Before I could even begin to process this hectic scene, Peter zipped toward my direction and jumped onto my torso! “Mister Fenmore, you’ve gotta help me! A scary beast is after my skin!”
I wanted to offer him some sympathy, but his weight became too much to bear! “I’m… gonna… drop… you…!” I breathily warned him.
“Please don’t!” Peter pleaded. I set him down, but he continued to try and regain the lofty position of security that he just lost and pawed at me like my cat does when she seeks a juicy piece of chicken in my hand!
“What kind of monster is chasing you, Peter?” Phoebe stepped in. Thank goodness for her! I had a difficult time trying to verbalize anything with his hysteria literally in my face!
Peter whimpered, “The dirtiest, most foul creature to roam the… Aaah! There it is!”
He ducked behind my legs, and when I beheld his source of fright, I truly expected to see a ferocious fiend or some sort of outlandish entity ready to do battle! Babelsama did mention that Damon had the power to unleash a person’s greatest fear, so I anticipated encountering something absolutely daunting! Instead, the culprit turned out to be an ordinary mouse! “Dude, seriously?” I reproachfully reacted.
“It’s charging right at me!” Peter wailed. It looked more like a playful scamper to me, but it did seem like it was specifically targeting him! As Peter ran around me, the mouse tailed him!
“I’ll get it, can you just…?” I intended to stomp on the mouse, but it wouldn’t stay still since Peter wouldn’t! This scenario was irritating enough on its own, but considering I got very little sleep that weekend along with my anguish over Blaise and Miriam’s antics, I had no patience for anymore nonsense! I pushed Peter to the side… a little too hard! He fell into the macrame stall behind us (Oops!), and when the mouse attempted to close the distance between them, I blocked its path and renewed my effort to snuff him with my feet!
As Phoebe began to untangle Peter from the shopkeeper’s ware, she urgently requested, “Oh, don’t kill the poor thing! It’s not its fault that it got placed here!”
Her demand added an extra level of difficulty to this task, so I growled in annoyance, but I decided to comply and preserve its life if I could. It ran into Ismeray’s creepy artwork booth, and as I prevented it from scurrying under her tables, I spotted an ornate jewelry box and grabbed it. When I managed to get the creature cornered, I scooped it up and slammed the lid shut! Its paws remained on the edge, so I reopened its enclosure a crack and ordered, “You get in there!”
Once its confinement got properly secured, I left Ismeray’s tent wonder what in the heck I was going to do with it moving forward! Peter timidly approached me and queried, “Did you get it?” He heard it scraping the sides of the container, so he shrieked and dove back into the macrame niche!
“Peter, go to your car,” I instructed him before that seller chewed him out. “I won’t release it ‘til you’ve gone far from here.”
“Oh, thank you, Mister Fenmore!” Peter gratefully regarded me. “Man, this whole situation has really made me thirsty all of a sudden! I’m gonna go to that lemonade stand and grab a drink! Maybe I’ll swing by that embroidery booth before I go too! That chick’s granddaughter was majorly cute…”
I snapped at him, “I’m not carrying around this mouse all day! If you don’t leave in the next thirty seconds, I’m gonna let it hunt you down this round!”
Peter’s expression sobered up at this prospect, and he acquiesced, “Harsh! Alright, see ya in class tomorrow!”
As he strolled down the aisle and headed to the parking lot, I let out an exasperated sigh. Phoebe very genially suggested, “There’s a field behind these tents you could leave it in.”
I felt so frustrated that I would have preferred to simply chuck it without any concern for the troublemaking animal’s welfare, but I wouldn’t have been able to witness Phoebe’s heartbreak over the mouse’s demise! Besides, she made a valid point- it would have been a pity to see an innocent creature perish because of Damon’s hijinks! I lumbered over to the grassy area that she had referred to, and when I deemed that we had reached an optimum location to stop, I opened the jewelry box and released it. It ran in a very distinct fashion as if it had a precise destination in its mind, and as I walked back to where Phoebe stood, I pondered if it knew where Peter resided! I shrugged it off and then declared to Phoebe, “Okay, problem solved!”
Phoebe gasped, and I heard a poignant whooshing noise behind me! When I turned around, I saw a hawk swoop down and scoop the mouse in its mouth! I sheepishly met Phoebe’s gaze and awkwardly consoled her, “Maybe he won’t die! Maybe he’ll wriggle his way out and go somewhere safe!”
Immediately following that statement, a pitiful caw echoed from the sky, and then the hawk plummeted to the ground! I could see a leg sticking out of its beak, and it shocked me to get the impression that my conjecture may have had some merit! The mouse didn’t wiggle out though- the brown leg grew larger and larger! The hawk was eventually able to spit the creature out and fly away, and in the same instance that Phoebe joined me, the beast’s true identity got revealed! It was a small, stocky monster with long, knobby limbs, sharp teeth, and mischievous eyes! It salivated quite profusely as it clumsily slogged over to Phoebe, who screeched, “Ew!” She gave it a swift kick in its skull, and once it landed, it moved no more!
At that moment, a nearby trash can morphed into Damon’s ghostly figure! He snickered and questioned us, “Did you enjoy the show?” Neither Phoebe nor I gave him a reply other than glaring at him quite a bit. He spitefully laughed, and then he informed us, “There’s plenty more where that came from! Babelsama gave me sixty-nine!” Phoebe and I couldn’t resist giggling at the double entendre he made, and if ghosts could blush, he would have dowsed in a sea of red! “Sixty-nine fear mongers! That means I have sixty-nine…” He eyeballed the one that Phoebe had bludgeoned as it shriveled up and vanished, and then he corrected himself, “…Sixty-eight chances to release mayhem on the students at Rosemary King! See you at school!” He cackled and evaporated in a puff!
“We’ve gotta find a way to get rid of him!” Phoebe asserted.
“We will!” I assured her. “Tomorrow, we’ll get everyone together and do some research on different methods of…”
Roxy unexpectedly showed up and probed, “Have you guys seen Damon?”
Phoebe and I both lied, “No!”
“Dang it!” Roxy furrowed her brows. “Damon! Damon, where are you?”
“Some security guard!” I muttered when she was out of earshot.
Blaise unceremoniously belted out of his chosen port-a-potty and boisterously spoke up, “Ah, that’s better! So, what’d I miss?” Phoebe and I had no desire to relive this cumbersome afternoon, so we didn’t say anything. Miriam piped in and revealed that she had paid for the jewelry box I stole (I originally meant to return it, but after I thought about it, how could she sell a box that a wild creature occupied?), and this prompted our houseguests to argue the entire ride home! The last few days had been so stressful for us that teaching dozens of hormonal teenagers seemed like a peaceful alternative, and we eagerly returned to work in the morning!
At lunchtime, Phoebe and I came into the teachers’ lounge and found that Ginger, Aleck, Ellie, and Fletcher had already seated themselves at our usual table. They were in the midst of a lively conversation upon our arrival, and we tuned in right as Fletcher esteemed, “That’ll never work!”
“What’ll never work?” I asked them. “Did you come across some measure of getting rid of ghosts?”
“Or destroying the key maybe?” Phoebe tacked on to my enquiry.
Fletcher answered us, “What? No, we were going over different ideas on how to discourage my girls from going to any afterparties on prom night. Aleck thinks setting up a science experiment would do the trick, and there’s no chance that more homework will tempt them more than boys and god knows what else!”
Aleck argued, “It’s not homework! It’s a fun activity for them to do during their free time!”
“It’s work and they’re doing it at home, how is that not homework?” Fletcher bickered.
“Have you even tried to get them interested in something else?” Aleck probed. “They could be future biologists and don’t even know it! I mean, they didn’t seem so thrilled by my lessons last year, but there’s all kinds of different specialties in-.”
Ginger cut him off, “Aleck, I used to love math when I was in school, but there was no possibility that I would’ve skipped a huge social event for my nerdy passion! And we can come back to Fletcher’s problem later. We gotta discuss this vampire ghost gimmick! It’s not funny, and I don’t understand why you keep trying to make that joke pan out!”
I persisted, “We’re not joking! Why do you believe we’d constantly crack a joke that isn’t remotely humorous?”
“I dunno, my husband’s been making the ‘Pull My Finger!’ joke for over thirty years even though I haven’t laughed at it once!” Ellie remarked, “I don’t understand his joke, and honestly, I don’t get yours either! We’re not falling for it, it’s too damn unrealistic! I mean, how do you accidentally make a magical potion in a toilet?”
“Someone clogged the drain with the main ingredients, and then when Connor added salt to clear the blockage, he inadvertently opened a window the Netherworld- What is so hard to understand about that?” Phoebe huffed.
They all appeared skeptical still, so I took a shot at persuading them, “Yes, it sounds like the kind of insane story that a bored and crazy author might make up, but we’re not the type to dream up fictional narratives like that! We’ve always been straight forward wit you, and we have no motive to suddenly shift gears! I know it’s not an easy concept to accept, but if you don’t take action on the info we gave you, our circumstances will only get worse! Something horrifying is about to take place, and we can prevent some seriously terrible calamities from happening to our students, but first, we need you to take our word so you can lend us a hand! So, what do you say?”
After a silent beat of blank stares, Aleck snidely kidded, “I’ll tell you what, if Damon’s ghost does show up, I’ll buy you a candy bar!”
Phoebe and I exchanged displeased exhales, but prior to us having the opportunity to contend our argument again, a flurry of screams bellowed out from the school’s courtyard! We swiftly dropped what we were doing and ran to investigate the commotion!
When we reached the source of the pandemonium, we observed most of the kids in the quad sprinting in a frenzied manner. One gothic-looking girl was urgently glancing around as if she aimed to mitigate the unknown origin of the danger that previously presented itself to her peers, so I petitioned her, “Corvina, what happened out here?”
“Help me!” a muffled but familiar voice entreated us.
“It’s Colin!” Corvina explained. “He got lifted into the air, and then, all of a sudden, he disappeared! It was like a spell or something!”
Aleck half kidded with me, “So, what kind of chocolate do you like? Milk, dark…?”
Ellie commanded, “Shut up for a minute!”
We all listened for Colin’s pleas, and soon, we heard him call for us again! We searched all over the grounds, but we couldn’t spot him anywhere! I beseeched the universe for him to turn up healthy and whole! On my very first day at this high school, he was the first child I interacted with, and he was heading down the wrong path until I gave him some good advice! He changed his behavior, and when he gave me profound gratitude for doing that deed, it became instrumental in my decision to stay on this career path! Any student that got harmed would have upset me, but if he had gotten hurt, it would have been completely devastating! We could hear his volume increase when we got close to this ash tree by the cafeteria, but no matter what section of this vicinity we studied, we couldn’t decipher any hints of where he actually was in this instance! We grew very frazzled, but we refused to give up! Then, totally out of the blue, it dawned on Ginger, and she exclaimed, “Guys, I know exactly where he is…!”