March 15, 2046
Shiver Me Timbers
When eleven-year-old Nova strolled through the doorway of Bardsville Middle School, the hair on the back of her neck immediately stood at attention. And that was before the spring wind blew the door shut behind her. Cold raced through her bones and her breakfast threatened to come up. She clutched her stomach and took deep breaths.
She heard an evil laugh and looked up. A gray transparent human silhouette flashed before her eyes and vanished with a crackling sound.
Nova jumped back. Damn ghosts! For the last month and a half, they’d been infesting the school like mice in a corn crib. It was hard enough to get through the school day with out worrying about being overwhelmed by a sense of dread. It was worst during gym.
Well, she was finally going to do something about it. And if it meant taking out someone’s ancestors, so be it.
The school bell rang out startling her again. Nova ran down the hallway, skidding around the corner to the north wing and her first class- English with Ms. Chilldress. The room smelled of hand lotion, stinky feet, and old books. Nova was still trying to shake the dread, taking some deep breaths, when she remembered that there was a spelling test this morning. She gritted her teeth. The dread had nothing to do with the ghost. Not this time anyway.
Later in the Auditorium for lunch, Nova scanned the room until she spotted Takeesha at a table in the corner with Max Kim, and Benny. The chairs from one side of the table had been shoved into the aisle to make room for Benny’s wheelchair. Nova jostled through kids near the auditorium’s dark stage and walked past the vending machines that made squeaking noises when she came near them. The machines hid the old kitchen that wasn't used anymore. She sat down with the others at a rickety corner table.
“You guys, I had another sighting this morning.”
“The pirate?” Benny asked.
“It happened so fast I’m not sure,” Nova opened up her brown lunch bag. “I don’t know about you guys, but I want them gone. Thing is, I’m not sure I can fight them alone.”
Takeesha nodded biting into her ham sandwich that dripped mayonnaise. “Something happened with a pirate ghost this morning.”
Nova noticed that Max Kim’s eyes were wide as he gulped his chocolate milk. Benny and Max Kim were good buds and usually made fun of the girls. If he was taking Takeesha seriously, then it had to be bad.
“What?” she said. “What happened?”
“Do you remember Dayton? The science kid? His hat made him look bald with three eyes---?” Takeesha scratched between her cornrows.
“Yeah, I remember him,” Nova said. “Was he doing anything with science? The ghosts really don’t like that.”
Takeesha continued to stuff her sandwich in her mouth. “Mufflrrr.” She gestured ‘give me a minute’ with her finger. Nova sat back. Someone dropped their chair and everyone jumped. Nova looked around the room for a ghost but didn’t see or sense one. These ghosts really had everyone on edge.
Benny couldn’t wait for Takeesha any longer. “Dayton was carrying a chemistry book from Ms. Chilldress. Anyway, he opened his locker and there was this big bloody arm hanging from handcuffs inside.”
“Hey,” Takeesha spluttered her white milk and wiped her chin with a napkin. “Nova’s my friend. I should tell her. You know what I mean?”
"Well hurry up and get to the good part." Benny shoved at his white blond combed-over hair.
Nova elbowed her. “Yeah, Takeesha get to the good part.”
“When Dayton tried to touch the ghost arm, it reached out to grab him.” Takeesha drank some more milk.
“Yeah, then the arm changed into a pirate.” Max Kim said with wide eyes. Takeesha glared at Max Kim and he looked down at his lap.
“Then what happened?” Nova smoothed her curly auburn hair back careful not to expose her small brow ridge.
“The ghost growled and banged on lockers.” Takeesha said. “It chased Dayton down the hallway. Kids scattered, even the ones who said they were used to seeing the ghosts.”
Benny pulled himself straight in his chair. “I believe it's my turn now,”
“Fine," Takeesha said.
Then it dawned on Nova that this was the first time Benny had seen a ghost. Usually he argued against sightings, saying there is no such thing as the paranormal. Maybe now he’s changed his tune.
“The pirate ghost caught up with Dayton,” Benny said. “It grabbed him and said, ‘By all that’s unholy, I’ll keelhaul you by pulling you from one end of my ship to the other, a- long-ways.’ Dayton’s eyes went white. He fell backward and hit his head. I heard a crack.” Benny winced. “Then the ghost laughed and vanished. A whole bunch of kids gathered around Dayton's body. A kid in a red jacket ran down the hall to get the coach. Mr. Hartzle tried to revive him and told a kid to run to the nurse and call for an ambulance. He wasn’t breathing.”
Takeesha elbowed Benny in the chest. She had got up on the table and now lay across it in front of Benny and his wheelchair, carefully not to lay in his food. “Benny, now it’s my turn." Benny scrunched up his face and stuck out his tongue. Nova and Max grinned. That was Takeesha for you, always wanting attention.
“Coach was giving mouth to mouth when the paramedics showed up,” Takeesha said. “You should have seen how his body jumped when they used those electric paddles. Dayton awoke screaming. The paramedics put him on a stretcher and took him away to the hospital. So what do you think?”
“That’s probably the same ghost I saw. Benny, you actually believe you saw something?”
“Yes, but it could most likely be explained.”
“Aw, come on Benny. You know they exist now,” Takeesha said getting off the table.
“I don’t want to discus it.” He put his chair in reverse, backed up, and started rolling toward the garbage can.
The rest of the kids picked up their garbage, throwing it away, and then went into the gym and outside through a side door for recess. Nova and Takeesha went to the hopscotch area away from Benny and Max Kim who tossed a red rubber ball back and forth. When the sun stayed out from behind the clouds Nova turned her face up to the warmth. She loved Spring. It felt soooo good after the winter snows. The March winds buffeted her body and her hair got tangled.
“Hey, Takeesha do you want to see if Chocolate had her foal yet?”
“Yeah, that would be clash. How about after school? I’ll call my Ma from the pay phone.”
“Clash! I can’t wait.” They played jump rope and hopscotch enjoying the warmer day. Suddenly, Takeesha grabbed Nova's arm and pulled her behind a maple tree. "I still want to do the sťance in the library."
"Even after seeing that pirate ghost?"
"I can handle myself. I'm a shaman." Takeesha held up her African medallion necklace. “A shaman is a spirit guide, healer, and psychic.”
"Well, I want to try out my psychic powers too."
"So, let's do it. Maybe we can tell the ghosts to stop. You know what I mean? "
"It'll be dangerous."
"So? Besides, so far, they haven’t hurt anyone."
"What about Dayton?”
“No one died that I know of.”
"Meet me at the school Library at about five after two.”
After recess, in the south school hallway, Nova still smelled the fresh aroma of spring, like she was bringing it indoors with her. The kids coming inside were putting their balls on the rack to the right adding a whiff of rubber to the smell of the outdoors. After getting her books from her locker, she ambled down to the far end of the east corridor to math class. Takeesha got her art supplies and appeared to float down the north corridor to art class. But Nova was having a hard time concentrating on square roots. She was going to defend herself against ghosts using her unproven psychic powers once and for all. Benny had said that psychic powers were another proof that we evolved. Maybe if she had the powers she could fight the ghosts. She shook in anticipation.
Halfway through math class, a heavy spring storm began to lash against the School. Cold sleet and rain pelted the windows making it sound as if they might break. Thunder boomed and Nova could feel the cement floor shake, causing kids to jump away from their desks and either yell or point out the window. Nova shuddered. Riding home on a bicycle was going to be a nightmare.
With just one more class period left in the day, Nova sighed heavily as she rubbed the small brow ridge hidden under her bangs. That was a bad habit she really should break, but it did help calm her down when she was nervous. Finally, the bell rang and she made the slow walk from math class which was in the east wing, and headed south with her library pass. Students were allowed to go to the library instead of the study hall.
Squeaks from her holey old sneakers echoed off the brick walls as she meandered down the hall and to the library. She noticed a new red banner stretched across the corridor. Bardsville Bandicoots Bite Back 2046.
Another sign had been put up reminding everyone about the visit by the Great Nocturnal Ned on Friday in the auditorium. The psychic had red hair done up in a pompadour style. The picture was created to look mysterious and a little spooky, representing Ned’s supernatural power. Nocturnal Ned could speak with dead people and validate that they were there, watching over us, or so the poster proclaimed. Nova felt uncomfortable with the idea that she was being watched over, especially when she went to the bathroom. She hoped the dead had the common courtesy not to look, but what if they were perverts?
Nova carried five heavy paranormal books she had taken out of the library three months ago. Any other sixth grader would be slumped over with the weight but she’s always been…well… her mother called her “sturdy” Her brother usually made reference to linebackers and fireplugs. But she didn’t care. As she shuffled them in her arms, she thought about the strange language used in the books. The authors were either talking over her head or something else was going on. Suddenly, Nova heard an evil laugh and not from a ghost this time. It was Brenda, the worst bully in the school as far as Nova was concerned.
Nova was about to make a run when she realized that Brenda was in the principal’s office to her left. She must have already beaten someone up today. Even so, Nova hurried. She knew she had to get past the door before Brenda came out and saw her. She could see Brenda start to open the door. Just a little further and Nova would be passed the door and at the library.
Takeesha was waiting near the entrance. “Hey girl!” She carried a few books and an Ouija board with planchette, which was a triangle board on casters that they put their hands on. “Let’s go inside. Hurry, I think Brenda’s coming this way.” Nova skidded on the waxed floor and grabbed for the door handle.
Let me tell you a little about myself.
Hard work and Dedication.
An Interview With Myself.
A Wrentch in the Works (short story)
Flight of Terror (short story)
Roast (short story)
The Date (short story)
Campaign (short story)
Some books on writing I have read and studied.
James's skeptical blog
Why I picked the Neanderthal people