The House on the Hill Written and illustrated by Mona Torgersen
Little Aurora lived in an ordinary little town. The town was filled with houses. They all had four corners with a roof on top and a white fence around it. In these little box houses lived ordinary people. They woke up in the morning, drank bad coffee and ate dry toast. After breakfast they went into their cars and queued to their offices to sit by their desks all day. After work they came home and talked about the neighbours over dinner. The people in the town disliked a lot of things; red shoes, people with piercings, loud music and people from foreign countries. But the one thing they disliked the most of all was the house on the hill.
The house on the hill was odd. It had more than four corners, and there was no fence around it. There were cats peeping out of the many windows (none of which looked the same) and there was always strange foreign music playing. A man lived in the house. The towns people knew little of him, something that bothered them greatly. The man never left the house, with the exception of his weekly grocery-shopping. He would buy food for himself and the cats. An awkward silence fell when he entered the shop. Aurora never understood why.
Aurora walked past the house on the hill every day on her way to school. The other children always tried to scare each other with stories about the man. They said he ate children for lunch and fed the leftovers to the cats. This particular day, there had been a race at school. The punishment for losing the race was to knock on the door of the house on the hill. Aurora had lost. She had fallen and bruised her knee, and now she had to knock on the door.
The walk up the hill felt like forever. The other children were watching her, excitement in their eyes. Her bruised knee was hurting and her heart felt like it was going to jump out of her chest and launch into outer space. When she was almost at the top, she noticed a scarecrow holding a lantern with a sign around its neck that read “Beware of the town beast”. She wondered what that meant, but kept walking. She finally reached the door. She looked down at the other children. She didn’t want them to think she was afraid. The truth was, she was terrified. *KNOCK KNOCK* What had she done? What would come out of that door? Would the leftovers of her be eaten by cats? These were the longest seconds of Aurora’s life. The door opened.
At first a cat came out and started sniffing her shoes. Then the door opened fully, and the man in the house looked her in the eyes. If there was one thing Aurora’s parents had taught her, it was to be polite. No matter how scared she was, she managed to squeeze out a tiny “hello”. At first he looked confused, like he wasn’t able to see her. He blinked once or twice, and then a big smile appeared on his face. His eyes were huge! “My, oh my, a little girl? It’s been a long time since I’ve seen one of those around!” Aurora said nothing. “Well don’t just stand there, my child. Come in!” Aurora hesitated at first, but then she remembered her manners and went inside. She was now standing in what appeared to be a kitchen. What a peculiar thing, to have a kitchen in the place of a hallway! None of the other houses in town had that.
The kitchen smelt of strange spices and the walls were covered in vines. Dried plants were hanging from the ceiling and Aurora could count at least five cats! You would think a room with that many cats smelt terrible, but somehow it didn’t. “Cup of tea?” “Huh?” “Would you like a cup of tea, love?” “Oh, uhm...yes, please.” The old man smiled and went over to...a fireplace? She hadn’t noticed until now that there was no gas hob in the room, only a fireplace. “I’m Edgar by the way. What’s your name?” “Aurora” she replied. “Aaah, like the northern lights!” “Sorry?” She didn’t understand what he meant by that. “Aurora Borealis. It’s the Latin name for the northern lights.” He had been preparing the tea while talking, and was now handing her a mug. The tea tasted a bit strange,
it was a lot spicier than the tea she got at home. “Let’s sit down” Edgar said and gestured to a table in the corner. The chairs around the table were all different from each other. They grabbed a chair each and sat down. “Now, let’s talk about why you’re here” Edgard said. Uh oh. What would she tell him? “Both you and I know that you didn’t just come here for fun. I know what the other children say about me. Did you lose a bet perhaps?” “I..uh..no, sir, I...” “It doesn’t matter! The universe must have sent you this way to help me with something VERY important. You see, one of the universe’s children is ill. Have you noticed how dull the moon has become as of late? It no longer shines as bright as it’s supposed to. I fear it has gotten the flu, and I intend to help it.” Could the moon get the flu? Was this man absolutely bonkers?
“How can you help the moon?” she asked. “Ah, good question! And the answer is really simple. We need to make medicine.” “Medicine?” “Yes, Aurora, medicine. I have all the ingredients, but they are scattered around the house and my body is not as it used to be. I need your help to collect them for me. Would you do this, dear one?” Who was she to refuse and old man a little help? “I will help you!” she replied. “Oh, marvellous! We will get straight to it. Follow me!” She followed Edgar across the room and through a door that led to a hallway. The walls were decorated with portraits. But not portraits of humans, portraits of cats! Down the hallway they went, until they reached another door. It was a small door, with a sign that read LABORATORIUM.
Edgar opened the LABORATORIUM door, and they entered a room filled with all sorts of glass bottles and test tubes, all of which had a colourful liquid inside. The sound of bubbles and boiling water filled their ears, and it smelt like candy. Colourful bubbles floated around the room. “Welcome to Edgar’s Laboratorium!” You could tell he was proud of it. They went further inside the room, and Edgar walked over to a desk. It was covered in all sorts of odd things. He opened one of the drawers and pulled out an old, dusty book. “This is my recipe book! In here is the recipe of any medicine I’ve ever made. Moon Flu Remedy should be on page 27, if I remember correctly.”
He opened the book and flicked through the pages. He was right, Moon Flu Remedy was indeed on page 27. The page was full of scribbles and coffee stains. “Moon Flu Remedy is quite simple to make. We just need these ingredients-” he pointed at the page “and then all we need to do is to boil them together and let it cool.” The ingredients for Moon Flu Remedy were as follows: 12 strands of cat fur A spoonful of soil from a cactus plant 3 dried leaves of Goatweed A handful of cotton candy A white candle “Right! Now, Aurora, I am old and my body is not what it used to be. Some of the ingredients may be in other parts of the house, and you will have to get them for me. Is that alright, dear?”
Edgar told her where to find the different ingredients, and the first stop was the livingroom to get cat fur. She went down the hallway with the cat portraits, but instead of going back to the kitchen, she turned left into the livingroom. The walls were orange, and the furniture was old-looking and covered in dust. Cats of all different colours and sizes were scattered around the room. Some of them were sleeping, others were playing with each other, and some again were eating. She walked over to a grey cat, and started petting it. After a few strokes, her hand was covered in fur. She counted them, to make sure she had enough, and then returned to the lab. Edgar had started to boil water in a black cauldron. “I have the cat fur!” she said, and reached out her hand. With a pair of tweezers, Edgar took 12 strands of cat fur and added them to the boiling water. “Marvellous, marvellous! Now be a dear and get the rest for me. There’s a cactus plant in the dining room, you can get the soil from there.” Finding the dining room wasn’t hard, it was right opposite the livingroom.
She walked past the table and chairs (none of witch matched), and found a cactus plant on a table in the right corner. She only needed a spoonful of soil, but she had to be very careful not to touch any of the sharp spines. It was a bit tricky, but Aurora managed to get the soil eventually. She carried it back to the laboratorium and added it to the cauldron. The next ingredient was three dried leaves of goatweed. Edgar had told her it was hanging from the ceiling in the kitchen, next to the fireplace. She had to get a chair to reach it, but she managed to get it down. It smelt funny, she thought. It reminded her of the tea they had earlier. After stopping by the laboratorium to give Edgar the goatweed, she went to one of the bedrooms upstairs. In there she would find the last two ingredients, cotton candy and a white candle. It was a strange place to store cotton candy, Aurora thought. According to Edgar, cotton candy was way better than regular cotton when it came to pillows. She went over to the bed and opened up the pillowcase. It was filled with pink cotton candy! It smelt so sweet, she wanted to eat it.
She took a small piece of it and ate it. It was delicious! It was like eating a pink cloud. Aurora pulled out a handful more, for the recipe, and then grabbed the white candle on the bedstand and went downstairs again. Edgar added the last two ingredients to the mix. “Good work, Aurora!” he said. “Now we have to laugh! The recipe won’t work if we don’t laugh while it’s boiling. Are you ready?” “Hahahahahahahahahahahaha!!” They stood there, laughing, and as they did so, the mixture turned a bright pink! “Is it done yet?” Aurora asked. “Well, it’s the right colour, so it must be! Let’s put it in a bottle, it’ll be easier to carry.” He found an empty glass bottle from a shelf and filled it with the pink liquid. “It should be dark soon, so the moon will be out. Do you mind waiting here?” “Not at all!” she replied. Aurora had realised that the town’s people were wrong about Edgar. He was a nice man! Maybe a bit strange, but still nice. While they waited, they drank more tea, played cards and Edgar made them macaroni and cheese for dinner.
At last, it went dark and the moon rose in the night sky. They went up several stairs, until they were on a balcony facing the moon. Edgar pulled out a very long step ladder. It went all the way up to the moon! “Aurora, you have to climb up and pour the Moon Flu Remedy on the moon.” He gave her the bottle with the pink liquid. She put it in her pocket and started climbing. It was a long climb (obviously climbing all the way to the moon isn’t done in seconds), but she kept going. Around her she could see the stars shining bright, but Edgar was right; the moon was dull, it didn’t shine bright like it used to. She kept climbing, and after a while she finally reached the moon. She touched it with her hand. It was not too cold, and not too warm. It felt like stone, but a bit softer. Aurora got the bottle out of her pocket and opened it. She poured it on the moon and rubbed it a little, to make sure it worked. When all the Moon Flu Remedy was gone, she climbed down to the balcony, where Edgar was waiting for her.
“Look,” he said, “it’s working!” She looked up on the moon. It was getting brighter and brighter! It was beautiful. The moonlight lit up the whole town, and people started going outside to have a look. Grown-ups and children were all looking up at the moon, and everyone were happier than they had been in a long time. After that night, no one in the town told ugly stories about Edgar, they greeted him when he went shopping, and the children played in his garden. He even invited people in for tea, and he gained many friends. And his best friend of them all was Aurora.