By Paul McAvoy
Published in Both Kindle and Paperback
"When my parents split up I started drawing pictures of gravestones in a church near my dad’s (I know it is weird, get over it), and here is where I met Beth. But I soon found that Beth was no ordinary girl, but she was in fact a ghost. I am not talking creepy ghost, the kind that puts a curse on you, but just an ordinary person really. I soon learned she was being chased by some nasty piece of work, and I soon realised there was only me who would be able to help her.
Not only was I going to try to save her from her hunter, but also try to help her move on, go into the light, and all that. Not much to ask, seeing as I was a teenager, was it! In the process I would learn that the ‘unknown’ was pretty clear, and that some men can be more evil than anything conjured up by the wildest of imaginations.
So… I met a Ghost is a sometimes creepy, sometimes funny short novel for young adults by author Paul McAvoy. A page-turner… you will not want to draw breath until the last page is read…"
Read first chapter:
Read first chapter:
‘Where I was, busy sketching a gravestone…’
How many times had I heard my mother say, ‘You’ll really like him if you get to know him!’ She had been at it again yesterday morning, just as I was about to head off to school with Rosy. ‘He’ was her latest boyfriend, Freddie, and ‘I’ her son, was not convinced by what she said: I hardly was about such revelations.
I tried to like her boyfriends, laughed at their jokes, showed all the right kind of interest, all that kind of stuff. But there was always something there that made me wary, something that made me take a step back… it was hard to put my finger on it…
Well, perhaps not. To put it bluntly, they all had the same thing wrong with them – they weren’t ‘Dad.’ We’d had Boring Ben, Dwayne the Pain, Slaphead Steve and now Freddie – who Rosy and I had yet to think up a suitable name for. Fed Up Freddie was a front runner, but nothing had yet been decided.
Not that I thought Mum and Dad would ever get back together, you understand – I just felt that whatever guy she brought home to introduce us to was trying too hard to fill my father’s shoes. And there was only one man who could fill those shoes, and he was my dad.
It was pretty childish of me, I know: these men probably had no intention of doing that, but it still felt that way, to me and to Rosy. She was my younger sister, by the way – more on her later.
Some of them didn’t stay around long enough for me to find out, others overstayed their welcome.
Just give him a chance – you will really like him… he’s nice.
These words were echoing around my head that evening, and I am not really sure why… I guess maybe she was more interested in Freddie than I liked. It was all getting too serious. I was thinking, ‘Marriage! No!’ and ‘Step-dad! Eek!’ Anyway, respite was what I needed, so I had practically ran up the hill to the graveyard with my paper and pencils.
Once there, with the ever present winter chill in the air, the sky darkening by the minute, I found a spot at the north end of the graveyard and sat down on a bench with a nice view of an ancient tombstone. There was a fat, silver moon behind, with brush strokes of clouds resting on its lower half.
Was I weird? I liked drawing pictures of gravestones, mostly in old church grounds near Dad’s, where I slept two nights a week (not the church grounds, I hasten to add, but Dad’s). It was a ten minute walk away, up a winding road, in the middle of nowhere. There was no actual church attached to it anymore, just a few remains and I don’t think people got buried there these days as it was probably too full.
It was mostly quiet. A mossy and unkempt place where crows nested in nearby trees, bats came out at dusk, and big spiders spun thick bushy webs. It was easier in summer, both getting there and being able to see! But in winter the darkening shadows could create all kinds of images – both real and imaginary.
So, that was where I was, busy sketching a gravestone, my eyes were accustomed to the shadows. It was four o’clock and it was the middle of January. Christmas was a fading memory and summer was still a million miles away. It was cold. I had a scarf around my neck, and a woolly hat to keep me warm. My breath danced around my face when I breathed out.
I was lost in thought. To be exact, I was oblivious to everything around me. My mother’s comments on Freddie and how I would like him if I gave him a chance were forgotten now. My picture was all that mattered. My hand was moving along the sketch pad, my pencil so comfortable in my grasp and almost a part of my hand.
I did not use any particular type of pencil or paper. I just drew. I had dozens of pictures of tombstones from all angles and settings. I had never had lessons, except for art class with Mr Dickinson. He was about a hundred years old and did not really care much about anything. As long as he was able to nip out of class every so often for a quick smoke he was fine.
I drew my gravestones for a reason, but that reason was anyone’s guess. I was a firm believer in the fact that everything you did was for a purpose, be it part of some colossal cosmic plan, or for your own inner plan – things that you do not know yet. I was there, in the graveyard, sketching for a reason. I did not yet know that reason….
Yes, I was weird, I guess. But… this was my contrast – this all thing. All four of us had lived at Mum’s before the Big Split, and that side of town was where all my friends lived. After the Big Split, Dad moved out to Grandma and Granddad’s then to a small house on the other part of town. Here I had no friends, but I did not mind that. At first I felt lonely, but I grew to appreciate my time with my father more, and also (but don’t tell her) Rosy’s company.
I had time to do my own thing, to come to that graveyard and draw without my friends wanting to know if I was a raving lunatic or something, because that surely must be how it would appear. What I am trying to say is that I could get away with it at Dad’s. Drawing, the weirdness attached to it, everything…
This is how my story begins, on that cold January day. There was no wind howling, no thunder roaring. It was quiet. I did not believe in the supernatural, not then. All that was for books and films. Ghosts, vampires and werewolves… they were all just works of fiction to scare people in my eyes. That was probably the reason I did not get spooked when sketching gravestones in creepy graveyards, I suppose. I did not believe in it.
Not until two ghosts just happened to run past me and changed all that…
Seemingly oblivious to my presence next to a grave, with pad and pencil in hand, they ran across the graveyard, nervously checking over their shoulders. They looked as though they were being pursued. I found my eyes glancing over at where they were looking, but I could see no one. One of the girls was about my age, the other was older. They wore what looked like bridesmaid dresses and they seemed to…
Well… Okay, it might have been the light of the moon, but they seemed to ‘glow.’
I watched them quietly running past. Then they came to an old black stone wall and climbed over and into the field behind.
Obviously I did not think they were ghosts at the time, who would? I simply thought they were odd looking. More on that in a moment. You don’t often look at people and think, ‘Hm, I wonder if he is a ghost?’ Or a vampire, or an alien… mind you, you ought to see my History teacher…
But you don’t come to conclusions like that. Ghosts only exist in stories, films or on TV. Some reality shows depict real-life ‘hauntings.’ My mother watches them. But even those we know are not real, they are just created via one’s own imagination in darkened rooms with head torches in an attempt to get a few viewers.
One of my friends had told me she had seen a ghost once. Her story, about a walk with her father and the presence of some strange looking man, had sent goose-bumps up my back when she first relayed the story to me. But I did not really believe: I thought her and her father had just let their imaginations run riot.
However, there was something a little bit odd about the two girls in the graveyard.
I got out from next to the tombstone I had been sketching and felt a sudden chill. It was cold, but it seemed to grow in intensity. I walked over slowly, each step a shaking footfall. I felt drained of all blood; I felt a little bit scared and a little bit puzzled at the same time.
I reached the old stone wall and squinted out into the darkening night. I could see no sign of the two girls. The air was still cold, but deathly silent. I felt all of a sudden as though I was trapped inside a charcoal drawing, a curious character looking out into the night, a fat moon above me, within an obvious winter setting.
Perhaps I had imagined it all. Yes, or maybe I’d had a kind of waking dream. I turned around… then jumped, feeling every nerve explode.
I found myself staring at a crazy looking man. He must have crept up on me without me hearing him. He was probably sixty, had windswept long white hair and dark and staring eyes. He wore a crumpled brown overcoat and carried a black leather bag. I wondered briefly what was in the bag, but at the same time felt I really did not want to know. In fact I instantly wanted to get out of there, away from the stranger… and fast.
‘Where did they go?’ he growled.
I frowned, dumbstruck. I shook my head.
‘The girls,’ he said. ‘Where did they go? Did you see where they went?’
I shrugged. ‘O-o… over the wall.’
He nodded and went over. He looked out into the night. I took this cue to get my things together. I hurried over to my drawing stuff near the bench and gathered it up. The man was walking over, frowning.
‘Artist, are you?’
I nodded. ‘Kind of.’ One of my pencils fell to the floor and landed in the grass, I decided to leave it there.
‘Draw many graves?’ I could not tell if he was scoffing at me or if he was merely curious. He had followed me over.
‘I suppose,’ I replied.
‘My name is Noddy Blair. I am a ghost catcher, and what you saw, those girls, well they were ghosts, my lad.’
‘I didn’t see anything,’ I asked. ‘Look, I’d better get going. I need to get home, my dad will be worried.’
‘You don’t believe?’ he asked me in the gloom. The air was darkening still – it would be pitch black soon.
‘I need to go.’ I found myself looking at his black bag. It was like those bags doctors used to carry round with them. Beaten up and battered, could fit a good sized cat in it, or a small dog. I shuddered.
‘Well I ain’t stopping you, boy,’ he shrugged. ‘Ghosts are not for this world, you know. They are the vermin of the earth, roaming around, devil may care. Don’t think you can trust ghost.’
‘Right,’ I said, just wanting to get out of the graveyard and away. The gateway to the graveyard was about a hundred metres away, but it may well have been a hundred miles away, it seemed so far from where I was.
I suddenly the thought of the comfort of Dad’s house – the heating would be on, it would be nice a warm. How much I wanted to be there right at that moment, sat watching TV.
Blair continued, ‘You wouldn’t trust a rat, now would you? You stay well away from the vermin!’
I nodded, but thought, And I think I will stay away from you while I am at it – you’re as mad as a box of frogs. I shuffled past him, feeling fear grip hold of me, almost expecting him to reach out and grab me. I had a vision of him forcing me into his small bag, zipping it up and running off giggling. But he did not move. I left the graveyard, my legs wobbling, as though they were made of jelly.
I could feel his eyes on me, boring into my back.
‘The vermin of the earth!’ he repeated in a strangely wise voice.
My pace quickened the further I was from the stranger, and soon enough I was sprinting home...