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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16. Chapter Sixteen

 “I still don’t understand what this has to do with me, Eunice,” muttered Gideon, as he passed his scarf across the table to Joe’s gran at ten to twelve that night. She took the scarf and laid it on the table, beside a framed photograph of Georgia. It showed her on her own, her blue eyes squinting in the bright sunshine that lit up her hair like gold. She was scowling.

“Who took this?” asked Joe, picking it up to study more closely.

“I did,” said Gideon. “It was a scorching day and she was desperate to get to the pool at the old quarry, but I wanted to get a shot of her in the sun first… I was hoping she’d smile for once, but she wouldn’t, of course. She looks like she wanted to kill me.”

Joe grinned and put the picture back on the table. They sat and watched the hands on the clock on his gran’s sideboard inch towards midnight. At about two minutes to twelve, she picked up the scarf and held it against the photograph of Georgia. They waited. Joe became very aware of the sound of his own breathing and of Gideon’s to his right. He wiped his hands on his trousers and, seeing the minute hand approaching the twelve, he concentrated on the scarf. He wondered if they’d all be sitting there at five minutes past, with no sign to help them and no further on with the puzzle. But as the hands came together at the twelve, making an audible click, Joe’s gran, who had a slight hold on the scarf, gasped and jumped back from the table. The scarf had leapt from her hands and wound itself around the photograph like a boa constrictor around its prey.

They all looked at Gideon.

“Do you still think this has nothing to do with you, Gideon?” asked Joe’s gran.

Gideon looked pale. “So, this little… experiment…”

“…Was to find out who was keeping Georgia here, with the living,” said Joe’s mum.

“Ah,” said Gideon. “So you mean…”

“It’s you,” said Joe. “Any unfinished business she’s got is to do with you. But you knew that, right? I mean, you told us already that all this mess – you know, scary ghosts, weird death threats – was your fault.”

Gideon cleared his throat. “But… I thought it was all about Tanner. I knew he wanted to get even with me for… things I’d done. I thought he was getting Georgia and everyone to do his bidding. I just thought Georgia was part of his plot.”

“Well, she’s not,” said Joe. “She’s here for you. So what’re you going to do about it?”

Gideon put his face in his hands for a second, then lifted his head and pushed his hair off his forehead. “I don’t know what to do anymore,” he said.

Joe’s mum stood up. “Well, you’re going to have to work it out,” she said coldly. “All this mess – Georgia’s troubles as well as Tanner’s petty plots – is down to you. It’s time you took responsibility, Gideon. You’re not a teenager anymore.”

Gideon got up too. “I was planning on facing Tanner," he said. "I’ve already asked the spirits to help."

“Tanner will have to wait,” said Joe’s mum. “My sister needs help.” She nodded to Joe. “Would you fetch that pamphlet, love? The one we got today from the exorcist?”

Joe ran upstairs and collected the pamphlet from the top of the bookcase in the bedroom he shared with his mum. He ran back downstairs. “What does it say to do next?” she asked. “Now we’ve identified the Doppelgänger.”

“Doppelgänger?” said Gideon, with a laugh. “Have you looked at me? A big, bearded, red-haired man. And Georgia? A wiry thirteen-year-old girl with dark-blonde hair?”

Joe pulled a face. “You’re her emotional tie,” he said. “It’s got nothing to do with looks. You and her have done stuff together that binds you now – she needs your help to get some kind of salvation or release or something.”

Gideon was silent for a moment. Then he sighed. “Right… so what does the book say to do now, Joe?”

Joe skimmed past a chapter entitled, “Using Earthly Directories to Track Down Living Doppelgänger”, and stopped at, “Chapter Fourteen: The Resolution of Issues”. He looked up. “This is it." He read out the first paragraph:

“‘Once you have tracked down the Doppelgänger, you will need to ask them to make a list of their waking nightmares – the scenes from their life that not only trouble them still, but that are linked, in some way, with the spirit’s past experiences.’”

Joe’s gran got up and fetched a pad and pen from a drawer in the sideboard. She passed them to Gideon, who took them without enthusiasm.

“So I’m supposed to write in this, am I?”

“That’s right,” said Joe’s gran.

“Right,” said Gideon. “Well, Eunice and Sara, you both know what the worst thing is that Georgia and I did.”

“You murdered someone,” said Joe quietly.

“Oh…” said Gideon. “I was hoping they hadn’t told you that.”

“I kind of picked it up along the way,” said Joe. “One or two things I overheard when you and Georgia were talking – and then when Mum and Gran were arguing. People seem to keep forgetting I’m here.”

“What do you know exactly?” asked Gideon, and his voice was quieter than Joe had ever heard it.

Joe shrugged. “That Georgia killed your dad. But he was a horrible man, wasn’t he? Do you think she’d really regret that? I mean, it sounded like he was evil.”

“He was,” said Gideon.

“So what else did you do?” asked Joe. He looked at Gideon, who was tugging at his beard and gazing at the pad in front of him on the table.

“Hmm?” said Gideon.

“I said, what else did you do, Gideon?” There was a pause and Joe felt his fists clench involuntarily.

“It’s all about you, isn’t it?” he said to Gideon. He pushed back his chair and looked at his father. “Can’t you get your head round the fact that we’re all involved in this now? Georgia is stuck here because of something you and her got up to before I was even born and you won’t even try to help.” He started to choke on his words. He looked at Gideon, who had gone red in the face, and he wondered if he’d gone too far. Maybe Gideon would take off back to where he’d come from – the Valley of Selfish Idiots – and Joe wouldn’t see him ever again – and Georgia would haunt them forever. Then Gideon sighed and rubbed his face with his palms, running his hands through his mess of red hair.

“If you all knew the truth…” he said.

“Yes?” said Joe’s gran.

“It’s too awful to think about – I can’t say the words out loud,” he said. “I never have.”

Joe walked back to the table and pushed the notebook towards Gideon. “So write it down,” he said.

Gideon looked at him. “Only if you leave the room.”

Joe stared at him. “You think I’m not involved in this or something? I’ve been through all this…” he waved a hand, unable to think of a polite word, “…rubbish, with all the spirits and everything, and now you’re acting like I’m too young to hear the truth. ‘Ooh, no, don’t tell Joe – he’s being haunted by his dead aunt and keeps getting death threats from the spirit world, but we can’t have him hearing what the grown-ups have to talk about.’”

His mum looked at him. “Joe, just go up to bed please.”

“I can’t believe…” he began, but he caught the eye of all three of the adults in the room and gave up. He was so disgruntled, he stomped upstairs and didn’t even bother to creep back down to listen at the door.

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