6th Grade Supernatural: Abigail's Curse (Book 1)
Copyright © 2015 by J. B. Cantwell. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used, reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system, without the written permission of the publisher, except where permitted by law, or in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. For information, contact Books@JBCantwell.com.
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A lot of people are afraid of ghosts. But I don’t mind them very much.
Most ghosts are harmless, friendly even.
It’s the nasty ones you gotta look out for.
We live on Sparrow Hill in a house every kid I know thinks is haunted. Every chance I get I’m trying to find a way to assure them they’re wrong.
Trouble is, they’re not.
If I could convince any of the kids at school to come over, I would tell them that my little brother, Tyler, is the one who had drawn all over my bedroom walls. I would not say that the ghost of a five-year-old girl resides under my bed, and that she particularly enjoys my colored pencils. I would also tell them that the mess in the pantry is because my mother gets sloppy when she’s cooking. I would not say that the ghoul who calls the little closet home is confused and, instead of trying to devour our flesh, keeps having a go at the cereal boxes.
But it doesn’t need to go nearly that far, because no kid has ever had the courage to make it all the way up our front steps, much less inside.
It’s definitely not my preference to be in a family of parallels. You know, ghost-seers. It would be a lot easier to make friends if I couldn’t see what I can. And a lot easier to fit in in sixth grade if my parents would just move us into a normal house like everybody else.
I don’t think Mom likes the situation much, either. Certainly not living on creepy old Sparrow Hill, at least. And on top of being stuck in the falling-down house passed down through Dad’s family, she’s the only one of us that isn’t a Parallel. Tyler and I get the gift from Dad’s side, so she’s always the odd man out, as blind to the blood dripping down the walls as any other normal person.
Not that we have to stare at blood-dripping walls every day. Sometimes it’s slime. Or ooze. Or green, boogery glop. Or, once, something that looked a lot like oatmeal.
But most days, I only see a couple friendlies flitting in and out of locked closets or pushing their vapor through classroom walls. And on the day that I met Abigail Stone, I had no reason to think that anything out of the ordinary was about to happen.
I flew down the front walk past Minnie, the girl ghost that hovers on our front lawn most mornings. She floated sullenly beside the mailbox, just like she did every day, silent and brooding. I caught her eye for a moment, and she opened her mouth like she was about to speak. Any other time I would have been thrilled to hear what it was she finally had to say after her years of silence, but we were late. I scrambled to make it through the folding door of the bus before it shut and I was stuck with a long walk to school. As we pulled away from the house, she raised up one hand in my direction. I waved back at her, hoping she’d still be feeling chatty after school.
On the bus, Jason Harris, the seventh grader who died three years ago after he tried jumping off the roof of his house into the backyard swimming pool (the idiot), talked my ear off as usual. Today he seemed convinced that he and his buddy, Tom, would be meeting up after school to make stink bombs. He tried to jostle me with his elbow as if I were in on the plan, conveniently ignoring the fact that a little spectral vapor couldn’t move my solid body an inch. I shivered as the heat was sucked out of the blood in my arm where he had touched it, and wrapped my coat tighter around me.
Tyler rested his elbows on the seat back behind us.
“What are you gonna blow up?” he asked, his eyes wide and a little too hungry.
“You don’t need to know how to blow anything up,” I said, glaring back at him.
“What?” he said, a false look of hurt on his face. “I’m just learning about the world.”
Most days I wished I could keep Tyler from learning anything at all. I had been a victim of one-too-many of his experiments. I no longer believed there was any value whatsoever left in scientific exploration.
“It’ll be epic, Zan,” Jason said. “Just meet me right here after school and I’ll give you the instructions. Old Fitzsimmons’ll never see it coming!”
Mr. Fitzsimmons was our school principal, and I was willing to bet that he could smell a stink bomb a mile away.
“No thanks,” I said. “I’d rather not.”
“Have it your way,” he said, leaning back against the seat and folding his arms.
“Oh, come on, Zander,” Tyler complained, punching me in the arm.
“Ow!” I said. “You little creep.”
The bus rolled to a stop, and we both stood up and wrestled our backpacks back on.
“Tell ya about it later, squirt!” Jason hooted after Tyler as we got off the bus.
And, sure enough, as I watched him crossing the street towards the elementary school, there was a bounce in his step that hadn’t been there at breakfast. I sighed and made a mental note to stay far away from Tyler’s bedroom that night.
So, like I said, the day was progressing in completely ordinary fashion. So much so that I didn’t even see the nasty flitting between the sink drains in the boys bathroom until he slid fully out of one and slammed the back of my head into the wall tile.
“Ow!” I yelped, clutching the spot where my skull had knocked against the wall. I looked up and he glared at me, sickening yellow eyes glinting with malice.
What was a nasty doing here?
I was just pulling the amulet from around my neck when someone opened the door to the bathroom, and the nasty zoomed away, up through the ceiling.
I ignored the smirks of the boys who had come inside and pushed past them, rubbing my head as I walked down the hall. I searched the hallway, the unpleasant feeling of unexpectedly being thrust into danger swirling in my stomach. Most ghosts aren’t evil, but Nasties are different. They delight in causing misery and pain, especially to Parallels. Too many Nasties in the same place at once could get downright dangerous, and luckily sightings were rare. I hadn’t seen one in over a year. Wait until Dad heard.
But my search for the bathroom monster came up empty. The nasty had vanished.
Not for long, I thought.
I tucked the amulet back underneath my shirt and walked into class. I slumped into my desk, my mind buzzing. In my head I listed the different methods of attack I could use if it showed up again. The amulet, of course, would be easiest. I had one with me, for one thing, and nobody would understand what was going on if they saw me using it. Last time I had seen a nasty at school, I did away with it with one ZAP, and nobody had been the wiser. Dad had been thrilled when I told him that night over dinner, and I still felt a warm feeling of pride in my chest as I remembered. It had been my first solo banishing.
I could use an ousting broom, but the only one I knew of was sitting at home, propped up against our kitchen cabinets. Nasties were drawn to Parallels, and Mom got awfully cranky whenever they appeared in her otherwise spotless kitchen, throwing her tomatoes and dumping entire bags of cat food on the floor. Mom didn’t have the sight, but over the years she had become a nasty-hunter in her own right. All I can say about that is, if you see an angry mother wielding a large broomstick, you’d better get out of the way quick, kid or nasty. Sometimes unexpected success can come from ordinary people if they put their mind to something.
One remaining option I had, only as a last resort, was my dad. Dad was always draped with an assortment of objects that were meant to do away with all sorts of undesired guests, dead or living. In the event that my amulet would fail, I knew he would have an alternate on hand that would do the job.
Gradually I became aware that the classroom had gone silent, and I looked up to see why, wondering if maybe Ms. Walker had asked me a question that I hadn’t heard.
But that wasn’t it. At the head of the class, Ms. Walker’s hand placed tentatively on her shoulder, stood a girl I had never seen before. Ms. Walker looked down at her nervously, and then took her hand away as if worried the girl might chomp it off.
“Class,” she said. “This is Abigail Stone. She’s joining us all the way from California.”
A collective gasp went up around the classroom. California. Land of beaches and movie stars and all things glitter.
I gasped, too. But not for the same reasons as everyone else. I had much better justification than the mention of sunshine to be sucking in my breath.
Because, clinging to the wall behind Abigail Stone, crouched over the doorway looking ready to pounce into her black, greasy hair, hung the biggest, slimiest nasty I had ever seen.
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