Here’s an extract from my work in progress, a supernatural comedy for kids!
Chapter One: Spooky Action
Charlie Busby lay in bed, watching a spider as it built its web in the corner of the sloping ceiling. He could hear the shouts and laughter of the other kids playing on the village green. He longed to be with them, but his mother had sent him to bed early for bunking off school.
‘She would never have found out if Jemima Bosscombe hadn’t told her mother,’ he grumbled to himself. ‘I bet Mrs Bosscombe couldn’t wait to spread the news.’
Charlie had skilfully avoided Upper Bottom Village School for most of the spring term. He preferred to spend his time playing in the woods, pretending to be a powerful wizard. His teacher, Mr Taxi, had never mentioned his absence. Charlie suspected Mr Taxi liked it better when he wasn’t there to cause trouble.
‘I wish I was a powerful wizard,’ he thought. ‘No one could send me to bed early then. I could stay up all night if I wanted.’
Much later, he heard his mother grumbling to his father as they came upstairs.
‘There’s something wrong with that boy!’ she said.
‘Yes, dear,’ said Mr Busby.
‘He’s not like other children. I knew he was trouble the minute he was born.’
‘He’ll never amount to anything… all he’ll be fit for is a job in McDuffers…’
Mrs Busby’s voice faded out as she shut their bedroom door, and soon the sound of her snores vibrated through the wall.
Charlie had always known his mother didn’t like him. The corner of his room was filled with evidence of her dislike – a heap of grubby old toys she’d picked up from jumble sales, because she thought it was all he deserved for Christmas. The latest of these was a toy owl, knitted by the Vicar’s wife from beige wool and stuffed with Reverend Siggisworth’s old socks. Mrs Siggisworth had made clothes for it out of green felt – a school uniform, complete with cap. Charlie hated that owl; its stuck-on features had such a superior look.
It wasn’t as if the Busbys were too poor to afford decent presents. Mrs Busby was just mean. She only let him keep the laptop his Dad had given him because he needed it for his homework.
An hour later, he was still wide awake. ‘I’m too bored to go to sleep,’ he muttered.
‘How strange,’ said a voice in the corner.
Charlie felt like he’d had an electric shock. He sat rigidly against the pillow, his tawny hair sticking up in hedgehog spikes.
‘Who’s there?’ he whispered.
A faint moonbeam lit the corner. At first, he could only see the pile of toys with the knitted owl perched on top, its round felt eyes staring smugly back at him. Then he noticed something on the carpet near the bottom of the pile – a shimmering puddle of light, made of fizzing white dots.
It’s a ghost! he thought, and pulled the duvet up to his chin. Part of him wanted to pull it right over his head, but a bigger part wanted to see what would happen next.
The puddle of light grew into a pillar, and took on human form. The ghost had curly hair, a droopy moustache and a small triangular beard. He wore short pumpkin-legged pants, a jewel-encrusted tunic and a massive frilly collar that looked like the trimming on a Christmas cake.
He gazed at Charlie with eyes that glittered like moonlit coal. ‘Very strange indeed.’
‘What is?’ said Charlie, speaking with difficulty. His mouth felt like rubber.
‘You said you were too bored to sleep. Most people find that boredom sends them to sleep.’
‘Are you going to kill me?’ said Charlie.
The ghost raised his slug-shaped eyebrows. ‘Why would I want to do that?’
‘It’s what ghosts do, isn’t it? Kill people and take over their bodies and turn them into zombies.’
The ghost tittered. ‘You’ve been watching too many movies.’
‘How do you know about movies?’ said Charlie. ‘You’re from the old days, they didn’t have movies then. And how come you don’t talk like one of those boring Shakespeare plays?’
The spectre rolled his eyes. ‘I haven’t spent all this time on the astral plane without learning how to speak modern English! I like to keep up with the times – and I’ve been hanging around you for a while.’
Charlie shivered at the thought of this ghost being there without him knowing. ‘Why have you been spying on me?’
‘I haven’t been spying on you.’ The ghost sighed. ‘Believe me, your life isn’t that interesting. I’ve been gathering energy so I can appear to you. I’ve come to give you a message.’
‘Go on, then,’ said Charlie.
‘I’ve come to tell you that you have power, and it’s high time you started using it.’
Charlie’s heart leaped. ‘What sort of power?’
‘Magical power, boy.’
Now it was Charlie’s turn to raise his eyebrows. He wanted it to be true; on the other hand, it seemed too good to be true.
‘Don’t you believe me?’ said the ghost.
‘I don’t know,’ said Charlie. ‘I’ve never seen any sign of this magical power. Why should I believe the word of some random ghost?’
‘Because you and I have a special connection.’
‘Oh? What’s that, then?’
‘It would take too long to explain,’ said the ghost, turning back into a pillar of light, ‘and I don’t have much time. You’ve seen no sign of your power because you’ve only ever played at magic; you’ve never tried to do it for real. You need to start. Now.’
‘Wait!’ said Charlie, as the ghost shrank to a puddle on the floor. ‘How do I do it?’
‘Will,’ said a voice in the corner.
‘Will? What d’you mean?’
But the ghost had gone.
From Bad Boy Wizard #1: The Astral Gatecrashers © 2019 Annabelle Franklin