I walked into Mr Crawley’s feeling a bit put off. I had no wish to spend more time on fixing my bike! And what was up with ghosts sabotaging it? It made absolutely no sense!
As I stepped into the shop I immediately heard voices and, for some reason, it stopped me in my tracks.
“So if the slope is deemed unsafe it would legally be OK to close it?” I heard Mr Crawley ask.
“Yes, of course,” a dark voice replied.
“And it wouldn’t damage my contracts moving forward?”
“No, not one bit.” The dark voice sounded very self-assured.
“In that case, I think that would be a good idea. But only for a quick test. I don’t want to lose business.”
The dark voice laughed.
“This would be good for business.”
“There’s gold in the mountain.”
Suddenly I froze. That wasn’t Mr Crawley, or the man with the dark voice! It was the same voice I’d heard yesterday! I felt goosebumps on my neck and then a hat fell off a shelf not far from me.
“Hello, anyone there?” Mr Crawley shouted, sounding angry. I figured now would be a good time to announce my arrival, as I had no wish to explain why I’d not stepped forward sooner. I was so close to the door he’d probably think I’d just entered.
“Uhm, yes, it’s me!” I replied. “I mean it’s me, Louise. My bike tire went again. Could you help me please?”
“Well, don’t just stand there and hide girl,” Mr Crawley snapped. “Come up here and speak to me face-to-face.”
I walked through the aisles and up to the counter, finally seeing the man Mr Crawley had been speaking to. He was tall and dark. I guess you could say that he was handsome too, but there was something about his features that made me want to step back, instead of forward. For lack of better wording: he looked mean. Or maybe mean was the wrong word: he did not look like someone who got pleasure out of being mean, but someone who did anything to get what he wanted. Ruthless. 100% ruthless. I didn’t even think Aunt Agatha could fix his mind. Once again, I felt goosebumps of the not so pleasant kind.
“Sorry, I was just standing there looking at some hats when I came in and, uh, one fell off the shelf. How are you Mr Crawley?” I rambled. I didn’t know why, but the spooky voice about gold in the mountain and Mr Crawley’s friend made me nervous. I also didn’t know why I was covering up for a ghost, but I was.
“It would be better if people didn’t have broken bikes all the time,” Mr Crawley grumbled.
“No, it wouldn’t,” I snapped. At this Mr Crawley looked up, piercing me with his narrowed eyes. “What I mean is, broken bikes are good for business, aren’t they? It’s no fun for us customers having broken bikes, of course.” I was tired of ghosts being a pain in the butt and I was tired of grumpy old men!
“Hmpf,” Mr Crawley muttered in response. His friend just stared at me. He actually looked quite bemused at me standing up to Mr Crawley.
“I’m off. I’ll speak to you later,” the man with the dark voice said, then nodded at me too and left.
I felt somewhat better as he left. There was something not right about him. Mr Crawley was a grumpy nuisance, but that was that. Kind of like the annoying stone you always stumble over, but nothing worse. The other man was worse. Much worse. Why, I didn’t know, but I did know he was trouble. From years of experience reading people, that much was obvious. He was also rich, judging from his suit. It had been tailored to fit him perfectly and the fabric looked expensive. His shoes were made of leather and polished to shine. Not many people in Rocky Creek wear fancy business clothing about town.
“Right, let’s fix your bike,” Mr Crawley muttered. “Meet me in the workshop.” I imagined he almost looked a bit ashamed of himself. There’s a first for everything! Then he started fiddling with some products behind the counter and I turned to go get my bike.
I left Mr Crawley to fix my bike as I took a stroll around town. I felt like stretching my legs. It was a cold and grey day and Mr Crawley’s workshop wasn’t particularly warm. I preferred walking around. Besides, standing next to Mr Crawley watching him work was never fun.
After a ten minute walk I headed back to the workshop. I couldn’t shake the uneasy feeling I had about the voice talking about gold in the mountain. But what could I do about it? The women who spoke about sabotaging my tires sounded nuts, but they didn’t frighten me. I didn’t get chills from hearing their voices. They sounded nuts in the way my aunts are nuts — they’re really quite sane but enjoy their own eccentricities a little bit too much. Giving me problems with my tires sounded insane, but clearly they had a purpose behind it. They had wanted me to go see Mr Crawley. Twice. At least that’s the conclusion I drew when thinking about it on my walk. I just wondered why the heck they couldn’t just have told me so? Were they adverse to taking risks, thinking I might just not go? Or were they really not allowed to speak to me?
As I entered the workshop I heard Mr Crawley mutter about lawyers being expensive nuisance, before he looked up and saw me.
“There we go. All done. Come inside and pay and then you’re good to go. At least for now. At this rate you’ll be back by tomorrow.”
“Thanks Mr Crawley. I hope my bad luck with tires will be over!” And I meant it. If the ghosts wanted me to come see Mr Crawley, they could just tell me so in the future!
When I finally arrived in the library I had a snack in the cafeteria then opted to sit on one of the long tables, filled with lots of people. Normally I’d prefer my lonely corner, but I wasn’t up for hearing more ghostly voices when by myself.
I got really engrossed in my studies and when I looked up the next time, it was dark outside. Thankfully I was also done with my homework.
I quickly packed my bags and walked out to my bike, nodding at a few people I knew along the way. For some reason the library is a real hot spot — even people like Samantha go there. If nothing else because people like Jason and Elbert go there, but mainly because the building is so beautiful. It’s like walking into the late 1800s/early 1900s. Chandeliers and grand staircases included.
As I got outside I was welcomed by refreshingly cold air. It had a bite to it, nipping my cheeks and making me feel alive. It was only early October, but fall usually bring a few really cold days in Rocky Creek. And while I’m more of a summer person, I like the change of seasons here. The connection to Mother Nature. Being a witch and all that, I really enjoy celebrating the magic of each season. And today I was looking forward to getting home and checking what pumpkin spice anything Hetty would have brought back from the bakery today. I was totally planning to beg on my knees for her to bake something, should she not have any treats with her. I was desperate to sink into the armchair by the fireplace and get lost in Shakespeare and cake. After eating a healthy dinner and all that.
I sighed as I walked towards my bike, lost in a daydream about a crackling fireplace and Hetty’s pumpkin spiced cakes. Getting on the bike I started paying more attention to my surroundings again and the cold air was truly like a tonic. One couldn’t help but feeling 100% awake!
I felt my mood picking up — feeling alive and awake, not even the thought of dealing with weird ghosts put me off. In fact, I started thinking the whole thing interesting. There was the mystery about gold in the mountain and then all the interesting ghost characters I’d met so far — Mr Crinkle the protector of Rocky Creek, Josephine the jazz singer and sad Sally the weeping ghost. OK, so Sally was a bit annoying, but still. There must be a fascinating story behind her tears and, maybe, I could help her somehow?
Just as I was contemplating this I became aware of a strange sensation. I couldn’t quite grasp what it was, but then a note appeared in front of me. The same kind of scroll I’d found in my bedroom, only now it was ten times larger and read: “Stop the man from stealing the gold, or the dragons won’t grow old.”
Panicking, I tried to hit the breaks and swerve out of the way of the note at the same time. Instead, I lost control of the bike and fell.
I hit the ground with a thud, landing on my knee and hands, and I could feel them getting scraped, but the motion propelled me to continue my descent until my head somehow landed on something sharp.
At first I felt nothing, but then pain soared through my head like a bolt of lightening. Overhead I could hear the voices again, now arguing about me falling off a bike. Was I dreaming? And the note? What did it say?
“Stop the man from stealing the gold, or the dragons won’t grow old,” I mumbled to myself.
“Louise! Louise, are you alright?”
I heard another voice, this time male. Was there a male ghost now too?
“Go away,” I mumbled. “I’ve had enough of voices, enough of bike accidents. It hurts you know. It really hurts.” I was starting to get worked up. Who did these blooming (as Jenna loved saying) ghosts think they were? “You can’t keep making me blow my tires and fall off my bike. If you were alive I’d have you arrested.”
As I got angrier my head started to clear — I could feel a dull pain and it truly ached whenever blood pulsated through the area that was hurt — but I no longer felt like I had a cloud inside my head. Which was unfortunate really, because the next moment I saw Jason standing bent over me.