The Secret Chapter
Chapter 23 – Jacqueline’s Haunted House
It was June 11, the last day of school.
Principal Headcrusher announced to every class:
“As a special treat on the last day of school, Jacqueline has decided to let us all take a tour of the haunted house she has built in the school yard, which she just finished this very morning.”
As you may recall, Jacqueline is my eight-year-old sister. She spent the entire school year building a haunted house for me so I’d have a place to live. Nobody believed that a haunted house built by an eight-year-old girl could be all that scary, but they were in for the biggest surprise of their lives.
The house looked amazing, just like a real haunted mansion—towering, dark, and eerie. No one would have ever believed that an eight-year-old girl, without any special powers, could have built it all by herself.
As soon as it was recess, Ms. Fangs’ class bolted out of the classroom and ran as fast as they could to the haunted house. Jacqueline was waiting for them at the front door. She has curly, light brown hair, which sometimes looks blond depending on the light.
In a soft, squeaky voice, Jacqueline told everyone to take off their shoes before entering.
As Ms. Fangs’ class entered the house, they had no idea what was in store for them. As it turned out, they could never have guessed what was inside even if they had a million guesses.
The class entered the house and found themselves in a grand foyer. In the middle of the room was a white fountain with four levels, looking like a giant wedding cake. Water spouted from the top and made its way down each level before shooting back up.
The room’s ceiling was a large dome. A black chandelier with flickering candles hung down. Flying around the chandelier were dozens of ghosts.
As the last student entered, the front door closed ominously behind them, all by itself.
“Listen,” said Jacqueline, “I built this house, but I don’t control it. The ghosts who live here control it. As it turns out, there were dozens of ghosts living at Scary School that no one could see. As soon as they had a house to live in, they all became visible. Now they just circle around that chandelier trying to figure out what they’re supposed to accomplish.”
The class looked up. They could hear the ghosts muttering to themselves, “What am I to do?…What am I to do?…What am I to do?”
Jacqueline went on, “In order to continue to the next room, you must pay the ghosts a toll in the fountain.”
“But not all of us have coins,” Rachael and Raychel griped.
“Luckily the ghosts don’t want coins,” said Jacqueline. “The ghosts want the one thing in the world they can never have. A body. Just leave a piece of yourself in the fountain and the door will open for you.”
As the students walked past the fountain, most plucked out a hair from their head or arm and dropped it in the fountain. Some kids bit off a piece of their fingernail. As the pieces hit the water, a spout shot up from the fountainhead onto a ghost circling above.
“Thank you,” each ghost said, and flew down and opened the door for that student.
Ramon the zombie tried to pop off his pinky finger, but his whole right hand accidentally came off, fell into fountain, and disappeared. The spout shot upward and the ghost said, “Thank you soooo much!” It opened the door for him and dusted the walkway as Ramon stepped forward.
“That was my shooting hand!” said Ramon. “How will I play basketball again?”
The class walked down a long hallway. Portraits of all the Scary School students who had met an untimely end this year hung on the walls. Jacqueline knocked on the door at the end of the hall.
I stopped writing and said, “Come in!”
Ms. Fangs’ class entered my room, where I was busy writing the ending of this very book you are reading right now on my Ghostbook computer.
Jacqueline had done a very good job making the room look just like my bedroom from home when I was alive. She brought me all my comic books, my baseball posters, and even my old bed with the Ninja Turtles bedspread. I didn’t have the heart to tell her it was pointless since ghosts don’t sleep.
“Everyone,” said Jacqueline, “this is my dead brother, Derek the Ghost.”
“Oh hey!” said Fred. “Aren’t you that kid who died in Mr. Acidbath’s class in that dream I had last year?”
“That’s right,” I said.
“Sorry,” said Fred. “I didn’t know you were in the chemical cabinet.”
“Not your fault. It was a very dumb move by yours truly.”
“What are you writing?” Wendy Crumkin asked.
“I’m writing about you,” I said.
“Me?” exclaimed Wendy.
“Not just you,” I said, laughing. “I’m writing about the entire class, and everything that happened at Scary School this year.”
“This year was boring,” said Peter.
“Yeah,” said Ramon. “I can’t think of a single interesting thing that happened.”
“Scary School is boooring,” said Raychel. “Why would any kid want to read about this place?”
“You may think your school is boring,” I said, “but I bet kids who go to regular schools where teachers don’t eat their students and monsters don’t roam the hallways would think Scary School is a pretty fun and incredible place.”
“Whatever,” said Rachael. “Make sure to let us know when it’s coming out so I can set an Amazon alert to remind me not to buy it.”
I was determined to prove them wrong and started reading Chapter One to them.
“BOORRRING!” all the kids shouted, and walked out of the room before I even finished reading the first page.
I was very glad I was a ghost and didn’t have feelings anymore.
Next, Jacqueline led Ms. Fangs’ class to a door that said: ROOM OF FUN. ENTER THIS ROOM TO HAVE FUN EVERY MOMENT FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.
“Okay,” said Jacqueline. “We only have time for one more room today before the next class comes in. But don’t worry; you’ll be able to see the rest of the rooms next year. You can either leave the haunted house and go home for the summer, or enter this room, which promises that you will have fun for the rest of your life.”
Ms. Fangs’s class had grown smarter this year. Even Benny Porter was sharp enough to ask, “What’s the catch with this room?”
“The catch,” said Jacqueline, “is that there is no guarantee you will ever come out. You must decide now.”
Petunia was the only one who didn’t care to take the risk. She left the haunted house and went home for the summer.
The rest were too curious to pass this up and entered the Room of Fun.
The room was completely blank. There was no furniture, there was nothing on the stone walls, there weren’t even windows. It was possibly the most boring room they had ever been in.
“Booooring,” the kids grumbled once again.
“Just wait a second,” said Jacqueline, then she stepped outside the room and shut the door.
Suddenly, the floor dropped out beneath their feet and they found themselves sliding down a magnificent, slippery slide.
“Wheee!” they all shouted, sliding down the giant slide faster than they’d ever slid before. The slide narrowed, going through a series of twists and turns, and even loopty-loops.
“This is so much fun!” Lindsey shouted. “I wish Gurk was here too!”
The slide kept going…and going…and going…
Soon, the whees turned to silence and looks of confusion and concern began sweeping across the students’ faces.
“Ms. Fangs, does this slide ever end?” Jason shouted upward.
“I don’t know!” yelled Ms. Fangs back down to him.
Ten more minutes went by and the slide still hadn’t ended.
The students were starting to panic. Some of them tried to jump off the slide, only to land back on another section of the slide.
“It’s never going to end!” cried Frank, which is pronounced “Rachel.”
“It has to end!” shouted Wendy.
Frank cried back, “But when?? When will it ever…”
End of Book One