Ghost Hunt 2: MORE Chilling Tales of the Unknownby Jason Hawes, Grant Wilson
Ghost Hunt 2 has more ghosts, more cases, and more chills!
Is Alcatraz prison really haunted by ghostly inmatesor is something in the air causing hallucinations? Can the ocean be haunted? Are glowing red eyes in the woods just an animalor something more sinister? Unlock these mysteries and many more in this chilling collection of/b>/b>… See more details below
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Ghost Hunt 2 has more ghosts, more cases, and more chills!
Is Alcatraz prison really haunted by ghostly inmatesor is something in the air causing hallucinations? Can the ocean be haunted? Are glowing red eyes in the woods just an animalor something more sinister? Unlock these mysteries and many more in this chilling collection of terrifying tales based on real cases from The Atlantic Paranormal Society.
Find more details and tips on ghost hunting than ever before!
This latest collection of real stories from the paranormal investigatory group The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS) has the same punch as its predecessor, Ghost Hunt (2010).
That the stories are the product of actual work conducted by the Society give them a powerful grip on readers' attention. This happened, like it or not, but probably you'll like it. The pacing is crisply staccato—"Again the eyes winked out. As if the animal had disappeared. But then there they were again. The eyes were closer. A lot closer"—and cinematic, which is understandable, as these tales have become material for a popular television series. The milieus are excellent, from a lonesome lake to a towering lighthouse to Alcatraz (D Block, where the truly rotten were incarcerated within the incarceration), then to the even more devious everyday: your backyard at night. It is the stuff of all that goes bump in the night: " 'I hear footsteps,' Dave whispered. 'They're coming closer!' Step, drag. Closer. Step, drag. Closer." Darting shadows, cold spots, phantom smells, orbs, voice phenomena—nay, apparitions!—work readers to the point of tasting the enamel flaking off their grinding teeth.
It is also great ammunition for every kid who claimed a rude presence under the bed or in the closet: I told you so. (Nonfiction. 8-15)
Read an Excerpt
Ghost Hunt 2: MORE Chilling Tales of the Unknown
By Jason Hawes
Little, Brown Books for Young ReadersCopyright © 2011 Jason Hawes
All right reserved.
CRIES IN THE NIGHT
“Where are you? I can’t see you!”
Lyssa stumbled along the rocky seashore. Dense fog wrapped around her with a cold and clammy embrace, so thick that she couldn’t see where she was going. Lyssa could hear the waves pounding against the shore, but she couldn’t see the water through the hazy vapor. She also couldn’t see the other members of the TAPS team, but she knew they were nearby. She had been walking right next to Jason, but the fog had rolled in so fast—all it had taken was a few steps in the wrong direction and they had become separated.
Now she was all alone.
Lyssa waved her flashlight around, trying to see where she was going. But the light showed only the cold, white mist.
“Help us! Somebody, please save us!” she heard a voice cry out. She tried to turn toward the sound and almost lost her balance on the sharp, uneven rocks. She didn’t recognize the voice, and she couldn’t tell where it had come from.
“Jason, is that you? Where are you? I can’t see you!” Lyssa called.
No answer. She stared into the darkness. There was a light! It appeared to be floating on the water. Is it a ship?
Lyssa began to go forward again. She walked slowly, trying hard not to slip on the shifting rocks beneath her feet. If she could just get down to the water, maybe she could find Jason and the others.
Lyssa’s ankle turned on a large stone. With a sharp cry, she lost her balance and fell to her knees. The flashlight flew from her hand and went skittering away. Pain shot through her from slamming into the jagged edges of the rocks. She toppled over onto her side and lay still for a moment. She could feel the sharp edges of the rocks digging into her body.
Her skinned arms and palms felt sticky—there was some bleeding from her scrapes. She pushed herself upright. Then she flexed her foot and stretched her arms in front of her. At least nothing felt broken.
Careful not to lose her balance again, Lyssa got to her feet. Every part of her body felt battered and bruised. The mist surrounding her was really getting to her. Beyond the pain from the fall, Lyssa had to admit to herself that she was just plain scared.
Lyssa swallowed hard to keep from crying. Where was the team?
“Aiiieeeee!” A sudden scream cut through the night. Lyssa’s heart leapt into her throat.
“Help! Somebody, please! Help! Help! HELP!” a voice cried out. It sounded like a little boy’s.
Then the air around Lyssa seemed to explode with sound. There were voices everywhere in the fog, shouting and calling out words that Lyssa couldn’t understand. And the whole time, there was the sound of the waves, pounding furiously against the shore. Then a deep, weird groaning filled the air.
Something’s being pushed to the breaking point, Lyssa thought.
But what is it? What?
Earlier that day…
“Got something?” Grant asked.
Lyssa paused in sorting through the TAPS mail.
One of her jobs as the chief interviewer for TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society) was opening the mail. Lyssa actually liked that part of her job a lot. It meant she was the first person to see anything new and interesting. Today, one particular envelope caught her eye. The name and address were written by hand.
That looks like a kid’s handwriting, Lyssa thought. It was big but not sloppy.
“I’m not sure yet,” Lyssa answered. She took her letter opener and slit the top of the envelope. Inside were several sheets of binder paper with more of the same handwriting on it. Lyssa pushed the rest of the mail aside and spread the letter out on top of her desk.
The TAPS office was in an old house in Rhode Island. What used to be the living room was now the main work area. Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson had desks along one wall. They faced each other on either side of a brick fireplace. Sitting face-to-face made it easy for the two TAPS founders to talk over cases.
Lyssa’s desk was next to technical manager Jen Shorewood’s. The final two members of the TAPS team, identical twins Mike and Mark Hammond, shared a big worktable along the back wall. Mike was the team’s evidence examiner. Mark was the researcher. Both were tall and serious-looking, with straight brown hair and dark brown eyes. It was really hard to tell them apart.
Grant got up from his desk and leaned over Lyssa’s shoulder so they could read the letter together.
Dear TAPS, the letter began.
I hope it’s okay for me to write. I don’t know what else to do. (I want to ask for your help.) Not for me. Well, not just for me. It’s mostly for my grandpa.
“Interesting start,” Lyssa said.
“Yeah, it is,” Grant confirmed. He pulled up a chair and sat down beside her. “Let’s keep going.”
Grandpa George lives in Maine. Sort of out in the middle of nowhere, right by the ocean. I go to see him every summer. It’s just the two of us for most of August. That’s the way we like it.
But there’s one thing we don’t like. It started when I turned nine. I’m eleven now. You probably want to know that, huh? Also my name, which is Tom Kelly.
Anyhow, I’m writing because of the voices and the lights, out on the water. We only hear and see them one night a year.
“Okay, now it’s really interesting,” Grant said.
Lyssa nodded, her eyes still on the page.
It happens the fifteenth of August. Screams. People yelling for help. There are crazy lights, and sometimes Grandpa George and I think we hear a bell. There are lots of other sounds, too, but we’ve never been able to figure out what they are.
The first year, Grandpa George and I tried to help. But we couldn’t, because of the fog. It was so thick we couldn’t see the water. It’s hard to get to the ocean from Grandpa George’s house. There are lots of big sharp rocks going down to the water. It’s dangerous to climb on them, even in the daytime.
We even called the Coast Guard. They couldn’t do anything, either. Not that night. That’s how thick the fog was.
The Coast Guard came the next morning. They didn’t find anything at all. They didn’t really believe me. I think they thought I was making the whole thing up. They didn’t even believe my grandpa! He told them he heard the sounds, too. I guess they thought he was just covering up for me because I’m his grandson and all that.
But Grandpa George did hear the sounds. He saw the lights. I didn’t make it up. Not any of it.
Anyhow. That was the first time.
“The first time,” Grant murmured.
Lyssa turned over the first page. The letter went on.
So then a year went by. Grandpa George and I thought maybe that was it. Just some weird and freaky thing, you know? But it happened the next August 15, too, just like before. And now the date is coming up again. I wasn’t sure what to do, but then my best friend, Tony, told me about TAPS. As soon as he did, I knew I wanted to write you.
Please come to Grandpa George’s house. Please help us figure out what’s going on. Grandpa George won’t admit it, but I think he’s upset. He doesn’t like to hear the people screaming and knowing there’s nothing he can do to help them.
But maybe you can help. I think maybe you’re the only ones. Because you want to know the truth. Those people on the water? I’m pretty sure they died. I think they died a long, long time ago. Can the ocean be haunted?
Please come as soon as you get this letter.
Your new friend (I hope)
P.S. Here’s Grandpa George’s address. I drew you a map on the back of this page. I’ll wait outside for you after dinner on the fifteenth, just in case you come.
Lyssa sat back. “Wow.”
“Let’s take a look at the map,” Grant said.
She turned over the second page of Tom Kelly’s letter. On the back was a well-drawn map. It showed a hill and the ocean. At the foot of the hill were lots of big rocks. At the top, there was a house with a road snaking up toward it. The address was written in big block letters. There was a mark at the bottom of the hill where Tom Kelly would be waiting.
“Check that out,” Lyssa said. “X really does mark the spot.”
“What’s the date today?” Grant asked.
Lyssa checked the bottom of her computer screen.
“Oh my gosh, today’s the fifteenth!” she said. “That doesn’t give us much time.”
Grant stood up. “Hey, Hammond,” he called out.
On the far side of the room, both Hammond twins turned around. “Yeah?” they said in unison.
“Mike,” Grant said, his voice brisk. “Please get me driving directions to this address.” He read it out loud. Mike grabbed a piece of paper and jotted it down. “We need the travel time. Mark, I’d like you to look on a map and get me the name of the closest town. Find out whether or not there’s a historical society. A lot of small New England towns have one.”
“On it,” the twins said, once again in unison. They swiveled back to their respective laptops at precisely the same time.
“How do they do that?” Lyssa asked.
“I’m pretty sure they practice at home,” Jen said. “I keep meaning to set up a camera and catch them in the act.”
“What’s up?” Jason asked. He walked over from his desk to stand beside Grant. “You’re giving a lot of orders all of a sudden—you think you’re the boss or something?” he teased.
“You know it,” Grant answered with a grin. “But I did say please.” He picked up Tom Kelly’s letter and held it out to Jason. “Read this. We can talk on the road.”
“Aye, aye, Captain.” Jason saluted.
“You came,” Tom Kelly said. “I wasn’t sure you would. I mean, I hoped—I mean—wow!”
Tom Kelly looks like everybody’s best friend, Lyssa thought. He had bright red hair, freckles across his nose, and bright green eyes. He was wearing a pair of well-worn jeans and a plain white T-shirt.
“Of course we came,” Jason said. He stepped forward to shake Tom’s hand. “I’m Jason, and this is Grant.”
“I know who you guys are,” Tom said. “I looked it up on the Internet. You started TAPS.”
“That’s right,” Grant said. “We did. And this is the TAPS team.” Quickly, Grant introduced the rest of the group, ending with Lyssa. “Lyssa is the one who spotted your letter.”
“Cool,” Tom said. “Thanks.”
“So,” Lyssa said, “how does your grandfather feel about us coming?”
Tom made a face.
Busted! Lyssa thought.
“I haven’t told him yet. Grandpa George is used to being on his own. He’s used to fixing things himself. He doesn’t like to ask for help.”
“So you did it for him,” Jason suggested.
“Yeah,” Tom said. “And for me, too. I mean—it’s kind of hard to describe. It just feels wrong to sit up in the house and not do anything. I want to figure out what’s going on.”
“We do, too,” Grant said. He looked up, to where a small house with weather-beaten shingles stood on top of the hill. “But first I think we’d better go meet your grandfather.”
“I appreciate your visit,” Grandpa George said when they went up to the house to meet him. “But we’re fine on our own. Tom shouldn’t have asked you to come.”
He shot his grandson a look that was stern but also full of love. George Kelly reminded Lyssa of a piece of old leather, thin but still strong. And I guess we know where Tom got his red hair, she thought. Grandpa George’s hair wasn’t as bright as Tom’s, but it was still pretty red.
“Since we’re already here, Mr. Kelly,” Jason said, “we would really like the chance to experience whatever happens tonight. We understand that it all happens down by the water. So we won’t need to bother you.”
“Well, you did come a long way,” Grandpa George said slowly. “And I’ve got to admit I am concerned about tonight. A person doesn’t like to hear others in distress and have no way to help them. It’s just not right… So I guess my grandson here did what was best. Maybe we could use your help.”
“Thank you,” Grant said.
“You’d better take a look at the shore while it’s still light out,” Grandpa George said. “Otherwise, you’ll have trouble for sure after it gets dark.”
Sometime later, the group was at the water to check it out. “Okay, you guys,” Grant said as he and Jason stood side by side facing the team with their backs to the ocean. “No two ways about it, this investigation is going to be a challenge. And challenge number one is getting down to the water.”
Between the TAPS team and the ocean was a big field of jagged rocks. They weren’t quite big enough to be called boulders. But they were big enough that walking across them was going to be tough. The light was already fading fast.
That meant the TAPS team was going to have to cross the rock field in the dark.
“According to Grandpa George, it stays rocky all the way down to the water. But right at the shoreline, the rocks are smoother and smaller—sort of a pebble beach. That will be easier to walk on. But it’s still slippery, so even there we have to watch our step.”
“What about equipment?” Mark asked.
“Audio only,” Jason said. “Handheld. Or actually…” He lifted up an audio recorder that was hanging on a strap around his neck. “There isn’t time to get down to the water and set up equipment. And it’s probably too wet anyhow.”
“Document and tag everything you can for the voice recorders,” Grant continued. “Remember, the sound of the ocean will always be in the background.”
“Got it.” Lyssa nodded.
“We’ll work in pairs,” Jason went on. “Lyssa, you’re with me. Mark is with Grant. Jen with Mike. Stay together as much as possible. If the fog rolls in, things could get pretty tough out there, guys.”
“Um, Jason,” Jen said.
“I think you’d better look behind you.”
Both TAPS founders turned. The entire team stood silently for several moments. At the edge of the water, a band of white fog was slowly creeping forward. It looked to Lyssa like long fingers reaching out for the land.
“Looks like Mother Nature’s going to provide her own version of going dark,” Grant said. “Okay, team. Let’s get started.”
Lyssa staggered her way across the rocks. They were big and jagged and hard to climb. Her feet kept slipping. Jason clambered along beside her. Even with his long legs, he was struggling. Jen and Mike had turned off to the right, Grant and Mark to the left. Lyssa and Jason were going straight down the middle to the ocean.
How much farther? Lyssa wondered. The sound of the waves crashing against the rocky beach filled her ears. But Lyssa couldn’t see the water through the thick fog.
“This is Jason,” she heard him say for the benefit of the audio recorder. “I’m with Lyssa. We’re walking toward the water. The fog is coming in pretty good now. It should reach us any minute.”
He turned his head to look at Lyssa. “You okay?”
“Sure,” Lyssa said. “Absolutely.” She took a few more steps, her eyes on the white wall of mist ahead of them. Reaching, grasping, inching ever closer and closer. Once the moisture surrounded her, it would feel like being stuck in a cloud—but with no way out.
Lyssa shuddered. She hated the feeling of being trapped. She knew Jason did, too.
“Okay,” she admitted. “Well, to tell the truth, I’m not looking forward to being in the fog.”
“Just stay focused,” Jason advised. “Remember, fog can’t actually hurt you, no matter how creepy it is in the movies. When in doubt, just listen for the sound of the water.”
“Okay,” Lyssa agreed. She felt a breath of cool, damp air move past her face. And then the fog surrounded them. Lyssa and Jason struggled through it. The mist made the rocks even more slippery and dangerous.
Oof! Without warning, Lyssa pitched forward. Her hands hit against the stones.
“Are you all right?” Jason asked at once.
“Fine,” Lyssa said as she tried to catch her breath. “I think my shoe’s untied. I must have tripped over the laces. Go on, I’ll be right behind you.”
“You’re sure?” Jason said.
“Sure,” Lyssa replied.
Jason continued toward the water. He vanished into the mist after just a few steps. Lyssa balanced as best she could, trying to get her shoe tied. Her fingers were clumsy with cold. The laces were wet. Finally, Lyssa gave up bending over. She turned around and sat gingerly on one of the stones. It took three tries before she could get the laces tied.
Finally! Lyssa thought. She stood up.
The fog was all she could see. Lyssa was all alone. She could feel the panic rising in her chest. Remember what Jason said, she told herself. When in doubt, listen for the water.
But which way was it? It seemed to Lyssa that the sound of the ocean was all around her now. Think! she told herself. What had she done? I went to tie my shoelace. I sat down.
Lyssa swung around. Back in the direction she thought the ocean was. She strained to hear… Was the sound of the waves louder that way? She honestly couldn’t tell.
“This is Lyssa,” she gasped for the recorder she was wearing. “I’m alone in the fog. I’ve lost Jason. I can’t see anybody else. I don’t know where they are. I’m going to try calling for help.”
Lyssa pulled in a breath to shout. Before she could, she heard a cry.
“Help us!” a voice cried out. “Somebody, please save us! Help. Help! HELP!”
“Jason, where are you? I can’t see you!” Lyssa shouted out.
She wasn’t sure, but she thought the other voice was coming from the water. Lyssa staggered toward the sound. Her foot slipped. Lyssa lost her balance and went down, hard.
She lay on her side, trying to steady her breathing. Trying to beat back the pain and fear that she felt. Slowly, carefully, Lyssa got to her feet.
But she was in a nightmare world now. The sounds of fear and panic were all around her. She could hear voices screaming for help. Lyssa heard what sounded like a bell ringing wildly. Something groaned, like an enormous animal in pain.
“This is Lyssa,” she said once more for the recorder. “There are all these sounds. I can’t tell what’s making them. I can’t—”
“We’re lost!” Lyssa heard a voice cry out. “We’re going down.”
“No,” Lyssa cried out. “No!”
The walkie-talkie in Lyssa’s jacket pocket suddenly crackled. “Lyssa, this is Jason. Can you hear me? Come back.” In all the confusion, the pain of her fall, she’d forgotten all about the walkie-talkie.
She fished it out with trembling fingers. “Jason,” Lyssa said. “Where are you? Can you hear the voices?”
“I hear them,” Jason replied. His voice sounded grim even over the walkie-talkie. “Hold on, Lyssa. I’m heading your way. Keep talking into the walkie-talkie so I can find you.”
“Okay,” Lyssa said. The bell was ringing nonstop now. Lyssa could still hear many different voices, all crying out together. “This is Lyssa. I’m waiting for Jason. I’m hearing all these sounds. I can’t see what’s going on. If only this fog would clear, just a little.”
All of a sudden, Lyssa saw a light coming toward her. “I think I see you, Jason,” she cried. “Is that your flashlight?”
A moment later, he was at her side.
“What’s going on out there?” Lyssa gasped. “Could you see it?”
“No,” Jason said. “I’m hoping the fog breaks up at the water. It does that sometimes. I want to get down there to see if we can see anything. Can you walk?”
“Yes,” she said. Jason took Lyssa firmly by the arm to help her along. Together, they slid across the rocks.
“There!” she cried suddenly. “A break in the fog! Did you see it?”
“I saw,” Jason said. “I think we’re getting close. The rocks are getting smaller.”
A moment later, the big rocks ended. Lyssa felt large, smooth pebbles under her shoes. The sound of the waves crashing onshore was very loud now.
“Jay! Lyssa! Is that you?” she heard Grant’s voice cry.
“We’re here!” Jason called back. “Can you see anything?”
“Nothing,” Grant said. He and Mark appeared farther down the beach. “There was a big break in the fog a couple minutes ago. We got a clear view out to sea. There’s nothing there, Jay.”
“But I heard it,” Lyssa protested. “I heard somebody say, ‘We’re going down.’ There has to be a ship of some kind.”
“I guess now we know why the Coast Guard had trouble believing Tom and his grandfather’s story,” Jason said.
“Maybe there is a ship,” Mark said quietly. “Or was.”
Ghost ship, Lyssa thought.
“Come on,” Grant said. “Let’s get back to the house.”
“That ought to do it,” Jen said an hour or so later. She finished wrapping a bandage around Lyssa’s knee. “I bet you’ll be sore for a few days. You really took a tumble.”
“I did, but it’s okay,” Lyssa said. She stood up, doing her best to ignore the sharp stabs of pain. “Come on. Let’s go join the others.”
“It all sounded so close,” Jason was saying as Jen and Lyssa walked into the living room.
“That’s a good way of describing it.” Grandpa George nodded. “It never occurred to me there weren’t really people out there who needed help.” He spotted Lyssa and got up to make room for her on the sofa. “How are you feeling?” he asked.
“I’ll be just fine,” Lyssa told him. “Please don’t get up, Mr. Kelly.”
“Nonsense,” Grandpa George answered. “You sit right down. Tom.”
“On it,” Tom Kelly said. He shot to his feet, grinning at Lyssa. “Grandpa made hot chocolate. His hot chocolate is the best, even better than my mom’s.”
“Hot chocolate is my absolute favorite,” Lyssa said. She took a seat on the sofa. Tom vanished into the kitchen. A moment later, he returned with a mug of steaming hot chocolate. He handed it to Lyssa. Then he went to stand beside his grandfather.
“So,” he said, “you believe us, don’t you?”
“Absolutely, we believe you,” Jason said.
“Do you know what it is?”
“Not for certain,” Jason answered.
“What do you think it is, Tom?” Lyssa asked.
“I think it’s a shipwreck,” Tom said. “It has to be, right?”
“It sounded that way to me,” Lyssa said. “I’m sure I heard a bell. And there was this big cracking sound. Like something breaking. Something big.”
“Ship’s mast, maybe?” Grant suggested.
“All these things are possibilities,” Jason admitted. “But I think we shouldn’t get too far ahead of ourselves. We need to review the evidence and do some research. Mark can visit the historical society tomorrow. See if there’s anything there that could help explain what we all heard.”
“Can you think of anything, Mr. Kelly?” Lyssa asked.
“Well”—Grandpa George scratched his chin—“there have been shipwrecks over the years, of course. There’s a big sandbar just offshore.”
“Why isn’t there a lighthouse?” Mark asked.
“The big ships never put in here,” Grandpa George said. “It’s just not deep enough. But if a storm came up, it could blow a ship off course. That could be very dangerous.”
“I was just wondering,” Tom said, “how come you have to wait for morning? Why can’t we listen to the evidence now?”
“Because it’s late, Tom,” Grandpa George said with quiet authority. “These folks drove all day to get here. They’re cold and tired. And Lyssa is hurt.”
“I’m just as curious as Tom is,” Lyssa spoke up. She looked at her fellow team members. “Let’s just listen to the audio, okay?” she said.
“Cool,” Jen answered. “I just need a few minutes to get set up.”
“We’ve lost the mast!” the voice on the audio shouted. “We’re doomed! We’re going down!”
“That’s the last of it,” Jen said. She punched off the playback and the room fell silent. One by one, she had played back the evidence from the audio recorders that the team had worn that night. They all painted the same picture: a ship going down, full of desperate people fighting for their lives.
“Those poor people,” Lyssa said.
“There’s something about the voices,” Grant said. “I can’t quite put my finger on what I mean. Did anybody else notice it?”
“They sound like they’re in a movie,” Tom said excitedly. “You know, like Pirates of the Caribbean.”
“That’s it!” Lyssa said. “All those voices have English accents.”
“That might give Mark a place to start at the historical society,” Grant said. “Lots of ships sailed from England, I know, but not all of them.”
“Sure,” Jason agreed. “Still cuts down the number of ships we have to investigate.”
“Let us do it!” Tom burst out. “Me and Grandpa George. I like investigating stuff. Ask Grandpa. He’ll tell you.”
“It’s true,” Grandpa George said slowly. Lyssa thought she could almost see the older man thinking over his grandson’s suggestion. “Tom’s like me that way. I’ve spent a fair amount of time over at the historical society, and I’m familiar with the collection. Maybe we could help. If you tell us what we’re looking for.”
“I’ve got a theory,” Mark said. “This whole thing started the year Tom turned nine, right? Why don’t you try looking for a ship with a nine-year-old on board? Ship records should show things like that.”
“Why would somebody that young be on a ship?” Jen asked.
“Several reasons.” It was Grandpa George who replied. “He could have been a cabin boy or even a stowaway. Or maybe the captain’s son. Perhaps the ship was carrying settlers, like the Mayflower. Whole families came on ships like that. A baby was even born on the Mayflower.”
“Oh, man, this is going to be totally awesome!” Tom exclaimed.
Grant smiled. “Sounds like you two are the perfect pair to take this on.”
“Hey, check this out,” Lyssa said a couple of weeks later. “It’s a letter from George and Tom Kelly. I wonder what they discovered, if anything.”
Grant grinned. “Only one way to find out. Go ahead.”
Lyssa opened the letter. There was Tom’s big, neat handwriting, just like before.
“Read it, Lyssa,” Jason said.
“Dear TAPS,” Lyssa read aloud.
This is Tom and George Kelly. You remember us, right? LOL Anyhow, we’ve been going to the historical society almost every day since you left. It took a while, but we think we may have found something really cool.
“This sounds good,” Mark commented.
Lyssa looked up at Mark with a smile and continued to read the letter.
There were lots of ships. And some of them had better records than others. But just yesterday, we think we found her. (Grandpa George says you always talk about ships as if they were girls. Do you know why?)
Anyway, there was a ship called the Amelia Rose. She was heading for Boston in 1801. There were lots of families on board. One of them, the Pattersons, had a son who was nine. His name was Jeremiah.
So we think Mark was right. Maybe what happened has something to do with my turning nine. We never heard the ship before I was nine. Maybe Jeremiah wanted to tell me something because I’m his age. I know we’ll never know for sure. Still, Grandpa and I keep thinking about Jeremiah and all the other people on the Amelia Rose.
We decided we want to do something to remember them. We haven’t figured out what yet. But we’ve got almost a whole year to come up with something. Grandpa George and I want to invite all you guys to come back. We want you to be a part of whatever we finally decide.
“Oh, man,” Mark said. “Can I just say this? I really like these guys.”
“I think we all feel the same way,” Jason said. “Is that all?”
“Pretty much,” Lyssa said.
“Great! We could all use a little rest,” Grant said.
RING RING RING…
Mark picked up the phone, and Lyssa heard him say, “TAPS, how can we help you?” She watched as he then frantically grabbed a pen and starting writing.
“Hey, guys, you gotta hear this,” Mark said as he hung up the phone.
“I know that expression,” Grant said. “It looks like we’re not getting a rest after all.”
“Aye, aye, Captain,” Jason said. “It looks like it’s all hands on deck right now!”
The strange, high-pitched sound wormed its way into Joe Hensick’s brain. He groaned and pulled a pillow over his head to block out the sound. Joe didn’t want to wake up. All he wanted to do was sleep.
Squeak. Squeak. Squeeeeak.
Joe rolled over.
Squeak. Squeak. Squeak. Squeak.
“Ralph!” Joe bellowed. “For crying out loud!”
The dog didn’t answer, but the squeaking stopped.
Joe rolled over once again—and fell off the couch with a thump. He landed flat on his face, right onto the hardwood floor. Joe was definitely wide awake now. He sat up, the blanket tangled around his legs.
I can’t believe this is happening, he thought. For the third time in one week, he’d fallen asleep on the couch. Too much studying. That’s what it was. He’d been sitting on the couch, reading his history book. And the next thing he knew, that squeaking was wrecking his sleep. Again!
“Ralph!” he called out. “Where are you, you lazy mutt? C’mere, boy.”
Joe heard the click of nails on the wood floor. A moment later, his dog, Ralph, trotted into the room.
Ralph was some crazy, mixed-up combination of all sorts of different breeds. The Hensick family always had mutts when Joe was growing up. Ralph was just the latest in a long line, but he was the first dog Joe had ever had on his own.
He’d picked out Ralph at the animal shelter right before heading off to college. It made finding a place to live a little tougher, but Joe didn’t mind. When it came to Ralph, it was love at first sight.
But the truth was that Ralph was the homeliest dog Joe had seen in his entire life. And he knew some seriously funny-looking dogs. Ralph was black and white, with a black head, tail, and back. He had a white belly and legs, and four gigantic black paws. One of his ears stood straight up; the other flopped over sideways. His tongue lolled out when he panted and drooled. He did that a lot.
“Hey, Ralph,” Joe said. The dog had stopped halfway across the living room. He sat down, his black tail thumping. There was something in his mouth. “I’m not mad, I promise,” Joe went on. “Come on, boy. Come show me what you’ve got.”
Click. Click. Click. Ralph padded over to the couch and sat down. Joe squinted at the thing in Ralph’s mouth and sighed. Not again, he thought.
“Okay, Ralph,” Joe said. “Show me what you’ve got. Drop it. Drop it, boy.”
Ralph dropped it right in Joe’s lap.
Joe picked up the object by one ear. It was a plush bunny toy. And it was soaked with dog slobber. Ew.
“Gee, thanks,” Joe said. He scratched Ralph behind his ears. “I guess I asked for it.”
Joe stared at the bunny. When you squeezed—or bit—its middle, it squeaked.
Ralph loved squeaky toys. He couldn’t get enough of them. And his favorite time to chomp on them was in the middle of the night, so Joe put the toys away when he went to sleep. He put them in the hall closet with the door shut tight.
That was the idea, anyhow. But for the third time this week, Ralph had somehow gotten the toys back out of the closet. Joe had no idea how the dog did it.
Joe untangled his legs from the blanket and stood up. Ralph stood up, too, his tail wagging.
“Okay, come on. Let’s go check this out.”
Joe set off toward the hallway with Ralph at his side. The closet was just to the left of the front door. Joe reached it and stopped and stared. Then he switched on the hall light to make sure he wasn’t getting it wrong.
Just like the last three times this had happened, the closet door was closed. Joe was sure that Ralph hadn’t opened the door and closed it again. The door opened out into the hallway, so there was absolutely no way the dog could have opened the door himself—unless he was secretly a werewolf and changed into a human. How else could Ralph use a doorknob?
“What are you, some kind of magic dog?” Joe asked.
Ralph thumped his tail happily.
I don’t think so, Joe thought.
But at least the idea made him smile. Sort of. Because the truth was, this thing with the squeaky toys was starting to get a little weird. Ralph shouldn’t have been able to get the closet door open. He should not have been able to get to those toys.
Okay, let’s say he did, Joe thought. Suppose there was some trick to the closet door that only dogs could discover. Suppose Ralph could actually open and close the door on his own…
That still didn’t explain one other extremely strange thing.
Joe had bought three squeaky toys at the pet store. Three and only three.
Now there were three plush squeaky toys lying in a heap in front of the closed closet door. And one in Joe’s hand. The soggy one Ralph had been chewing on.
Joe shook his head. The math was too simple to get wrong. That added up to a total of four toys.
He looked at Ralph. “Can you explain this? How on earth did you get an extra toy?”
Ralph answered with a woof.
Joe shrugged and dropped the plush rabbit onto the pile. Instantly, Ralph made a dive for it. He came back up with the stuffed bunny in his mouth.
Ralph gave Joe a hopeful look—as if to ask whether it was finally playtime.
Joe laughed. He couldn’t help it. So there were four toys. Maybe Ralph had brought an extra one home from the park or something, and Joe just hadn’t noticed. He might as well get some studying done since he was awake. But first, he decided to play with Ralph for a while. Then he would take a shower and make himself and Ralph a good breakfast. He planned to forget all about this weirdness.
That’s what he told himself, anyhow.
An hour or so later, Joe was in the shower. Ralph was safely outside the bathroom door. Next to squeaky toys—and food—water was Ralph’s favorite thing. Which was great when it was time to give him a bath, but not so great if Joe was the only one who was supposed to be in the shower.
Joe turned off the water. He slid the shower curtain back and reached for the towel on the nearby rod. Scrambled eggs and bacon, he thought. Ralph loved bacon.
Joe dried himself off and put on boxers and a T-shirt. With one hand, he hit the wall switch for the fan to help clear away the steam. With the other, he reached for his hairbrush. He glanced into the bathroom mirror.
Joe made a strangled sound. His hand froze in midair. He stared at the mirror, not seeing his face at all, but seeing something else instead.
The surface of the mirror was covered in small handprints. It looked like some wacky kindergarten art project.
He blinked, wondering if he was imagining it.
Nope, they were still there.
This was beyond weird. Who could have covered his mirror in handprints—and why? Was it a joke?
He blinked again. Was it possible that the prints were here yesterday and he hadn’t noticed?
No, Joe decided. Not possible at all. The prints definitely were not there when he brushed his teeth last night.
That meant someone made them after he fell asleep on the couch.
An icy chill slid down Joe’s spine.
What if someone was in the house last night? What if he, or she, opened the closet door—and gave Ralph an extra toy? And what if that same someone covered the mirror with handprints?
Slowly, trying not to notice the way his own hand trembled, Joe reached for the towel to wipe the prints away. He rubbed at the mirror. Then he rubbed again.
The handprints stayed right where they were. He couldn’t wipe them off. Joe looked at them more carefully. The prints looked as if they were inside the mirror.
Joe felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand straight up. Weird didn’t describe this. This was flat-out spooky.
Okay, calm down, he told himself. There had to be an explanation. Maybe the prints were somehow put there when the mirror was made.
Right, he thought. So why haven’t you seen them before now?
First a dog toy that shouldn’t have been there. And now these handprints. Was he imagining these things? Was he losing his mind?
Slowly, carefully, as if he expected the mirror to shatter at any moment, Joe reached out. He could hear Ralph whining outside the door. Joe chose a handprint. The one in the very center. And he laid his hand on top of it.
Well, at least that ruled out one possibility. He couldn’t have made the prints himself. There was absolutely no way.
The hands on the mirror were way too small.
They had to be the handprints of a little child.
A strange, high-pitched electronic pinging sound echoed through the Hammond brothers’ kitchen.
“Will you turn that thing down?” Mark asked his twin, Mike. “Every time your phone rings, it sounds like you’re getting a message from outer space.”
“I like my ringtone,” Mike said. “It’s not some stupid song, and I always know it’s my phone.”
“Well, are you gonna answer it or what?” Mark asked as the phone continued to emit the weird sound. “It’s ruining my breakfast.”
Mike put down the cereal box and picked up the phone. The caller ID read UNKNOWN NUMBER. Mike answered anyway.
“Hammond,” said a voice on the other end of the phone.
“Lucky guess,” Mike said. “Which one? Whatever you want, the answer is no until you get it right.”
“Mikey,” the voice said. “Come on, man. It’s me. I think maybe I need your help.”
“Joe?” Mike asked. He sat down at the table with a plop. “What’s the matter?”
There were only three people in the world who got away with calling Mike Hammond “Mikey.” The first one was his mom. The second was Aunt Mona. Since she’d been dead for about ten years, she no longer did it very often. That left just one person: Joe Hensick. He had been the twins’ best friend when they were growing up.
Joe had been there the first time Aunt Mona had come for a visit. She pinched Mike’s cheek and told him how much he had grown, even though she had never seen him before. And then she called him Mikey. And to make it worse, she didn’t call Mark “Marky.” So Joe and Mark started calling him Mikey all the time. It made Mike furious. Finally he made them swear they would never do it again.
“Okay,” Mark had said back then. “I promise.”
“Me too,” Joe agreed. “There’s just one thing. I get to use the name only if I’m in real trouble. It will be a sort of secret code between us.”
Mike had agreed to those terms, and Joe had never used the name Mikey again. Until now.
“Where are you?” Mike asked.
“I’m in Boston,” Joe said. “I just got settled into my new house that I’m renting. Sorry, I’ve been meaning to call.”
“Dude,” Mike said. “You used the name. What’s going on?”
Excerpted from Ghost Hunt 2: MORE Chilling Tales of the Unknown by Jason Hawes Copyright © 2011 by Jason Hawes. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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