Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2152657-Ghosium
by Elena
Rated: E · Chapter · Children's · #2152657
A brother and sister have an interesting summer
“I can’t believe we’re stuck spending a month at weird Aunt Celia’s,” John griped to his sister Alex.

“It won’t be so bad,” Alex said, looking up from her book, The Spaceship under the Apple Tree. “Aunt Celia is a scientist. I bet she will have all kinds of experiments for us to do.”

“You’re just happy because you’re as wacky as she is,” John grumbled and turned back to the window.
They were on a train, on their way from New York City where there was always something to do, to Northern New York State, where there was never anything to do. John was upset about missing a month of baseball to spend his valuable summer days in a secluded farm house in the middle of nowhere.

At first, Alex had been upset too, but when she found out they were going to Aunt Celia’s she cheered right up. At eleven years old, she was already fascinated with science and loved experiments. Her mother had enrolled her in classes at the science museum, which she was only slightly sad about leaving.

When Mom had told them the news, John responded in his nine year old way. He yelled and pouted. “I don’t want to go to creepy Aunt Celia’s! There’s nothing to do there! What about baseball?”

“Shut up!” Alex responded. “Aunt Celia is so cool! It’ll be fun.”

Their mother sighed. “Johnny, we’ve been over this. Your father is waiting for me at the dig site in Montana, and we can’t bring you two. You think you’ll be bored at Celia’s? Try the badlands.”

Now John sighed. He was the only one in the family without a passion for science. His parents were world renowned paleontologists (that means dinosaur scientists) and his sister was nuts for inventing and creating. His aunt Celia was a chemist, but John wasn’t exactly sure what she did. His passion was baseball, which his father pointed out had many aspects of physics. He had tried to explain the concept of velocity to John, until his mother pointed out his was nine.

Some people would think having dinosaur scientists for parents would be fun and awesome but it wasn’t. His father was away for much of the time on digs and his mother worked long hours at the science museum. She was in charge of the dinosaur exhibits and by most accounts, did a beautiful job. Each room was organized according to era and she had rotating fossils on display. There was also robotic dinosaurs to show how they behaved. It would have been fun if John was able to do anything with them but he was forbidden to touch the bones of course, and when his parents tried to explain the dinosaurs he had a difficult time understanding.

“Here we are!” Alex exclaimed brightly as the train pulled into the station. Her voice was the only bright thing. Even though it was early July, there was no sun. The trees were green, but seemed like they should be bare. It was nearly ten degrees colder than it was in New York City.

John shivered. His sister pushed him along to the depot.

“Move it!” she suggested. “I see Aunt Celia waiting for us.”

Aunt Celia was indeed waiting for them. She was tall and thin with pretty blond hair. She could have been a model if she wore make up. However, she still had on her white lab coat and her blond hair was messy as if she hadn’t brushed it for days. She had it up in a hair clip but it still looked messy.

“Aunt Celia!” Alex called and jumped into her arms.

“My favorite niece!” Celia spun her around. “And my favorite nephew!” She spun John around also, to his annoyance.

“We’re your only niece and nephew,” he pointed out grumpily.

“That doesn’t mean you can’t be my favorites!” Aunt Celia declared cheerfully. “Come on, you two must be hungry.”

Aunt Celia lived about ten minutes from town. Her house was far enough out in the country to be able to explore and be lost outside all day, but also close enough to town for Alex and John to ride their bikes there. She said living out of town let her practice her chemistry experiments without worrying about blowing anyone or anything up.

“Home sweet home!” Aunt Celia announced happily as they pulled into the driveway. Her house was an old farm house she had fixed up. She led them upstairs to the two guest rooms. Alex’s was next to Aunt Celia’s, John’s across the hall. Alex’s room was slightly larger, which normally would have made John angry but once Aunt Celia told him about the local baseball team he perked up.

“I’ve got tickets to the game this weekend. But you need to earn it,” she smiled playfully.

“Anything! I’ll do anything!” John screamed, jumping up and down. “I’ll scrub the toilets! I’ll be nice to Alex! Anything!”

Aunt Celia and Alex both laughed. “It’s really easy, Johnny. Just stay out of my lab and you and Alex wash the dishes.”

John grinned from ear to ear.

“Ahhh, home cooking,” Aunt Celia said as she pulled a bucket of fried chicken out of the fridge. Alex and John both giggled. Nobody in their family was much for cooking, although Aunt Celia did occasionally cook with them when they visited. She said cooking was just chemistry you could eat.

“Do you two remember where my lab is?” she asked as they ate.

“Out in that shed, right?” Alex answered, pointing out the window.

“Yes. And it’s the only place here that is off limits to both of you. You can come in to do experiments when I am there, and only if I am there, Alex. Understand?” Aunt Celia asked seriously. She was seldom serious, so they knew she wasn’t messing around.

“Yes, Aunt Celia,” they answered meekly.

After lunch, Aunt Celia told them to go outside and explore. “Don’t go farther than the creek, though.

There have been some hunters down there, hunting illegally and I don’t want to worry about you two getting hurt.”

“Can’t and don’t, can’t and don’t. That’s all she says to us!” John grumbled as they tromped towards the woods.

“She’s responsible for us, Johnny,” Alex said, in her annoying older sister way. “She doesn’t want to tell Mom and Daddy we got hurt.”

They trooped to the woods, each with a basket to collect anything of interest. They found some wild strawberries to pick but nothing else too interesting.

After a while they found the creek. It wasn’t very deep and had a little waterfall. Both Alex and John wanted to wade in it and explore more.

“Wow, that’s cold!” Alex yelped when she stuck her hand in. .

“Let’s see where the creek goes,” John suggested. “Aunt Celia said not to go across it. She won’t mind if we follow it.”

Neither one of them was too interested in going across the creek. It was rocky and foggy over there, and very spooky.

As they walked and explored the creek, there was suddenly a loud rustling from behind a boulder.

“Bear!” John whispered. “Freeze!”

Alex snuck a very cautious glance around the rock and started laughing. She walked towards it.

“Alex! Stop!” John hissed.

She gave him a look that only big sisters can. “Here’s your bear, stupid.”

She held up a tiny orange and gray kitten. It looked at John and meowed wisely.

"I’ve never seen a cat that color,” John said once his heart begun beating again. He scratched the kitten’s ears. It purred loudly.

“C’mon. Let’s see if Aunt Celia will let us keep it.”

Aunt Celia was pouring something on her flowers when they got back. Whatever it was made them change color. She smiled.

“Look what we found!” John called. Their find was now purring contently in Alex’s arms. It looked like it was going to fall asleep.

“Oh, you found him! I wondered when he was going to turn up,” Aunt Celia said, smiling.

“This is already your cat?” Alex asked, astounded that her aunt wouldn’t have brought that up before.

“I found him under the stairs last week. I named him Argon, because he is usually lazy but on catnip he’s a gas molecule! Argon actually means “lazy” or “inactive”.”

Aunt Celia never missed an opportunity to teach them something.

After dinner of microwaved lasagna, John talked Alex into batting practice with him. He was so excited about watching the game on Saturday he had thoughts of being so good that he’d be drafted.

Batting practice didn’t go so well. Aunt Celia pitched, John batted and Alex played outfield. Only John couldn’t hit that far and got mad when Alex kept moving in.

“Back up!” John bellowed at his sister.

“You can’t hit that far with those little chicken arms,” Alex snarled back. “You’re nine, remember? You’re not Babe Ruth!”

After about twenty minutes of this, Aunt Celia said she needed a shower. “Play catch and cool off, alright?”

Alex and John pretty much hated each other’s guts by now but got the ball and threw back and forth.

“You’re not as good as you think!” Alex taunted. “You can’t throw on target, you can’t catch and your hits never get out of the infield!”

“Shut up!” John bellowed. “I can throw ten times farther than you! You-you-you-girl!”

And to prove it, he backed up and threw the ball harder than he ever had in his life. It was a beautiful throw, curved and fast and long. But, unfortunately it was three feet wide of Alex’s mitt. The ball went whizzing past her, right through the window of Aunt Celia’s lab. There was a clink of glass inside.

John and Alex looked each other, eyes as wide as saucers. A breeze blew their hair but otherwise they were as still as statues.

“Uh oh,” John gulped. “Now what?”

Alex ventured closer to the shed. “It’s ok, doesn’t look like you knocked over anything. Just empty beakers. “

John ran over to the shed and began opening the door.

“Are you crazy?” Alex hissed at him. “Aunt Celia said we were never to go in there without her!”

“She won’t know. Let’s get the ball back and clean up the glass. She’ll be glad we cleaned up.”

“Don’t go in there!” a voice shouted. Alex and John jumped. There was nobody around, except Argon
who was sitting on the porch. He narrowed his eyes at them sternly.

“Quit being a baby,” John sneered and opened the door.

The inside of the lab was full of neatly labeled test tubes and beakers. It didn’t look dangerous. There were no chemicals out. Given Aunt Celia’s warning, they both had been half expecting bubbling potions.

“Where’s the light?” Alex asked, gliding her hand against the wall. She found the switched and flipped it on.

Still nothing too out of the ordinary. There was a pearly white substance in a slim beaker, but other than that they were empty. In fact, it looked like nobody had been in here for weeks.

“Alexandra Maria Amundson. Johnathon Charles. What the hell are you doing in here?” Aunt Celia’s voice thundered from the doorway.

They scurried out. They had never seen Aunt Celia so angry. Her eyes were narrowed, her mouth twisted into a scowl. No trace of the usual playfulness.

“Did I not tell you to never go in there unless I was with you?” she raged. “It’s dangerous! You can’t be in there without gloves and goggles and a breathing mask!”

“Aunt Celia-“John began feebly.

“Quiet!” she barked. “Go inside and wait for me. Now!”

They ran inside. Alex felt tears sting her eyes. She had never in her life seen her beloved aunt so angry. She had barely ever seen her angry.

“Great idea,” she whispered to her brother. “Now she won’t let us out of her sight!”

They perched on the couch, waiting for her. Argon strolled in and jumped up on a pile of blankets. He scowled at them and meowed sternly.

They waited quietly for a while. When Aunt Celia came in, she had calmed down. She also looked worried.

“Did the ball hit anything?” she asked in a considerably calmer voice.

“Just some empty beakers, I think,” John answered, relieved his aunt was herself again.

“We didn’t see any spilled chemicals,” Alex added.

“I told you not to go in there,” Argon said.

They both did a double take.

“What?” said Argon. “Haven’t you ever seen a cat who could talk? Don’t you watch TV?”

“He talked,” Alex choked out. “The cat talked. What’s going on?”

Aunt Celia sighed and sat down. “We need to have a talk. I was hoping to wait until you’d been here a few days but so be it. I was in my lab working one day when I accidentally mixed the wrong chemicals together. It was late and I was exhausted, and I misread the labels. There was a small explosion. All that was left was that pearly white liquid you saw.”

“And that gave the cat a voice?” John asked.

“No. I’m getting to that. What that mixture did was awaken spirits. Argon was sent to help keep the balance between the two worlds, the living and the dead. Most of the spirits have had trouble moving on for some reason. This area was a big on the Underground Railroad. Most of them don’t want to hurt you, but some of them would if they had the chance. That’s why I told you not to cross the creek. They have to stay on that side of the water. I told Argon to keep an eye on you when you went down there today.”

John and Alex looked at each other, each wondering if Aunt Celia was pulling some elaborate practical joke on them. But neither could deny Argon talking.

“Have you seen any of these ghosts?” Alex asked.

“Just one. The good ones just float around nicely, but the vengeful ones just want to keep existing. They get stronger and lure more people in.”

John and Alex looked at each other again. So much for their boring summer.
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