The witch carries iron scissors and a basket full of hair. Her hair grows so fast she must cut it constantly, then throw it in the basket by bunches. Clickety-click, clickety-click: you can hear her iron scissors as she wanders through the corridors of the hotel, looking for left-alone children (their parents went to the dining room for a quiet, romantic evening).
As soon as she sniffs a lonely child through the keyhole, she enters the room with her iron scissors and her terrible laugh. To save his own skin, the child must throw anything (and I really mean anything) at her basket: the bedside lamp, a book, chocolate wrappings, the hotel’s menu, his dirty socks, whatever. That’s the only way to keep her away. So if you want a piece of advice, always keep your hotel room untidy and never trust a cleaning woman: they have a deal with the witch.
If the child manages to knock down her basket, the witch will kneel on the floor to collect her hair, moaning and whimpering and no longer paying attention to him. Otherwise…
When returning from dinner, the parents find a little paper fellow lying on the child’s bed. Maybe they will notice, maybe they won’t. Usually they don’t.
They will feed him, read stories to him, take him to the movies. Once back from vacation, the little paper fellow will go to school, play with his friends and do his homework like any other child.
The world is filled with such paper fellows, and nobody usually notices. They are afraid of fire and scissors, but these are common fears and of hardly any help to recognize them. They also dislike being touched or hugged or pushed, as the merest contact would make them fly away. Little paper fellows are uncanny and disgusting.
I have been studying them for ages. When I have collected sufficient proof, I shall publish a big, big book to explain how to recognize them, and this will be the end of the little paper fellows. Then I’ll go hunting for the witch. I spent the last years living in hotel rooms, because the phenomenon is easier to study when fresh. Great missions demand great sacrifices.
I saw one the other day. There I was, lying on my deckchair, when all of a sudden the wind brought a nauseating stench of paper (rottenchestnutrottenchestnut). I looked up and I saw it, pretending to swing from a tree branch. But I am no fool: I saw at once it was actually clinging to the branch so the wind wouldn’t take it away. The sunset light was shining through its small dangling body.
Oh you little scum, you little bidimensional waste, you just wait and see. I followed it from a distance, waiting for its parents to leave it alone. And yesterday night, when they went to dinner, I entered its room with a big, big laugh.
I took my iron scissors and my hair started growing. Clickety-click.