Golden and Grey: The Nightmares That Ghosts Haveby Louise Arnold
But right as Tom is settling into a comfortable
When you have a ghost as an Invisible Friend, like Tom Golden does, you quickly learn the benefits. Grey Arthur supplies Tom with pens in class, grabs Tom's lunch when he forgets it on the kitchen counter, and generally helps him out as any best friend would do. It's just that, in this case, no one else can see him.
But right as Tom is settling into a comfortable routine, his world is turned upside down once again when Grey Arthur starts a school for Invisible Friends -- drawing ghosts from near and far who are looking to learn the newest job in the ghost world. Before Tom knows it, he's being followed by a group of Invisible Friends in training as they watch his every move, practice their new skills, and do their best to fit in.
Meanwhile, ghosts are mysteriously, silently disappearing, dangerously disrupting the balance between the human and ghost worlds. When some of their closest friends go missing, Tom, Grey Arthur, and the Invisible Friends in training jump into action to discover what's going on -- not only to rescue their ghostly friends but also to protect Tom's parents from losing their home.
Louise Arnold's distinctive voice comes shining through in this brilliantly funny novel, a treat for established fans of the Golden & Grey series as well as those just joining the fun.
"[R]efreshingly original, funny, and endearing even in the face of danger."
School Library Journal
"Full of high jinks and heart..."
- Margaret K. McElderry Books
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 1.00(d)
- Age Range:
- 8 - 12 Years
Read an Excerpt
Golden & Grey: The Nightmares That Ghosts Have
By Louise Arnold
Margaret K. McElderryCopyright © 2006 Louise Arnold
All right reserved.
A New Beginning
Little Frank Longfield burst through the door, heart pounding, and skidded to a halt. He loosened his school tie, gasping in heavy breaths, lungs aching from running. A quick glance behind assured him that Big Ben was nowhere to be seen, but still an uneasy feeling crawled inside him, and couldn't be shaken.
Something felt wrong.
He had no idea where he was. He'd been so desperate to get away, so scared, that he'd run and run without a thought for where he was going, his feet always ten steps ahead of his mind. Big Ben had been behind him, so close behind, and Frank had simply run and run until the shouts grew distant, until the sound of chasing footsteps became fainter, and still he'd run, on and on, through labyrinth-like school corridors, running until he physically couldn't run any farther. His legs shook beneath him, scarcely able to carry his own weight. He took his schoolbag off his shoulder, and let it slide to the floor. He'd managed to lose his pursuer, so he should be safe now, but still that feeling inside him remained: a gnawing worry, a sense of being watched, of not being alone, just the knowledge, indescribable but definitely there, that something was wrong.
Frank glanced up and down the corridor, but it was utterlydeserted. Rummaging in his bag, he managed to find the Thorbleton school map they had been given on the first day of term. It was flimsy now through overuse, holes appearing along the creases. No matter how he turned it, or screwed up his eyes with concentration as he read it, he still couldn't work out where he was. He scanned the walls for clues, but all the posters had been torn down, scrawled on, or covered in so much chewing gum that it was impossible to read the original message. The only poster that remained intact warned that it was an offense to set off the fire alarm without there actually being a fire, and had been hastily amended that morning to include a warning against setting a fire purely so you can pull the fire alarm. The doors to the classrooms had all had their numbers pried away, so only blank spaces remained. Frank glanced at his watch, and realized that the bell to signal the end of lunch would ring soon, and when that happened the last place he wanted to be was lost. He scrunched the map up, and threw it into his rucksack, hauling the bag back onto his shoulders. Slowly, he began walking forward, scanning the corridor for clues, any slight hint that might give away where he was. Crisp packets were strewn across the floor, but whoever had left them there was long gone. It was unusual for any place in school to be this empty, this still.
As Frank Longfield walked on, the sense of something being wrong grew and grew. He felt, no, he was sure, that there was someone else in the corridor with him, but whenever he glanced behind there was nobody to be seen. The hairs on the back of his neck began to stand on end, and goosebumps traced their way across his arms. It felt colder now, darker now, as if light and heat were slowly draining away. The sound of his own heart thumped loudly in his ears, and he walked slower, taking quiet steps, ears straining to pick out any noise. Nothing. Nobody. He looked over his shoulder again, and the corridor stretched out behind him: anonymous doors, tatty posters, shadows reaching out across the ground, empty, and yet...He stopped, wrapping his hands tightly around the straps of his bag, knuckles turning white, and called out, his voice echoing in front of him.
The sense of fear that nestled inside Frank was suddenly swept away, and wild terror took its place, making his thoughts scream, his heart hammer, but leaving his feet firmly frozen to the spot. He swallowed dryly.
The Screamer stalked up behind Frank, breathing in light, shadows slowly streaming from his mouth. His long, curling toenails clicked on the floor as he edged forward, old bones creaking, ever closer...
Frank took in a deep breath, and held it, every ounce of his being willing him to run, and yet every muscle knotted in place. If he'd have looked behind, he wouldn't have seen a thing, because normal humans can't see ghosts, but he knew there was something there, something getting closer....
The Screamer behind Frank Longfield stretched out a long, curled talon, and swiped the KICK ME sign from off his back.
Feeling something tug against his sweater, Frank threw his bag to the ground, threw his arms into the air, and ran off screaming hysterically.
The Screamer, note impaled on his discolored nail, threw the scrap of paper into his mouth, and chewed it. Sharp, shard-like teeth reduced it to confetti in seconds. He then spat it out, soggy clumps of mangled note, threaded with specks of shadow, and raised his sinewy arms in the air, hissing triumphantly. Swirling shadows pooled at his feet. Frank Longfield disappeared, still screaming, into the distance.
A slow clapping sound disrupted the scene.
"Well yes, I suppose that's one way you could do it," said Grey Arthur, in the most polite tone he could muster. "Does anyone else want to tell the Harrowing Screamer how he could have perhaps handled this differently?"
As the bell to mark the end of the lunch break sounded, the rest of the school for Invisible Friends looked on in shocked silence as the Harrowing Screamer stamped on the remnants of the chewed-up note with both feet, howling all the while.
Where to Begin?
It had all begun a few weeks back, when Tom and Arthur's normal lazy Sunday routine had been rudely interrupted by the arrival of a new ghost, clutching a copy of the Daily Tell-Tale.
Well, that's not strictly true....
It had all begun a couple months back, when a lonely boy was befriended by a well-meaning ghost, when the rules of Ghost World and Real World had been shattered, when a human boy discovered he could see ghosts, and when a ghost discovered what he was meant to be.
Actually, that's not really true either....
The beginning had begun, as so many beginnings do, way back at the very start. Way back, before color seeped into photographs, before photographs even existed, when the world was chronicled in hues of paint, or even etchings on a cave wall. It began when humans began, and when ghosts began, a footnote now faded in a long-stretching history. Maybe it had begun even before that -- ghosts haunting dinosaurs, Screamers chasing terrified Tyrannosaurus Rexes across the tundra, Poltergeists "borrowing" eggs from nesting Pterodactyls, and swapping them with those of broody Diplodocuses, endlessly confusing all parties involved. Perhaps that was when it really started, though nobody is really sure anymore. Some Thespers will tell you they were there, way, way back when dinosaurs and not politicians ran the world, but Thespers are renowned for telling wild stories, and not all of them are true.
So it started somewhere way back when, and has been going on ever since. New chapters of this story emerged: the time when humans stopped seeing ghosts, when ghosts faded from truth and fact into legend and myth, when the world consigned them to bedtime stories and overactive imaginations. Skip many pages, and you will find the chapter where a human boy, with an unseen, unknown ghost friend, is struck by a car, and can suddenly see the Ghost World that is all around him. Skip forward again, and you will find the story of how the ghost community united to help save this boy from a man who wanted to use this power to see ghosts for his own greed. A little further, further still, then add a day or so more, and that is where this story starts.
It had all begun a few weeks back, when Tom and Arthur's normal lazy Sunday morning routine had been rudely interrupted by the arrival of a new ghost, clutching a copy of the Daily Tell-Tale.
Not Such a Standard Sunday
Sundays were trusty, familiar days, the comfort blanket of the week. No alarm to rudely drag Tom out of bizarre dreams or just contented snoring, no school uniform waiting to be put on, no heavy schoolbag weighed down with homework and textbooks and whatever "interesting" concoction his mum has hidden inside a sandwich. There was no hurrying out the door, no urgency, no glancing at his watch every five seconds to make sure he wasn't late, and no panicking when he realized he was.
Tom wandered downstairs in his pajamas, pillow-hair making him look a little eccentric, but it didn't matter, because it was a Sunday, and everyone knows that nothing happens on a Sunday. He'd left Grey Arthur upstairs, playing the card game solitaire. He'd introduced Arthur to it a couple days ago, and it had been driving Arthur to within an inch of insanity ever since. One time he claimed to have completed it, but the trouble with being a ghost is that when you are slightly see-through, hiding cards in your pockets doesn't work so well. Tom had gently explained that you can't really cheat when you are the only person playing, and Arthur had sighed deeply and started all over again. And again. And again.
So Tom left Grey Arthur staring indignantly at the game, willing the cards to behave, and he wandered downstairs, pajamafied and bed-haired.
"So you finally decided to wake up then?" Dad asked, as Tom stumbled into the kitchen. As was Sunday's tradition, Dad was sitting next to a pile of newspapers that would take the best part of the day to read, and drinking tea from a cup that looked like it was made for giants. Tom smiled blearily, heading straight for the fridge for his traditional pint of milk. Mum was out in the back garden, battling with the wind to hang out bed sheets and school shirts and assorted damp laundry on the line. A particularly large gust of wind caught her off guard, and a T-shirt escaped halfway across the garden before she managed to catch it. She looked up, and seeing Tom watching her through the window, waved the t-shirt triumphantly. Tom smiled. Another typical Sunday.
The doorbell rang.
Tom's Dad looked up from his paper, and raised an eyebrow at Tom.
"You're not expecting anyone, are you?" Tom shook his head, and carried on reading the comic strips. Dad made a quizzical noise, and begrudgingly got up from his stack of newspapers, his pint of tea, and his chair to open the door.
Moments later Dad walked back in, frowning.
"Who was it?" asked Tom.
"Nobody there," Dad replied, settling back into his chair. Just as he was about to take another sip of tea, the doorbell went again. Dad sighed, and placed his mammoth cup back down again. Off he trotted back to the door, only to return seconds later. He was scowling. Tom looked at him inquisitively.
"Must be just some bored kids, playing knock-down ginger. You'd think they'd find better things to do on a Sunday." Dad resumed his Sunday morning pose, tea in hand, papers in front of him. The doorbell rang again. "Just ignore it. They'll get bored and leave us alone eventually."
The doorbell rang again.
"I'll go," Tom said. Dad just grunted, not even looking up. He was reading about how miserably Thorbleton FC had played in the regional cup, and shaking his head. There's nothing like a good soccer result to lift a dad's spirits, and a bad result to permanently sunder a good mood (and losing seven to nil definitely fits in the latter category).
Tom gulped down the last of his pint of milk, and wandered out into the hallway. He tugged open the latch, and flung the door open, hoping to catch someone fleeing down the path, giggling.
Which wasn't what happened at all.
"I assume this means I still don't look normal enough for humans to see?" asked the ghost on the doorstep. "How disagreeable."
She was a small ghost, who looked no older than Tom (though appearances aren't much to go on with ghosts. The oldest looking ghost might have only appeared last week, and the youngest could have been haunting people since the Middle Ages). She was wearing what would have appeared to be a school uniform, if the uniform had been designed by the most miserable of goths: black skirt, black knee-high socks, grey shirt, black tie, black shoes...She was pale, the kind of pale that would make your mother rush you to the doctor, with jet black hair cut at distinct right angles. It fell to just above her shoulders, and her face was framed with an abrupt fringe, so meticulously straight it looked as if it had been done with a set square and a spirit level. Just beneath her fringe, set in that deathly pale face, were two startling eyes. One was entirely black, no iris, all pupil. The other had a small pupil circled with shocking green. She looked deathly serious, more somber than any child could ever possibly manage to look, with tight lips set in a line as straight as her fringe. At her feet was a battered old suitcase.
"Mildred Rattledust," she said simply, as Tom stared at her, mouth open. "I'm here about the job." She thrust a copy of the Daily Tell-Tale at Tom, who dutifully took it, and then she marched straight through him, dragging her suitcase behind.
There are several unpleasant sensations that everyone will experience at some stage in life. Treading in a wet patch while wearing socks. Having to rummage down the back of a settee through crumbs, and random stickiness, to find whatever you have lost. Fishing hair out of the plughole in the shower. Having a ghost walk through you easily beats any of these, without even breaking a sweat.
Tom shivered, grimaced, and shuddered all at once. Goosebumps leaped out all over his skin. Having a ghost walk through you, or walking through a ghost, feels cold, and slightly damp, and makes the hairs on the back of your neck jump up in shock. Every day, humans and ghosts cross paths, (although more polite ghosts will sidestep to avoid such a thing), and quite often the human will say "It felt like someone just walked over my grave," but really, that's not what it felt like at all. It actually felt like a ghost just walked straight through you, floating past your front, traipsing through your internal organs, gliding between lungs and heart and all other things that humans keep tucked inside, before appearing on the other side of you.
"So was there anybody there, Tom?" called Dad from the kitchen.
Tom composed himself, shaking his head to clear away the remaining tingles of being marched through. He turned away from the door, and saw Mildred dragging her suitcase up the stairs.
"No, Dad, you were right. Just someone playing tricks," he called back. He hoped he sounded normal. It was hard to sound normal just after a ghost has walked through you. "I'll be back in a tic, I just have something I need to sort out." Tom ran up the stairs, sidestepping the small ghost, and darted into his bedroom, ghostly newspaper still in his hand.
Arthur looked up as Tom burst in, a victorious look on his face.
"I completed it!" he cried, gesturing toward the finished game of solitaire. He looked exceptionally pleased with himself. Noticing the stern look on Tom's face, and the newspaper in Tom's hand, the pleased expression began to droop. Mildred Rattledust appeared round the corner, suitcase in hand, and the pleased look faded into a guilty, nervous grin.
"You have got some explaining to do," said Tom, waving the newspaper in the same way you do when you see a naughty puppy doing something indoors that should only be done outside.
"Oh," said Arthur. "That."
Come One, Come All
"What on earth made you think that this was a good idea?" wailed Tom, as he looked at the front cover of the Daily Tell-Tale.
INVISIBLE FRIEND RECRUITMENT DRIVE, it read.
Mildred was busy unpacking her suitcase and putting various objects around the room: a Rubik's cube on the window sill, a stuffed hamster wearing a bowling hat on the desk, a sinister-looking, threadbare toy monkey with one drooping eye nestling on Tom's pillow.
"You know what journalists are like, Tom!" protested Arthur. "I just made one offhand comment to a Bug, and they exaggerate it, and twist it all around to make it sound better, and..."
"And what was this comment?" Tom demanded.
"Oh, it was nothing really," Arthur replied, packing away the solitaire.
"What kind of nothing? What did you say? Exactly?"
"Mrmph...mrmhsyshs...," Arthur muttered, putting his hands over his mouth to obscure the words. Mildred was emptying Tom's underwear drawer, throwing the contents out on the carpet, and filling the empty space with a seemingly endless supply of marbles from her suitcase.
"I didn't quite catch that, Arthur." Tom had his hands on his hips now, exactly the same way his mum did when she's trying to get the truth out of someone. Arthur blushed slightly, a hint of red infusing his usually grey cheeks.
"I said if anyone wants to be an Invisible Friend then they should come and stay with us, and I'd be happy to teach them," admitted Arthur, looking more than mildly guilty. Tom spluttered, at a loss for how to respond.
"Which is exactly why I am here. I've decided to put my Faintly Real skills to a new use. I shall become a friend to juvenile humans," said Mildred, floating up on Tom's bed. She stretched out, making herself comfortable, her head floating above Tom's pillow, pale hands clutching her menacing-looking monkey. "So, where will you be sleeping, Tom?"
"Oh, no. No, no, no, no, no, no, no." Tom was shaking his head. He felt slightly giddy. On the front cover of the Daily Tell-Tale, beneath the headline, was a photo of Grey Arthur outside number 11 Aubergine Road, outside Tom's house, gesturing toward the front door. Tom glanced at Mildred settling on his bed, and then at Grey Arthur trying to look like butter wouldn't melt in his mouth (as a point of interest, butter actually wouldn't melt in his mouth, but that's neither here nor there). This couldn't be happening....
"You can't stay here," he said finally.
Mildred sighed. "We can share the bed if you like. Top to tails though. It's not like I will take up much space. I'm noncorporeal."
"You're non what now?"
"It means that ghosts and humans can't touch. So you'll still have plenty of room."
Tom's head pounded.
"But -- but -- that's not the point!" stammered Tom. This was all far too much for a Sunday morning. "You can't stay there because it's my bed. And you can't stay in my house because things have only just gotten back to normal, as weird as my normal is. My mum would have a fit if she knew there were ghosts moving in."
"I was under the impression you were the only human able to see ghosts," answered Mildred, fixing her strange eyes on Tom.
"Well, yes...but -- "
"Then she won't know."
Tom didn't quite know how to respond to that, so he just decided to ignore it. Instead, he turned his attention back to Arthur.
"You shouldn't have done this without asking me," he said. "In fact, you shouldn't have done this, full stop."
"I'm sorry. I'm really, really sorry," muttered Arthur.
"Well, that's a start," Tom replied.
"Oh no, don't add a but!" Tom took his head in his hands, trying to block out what Grey Arthur was about to say.
"But...," continued Arthur, "you have to admit, it's a very good idea."
"No, it's a dreadful idea! A dreadful, dreadful idea!" wailed Tom. "One ghost in a house is enough, more than enough."
Arthur stood up a little taller, a distant look in his eyes, and began to respond -- it sounded more than a little rehearsed, as if Arthur had been waiting for the right time to deliver this speech (of course, the ideal time would probably have been a long while before the article appeared in the ghostly newspaper)....
"Think of all the humans we could help. Lonely humans, bullied humans, having a little invisible helper to stop the notes that get stuck to their backs, to keep them company when nobody else is around."
"Oh, please don't guilt trip me," said Tom, rubbing his face with his hands.
"Think of how much it helped you, think of how much it meant to you. Think of the good it will do!"
"Oh, Arthur!" whined Tom, but he already knew he was fighting a losing battle. Arthur broke out of his scripted sales pitch, and resorted to begging instead.
"Pretty please, Tom. Pretty, pretty please?"
Tom sighed deeply, taking a moment to weigh it all up. It was a terrible idea, he knew that, and at the same time, he had to admit, a very good one. Arthur was grinning at him, already knowing what the answer would be.
"She can't have my bed," Tom said, after an age.
"Deal!" replied a gleeful Arthur.
"And she's not staying in my room. She can stay in the attic."
"That's fine." Arthur clapped his hands with excitement. Mildred simply sat up, cross-legged on the bed, watching everything unfold. Her monkey, which she clutched to her chest, seemed to be staring directly at Tom with its one good eye. Mildred studied her new home, taking in the desk cluttered with books and homework, the wall of memories smothered with photos and letters, the laundry basket into which only 50 percent of the dirty clothes had managed to make their way (the rest gathered untidily on the floor around it), the wardrobe brimming with school uniforms and weekend clothes, the rubberband ball Tom had started making before rapidly losing interest, the television in the corner, and the collection of CDs (none of which had the correct album inside the box). She nodded to herself.
"This is our new home," she whispered to the monkey. Tom was quite relieved when the monkey didn't respond.
"This is so not a good idea...," he uttered under his breath.
And that was how it had all begun.
Copyright © by Louise Arnold
Excerpted from Golden & Grey: The Nightmares That Ghosts Have by Louise Arnold Copyright © 2006 by Louise Arnold. Excerpted by permission.
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Meet the Author
Louise Arnold wrote her first poem (about the adventures of cheese-eating bees) at the age of four, and her love of writing was born. She graduated with a degree in drama from University of Kent in Canterbury, England, where she now resides.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Grey Arthur is a lonely ghost who doesn't fit in anywhere. He's not a poltergeist, he's not a Sadness Summoner, he's not a Faintly Real--it's not fair! Tom Golden is a new kid who's earned the nickname Freak Boy, sit's alone during lunch--it's not fair! Grey Arthur decides that he will become Tom's invisible friend. Something crazy happens to Tom and now he can see his new friend... and all of the other ghosts that exist! This book is wonderful. There's mystery, action, and ghostly humor. I couldn't put it down! This is a great read for children and adults.
This is The Best book I have ever Read!!!! If you are a Fiction lover READ THIS BOOK!!!!