Hello once again, and… I out did my self again. This chapter is even longer than the last and boy is it…. heavy? Well, it wraps up the last chapter ,and the arc I was going for. It’s a nice chapter, a really nice chapter (I think, maybe, hopefully). And with this, and with the fact that I have less than two weeks now, it’s time for some closing arcs, and some finale work, am I right? I mean, I have been teasing the main overarching conflict that is going to happen, even in this chapter. Things are going to go down, and things are going to go down fast, and people are going to be tested. But, that’s all you’ll here from me about that…. for now. Word count: 34,885 Here you go, chapter 17 of “Home For The Unwanted”.
“So, where exactly is this ghost of yours?” Walker asked, quite uninterested in the subject, but saw that solving Spear’s dilemma would save him a load of trouble later. Ryan trudged slowly behind the group of people in front of him, which consisted of the entire building in a line formation. The only person missing was Lorna, who told him she had to go out to get supplies. Ryan didn’t mind the party size, but found it odd that Lorna went shopping in the middle of the night. Ryan even saw her actions as a method of escape, and Ryan would be able to believe that Lorna just wanted an excuse to not dabble in exorcism.
“Just a bit more,” Spear said as he pressed on, edging the group of children behind him.
“You guys better be ready.” Spear looked behind him to inspect the team he had assembled. Hailstone and Spark was directly behind him, the former shaking and hiding behind the latter, although, Ryan chose to ignore that fact. Runner and Sunflower were next, and looked quite indifferent, with Runner just wanting to play a game with the specter, and Sunflower worried about the wellbeing of him. Carrier and Winter were next. Carrier walked with great steps and remained calm through the dangers Spear advocated. Winter seemed to be lost in her world, Ryan noticed. Her eyes were wistful and she didn’t seem like she was keeping track of where she walked. At last, was Walker, who was lagging behind the rest, and was in the same boat as Winter, although, his was probably more inquisitive, Ryan concluded.
“Do you think he’s strong?” Spark said with excitement as he skipped across the wooden floor. The creak of the building seemed louder than usual, Ryan thought. He wasn’t sure whether it was his own imagination, or whether it was the guise of night that made everything seem louder. Roaming around in the night was a part of a norm that he didn’t realize would be a piece in. It was something new for Ryan, but at the same time, it was something he could come to appreciate. Ryan enjoyed the low light of the moon’s shine, and the cold winds that seemed even cooler at these hours.
“Of course he’s strong! He can eat us all in ten seconds!” Spear replied frantically back to Spark, although Ryan was unsure of where he got his statistics from.
“What happens when it eats us?” Hailstone asked, still visibly shaking, and still curiously darting her head back and forth.
“When it does, it’ll chew your bones,” Spear said, with a menacing glow and growl in his voice. Hailstone shuttered, but listened closely to the scholarly words of Spear.
“After that, it’ll swallow your flesh, and digest it with stomach acid and turn you into ash!” Spear closed in on Hailstone with wide eyes, edging her to jump out in panic.
“It’ll turn you into ash? After you get dissolved in acid?” Walker asked Spear, questioning his logic. This made Hailstone calm, albeit, only for a brief period.
“Look! This is no time to be fooling around. It’s going to get us!” Spear lowered his head, “It was around here.” Spear motioned for everyone to lower their heads. Hailstone remained wide eyed, while Spark seemed like he was ready for a running start. Everyone remained silent, and waited for Spear’s delusions to take shape. Winter had broken out of her world and joined the party in its ghost hunting antics, although, her mind was hoping for another kind of monster to appear. Sunflower held onto the hem of Runner’s shirt, although Runner didn’t notice. Walker remained stuck in his own world, however, he did take a slight interest in Spear’s rambling, and glued his eyes to the corridor that Spear fixated on.
“Is it coming?” Winter asked as she couldn’t quite see from her position.
“I don’t see anything,” Carrier responded. At this point, Ryan’s eyes had begun adjusting to the dark, and he was sure that the other’s were also getting used to it. They waited, but after a minute of waiting, they had all concluded that Spear was out of it.
“I saw it here yesterday at the exact same time!” Spear whispered out to everyone.
“Clearly it’s not coming,” Walker said sarcastically, “Ghost’s don’t exist, Spear.”
“Wait, what’s that?” Winter said as she stretched her head for a better view. Ryan looked over and saw a white opaque figure in the distance. It had the shape of a human, but moved very slowly towards the group.
“There it is!” Spear yelled out.
“Quiet!” Hailstone urged. The figure didn’t have any visible facial features, nor did it seem like it was taking any steps. To Ryan, the figure was simply sliding across the wooden floor.
“That’s not a vampire….” Winter whispered to herself disappointingly.
“We can jump it! It’ll be easy!” Spark suggested.
“Let’s wait and see what it does first,” Carrier added.
“Doesn’t seem like a monster.” Sunflower noticed. Ryan wondered about the white apparition that appeared before them as well. Ryan noticed that there was something strange about the way it moved. Ryan had never encountered a ghost in real life before, but he has seen them in books. Most of the books and pictures of ghost depictions were far from the ghost that had apparently appeared before them. The ghost in front of them was more like fabric, Ryan thought. As the ghost slid across the floor, it almost seemed to Ryan that there were irregular ridges appearing on the ghost’s legs. Even the arms of the ghost was disproportional, with bumps and ridges reminiscent of wearing a shirt. It was almost like looking at a bed sheet, Ryan concluded. Ryan looked over to Walker, who was staring at it expressionlessly. Ryan figured that he had noticed the irregularities as well.
“Hey, Walker. That’s not actually a ghost, right?” Ryan asked.
“As far as I can tell. That thing looks more like a costume. And I’ve seen pretty bad ghost costumes before.” Walker answered casually. Walker soon delved back into his own world as his eyes grew narrow. The situation at hand was a finished book for Walker, and he didn’t seem to need to know what was behind the mystery that surrounded them. Perhaps Walker knew all along, Ryan thought.
“Lorna?” Ryan thought to himself. There was no other explanation for the sudden occurrence, Ryan thought. The clues all lead to it, and Ryan was sure that it was one of her pranks, although to execute it like so, was more reckless than anything, Ryan concluded. Ryan got up, and shuffled his way through the children.
“Ray! Careful! That thing could eat you!” Hailstone warned as she trembled behind Spark, who looked excitingly at Ryan and got up to follow him.
“If you’re going, then so am I!”
“You guys are crazy! Get down!” Spear warned, his patience running out. The ghost didn’t falter with the two people walking towards it. Ryan didn’t show any emotion as he made a straight path for the ghost.
“Don’t think you’re fooling anyone,” Ryan said as he got closer. There was no response, and the ghost simply continued to slide forward towards him. Ryan was sure it was Lorna’s way of feigning ignorance. Ryan thought the notion was quite amusing, and put on a small smile just before grabbing it. Just as Ryan thought, his hands grasped the bed sheet and with one motion, pulled it all off.
“What?” Ryan said out loud as he noticed that there indeed was no one under the bed sheet.
“A bed sheet?” Spark said as he watched it all unravel. The children got up, and all crowded around Ryan after seeing the spectacle.
“A bed sheet? So someone made this?” Carrier asked.
“Probably. Although I don’t know how they managed to make it stand,” Ryan wondered. If Lorna wasn’t behind the sheet, and if there wasn’t a pole to make it appear like it was floating, then how did it manage to glide across the floor, Ryan thought. Ryan knew of magic tricks that had a similar principle, of making something appear like it’s floating in mid air. Ryan always figured that it was due to strings or magnets, or another exterior floatation method. Ryan was sure that there were no magnets hidden under the floor boards, but he didn’t exactly see any strings when he pulled the sheet either.
“Ray. Look.” Walker pulled on Ryan’s shirt and pointed up. Ryan looked up and noticed a peculiar contraption hidden in the ceiling. It was almost like a conveyer belt, Ryan noted. There was a thin silver string on the top of the ceiling that seemed to stretch across the hallway.
“It goes into that room.” Walker said to Ryan. There was a room at the end of the hallway, although, Ryan didn’t know what was in the room, he did know that whoever was behind this was inside. And his guess still held true as to who could have been behind everything. Ryan edged the children to follow him and they made their way to the end of the hallway.
“Spear. I don’t think your ghost, is much of a ghost. More like a prank,” Ryan said. Carrier and Winter soon realized what was going on, while Hailstone was simply relieved that she didn’t have an encounter with a monster. Ryan placed his hands on the door knob, and opened it without hesitation. In front of him, was an empty class room. The windows were closed, and curtains covered them. The chairs and desks were all unmoved, and there were no signs of life ever passing. Ryan walked in, and took a good look across the room. There were no signs of oddity, except for scrawling on the chalkboard that was too small to make out. Ryan walked towards the chalkboard, with the children behind him all wondering exactly what was going on.
“What does it say?” Spark said as he ran towards the chalk board.
“Look–” Ryan bent down to read the rest of the sentence.
“Behind you.” Just as Ryan had finished reading, the door behind them had slammed shut. Hailstone gave off a small scream and jumped towards Ryan, who became even more fearful of Hailstone than the current situation.
“It’s after us! I told you!” Spear said, trying to validate his point once again, “The ghost had used the sheet to trick us to walk into this room!” There was a collective non-verbal agreement that Spear was clearly not understanding the current situation. Ryan sighed, and walked over to the door. If anything, Ryan gave Lorna more points for putting all the effort into making such an elaborate set up. At this point, there was no doubt that it was her just messing with them, Ryan concluded. The writing on the chalkboard couldn’t fool him.
“Lorna!” Ryan said as he opened the door.
“Is she there?” Carrier asked from behind. Ryan peered off into the hallway, but didn’t notice anyone. Ryan turned back into the room and replied, “I don’t see anyone.”
“Ray!” Carrier suddenly called out, “Behind you!” All the children looked flabbergasted behind Ryan. Ryan turned around with a bored expression on his face, which quickly turned into one filled with fear and surprise as he saw a ghastly figure before him. She had dark unkempt hair, and her clothes were ragged and barely fit onto her. She looked up at Ryan with pale eyes and a dark devilish smile. Ryan’s state of mind couldn’t register the face of the person in front of him, and he simply let it overwhelm him. Her hands had large nails that reached for Ryan, and once he had realized that her hand was reaching for him, she jumped out with her mouth open and made Ryan crash onto the classroom floor. A large bang then occurred at the opposite end of the classroom that derived the children’s attention. Ryan and the rest of the children had their breathing increase rapidly, and for the first time, Ryan was truly scared. Ryan had never thought that he would ever be able to experience the emotion of fear. Ryan thought it was a cryptic feeling that had no place in his old norm, or his new norm. The norm that he walked into everyday had welcomed him with open arms, and there was no fear in his mind.
Ryan looked back up towards the door, but the figure had long passed. Ryan got up and calmed himself before looking back out into the hallway. There wasn’t a single trace of anyone there, which caused him to sigh out in relief.
“Hey!” Ryan jumped back and onto the floor as Lorna excitingly called out to him from behind. Ryan felt his heart jump, but he soon settled down, and put on an angry expression towards Lorna.
“What’s the matter, Ray? Looks like you had a good scare.”
“I did. From a certain someone, no less.”
“Oh? Who did it? Couldn’t have been any of you, right?” Lorna said addressing the children huddled in the classroom. Ryan tried to read into Lorna’s expression, but couldn’t get much rather than her usual joyful demeanor.
“Anyway, if you guys had enough screaming out here, let’s get started!” Lorna waved off Ryan’s anger and pulled out her arms and two bags filled with fireworks. Ryan felt like yelling out and punching Lorna, but restrained himself. After all, it was fun, Ryan thought. It was fun to get scared and to get his blood pumping. It was a new experience for him, and it was fun to experience that with everybody else, Ryan thought. It was fun to share, and it was fun to get angry. Being with everybody, was so much fun, Ryan concluded. It was enough fun, to have him forget all his troubles, and have him believe that the norm he had now, was always his norm. It was a warm feeling, and for the first time, Ryan felt family, although he never realized it at the time.
“It’s nice, isn’t it?” Lorna said to Ryan as she watched over the children play with firework sparklers.
“Not joining in?” Ryan asked Lorna.
“Let the kids have some fun. It’s not every day I get something like this, right? Right.” Ryan was still very wary of how Lorna was able to buy the fireworks, especially at night. They had walked quite a distance away from the building, and was at the river beneath the bridge. Ryan was setting up the rocket, while the rest of the children were off playing and running around with sparklers. Hailstone looked at hers excitingly, seeming to have forgotten about the incident from before. Runner and Sunflower were chasing each other by the river bed. Spark was half asleep on the grassy hills, exhausted from the day’s worth of adrenaline, Ryan thought, and Carrier was looking at a dying sparkler a few feet away from him. Spear and Walker seemed to be getting into a heated argument with sparklers dangling between them. Winter had long but fallen asleep, off to dream into a world all of her own, filled with the creatures she wished for, although, with all the commotion, it became increasingly hard for her to keep shut eyes.
“Thank you,” Ryan said to Lorna.
“Thank you for–”
“Being there, for them.” Lorna finished, with a mischievous grin on her face. Ryan felt defeated, and simply smiled back. He could never keep up with Lorna, Ryan thought, but it was fine, that was the norm.
“Ready to blow it all away?” Lorna said.
“What’s being blown?”
“The world,” As Lorna said this, she grabbed the lighter, and pressed it towards the ignition. They both stepped back, and waited. Once the rocket had gone off, a large buzzing sound resided within the river side, alerting everyone present as they turned their heads up and watched the explosion of colors dot the sky. This was also the first time that Ryan had gone to see fireworks with friends. Unknowingly, this was also the first time that Ryan had gone to see fireworks with his family. This was also the first time that Ryan smiled so brightly and so vibrantly that it almost matched Lorna’s playful flow.
“Let the world be blown,” Ryan remarked.
“And let our troubles flow! Flow,” Lorna added.
“By the way. Nice prank. You really had us going.” Ryan looked over to Lorna, who stared back in utter confusion.
“Don’t try to play dumb, I know it was you. The cloth hanger ghost, the chalkboard message, even the wigged woman.” Ryan gave nicknames to each situation, which was unexpectedly the first time Ryan had given nicknames. Lorna looked away as the colors from the rocket dissipated, and hid a smile from Ryan.
“I don’t know what you mean.”
“You know exactly what I mean.” Lorna giggled to herself, and looked back up at Ryan, and playfully stuck her tongue out. A cold gust of wind blew across the river side as she did that, which fluttered her hair in the breeze. Lorna closed one eye as the wind passed, and gave a gentle smile to Ryan, who brought his arm up to block the wind.
“I want these days, to last forever. Forever.”
“Yeah. Me too.” However, Lorna knew that it would never be this way. Her family, and her home, and her place in this norm would be broken. It was flawed, and it was her own creation. Lorna had to take responsibility for it, and she was ready. Lorna didn’t think she would ever be ready to let everything go, but after meeting Ryan, and after seeing his problems, and how he changed, Lorna figured that it was time for her to realize as well, that fate doesn’t wait for anyone. Lorna had a past, she had things she wanted to do, and things she repents, but the present, and the future hadn’t waited for her. The present was her doing, and the future, would be her end result. Lorna just had to play it right, like Ryan, and find her own place, where she didn’t have to worry about past strings. Lorna looked up to Ryan because of this. Lorna saw a swamp within Ryan’s eyes the first time she met him. But that swamp, has turned into a beautiful glistening river, Lorna concluded. Amanda was closing in, and Lorna, had to be ready. She had to persevere, she had to create her own norm, she had to find the things she truly held close, and protect them. Like Ryan, Lorna had to call out towards the things she wanted, and the place she wanted to be. Like Ryan, Lorna had to be strong, and face adversity with open arms. Until she does, Lorna will always be stuck within her own fictitious stupor.