The young announcer lazily spoke into his microphone, “The Rooks are up to bat…” A teen boy trembled as he readied himself to swing. Half of the crowd stared at the field with such profound disinterest that they almost literally seemed to feel pain from watching the ennui of the game. The opposing team’s pitcher hurled the ball towards the catcher as Phoebe and I found our seats by Aleck, Ginger, and Ellie, and the announcer narrated, “The Barn Owls threw a sinker, and the batter… ran away crying again!” The spectators groaned, and Fletcher stood in the dugout turning red from all of the obscenities he censored himself from voicing out loud.
After I sat down, I asked my colleagues in the Ghost League, “What’s going on?”
“We’re losing,” Ellie answered bluntly.
“I can see that! But Fletcher said he thinks there’s a fear monger here…” I scanned the people in the stands, and I couldn’t see anything that might cause fright in anyone, but I did see a few individuals with very nervous expressions etched on their faces. Some of the players on both teams appeared on edge too! “Okay. I guess we can rule out Fletcher making excuses for our guys losing! Something definitely spooked these folks!”
Ginger reported, “At first, I thought somebody just feared the Rooks losing by a landslide, but the Barn Owls are obviously terrified too! The only reason they scored is our pitcher kept closing his eyes and hitting their batters with balls!”
Phoebe inquired, “And none of you can figure out what the fear monger might be?”
“Not yet,” Aleck replied while gazing into a set of binoculars.
“Why is our mascot out?” I probed as I spotted a person in a giant, blackbird costume hanging out by the home-team’s locker room entrance next to third base.
Ellie responded, “I think Manuel was desperate to cheer people up, but that idea failed miserably ‘cause the mascot got freaked out too!” The mascot did, indeed, look as though they were cradling themselves in order to buoy their spirits back up.
Ginger remarked, “I don’t know why Manuel thought that would work at all! Our mascot is creepy! Why did they pick a type of crow to represent our school?”
“Did you know that a group of crows is called a murder?” Aleck randomly relayed to us as he continued to visually search the area with his binoculars.
“Thanks for that, Aleck!” I grumbled with a grimace. “That’s really helping the tense situation!”
Phoebe squinted her eyes towards the oppositions bleachers and queried, “Is that Roxy over there?”
Aleck swiveled his focus in the direction that she indicated to, and he confirmed, “Yup, that’s her! It doesn’t look like she’s alone either!”
“Who is she with?” I posed to him with great interest.
“I can’t tell,” Aleck tried several different angles to get a better perspective on her exhibition, but he couldn’t seem to decipher anything. “The person in front of her is blocking them. But she’s definitely holding hands with somebody!” This perplexed each of us! Roxy had such an intense devotion to Damon that we couldn’t imagine her having any desire to get close to anyone else besides him! And there was no way Damon could have materialized enough for her to clasp on to him, so who could she have come to the game with?
The announcer addressed us, “And Avira’s attempt to hide behind the bat didn’t shield him and didn’t hit the ball, so we’ve finally made it to the sixth inning! Maybe the last three will pass by fast!” The unamused crowd clearly did not believe him, and actually, neither did the announcer himself! Further evidence of that got shown as he went on, “Speaking of passing fast, Alma sure refused to go to the prom with me real quick!”
“Hugh!” Manuel chided him. “Stick to the game!” The pitcher for our team curled up on the mound in a fetal position, so Manuel changed his tune, “Never mind, you may as well continue.”
“She doesn’t even have a date!” Hugh ranted. “She got mad ‘cause I waited ‘til the last minute to ask! But we still have a week ‘til prom happens, so if she wants to go, anyone who asks her will have to… Oh, it appears as though the game is resuming!” Fletcher physically picked the pitcher up, and he reluctantly agreed to participate again. “And here comes the pitch… And it didn’t quite make it to home!” The congregation from both sides booed, and Hugh advised them, “Be nice! He’s not our regular pitcher! Ginette is… Let’s just say he’s injured…” George was in the dugout breathing into a brown paper bag.
Ellie grumped, “Why don’t they call the game off already?”
Ginger concurred with her statement, “They really should! Maybe we should go convince Manuel before the fear monger strikes again!”
“Nice throw, buddy!” Hugh sincerely complimented the pitcher, who surprised himself with a fantastic form! The batter gave it a good smack, and then Hugh exclaimed, “Woah! It’s going into the bleachers!” A few enthusiasts ran to the ledge in hopes of catching it. Roxy glanced down at whoever was next to her, and she nodded in approval. Finally, her companion would come out into the open, and we were rapt in curiosity on the identity of her cohort! I assumed it was a member of the FAUK club, who would have approved of the mayhem she caused, but out of all of the speculations I made, I could never have predicted who it turned out to be…
“No! She’s back!” Geroge shrieked. Several members of the masses screamed as an extremely pale little girl positioned herself in the front row! She had dark, shadowy eyes, and her visage contorted in a sinister fashion as she witnessed the hysteria from her arrival, and while she had a fairly haunting appearance, I couldn’t understand why so many subjects grew that frenzied about her image!
Phoebe quizzically wondered, “That’s the fear monger? I don’t’ get it! What am I missing here?”
Aleck explained, “That’s the villain from this horror movie where a kid summons evil spirits to kill people with the most twisted methods possible. My boy snuck into a showing of it once, and he had nightmares for days! Glad I decided not to bring him here!”
The ghoulish girl caught the ball and offered it to some of the multitude who had gathered in that sector, and everyone got too petrified to accept it. I furrowed my brows and pondered, “I have a hard time believing that so many people are afraid of a fictional character!”
“It’s based on a legend, so there’s a few out there who treat her story like fact,” Ellie informed me.
“She’s raising her hands now!” Phoebe observed. “Does that mean the fear monger is going to murder someone like that child does in that film?”
I declared, “We can’t sit back and find out the hard way! Let’s get rid of it so our guys can lose with dignity! … Or win…”
The field was in such disarray that I felt no reservations about hopping over the barriers that separated the players from the audience! I could feel a lot of eyes on me as I ran across the grass, and Hugh let everyone know, “Ladies and gentlemen, there’s some dude in the outfield! What is he doing?” I expected some of the clusters to stare, but I hadn’t counted on the whole world watching my every move! I planned on the majority of the gathered to fixate their attention elsewhere in order for me to slip out and deal with the fear monger privately! It irritated me slightly, but I decided to let it go. If everyone got the impression that she was some sort of demon influencer, then perhaps they wouldn’t object to me taking her down! Roxy raced to the fear monger as well, but she didn’t reach her before me! I grabbed the fear monger and prepared myself to drag her to the ground when…
“That man is gonna abuse that child!” a lady in the throng yelled.
“No, no, no!” I freed up my hands and denied that allegation.
The troupe unaffected by the frightful flick all heckled me, and another woman shouted, “You monster! She’s just a kid!”
One nervous fellow warned me, “Careful! You saw what happened to the detective who tried to interfere with her scheme, right?”
“Listen, I didn’t do that to hurt her!” I lied. I heard a lot of skepticism, but I detected an exuberant amount of fear too. The mascot resorted to hugging its knees and rocking, which surprisingly enough gave me a stroke of inspiration! “Now that I’ve got your attention, quit getting distracted by this clumsy stunt! Come on, we got a ball game here! We gotta pump our team up! Everyone repeat after me- we will, we will… Rook you!” I felt rather proud of coming up with such a clever ditty, but evidently, I was alone in that opinion! No one uttered my chant! I refused to give up on it though, and I repeated myself, “We will, we will… Rook you!”
“We will, we will… Rook you!” Phoebe stepped onto the field and joined me, which made me love her even more! Ginger and Aleck allied with her, and Ellie faced the bleachers and conducted them like they were in an orchestra. We added some rhythmic clapping, and the congeries found it catchy enough to engage! I turned towards the players and beckoned them to return to the field, and as they did, they seemed mesmerized by the support that surged throughout the vicinity! I could tell Roxy was striving to persuade them to cease this merriment, and I smirked knowing that she found no success in gaining anymore traction for their deviousness! Now I could only hope that no one beheld the fear monger’s transformation…
Phoebe dug into my pocket, and for a second, the excitement from this activity shifted my sentiments into more frisky ones! When I recalled where I was situated, I shook those notions off rapidly! I could see her running into the opposition’s locker room, and Roxy darted right after her dragging the fear monger alongside her. It irked me slightly that no one accused her of child abuse, but my inquisitiveness over this transpiration compelled me to forget it and follow their movements.
I could see that they hurried to the outside, and Phoebe taunted Roxy with the key! I got so worked up about Phoebe’s proximity to me that I hadn’t considered that she had taken anything, but now that I could espy it in plain view, I realized that the spoon had been missing from my left pocket! Man, was I glad I hadn’t hid the diamond ring in the same place and spoiled the surprise at such an inopportune juncture! Ginger, Aleck, and Ellie popped in shortly, and Roxy demanded, “Give it to me!”
“Absolutely not!” Phoebe declined. “I only did that to get you and that thing out of there!” I glanced to my side and saw that the fear monger was still in its little girl form. I couldn’t fathom why- the baseball patrons garnered far too much zeal for Damon to stick around them!
“Toss it here!” I instructed her since Roxy’s relentlessness didn’t look like it would ebb enough to leave Phoebe with a window to exit the scene. As she aimed for me, Roxy bounced around her intended trajectory ready to intercept it. I could not summon the stamina to mimic her, so Phoebe tried to simply walk towards the parking lot. Roxy resumed hovering around her, so Phoebe attempted to fling it to me again. Roxy renewed her avid blockade in my path, but she had an unobstructed shot at Aleck. She pelted it towards him, and Aleck nearly received it, but Roxy dove and nearly seized it!
I hollered, “Oh no you don’t!” I rushed over and pushed her out of the key’s route, and luckily, Aleck caught it!
Roxy, who was very visibly in shock, sullenly whimpered, “You pushed a student!”
“Not the first time I did that!” I have no clue why I blurted that out except that it reminded me of when I had to push Peter out of harm’s way! Also, I got very little sleep lately, how could anyone expect my filter to be fully functional?
“What?” she reacted in astonishment.
I fibbed, “What? That never occurred! I figured I’d try some humor outside of my dad joke genre- I’ve been told they’re not very popular!”
Aleck assured me, “They’re growing to my liking! Anyways, I should probably get this to your car…”
“Ew! You’re touching the poo key!” Ginger recoiled.
“You’re not afraid of getting cursed?” Ellie surveyed him.
Aleck paused his gait and sardonically retorted, “Yeah, I’m so worried about getting cursed ‘cause everything’s going swimmingly right now!” As he was talking, the ghoulish girl snatched the key from him! She hurried over to Roxy, and I was ready to panic until…
A baseball zoomed right into the ghoulish girl’s head! She fell down and morphed into a fear monger for a brief instance, then it disappeared! From the locker room, Fletcher smugly commented, “I still got it!” We peered at him a bit startled, and he rather vexedly added, “I wasn’t always like this! I used to be a star athlete!”
“Me too!” Damon unexpectedly manifested close to us! “That’s why I stuck around her!” As I scooped up the spoon, he glared at us and scornfully bade, “Enjoy your weekend!”
“Don’t go!” Roxy desperately requested as he disappeared. “What’s happening this weekend? Why did she call it a poo key?”
Once she got out of earshot, Ellie glowed with triumph, and Ginger cut her off right as she opened her mouth to crow, “Don’t even say it! We know you were right about researching his history!”
Ellie asked, “Well, now that you all realize how important it is, will you all look up info on him with me?”
I answered, “No. Not yet. We have another lead to check out…”