TIMEGHOST: Chapters 9-12
Latest chapters in Leo Penazzi’s novel, Timeghost…
Supernatural powers are awaked as a ghost rises from the dead. The power now rests with the four children who can see the tormented ghost with their own eyes. To perform a good deed and help the ghost back to the spirit world would mean an adventure the youngsters are keen to undertake. However two new arrivals to Geraldton have other ideas as to what to do with the powers of the other side. The race is then on to complete the set of bluestones with their amazing powers to see who will be the first to collect all three stones.
Playing at pirates is not on young Gene’s mind. Though he is wearing the playgarm of a swashbuckler his heart is not in it.
‘Come on first mate, defend your side of the ship or we’ll be boarded soon enough by the king’s men, then we’ll be hung with a silver oar on the gallows,’ Langley tries to encourage his mate but it fails.
Instead Gene prefers just to sit around and use the tip of his sword to make imaginary outlines on the ground. The log-come-mock-pirate-ship does not appear as interesting to him today as it did the day before.
‘Don’t feel like it.’
‘And why not?’ Langley is irritated that he has to give up the game.
‘Because I don’t.’
‘Look at our flag, it’s flying at full stretch, we’re the best pirates in these waters, everyone is afraid of us, so come on, let’s at it,’ he would encourage further, but that further encouragement still falls even flatter.
‘What’s the matter with you, you thinking about your girlfriend?’
‘Don’t have one.’
‘Not yet by the way you’re carrying on, so, what’s the problem, suffer a wound? A cannonball hit you? A sword take off your arm? What?’
‘No, I had this funny dream last night.’
‘Yes, it was really weird.’
‘A ghost, really? What happened?’
‘Do you want to hear about my dream?’
‘Sure, wait a moment,’ popping his head up from the log Langley calls, ‘Dru, Javia, come here!’
From out of the scrub the two girls appear.
‘What’s the matter, Gene hurt himself again?’ asks Dru.
‘No, come over here, your brother wants to tell us a story.’
‘About pirates, I bet,’ replies Javia.
‘No about ghosts!’
‘But ghosts don’t exist.’
‘That isn’t what Gene says.’
Intrigued by the prospect of listening into a ghost story, the two girls climb aboard the makeshift galleon and settle into the bulwarks of the mighty hulk.
‘Go on Gene, we’re waiting,’ urges Dru.
‘Yes, let’s here about ghosts,’ adds Langley.
‘Well, it happened like this, last night, in the middle of the night according to my clock, I woke up and I found a man standing in my bedroom.’
‘You did, what sort of a man?’ Javia asks.
‘A young man.’
‘What was he wearing?’
‘He was wearing these old clothes, like you see in books about people ages ago.’
‘What did he want?’
‘I don’t know, he didn’t tell me that much.’
‘What did you do? Langley urges his mate on.
‘I asked him who he was, and he said he is the spirit of Dieter van Hout.’
‘What did he look like?’ Dru inquires.
‘He was a young man covered in a strange glow, a ghostly glow and one that lit up the room in a strange light.’
‘And you weren’t frightened?’
‘How do you know he was a ghost and not some intruder?’
‘I asked him to do what ghosts do and he did it, he walked through walls, picked up stuff without touching it, he fetched stuff without leaving the room, he floated in the air, and no one heard him either.’
The three children find the explanation incredible, but they listen just the same.
‘And what did you do then?’
‘That was when Jazz wanted to come into the room, she barked at the ghost and must have seen and heard him, but no one else did.’
‘Why didn’t you tell this to mum?’ Dru asks of her brother.
‘No one would have believed me.’
‘What made the ghost come to you anyway?’ Javia puzzles over the obvious question.
‘Because I touched the stone and left my blood on it, that’s what brought him to me, at least that’s what Dieter said.’
‘Well, what makes you think we believe you?’ asks Langley.
‘Don’t you think I’m telling the truth?’
‘I think you’ve been reading too many Goosebumps books and seen too many ghost stories Gene.’
The lad is hurt by the accusation.
‘Very well, let’s have a look.’
Reaching into his backpack he takes out the bluestone and holds it up, a little sheepishly. Though he was advised by the spirit himself he is not so sure if the calling of the ghost will work.
‘I summon the spirit of Dieter van Hout!’
Gene repeats the phrase exactly as the phantom told him.
A moment later and there is an eerie light that outdoes the sunlight of a broad, cloudless day. From nowhere the ghost of Dieter appears to him, hovering a little off the ground.
‘You have summoned me,’ the ghost says.
‘M friends don’t believe you exist.’
‘Who are you talking to?’ Langley asks.
‘There, to ghost is there.’
‘I can’t see anyone.’
‘Nor I,’ adds Javia.
‘I don’t see anyone either,’ Dru affirms what the others state.
‘Well, he’s there.’
‘No he isn’t, it’s just in your imagination.’
‘Come on Dieter, you tell them.’
‘Only you can see me Gene, the others cannot.’
‘Because I have shared what is most precious in you, your blood.’
‘Then can my friends and my sister see you too?’
‘Are they pure of heart and purpose?’
‘Yes, I’d vouch for them.’
‘Then they are to place a drop of their blood on the stone and repeat these words, by the spirits of the other world I summon Dieter van Hout!’
‘What’s going on?’ asks an impatient Langley.
The two girls would have given up right now and opted to leave.
‘I can show you my ghost,’ Gene promises his friends, and his sister, before they decide to leave him.
‘I’m going to have to take your blood, put it on this stone and utter some sacred words, then you’ll see him.’
The challenge is cast at their feet, and now that there is a prospect of seeing a real, live ghost the two girls are not so sure.
‘All right, I’ll do it,’ Langley says with greater confidence.
‘What about you two? Going to join in or chicken out?’
‘Are you going to hurt us?’ asks Dru, ‘because if you hurt us I’ll tell mum!’
‘I only want your blood.’
‘All right then, we’ll see this ghost too,’ Javia pluckily replies.
‘Come on then, gather in.’
The three gather in around Gene who pulls a pocket knife from his pocket and opens up a sharp blade.
‘Give me your fingers.’
Solemnly and with sincerity he pricks the fingers of his sister, Javia and Langley. The bleeding fingers are then placed on the bluestone.
‘Repeat after me; by the spirits of the other world I summon Dieter van Hout!’
The trio repeat the words.
In the whirlwind of a storm and strange lights, from out of nowhere the ghost of the man materialises. He is as real to their eyes as he is to the eyes of Gene.
The threesome are awestruck.
The threesome are dumbfounded.
The threesome stand in dry-dock.
‘What do you think now?’ Gene is able to ask with justified pride.
‘I can see him,’ whispers Langley.
‘So can I,’ his sister adds.
‘What do we say to him?’
‘Ask him anything you like and he’ll answer you,’ the voice of experience takes over, since Gene is an old hand at this he can lord it over his friends and sibling.
‘Are, are you a ghost?’ begins Langley.
‘I was, in life, Dieter van Hout.’
‘When did you live?’ Javia perkily wants to know.
‘I died in the year of our Lord sixteen hundred and twenty-nine.’
‘Where are you from?’ Dru wants her curiosity satisfied.
‘Then what are you doing here?’
‘I am here to stay with the one who released me, Gene.’
Gene wears a big grin; he might as well be asking ‘who is right now?’
‘But what doing?’ Langley asks.
‘Whatever is asked of me.’
‘And you want nothing in return?’
‘I can only make one request.’
‘And what’s that?’ Gene is surprised to hear he could be imposed upon by a ghost, but he is willing to hear the spirit out.
‘The stone by which you summoned me comes in three parts, find the other two parts and bring the three pieces together, speak the spell and I will be forever released from this torment of wandering the earth and serving whoever calls on me.’
Gene becomes as thoughtful as his companions. The quartet receives the answer, but they can literally feel the centuries of anguish felt by the phantom. It is as if whatever the ghost feels they can be a part of.
‘Where can we find two more pieces of stone like that one? They could be anywhere around the world,’ Langley says what the others are perhaps thinking.
‘You can find the pieces, they are not around the world, all three pieces are here in this town, you have one, there are but two more to find.’
‘Where?’ Dru puts a hopeful query.
‘I cannot know, the man who I last served, the man who died and owned this stone, had brought all three stones together and was about to perform the spell when he died. The stones are now somewhere in the town of Geraldton.’
‘You don’t know where?’
‘My powers do not go that far.’
‘Then what are we waiting for, let’s start looking for the other two pieces and set the spirit free,’ Gene says encouragingly.
‘Where do we begin looking for stones? Geraldton must be full of them,’ replies Langley.
‘Someone must know something,’ his sister tells him.
‘Yes, if we ask around we surely can find the two of them, then we can set the spirit back to the spirit world,’ his sister glows with confidence.
‘Are we all in for the hunt?’ asks Gene.
‘I am,’ his sister is the first to answer.
‘So am I,’ pledges Javia.
‘Me too,’ Langley is last, but not the least.
The phantasm is not moved either way.
‘And when we find the three stones do we call on you?’ Langley quizzes the ghost.
‘Only Gene may summon me, until Gene summons me again.’
‘Before you go, aren’t you going to tell us the story of how you came to be here?’ Dru prevents the ghost from vanishing.
‘That can wait for another time, let’s go downtown and try our luck,’ urges Gene who already has the stone in his backpack.
‘Then let’s go,’ agrees Langley.
Being released from any further obligation Dieter evaporates. The quartet mount their bikes and abandon one game for another.
The house looks like a furniture removalist convention had moved in, and everything is moving out as a result. There are a couple of large removal trucks, vans, cars with trailers, utes; anything that is vehicular and can carry a load is there. Pulling up outside the house where the auction was held only the day before Arnd and Horst park their slick machine.
‘This is the place,’ says Arnd as he consults the number on the letterbox.
‘A day too late.’
‘We won’t find anything.’
‘Who knows, maybe it was passed in and is sitting in the house, I know a little about auctions, and I know not everything sells.’
‘If the stone was sold?’
‘Then we’ll find out who bought it and take it back, come on.’
From the car they make their way to that part of the house where most activity is occurring, at the back. There are several men still consulting with the auction staff as the auction staff helps to bring out the furniture that was sold as well as the smaller items that went under the hammer. There is nothing about the rest of the house that interests the two men. The spacious back yard with its find, old world garden, its brick sheds and a stable for horses matters little.
‘Which one is the auctioneer?’ Arnd asks.
‘It looks like that man over there; see him talking with the two wearing the auction shirts.’
‘How can you be sure?’
‘He’s going through a pile of what look to be auction papers.’
Horst’s guess is a good one, for indeed the auctioneer is busy at the moment with a pair of those employed by him. The two newcomers are obliged to stand and wait their turn for the attention of the auctioneer.
‘Come on, let’s looks around for that stone, we might find it somewhere where no one is looking,’ urges Horst.
‘We don’t know what it looks like exactly.’
‘Simply look for an old, blue stone, it shouldn’t be difficult.’
Taking the initiative for their search the two wander around and look at the passed in lots. There are few boxes left now and much of the furniture has already left the premises. For good measure they look around the house as well, among the flower pots, in the back yard, in case the Stonehenge bluestone was left lying around.
‘No luck,’ concedes Arnd.
‘Then we’ll just have to ask the man in charge.’
The moment to interrupt the auction arrives; there is a small gap between him having seen one person, and seeing another.
‘Excuse me sir,’ Horst steps up to the man, using a very good, almost accent free form of English, ‘could you help us?’
‘If I can, what is the problem, a lot not there?’
‘A lot not there? Oh not, not at all. We were not in time for the auction, which was yesterday, and we were looking for something in particular, we were wondering if you still have it?’
‘What’s left of the lots are over there,’ the auctioneer nods in the direction of the veranda.
‘Yes, we’ve had a look.’
‘Can’t find it.’
‘If you can’t find it then it means it’s either been sold and taken, or stolen, which happens at auctions unfortunately.’
‘Could you tell me what lot number it is, I might be able to tell you which.’
‘No I don’t know.’
‘Then I might not be able to help you.’
‘What we’re looking for,’ Arnd interjects, ‘is an old blue stone, about so big.’
The auctioneer puzzles a little, as if stretching his memory.
‘There were a lot of lots yesterday but yes, I seem to remember it, it went with some Nintendo games, I was going to bid up on them myself for my grand-daughter, but she has enough of those.’
The hopes of the two men rise.
‘And you remember?’
‘Let’s see if I can find the lot number,’ thumbing through the auction list he comes to the exact number, ‘Ah yes, here it is, box of assorted dah de dah, lot forty-two, yes, the box of goods was sold.’
‘If it isn’t here then yes, more than likely taken yesterday.’
‘Can you tell us who bought the box?’ Horst boldly inquires.
‘Sorry, can’t do that, we don’t give out names of people who bid, it’s against auctioneering ethics.’
Horst pulls out a fat wallet.
‘We are rock collectors, come all of the way from Holland to look for rocks, and we are interested in this particular specimen we know about. We would be willing to pay for the rock, and, to make it worth your while.’
The suggestion causes more offence than charm.
‘I’m sorry sir, I can’t allow that, but if you give me your name and mobile number, I can pass on the information and let the bidder contact you, if they choose to do so,’ that is about as far as the auctioneer is willing to go.
‘It isn’t much, but all right,’ it is not far enough for Horst, but he is unable to go any further than that.
Taking out a business card he hands it over to the auctioneer.
‘When will be finding out?’ Arnd desires something a little more substantial too.
Probably this afternoon, if not then the deal might be off, if you’ll excuse me.’
With that the auctioneer heads off to sort out another problem that has cropped up.
‘What will we do if they don’t make contact?’ Arnd asks his cousin.
‘We’ll find them anyway,’ as the two men slowly begin to make their way from the back yard they are stopped in their tracks by one of the auctioneer’s assistants.
‘Pardon me, I couldn’t help but overhear what you had to say. I believe you’re looking for someone?’
‘We are; can you help?’ Arnd wants to know.
‘If you make it worth my while, anything can be arranged,’ the young man wants to see that fat wallet again, and more than that, he would like to have that fat wallet in his pocket.
‘I think we can strike a deal,’ Horst smiles.
Geraldton Museum has attracted four young viewers to its Temporary Exhibitions Gallery. Gene, Dru, Langley and his sister Javia have all come along to see what is on display. By good chance this exhibition revolves around the early industry of the Mid-West in general, and the Geraldton area in particular. What is of special interest to the four youngsters are the displays surrounding the islands off the coast.
‘It’s written here,’ begins Langley, ‘that guano mining began in the year eighteen seventy-six and that one of the first was this man.’
On display are several letters, a couple personal and some official, all relating to the guano trade as it once was in centuries past.
‘It says here that the last living descendent of the man died three months ago of this man too,’ Dru reads further.
‘And that was the house where the auction was held, so the stuff that was for sale there belonging to the last, living descendent of the very first man who went out to the island and collected the guano.’
‘I don’t fancy collecting bird poo,’ Javia says in disgust.
‘But look at the islands where he went mining for the stuff, see,’ Gene is impressed by what he sees as a finger runs over the maps of where the mining took place.
‘You know, these islands look familiar, wouldn’t you say so?’ Langley reasons out to his friends and family.
‘Where?’ Dru asks.
‘I know where, let’s go!’
The small but intrepid band does not have to travel far; they only have to go to where one of the permanent displays is housed in the shipwrecks gallery. Beneath the grand edifice of the great, stone gate the four go to where the notorious story of the Batavia is presented for public illumination.
There is a map, as there usually is in any museum, one of many maps that are on display.
‘Look, that’s the island where the guano was dug up,’ Langley concludes as he jabs his finger onto the board.
‘Yes, it’s the same island, the island where the Batavia was lost and the mutiny took place,’ Gene replies.
‘Then what does all of that have to do with the stone you’re carrying around with you all the time?’ Javia innocently asks.
‘Ssssh,’ replies Gene, ‘they might want to take the stone off me.’
‘Who?’ asks Dru.
‘The museum people, you know what they’re like.’
‘Oh, I see.’
‘You still haven’t answered my question, what has that to do with the stone?’
‘Can’t you see?’ Javia’s brother replies in a snooty fashion, ‘the man who went out to collect the guano off this island, the same island where the shipwreck of the Batavia occurred must have found the rock there. Since the rock is from England, it must have been that the stone came out on the Batavia and was left there by someone, to be found two hundred and fifty years later by the ancestor of the man who died, and who, being the last ancestor who died three months ago.’
‘I went to his house to buy the Nintendo games and bought the rock as well,’ Gene draws the conclusion his friend was just alluding to.
‘It’s just as well we had a visit to the museum last semester,’ Langley recounts with pride at having learned his lessons well.
‘But where does the ghost fit into this story?’ asks Dru.
‘Yes, where does the ghost fit in?’ Javia also wants to know.
‘I don’t know, but there must be some way of finding out,’ Langley, who brilliantly put this much of the puzzle has his brilliance carry only so far.
‘Perhaps if we ask Dieter the ghost, he might tell us,’ Gene offers.
‘Are you going to call the ghost? It’s so scary,’ replies Dru.
‘Ah, he’s a friend of ours now, I can call him any time I want,’ carefully, without anyone else knowing or seeing him, takes the Stonehenge bluestone from his backpack and holds it for the four of them to see.
‘Are you going to call the ghost now?’ Javia nervously questions.
‘No, not now, another time, there are too many people coming in and out of the museum, it wouldn’t be the right time.’
‘How are you children enjoying the museum?’ one of the museum attendants wanders over to the little group to check on their progress.
Gene quickly puts away the bluestone before it is spotted and perhaps taken off of him.
‘Great, wonderful,’ Langley quickly steps up.
‘It isn’t very often we have children pay us a visit on their own, it’s usually tourists, or the odd local doing some research.’
‘I guess we just love museums,’ assures Dru.
‘That’s good, you’ll learn a tremendous amount this way, look at his stone gate, it has a great history all on its own, it was part of the Batavia’s cargo, you know.’
‘I’m sure we will, well, we’ve been right through the museum, I guess it’s time for us to go,’ Langley politely puts paid to further conversation with the man.
‘Oh, all right, well, we’ll see you some other time.’
‘Sure will,’ replies Gene as the foursome head out the door of the modern structure.
Once out of the museum the four are in the salt laced breeze. A zephyr has come in from the ocean, and with the museum backing onto the Indian Ocean it is one of the first buildings to catch such breezes.
‘That was close,’ says Gene as they collect their bicycles from the bike rack.
‘Where to now?’ Javia asks.
‘Let’s to the pirate ship, we’ll swear an oath there not to reveal anything about Dieter to anyone, in true pirate style,’ Gene has his idea and the rest of the crew are all for it.
‘All right then, let’s go,’ adds Langley.
Horst and Arnd have business to take care of after their first order of the day. Arriving at one of Geraldton’s boutique stores The Caped Perentie they stop outside the window and have a look in through the glass. What there is for sale is a range of leisure wear, from coloured shirts to the latest styles, shoes, bathers, sunglasses, whatever a person might need when they are out and about.
‘Now, it’s to look like a local does,’ Horst remarks with measured determination.
‘It’ll be worth the cost, once we find that stone, let’s go have a look.’
The two visitors step inside and into the cold, air conditioned climate of the interior. They have a look around at the shirts, the board shorts, at this item of clothing or that accessory.
‘Have you seen the prices in here?’ whistles Arnd
‘It’s less expensive than the shops in Europe.’
‘It’s just as well I don’t go in for fashion.’
‘You could do with some style, cousin, you might be more successful.’
‘May I help you?’ a shop assistant, a petit young woman is at last able to provide personal service after having served a couple of people before them.
‘We were just looking at these shirts,’ Horst lays his hand on a rack of colourful beachwear shirts.
‘Ah yes, these are our end of season range, we’re waiting for some new stock to arrive if you’d care to come back tomorrow.’
‘No, no, these will do.’
‘End of season?’ Arnd asks.
‘Yes, this is a clearance sale, all of these shirts are half priced, one of the many sales we are running in this store.’
‘There are others?’
‘This selection of shorts, for example, is on sale too.’
‘And the sunglasses?’
‘No, they aren’t on sale at the moment. We had a sale on about a month ago; I don’t think we’ll be having a sale of sunglasses for at least a few months.’
‘My loss is the business’s gain.’
‘Well put,’ Horst does not care too much for the small talk, ‘what size are these? I’m not sure these shirts will fit me?’
‘I can take your measure, or if you like we have a fitting room here, if you want to try them on.’
‘If I could.’
‘It’s at the back of the store and to your right.’
‘I will be back in a moment.’
Horst makes his way to the fitting room with a selection of beachwear shirts clutched in his hand. Once inside the dressing room he sheds his jacket, tie and dazzlingly clean white shirt and tries on the colourful top. The mirrors give him a view but he does not care for what he sees by himself and he returns to where his cousin and the shop assistant are standing.
‘What do you think?’
‘You look great, a really party man,’ replies Arnd.
‘Not too tight under the arms?’
‘Not at all.’
‘Then that shirt is just your fit.’
He has had the opinion he is looking for and that pleases him. Taking the shirt off his next step is to take a close look at the price take. The prices of the shirts are attached with a label that readily clips on and clips off again. Picking out the shirts he wants Horst dresses in his clothes again and steps out to where his cousin is still talking with the young shop assistant.
‘Would you like these, sir?’ she hopes for further sales.
‘I want to have a further look around, and my cousin would also like some clothes, if you could also oblige him.’
‘Are you, sir?’
‘I am,’ Arnd confirms.
‘Then come with me to see our stock from last season.’
‘Keep her busy, I’ll be busy here,’ mutters Horst.
Arnd and the young assistant go to the other side of the room, where the T-shirts and like items are on display.
While the assistant is away and no on else is looking Horst not only selects other shirts to wear, but he exchanges the price tags on the shirts he wants for the cheaper price tags on the shirts he does not care for. Horst does the same with the shorts until he has several items all at much reduced prices.
When he is done he returns to where his cousin has picked out what he wants.
‘I have what I want,’ Horst states with quiet confidence.
‘And I’m happy with what I have.’
‘Good, then if we can pay you miss?’
‘Of course,’ the assistant is pleased to make the cash register tick over just a little more for the morning.
The clothes selected by Arndt are the first to go onto the counter, to be followed by those of Horst’s.
‘Odd, I thought these clothes were of a different price,’ the assistant scratches her head at the difference, ‘oh well, must be the discount,’ she shrugs her shoulder and proceeds to lose some money into the business.
‘There you are sir, if you have any problem with the shirts then bring them back and we can arrange an exchange.’
‘Thank you miss, we should be fine,’ Horst nods respectfully before he and his cousin retreat to the near safety of the world outside.
Just as they step onto the footpath Gene and his crew speed past, almost knocking them over and onto the cement.
‘Ach, kids!’ sniffs Arnd.
‘They can be a terror, come on, let’s change and start to find this place that we were given, let’s see, Sixty-one Sixth Street.’
Posted in Leo's Fiction