“What’s that smell?” the one person in this school who most resembled a witch but wasn’t one sniffed us peculiarly as the entire faculty trickled into the cafeteria/auditorium.
“I don’t smell anything…” I swiftly checked the soles of my shoes hoping I didn’t step in anything on the way here. Or at least I assumed that such a thing would have occurred while traversing across campus because I would have been stumped as to why no one else mentioned it that day!
She took another whiff and iterated her point, “Yeah, it’s definitely there! It’s got a minty odor…”
Phoebe informed her, “Oh, that’s sage!” The woman’s shrewd eyes flickered between the six of us captiously, so Phoebe added, “We’re using it for the prom!”
“Gotcha!” Comprehension dawned on her face, and then she more genially offered, “Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help with that!”
“Thanks, Hazel!” Phoebe smiled as Hazel walked away, and once she was out of earshot, Phoebe quietly told us, “I didn’t technically lie, I just didn’t tell her that’s not the reason why we have it in our pockets!”
Fletcher responded to Phoebe, “Who cares? You can lie to the school secretary, we’re not on the clock!” He noticed purple buds sticking out of his shorts’ pocket, and after agitatedly stuffing it back out of view, he grumbled, “I hate carrying around these flowers! I feel like a damn hippie! What proof do we have that this crap even works?”
All of a sudden, Damon’s ghostly form appeared before us! “Hello!” His nose crinkled profusely, and he swiftly disappeared into a nearby craft table with a few vending machine items up for grabs.
I handed my bouquet to Phoebe and went over to Damon’s hiding spot as casually as possible so as not to alarm anyone who may have witnessed my behavior. People were edgy enough, so I didn’t want to give them any more cause to stress out! A couple of teachers were glancing around that surface, so I waited until they vacated the area before I confronted Damon. They finally took a couple of chip bags, and one of them complained, “Why did they set up a punch bowl without cups?”
As soon as the coast was clear, I leaned in and whispered, “What are you doing here? School’s dismissed, so you don’t have anymore kids to scare! Besides, you already did an attack once today!”
“So what? I’m not limited to only doing it once a day!” Damon squabbled. “Besides, I don’t purely prey on students! Don’t you remember? I got that one teacher earlier!”
“Oh yeah!” I snickered as I relished the memory of Casper sniveling in a cowardly manner at the sight of cotton balls! As humorous as I found that episode, it began to confuse me in that moment. “Why did you do that? He only teaches seniors, you never had his class! What did he ever do to you?” It felt almost sickening to side with that pompous a-hole, but I had to protect everyone, including the individuals I didn’t particularly care for, from the demonic forces of the Netherworld no matter how stupid they were!
Damon cackled, “I did that as warning to you all that I’m not above targeting your colleagues in this operation! I did think that a man of his stature would have a more impressive fear than that… Anyways, I’m especially interested in going after one person specifically…”
I turned around and visually scanned the area, and sure enough, I spotted Martha in the distance! (I talked about her in Chapter One, she was the one who dumped him in case you forgot!) I swiveled back to Damon and warned him, “Listen, you better leave her alone! She already had one heart attack ‘cause of you, don’t kill her over…!” A few staff members had approached the table and stared at me like I was crazy, which I totally understood! It must have been strange to see a grown man arguing with a punch bowl! There was no way to convince them that I had a logical basis for doing so, and if I revealed the truth of the punch bowl’s actual identity as a ghost in disguise, I was certain that they would have had me committed! I stepped away from the table and apologized, “Sorry, it’s been a long day!”
This ameliorated their anxiety, and they all expressed empathy for my condition. As they raided the edible offerings, I dashed off in order to take some quick precautions to protect Martha. I grabbed my sage from Phoebe, and then I weaved my way through the crowd to get to her. The meeting was about to start, so I had to act immediately! I handed her the blooms and relayed, “These are for you!”
“Really? What’s the occasion?” she queried.
“I just wanted to thank you for hiring a sub in October,” I fibbed. “I’m so happy that I got hired here permanently, and I wouldn’t have been able to do that if it weren’t for you! Thanks a bunch!”
She frowned slightly and humbly stated, “I appreciate that, but I didn’t have much of a choice- I had major surgery, so…”
I admonished myself for forgetting that occurrence! In my defense, I didn’t have a lot of time to come up with an excuse to give her the sage! I attempted to come up with something to ease the awkwardness, but all I produced was a lot of stuttering! If I had been able to have more time, I probably could have come up with something, but Manuel entered onto the stage, and the quiet that his employees doled him rendered me unable to speak with her further. She put the bouquet into her purse, which was a relief! I may not have achieved a victory in the smoothest manner, but I prevented Damon from personally tormenting her that evening! I knew that he would, most likely, victimize her for his fear monger campaign, and as Manuel went up to the microphone, I wondered what her greatest fear might have been and hoped it was as simple to take care of as the cotton balls!
“Hello everybody!” Manuel addressed the assembled group. “Thank you all for coming!”
“Like we had a choice! You said that attendance was mandatory!” one of the educators loudly muttered.
Manuel nervously chuckled, “Ah, yes… I appreciate the participation anyhow! Some recent events came to my attention, and we have to take some steps to mitigate this problem in the future…”
One of my coworkers piped up, “Oh, so you know how to stop all of this freaky stuff from happening?”
“Unfortunately, no…” Manuel regrettably returned.
“You figured out a method to prevent our children from getting victimized?” another staff member guessed.
Manuel shook his head. “Sorry! I wish!”
That hall monitor we ran into the other day asked, “Do you know who’s behind it all so we can make this weird voodoo come to an end?”
“Not yet,” Manuel remorsefully answered. “Believe me though, when we do learn who caused all this trouble, they’ll be expelled from here instantly!”
“Ha!” I inadvertently guffawed out loud at the irony of his claim. Obviously, once he discovered that a ghost was the source of all this pandemonium, he would know how implausible this feat would be, but moreover, he already did expel Damon once! The entire room gazed at me questioningly for this outburst, so I rapidly made it seem as though I had emitted a loud cough. Manuel cleared his throat and then assured the personnel, “The culprit will get caught and punished, don’t worry!”
Somebody else shouted, “Don’t worry? There’s no way to guarantee when the spooky stuff will quit, how are we not supposed to worry? Also, if there’s nothing we can do to avoid it, then why are we here?”
Manuel explained, “I requested your presence to go over safety protocols for any hazards that our unwelcomed visitors may present. We don’t know what this enemy is capable of, so it’s prudent for us to cover all of our bases. Now, on the occasion that a fire-wielding entity goes into your classroom, remember to evacuate your students in a single file line and recall where your nearest fire extinguisher is located…”
I drifted off a little as he rambled on, and then, to keep myself awake, I surveyed the space for any signs of fear mongers. I glimpsed out of the window and espied Roxy trying to subtly watch the scene that she anticipated would unfold, and I pondered if Manuel might expel her for the role she played in this ordeal. She hadn’t really assisted Damon in an impactful fashion, and her only successful bout with magic had been a pure accident, so I didn’t feel he would have much grounds to kick her out. I assumed that she would have gotten bored by this banality, I certainly was, but when I took another peek, she proved the contrary! She appeared very interested in the status of this assembly, which filled me with dread! I knew that Damon had threatened to go after Martha, but I didn’t have any indications as to when that would take place! He could have been bluffing too! I had hope for that possibility up until now! Did she have some sort of clue for the timing of this supernatural invasion? A part of me craved an interruption to this tedium, which could have been an email, but I definitely was in no mood to deal with anything dangerous…
Suddenly, the doors closest to the stage that led outside began shaking slightly! Manuel purposely ignored it as though he got the impression that the source of the disruption stemmed from a tardy employee, but this sight made my pulse race! This was it- whatever Martha’s greatest fear was, it had arrived! The shaking became louder and more noticeable, and I could tell that it was something big! Was it a sasquatch? A dinosaur? A cyclops? It drove me crazy to have no inkling what was set to pass because I didn’t know what to prepare myself for!
Out of all of the things to burst through that door, this one wasn’t even on my radar! It turned out to be a collection of good-looking and trim young men who sprinted around us all! Everyone’s expressions grew shocked, but a few people got over it quickly and began hooting and hollering at this spectacle! Manuel ordered, “Grab them!”
“How would that do any good? … Oh!” One of my female colleagues apparently got confused by his direction. Some of the bystanders, including Fletcher, that the streakers passed tried to pin them down, but they were covered in some kind of oily substance that made them practically impossible to capture! I found the whole situation rather ludicrous! Surely, this ridiculous display was too silly to fill Martha with any terror…
“I’ve gotta get out of here!” Martha wailed. She truly bore the markings of authentic distress, which totally baffled me! I mean, a lot of women her age were prudish about nudity, but not that long ago, she had cheated on her husband with Damon, so how could the woman who had two lovers at once fear naked men? I almost chalked this oddity as a sheer coincidence, but once Martha scurried out the exit, the streakers soon followed her!
Many of the meeting attendees flocked to the windows to admire the men’s forms and/or get a hearty laugh, and Manuel implored everyone to refocus on the original topic at hand, “Come on, people! You’ve all seen naked men before! What are you gonna do if the school experiences an earthquake or…?”
Ginger, who was tall enough to tower over the other onlookers, reported, “They’ve got poor Martha cornered!”
“Have her make them turn around!” Phoebe kidded as she scoped them out from the entryway.
“Excuse me! You’re a taken woman now!” Ginger joshed her.
Phoebe retorted, “Well, it’s not like I’ve got a ring on my finger!” Ouch! I knew she had said that in jest, but it still stung slightly! She couldn’t possibly have fathomed how much I wanted to propose to her lately! I played around with the diamond in my pocket, and I came to the conclusion that she wouldn’t have made the quip if she wasn’t hankering to get hitched, so I needed to pop the question right away! Of course, I wasn’t going to do it with these exposed dudes still lurking about, but I knew I couldn’t delay this action for much longer!
Aleck, who also secured a position by the door, announced, “The police showed up!”
Manuel huffed, “Good! They’re going to jail, so we can all go back to…”
No one got tempted away from witnessing this showdown! I couldn’t see what went on, but the people who did described how much the officers struggled- they had to taze the dudes! As they were cuffed and put into squad cars, the six of us in the Ghost League ruminated how Bill and Arnold (the policemen) would react when their captives transformed into a fear monger!