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Reading Club Pre-Intermediate: "Witch Town" by Landysh

ex. 1 Before reading and listening please study the vocabulary
average – средний, среднестатистический (He is of an average height – Он среднего роста)
to admire – восхищаться
to disappoint – разочаровывать
frustrated – разозленный, раздосадованный
to be frightened of smth = to be afraid of smth = to be scared of smth – бояться чего-либо
although – хотя
despite – несмотря на
to refuse – отказываться (He refused his offer – Он отказался от его предложения)
similar - одинаковый
to forbid (forbade, forbidden) – запрещать (It is forbidden to smoke here – Тут запрещено курить)
to consider – обдумывать, размышлять
besides – кроме того (Besides I don’t even like you – Кроме того, ты мне даже не нравишься)
compared to – по сравнению с
to hang out – встречаться, видеться с кем-то (I like to hang out with my friends – Я люблю встречаться со своими друзьями)
to help with the income – помогать с доходом
to do well in smth – преуспевать в чем-либо
complexion  - цвет кожи
good mixer – общительный человек
quick-witted – сообразительный, остроумный
acute business brain – деловой ум
to depend on smth – зависить от чего-либо (Our trip depends on the weather – Наша поездка зависит от погоды.)
to maintain – поддерживать, сохранять (It is important to maintain your devices in good order – Важно поддерживать всякие ваши девайсы в порядке)
to get on well with smb – с кем-то уживаться, иметь хорошие отношения (I get on well with most people – Я могу найти общий язык с большинством людей)
generous - щедрый
cemetery - кладбище
shovel  - лопата
to avoid - избегать
coward - трус
ex. 2 Listen and read the story “Witchtown” by Landysh.

98a78f1bbeffbda07b9d0759d4f9488bThere once lived a man who said that he didn’t believe in ghosts. By this he meant that he didn’t believe in ghosts during the daytime. At night it was a completely different matter. His name was Max and he had an extremely boring life of an average accountant. He was tall. He had dark hair, fair complexion and was easily burnt in the sun. That’s why he never travelled to the South. Well, he never travelled anywhere at all actually. He did well in his job, because he was very accurate with numbers and figures. But he could never do anything else! And if this terrible story did not happen to him, he would be an accountant for the rest of his life. He definitely was a good mixer and a nice person to have around. But he didn’t get on with people in his town. He thought something was wrong with him. Maybe he smelled weird or wasn’t handsome enough and that made people in his town avoid him. Let’s make it clear: Max did not enjoy his life. He only admired people around who seemed so happy, who always had get-togethers, smiled and laughed. And although Max was always as busy as a bee, worked hard, and executed his work perfectly, he was never promoted. That made him frustrated! He thought that maybe he didn’t have an acute business brain to succeed in his professional life and move out of this town to go and live in London. And although he was never shy, but on the contrary outgoing and open, people in his town didn’t want to make friends with him.
It was New Year. His parents and two of his siblings decided to go abroad. They didn’t even invite Max because they didn’t like to hang out with him. So they went to New Zealand leaving him disappointed behind.
One calm night on the 29th of December he was on his way home from work. It was twenty-five minutes past eight in the evening. One of his colleagues, who lived on the same street, walked with him. This colleague’s name was Bob. Bob was a funny, quick-witted and generous man. Compared to other people in the town, he was very friendly with Max. Bob was talking about his childhood. How he had started to work and help his family with the income when he had been only fourteen.
Max wasn’t paying much attention to his colleague, when suddenly Bob stopped talking. Max turned around. But nobody was there. Bob had just disappeared. The street was disserted. There were just empty cars, streetlights, the noise of the wind and falling snowflakes. And nothing else. Max stood there for some time. He decided to consider it for a joke.
“He was probably just bored by my company,” Max thought and continued his walk home.
But the street lights began to turn off one by one till the whole street was in absolute darkness. The church bells rang out one time – it was half past eight. Max felt cold and frightened. He wanted to run when all of a sudden he saw a white figure standing in the middle of the street. It had a shape of a man, but with no arms, no nose, only huge black eyes and a huge black mouth.
“I am a ghost of your grandfather!” cried out the figure.
Max was so afraid that he couldn’t move but just screamed.
“Shut up!” said the ghost. “I am here to help you. Show some gratitude.”
Max went silent and was just staring at the white figure.
“Granddad? Is it really you?” he asked.
“Are you deaf? I have already told you that,” answered the ghost. “Ok, I got rid of that annoying colleague of yours for some time because I have something to tell you. I know what your problem is.” He pointed at the clock over the church. “It’s twenty-five minutes to nine, we still have some time left. So listen. I had a similar problem when I was alive and when I was young. I couldn’t succeed in my career. My colleagues disliked me. I couldn’t maintain any relationship. Even your Granny seemed to hate me, as all our children and grandchildren, besides you, of course.”
Max started to remember it. He always thought it was very strange how everyone in the family hated his favourite Grandfather who was always so funny and nice.
The ghost continued: “I understood it too late. You have to learn it from me now! It is all in your own interests!”
“Ok, Granddad, I am listening,” said Max.
The white figure opened his huge black eyes! They were twice bigger than pound coins and darker than night.
“All people in this town are witches! And they hate you because you are not like them. You are different. You had all the makings of a perfect witch, but it didn’t happen. You turned out to be different. And that scares them. Because hundred years ago there was a prophesy that this town will burn down, and all witches will die, once a boy who is not like everyone else leaves this town forever. They are scared and want you to never find out who you really are. But your life now depends on them. They forbid you to go away from this place. And you will never escape this town if you don’t do what I tell you to do till the clock strikes nine.”
Max was amazed! It was hard to believe it. But he started to remember strange things about his family and all the people in his town. They wore too many black clothes. They liked to make fires in the forest and gather at midnight. Sometimes they spoke a strange language and drank strange drinks.
“What should I do, Granddad?” he asked. “I don’t want to die unhappy in this place.”
The ghost answered: “You have to go to the cemetery.”
“I don’t like this idea,” said Max.
“You have to. Are you a coward?” replied the ghost. “Stop behaving like a little girl. So you go there now, right now! Otherwise it would be late. Go there and find your grandmother’s grave. Right under her coffin you will find a small jewelry box. It will take you some time and effort to get there, but you will! There is a flock of your hair. While this hair is under her coffin, you will always be the prisoner of this town. Burn it till it’s nine and you are free. Run, Max! Run!”
Max looked at the clock. It was already twenty minutes to nine. He didn’t have much time left. He ran to the cemetery, found his grandma’s grave and started digging. Fortunately before that he had found a shovel at the cemetery gate. The soil was soft and wet. He was not frightened, only worked hard till his hands touched a metal object right under the coffin. His watch showed five minutes to nine. He opened the lid of the box to retrieve his hair, when he felt the movement behind his back. Black silhouettes were surrounding him. They were all the people from his town.
“Put it down, Max,” said the mayor. “Put it down and we will not hurt you.”
“No!” shouted Max, stroke a match that he had taken out from his pocket beforehand and burnt the flock of hair. And at that moment he could swear he heard the laughter of his old Granddad. The silhouettes ran away screaming.
Max went back home, packed his things and drove away. He drove a long time, days and nights, through fields, mountains, bright cities and wide countries till he was far far away from his hometown. And in this new place he was finally happy and free. And in a week he bought a newspaper. And on the second page there was a piece of news about a small town in rural England that had been destroyed by a strange fire, which came from nowhere.
ex. 3 Complete the sentences
  • to get on well with somebody
  • to depend on something/somebody
  • average
  • to be frightened of something
  • compared to
  • besides
  • to do well in something
  • complexion
  • to hang out
  • to maintain
  • to avoid
  • generous
  1. ___________ my granddad my grandmother was an ugly and annoying person. My granddad was a ___________ and wise man.
  2. “Can you describe the burglar?” – “He had fair ___________ and dark hair. I think he was of an ___________ height, so not very tall.”
  3. I wanted to ___________ with that girl but she refused.
  4. When I was a child I never ___________ with my siblings. But now we are best friends!
  5. I can’t drive with him. He drives fast. And I am ___________ of high speed.
  6. “When do you leave for Scotland?” – “That ___________ on my studies: once they are finished I am off.”
  7. Max found it hard to ___________ any relationship.
  8. I don’t like oranges. ___________ I am allergic to them.
  9. I disliked John and tried to ___________ him whenever I saw him.
ex. 4 Use the right preposition where necessary
  1. ____ Monday we are having a get-together with friends.
  2. “When do you go to bed?” – “As a rule ____ half past ten. But yesterday I was busy, so I went to bed ____ midnight.”
  3. Your success in life depends only ____ you.
  4. Are you afraid ____ ghosts?
  5. “What are you planning to do ____ weekend?” – “We are leaving London ____ Paris. It’s going to be amazing!”
  6. I married Jane ____ November ____ 1980.
  7. ____ next Tuesday we are having an incredible party! Come! We’ll be happy to have you as a guest.
  8. ____ 1999 my aunt and uncle divorced. 
ex. 5 Practice telling the right time
ex. 6 Answer the questions
  1. What did Max look like? What can you say about his personality?
  2. Why didn’t Max enjoy his life in his hometown? What was his problem?
  3. Was he alone when the terrible thing happened to him? Who was Bob? Describe him.
  4. What happened on the 29th of December?
  5. What did the ghost tell him? Was Max frightened?
  6. Did Max follow the instructions of the ghost? Why?
  7. What happened in the cemetery?
  8. Try to recall the time mentioned: what happened at what time.
  9. Why did people in the town avoid Max?
  10. Do you think Max was happy in the end?
ex. 7 Prepare the summary of the story.