Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Ghost Betweens--My Young Adult Paranormal Adventure

You can now purchase the ebook for Ghost Betweens for the Kindle. Click here to find it on Amazon
Give it a look! I don't think you'll be disappointed!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Poll About the Sample Chapters

If you'll look to the right, you'll see I constructed a poll regarding the ten sample chapters I published for my upcoming Young Adult Paranormal novel, Ghost Betweens. I hope you take a few seconds to choose an answer. I have no idea how the chapters were perceived, as I received very little feedback on them. Did I waste my time posting the chapters? Did they work in drumming up interest? Please let me know. And if you have additional comments, or have an answer that wasn't listed in the poll, please let me know in the comment section of this post, on Facebook (if you came from there), or on Twitter (if you came from there). Thank you! EDIT: Poll is now gone. Thanks to those of you who voted. If you would still like to share your opinion on the matter, I'd be glad to see it in the comments.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Chapter 10--Ghost Betweens

Click to read Chapter Nine Part Two

Chapter 10

The four of them walked around, snapping pictures as they went. Everywhere Josh turned, he could see something, but nothing substantial. By the looks on Whisper's face, she experienced the same. Zach and Kendra grew giddier and giddier as they went.

"Man, this is so cool," Zach said. "Are you guys getting all these blips and streaks on your cameras?"

Kendra snuggled up next to him. "Totally, babe. It's pretty awesome."

Josh walked over to Whisper. "I don't know. Cool and awesome aren't the first two words coming to my mind."

"Yeah. Creepy is first, second, and third for me. And I'm getting a lot more than just blurs and blips. How about you?"

"Uh-huh. No fulls, but plenty of partial apparitions. I wonder if we have enough for Mr. Baxter yet."

Zach turned and snarled at them. "We're not leaving yet, you chickens."

Kendra grinned in a dark way Josh had never seen from her before. "Come on. It's just starting to get fun."

"But you didn't like it here the other day," Whisper said.

"Whatever. Now I know it's fun."

Zach pointed to the barn. "Let's go inside. I want to see if we can meet that old farmer dude and his headless henchman."

Kendra snuggled up to him as they quickened their pace, while Josh and Whisper slowed down. "Do you think we should?" Whisper said.

"No, but maybe we'll get some sort of clue about what's going on in there. It does seem to be one of the major hotspots in this whole place."

She hesitated, then nodded, and they followed Zach and Kendra. She clutched Josh's elbow with one hand, while the other held her camera, which clicked almost non-stop.

The balls of light, the streaks of energy, and the apparitions swarmed around them, but they didn't get much closer. It was like the energy was herding the group into the barn, and Josh didn't like that one bit. He almost said something, but didn't want to freak Whisper out any more. He needed to see inside.

Zach and Kendra reached the door, oblivious to their surroundings. Josh had no idea how they couldn't sense all the ghosts around them. They were all in the middle of a supernatural sea on the verge of drowning. The claw-like grip on his arm proved Whisper felt the same. Before the expected wave washed over them, they made it through the barn's door.

"Jeez, it's freezing," Whisper said. It had been unseasonably cold in the field, but it was like a meat locker in here. Zach had an arm around Kendra, presumably to keep her warm. Without thinking, Josh did the same for Whisper, and she snuggled into him. A tiny part of his brain recognized what just happened, but for the most part, he focused on the interior of the barn.

Though it felt a hundred times creepier in here, there was no sign of any ghosts. Josh had expected all of the visible energy from outside jammed into this tiny space. That there was nothing set him on edge even more.

Whisper shuddered against him. Zach and Kendra stood in the exact center of the floor plan and snapped picture after picture. They didn't stop to examine any of the shots. Josh raised his camera to take a few of his own when movement caught his eye in the hayloft.

Before he could ask what it was, Zach's voice rang though the small space. "Cool, it's the headless henchman." Kendra squealed as if she had found a basket of kittens.

Josh whirled around and saw it in the far corner. It made no move, but ill intent bled off. If it had eyes, he imagined they'd be sizing the group up.

"What is it?" Whisper asked.

Josh almost blurted out that it was a ghost, but that wasn't the full truth. It felt like all of the other apparitions they'd encountered, but there was something more to it. Much more, and he couldn't begin to explain. At least he had the wherewithal to snap a few pictures.

"There he is," Zach said, pointing up to the hayloft. Josh's attention shifted. Whatever Zach saw must've been what he noticed a minute ago.

The farmer looked down at them. Like the headless ghost, an aura of something more surrounded him, like extra power from beyond the grave. Whisper stiffened, and Josh felt his own legs turn to jelly.

Though the farmer was mostly transparent, he looked like he could do some actual damage. Especially since he held an overlarge machete in one hand. The look in his eyes said he both knew how to use it and wouldn't hesitate to do so.

"This is so cool," Zach said.

Kendra let out a shriek like she'd just found a great deal on a new purse. "So awesome, babe. Keep taking pictures."

Josh turned to Whisper and saw she agreed with him. This was anything but cool and awesome. Kendra did remind him, however, that he had a camera. He pointed it up towards the farmer and snapped away. Whisper joined in.

"Leave, Ghost Betweens," the farmer said. His mouth moved, but the words came to Josh's mind, not his ears. "You're not wanted here."

"But we are here," Whisper said. Josh was impressed with the forcefulness she put into her voice.

But it hadn't been her voice. Not really. He'd heard her in his mind, too, like the farmer.

Scuffling in the corner reminded him the headless ghost was still there. It stalked forward a few steps, and Josh had the distinct feeling it'd be salivating if it had a mouth.

"I can't hold him back much longer, Ghost Betweens. He may not have the power to destroy you, but I assure you your friends will become meat ribbons in short order." The farmer pointed at Zach and Kendra, who seemed oblivious to the conversation and kept snapping shots.

"What are Ghost Betweens?" Josh said. He meant to say it out loud, but the words traveled through his mind before they reached his lips. He wanted to ask more, but the sensation of telepathy, or whatever this was, stunned him.

"Don't play coy with me." The farmer took a step forward, off of the hayloft, and floated down to the ground.

"Cool," Zach and Kendra said simultaneously. It might have been funny in another circumstance, but right now Josh wasn't laughing.

"Your friends can stay," the farmer said, motioning at Zach and Kendra with his huge blade. "But you two must leave."

"You just said you'd let the headless one kill them," Whisper said.

"Alone they're safe. Don't test our patience any longer by lingering."

When they didn't move, the farmer nodded. The headless one leapt forward.

To be continued in the book...

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Monday, April 16, 2012

Chapter 9 Part 2--Ghost Betweens

Click here to read Chapter Nine Part One

Chapter 9 Part 2

As Josh scrolled through the pictures he'd taken at the park, his mind wandered to Whisper. They'd got along great, but he still couldn't tell how she felt about him. He should just man up and ask her out. What was the worst thing that could happen? She could say no. He'd been rejected before. But he really liked Whisper, and he wanted to be her friend even if he couldn't date her. So the worst thing might be that she wouldn't want anything to do with him. It would be better to just wait and see what happened. Knowing Kendra, he wouldn't have to wait long, and if Whisper wasn't interested, it'd be Kend's fault, not his, and they could stay friends.

His phone jarred him out of his thoughts. He looked and saw it was Zach. "Hey, what's up?"

"Nothing. Just seeing how things went for you guys. Ghost-wise for me, you and Whisper-wise for Kendra." Kendra must've been with him because he heard her yell at Zach for being a jerk.

Josh laughed. "Nothing to report. No ghosts, and tell Kend that Whisper and I had a good time as friends."

He relayed the message, and Josh heard a brief scuffle, in what he imagined was for control of the phone. After a few seconds, Kendra's voice rang in his ear. "Seriously, Josh, how can you be so blind? The girl is hot for you. Ask her out."

Zach's voice filled the background with shouts for Kendra to give him the phone back. Finally, after more sounds of a scuffle, Zach was back.

"Sorry, dude. You know how she gets with this kind of stuff."

Josh bit the inside of his cheek to refrain from cracking a joke about Zach needing to control his woman. Zach would probably relate it to Kendra, and they'd both be in big trouble. Instead, he asked, "Did you guys find anything?"

Josh groaned. "Yeah, every frickin' shoe sale in the mall. But nothing ghost-wise. Kendra was good and took ten minutes of pictures. I kept snapping as she shopped. Ow! I mean we shopped. While we shopped."

Josh lost it and almost dropped the phone in laughter. It wouldn't have been as funny if he knew Zach didn't have a good time. But Zach always had fun with Kendra, no matter what he said.

"Anyway," Zach said when order had been restored on both ends, "we just wanted to know how everything went. See you tomorrow, dude." Kendra said something Josh couldn't make out. "Kendra says to not be a wimp and ask Whisper out."

If it were only that easy. "Tell her to not worry about it. If it happens, it happens. It shouldn't concern her."

"No way, dude. I'm not telling her that." She yelled in the background that she should be told what was being said.

"Just tell her I'll try. Okay?"

"You're going to get me beat up, dude. You know she can't resist gossip. Ow! That hurt, Kendra! See you, dude."

"Good luck," Josh said, but he wasn't sure if Zach heard. He shook his head, wondered if he and Whisper would be like that, and decided to push it out of his mind. He got started on his real homework.

Click to read Chapter Ten

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(test) Coyote--short story

This is a test to see if I can get downloads to work. I plan on making all ten sample chapters of Ghost Betweens available in one .pdf document, but I need to know I can do it first. If you'll help me by downloading this short story, hey, you get to read the short story! This is a story about a woman who is face-to-face with a coyote and remembers a horrific incident with a coyote from when she was younger. I'm sure most of you won't believe this, but I'm classifying this as contemporary fiction rather than speculative. I know, I don't write things without ghosties, ghoulies, dragons, or other such things very often.

Anyway, if you could download the story via the link and let me know it worked for you, I'd appreciate it. When you click on the link, there will be a big blue button on the right of the screen that says "Download or Print." Click it and follow the instructions. If you're not interested in downloading it but are intrigued and want to read the story anyway, it's posted as a .pdf below. Let me know if it was successful either in the comments below, on Twitter, or on Facebook. Thank you!

EDIT: Okay, looks like there is a download button on the bottom of the embedded file right here on the screen. What do you folks think: when I post my sample chapters, should I only have the embedded content since there is a download option (for those who would like to read it on their eReaders or whatever) or should I continue to have both the link and the embedded page? Thanks for your opinion! I appreciate it!

Click here to get to the download page


Chapter 9 Part 1--Ghost Betweens

Click to read Chapter Eight Part Two

Chapter 9 Part 1

As Josh and Zach headed to Mr. Baxter's class, neither said anything about Kendra's outburst. He had a silly thought that Zach didn't even remember it, and if asked, Kendra wouldn't either. But that was stupid. There was no supernatural force blanking their memories. Why would he even think something like that?

They walked into the classroom and found the girls already there. Kendra gave him a big smile and discreetly pointed to Whisper before she gravitated over to Zach. What had that meant? Whisper looked up from the computer screen and smiled. His heart skipped a beat. Had Whisper been talking about him with Kendra? Or was Kendra simply trying to play matchmaker when Whisper wasn't interested like that?

He pushed it out of his mind for the moment and stepped forward to the monitor. "These are amazing," Mr. Baxter said. "You four got some great pictures. There are energy blurs, energy balls, mist, partial apparitions, and even some full-bodied ones. And you're not pulling one over on me? These were all taken yesterday afternoon in that half-hour?"

Whisper nodded. "It might have been a bit longer than thirty minutes, but if so, it wasn't by much."

"Forty-five minutes, tops," Josh added.

"Yeah, but Josh and Whisper had all the fun," Zach said. "They actually saw some cool stuff. Kendra and I couldn't. And believe me, I tried."

Mr. Baxter nodded as if he expected it. Josh didn't think it would be proper to ask right now, but he filed it away. He glanced over to Whisper, and they shared a look that said she'd caught it, too.

Mr. Baxter continued scrolling through the pictures, and when he reached the end, he pointed at the shots of the tree. Josh shuddered when he thought of the ghost cycling through its last moments before the hanging. "I don't see anything on these last few. Why did you take them?"

"That was all Josh and Whisper," Kendra said. "They said they saw some funky ghost hanging himself or something. Gag."

"Yeah, but we didn't see anything," Zach said. "And we looked even after they left."

"Nothing," Kendra echoed.

Mr. Baxter looked up at Whisper and Josh. "But you saw something? Something that wouldn't stick to the digital photos?"

"A farmer," Whisper said. "He hung himself."

"We watched him do it over and over. Like he was stuck in an endless loop."

Mr. Baxter nodded. "Yeah, I expected plenty of residual activity there, but these other photos. Wow."

"You expected stuff?" Zach said.

"Sigh, Mr. Baxter. You're showing your nerd."

"I'll ignore Ms. Phelps, and say, yes, I was expecting a few bits of evidence. It would be hard not to get something at that place. But this? This is almost unimaginable."

"What do you mean?" Josh asked. "What kind of place is it?"

He waved his hand to shoo the question away. "Not now, not now. But can you four do me a huge favor? With the cameras again?"

"Back to the dirty old spooky farm?" Kendra asked.

"Not today, but maybe tomorrow." He glanced up at them, a look of concern etched on his face. "You don't mind giving up a Friday afternoon at the farm tomorrow, do you?"

"No way," Zach said. "You couldn't keep us away."

Everyone laughed.

"Yeah, I guess that pretty much sums up all of our opinions," Josh said. "Except maybe Kendra."

She stuck her tongue out at him. "Shows what you know. I don't mind." She gripped Zach's arm a bit tighter, though.

"Yeah, that goes for me, too," Whisper said. "I can't wait to go back. But why tomorrow? Why not this afternoon?"

"I have another task for you. As I said, if you don't mind." When they each nodded, he continued. "I'd like you to go in teams of two to separate locations. A park, a shopping center, a gas station, anywhere. Take a few pictures and examine them on your own computers when you get home. Email me if you find anything strange." He handed them each a business card with his name and email address--the generic Gmail one he gave to all his students.

"Ooh, I like this assignment, Mr. B," Kendra said. "Come on, Zachy. I want to go take pictures at the mall."

"Good, good," Mr. Baxter said. "Mr. Hart, Ms. Douglas, maybe you two could go somewhere a bit less crowded. A local park perhaps? Don't stay long," he chuckled and looked at Zach. "Though I believe you may be out of luck, Mr. Riley."

"Sigh. I'll be good, Mr. B. We'll take pictures before we shop."

Zach shot a pleading look to Josh, who laughed. But then it sunk in. He was going to be alone with Whisper again. That was way awesome, but butterflies flapped around in his stomach. And they started to multiply.

He turned to Whisper. Was she blushing? "Are you okay with this? Would you rather go with Kendra?"

Kendra make a clicking sound, and when he looked at her, she mouthed, "Don't be dumb," and motioned at Whisper.

Before Whisper could answer, Mr. Baxter said, "You don't mind, do you Ms. Douglas? Because I'd really like to team you up with Mr. Hart in this one."

Whoa! Was Mr. Baxter trying to set them up, too? No, why would he do that? But what was going on?

Whisper blushed harder, noticeable to Josh this time, and nodded. "Yeah, it's fine. He proved he's a gentleman yesterday."

Kendra rolled her eyes at Josh, grabbed Zach's hand, and walked out. "We'll see you guys tomorrow."

"Pictures, Ms. Phelps. Remember the pictures." As they got to the door, he added, "And homework!"

"Don't worry," Zach called back as they left.

Whisper giggled, and Josh and Mr. Baxter just shook their heads. "Doesn't really matter," he said. "I believe you two are the key, being as you saw the apparition in the tree and they didn't."

"What's going on, Mr. Baxter?" Josh asked. "Something more than you're telling us. That's easy to see."

"I know, Mr. Hart, but you're just going to have to trust me today. Email if you see anything this afternoon, and head over to the farm tomorrow after school. Don't bother coming to see me. Email me tomorrow night about the farm, whether anything big shows up or not. Take as many pictures as you can, but only stay a short time, just like yesterday. Got it?"

They both nodded.

"I'll clue you in later, I promise. But I don't want anything tainted until I see more of what's going on. Okay? Now get to it. I'll see you both in class tomorrow."

They both said goodbye and headed for Josh's car.

Click here to read Chapter Nine Part Two

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Writing Prompt #101

Here is this week's speculative fiction prompt. I'm not labeling it this week, so take it whatever direction you choose. Have fun with it!

Ancient Atlantis is discovered, and it is a thriving society.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Chapter 8 Part 2--Ghost Betweens

Click to read Chapter Eight Part One

Chapter 8 Part 2

Josh popped the last of his peanut butter sandwich into his mouth and shook his head. "Why can't she just listen to me? I don't have time to get a job. When football season is over next year, I'll be happy to, but not now."

"We'll find something that'll work around football, dude. Weekends will be shot, but you gotta do what you gotta do, right?"

"What do you mean we?"

Zach punched him lightly in the arm. "Like I'm going to let you go get all the money. When Kendra sees how you're spoiling Whisper, she's going to insist I get a job, too."

Josh choked on his soda, and had to spit some out. People around them laughed and asked him if he had a drinking problem. He ignored them and said, "What do you mean by spoiling Whisper? Did she say something to you and Kendra?"

"No wonder you don't have a girlfriend. Dude, she was practically asking you out yesterday. You didn't pick up on any of that?"

Josh frowned. "I guess. I don't know. We talked pretty easily in the car. Usually I get all flustered with pretty girls."

"See? Perfect girlfriend. Believe it or not, when you go out with a girl, you need stuff in common so you can talk. You can't just make out all the time." He paused, a wistful look on his face. "Though that'd be pretty cool."

"Yeah, but what do you and Kendra talk about? You guys don't have anything in common."

"That's not true."

Josh raised his eyebrows. "What do you talk about?"

"Uh, we talk about stuff we did with you. And we both like talking about Kendra."

"Yeah, Kendra can talk about herself all day if you let her." Josh barked out a laugh.

"So see? You don't need much in common with your girlfriend, but you need something."

"And why are you saying I'll spoil Whisper if I have a job? Seems to me I'll hardly be able to see her, at least during football season."

"Yeah, but if you have a job, you have money. I doubt your mom is going to take any. She's just tired of having to fork over cash when you need it for fun stuff. And if you're working and playing football, what use are you going to have of it other than buying Whisper gifts and dinners and stuff? You're going to make her a happy girlfriend. And Kendra's going to be all jealous and want me to get her things, too. So if you get a job, I need one, too."

Josh laughed. "Yeah, I imagine she'll be pretty high-maintenance when she sees she can. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. I'm not sure Whisper wasn't just being friendly since she's the new girl at school."

Zach shook his head and said, "Clueless," under his breath. Josh let it go.

"Anyway," Zach said. "Since we're just sixteen, places can't make us work too many hours. You'll have plenty of time for your new lady."

"Knock it off, will you? I don't want any rumors started about something that hasn't happened."

"Rumors about what? I love rumors."

Josh jumped as Kendra came up behind them, followed by Whisper. Kendra walked over to Zach, gave him a peck on the cheek, and sat between the two boys. Whisper settled in next to Josh, and his heart jumped up into his throat. She smiled and mouthed, "Hi," and he did the same. How did girls manage to sit so close without actually touching? He wanted her to melt into him like yesterday at the farm, but he wasn't about to push it.

"What rumor are you guys talking about?" Kendra said, practically bouncing on the lip of the concrete planter. "I love gossip. Tell me, tell me, tell me."

Zach shook his head, while Josh tried to head her off. "It's nothing, Kend. It didn't happen anyway."

"It doesn't matter if it's true or not, I still want to know." She turned to Zach. "Come on, baby. I'll totally make out with you this weekend if you tell me."

"You'll make out with me anyway," Zach said, fighting to keep a straight face.

She leaned past Josh, winked at Whisper, who was doing her absolute best not to crack up, and looked back at Zach. "Not if I'm mad at you."

Zach said something in a low voice to her. He had no doubt she knew he liked Whisper, but that didn't mean he wanted her blabbing that with her sitting right next to him. He turned to Whisper and said, "She does this all the time. You get used to it."

"It's hilarious," Whisper said. "Is this rumor or whatever even worth her getting this worked up?"

"It hardly ever is."

Whisper chuckled and looked over at them. "Did you ask Zach about yesterday after we left? They seem fine, so I'm guessing nothing happened."

"No, it hasn't come up yet." He turned to Zach and Kendra, who were still arguing in lowered voices. "Hey, did you guys see anything yesterday after we left?"

They both stiffened, and he could have sworn Kendra turned pale. After a second or two, they both put on fake smiles.

"No, nothing," Zach said.

"We left just a couple of minutes after you guys," Kendra added.

Josh frowned and turned back to Whisper, who looked as confused as he felt.

"Are you guys sure? You don't look very happy about it."

Zach forced a laugh. "No, we didn't see anything so we left."

Kendra rolled her eyes, stood, and said, "Seriously, Josh, why do you have to always push the questions too far? I swear." She grabbed Zach's hand and stomped off. Zach didn't look back.

"That was weird," Whisper said.

Josh nodded. "Yeah. She doesn't usually act like that."

Whisper gave a half-smile. "I'd agree with the nervousness part, but she seems the type to stomp off in a huff."

"No, she's a get in your face type. So's Zach. That's one reason they get along so well. Plus I never push her too far. I mean, I do when I'm picking on her, but never seriously."

Before Josh's brain realized he was alone with Whisper for the second time in two days, the lunch bell rang, signaling the start of the passing period to fifth period. Whisper stood, and picked up her backpack.

"Do you think they'll show to Mr. Baxter's class?"

"Yeah. Zach wouldn't miss it, and besides, she's pissed at me, not you, so she can make a show of ignoring me."

Whisper laughed. "You guys seem to have quite the relationship. Sometime you need to tell me about it."

A lump jammed into his throat. Was she trying to get him to ask her out? Should he? Instead, he chickened out and said, "Yeah, totally. I will."

"Sounds good. I have to get to class, so I'll see you after school."

"Okay, I'm looking forward to it."

She gave him a knowing smile and walked off. He watched her go, and then turned to head to his own class. Damn. Why did reading girls have to be so hard? Did she want him to ask her out, or did she just want to be friends? He wished Zach were here right now to bounce the question off of him. But he'd already said Whisper liked him. He shook his head and tried to push it from his mind so he didn't drive himself crazy.

Click to read Chapter Nine Part One

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Chapter 8 Part 1--Ghost Betweens

Click to read Chapter Seven

Chapter 8 Part 1

As Josh walked up to the front door, he saw right away his mom was home. He pushed the door open and yelled, "Hi, Mom, I'm home."

She stuck her head out of the kitchen. "About time. I wanted you to do the damn grocery shopping today, but you're nowhere to be found. I've got too much going on to do it myself."

"Sorry. I joined a . . ."

"I don't care what you did. If you have time for foolishness, you have time to get a job and help out around here. I do too much as it is."

"I can't get a job. I have a ton of homework, and come spring and all through summer, not to mention fall, I have football practice."

"Tough, Mister. It's time you start pulling your weight. Starting tomorrow after school, I want you out looking for a job."

"Pulling my weight? How often do I ask you for any money? How often do I clean the house, top to bottom, without you even prompting me?"

"And I have two jobs, so boo-hoo for you. Tomorrow. You hear me?"

Josh started to say something, but kept his mouth shut. No need to make this worse. She just had a bad day. By tomorrow this'll all have blown over and she wouldn't even mention this. He stalked up the stairs.

Halfway up, she yelled, "Do you hear me?"

"Yes, fine, I hear you," he called over his shoulder and continued up. At the top of the landing, something shot past him and down the hall. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up. What the heck was that? He looked down to see if Mom saw it, too, but she'd already headed into the kitchen. It reminded him of the ghosts at the farm, the ones that he only saw out of the corner of his eye. This one had been right in front of him, though. It had gone towards his room, but he was pretty sure it moved past the door, so he should be safe.

He shook his head. He hadn't really seen it anyway, right? It was just his nerves from the argument with Mom and the frights at the farm. Yeah, that's all it had been. He headed into his room and threw himself down on his bed. Homework could wait a few minutes.

Click to read Chapter Eight Part Two

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

#FridayFlash: The Soul Door

The Soul Door
by Eric J. Krause

He had no clue where he was or why he was here. A notion somewhere in the back of his mind told him it had to do with a girl, but what else was new? Girls were always getting him in trouble. No, to be fair, they didn't get him into trouble, but he got himself into plenty because of them.

The day started like any other Friday, with a too-early American History class. That had been a good idea when the semester began--get his classes over with to jump-start the weekend--but he hadn't factored in the actual getting up at the ass-crack of dawn, which put a damper on the weekend before it even started. That day, though, would be okay because of the frat's huge Friday the 13th Costume Bash. There was nothing better than a costume party to bring the slutty side out in girls. Add some booze, maybe a little weed, and he'd talk at least one out of her skimpy outfit.

Or so he thought. But where had he gone wrong? He looked around for the first time and found himself in a long hallway lined with doors on either side. This wasn't the frat house, and it didn't look like any of the sorority houses, either, something, he was proud to say, he had plenty of first-hand knowledge of. No, this reminded him of a creepy hotel, like in that old movie The Shining, starring that actor who always sat courtside at the Lakers' games. He half-expected blood to pour out of an elevator, or two horrifying twin children to appear in his path. He shook his head to get rid of those images, but it did nothing but solidify them.

"Hello?" he called out. "Anyone here?" Maybe he'd been drugged and brought to this hotel. He certainly didn't feel sober at the moment. But if that was the case, why weren't people bursting out of their rooms and telling him to shut the hell up?

He stumbled down the hall, but it seemed to never end. Even the huge wings of the biggest resorts shouldn't be this expansive. How long had he been walking? His legs rose and fell sluggishly, and strange colors bled out around the edge of his vision. No doubt about it; he'd been drugged. Too bad he couldn't enjoy it. Had someone slipped him something, or had he ingested it on his own? With those rockin' frat parties, either could be true.

After hours (or, more likely, minutes) of shuffling forward, he hit the end of the hallway. Instead of running into a bank of elevators, a set of stairs, or a separate wing with more rooms, the passage simply ended. No, that wasn't quite true. There was a tiny door up near the ceiling, much too puny for any person to squeeze through. Other than its size and location, it looked like every other door in the hall. No, again that wasn't quite true. This one had a miniscule room number attached to it: 13. All of the other doors wore nothing but white paint.

"You found it," a female voice sounded behind him. He let out a squeak, hopefully too low to be heard, and spun around. In front of him stood a girl in a devil's costume. A damn fine girl in a devil's costume. Pieces of memory floated through his mind, and he knew he'd met her at the party. On the dance floor. He told her she was the finest honey there, and she rewarded him by grinding into his crotch all through the song. But that was it. That's where the memories ended.

"Who are you?" he asked.

She ignored the question and pointed up to the door by the ceiling. "The soul door. For those who can't navigate to their eternity. No one knows where it leads." Her voice had both a silky smoothness and a raspy croak to it.

"What the hell are you talking about?"

"Those who die on Friday the 13th can't find the light. It's a magical date. Some say the door leads to everlasting paradise, while others warn of unending pain. Maybe it's different for everyone, like Heaven and Hell." She shrugged. "Maybe that's exactly what it is."

"I don't understand. Where am I?" He had to look down at her now, and he let out another screech, this time not caring that she heard. He hovered up next to the door, which now plenty big enough to accommodate him.

"Friday the 13th also brings out demons. We get to eat what we kill. And we long ago realized how much sweeter the souls taste if they felt the power of the door."

An energy, like the suction of a vacuum cleaner, pulled him into the now open door. He could see nothing but an unnatural blackness through the portal. Still without knowing what was going on, he allowed it to suck him in.

Before he could disappear through, something latched onto him and prevented him from moving any further. He glanced down and saw the girl was no longer a girl at all, but some sort of monster. Yeah, monster. That was the only way to describe her. Her body had elongated like a snake, and her arms and legs had vanished. Her long tongue had shot out like a frog's and gripped his feet, trapping him in place. Her face, so beautiful just seconds ago, now held no trace of humanity, but instead took on a mixture of reptilian and amphibious characteristics to match her (its) body.

He tried to yell out, to tell her (it) to let go and let him leave, but no sound escaped. The tongue snapped, drawing him into her (its) mouth. His existence faded to nothing.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Chapter 7--Ghost Betweens

Click to read Chapter Six Part Two

Chapter 7

As they drove away from the farm, a weight lifted from Josh's shoulders. He glanced over at Whisper and found her a lot less tense, too. A quick look in the rearview mirror, however, brought back a bit of a chill; the sign said something different. He couldn't read the backwards writing as they sped away, but the amount of letters wasn't the same as when they drove up.

"Sign's different."

Whisper looked back. "Was it? What did it say?"

"I couldn't tell. And I'm not so sure I want to go back and find out. We can ask Zach and Kendra tomorrow."

"Good. Yeah. That works."

"So you saw it, right? The guy sitting in the tree, falling down, and hanging in a noose. Over and over. I'm not crazy?"

"No, you're not crazy. Or, if you are, I'm right there with you." She paused for a second. "But why couldn't they see it?"

"I don't know. If they could, Kendra would probably still be screaming. Zach'd be happy, though. He loves ghosts. Where should I take you? Home, or do you have a car at school?"

"No, home is good. I don't have my license yet. Do you know where Craig Street is?"


"It's at the end, almost to Street Avenue. Isn't that the coolest name for a street ever? I still laugh every time I see it."

"In junior high, Zach and I used to plot how we were going to steal that sign. We still crack each other up just by saying the name."

She gave him a sly smile. "So you're a little hoodlum. Is that what I'm hearing?"

"I said we used to, not anymore. Kids stuff, you know." He puffed his chest out. "We're totally grown up now."

They both laughed.

"So you said you don't have your license yet. Is that your choice or your parents?"

"A little of both. We knew we'd be moving here this year, so they promised I could start practicing and all that once we got settled. Maybe I'll be ready to get it when I turn 17 this summer. I'm not in a big hurry, so that's fine with me."

"I was chomping to get mine. I got it the day of my sixteenth birthday. This car was my present. Not much, but it runs. No problems yet, anyway." He rapped his knuckles against his head. "Knock on wood."

She giggled. "That should keep you safe." She put her hand on his arm. He tensed, and she took it away. He glanced over and saw her looking in her lap, face burning bright.

He cleared his throat and prayed his voice would sound normal. "So where are you from, anyway?"

"Originally from Las Vegas. I loved it there. Still miss it and my friends, but life goes on, I guess."

"Vegas, huh? I heard it's a lot of fun, even if you aren't old enough to gamble and stuff. A lot of theme parks and things."

"It's just a normal town when you live there. I mean, we're close to Disneyland and other places like that here, right? And the beach. Vegas didn't have that. A ton of my old friends would be jealous."

"That's true," he said with a chuckle." I never thought of it like that. But you said originally. Did you live somewhere after Vegas?"

"Yes. My dad got a new job a couple of years ago that moved us to a little town in Colorado. I didn't like it there."

"Too cold for you?"

"Miserably cold for a girl who grew up in the desert. Vegas got cold in the winter, but not like that. And I never made any real friends. It was a cliquey little town, but most of it was my fault. I didn't take the move well. I didn't see it at the time, but looking back I could see that I was Queen Bitch number one. It's amazing any of the kids could tolerate me at all."

He laughed.


"Nothing. I mean, I know we just met, but you seem the furthest thing from a bitch as could be." He gave her a playful nudge. "Or are you just playing nice?"

"I guess you'll just have to get to know me better to find out."

His breath caught in his throat, but he did his best to act natural. "I guess I will. So why did you leave Colorado?"

"Another job for my dad. The economy would have eaten his old one if he didn't agree to a transfer."

"What do you think of it here so far?"

"Too soon to tell, really, but I think I'll be okay. Can't beat the year-round Southern California weather, that's for sure. And everyone's been really nice so far, especially Kendra."

He turned down her street. "So down near the end?"

She nodded.

"Anyone else you think seems nice? Or interesting? Or anything?"

"I don't know yet," she said with a giggle. "There is this one guy who was nice enough to drive me home after we saw a bunch of ghosts."

Josh let out a deep breath. "Yeah, that all really happened. I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around it."

"I know. Thank you for talking about normal stuff. I didn't really want to think of the farm."

"Mr. Baxter will grill us enough about it tomorrow. I wonder if Zach and Kendra finally got to see anything."

"I don't know. There's my house." She pointed at a beige one-story on the left. It looked as nondescript as the others in the neighborhood. As nondescript as the houses in his neighborhood. A theme, really, for the town of Citrus Valley.

He pulled into the driveway and watched her get out. She walked over to his window. "Thanks for the ride, Josh. I really appreciate it." She gave him a shy smile. "It's nice to make friends so easily here."

"I'm glad to be you're friend." He hoped that didn't sound too lame. It did, though, didn't it?

She raised her hand towards his face, but stopped before getting to close. She blushed again, said she'd see him tomorrow, and ran to her front door. She waved, then disappeared into the house.

Wow, had that all really just happened? Both the weirdness at the farm and the heavy flirting in the car? He always clammed up or said stupid stuff when he was with a pretty girl. Looking back on the conversation, he had to admit he did a good job. And she really seemed to like him. Would she go out with him, or was she just looking for a friend?

Why did girls and dating have to be so complicated?

Click to read Chapter Eight Part One

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Monday, April 9, 2012

Chapter 6 Part 2--Ghost Betweens

Click to read Chapter Six Part One

Chapter 6 Part 2

Zach and Kendra snapped a continuous flood of pictures at the barn and all around the field. "C'mon voice, I want to hear you, too," Zach said. It might have been funny if the mood wasn't so heavy, so dark.

Whisper spun and took a number of shots towards the far edge of the fields, on the opposite side of the barn. "The voice?" Josh asked. She nodded.

He looked over her shoulder at the view screen as she rewound to the first of the pictures. The first looked blurry, like there was a heavy fog. The second looked a bit clearer, and it showed shadowy figures standing about. The next few showed what looked like old-timey farmers working on the fields. In the last, they stopped working and stared at the camera. Goosebumps erupted all over Josh's body. The ghosts knew they were here. The fog flowed back in the final picture.

"I'm not sure I like this," Whisper said. "I don't think they want us here."

The strange feeling hit Josh again, and he brought the camera up and took a bunch of snaps towards the barn again. Whisper watched him, and when he brought the camera down to check the screen, she stood shoulder to shoulder to him. Somewhere in the back of his mind he noticed how close she stood, but the ghostly pictures and creepy feelings pushed the thought away.

Before he could focus on the pictures, a flash of movement caught his attention towards the barn. He noticed Whisper's head swing that way, too. "Zach, Kendra, start taking pictures towards the barn."

"Dude, when did you get all ghost sensitive?"

"How do you call yourself his best friend?" Kendra said. "He's always been like that."

"What? No. He doesn't even believe in ghosts."

"I never said he called them ghosts."

They continued taking pictures as they bickered. Josh barely heard as he scoured the barn area, and then turned his attention back to his camera. If there was anything worth seeing over there, Zach and Kendra's cameras would capture it.

"Is that true?" Whisper asked. "You've always sensed stuff?"

Josh gave a curt nod. "But let's talk about it later. Check this out. Are these the same ghosts?"

She leaned in close, and he got a whiff of her hair. Wow, she smelled good, like a mix between flowers and spun sugar. He shook his head real quick to get back on topic.

"It's hard to tell on the small screens, but I bet they are. Maybe Mr. Baxter can put them up side by side tomorrow."

"That'll be cool, but if it is, they're coming towards us. Maybe we should move somewhere else." He glanced towards the barn. "I really don't like that place."

"We should check out the house," Zach said. He clicked through his pictures and frowned. "I'm getting the balls of energy and stuff, but not the same things you guys are."

"I don't know if it's because I'm listening to you guys or what," Kendra said, "but this place is starting to freak me out."

Josh checked his watch. They'd already been there over twenty minutes. "We got less than ten minutes left. Let's head over there."

He glanced around. If he took a picture right now, he'd get something on it, no matter which way he aimed. He didn't dare press the button. Whisper did, however, and Josh let out a yell. An apparition of a farmhand appeared right in front of him, and disappeared just as quick.

Whisper's voice came out strained. "Was this what you saw?"

She showed him the camera, and he gasped. "That was him." He studied the ghostly face, which couldn't have been much older than him. This ghost could be just another kid at school if he'd lived today. Except for the evil that bled out of it, an evil he could feel through the camera. This ghost wanted to do him harm. The big question was if it actually could.

"Wow, that's pretty cool," Zach said. "You saw it, Josh? Right in front of you?"

He nodded, but words wouldn't form to elaborate. Instead he motioned for them to follow him to the farmhouse, though he wished they could head for their cars and go home. But none of this would go away just because he wanted it to.

Zach pushed into the lead with Kendra, who'd become uncharacteristically quiet, clinging to his arm. He still managed to snap pictures with his other hand as he walked. Whisper walked close to Josh, occasionally looking over at him, as if checking to make sure he was okay.

He glanced over at her and smiled. "I'm fine. Just a bit shaken."

"I'm not sure I would have been had I seen it. I felt that you did, though, and I could tell it wanted to hurt you." She paused, and when he looked over, she blushed.


Her cheeks burned brighter. "Nothing. I was just marveling at how brave you're being. You probably think I'm a big wimp, huh?"

"No, of course not." He put his arm around her shoulders. Oh god, did he really do that? They both stiffened, and then she melted into him. He couldn't breathe, but he didn't pull away, even when Kendra glanced back at them. She must really have been spooked because she gave a half smile, but instead of making a typical Kendra quip, she turned back around and clung tighter to Zach.

"I don't think we should stay much longer," Whisper said. "We have plenty to bring to Mr. Baxter tomorrow."

Josh nodded, but before he could say anything, something in the tree next to the main farmhouse caught his eye. He dropped his arm from Whisper's shoulder and pointed. He almost didn't hear her say she saw it.

A figure appeared in the tree, sitting on one of the branches. A shimmering rope encircled his neck. It was a ghost hanging. This was how this guy died. He dropped, the rope snapped tight, and he struggled. After a few seconds, he hung still. The scene repeated itself. This time Josh could see more detail. The ghost looked to be in his late teens, maybe early twenties, though his face showed evidence of a hard-lived life. As the rope hit its tight point, the ghost bounced, and his eyes bugged out. He mouthed something, disappeared, and then reappeared on the branch, where he fell again. It happened over and over.

"What are you guys looking at?" Zach said, breaking first Josh, then Whisper, out of their trance.

"You . . . you don't see it?" he asked.

Both Zach and Kendra looked over at the tree, frowned, and shook their heads.

Tears forming in Whisper's eyes. "He's dying. We . . . we're watching how he died."

"Why can't I see it?" Zach asked. He snapped a few pictures at the tree. Those had to catch it. Josh could still see it. He wanted to turn away, but couldn't. He brought his own camera up and aimed. Though he could see the hanging man clearly with his eyes, the ghost didn't appear on the view screen. He snapped a few pictures to make sure. It didn't show up.

Josh's voice felt gravely, and he couldn't begin to imagine how it sounded to the others. "I can't be going crazy. Whisper sees it, too."

She nodded, and he put his arm around her shoulder again, and this time led her back towards the cars.

"Where are you going?" Zach called.

"Come on, Zach. We promised Mr. Baxter a half hour, and it's been longer than that."

"No. We're staying. It feels strange here, but I haven't seen anything like you guys."

Josh looked at Kendra. "I'll drive you home."

She took a step forward, and then looked back to Zach. "No, that's okay. I'll stay. It's not as scary as you guys are making it out to be." The shaking in her voice betrayed her, but Josh didn't push it.

"Alright. We'll see you two tomorrow."

"Don't stay too long," Whisper said. "Please."

Josh could sense Kendra wanted to make some comment about Josh's arm being around Whisper, but she bit it back. He couldn't remember her ever showing restraint like that, but now wasn't the time to dwell on it.

Zach waved, but his attention was already on the house. "Yeah, sure. Don't worry, we'll be fine."

Josh and Whisper looked at each other, shrugged, and headed back to his car. He could have sworn he saw people--ghosts--milling around in the field. By the way Whisper shuddered, she saw it, too. He let out a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding when they made it to his car without incident.

Click to read Chapter Seven

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Chapter 6 Part 1--Ghost Betweens

Click to read Chapter Five

Chapter 6

Josh pulled into the farm's driveway, right behind Zach, who drove the girls. As far as Josh could tell from the tracks on the hard-packed dirt, no other vehicles had been here except them a couple of days ago.

"Did you see the sign?" Zach asked. "It was different."

Josh nodded. "Welcome new friends."

"What did it say last time you were here?" Kendra asked.

"Welcome picture enthusiasts."

"Who changes it?" Whisper asked. "Doesn't look like anyone's been here in a while."

"That's the question," Zach said. "Who does change it?"

"Sometimes the sign stays the same for a year or two," Josh said, "and sometimes, like now, it changes a couple of times a week. It's been like that ever since I can remember."

Whisper frowned. "Signs don't change themselves. No one's ever seen anything?"

"No," Zach said. "The ghosts must wait until they're alone."

Kendra rolled her eyes. "Again with the ghosts?" She wrapped her arms around his waist. "I like you and all, babe, but give that a rest."

"I'm not kidding. Our pictures back it up."

"We'll see," Josh said. Though deep down he knew Zach was right.

Whisper took out her camera. "A mystery for another time. Let's get to the pictures."

Josh walked over closer to her. "You enjoy taking pictures, don't you?"

"Yeah, I've always loved it. My parents used to buy me cheap cameras. I'd wear them out so fast. Half the time I didn't even put film in. I just love looking through the lens. Or the view screen now, I guess."

"No film to worry about with digital cameras, right?"

She smiled at him, and his heart skipped a beat. "You got it."

Kendra slid in between them, giving Josh a pointed look and grin. "You two ready to go hunt some ghosts? Even though they don't exist?"

"You don't even know, Kendra," Zach said. "You weren't here. You'll see. There's no way we won't get the same evidence. Maybe even better."

As Kendra went off ahead to argue with Zach, Whisper leaned in closer to Josh. "What was it like? I mean, I don't believe in ghosts, but I felt something about those pictures."

"I don't believe either, but it was actually pretty creepy." He looked up towards Zach to make sure he was out of earshot. "I'm not sure if I'm hoping we get the same kind of stuff or nothing at all."

She looked at him for a second, and then nodded. "Yeah, I know what you mean."

She did? He smiled, and they hurried to catch up with the other two.

"Whoa, you weren't kidding. It is creepy here," Whisper said as they stepped out into the fields. "Like hundreds of eyes are on us."

Josh shivered. "Yeah. Even worse than Monday, if that's possible."

Zach and Kendra frowned and shared a look.

"What?" Josh said. "You don't feel it?"

Zach shook his head, while Kendra said, "It looks like it should wig us out, but I don't feel anything."

Whisper took a deep breath. "I guess we should get to it." She started snapping pictures, not bothering to study the view finder after each. The others followed her lead.

A flash of light passed to Josh's left, though when he looked, nothing was there. "Did you guys see that?"

"No," came the general consensus, though Whisper looked a lot more on edge than the other two.

A thought wormed into his mind that he should snap a few towards the barn, which was still a ways away. He hit the button as fast as possible to get crisp pictures, then clicked back to the first of the three and studied it.

"Guys, come check this out."

"Two of us are girls, Joshy," Kendra said.

"Generic term, Kend. Now hush and take a look."

"That's a person," Zach said.

Whisper shook her head. "Not a person. Look, you can see right through him."

"No way," Kendra said. "It's the light. It's always playing tricks on cameras." She paused, and her voice squeaked to betray her calm. "Right?"

Whisper turned to Josh. "Did something tell you to shoot at the barn?"

"Yeah, did you hear the same thing?"

Her face drained pale. "Yeah. Just before you called us over."

"I didn't hear anything," Zach said.

"Me, either." Kendra rolled her eyes. "Are the ghosts supposed to be talking to us now?"

Josh studied the second and third pictures. "Look. It's completely solid in the second, but almost entirely transparent in the last one." He looked up at Whisper. "If you were going to take your pictures after me, I wonder if it was a different voice talking to you. Maybe another entity wanted you to see it."

"I don't know. I don't think I could describe it if I wanted to. It was just sort of weird and garbled. I couldn't tell if it was a man or a woman."

"Yeah, mine too." He chuckled, though he was sure his nerves showed through. "Or even if it was human."

Click to read Chapter Six Part Two

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Writing Prompt #100

Here is this week's speculative fiction prompt. I'm not labeling it this week, so take it whatever direction you choose. Have fun with it!

A Twitter follower follows you in real life.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Chapter 5--Ghost Betweens

Click to read Chapter Four

Chapter 5

Mr. Baxter checked each picture from the two cell phones again, while Josh and Zach explained where they were and what angle the shot was from. This way they'd best determine where to concentrate their efforts that afternoon at the farm. So far they figured that the fields were fine, but the barn might be the hot spot. And they hadn't even been to the farmhouse itself.

"Hey, boys. Hi, Mr. Baxter." They turned and saw Kendra and Whisper come into the class. Josh's heart skipped a beat. Whisper looked every bit as beautiful as he remembered. He hadn't been able to get her out of his mind, and by this afternoon he was wondering if his memory was accurate. It was, and then some.

"Wow, are those pictures of ghosts?" Whisper asked.

"Yeah, pretty cool, right?" Zach said.

Mr. Baxter looked back at her. "What made you think that, Ms. Douglas? You only saw one, maybe two, and from across the room."

"I don't know. Like I said yesterday, I don't really believe in them. That picture, though, sort of spoke to me." She shrugged.

"What's with all the ghost stuff?" Kendra asked.

"Get used to it, baby," Zach said, patting her lower back. Josh wondered briefly if he'd ever gone lower when they were alone. They'd been officially dating for a few months, and as far as he knew, they hadn't progressed past kissing. Not that Zach was one to gossip, but Kendra would have told him. She was great with secrets with everyone but Josh--she shared everything with him. As she and Zach got more serious, he wasn't sure he wanted the influx of information to continue.

"What do you mean?"

"You're going ghost hunting," Mr. Baxter said. "At the abandoned farm."

Kendra rolled her eyes, but Whisper's face lit up. "Ooh, that sounds so cool."

Josh stepped back next to her and said, "It is. Zach and I went a few days ago. That's where we got those pictures."

"Why is there an abandoned farm here in the middle of the city?"

"It's been there forever, and none of us even know when it was an actual farm."

"I can't believe it's not party central," Kendra said. "Probably because it's so creepy. Eww, you guys went there?"

Zach nudged her lightly. "And you'll be there today, too. Welcome to Digital Photography, AKA the Ghost Hunters Club."

"Sigh. Whatever. Like ghosts even exist."

Mr. Baxter cleared his throat. "I can give you a history lesson on the farm later, but for now I want you to get started with the pictures. I'm sure you all have plenty of homework, so don't dawdle too long. The administrators would hate that I'm sending you out to photograph ghosts, but they'd really tan my hide if they realized I was keeping you from your studies."

Kendra clicked her tongue. "Like I'm going to study anyway, Mr. Baxter."

"That's another discussion we'll have to have soon, Ms. Phelps. I see why you and Mr. Riley get along so well, but I really wish you'd take more of a cue from Mr. Hart."

Josh blushed and glanced over at Whisper. Oh, god, he hoped she didn't think he was a nerd. She smiled at him, and he smiled back. Could they all hear his heart beating? It sounded to him like it was loud enough to drown out the conversation, but no one seemed to notice.

"My grades are fine, Mr. Baxter. Besides, there are more important things to learn in school than just book stuff."

"Yeah," Zach said. "Like these ghosts."

Kendra threw her hands up. "Whatever. Can we just go take these silly pictures?"

"Yeah, we'll definitely need to talk about priorities sooner rather than later. Both of you. But for today, take these cameras." He passed out four expensive-looking digital cameras. Josh didn't know much about them, but he browsed around electronic stores enough to know quality merchandise when he saw it.

"No need for me," Whisper said. "I have my own." She pulled out a camera from her purse and showed it to Mr. Baxter.

He examined it for a few seconds. "Yeah, that'll do. It's at least as good as mine." He turned his attention back to Josh, Zach, and Kendra. "Remember, those are my personal property, so please be careful with them. Only use them at the farm and bring them back to me tomorrow after school. Got it?"

They nodded. "You have a memory card in here?" Zach asked.

"Yeah, they each have one loaded in. You'll have plenty of space for pictures. Snap one ever few seconds, and don't worry about checking them there. It's better to look on the big computer monitor anyway. And no more than a half-hour. Then home to hit the books. Even you, Ms. Phelps. Understand?"

Kendra rolled her eyes. "How come you're picking on me? Zach does the same amount of work."

"Hey, don't bring me into this."

Josh and Whisper looked at each other and shared a laugh. He wanted to step over just to be closer to her, but that'd probably look weird and make him look like a stalker. So he held his ground and contented himself with sharing the moment with her.

"Fine," Mr. Baxter said, rolling his eyes right back at Kendra. "All of you hit the books equally hard. Especially you two, Mr. Hart and Ms. Douglas. Is that better, Ms. Phelps?"

"Sigh. You don't need to get all dramatic on us, Mr. Baxter." Everyone cracked up except Kendra, who rolled her eyes again. They said goodbye to Mr. Baxter and headed out to hunt some ghosts.

Click to read Chapter Six Part One

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Chapter 4--Ghost Betweens

Click to read Chapter Three

Chapter 4

Mr. Baxter scrolled through the pictures, stopping long enough to see the anomalies on each. He asked some questions about a few--which way they were facing relative to the sun, how much glare they noticed, and other such concerns--but for the most part he clicked through. Josh followed along with him since he hadn't seen Zach's pictures on a big screen yet. He had to admit they were impressive, and though every instinct inside of him screamed that these were legitimate, he wasn't ready to call them supernatural.

After Mr. Baxter finished with Zach's pictures, he took Josh's phone and plugged it in. With a much smaller amount to go through, it didn't take as long. As he got to the last two, the ones Josh had a hard time disputing himself, he looked up at both boys. He pointed at the figure in the upper floor window.

"What do you see, Mr. Riley?"

"A farmer." He turned to Josh. "Wow, I can't believe you got him. That's who I saw. Remember? It was that dude right there."

"Do you see him, Mr. Hart?"

Josh nodded. "Yeah. Last night I figured it was because of what Zach said. I thought my mind was playing tricks on me."

"Do you see it, Mr. Baxter?" Zach asked.

"Plain as day. If it's a trick of the light, it's a hell of a trick." He pointed to the next picture. "How about here? What do you see?"

Josh and Zach both answered. "A headless person."

"Yeah, me too." Mr. Baxter sighed. "No offense, Mr. Hart, but I wish you had a better camera built into that phone. This one's not nearly good enough. To get proof, we need professional equipment."

"Mine are pretty good, though, right?" Zach said.

Mr. Baxter mulled that over for a second. "Yeah, those are okay, but we need something better. At home I have digital cameras that would give us our results. What do you guys say? If I bring a couple of those in tomorrow, would you be willing to go back for more pictures?"

"You bet," Zach said. "Sounds like fun."

"I suppose we were going to go back anyway. We might as well do it with better cameras."

"Excellent. No need to mention this to any of the other teachers or students. Most people don't quite get the concept of ghosts."

As Mr. Baxter unplugged Josh's phone, Kendra, Zach's girlfriend and one of Josh's best friends, walked in. Behind her stood the most beautiful girl Josh had ever seen. He'd never noticed her at school before.

"Hey, guys. Hello, Mr. Baxter." She walked over and gave Zach a quick hug. The girl stood back at the door. "Come in, Whisper. They won't bite. Well, I don't know about Josh, but Zach and Mr. B won't."

"Hey!" Josh said.

"I'm kidding, Joshy." Kendra turned to the new girl. "Josh is actually a really sweet guy." She turned and gave him an innocent smile. "Doesn't mean I can't pick on him, though."

The new girl gave them each a smile and walked closer. Yeah, he'd have remembered her. He smiled and mumbled a hello, but she didn't seem to hear.

Kendra took care of the introductions. "This is Whisper Douglas. It's her first day, sort of. She actually starts tomorrow, so I'm giving her a tour of everything."

Whisper gave a little wave and said, "Hello," just a bit louder than Josh had. Whisper. What a beautiful name.

Kendra pointed at Zach. "This is my boyfriend, Zach, who I was telling you about. I already mentioned, Josh. And that's Mr. Baxter. He teaches U.S. History."

"Nice to meet you, Whisper. I believe you're in my fifth period class. I was told I'd be getting a new student."

She pulled out a piece of paper which was likely her class schedule and nodded. "Yeah, there it is. Fifth period, U.S. History, Mr. Baxter."

Damn. Why couldn't she be in third period with him? Oh well, maybe they had another class together. He wanted to ask her what else she had, but his voice stuck in his throat. Kendra gave him a funny look. Oh no, she knew what he was thinking. How did she do that? Hopefully she wouldn't clue Whisper in.

"You lucked out you got Mr. B instead of Ms. Fredricks," Zack said. "His lessons are way cool. He even talks about ghosts and all kinds of other cool stuff."

"Thank you for the endorsement, Mr. Riley. I'm glad to know I'm getting through to you in my own little way."

They all chuckled, even Whisper. She had the laugh of an angel. Josh smiled again, and then felt himself blush as he figured Kendra was watching. Oh man, she was going to pick on him later. Hopefully out of Whisper's earshot.

"That's cool," Whisper said. "The history teacher at my old school was so boring. Any little thing will help."

"Do you like ghosts?" Josh asked. Lame, but it was all he could think to say. Kendra fought hard to keep a straight face, so he looked away and focused on Whisper.

"Yeah, some of the supernatural stuff is pretty interesting."

Zach perked up. "Do you believe?"

She bit her lip. Oh, god, that was cute. And a bit sexy. If that was how she mulled most things over, Josh needed to ask some thought provoking questions just so he could watch her do that.

"I want to," she finally answered. "But I don't know. I've never seen one."

"You and Mr. Hart might be surprised," Mr. Baxter said.

Before Josh could ask what he meant, Kendra let out a big exaggerated sigh. "Enough with the ghost stuff. What are you guys doing anyway?"

Before either Josh or Zach could answer, Mr. Baxter said, "We're talking about starting up a digital camera club. Don't say anything to anyone yet, though. We don't want to get hopes up if it doesn't take off."

"I love taking pictures," Whisper said. "If you do start it up, can I join?"

"Yeah," Josh said. "You're in."

Zach gave him an odd look, and Kendra had to turn away, he assumed to laugh. Whisper just gave a little shrug of joy. Wow, he so needed to make her do that more often. That was hot.

Kendra composed herself and turned back around. "I want in, too." She batted her eyelashes at Zach. "You don't mind, do you, sweetie?"

He shrugged. "No, that's fine. I like hanging out with you."

She flicked her hair back, a smug smile on her face. "We should probably get on with our tour. You ready, Whisper?"

"Yeah. It was nice to meet you all."

"You, too," Josh said. He wanted to add something else, something witty, but nothing came to mind, so he waved.

"Why don't you two meet us back here tomorrow after school and we'll talk more about the digital photography club. Remember, don't mention it to anyone else yet. Okay?"

Both girls agreed, waved, and left. When they were gone, Zach punched Josh in the arm. "Dude, we weren't supposed to tell anyone about any of this. Why did you invite her?"

He shrugged. "I don't know. She said she liked taking pictures. Besides, I didn't mention the ghosts."

"No, it's fine," Mr. Baxter said. "I saw her file, and I think she'll be a good fit."

"What did it say?" Zach said.

Mr. Baxter shook his head. "We're not treating this so-called club very academically, but remember, I'm still the teacher and you're the student. I'm not sharing that sort of info."

"Dude, he could get sued," Josh said.

"That, too, Mr. Hart, but more to the point, it's unethical. Anyway, Ms. Douglas should fit in fine. I have a bit of a worry about Ms. Phelps, though. I can't see her taking this very seriously."

"If she gets bored, she'll go do something else. Don't worry about her."

"Besides," Josh said, "I've known Kendra since we were five years old. If she gets caught up in something, she'll be obsessed. She could be a good asset for us."

Mr. Baxter rubbed his chin and nodded. "If you guys are fine with it, it's okay with me. You'll be the one at the farm, not me."

"How come? Don't you want to see the ghosts?"

"I'd love to see the ghosts, but I can't join you on this. District policy."

Josh wanted to say that it'd be like a field trip or sporting event or something, and plenty of teachers did those. Why couldn't Mr. Baxter? He didn't want to ask, though, in case it was something so obvious it made him look dumb.

"Okay, boys, come back tomorrow after school. I have plenty of cameras for all of you. Remember, say nothing about this. Ghost hunting wouldn't be a club the PTA or school board would endorse."

Josh and Zach said goodbye and headed out of the class. Before they got out the door, Mr. Baxter said, "And Mr. Riley, don't forget to do your reading for class tomorrow. There just may be a pop quiz."

"Ah, man. I hate pop quizzes. But how come you tell me and not Josh?"

Mr. Baxter kept a straight face, but Josh saw the sparkle in his eye. "Because Mr. Hart doesn't seem to have a problem getting his assignments done on a regular basis."

Josh laughed while Zach scowled. They waved goodbye and headed for the parking lot.

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Monday, April 2, 2012

Chapter 3--Ghost Betweens

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Chapter 3

"It's unbelievable, dude. You can't tell me those aren't pictures of ghosts."

Josh shook his head and looked around their history class to make sure no one, especially Mr. Baxter, could hear them. "What if it was all a huge coincidence? The light bounced off everything just right, and it looks like ghosts because we want it to."

"You're grasping at straws. You know that place is haunted. Why can't you just admit it?"

As much as he wanted to argue, Josh couldn't. He felt it down in his bones, his soul, that the farm was haunted. Their pictures proved it. But he wouldn't give Zach the satisfaction. Not yet, anyway. "We need more proof."

They both feigned interest in their worksheet as Mr. Baxter looked at them. When he turned away, Zach whispered, "Fine, we'll go back. But when we find the same stuff, you have to promise to admit that I'm right."

Josh frowned but nodded. "Fine."

"Gentlemen, please see me after class."

Crap, Mr. Baxter had heard them. "Sorry, Mr. Baxter," Josh said. "We'll stop talking and work."

"I appreciate that, Mr. Hart, but I'd still like to see you after class."

"Yes, sir," they both said. Snickers came from their classmates. Mr. Baxter quieted everyone with a quick glance around the room. Zach rolled his eyes at Josh, and the two buckled down on their work.


When the bell sounded, everyone but Josh and Zach hurried out. "Don't worry, I'll write you two notes excusing you from being tardy to your next class." He walked to the door, said something to a student outside, and closed it.

Josh tried to diffuse the situation. "Mr. Baxter, we're really sorry. We didn't mean to disrupt class or anything."

"Don't worry about it. I doubt anyone but me heard what you said."

"So why are we here?" Zach asked.

He pulled up a chair and faced them. "The farm. The abandoned one with the mysterious changing sign. You were there?"

"Yeah," Zach said. "We went yesterday after school to take pictures."

"Pictures? Did you get many? Did you find anything on them?"

Zach's face lit up. "Yeah, we got all kinds of weird things. Mysterious balls of light to partial and full apparitions. It was epic!"

Mr. Baxter's eyes went wide. "Really? I need to see those. What sort of cameras did you use?"

They both pulled their cell phones out of their pockets. Though it was against school rules to have them powered on during school hours, there was nothing wrong with carrying them.

"Cell phone cameras?" Mr. Baxter frowned. "Not ideal, but not a total loss. Can I see them? After school?"

Zach nodded, his grin widening by the second. "Sure. If you have the right cables for them, we can plug them right into your computer. We got some really cool stuff."

Josh shrugged. "Though a lot of it could be dust or tricks of the light."

"Not a believer, huh?" Mr. Baxter said. "I would have pegged you two the other way around, with Mr. Riley as the skeptic."

"Nope," Josh said. "Zach thinks there are ghosts everywhere."

"And you?"

"I've never seen anything that proves they are."

"I find that hard to believe."

Josh frowned. "Huh? Why?"

Mr. Baxter shook his head. "Never mind. So you'll be here after school? I have plenty of cables lying around. I'm sure we'll get a couple of them to work."

"Sure thing, Mr. B," Zach said. "You'll see how cool these pics are, and maybe you can talk some sense into this guy here. There's no way these things aren't legit."

Mr. Baxter nodded and stared at them both, as if he could see right through their eyes and into their brains, reading their thoughts. A shiver ran though Josh.

The tardy bell rang, and Mr. Baxter stood up. "Let me get you two notes. When you leave, let my next class know they can come in."

Click to read Chapter Four

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Writing Prompt #99

Here is this week's speculative fiction prompt. I'm not labeling it this week, so take it whatever direction you choose. Have fun with it!

The Post Office demands more than just a mere stamp to deliver your letter.