Dónal and Siobhán were cousins. Siobhán was a year older than Dónal and felt responsible for him. Especially since today they were both allowed to go to the Millennium Carnival in the Phoenix Park without their parents bothering them.
As they both walked through the carnival gates they had butterflies in their stomachs with excitement because this was no ordinary carnival.
Sitting on a large purple mushroom was an old lady in a long shabby, silver coloured dress. On her shoulders was a black shawl. Her hair was black and scraggy. Large loopy golden earrings hung from her ears. Her feet were bare and her left hand only had four fingers. But it was her face that was most remarkable - her nose was one big wart, and her right cheek had a tattoo of a cobra wrapped around an eagle, and the weirdest of all were her eyes. One was green and the other was yellow. It were these two eyes which were now fixed on Dónal's two eyes in the reflection of her crystal ball.
In the meantime Siobhan was so busy looking at all the animal rides that she completely forgot about her cousin Donal. She spotted a game of "Basket -Shooting". She got so excited. She was the best in her class at basketball and she knew she could win the game. First prize was ten pounds.
One after another she shot the basketballs straight into the net. Everyone around cheered her on. The man who owned the stall didn't look too happy because he knew he was going to lose his money. He was right.
"We've won" Siobhan roared and turned around to discover that her cousin was not with her. She panicked. The tears trickled down her cheeks. She knew her mother would kill her. She had promised to look after Donal and she hadn't.
She began running and screaming "Donal" at the top of her voice but Donal was nowhere to be found. Suddenly out of the corner of her eye Siobhan spotted her cousin beside the colourful tent. She was so relieved. She started to run towards him when, almost out of nowhere a large crowd pushed by almost taking Siobhan with them.
from St Raphaels
By the time the crowd had parted, Donal had disappeared beneath the tent. She ran towards him. When she has half way there, there was a sudden bang, and a flashing light surged out of the tent. Siobhan panicked and hurried in.
There was nothing inside except a bluish fog, and a foul odour hung in the air. Siobhan called out to Donal as she searched frantically for him. But there was no answer. The only sounds she heard were the canvas of the tent flapping in the breeze and a soft tapping sound which seemed to come from the dark shadows on the far side.
Siobhan crept cautiously through blue fog towards the tapping. As she drew close, she noticed a small crystal ball on the ground. She reached down and picked it up. It was icy cold and the tapping seemed to come from within. She carried it out to the light, she screamed and nearly dropped the ball. Donal’s eyes were staring out at her, and he was banging his fists against the glass
from Good Shepherd NS
She could hear Dónal screaming HELP HELP. She saw a Garda and ran towards him. She bumped into an old man and nearly knocked him down. He saw what she was carrying and he noticed that she was terrified. He told her that this was the work of Madame McHelinka and that Siobhán must be very careful not to drop, break or smash the crystal ball because that would kill Dónal. He told her that Madame McHelinka came back every century to take a boy and kill him so that she gets life and youth. Siobhan asked the old man how he knew so much and he told her that long long ago he had once been a prisoner in the crystal ball. "There is only one way to escape" he told her. "But I cannot tell you how" he said " because if I do I will die because Madame Mc Helinka put a curse on me."
from Ladyswell NS
The only advice I can give you is don’t let Donal stay in there for too long or he will vanish forever. Do remember I have two hands and a face, so time is ticking, keep your pace.” Suddenly there was a puff of blue and yellow smoke and the man vanished, like Madame McHelinka, into thin air.
Siobhan knew she had to act fast because it was near closing time. She had to get to the clock tower. Siobhan was frightened. What if I fail? I should never have come to this stupid carnival! Siobhan looked at the crystal ball and started to cry. She stood there with tears rolling down her face. Then she heard a little voice saying it’s going to be okay. It was Donal!
Suddenly Madame McHelinka appeared out of nowhere. She laughed ….ha ! ha ! The place was filled with a foul odour. “You foolish child, give me that crystal ball,” screamed Madame McHelinka. Siobhan looked around. There were rats everywhere. She screamed and dropped the crystal….aaaaahhhhh!!!
The crystal began to glow brightly. The rats were frightened by the light and fled in every direction. At the same time Madame Mc Helinka had vanished.
Siobhán picked up the crystal and looked closely at it . Donal was still inside in the crystal ball repeating "it's going to be OK".
Siobhán was terrified. She ran back to the tent to search for some clues. While she was looking about, she noticed a scarf with strange writing on it. On it was a picture of an old man -the man who had vanished and the words "Madame Mc Helinka".
Just at that moment the old man passed by the tent. He was carrying a big black bag. Siobhán ran out of the tent calling out to him, but he didn't hear her. He hurried into the nearby trees. Siobhán followed him.
Suddenly he stopped and began to take out a long shabby silver coloured dress and a black shawl. He quickly put them on and hurried on further. Siobhan noticed a scarf on the ground. She ran over and picked it up .It was identical to the one she had seen in the tent except that all the writing was in English. As she was reading the writing ,the ball began to shake and Dónal was standing in front of her.
Almost at the same moment the face on the scarf disappeared. The ball disappeared into thin air. Dónal and Siobhán hurried back to the carnival. When they arrived back they noticed that the tent had also vanished . All that was left were footprints on the ground where the tent had been.
The children hurried to the exit . They never thought they would be so happy to leave the zoo and the carnival behind !