The Terra-Belle Ghost, Chapter 24

I ran from the kitchen to the end of the hall chasing my cat and shouting, “No, no, no!” I finally caught her, but to my dismay, it was too late! As I had her at eye level, I queried, “Why do you eat plastic? You know it always makes you throw up, right?” When she opened her mouth, I expected her to give some asinine response about liking the taste of wrappers or not caring if she happened to hurl, but to my astonishment, she let out a very normal kitty noise! “I’m sorry, did you actually meow?” Jett let out another mew, and I grew very puzzled! Did that spell give them the option to switch off from speaking like a feline or a human?

            Miriam popped out of the guest bedroom with an armful of laundry and informed me, “Oh, she kept yelling curse words at the birds outside, and I didn’t think you’d want me to let her leave the house doing that, so I used your spell book to make her shut up!”

            “You used my… what?” I understood what she said perfectly- I had simply become too stunned to register the reality of what she just relayed to me! She used sorcery successfully- that’s not something that a person is used to hearing announced like that! With the struggles we were enduring with that petulant phantom and his cumbersome monsters, I hadn’t given much contemplation to the existence of spells that seriously worked, so it threw me off completely to listen to her converse about it! And so casually too! It was as though she notified me that she had brought our trash to the curb because it was garbage day and I forgot (which did occur a couple of days ago!), so it left me wondering- how often did she deal with jinxes?

            “Oh, was that book sacred? Sorry, I assumed that it was for anyone’s use considering that it came from your school’s library!” Miriam reasoned as she opened the folding door in the hallway and began washing her clothes.

            I waved that revelation off, “Oh, it’s nothing forbidden or anything! I was…” I paused and phrased my concern as delicately as I could, “I didn’t know that you practiced witchcraft…”

            Miriam contended, “Oh please! All I wanted to do was get rid of that talking animal effect! Anyone could’ve read through that and did the reversal ritual, it’s not that hard! They break it down step by step and make it real easy. Only an idiot would struggle to produce a hex after scanning through a guide like that!”

            “You know, that’s probably true!” I acknowledged as I reminisced about Roxy’s numerous failed attempts. Honestly, I hadn’t remembered my idea on using an enchantment to destroy the key until right then since no one else in the Ghost League seemed willing to participate in matters of the occult! Her action got me thinking though- Miriam obviously had no qualms about doing it, so perhaps I should have requested her assistance to obliterate that everlasting object…

            “No, Jett!” Phoebe came out of our bedroom and scolded her for scratching at the guest bathroom door. The hallway was a bit crowded, so Miriam leaned against the washing machine and I sucked in my gut as much as I could to give her room to maneuver. After she brushed against me, my libido sent flights of fancy to the forefront of my mind until…

            From behind the bathroom door, Babelsama’s voice leered, “Having fun out there?”

            I sardonically remarked to him, “Nope! We’re so miserable that we’re gonna come down to the Netherworld and give you the key back!”

            “Really?” Babelsama reacted hopefully.

            “No!” I spat.

            Babelsama uttered a noise of annoyance, and then he ranted, “You know, it’s stuff like that trickery that motivates me to spread chaos in your world even more! Mark my word, when I can reopen the void in your community, I swear, I’ll-!”

            Phoebe reminded me, “We should get going! We’re gonna be late!” I knew she was completely right, but a part of me ached to call in sick so Miriam could help us make that key vanish permanently in order for us to get rid of this headache once and for all, but I couldn’t let my colleagues remain alone to battle against whatever grand plan Damon had in store for today! Plus, there was no guarantee that anything in that tome would be effective, which would have made my absence a sincere waste of effort! I wanted to save all of my time-off for my honeymoon- assuming that these tedious obstacles would allow me to prevail in proposing to her eventually! I reluctantly relented, but as we took off, I privately worried that we had walked away from our only shot to use her services!

            “And the ten principles of proper record keeping dictate that- Aah!” I gasped when someone dropped their pencil onto their desk.

            “Mister Fenmore, are you feeling alright?” Corvina inquired.

            Drats! I always strove to avoid having my students detect my less-than-stellar moods, but apparently, I didn’t accomplish that feat in this instance! I did my best to stay neutral for them, but Damon promised to wreak more havoc than usual on this date, and here it was sixth period and nothing came to fruition! One guy yelped, but then it turned out he was checking on some basketball scores! I gave him a pass on using his phone in class because I did not want to give him detention and create more opportunities for Damon to cause mischief! Yes, I recognized that he may have been bluffing, but I also knew that he had, like, fifty-ish (I lost count of how many of the sixty nine fear mongers he had gone through!) monsters at his disposal, so he had the potential to inflict a lot of mayhem on this campus if he wanted to! And he did show signs of wanting to! His scheme had prompted a bunch of kids to drop out, but he had yet to motivate me to return the key! I wouldn’t have been surprised if Babelsama put more pressure on him to achieve some worthwhile results! Yesterday, he sounded authentic in his warning of giving us more grief than normal, and he already proved that he could release more than one fear monger at once… Okay, so that experiment was a flop, but maybe the next one wouldn’t fizzle out so much! The more that the hours inched on, the more I fretted that something enormous was heading our way, so every little piece of unexpectedness put me on edge! Roxy’s smug expression only enhanced my anxiety! Sure, she could have been savoring my apprehension without any other cause other than her satisfaction of watching me suffer after foiling so many of their schemes, but what if she adopted this cocky attitude due to her knowledge of what was yet to come? I still didn’t want the children to be privy to my paranoia, so I very nonchalantly replied to Corvina, “What makes you believe something’s wrong?”

            A student accidentally made their textbook plummet to the ground, and I inadvertently let out a small yelp as I jumped in fright! I cringed and wracked my brains for an alternative explanation for my behavior other than apprehensiveness, but I couldn’t unearth anything fast enough to stop my pupil’s awareness of my mindset! Corvina probed, “What’s going on? Should we be worried?”

            “No!” I adamantly refused. I upbraided myself for nearly causing them to panic for no real valid reason! I resolved to shake these ill feelings off and carry on with the final stretch of my lesson with more enthusiasm, but the sensation of pending doom just would not wear off! I glanced at the clock, and then I got struck with inspiration on how to handle this situation! “You know what, it’s only a few minutes before prom weekend, why don’t you take off early?”

            “Are you serious?” Roxy seemed slightly startled by my abrupt dismissal. “Is this a trick?”

            I made sure to hide my smirk from her as I assured the class, “It’s no joke! What, you think the hall monitor is gonna give all of you detention for leaving campus a smidgen before the bell? Go on, get out of here!” As the students all happily bolted up to head out, I started to breathe a sigh of relief. Roxy’s displeasure at this notion led me to believe that I was on the right track and spoiled whatever she and Damon cooked up for us, but then, right as I started to gather my belongings…

            The boy who reached the hallway first let out a voluminous scream, and my heart stopped! Damon hadn’t lapsed in his affinity for consistently terrorizing Rosemary King after all! My veins coursed with dread as I peeked out of the doorway to behold what horror had been unleashed, and to my shock, I saw that the boy was running from a chicken! I had never seen such a sight, and I nearly busted out laughing with all of the kid’s peers, but then I realized that silly or not, that bird was his greatest fear, so I had a monster that needed to get slayed! “Hold on, Ray! I’m coming to help!” I couldn’t see the children’s peculiar stares, but I could sure feel them as I hastily followed the odd pair down the stairs at the other end of the building!

            I caught up with them after the downward trek, and I lunged after the feathered creature as soon as I could! I missed, but then it backed itself into a corner! “Nice try, buddy!” I briefly recoiled as I imagined how foolish I must have appeared for harboring so much venom for a barn animal, but I had to dismiss that concept while I took care of this fear monger and finished this aggravating work week! As it cowered from my grasp, I denoted how incredibly simple this dilemma had been to conquer… Almost too simple…

            “Connor!” Ellie stepped out into the hallway and alerted me. If she hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have espied the fox crouching low and creeping towards my direction! It pounced, and I rolled out of the way to escape its attack! Evidently, that move was unnecessary since the fox aimed for the chicken! The bird, no longer cornered, fled for its safety, and the fox quickly pursued it. I was ready to let the problem sort itself out, but then when they both rounded the corner, they instantly zoomed back to their point of origin! I debated whether I should resume my hunt of the fear mongers or check out what spooked them so badly, but when I heard a shriek that I registered as Phoebe’s, I didn’t entertain any other possibilities- I raced to come to her aid!

            “What in the world?” Ellie exclaimed as we saw a giant, very square robot tearing off the door to Phoebe’s room! I had no clue how to defeat an automaton, especially one with so much brute strength, but I certainly wasn’t going to permit anything to harm the woman I loved! Fortunately, I didn’t have to concern myself with the difficult battle that I envisioned- Phoebe poured some liquid onto it, and it short-circuited and collapsed! Prior to me congratulating her for her cleverness, Ellie sniffed the air and pondered, “Is that tequila?”

            A teen from her class bellowed, “For real, I didn’t know it was alcohol! I grabbed my sister’s water bottle from her backpack ‘cause I always get thirsty after PE!”

            I posed to Ellie, “Where’d the fox and chicken go?”

            “Aah!” a girl screamed from the quad.

            “There!” Ellie responded to my question.

            Instead of saying something sarcastic about how obvious my answer had become, I decided to ignore it as the three of us dashed into the courtyard. We spotted the fox running into the STEM section of the school, but when we entered the facility, we saw no hint of either creature’s whereabouts! “How do we figure out…?” Phoebe sought to canvass us, but then…

            Ginger bellowed, “What the hell?” Her kids gasped at her use of an obscenity, and she admonished them, “Oh, don’t’ act like you don’t say worse than that to each other during passing period!”

            When the three of us joined her, we saw that the fox had gotten ensnared inside of a mesh enclosure that hung from the ceiling! A young lady was quivering as she witnessed this spectacle, and I kidded with her, “Ah, don’t be afraid! The fox is just… hanging out!”

            Ellie and Ginger groaned at my jest, but the girl nervously let me know, “I’m not scared of that! It’s always been a nightmare of mine to get trapped in a net like that! You see, when I was in the second grade…”

            “Where’s the chicken?” Ellie petitioned us. We heard a flurry of giggles coming from upstairs after the bell rang, so we zipped over to investigate.

            “Mister Thales caught a chicken!” one youthful man chortled as he passed by us while we recovered our respiration from that fast climb. He and his friends puzzled at our poses, but it did not deter them from their mirth. Whatever, the more joy that spread throughout the school, the easier it would become to defeat Damon!

            When we entered into Aleck’s quarters, we saw that he had managed to nab it with an empty, plastic bin, and as he pinned it down with a large geode, I quipped, “Gee, Aleck! I didn’t realize you were so fowl!”

            Ginger and Ellie shook their heads at my cheesiness, but Aleck chuckled, “Good one!” Ellie and Ginger gazed at him in a reproachful manner to discourage him from encouraging my antics, but it didn’t phase him much!

            “We still gotta take care of the net and the fox,” Ellie jogged our memories.

            “Why don’t you and Ginger take care of the net and the fox?” I suggested as I glimpsed at my phone. “Fletcher needs a hand too…”

            We hurried to the gym only to see several boys and girls hiding between the bleachers and behind various equipment as a hooded figure with a scythe glided across the floor! Fletcher told us, “It hasn’t taken any souls, but it keeps finding different kids and beckoning them to go somewhere!”

            Phoebe surveyed us, “How do we defeat death?”

            After mulling it over for a beat, I concluded, “We’re not fighting death! We’re fighting a fear monger!” I located a box full of props earmarked for the prom, and I seized a few of them. I came face to face with the hooded figure, and it gestured for me to follow it. I yelled, “No way, José!” and put a cowboy hat on it, and the children tittered. I then put a rope in its hands and commented, “I have a chicken you can lasso!” The students guffawed, and their merriment only got enhanced the more the three of us placed on it. Finally, it couldn’t bear their amusement anymore and darted out!

            Phoebe and I watched it transform into a fear monger, and it disappeared as soon as Fletcher’s class came out. One boy amazedly stated, “Wow! I never knew death’s real name was José!”

            Aleck raised an eyebrow at that as the six of convened, and then he reported, “The hall monitor caught the fox after it chewed out of the net! I’m not sure why he can handle a wild animal but not balloons!”

            “Hopefully he doesn’t see it transform on the way to the wildlife shelter!” Phoebe conversed as she studied the scenery around us. “Okay, it seems like we’re finally done with these fear mongers! At least for today! What are the odds Damon won’t pull something at the dance tomorrow?”

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