TIMEGHOST: Chapters 6-8 by Leo Penazzi
Fremantle is left hundreds of kilometres behind. It is a distance that is covered within the flutter of an eyelid.
Coming in from the south wall the same figure of a young man who left the ghosts of the Fremantle Maritime Museum makes an appearance in Gene’s bedroom. In his night time glow he looks at the sleeping child and waits.
The room is filled with noise that cannot be heard.
There are the sounds of cannons blazing.
There are voices of pirates shouting in battle.
There are screams of those who have fallen victim to piracy.
There is blood that runs down the skull and crossbones banner.
There is a nightmare.
These sights and sounds are not heard by Gene. Instead the boy sleeps peacefully in his bed as all that came with the ghost fades into a dimension of dreams.
There seems to be no waking the lad. After a tiring day of school holiday adventure, the boy can do with all of the sleep he can manage. The ghost is not going to be so obliging.
Holding out a hand he gives it a slight wave and from the depth of sleep Gene begins to slowly waken.
With a yawn and a rubbing of his eyes he feels, rather than sees, something in his bedroom. Then the full figure of the apparition becomes apparent to him. There is someone other here.
Frightened at first, be pulls the pillow up to ward the spirit off, not that a pillow would make a useful weapon.
‘Who are you?’ he timidly asks, ‘where did you come from?’
The ghost begins to crowd his silence.
‘I am the spirit of Dieter van Hout.’
‘What?’ Gene becomes more alarmed and at the same time curious.
‘I am the spirit of Dieter van Hout.’
‘And who is he?’
‘I’m a sailor from long ago.’
‘Why are you here?’
‘You summoned me.’
Gene is puzzled at first; he cannot make out what is going on.
‘You summoned me from my bed of rest.’
‘How did I summon anyone?’
‘Your blood fell on the sacred stone and wakened me,’ the ghost points to the bluestone that is on Gene’s bedside table.
The boy is astounded.
‘Are, are you really a ghost?’
‘I am an immortal portrait of the unliving.’
‘Prove it,’ the increasingly intrigued youngster asks, fascinated by this stranger that glows so brightly in a strange light.
‘Proof is not required.’
‘I think there is,’ the boy becomes bolder now that he realises this stranger is not here to harm him.
‘Very well, I will give you proof.’
The simplest way is often the easiest way, and that way is for the ghost to walk through a solid wall and then emerge back in the room again. Levitation is always a good sign of a ghostly presence, so he picks up Gene’s Nintendo 3DS and starts it up before returning it to its position of rest.
Gene is amazed.
‘Do you believe now?’
‘I don’t know.’
‘What further proof do you want?’
At the door comes a scratching sound and what appears to be a rasping, almost chocked off noise.
‘Something else comes,’ van Hout says.
‘Wait just a sec, that’s our dog.’
He is out of his bed and, skirting around the spectre, opens the door to allow a golden retriever of advanced years into his room. The dog rushes to where the spirit is hovering and tries to bark at it. The barking ability of the old dog, however, is nil, and all it can manage is a rasping croak.
‘It’s all right Jazz,’ Gene strokes the pooch, ‘I’m all right.’
The ghost is impressed.
‘Do you like your dog?’
‘He’s my favourite friend.’
‘Why did you summon me?’ the spirit returns to his first call.
‘I didn’t summon you.’
‘It was your blood that woke the stone and I am here.’
Gene only has to recall the events of the day to understand what the ghost is talking about.
‘That, it was an accident.’
‘This is no accident and I am here.’
‘You’re here to do what?’
‘I am here by your side and will remain so until I am put to rest once more and for all time.’
‘So you’re here forever?’
‘For a mortal time span.’
‘And you’re my ghost?’
Gene grapples with the news that he has his own, personal ghost. The boy perks up at the prospect of having his own phantom to keep him company. His friends, especially his sister, cannot claim anything of the kind.
‘You will do whatever I want?’
‘As your spirit I will.’
‘Then fetch me a cola, I’m thirsty.’
Van Hout merely stretches out a hand and a bottle of cola appears, cold and ready for the drinking. Gene accepts it, but then hands it back to the ghost.
‘No, I had better not, mum might ask too many questions if she finds this in my bed,’ and the bottle is returned to the ghost, who stretches out a hand and the bottle of cola disappears back where it came from.
‘Is there anything else you want?’
‘Not for now.’
‘The call me if you need me.’
‘What do I call you?’
‘Speak these words, I summon the spirit of Dieter van Hout,’ with that the phantom melts into the darkness, the aura surrounding him vanishing into a natural light that falls through the window.
‘Did you see that Jazz? My own, personal ghost,’ Gene almost leaps into his bed; he is filled with expectancy with the day ahead.
Breakfast is the first social activity in the morning and both Gene and his sister Dru are at the table. On the table beside his spoon is the Stonehenge bluestone rock that Gene is now able to call his own.
Instead of taking an interest in what his father is doing around the kitchen he seems to be silently absorbed by what the rock has to offer. He stares at the stone as though he expects it to talk directly to him. Every lump and bump could tell a story and the boy would be willing to listen to what is being said.
‘Here you are, something healthy,’ Gene’s father says as he places a bowl before Gene and Dru and fills them up with cornflakes.
Gene is not interested.
‘What’s the matter boy, not feeling well?’ Peter asks as he adds the milk.
Gene just shrugs.
‘And what was the matter with you last night?’ Gene’s mother enters the kitchen drying her hair as she does so.
‘Not much,’ replies Gene as he picks up his spoon and begins stirring his cornflakes, all of which requires effort.
‘Did I hear you talking to someone?’
‘I heard someone talking in your room.’
Corrina places her hand on her son’s brow and has a feel.
‘You don’t have a fever.’
‘I don’t feel ill.’
‘Then what was going on last night?’
‘I heard Jazz come to the door and I let him in,’ Gene replies.
There is something else he could have added, but that he does not feel entirely convinced in himself that he ought to.
‘It seemed to me Jazz was trying to bark,’ Gene’s father says as he places a couple of slices of bread into the toaster.
‘Jazz can’t bark,’ replies Dru.
‘I know, but it didn’t stop her from trying to.’
‘Were there any prowlers around your window?’ Corrina wants to know.
‘No, course there weren’t, mum.’
‘Then who were you talking to?’
‘Jazz, I guess.’
‘I suppose that would make sense, in a way,’ Gene’s mother is unlikely to have any more out of her son so she is going to have to accept that explanation.
Gene has a taste of the cornflakes and then stirs them again.
‘And what’s that rock doing on the table?’ Gene’s mother points to the stone.
‘It’s his magic rock, mum.’
‘We don’t need rocks at the table, magic or otherwise,’ Corrina would remove the rock from the table but that Gene is quicker and grabs it before his mother can.
‘No, I want it here.’
‘Very well, put it in your room and it’s to stay there.’
‘Dad,’ begins Gene.
‘What would you do if you had a strange dream?’
‘I don’t know; depends on what sort of strange dream it is.’
‘Have you had any strange dreams?’
‘Some have been positively weird.’
‘What did you do about it?’
‘Nothing at all?’
‘No, they were just dreams; they don’t mean much, have you been having strange dreams, have you?’
‘Well, sort of.’
‘What about?’ asks Corrina.
‘Oh, what sort of sailors?’
‘Old fashioned sailors.’
‘Go on,’ asks his father as the toast pops up.
‘I thought I had a dream about a sailor coming back from the past, from the long ago past and talking to me.’
‘And what did he say?’
‘He said he will stay with me for as long as I want.’
‘Why would a sailor say that?’
‘Personally I’m not surprised you’re having dreams like that,’ deduces Gene’s mother as Dru finishes off her cornflakes with a scraping of the bowl.
‘All of that pirate stuff in your bedroom, and playing at pirates with your friends, it was bound to give you bad dreams.’
‘But mum it’s fun being a pirate.’
‘Not for those who are victims of those buccaneers.’
‘Now let the boy have his fun,’ Gene’s father bites into the vegemited slice.
‘I wasn’t going to say he should stop, but that he should expect some dreams when he becomes so attached to something.’
‘Anyway, back to your problem, you say you had a strange dream last night, boy?’
‘I’m pretty sure I did.’
‘I wouldn’t worry about it, you’ll dream of something else, something better tonight and you won’t need to worry about anything after that,’ his father reassures as he sips his glass of orange juice.
A shiny, elegant sports car purrs its way through the streets of Geraldton. With tinted windows all round no one is able to see inside what the occupants can see outside.
Turning off Cathedral Avenue and into Chapman Road, the car glides to a halt at the front of one of the shops lining the street in this part of town.
The vehicle does not go unnoticed.
Some of the boys who are standing around doing nothing but admiring the view and talking with their mates pay heed to the newly arrived car that. Though strangers come and go on a regular basis in Geraldton, the sight of such an expensive sports model catches the attention. There is not a young man among them who would not like a car like this one. All they can do is wish, and if they work hard enough they can earn the sorts of dollars necessary for a car such as that one, maybe.
The owners step out of the automobile.
There are two men, newcomers to this community, who have arrived. Both are entirely out of their scene.
The pair of strangers are in their late twenties. They are both wearing Italian suits and shoes. The two new arrivals look nothing like the young men who wear board shorts, T-shirts and thongs on their feet, just as their car is not a surf-board carrying panel vans and utes. Looking around through brand name sunglasses, they look as if they could have stepped out of a boardroom in some European capital.
‘This is Geraldton, Horst,’ says one of the men as a handful of skateboarding youths rushes by on the footpath.
‘Is this Geraldton, Arnd?’
‘According to the map it is.’
‘And our hotel is where?’
‘It’s just around the corner.’
‘Booked and with views of the ocean.’
‘We’re not here for the views.’
‘I know, I know.’
‘Just to remind you we’re here for a piece a blue sculpture that rightfully belongs to us, and this time we’re going to find it, wherever it is.’
‘Even in a town this small it will be difficult.’
‘We can begin with the auction, I heard a lot of small bits and pieces went for sale there, including rare stones. That is the place to start.’
‘A long shot.’
‘But a good one, we’ll find the three stones even if we have to travel the ends of the earth for it.’
‘It feels as if we’ve already done that.’
Horst penetrates the tint of his sunnies to give a glare that would cut to the bone.
‘If you weren’t my cousin I would sack you.’
‘If you weren’t my cousin then I’d be home in Holland.’
‘We’ve been a long way on the hunt for those stones, but it’ll be worth it, once we find them we can look forward to greater powers, greater powers than even we could ever have imagined.’
‘So you say.’
‘So the old book has it.’
What the two are saying could be of interest to a few locals who are gathered close by to have a better look at their vehicle, but as they are speaking entirely in their native tongue what comes doubly obvious is that is takes two Dutchmen to speak in double Dutch to the locals. These Geraldton youths can admire, even though they do not understand.
‘Do you have the address where the auction took place?’ Horst asks.
Arnd reaches into his top pocket and from it takes out a wallet. From his wallet he produces a scrap of paper and hands it over.
‘Yes, yes, we have to find this address.’
‘Now or later?’
‘Hotel first, we can take our rooms and tidy and freshen up a little’
The piece of newspaper is folded and placed into his top pocket. As if noticing they are being looked at Arnd behaves a little more circumspectly.
‘I think we’re being watched.’
‘Nonsense, it’s just a bunch of country bumpkins.’
‘I think we ought to change our clothes, to fit in with the local colour.’
Horst has a look around him.
‘That is a good idea.’
‘Look at what they’re wearing.’
‘We don’t have anything as casual, or as gaudy.’
‘We’ll have to shop then.’
‘We will, I don’t intend staying too long in this place, when we find what we are looking for we’ll leave.’
‘Before or after we have something to eat?’
‘We can eat later, auction first.’
‘I’m hungry now.’
‘I sense we’re closing in on those stones, and we are going to find them, let no one stand in the way of what we’re doing, so show some enthusiasm, cousin.’
‘I’m trying, come on, let’s to the hotel so we can take off to the auction, we might be able to leave today.’
‘If not we’ll be well prepared.’
The pair has their plan of action mapped out. Climbing back into the car after taking in a dose of bracing, salty air, the engine purrs back into life and the car is backed out onto the road. This car is off in a flash, making its way down the road to one of Geraldton’s hotels.