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Monday, 7 January 2013

The Deadly School Camp

Check out the first three chapters available now for free!

***Spoiler alert***

This chapter may give away some information revealed at the end of 'Book One: The Ghostly Grammar Boy' so read with caution if you haven't finished book one.

The Deadly School Camp 
By Sandra Thompson

I don’t know why Ella chose today to follow me. School camp was hardly a glamour zone. And for someone who didn’t sleep, eat, or have any human needs, she really liked her creature comforts.Ella’s transparent face glistened in the dim light of the camp hall where she had materialised between my boyfriend and me. We were sitting on the floor in a group with our closest friends. I had just been moving in for a handhold with Jason when she’d appeared. I was sure it wasn’t a coincidence. Being a ghost gave her a really unfair advantage for catching me in embarrassing situations.
My hand was frozen awkwardly in the air, halfway to Jason. I slowly retracted it, hoping that he wouldn’t notice my strange behaviour. One day I would tell him my secret, but not now. We’d been dating for only a few weeks. There was no way I could tell him that I’d been seeing ghosts ever since my twin sister had passed away at age two.
Ella laughed.
‘You guys should get a room.’
I gave her my best death-stare. She always chose to tease me in front of my friends, knowing that I couldn’t retaliate without looking like I was talking to myself. Ella giggled then purposefully narrowed her dark brown eyes, returning my glare. Her straight, dark brown hair framed her mischievous face. It is extremely distracting to be mimicked by a translucent person who looks identical to you in every way.
‘What’s going on here anyway? Shouldn’t you guys be doing something?’ Ella asked, looking around the hall at the year ten students sitting in scattered groups on the floor.
It was a good question. As part of a rigorous week-long schedule of enforced character-building activities, the whole of Canberra High School’s year ten class had been relocated to a bushland sport and rec centre an hour outside of Canberra. We had been looking forward to some parent-free time to hang out with our friends, but were rapidly becoming exhausted from the relentless physical activities and kitchen cleaning roster. Of course our exhaustion had nothing to do with the fact that we’d stayed up all night gossiping and eating junk food in our cabins.
Today was day two and, following a questionable breakfast, we’d been marshalled into the hall thirty minutes ago to get into groups for our next activity.  So far the teachers had been ignoring us.
I shrugged as subtly as I could in answer and looked around at the teachers to see if I could work out what was happening. Instead of patrolling for teenaged trouble like they usually did, they were huddled together in a corner. Mrs Stratton was dabbing her eyes with a hanky while Mrs Murphy patted her on the back…
Mrs Stratton was crying!
Startled, I sat up straighter. On second glance, the other teachers looked frazzled too. Mrs Weaver was wiping her spider-veined face with her hands, and Mr Wentworth was biting his lip and staring hard at the floor. Mr Cunningham was tugging on his grey beard and blinking his eyes rapidly.
I nudged Jason frantically in the arm and pointed towards the huddle of teachers. Jason turned to look at them. A moment later, his eyebrows shot upwards in surprise.
The rumble of chatter in the hall began to descend into silence as one by one the students noticed the teachers’ strange behaviour and alerted their friends. Soon the hall was uncannily quiet as everyone stared at the teachers. The teachers, noticing the sudden attention, huddled closer and whispered frantically to each other. Finally Mrs Murphy broke away from the group and walked to the front of the hall.
‘Students, as you may have noticed, we’re running a bit behind schedule today.’ Her voice wavered slightly. She took a deep swallow before continuing. ‘We were supposed to start our outdoor activities thirty minutes ago. However, there’s been an incident and school camp is now cancelled. Your parents have been asked to come and pick you up.’
There was a loud rush of noise as the students in the hall comprehended the information. Mrs Murphy clapped her hands loudly to restore order.
‘Quiet, please! The police will be joining us shortly and they may want to interview some of you. We can’t give you any more information right now, except to say that this is extremely serious and we ask that you demonstrate your maturity by waiting here patiently.’
As Mrs Murphy finished speaking, the cacophony of voices rose again. Many of the students had flushed faces and were smiling and laughing with their friends, postulating about how many days off school we’d get, and inventing humorous anecdotes about what the incident could be. However, a familiar feeling of dread filled my gut. Most of the other students were blissfully unimaginative about the sorts of horrible things that could strike us in life, having never been touched by death. My daily dealings with members of the departed made me a lot more wary. I’d also felt horribly ill last night—like I always do when someone in my vicinity is close to passing over. It was an unappreciated side effect of my gift.
If something had happened at school camp, at least one of the students must know about it. I looked around the hall at the flushed faces. The geeky boys group was sitting closest to us. They had immediately taken advantage of the teachers' distracted attention and discretely pulled out various forbidden electronic gadgets and begun playing with them.
Strangely, Dennis, the king of the geeks, was the only one who wasn’t absorbed in the digital world. His thick, dark brown hair stood out strikingly against his pale face, which was even more pasty than usual. His darkly lashed brown eyes were downcast. I could see his chest moving quickly up and down as he took short, shallow breaths. He was terrified. He had to know something about the situation.
Before I could talk to him, I felt a ghostly hand on my leg. I shivered. Ghosts can't usually touch people but I am a special case. To me they feel like real, but deathly cold people. Ella’s eyes were wide and her former cheeky grin had disappeared.
'What's happened?' she asked. 'And where is John today?'
 The uneasiness in my stomach gave a sudden lurch. I had been so distracted with school camp and Ella’s appearance that I hadn’t noticed my usual ghostly follower was missing. I hadn't seen John since yesterday afternoon.
John was a year-twelve boy from Lyneham High School who had become a ghost after passing away a few weeks ago. He also happened to be Ella's ex-boyfriend, although their relationship had only lasted one week.
At first when Ella had introduced him to me, I'll admit, I'd been slightly jealous. John was undeniably handsome with an athletic build, sandy-coloured hair, and blue eyes. My jealousy had quickly disappeared when I realised that there was one very big problem with John.
He was vacant. And I don’t mean just a little bit slow or a dreamy sort of guy. I mean he was really empty. He just seemed to float aimlessly around with nothing to do or say, as if he didn’t have a spirit. To make matters worse, he'd been following me around constantly since the first moment we’d met. It was really creepy, not to mention quite annoying. I understand that occasionally it can be difficult to distinguish between identical twins, but the fact that Ella was translucent and floaty should have helped. There was no excuse for his behaviour.
So naturally Ella had dumped him. If there's one thing you shouldn't do, it's give a twin an identity crisis. It hadn't stopped John from following me constantly ever since, though, until now. Surely it couldn't be a coincidence that John had decided to quit stalking me at the same time that something terrible had happened at school camp.
I was just trying to figure out how to communicate this to Ella without speaking, when I realised that she wasn't looking at me anymore. Her mouth had dropped open in shock and she was staring wordlessly towards the popular group.
The popular group in our year is led by Carly Taylor and her crony Hannah Farmer. I had strangely mixed feelings of resentment, yet solidarity thinking about those two. I’d never really liked them—irritated by their dominant rule over our grade and the cruel way they treated people they deemed below them in the social hierarchy. Carly and Hannah hadn’t particularly liked me either. But we’d mostly managed to keep out of each other’s way for the past three years.
Then, a few weeks ago, I’d been unfortunate enough to fly onto their radar when Shane, an attractive (and conceited) guy from Canberra Grammar School had started chasing me. Carly and Hannah had made it their business to teach me that I’d crossed the line into their territory and needed to be punished.
It would have saved them a lot of trouble if they’d known that I had no interest in Shane. I had been talking to him only because I suspected he was a murderer. And Shane was only interested in me because we both shared the ability to see ghosts. Shane, Carly, and I had ended up locked in a burning basement at the mercy of a deranged ghost called Chris. It had been necessary for survival to tell Carly about our secret power to see ghosts. Despite her reluctance to believe there could possibly be anything special about me, the strange events that transpired that day eventually convinced her beyond a doubt that I was telling the truth.
So now, Carly, the most popular and meanest girl in the school was one of the few people in the world who knew my deepest secret. I wasn’t sure if it was because my supernatural power scared her or because her near-death experience had changed her outlook on life, but to the surprise of my friends, Carly was being civil to me these days. For the first time in the history of high school, Carly acknowledged my presence and even occasionally sat with me in class. Now that I’d gotten to know her, I was begrudgingly starting to think that I’d been too quick to write her off as a superficial bully. Don’t get me wrong, she was still a non-inclusive social mastermind but, occasionally, when she wasn’t hanging out with her accomplice Hannah, she could be nice.
For example when I’d confessed to Carly that I’d been having strange nightmares ever since the fire, Carly had actually been sympathetic. I’d told her that for the past few weeks I’d been having disturbingly realistic dreams about Shane’s childhood, as if I was reliving it. The old Carly would have spread it around the school and by lunchtime convinced everyone that I was crazy. Instead, Carly had confessed that she’d been feeling really unsettled since the fire too. She’d pointed out that it was natural that I was having strange dreams about Shane, since he was one of the only other people who can see ghosts. It felt good to finally be able to confide in someone who wasn’t dead.
My eyes scanned the group for Carly and Hannah. They didn’t seem to be there; but the whole of year ten was supposed to be in the hall. I didn’t know where they could be.
Suddenly I felt my stomach hurl. I knew exactly why the teachers were crying, and what Ella had been looking at, and it was horrifying…
I’d been right that Carly was missing but I’d been wrong about Hannah. Hannah was there. She was sitting amongst her friends. I hadn’t noticed her at first because … she was completely see-through. I could see the floorboards shimmering under her jean-clad legs. Her black singlet top was translucent.
She was a ghost.
Hannah was forever frozen in the clothes that she’d been wearing last night at dinner. Hannah was dead. 


I felt the blood drain from my face at the sight of Hannah’s ghost. Last night I’d stood behind her in the line for dinner while she had a loud discussion with Carly about who was the least attractive person in our grade. Most of their top candidates had been within earshot. She had then taken two desserts. She had been so full of life - manipulative, selfish life. Now she was dead.
Like the rest of the grade, my friends had begun speculating about the situation but I didn’t join in. I felt numb, as if I was on auto pilot. Slowly I rose to my feet, my eyes fixated on Hannah. I saw her try to tap Georgia on the back, but her hand passed straight through Georgia’s body and out the other side. Hannah’s face immediately scrunched up with frustration but she didn’t look surprised. It was obviously not the first time she’d tried it today.
I felt a stab of pity for Hannah but I blinked my eyes firmly and tried to stifle the feeling. I couldn’t afford to get emotional. I had to stay focussed. I walked over to the huddle of teachers. Their quiet chatter stopped as soon as I got within earshot. It was obvious that they’d been instructed not to tell us anything about what had happened. Our classmate had died and we weren’t even trusted to know about it.
‘What is it Fiona?’ Mrs Stratton said sharply.
‘May I please go to the toilet?’
Her eyes softened. Perhaps Hannah’s death had reminded her that students were humans too.
‘OK, but hurry. If you’re not back here within five minutes I’m going to come looking for you.’
I turned and walked slowly away from the teachers. It felt hard to pick up my legs. I was used to dealing with ghosts and death by now, but aside from Ella, I’d never really known anyone who had died. I usually only met ghosts once they were already dead.
Hannah was sitting between the teachers and the door to the hall. It was a convenient position for me because it meant that I could pass her without raising the suspicions of the teachers. She had given up on tapping Georgia and was now trying to touch Penny, another girl in the popular group. Well, touch was too gentle a word. Hannah had obviously grown frustrated with her friends ignoring her and was now thumping her ghostly arm through Penny, who was completely oblivious to the pummelling. Hopefully Hannah wouldn’t try the same thing with me. Unlike Penny, I could be touched by ghosts and would feel that as a blow to my ribs.
As I walked casually past Hannah I let my fingertips brush over the top of her head. Hannah’s friends paid no attention to me – it just looked like my hand was innocently by my side as I walked past their group. Hannah, however, flinched immediately at my touch.
She turned to look at me, touching her hair in confusion. I looked directly back into her eyes.
‘Hey!’ she said. ‘You can see me?’
I gave an imperceptible nod and then motioned with my head towards the door. Hannah followed me soberly outside. It was the first time I’d ever seen her quiet and docile. It didn’t last long. Ella, too experienced and skilled a ghost to bother doing such mundane things as walking, had disappeared and then re-materialised outside. She was leaning against a tree, inspecting her nails as she waited for us.
‘Hey!’ Hannah said. She pointed to Ella and then she pointed to me. ‘There are two of you! Except that this you –,’ she motioned to Ella ‘-is just like me now.’
Ella smiled and gave a friendly wave.
‘Yeah, hi, I’m Ella, I’m Fiona’s twin. And yes, I’m dead too.’
Hannah’s face suddenly dropped.
‘What’s going on?’ she said.
It looked like she’d been trying to be strong. I guess she’d had a lot of changes to deal with over the past few hours. They say your teenage years are the hardest of your life, but probably turning into a ghost was pretty difficult too.
‘Let’s go to the toilet block to talk,’ I said quietly. Despite the shocking situation, I had to stay grounded about the real world. I couldn’t let my school mates hear me talking to myself.
I walked towards the toilet block. Hannah followed me, her eyes downcast. I’d never seen her looking anything but cocky and self-assured before. It almost made me forgive her for all of the humiliating things she’d done to me over the past three years. Ella must have noticed Hannah’s sombre mood too because she tried to comfort her.
‘I know you’re probably really scared right now, but you don’t need to worry. Everything will be OK.’
Hannah’s miserable face scrunched up into one of scorn as she turned to look at Ella. Even as a ghost, Hannah was already set on establishing her dominance.
We climbed up a short flight of stairs and entered the unisex toilet block. It was made out of wood that didn’t quite seal from the wind. The breeze whistled through the cracks as I closed the door. The background noise would be perfect for masking our conversation. Finally we could talk.
‘Hannah, I can’t believe you’re dead. I’m so sorry.’ The words burst out my mouth before I could stop them. I reached over and hugged her. I wasn’t buying this tough girl routine. Even Hannah had to need a hug after passing over. She felt cold yet solid beneath my touch. ‘What happened?’
Before Hannah could answer, a loud sob emanated from one of the stalls. I felt my stomach drop. I’d made an amateur mistake. I’d been so careful about not talking outside the hall, but I hadn’t even bothered to check if the cubicles were empty before starting a conversation with the undead.
The door to the cubicle swung opened. With a loud blowing of her nose, a blonde, mascara stained face emerged. It was Carly.
‘Fiona? Is that you? Oh thank goodness!’ she rushed over and gave me a snotty hug. Her slim body felt warm and bony compared to Hannah. ‘There’s something I have to tell you. I need your help. Hannah is…’
‘…dead. I know,’ I finished. ‘Hannah and Ella are here right now.’
Carly’s face blanched and she took a step backwards. Despite being saved by Ella a few weeks ago, she still felt deeply uncomfortable in the presence of the supernatural. I could understand it. She couldn’t see them. Then again, they couldn’t touch her, like they could touch me, so who was she to complain?
‘Have you asked Hannah what happened?’ Carly managed to splutter. Even though she believed that Hannah was here, she still couldn’t bring herself to address Hannah directly. Hannah looked slightly miffed at being disregarded by Carly. Even though they were best friends, Carly had always been the clear leader of the popular group, and Hannah had never seemed quite comfortable with being bestowed the graces of second best. However, she pulled herself together to answer Carly’s question.
‘Dennis, is what happened,’ Hannah said.
Carly continued looking at me blankly. She was the only person in the room who couldn’t hear Hannah’s response.
‘She said Dennis is what happened,’ I repeated.
Carly’s face crumpled.
‘It was so horrible, Fiona,’ she whispered. ‘I came back to the cabin and she was just lying there, gone.’ Carly’s eyes glazed over as the memory replayed in her mind.
Hannah gave a strangled sob. I had to keep both girls focussed before they descended into grief, but it was hard to think of the right thing to say.
‘I’m so sorry,’ I mumbled awkwardly and gave Carly a hug. She sobbed quietly into my shoulder. Steeling myself with strength I didn’t feel I possessed, I pulled away. Carly’s bowed head shot upwards.
‘The you-tube video! We were planning to set him up and film it. Dennis must have found out about it.’
I felt my insides groan. Another bullying prank by those two. Maybe I’d been wrong to think that Carly had changed in recent months.
‘Tell me exactly what happened,’ I said, looking at Hannah. Carly, understanding that it was time to hear from the victim, nodded her head quietly.
Hannah swallowed hard and her throat shimmered in the pale light of the toilet block.
‘Dennis was supposed to come to our cabin for a date. Except that it wasn’t a date, it was a set up. We hid a video camera on the bench, and I was planning to throw myself really obviously at him. He’s such a social retard that he wouldn’t realise it was fake and would try to kiss me or something. Then we were going to post it on you-tube. It was going to be so funny.’
I saw Ella’s face wrinkle with disgust at the plan. Luckily Hannah’s attention was focussed on me and she didn’t notice. Carly, of course, couldn’t see Ella at all. I tried to keep my face neutral. However badly Hannah had behaved last night, it couldn’t justify her death. My judgement would only distract her, and we had to get to the bottom of this as soon as possible so that Hannah could move on.
‘So what happened when Dennis came over?’ I asked.
‘Well, when I heard him knock on the cabin door, I started the video camera and then I kept him waiting while I did a little intro piece for the camera – you know – this is going to be the funniest prank ever, this loser from school is totally dumb and thinks he’s got a chance with me – that sort of thing.’
‘Mmmhmmm,’ I said, resisting the urge to cross my arms.
Carly fidgeted beside me. She was getting restless waiting in silence.
‘So then I opened the door, and that freak! He shoved me. That’s the last thing I remember because I guess I must have hit my head. The next thing I knew I was sitting in the school hall waiting for our morning activities with you guys. But no one could see me. And I couldn’t touch things…’ Hannah’s voice choked up and her eyes began to fill with shimmering tears.
‘It’s OK,’ I patted her arm awkwardly. ‘I can see you, and Ella can see you, and we’ll help you to find peace.’
Hannah sniffled. Then her eyes suddenly widened as she comprehended what I’d said. Finding peace. Moving on. Her mortal life was over. Luckily Ella broke the painful silence.
‘So you don’t know what happened to the video tape?’
Hannah’s face became animated, immediately distracted.
‘No, but it would have caught my murder for sure!’
‘Carly,’ I turned to Carly, who flinched in surprise at suddenly being included in the conversation. ‘When you went into the cabin last night, did you see the video camera that Hannah hid on the bench?’
‘No,’ Carly shook her head. ‘But I didn’t look at the bench. When I saw Hannah on the ground like that, I was so scared. I just ran straight out of the cabin.’
‘It could still be there,’ Ella said. ‘We have to get it.’
‘We have to go back to the cabin and get it before Dennis does!’ Carly said, oblivious to the fact that she was behind the conversation.
At that moment, the door to the toilet block swung open. A pale figure stood framed against the doorway, the bright sunlight streaming in behind him. His thick dark brown hair cast a sinister shadow across his forehead. An ear piercing scream ripped through the startled silence as Carly recognised the intruder.
It was Dennis.
Carly’s scream tore through me like a tomahawk. There was a murderer in our grade, and he was standing just metres from us. I desperately hoped that he hadn’t heard what Carly had said.
‘Shut up Carly!’ Dennis said savagely and took an aggressive step towards her.
All at once, Hannah flew into action.
‘You killed me!’ she yelled as she ran towards him in a shimmering blur, prepared to rugby tackle him down the short staircase and into the dirt.
‘Han-..,’ I started to blurt, before remembering that I shouldn’t speak to Hannah in front of Dennis. However, the very next instant Hannah discovered what I’d been about to say.
Instead slamming into Dennis as she’d intended, Hannah passed straight through him, without even lifting a hair from his head. The only acknowledgement of Hannah’s attack was a slight shiver from Dennis as he subconsciously detected her presence passing through him.
Hannah spun around, her face a mixture of shock at her new permeable physical state, and fury at what Dennis had done to her. Then, suddenly she lurched out of view. A second later it became apparent why. The spindly figure of Mrs Stratton stalked angrily towards the toilet block. Despite being a ghost, Hannah’s teacher avoiding skills were still finely tuned.
‘I told you to shut up,’ Dennis snarled at Carly.
Mrs Stratton strode angrily up the staircase and into the toilet block. Ella was so lucky that the teachers couldn’t see her.
‘All of you, get back inside the hall immediately,’ Mrs Stratton hissed.
A jittery tension filled the air as we walked back to the hall. I made sure I kept Dennis in front of me but he kept turning around to glare ferociously at Carly. My whole body tingled with fear and I felt sick just walking near him. I tried to keep my face calm but my insides were screaming.
We had to go back to the cabin and get the video before Dennis did.


When we got back inside the camp hall, Carly and I sat as far away from Dennis as we could manage. It wasn’t far enough away to remove the heavy feeling of horror that had settled in my stomach though. I wondered if it would ever go away, knowing what I did now. It felt like all the security and safety of my school had gone forever to be replaced by the sinister presence of evil.
We sat with our backs against the wall, as close to the door as possible. I shut my eyes and tried to focus on the solid feeling of the wall against my back. It didn’t help. When I opened my eyes, I saw that Jason was staring at me. His dark eyebrows were furrowed in concern, and he shrugged his shoulders questioningly at me. When I didn’t respond, he started to get up off the floor.
A wave of frustration flooded through my body, followed by a twinge of guilt. There was nothing that I could say to Jason to explain what I’d been up to, and nothing that he could do to help. But that wasn’t his fault. He was only trying to look out for me. If I had just confided in him about my secret skills, he could have shared my burden. But I wasn’t sure enough about him yet.
I waved my hands at him dismissively. He must have got the message because he sank back down to the floor, disappointment etched on his face. The twinge of guilt flared again but I stifled it. I would think about it later.
‘We have to get out of here,’ Carly said. ‘We need to distract the teachers.’
Ella was already onto it. If there’s one thing that ghosts do well, it’s distractions. She’d taken Hannah over to the stage and they were standing next to the piano, Ella demonstrating a pushing motion with her hands. I saw Hannah take a moment to focus her mind, then try to push the piano. It moved for a fraction of a second, before she lost concentration and her hands passed straight through it. She fell into and through the piano and collapsed onto the floor, before shaking herself and getting up. She would need a bit more practise at transferring between her natural see-through state to the more opaque state that ghosts use when they want to interact with matter. Ella gave an encouraging nod, then pointed to herself. I knew what would happen next. I grabbed Carly’s arm.
‘Get ready to run.’
Right on cue, the upright piano teetered, then crashed to the ground. As all the faces in the hall turned towards the stage, Carly and I slipped outside. Without a word, we ran along the bushy track which led to the cabins and past the lower carpark. As we approached the carpark, I grabbed Carly’s arm and pulled her off the well-worn path and into the long grass behind the cabins. The carpark was currently empty but I didn’t know when the police and the first parents would arrive. Without slowing our pace, we worked our way behind the first group of cabins and onto the second. I could hear Carly quietly cursing behind me as the spiky grass stabbed at her bare legs. I felt glad that I’d decided to wear jeans today, rather than short shorts like most of the popular group.
I felt an icy hand touch my back and I pulled up short.
‘That’s our cabin,’ Hannah said.
She pointed to a new looking caravan, slightly separated from the rest of the dormitory style cabins. Much as her ghostly presence creeped me out, I was relieved that Ella and Hannah were back with us. Invisible sentries always come in handy when you’re breaking into places.
‘I’ll stand guard,’ Ella said, reading my mind. ‘You guys go inside.’
I nodded and slowly emerged from behind the cabin, then sprinted to the caravan. The others followed behind me. I nodded to Ella, who positioned herself next to the door, facing outwards. She nodded back. Taking a deep breath, I used my t-shirt to cover my hand, then quickly opened the door and stepped inside. Carly and Hannah followed me, then I shut the door behind us.
I heard Carly gasp, and then a strange, strangled, gurgling sound. When I turned around it took all of my self-control not to scream.
Hannah’s human body was lying in a deep pool of blood on the floor. Her face was bruised and lifeless. The sight of her own dead body must have been too much for her because her ghost was now lying unconscious on the floor, draped through her human body. Her blood lay in a perfect meniscus unaffected by the intrusion of her ghostly form.
It was grotesque.
In fact, it was so hideous that I couldn’t believe that it was real. I felt like I was in an American crime show and I was instantly reminded of the trouble we’d be in if we got caught tampering with the crime scene.
Carly had started whimpering beside me, and in my paranoid state, the noise sounded outrageously loud.
‘Shhh! Just pretend that it’s not real. Don’t move and don’t touch anything.’
Carly nodded and began to shiver as she squashed her whimpering and her fear because physical.
‘Can you see the camera from here?’ I asked.
Without waiting for Carly’s reply, I scanned the room. My stomach plummeted as I located the bench. It was completely clear. There was no way a camera could be hidden there.
Carly shook her head.
‘We put it in a tissue box with a hole in the side, but it’s not on the bench anymore.’
Frantically, we surveyed the room. It was cluttered with make-up, junk food, and girly magazines. Next to Hannah’s body was an unmade double bed and on the far side of the caravan was a closed door which must have been the bathroom. Despite the horrific situation, an ungenerous thought flittered through my mind. Whilst the rest of the grade had been crammed into eight-person dormitories with an insect-infested walk to the communal bathrooms, somehow Hannah and Carly had got the only private caravan and bathroom.
I couldn’t see the tissue box or a camera amongst all of the mess, but to know for sure we’d have to riffle through the junk. I hesitated. I really didn’t feel like leaving a trail of DNA around. Then, before I could decide what to do next, my eyes caught sight of something that didn’t fit.
It was a men’s watch. And I was almost positive that I’d seen it before.
‘Carly,’ I whispered. ‘Is that yours?’ I pointed to the floor next to the bed, desperately hoping that I was wrong.
‘Ew, no, and it’s definitely not Hannah’s either.’
I believed her. And not just because the ugly, braided, green leather straps and oversized face didn’t seem like their style. But because I’d seen the ghostly image of that watch on the arm of John, my recent ghostly stalker and Ella’s ex-boyfriend. This was the physical version of it. But why was it here?
‘Ella, get in here,’ I said quietly. A normal person standing outside couldn’t have heard me but Ella was not a normal person. Within a second she’d materialised inside the caravan.
‘What is it?’ she said before she flinched in horror as she registered Hannah’s body and ghost draped together in a grotesque sculpture of death. ‘Oh my-’
‘Is that John’s watch?’ I pointed to the floor. Ella’s eyebrows shot upwards.
‘What on earth is that doing here?’ she exclaimed, causing me to wince. No one could hear her except me, but it just seemed wrong that she was talking so loudly.
There was something really strange going on here. John had followed me relentlessly for the past few weeks, only to disappear at the exact same time that Hannah had been murdered. And now his physical watch was in Hannah’s cabin.
At that moment Hannah’s ghost woke up. She sat up with a jolt amongst the bloody mess of her own body.
‘Teacher!’ she croaked, pointing a shaking finger at the window behind us.
I would have laughed at her yet-again impeccable teacher detection skills if I hadn’t been so panicked. The door burst open and a policeman stood in the entrance gaping at us. Behind him stood Mrs Stratton. Her face darkened as she saw us. She shook her head, almost unable to comprehend our insolence.
‘You two are suspended,’ she said.
After a moment of heavy silence, the policeman shook himself out of his shock.
‘…and arrested,’ he added.
Forget about Hannah… my life was officially over.