Rare Sight

Hi! Thanks for visiting. I hope you enjoy 'Rare Sight', which I loved writing - I've already written an early draft of the next book in the series. And now for the blurb: Joe Simmonds didn't ask to see spirits. It doesn't help that a teenage ghost called Georgia turns up, claiming to be the aunt he didn't know he had - and that she was murdered.
Add in a vengeful dead grandfather, an unscrupulous spirit trader and a couple of nasty murders, and Joe has a hard time just staying alive, as he learns what Rare Sight is, and how to use it.
Cover design by the talented Mark Dyball (though I've spoilt it by cropping!); image copyright Dundanim/Dreamstime

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6. Chapter Six

They were half-way through a large pizza when his mum’s mobile beeped with a text message. She fished it out of her bag.

“Who’s it from?” he asked her through a mouthful of food.

“My friend, Meena – Yousef’s mum. Wonder what’s the matter?” She read the text. “Oh, heavens – they’ve had an unwelcome visitor themselves. Things have been whirling round the living room and they’ve had a message scratched into the hall mirror.”

“What does it say?” asked Joe, but he didn’t really want to know. The food he’d eaten so far had formed a ball in his throat and he felt like he was going to either choke or be sick.

“Meena doesn’t say,” said his mum.

Joe shut his eyes and willed the food back down. He still felt sick, and the food on the large shared platter looked greasy and unappetising. He stood up. “I can’t eat any more.”

His mum glanced at the remains of the Vegetable Feast. “No – I’ve rather lost my appetite too. We’ll get the bill.”

It was raining when they left the restaurant, and Joe stood for a moment letting the water trickle over his face, glad of the freshness of the air.

“Now, what time is it?” murmured his mum to herself, consulting her watch. “Oh – it’s only nine o’clock. We’ve still got an hour before Georgia makes an appearance.” They drove the short distance home in silence, listening to the rain hit the car roof. After his mum had parked outside the house, they looked at each other. Joe was in no hurry to find out what new horrors the house might offer, and his mum didn’t seem too keen either.

“Shall we just sit outside the house in the car until it’s time to meet Georgia?” she said at last. Joe nodded. They locked the car doors, he put on a CD and they huddled into their coats. “I’d better ring Meena,” said his mum with a sigh. She chose the number and waited for someone to pick up at the other end. “I wish we hadn’t dragged them into this,” she said. “Meena? Hi, Meena, it’s Sara. What’s all this about whirling objects and scratched messages?” Joe listened while his mum made shocked and sympathetic noises. After a while she said, “Can I ask what was written on the mirror…? Oh… oh, really? Oh, I see… I’m so sorry, Meena. We should never have involved Yousef this afternoon. Can we come and see you tomorrow, to talk about what’s going on? Six-ish? OK, see you there. Take care.” She ended the call and dropped the phone back in her bag before turning to Joe,

“I was hoping it was just coincidence, them having a ghostly disturbance themselves – although you know Meena has spirit sight? But the message the ghost left engraved on the glass…”

“Oh, yeah – what does it say?”

“It says, ‘Stay away from Georgia’. Meena says they don’t know anyone called Georgia. She says that, until now, her spirit visitors have always been family or friends of family, usually with messages about unsafe electrical wiring or uneven paving stones… nothing like this – nothing like a threat. Would you call this energetic type of spirit a poltergeist?”

“I’ve been seeing ghosts for a couple of days, so now I’m an expert?”

His mum pulled a face. “Sorry, lovie – I just thought you might have read something in one of your books.”

Joe shook his head. “How long to wait now?”

“Still about forty minutes.”

“Only look.” He pointed to the house, where all the lights had just come on and were shining too brightly, as if the building were receiving a massive electric shock. His mum followed his finger and shrieked when she saw the glare; he jumped. He was getting very jumpy – he made a mental note not to jump so much, then jumped again: Sebastian’s reflection had appeared in the car mirror. He swivelled,

“How did you do that?”

“Do what?” asked Sebastian innocently, but with the hint of a smirk at the corners of his lips.

“Well, appear like that in the car, though I suppose that’s a daft question, with you being a ghost and all, but also… you’ve got a reflection. I thought ghosts didn’t have reflections – or is that just in books and on TV?”

“Oh no, we don’t have reflections, as a rule.” He smirked again, and Joe wished he could thump him.

“I’m channelling electricity,” said Sebastian. “It affords me a reflection –only temporarily, of course. And look.” He gestured at Joe’s house.

“You mean, it’s your fault that our leccy’s on overdrive?”

“Take a look at the other houses in the street, Joseph.”

Joe glanced at the buildings to the left and right of his house. “They’re all dark.”

“Absolutely,” said Sebastian. “Your house has absorbed their energy and is running at around…” he screwed up his eyes as he did the sum, “…seven-point-three times its normal electrical output.”

“Joe, who’s in the car?” asked his mum. She was sitting, half-turned, trying to make sense of Joe’s apparently one-sided conversation.

“Sebastian – the ghost who passed on Georgia’s weird message about Gran’s ring.”

“Ah… Hello, Sebastian,” she said.

“Pleased to meet you, Ms Simmonds. Georgia has told me so much about you.”

Joe’s mum looked questioningly at Joe to repeat whatever Sebastian might have said. Joe sighed. “Mum – do you really want to make small-talk with a ghost?”

“I prefer the term ‘spiri…’” began Sebastian, but Joe interrupted,

“Yeah? Well, I prefer the term ‘dead and buried’, but no one’s listening to me, are they?”

“Joe!” said his mum.

He shrugged. “Sorry, Mum, but this is getting daft. I mean, we don’t even have any privacy anymore – they float in on us at home, at school, in the car…” He scowled at Sebastian.

“Georgia sent me,” said Sebastian. “She has a message for you.”

“Oh no, not again,” said Joe. But to his relief Sebastian’s face didn’t change; instead, he said,

“She won’t be coming tonight,” in his normal voice.

“Well, that was a less scary way to pass on a message,” said Joe. “But why isn’t she coming? We’ve been hanging round all evening, just because she told us to meet her here at ten.”

Sebastian shrugged. “She didn’t say. Oh – but she did say to remind you to be sure to get hold of the ring.”

“Did you just say Georgia isn’t coming tonight after all?” asked his mum. “You mean we’ve been freezing out here for nothing?”

Joe nodded. “Yeah – Sebastian says…” he nodded towards the back seat, then realised it was empty. He sighed. “He’s gone.”

“Gone? Really? Did he say why Georgia won’t be coming?”

He shook his head. “No. He just said he didn’t know, and that I should get the ring. What’s so special about Gran’s ring?”

“I don’t know.” She started up the engine. “But we’re going to find out.”

Her mobile phone rang as they were driving to his gran’s house, so Joe rummaged in her bag to answer it. His gran’s number came up.

“Hi, Gran! We’re on our way over to yours,” he said.

“Oh Joe, love, something awful’s happened,” said his gran.

“Gran, are you all right? What’s the matter?”

“Oh, Joe, it’s my ring. I left it on the shelf while I was washing up but now it’s gone.”

His mum interrupted. “Is anything the matter?”

“Well, she’s all right, but her ring’s gone missing… Gran – we’ll be over there in about ten minutes, and we’ll help you look then.”

“Oh, there’s no point looking for it – someone’s taken it.”

“Are you sure? How do you know?”

He heard her sigh. “You’ll see when you get here.”

Joe shivered as they pulled up in front of his gran’s garage. He had a clear picture of the first time he saw Georgia, leaning on the bonnet in the dark. His mum looked at him.

“You all right, love?”

He nodded and got out of the car, and she put an arm round his shoulders as they walked up to the front door. She rang the bell to let his gran know they’d arrived before using her own key to let them both in. His gran came to meet them from the kitchen, where she liked to sit in the evenings, toasting herself beside a two-bar electric heater. There was a lot of noise coming from that room.

“I’m glad you’re here,” she said. "Come and see this." She led them into the kitchen, where the television and radio were both playing at full volume.

“Gran – can’t you turn one off?” shouted Joe.

“No,” she shouted back. “I can’t – there’s some sort of electrical interference going on. You try.”

Joe pressed the button on the remote, but the television stayed on. He walked over to it and pressed the power button, but still the set played. He tried the switch on the socket, but it resisted him. Meanwhile, his mum was having a similar experience with the radio. They looked at each other and gave up. His gran motioned for them to follow her into the living room, where his ears started to ring after the noise of the kitchen. In the quiet living room, the hubbub of the radio and television made it sound like there was an argument going on in the room next door, but at least it was muffled.

“You see?” said his gran.

“What, exactly?” asked his mum.

“Spirits,” said his gran.

“Spirits?” said his mum. “But how do you know?”

Joe answered for her. “You remember how our house was blazing out light and all the neighbours’ houses looked like they had a power cut?” His mum nodded. “Sebastian,” continued Joe, “He did that. Electrical interference must be a ghost speciality.”

“Either that, or Sebastian’s been here, too,” said his mum.

“You mean he was sent by Georgia, to get the ring or something?”

“Georgia?” said his gran. “You’ve seen Georgia?” She sat down on the sofa with a thump and stared at them both.

Joe nodded and sat down next to her. “Yeah – well, I have. Mum can’t see her of course.” They both looked at his gran, who was rubbing the space on her finger where the ring should have been. “Gran, can you think of anything that might make Georgia – or anyone else – want your ring?”

“I can’t believe you’ve seen Georgia,” she said.

“Gran, why would anyone want your ring?” he tried again.

“I didn’t have it for years,” whispered his gran.

“I thought you said you’d sent it away, to have it cleaned,” said his mum. “I did wonder why it took so long to come back. I suppose I just assumed you’d put it away safely somewhere.”

His gran shook her head. “No. Your sister took it. It took me quite a while to find out which pawn shop she’d taken it to – she and Gideon… And then I had to save up to buy it back. You see, first money kept going missing, and then little bits and pieces from the glass cabinet in the dining room – the silver milk jug, the Denby teapot my mum gave me…”

“So Georgia took your ring?” said his mum. “But… didn’t you ever confront her about it?” She looked furious. “Why didn’t you ask her about all the valuables that kept going missing?”

 

His gran looked at her in surprise. “Don’t tell me you’re still jealous of Georgia, after all these years, Sara?” His mum sat rubbing her bottom lip and glaring at her. She looked like she wanted to hit her. His gran sighed and turned to Joe. “Your mother always believed that she and Georgia were not treated equally – that Georgia was my and your grandfather’s favourite.”

“Well, wasn’t she?” said his mum bitterly.

“No, Sara, she was not. Georgia had… behavioural problems. Surely you must have realised that? But in those days there was no system set up for the education of… challenging children. If we had asked the authorities to intervene, they would have labelled her ‘delinquent’ and she might even have been taken away from us, to live in some kind of institution. I kept giving in to Georgia, because the alternative would have been to lose her completely. But in the end, I lost her anyway.”

“Do you really believe that?” asked his mum, “That Georgia had ‘behavioural problems’?”

His gran nodded. “Yes, and we really didn’t know what to do with her, Sara. There were no books to help us – we were groping our way in the dark. But I’m ashamed to say I kept the stealing even from your father. I was afraid he might change his mind about letting her stay with us if he knew how extreme her behaviour had become.”

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