at all. For her part, Alice just laughed and clapped her hands together before finally introducing their new Counselor, Maynard, to the group.
By this point, all of the children, including the ones who had been genuinely scared by the story, had settled down and were shaking off their fright. But there was one person who couldn't calm his fears at all: Counselor Maynard. He was still sitting outside the group in the dark, waiting for his cue to pounce. Then who was the stranger who laughed and talked with Counselor Alice and the kids, he wondered. And how was it that he looked exactly like him?