Authors: Larry Parr
THE GHOST OF GRUESOME HIGH
Teen/Young Adult Mystery
by Larry Parr
©2011 & 2012 by Larry Parr
Published 2012 by The Fiction Works
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced without written permission, except for brief quotations to books and critical reviews. This story is a work of fiction. Characters and events are the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Table of Contents
Something’s not right!
It was dead dark. Pitch black. Gray-black clouds scuttled across the moonless sky like demented fiddler crabs, with unnatural starts and stops. The five of us were silent, except for a few huffs and puffs and the scraping of tennis shoes on dry earth as we approached the top of Grissom Hill. In just a moment or two we’d see it. Grissom High—what us kids called Gruesome High. We’d see it and—it would see us!
An icy wind, unnaturally cold for this time of year, blew down my spine. Leaves rustled all around me. In the distance, a dog barked, then stopped.
Schools are scary places at night, and Gruesome High had a reputation for being extra scary. Probably because it was built on top of an ancient graveyard. I remember reading that the builder claimed he didn’t know the graveyard was there until it was too late to stop construction, but that hardly mattered now. The scary thing to me was that Gruesome High would be my “home” for three more years. Not that I really believed in ghosts; I hadn’t seen a ghost all through my freshman year, but still, there was something weird going on around the school. Everyone knew it. We just didn’t know exactly what it was.
I have a theory why schools are so scary when it’s dark. It’s because one part of your brain is busy telling you that everything is familiar and you know where everything is—but when it’s dark and no one else is around, it’s not the same place as it is in bright daylight and the two halves of your brain can’t put everything together right. It just doesn’t add up. And when things don’t add up, especially things you know should add up—then they’re scary!
But it was the voices that got to me the most. Soft, whispery voices, all around me, talking, talking, talking, but saying nothing. No, that’s not true. They were saying something, but I couldn’t quite make out what it was. I could almost pick out a word or two here and there . . . something about danger and death and eternity . . . but the words themselves were surrounded in balls of cotton, all soft and fuzzy. I wasn’t sure if the others could hear the voices, or if it was just me—or just my imagination—and I didn’t want to seem like a wuss, so I kept my mouth shut.
I shuddered. I quickly looked at the others to see if anyone had noticed I was scared, but everyone’s nerves were on edge—even Jason’s, and he claimed not to believe in the ghost at all.
“Do you see anything. I can’t see a thing,” Alan whispered hoarsely. His voice was so soft I could barely hear it above the constant indistinct murmur all around me. It was funny hearing Alan sound so unsure. Normally he was the know-it-all, constantly correcting everyone and telling endless boring stories about trivia that no one cared about. I think he just makes up most of the stuff, but he always sounds like he knows what he’s talking about. “Did-did you know that the word ghost means breath, or spirit, and that in ancient times—”
“Shut up, Alan,” I said out of reflex. I was always telling Alan to shut up when he started going on about all his trivia. Listening to his normal babble and hearing myself tell him to shut up made me feel a little better. At least that was something familiar.
“Both of you be quiet!” Wesley The Weenie snapped, trying to hide his fright behind a backdrop of annoyance. The Weenie always seemed annoyed with everyone, all the time. My mom said it was just a phase he was going through. Of course, she said the same thing about almost everything all my friends did. To her, life was a phase. At least for teenagers. “It’s not midnight yet,” Wesley continued. “He never shows until midnight.”
“How would you know, Weenie?” Jason asked, his voice slightly too husky, as if he were trying to make sure we all knew he wasn’t frightened. “Have you ever seen the ghost?”
“No,” Wesley said in his best annoyed voice. “I’ve never personally seen an atom, either, but I know they exist. Besides, everyone says he never shows until exactly midnight, and it’s still . . . six minutes until midnight.”
“I’m getting cold,” I whispered as I shivered again. I wasn’t shivering from the cold, though. The closer we got to the dark, scary-looking buildings of the sprawling school, the weirder things seemed.
“I know how to keep you warm, Patsy, ” Jason said with a leer in his voice as he put an arm around my shoulders. His hand “accidentally” brushed against one of my breasts.
I had known Jason for five years, ever since I was ten. That was almost forever. He was my best friend, even though he was a jerk sometimes. You just put up with a certain amount of jerkiness in a friend. But in the last few months, something had begun to change. Jason’s hands had been brushing up against me more and more frequently, and there was a sexual edge to his voice now that didn’t used to be there.
I wasn’t sure yet how I felt about that. It wasn’t like I wasn’t curious about that stuff, too, it was just . . . well, it just seemed weird to feel that way about a boy I’d known for so long. We already knew almost all of each other’s secrets. Besides, all my friends said the fastest way to lose a friend was to sleep with him and, truth to tell, I didn’t have that many friends. I didn’t want to lose Jason.
Why did life have to be so complicated, anyway?
In one smooth move I twisted around and slipped my arm into my best friend Jennifer’s big, fake-fur-lined coat. Jennifer always had big fake-fur-lined coats. Her mother used to be some kind of fashion model or something. All the boys drooled any time Jennifer’s mom came to school—which I found absolutely, positively disgusting! Jennifer acted stuck-up in front of most of the other kids, but around me she was just plain ol’ Jennifer. For an instant she looked slightly surprised as I worked my arm into one of the coat’s big sleeves along with her arm, but I think she figured out what I was doing. She smirked and nodded at me as if to say, “O.K., you can hide out in here with me.”
“Wow, this is really warm,” I said brightly.
I couldn’t exactly see Jason’s face in the dark, but I could feel him frowning. It seemed like no matter what I did sex was going to get in the way of our friendship. I knew I was going to have to talk to him about it one of these days—but not now. Not tonight.
Suddenly I felt Jennifer begin to tremble. A lot! I looked at her face. Her eyes were opened wide, real wide, like you see in comedy movies sometimes, that kind of wide. Her mouth was moving, but no sound was coming out. She just kept trembling. Finally she managed to raise her one free arm and, trembling so hard it was frightening, pointed toward the corner of the now-dark and deserted high school. “Wh-wh-what’s that?” she finally managed to blurt out. She put her trembling hand over her mouth and stifled a small scream.
Instantly all eyes turned to look. At first I didn’t see anything at all. Even so, my spine began to tingle as if someone was running a single cold finger up my back slowly, all the way to the nape of my neck and suddenly the hairs on the back of my neck were standing straight up.
And then I saw it!
Or rather, then I saw them! Two red dots, floating in the air near the corner of the science lab. Two red eyes!
Those two glowing red eyes were looking right at me! Suddenly the murmuring voices were silent. Deathly silent. The silence was scarier than the voices had ever been! Then the red eyes began to move! And there was a sound. Almost like someone dragging something heavy across gritty concrete. But deeper than that. More evil than that!
Out of the corner of my eye I could see the boys take a step backward. Then another step. Suddenly I realized they were running away, down the hill. Jennifer and I were left alone, bundled together in her big coat, abandoned together to face . . . . Whatever it was! That’s not entirely true. I knew what it was. I knew what we were looking at. It was the ghost. The Ghost of Gruesome High!
Suddenly the deep, grating sound grew louder—and the eyes began to move. Toward us! Jennifer was still trembling. I looked at her panic-filled face and saw that her mind had shut down from fear. There was still a night-light burning somewhere in there, but no one was home behind her frightened, rabbit-like eyes!
Those icy fingers were now playing chopsticks on my spine. My knees were weak and threatened to buckle. A part of my brain told me I couldn’t allow that to happen. I had to run. I had to make Jennifer run. The two of us had to get away from here as fast as we could!
Even as my mind raced in a million circles and I was telling myself I had to run, another part of my mind was troubled by the way the glowing red eyes moved. They seemed to bounce slightly as they approached, but they weren’t bouncing quite together. They looked out of synch as my film teacher would say. It was strange. A tiny part of my brain said quite clearly and calmly: “Something’s not right here.”
But a much louder part of my brain was screaming: “RUN! RUN, YOU IDIOT! RUN!”
I pulled sharply on the coat and yelled “JENNIFER!” That seemed to snap her out of it. “Run!” I yelled. We were still caught together in the coat; she had one arm in one sleeve and I still had one of my arms in the other sleeve, but somehow we managed to turn and run together down the hill, toward the bright lights of the town below.
When we got to the bottom of the hill, Wesley The Weenie’s old VW bug was gone, and so were the boys.
Jennifer and I were all alone with who-knew-what at our heels!
Tell it to the army!
Even though the sprint down the Hill had only taken a few minutes—a lot less time than it had taken us to climb it—both Jennifer and I were panting and out of breath. Part of it was from running, but most of it was from just plain fear.
“What was it?” Jennifer gasped. “Did you see it? You saw it, right? What was it? What do you think it was? What—”
“Jennifer!” I snapped in a voice that was much more sure of itself than I was. “Calm down. Get a grip! Take a deep breath.” I had looked behind us and couldn’t see any sign of the ghost.
Jennifer was looking over my shoulder, her eyes darting wildly back and forth. “You saw it, right?” she repeated. “The ghost. The ghost. The ghost.”
I thought about slapping her, like they do in the movies when people get like this, but instead I just shook her a little as I got my arm free of her big, warm coat. “Jennifer, calm down,” I said. But I could see that her eyes were still darting all over the place, not really focusing on anything. I grabbed her chin in my hand and forced her to look directly into my eyes. “Calm down. Get a grip! We’re O.K. We’re safe now.”