Tim and Alex sat on the beach and stared glumly out at the rough sea.
"I'm bored," grumbled Alex. "I wish we were having a holiday in the mountains, like we did last year. I hate this dump!"
Tim and Alex were cousins, and they were on a seaside holiday with their family. The weather had been cloudy and cold ever since they'd arrived, and they hadn't been able to swim or surf. There was nothing for the boys to do in the little seaside town where they were staying. There wasn't even a games arcade, or a cinema.
After two freezing days Alex was ready to go home. It was the worst holiday he'd ever been on.
"Come on Alex; this place will be okay when the weather gets warmer," said Tim, trying to cheer his cousin up. "And guess what - Dad told me that it might even have its own ghost!"
Tim was very interested in ghosts and spooky stuff. "There's a place above the beach called Finnigan's Bluff," he said, pointing to the top of some tall cliffs. "An old woman died in a house fire up there. Now her ghost is supposed to haunt the bluff."
"That story sounds like a load of rubbish," sighed Alex.
"There's one way to find out if it's true," said Tim. "Let's camp there and see for ourselves. Dad said we could if we wanted to."
Alex didn't believe in ghosts, but he thought a camp-out might be fun. "Okay," he agreed. "We can have a camp fire and music and food. Hey, we'll have a camping party!"
"Did someone say 'party'?" asked a voice.
Two girls named Jenny and Karen were sitting on the beach behind the boys. They were staying in a holiday house next door to Tim and Alex's.
"It's not really a party," said Alex, turning around. "We're just camping on Finnigan's Bluff tonight."
"I wouldn't camp there," shivered Karen. "Finnigan's Bluff is haunted."
"We know," replied Tim, trying to sound tough. "We're going ghost hunting!"
It was time for lunch, so Tim and Alex said goodbye to the girls and left the beach. As they walked away, they could hear them giggling.
"You shouldn't have said we were going ghost hunting," whispered Alex. "Now they think we're weird."
"Who cares," mumbled Tim, feeling embarrassed. He'd been hoping to impress the girls but instead, he'd ended up looking silly!
Tim and Alex
spent the afternoon organising their camp-out. Alex collected
things he thought were important,
like an old tent, their sleeping bags, his boom box, and something to
Tim collected things he thought were important too: a camera to
any ghosts they saw, a pocket cassette recorder to record any spooky
and a bright torch.
Tim's dad lent the boys his mobile phone before they set off. "I want you to call me up if you see any ghosts," he laughed.
The boys arrived
at Finnigan's Bluff just before sunset. It was a large
piece of parkland at the end of
a dirt road with lots of trees growing on it. A walking track led
through the trees and they followed it until they came to a clearing
the edge of a cliff, where a house had once stood. They could see part
of an old brick chimney.
"That must be what's left of the old woman's house," said Tim.
Tim and Alex found a nice flat spot for their tent, but they had a lot of trouble setting it up. First it kept falling down when they put the poles in. Then the tent pegs kept popping out of the ground. Finally they had to tie the tent to the old chimney with a long piece of rope that Alex had brought with him. It was dark by the time they'd finished.
Next, the boys tried to start a camp fire. Every time Alex lit a match, a
cold wind blew it out. He wasted a lot of matches before the fire began to burn at last.
"Whew," he sighed wearily. "Camping is hard work!"
The sun finally set, and night closed in on the bluff. A strong wind blew off the sea, making the boys' campfire flicker and their tent flap about.
Tim prowled around the edge of the camp with his ghost hunting equipment, while Alex sat in front of the fire. "I can't see anything spooky yet," he said, looking around.
Alex put a cd in his boom box and heavy metal music began to blast out of it. "Grandma says this kind of music's loud enough to wake the dead," he joked. "Perhaps it'll bring your ghost out."
Suddenly, Alex's music began to slow down. Then it stopped altogether.
"I just put new batteries in this," he complained, pressing buttons on the boom box. "I wonder what's the matter with it?"
"Things have been going wrong ever since we got here," said Tim. "Maybe someone -or something- doesn't want us here."
"Don't be silly, it's just bad luck," said Alex, beginning to feel nervous.
Thunder rumbled, and the night seemed to get even darker. Wind whistled through the trees around their campsite and the boys felt sure they were being watched...
Suddenly, Tim and Alex heard a soft moaning sound. It was coming from some
bushes behind them.
"It could be the ghost," whispered Tim, grabbing his camera and switching on
his cassette recorder.
A louder groaning came from the bushes, followed an evil howl.
"You were right; this place really is haunted," squeaked Alex.
"Hey, wait a minute," frowned Tim. "I thought I heard someone laugh."
He shone his torch through the bushes. "I can see you hiding in there," he yelled. "You can come out now!"
Jenny and Karen
stepped out of the bushes behind the boys' campsite. They were laughing
so much that they could hardly speak.
"Ha ha," spluttered Jenny. "When you told us you were ghost hunting up here, we just had to come and give you a scare!"
"You've had your fun, so get lost," grumped Alex, feeling stupid.
"Don't be angry, it was just a joke," said Karen. "Even though we don't believe
in ghosts, we wanted to see what you were doing up here."
Jenny stopped laughing and pointed at the boys' tent. "Look at that!" she gasped.
Tim and Alex's campfire had suddenly gone out, but their tent was covered in bright red flames.
"That's really weird," said Alex. "There's no smoke and the tent isn't even burning."
"It's the real ghost at work!" exclaimed Tim, grabbing his camera.
He was about to take a photo of the flames, when the face of an evil old woman appeared in front of him. He got such a fright that he dropped his camera and the film fell out of it.
"Trespassers," she howled. "Get off my land!
Both the old woman and the flames suddenly formed a ghostly tornado. It moved towards Karen before disappearing in a huge puff of smoke, just as quickly as it had formed. Karen screamed and stumbled backwards, towards the edge of the cliff.
"Lookout!" shouted Alex, running after her.
But she slipped over the edge before he could grab her.
"Help me!" cried Karen.
Alex got down on his hands and knees and crawled to the edge of the cliff, while Tim and Jenny kept an eye out for the ghost. He looked down and saw Karen clinging to a tiny little rock ledge.
"Hang on," he yelled. "We'll save you!"
"Let's use our tent rope to pull Karen up," said Tim, thinking fast. "We'd better hurry; who knows when that ghost might put in another appearance!"
The boys quickly untied the rope from their tent, hoping it wouldn't burst into flames again.
"Quick!" sobbed Jenny, peering over the edge of the cliff. "Karen's starting to slip. She can't hold on much longer!"
Tim lowered one end of the rope down to Karen, working as fast as he could.
"Tie this around your waist," he shouted.
She did as he said.
Alex and Jenny helped Tim to pull hard on the rope. Slowly they dragged Karen up the cliff, until she was safely back on Finnigan's Bluff.
"Thank you," she said shakily. "You saved my life."
Alex and Tim quickly grabbed their camping gear. Then the four kids ran as fast as they could, through the trees and out onto the road. There was no sign of the ghost but every so often a cold wind blew around them, and they thought they could hear a faint moaning. Tim rang his dad on the mobile phone and explained that Jenny and Karen were with them. Then he asked him to pick them all up.
"Perhaps we shouldn't tell anyone what happened here tonight," whispered Karen, as Tim's dad drove up. "I wasn't hurt thanks to you guys, and nobody would believe we were attacked by a ghost. They'd just think we were making it up."
The other three nodded. They knew Karen was right; their story was too weird.
"So, did you kids see any spooks up here?" laughed Tim's dad, as they got into the car.
"Of course not" Alex said quickly. "We just got cold and wanted to go home."
"We've done enough ghost hunting for one night," said Tim.
"And we've done enough ghost hunting forever!" said Jenny and Karen together.
Tim and Alex looked out of the back window of the car as they drove away. For a moment, they saw an eerie red glow through the trees. Then it died away.
"I think we had a lucky escape," whispered Tim. "Do you believe in ghosts now?"
"I sure do," he shivered. "And I never want to see one again!"
Copyright 2009: Heather Hammonds.
This story may be downloaded and used by individuals or classes for the purposes of study, research, criticism or review, or as permitted under Part VB of the Copyright Act. No part of this story may be otherwise reproduced without permission from the author. Enquiries should be directed to the author's e-mail address.
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