As I stated in my last post, I am a writer. And I am currently working on finishing my first novel. For all of you fellow writers out there you probably know how difficult a task this is – probably the most challenging thing I’ve done in my life – and you probably also know how maddening being in the world you have created with the characters you have created can become, especially if they aren’t behaving as you’d like them to. So in order to stay my insanity (and also to share my love of the written word with my nephew Mason) I decided to write for fun (not to say writing my novel isn’t fun, but it is also painful at times), to let loose a little and see what happens, and so I have created:
The Adventures of Mason Malloy – Ghost Hunter
I hope you enjoy Mason’s first spooky adventure!
Wait – Who, Me?
Mason Malloy had just turned eleven on Saturday November 19th when something interesting happened; the clock struck ten, the hour of his birth, and with that clanging of the clock Mason Malloy became a ghost hunter. It was as if the black sky of night parted and within that sliver of a moon was released an inordinate amount of power. Power Mason would soon put to use. Because there were spirits lurking in the shadows, hiding in the darkness of Mason’s footsteps, biding their time, waiting for the right moment to strike, to make Mason disappear. Because if Mason disappeared, then he would never have the chance to vanquish those spirits. So there in Mason’s shadow they waited.
But Mason didn’t know any of this yet. Not yet. In fact, he had no idea he held so much power in the mere tip of his finger than most people would know in their entire lifetime. No. Mason was too busy blasting soldiers into oblivion with his new birthday present – a Sony PS4.
“Take that,” he shouted. “Die! Eat metal, jerks!”
“Mason,” his mother said. “Don’t talk like that in front of your sister.”
Mason rolled his eyes. What was his sister doing awake anyways? It was ten o’clock at night. Shouldn’t she be asleep by now? In fact, when Mason was four he had been in bed by nine. At the latest. So why did Rachel get to stay up?
“Fine,” Mason grumbled. “It’s my birthday.”
His mother lifted an eyebrow as if to say DON’T TALK BACK. So Mason didn’t. He happily ignored his little sister and went back to his game. Bang! Bang, bang, bang!
The front door opened and his father walked in.
Rachel ran to him and he scooped her into his arms. Mason barely glanced up, too busy blasting those soldiers, he’d make it to the next level before bed.
“Happy Birthday, bud.” His father patted Mason on the shoulder. “Pause that. Give me a hug.”
Mason did as his father requested, noting the purple bags underneath his father’s eyes – he worked too much. Mason didn’t want to work too much when he was older. He wanted to be a musician, like Bob Dylan, that’s who his mother listened to, or else he wanted to be a veterinarian. Or he could always be a cop, blasting the bad guys and all, just like in his games. Or…
“What’s that?” Mason asked.
He’d noticed the present peeking out of his father’s bag.
Mason yanked the present from the bag and ripped into it with glee. What was it? It looked like a Nerf gun but it wasn’t. It looked like someone had made it themselves. All wood. Handcrafted. But what in the world was it?
“Cool,” Mason said. “Thanks, Dad.”
“It’s a gun.
But Mason didn’t know that because he didn’t yet know how to use it. A yawn slipped from his lips. He’d figure it out in the morning.
“Don’t think that I didn’t see that,” his mother said, her eyes always eagle sharp. “Time for bed, birthday boy.”
After brushing his teeth and washing his face, making sure to wash behind his ears like his mother told him to, Mason cozied up underneath the covers of his bed.
The house settled. Floorboards creaked. The heat kicked on. Mason closed his eyes and went to sleep dreaming he was in his video game shooting the bad guys. His eyes opened when he thought he heard a noise, Rachel talking to someone in her bedroom across the hall, but she couldn’t have been talking to anyone because everyone was in bed. Right? Right. It must be a dream. He must be dreaming. Mason slipped back into sleep.
Mason hated mornings and liked to sleep right through them. This morning was no different. He woke close to ten and found his little sister in the living room dancing along to Dora the Explorer. She ran to him and hugged his leg.
He ruffled her hair. “Morning, Rachel.”
Sometimes he couldn’t help it – she looked so cute with her cherub dimples and curly locks of strawberry hair. Had Mason looked like that when he’d been young? He was tall now, and lean as a racehorse. And pale. Jeez, he was pale. Skin almost translucent, as if you could see to the other side of existence where the ghosts and goblins lived by looking through his skin. Little did he know, he could – he could see into that world and he would be seeing into that world soon enough.
“I’m hungry,” Rachel said, eyes bright and blue and wide.
“Mom,” Mason yelled into the kitchen. “Rachel’s hungry!”
His mother’s movements were fast and furious as she poured Lucky Charms and some milk into a bowl. Pushed it across the counter where Rachel was now sitting at the corner.
“What about me?” Mason asked.
Lucky Charms was his favorite. He liked to pick out all the blue and green marshmallows and eat those first. He saved the actual cereal part for last, for when it was drenched in sugary milk.
“You’re old enough to make it yourself. I’ve got to run. Got called into work.”
His mother was a nurse and with her kind dark eyes her patients trusted her. A healer, that’s what she was.
“I won’t be long,” she said. “Watch your sister for a few hours.”
“But – “
“Don’t argue. Your father’s at work and you’re old enough to babysit.”
Mason closed his mouth. Slammed a bowl onto the counter and poured his own cereal, clanking the spoon against the bowl as loudly as he could, slurping up the milk like a barbarian.
His mother paused and ruffled his thick blond hair, the curls at the end a reminder of the little boy he had been. He was beginning to look like a man now and before she knew it he would be graduating high school and leaving home.
“If you watch your sister I’ll up your allowance by ten dollars.”
Mason paused and considered. “Done.” He mostly agreed because he knew he didn’t have a choice.
His mother gave him a kiss, gave Rachel a kiss, and was out the door.
Rachel cried. Of course she cried. She always cried when mom left so Mason turned up Dora the Explore and said, “Look, Rachel. It’s Dora.”
It worked, as it always did, and Rachel became distracted, her tears drying up on her red blotchy face.
What would Mason do with Rachel? He’d wanted to go explore the house at the end of their neighborhood, the one that looked all run-down, that looked like a mansion, like it was from another era where there were butlers and grand rooms such as a library or a ballroom, a house like you saw in the movies. Some kids at school had said it was haunted, but Mason didn’t believe in things such as that. You couldn’t fool him. Ghosts didn’t exist. There was reality and there was fiction and ghosts belonged strictly in the fiction category. But still, his curiosity was getting the better of him.
That and the fact that his best friend Carter had bet him ten dollars he wouldn’t go inside. Mason wasn’t a sissy. Mason was going to go inside that decrepit, “haunted” mansion.
“Let’s go for a walk, Rachel,” Mason said and helped her with her shoes. Slid her coat over her shoulders and helped her button it up.
Rachel was a little Princess but she was also a tom-boy and that was what Mason liked about her the most – she wasn’t afraid to get dirty. In fact, sometimes she got dirtier than Mason and she was the one to get scolded and not him. He liked when that happened.
They grabbed their cute little pup Harley and hooked on his leash and off the three of them went.
Mason patted his backpack – he’d made sure to bring snacks and water and the gun his father had given him for his birthday. He still had no idea how to use it.
Carter met up with them at the corner of the street – a shorter boy than Mason and not as quick-witted, but he was funny and that was what Mason liked about him.
“Are you ready to see some ghosts?” Carter jabbed Mason in the arm.
Rachel’s eyes went wide. “Ghosts?”
Mason sighed. “Great,” he said to Carter. “You’re gonna’ scare her.”
“I’m not scared,” Rachel said.
“She’s not scared,” Carter repeated.
Harley simply barked in agreement.
Mason had to laugh. “Okay. Yeah. I’m ready to see some ghosts.”
The air had a brisk bite to it, but snow had yet to fall, an odd occurrence for Michigan in late November. But that was fine because the trees still held some colored leaves, the red and orange and yellow clung to the waning branches with desperation. If you looked close enough at some of the branches, the ones that had been stripped bare of their leaves, they looked like fingers, fingers that were reaching out for you, eager to snap you into their grasp.
At least that’s the way the big tree in front of the abandoned mansion looked.
“Wow,” Carter breathed. “It looks even scarier close up.”
All of the kids in the neighborhood had avoided this block, scared to get too close to the house. There had been a rumor that a little boy had gone inside and was never to be seen again.
Mason thought it was a load of crap. Stories told to scare you. That was all.
But wait, Harley was barking at the house.
It was hard for Harley to look viscous being the size of your arm and all and probably just about the cutest thing you’d ever seen, but there he was, barking away, looking viscous, lips pulled back, teeth bared, barking, growling – as if he could sense someone or something’s presence inside the house.
“Dude,” Carter said. “Your dog’s going crazy.”
“It’s okay,” Mason said, dropping to his knees. “It’s okay, Harley.”
Harley licked his face and Mason laughed.
“That’s better, boy.”
Harley stopped barking, but still seemed wary, never taking his tiny black eyes off the house.
“Who’s that?” Rachel asked, pointing at an upstairs window in the mansion.
The boys followed the direction of her finger but didn’t see anyone in the window.
“What do you see, Rachel?” Mason asked.
“A girl.” Rachel giggled and waved. “She’s waving hi.”
Mason shivered. What was Rachel talking about? She was too young to try and scare them so who did she see?
“I’m creeped out,” Carter said.
Mason puffed up his chest. “There’s no such thing as ghosts.”
But as the words slipped from his mouth and into the air he heard someone whisper, Come inside.
“Did you hear that?” Mason asked.
“Hear what?” said Carter.
“I heard it,” Rachel said. “Let’s go inside.”
Rachel sounded excited, eager to play with whoever was inside the house, whoever was calling to them, but the voice that Mason heard wasn’t a playful one. There was a sinister edge in the tone.
Mason didn’t want to go inside, but to not go inside would be to admit that he was scared and that ghosts could quite possibly be real. So Mason took one step forward. Harley dug his paws into the ground. It looked as though he shook his cute puppy head “no”.
“Okay,” Mason said. “You wait here.”
He tied Harley up to the run-down fence in front of the mansion.
Rachel put her hand in Mason’s and her hand was small and warm – a comfort. Together, they walked.
Carter dragged behind. “I don’t know, guys.”
“What?” Mason sneered. “You scared?”
So Carter followed.
The front door creaked open with barely a push. Mason thought he heard a voice, We’ve been waiting for you.
“Hello?” he called. His voice echoed off of the walls of the empty house.
They stepped inside. One step. Two. The door slammed shut behind them and Carter yelped in fear.
“Who did that?”
Mason didn’t know. “Probably the wind.”
Was he trying to convince himself or Carter?
“Yeah.” Carter nodded. “The wind.”
They looked around. Even though the sun had been bright outside it didn’t bring any of its warmth or light into the house. The windows were boarded up. Everything was dark.
“Got a flashlight?” Mason asked Carter.
Wait. Carter? Where was Carter?
The front door opened and closed and Mason heard Carter’s footsteps retreating from the mansion.
What a scaredy cat. He’d probably peed his pants, too. Mason would have to razz him about this for the rest of his life. He’d never let Carter live this down. But that also meant that Mason had to succeed with his mission and his mission was to go deeper inside of the house.
His eyes adjusted to the darkness and one of the boards had fallen from a window when Carter had left so that a ray of sunshine peeked through.
The floors looked marble. And there was a chandelier that hung from the tall open ceiling.
A chill passed over Mason’s neck, quick and fast – it felt like ice.
“I’m cold,” Rachel said. “What is that?”
“I don’t know.”
Mason gripped her hand and led her toward the spiral staircase. “Hang on tight.”
“Okay,” she said.
Halfway up the wooden staircase Rachel’s foot broke straight through the wood.
“Mason!” she screamed.
Mason dropped to his knees and held his sister. “I got you.” He carefully pulled her back up through the broken stair and felt her leg to see if there were any cuts. “Does this hurt?”
She sniffled but shook her head.
See? Rachel was a tom-boy. She wasn’t a sissy either.
They kept moving forward. Feeling their way in the dark. Until suddenly Mason felt a hand on his back give him a small forceful shove forward.
“Come on, Carter.”
Mason whipped around but Carter wasn’t behind him.
He heard giggling, a girl’s, but it wasn’t Rachel’s.
This place was giving him the creeps. Maybe they should turn back around.
Yes. The responsible thing to do would be to go back home and make lunch for him and Rachel. Put Dora the Explorer back on television. Take a look at her leg more carefully and make sure she was okay. Yes. This was exactly what they would do.
“Let’s go, Rachel.”
“But she wants us to play.”
Mason felt that cold chill again. “Who does?”
Mason couldn’t see anything or anyone and he had no idea what Rachel was talking about so he dragged her back down the stairs, careful to avoid the broken step, and back into the main room where there had been a tiny sliver of light before. But the window was boarded up again. Who had done that? He needed to see the door. Get to the door. Get them out of there. Into the fresh air. The street. Back to Harley and Carter and then they would run, run home as fast as they could and never come back.
Wait. Where did Rachel go? Her little hand wasn’t in his hand anymore.
“Rachel?” His voice was tinged with panic. “Rachel. Where are you?”
“She wants to play.”
Rachel’s voice was further away as if she were across the room.
“Don’t go anywhere, Rachel. Don’t go with anyone. It isn’t safe.”
If only he had light. He needed light. He needed to see Rachel, get to her, save her. But from what? Suddenly, his fingertips began to glow. Light shot forth. As if he were a star, a supernova, a comet torpedoing for Earth.
“Mason, you glow.”
Rachel! He could see her now. In fact, he could see the entire room. Mason was the light.
And there – right there behind Rachel – a little girl. But she didn’t look like a little girl. Not any little girl Mason had ever known. Her face vibrated so that you couldn’t make out her features and she hovered above the ground. Getting closer and closer to Rachel, arms stretched outwards, fingernails like knives, arms stripped of skin, only bare bones. Her mouth opened wide. She wanted to eat Rachel. Consume her. Become her.
Mason didn’t think, only reacted. He reached into his backpack, pulled out the “gun” his father had given him, and in his glowing hands the gun glowed, too. He aimed the gun at the little girl – the ghost – yes, Mason now believed in ghosts, and pulled the trigger.
A piercing shriek filled the air as the ghost was sucked upwards and forward, flying fast, fast toward Mason, and then into the gun where a gooey green liquid became trapped inside.
Suddenly, all of the boards on the windows dropped to the ground. The front door flew open. Light filled the dark and Mason stopped glowing. The gun went from neon green back to boring old wood, and the gooey liquid inside the gun disappeared.
“Cool,” Rachel said.
Mason let out a shaky breath. “Cool.”
Back home Mason didn’t know what to think or how to react to everything that had happened. He hadn’t told Carter and neither had Rachel, but now Rachel looked up at Mason as if he were a hero.
He was quiet the the rest of the evening, and later, in his bedroom, he looked at his hands half-expecting them to glow.
What had happened? How had he done that? And what had been behind Rachel?
A ghost. It had to have been. And he had been the ghost hunter.
He closed his eyes and instead of being scared at what was in store, if there were more ghosts to come, he felt excited. Revved up. Special.
Because he was.
He ran through the events of the day in his head and tried to memorize every single detail.
Rachel. Rachel had heard the ghosts as well. Was she special, too?
Then Rachel giggled and Mason’s eyes flew open. He wasn’t dreaming. He knew he wasn’t dreaming this time. Who was Rachel talking to?
He tiptoed out of bed, out of his bedroom, across the hall and peered inside her bedroom.
Rachel sat on the floor in the middle of her bedroom. She had her tea set out, but hadn’t sat any of her dolls or stuffed animals to tea.
“Who are you talking to Rachel?” Mason whispered.
Rachel looked at the corner of her room as if somebody was there and then looked at Mason. “No one,” Rachel said. “You scared him away.”
“Who’s Henry, Rachel?” Or, rather, what was Henry?
Rachel looked up and smiled. “My new friend.”
Stay tuned for Mason’s next adventure!