The Living Ghost by Kaitlyn Headrick Chapter 1



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The BIG READ Young Writers Contest 2012

Honorable mention: Novel excerpt category


an excerpt from

The Living Ghost

by

Kaitlyn Headrick

Chapter 1
It was a normal day at school. I was sitting in science with my partner. Everyone had a beaker filled with water. “OK, everyone listen up! Pour half of the water from the beaker into the cup!” Mr.Adams said. We did as we were told. But some people didn’t. Two boys, David and Jack, spilled some. But the bad thing is, there were wires were they were standing. Sparks started flying. Soon enough there were flames. Everyone started screaming. “Evacuate!” Mr. Adams yelled in a panic. Now almost all of the room was filled with smoke and I was having a coughing fit. Everyone was heading towards the door but I couldn’t find it. I was searching the room, trying to hear were the voices were coming from, but all I could hear was the alarm. That’s when I passed out.

Chapter 2
I woke up, but not how you would imagine waking up, I could see myself. That’s when I knew that I was dead. You have probably seen on TV when someone dies and they see their-self and you have probably thought that it could never happen. Well, it can. At first I was confused. I thought that I was dreaming.But then the paramedics rushed in and put my body on a gurney.I tried to stop them but they couldn’t hear me. “Wait ! Wait!” I yelled. They rolled me out and I could see the whole school watching. But I saw one person in particular. Kate. My best friend. We had been best friends since first grade and had always done everything together. Nothing could separate us. Except death. When she saw me she turned pale. And then she collapsed. She fell to the ground, tears falling from her eyes. She wouldn’t stop crying. “NO! This can’t be happening! NO!” she screamed in complete agony. I saw them put me into the ambulance and rush me to the hospital. But deep down inside, I knew that there was no hope.

Chapter 3
They rushed me into the hospital and started doing all sorts of things that I don’t even know, to me. “Wake up! Wake up! I’m not dead!” I screamed to myself, trying not to believe that I was dead, that I would never see my family, Kate, or anybody ever again. “ I can’t be dead!” I thought. I guess you don’t cherish life until you don’t have it anymore. Then I saw my parents rush in. My mom screamed and my dad started crying. My mom rushed over to me. “My baby! Please wake up Ellie please!” she cried. You could hear from her voice that she was in so much pain. Then my dad rushed over. “Wake up pumpkin! Please wake up!We can’t lose you we just can’t!” he cried, in as much pain as my mom. I watched them, as my mom was stroking my hair, and my dad was holding my hand. “Mommy, daddy! I’m right here! It’s me! It’s Ellie! Please say that you can hear me!” I yelled but I knew it was no use. “I love you so much!” I yelled. But then, it all went black, again.

Chapter 4
My eyes fluttered open, and the daylight blinded me. My eyes soon adjusted. “Mommy, daddy?” I whispered, not able to speak very well. “Ellie! We’re here, don’t worry, we’re right here!” my mom cried. I had a feeling though, that I didn’t have much time. My body ached. A lot. “ I love you guys so much. More than I show.” I whimpered. “We know. We love you too, we always will.” they replied. “Always remember that you guys were the people that I loved the most. ” I said, taking in the sound of their voices, the feeling of their warmth. I knew this would be my last chance ever seeing, hearing, or feeling them, but I didn’t want it to be. I didn’t want my life to end at only the age of fifteen. I didn’t deserve this. I don’t think they realized that those were the last words that they would ever hear from me. “ Beeeeeeeeep”

Chapter 5
I could see myself again. Now I knew that I was really dead. “Beeeeeep.” the machine went off. “NOOOOOOOOOOO!” my mom screamed and burst into tears. My dad just froze, tears running down his face. My parents were now sobbing, in more pain than I had ever heard. But that’s to be expected. I didn’t really understand what had happened at the time. It didn’t register into my mind that they would never be able to hear me, feel me, or see me again. I would never be able to feel their love for me. Then the doctor came in. “I’m sorry for your loss. We tried all we could do, we really did. The smoke from the fire caused her to have heart failure. It was too severe. We’re truly sorry for your loss.” he said. That made my parents cry harder. They stayed with me for a few more hours and then left. I didn’t deserve this! I was only fifteen and I was never a truly bad person. Sure, I got a D in math, but any teenager does! I just stared at my dead body, thinking about how that body, MY body, used to move, breathe, talk, and now never would again.

Chapter 6
I decided that I wasn’t going to follow my parents. It would be to hard. They couldn’t hear me anyway. I decided to follow Kate. I knew exactly how to get to her house, and when I got there, I could see that she had heard about my death. She was sitting in her room, bawling her eyes out. “Noooo! Why did this have to happen!? Ahhh!” she cried, maybe in as much pain as my parents. But maybe a little less. Her parents tried to come in and comfort her but she had her door locked. I wanted so much to be able to comfort her, tell her that it would be ok, but I knew that there was no point. “It’s worth a shot.” I said to myself. I thought about the movies that I’ve seen, how ghosts could go through walls, so I tried it. I was amazed that it worked. “Kate.” I said. No reply. “Kate!” I said a little louder. “Go away mom!” she yelled back. “Wait, did she just hear me?” I thought. “No, that’s not possible, it was probably Mrs. English calling to her at the same time I did. I tried again. “Kate! It’s me, Ellie! I’m here! I’m dead but I’m here!” I yelled. “Ellie?” she asked. “No, I’m hallucinating, she’s d-d-d, gone...” she said. “I’m not gone! I’m right here! You’re not hallucinating Kate! It’s really me!” I yelled. I was so excited that someone could actually hear me. “I’ll prove it to you!” I said. I went over to her jewelry box and took out one of her necklaces. I took it over to her and put it next to her. “Oh my gosh! It is you!” she yelled in excitement. Then she started crying again. “Your parents called and told me. I dropped the phone, ran in here, and I haven’t come out since.” she said to me. Just like when I was alive. “I kept thinking about what we would be doing if you were still alive.” she said less excited. “We’d probably be at the mall. What happened anyway?” she asked. “We were doing a chemistry project and David and Jack spilled water on some wires. Smoke spread through the whole room and I passed out. But when I woke up, I could see myself. I saw you collapse, I saw myself in the hospital, and then, I woke up again! I was alive! But I had a feeling that I didn’t have much time until I was gone for good, so I told my parents I loved them and then I was gone. The doctor said that I died of heart failure from the smoke, then I came here.” I said. “David and Jack did this to you!?” she said. “Did you know that you were the only one that died?” she asked. But she sounded really angry. “You didn’t deserve to die Ellie. You were never mean to anyone, you were never a bad person, but you died. Nobody else even got hurt. Only you!” she said. Then she started crying again. “It’s ok Kate.” I said. “I’m fine, I’m talking to you right now aren’t I?” I said. “But you’re not fine, you're dead! I’ll never be able to go to the mall with you, have sleepovers, do anything with you again.” she said in tears. “I’m not leaving.” I replied. “We can still be best friends, you just can’t see me.” I said. “Yea I guess.” she said. “ But I’ll miss being able to do things with you.” she said. “I will too.” I replied.

Chapter 7
We stayed up and talked for hours. It was just like when I was alive, I barely noticed that she didn’t see me. “I still can’t believe that you’re dead.” she said to me. “I guess we should go to bed.” she said. She got ready, and layed down. “I can put some blankets on the floor if you want.” she said to me. “There’s no point. It won’t help.” I replied. “But aren’t you tired? Don’t you still sleep?” she asked. “I haven’t been tired for two days but I guess I could try sleeping.” I replied. She put some blankets and a pillow on the floor, but when I tried to put my head on the pillow, it went right through. I decided to just lay my head on the floor. Surprisingly, I slept. I didn’t think that ghosts could sleep. “Ellie, wake up. Wait where are you?” Kate asked. “What?” I said groggily. “It’s time for school. Do you want to come with me?” she asked. “Sure.” I replied. She got ready and we headed off. We walked into school. “I already miss this place.” I said. “Well, at least I get out of homework.” I said. We walked into math and she sat down next to this girl named Caroline. “Hi Caroline.” Kate said. “What do you want?” Caroline said with an attitude. “I was just saying hi... jeez....” Kate replied. “Ok class, listen up! I have some bad news. Unfortunately one of our students has passed away. Ellie Andrews.” Ms. Hill said. The classroom filled with gasps. “She died of heart failure.” she said. The rest of the day, in every class we went to, we heard about my death. In the hallways, Kate would talk to me, and people would look at her like she was crazy. But she didn’t care. She just kept talking. “How come I can hear you but nobody else can? You said that you parents, the paramedics, and the doctor couldn’t hear you.” she said. “I don’t know.” I replied. “I mean I’ve heard of people that could talk to ghosts, but I never thought that it was true. “Maybe we should talk to someone that can.” I said. So when we got back to her house we googled it. “It says that there is someone who can hear ghosts here!” she said. “Her name is Katarina Aguilo. We should go talk to her. But I need make an excuse so my parents don’t get suspicious.” she said. She went downstairs to her parents. “Mom, dad, can I go over to Caroline’s house tomorrow?” she asked. “Isn’t that the bratty girl that you always talk about?” her mom asked. “Well, she used to be, but she’s nicer now.” she said, trying not to laugh. “Sure.” they decided. So we went back upstairs and when we shut the door we burst out laughing. “Nicer! Ha! If anything she’s gotten meaner in the past three days!” I laughed. After we were done laughing we got ready to go to bed. “It feels like old times.” I said.

Chapter 8
We went to school and when the bell rang we rushed out. “Ok, the website said that it’s next to Publix.” I said as we walked that way and soon we saw a sign that said “Psychic.” We walked in. “Hello?” Kate called. “One moment please!” someone called back. I assumed that it was Katarina. “I’m coming!” she yelled. and then she rushed into the room. “Hello!” she said. “I’m Katarina. How can I help you?” she asked. She looked like she was about 21 with long, dark hair, and glasses. “Um, we heard that you can talk to ghosts.” Kate said. “Yes, I can. And actually, I sense that one is in our presence at this moment.” she replied. “Well actually there is. Her name is Ellie Andrews. She recently died of heart failure.” Kate said. “She was my best friend.” Kate said. “I see. I sense that you two were very close. And I also sense that you are like me.” Katarina said. “So you can see and see and hear your friend?” she asked. “Um, I can hear her but I can’t see her. Am I supposed to be able to see her?” Kate asked. “No,no. It’s fine. You just haven’t developed your skills enough yet to be able to see them yet.” Katarina replied. “So where is your friend anyway?” she asked. “I’m right here.” I said. I was getting kind of annoyed that they were both able to talk to me but were acting like I wasn’t there. “Yes. So your name is Ellie?” she asked. “Yes.” I replied. “We came to find out why nobody else can hear me.” I said. “Well, usually someone in your family has the same talent, but very rarely, you develop your talent from the loss of someone that you love.” she said. “Can anyone else in your family see and hear ghosts?” she asked. “No.” Kate replied. “So it must be that you lost Ellie. She must have been very important to you.” Katarina said. “She was.” Kate replied. “Ok, so we need to work on your skills a little bit.” she said. They did some therapy, things like reading the physic cards, talking about what they were thinking, the normal physic therapy exercises. A little while later Kate’s phone started ringing. “Oh! I have to get this!” she cried and then rushed out of the room. A few minutes later she came back in but with a sad look on her face. “It was your mom Ellie. She said the funeral was going to be this weekend. It made me realize how real this all was.” she said with watery eyes. “It’s ok. Just think if you couldn’t talk to me. It would be even worse.” I said. I went over to her and tried to give her a supportive hug but of course I forgot that I can’t do that anymore so I went right through. “Ugh! Will I ever be able to touch anything again without going right through it?!” I cried with aggravation. “Don’t worry Ellie. We’ll need to strengthen your skills too. Eventually with some practice things will become solid again. Well, at least some things. It will be easier to live your afterlife on the planet. But you need to remember that you don’t get to live all of your afterlife on Earth. You will eventually have to leave. If you know what I mean.” she said. I knew exactly what she meant. Eventually, I would have to go to heaven. I would never be able to even get the slightest taste of what life used to be like. “But don’t worry. That won’t happen for a few years. And you also still have to pay off your debts from your life. Every ghost has at least one.” she said. “How do I find out what my debts are?” I asked. I hadn’t planned on doing any community service during my afterlife. “And what do you mean by my debts?” I asked again. “Well, since I am the head of the afterlife community group, I will take you to find out what your debts are. Your debts are things that you did wrong in your life that you need to change. Anything from a bad grade on a test, to breaking into a house and stealing prized jewelry. You have to fix anything wrong that you have done in your life. And I mean anything. That’s why you are taught to be good in your life, so that you don’t have too many debts to pay and can spend most of you afterlife on Earth however you want. And I’m sorry to say that the living can’t go. Only the living that are a part of the afterlife community. So I’m sorry to say that you cannot join us Kate.” Katarina said. “It’s fine. I don’t think I would be ready for that anyway.” she said. “But what if you don’t pay off all of your debts before your time is up?” I asked. “Well, that’s easy. You don’t get to go to heaven. Your soul vanishes and is no longer a part of you, so you don’t get to live, even in the afterlife. You disappear from the universe.” she replied. “I definitely don’t want that to happen, so it would probably be a good idea to pay off my debts.” I thought. “So, when should we to wherever we have to go to find out my debts?” I asked. “Well, the afterlife community center is only open one day a month on the full moon, so we have to go tomorrow or else we’ll have to wait another month.” she replied. “Well, I’ve got nothing else to do.” I said. So Kate went back home while Katarina and I went to the afterlife community center. When we got there I was greeted by about five people. It was weird having people be able to see and hear me when I couldn’t be seen by anybody else. “Just follow me this way.” Katarina said as we walked down a hallway with about thirty doors. As we were walking I saw lots of transparent figures from ones that looked like they were about twelve, to some that looked like they were ninety. “I look like that?” I thought to myself. Then we made a turn into a shorter hallway, and soon we entered a room with a sign on the door that said “Enter with an employee please.” When we walked in there was a huge room with walls covered in cabinets. We walked over to the first side of the room towards the A section. “Let’s see..... Andrews...” she said to herself. “Here we are.” she said. “Ok, so you have fifty four debts to pay off. Impressive. Usually people have more around two hundred.” she said. “Two hundred?!” I asked in shock. “Yep. Here’s the list of all of your debts.” she said and handed me a sheet of paper. I read some of the things that I needed to fix. “How do I redo things like tests and community service?” I asked. “Oh, well we give you most of the things you need to do. Community service will be doing things around the ACC. And by the way that stands for afterlife community center.” she replied. “So this is all I need to do? And how much time do I have?” I asked. “Yep. All you have to do is redo all of these things and make them perfect again. You have five years.” she answered. “Five years!? I’ll have no problem!” I said in excitement. “Trust me, it seems longer than it really is. But you’ll probably have a little extra time left since you don’t seem to have as many things on your list.” she said. We headed back to her store. When we got back we found Kate waiting for us. “Are you ready to go?” she asked. “Yeah.” I replied. “Bye Katarina! Thanks for everything!” she yelled behind her. When we got back to her house we got ready and went to sleep. . . .


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