Read The Ghost's Grave Online

Authors: Peg Kehret

The Ghost's Grave

BOOK: The Ghost's Grave
13.15Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads
WHAT'S GOING ON?

“I'm home!” I called as I set the box on the kitchen table.

The house was still. “Aunt Ethel?”

No answer.

I looked around the kitchen. A large pink bakery-type box sat on the counter next to a sheet cake frosted with white frosting. Yellow roses made of buttercream icing decorated the edges of the cake, but the center part, where it would say “Happy Birthday” or “Congratulations” or whatever it was supposed to say, was still blank. She had not finished the cake.

“Aunt Ethel?” I called again. “Are you here?”

I found her lying on the living room floor. Her eyes were closed, and her face was the color of fireplace ashes. I knelt beside her. “Aunt Ethel?”

She didn't answer.

OTHER BOOKS BY PEG KEHRET

Abduction

Cages

Don't Tell Anyone

Earthquake Terror

I'm Not Who You Think I Am

Nightmare Mountain

Runaway Twin

Searching for Candlestick Park

Stolen Children

Terror at the Zoo

The Pete the Cat Series

Spy Cat

The Stranger Next Door

Trapped

PEG KEHRET

PUFFIN BOOKS

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Young Readers Group, 345 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3

(a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd)

Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd)

Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi – 110 017, India

Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)

Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Registered Offices: Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

First published in the United States of America by Dutton Children's Books,
a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, 2005

Published by Puffin Books, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, 2007, 2011

Copyright © Peg Kehret, 2005

All rights reserved

THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS HAS CATALOGED THE DUTTON CHILDREN'S BOOKS EDITION AS FOLLOWS
:

Kehret, Peg.

The ghost's grave/ by Peg Kehret.—1st ed.

p.    cm.

Summary: Apprehensive about spending the summer in Washington State with his Aunt Ethel when his parents get an overseas job, twelve-year-old Josh soon finds adventure when he meets the ghost of a coal miner.

ISBN: 978-1-101-66175-8

[1. Ghosts—Fiction.   2. Friendship—Fiction.   3. Aunts—Fiction.   4. Coal miners—Fiction.   5. Washington (State)—Fiction.]

I.  Title

PZ7.K2518Gh   2005

[Fic]—dc22   2004022064

Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher's prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.

For Carl, who built the world's best
tree house in my woods,
and for Eric, Mark, Chelsea, and Brett,
who fill it with fun

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

This is the seventeenth book that Rosanne Lauer has edited for me. She always suggests ways that I can improve my original manuscript. I value her skills and cherish her friendship.

I thank Andrea Mosbacher for her careful copyediting. She saves me from embarrassing myself when she corrects my spelling and punctuation.

Lori Robinson and Pam Knight of the Enumclaw, Washington, branch of Bank of America answered my questions about counterfeit money and showed me stacks of one-hundred-dollar bills so that I could correctly describe their size.

Frank Hall helped me write accurately about emergency medical technicians.
Mining Tragedies in Carbon River Coal Country
, transcribed and edited by Stephen K. Meitzler, was a useful publication.

Special thanks to everyone at Dutton Children's Books for their support over the many years I've been a Dutton author.

Table of Contents

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

CHAPTER EIGHT

CHAPTER NINE

CHAPTER TEN

CHAPTER ELEVEN

CHAPTER TWELVE

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

CHAPTER NINETEEN

CHAPTER TWENTY

CHAPTER ONE

T
he night I moved in with Aunt Ethel, she shot a bat in the kitchen. If there had been anyplace else for me to go, I would have headed back to the airport right then. Of course, if I'd had a choice of where to spend the summer, I would never have trudged into Aunt Ethel's house in the first place.

After a plane ride from Minneapolis to Seattle; a shuttle ride downtown to the Greyhound bus station; and a long, bumpy bus ride to Carbon City, I saw Aunt Ethel for the first time.

She met me at the bus station. It wasn't really a station—there was merely a sign in the window of the Carbon City Market:
BUS ARRIVES AND DEPARTS HERE. ASK FOR SCHEDULE
.

While the bus driver unloaded my bag and my
box of books from the luggage area beneath the bus, I glanced around. Carbon City wasn't much of a city. The Market was a small general store, flanked by an empty building that had the words
CARBON CITY HOTEL
, 1911 embedded in its bricks, and by a post office the size of a bathroom.

A scattering of houses backed up to the hills on either side of the road. In one yard a faded
FOR SALE BY OWNER
sign looked as if it had been there long enough to grow roots. Next door, tall grass had grown up through the spokes of a discarded bicycle, and a black cat dozed on the hood of a car that had no tires. Dusk darkened the street, making it seem dreary, but I suspected Carbon City would be bleak in full sun, too. The town matched my mood.

“You can put your gear in the back,” Aunt Ethel said, pointing across the street to an old red pickup truck. Rust spots dotted the truck's dented sides, and strips of duct tape held the rear window together.

The truck had seen better days, and so had Aunt Ethel. Her face was as lined as a road map. She wore a shapeless pink cotton dress, a brown cardigan sweater with holes in the elbows, and sturdy laced shoes. White hair, which looked as if she trimmed it herself, formed an irregular cloud around her head.

Mom had warned me not to be guilty of ageism.
“Being elderly doesn't mean she won't be interesting.”

“She's seventy years older than I am,” I had said. “What will we talk about?”

“Ask about her childhood. Ask her about the history of Carbon City; it's an old coal-mining town.”

As I climbed into the truck, I thought the complete history of Carbon City would probably take at least two minutes. I noticed the bus driver quickly turned around and headed back the way we'd come.

I put my backpack on the floor, then felt over my shoulder and on the seat for my seat belt.

“Did you drop something?” Aunt Ethel asked as she turned the key. The truck made a grinding sound.

“I'm looking for my seat belt.”

“Don't have any. I bought my truck long before seat belts were invented.”

Hoo boy, I thought. Mom will have a fit about this.

Aunt Ethel turned the key off, pumped the gas pedal a few times, then turned the key on again. The grinding sound returned.

“Fleas and mosquitoes!” Aunt Ethel cried. “This is no time to be temperamental.” She whacked the dashboard with her fist.

The grinding sound quit as the truck roared to life, belching a cloud of black smoke into the street.
Apparently, the truck was built before emissions standards, too.

I didn't try to make conversation on the drive home; I was too scared to talk. Riding with Aunt Ethel made the thrill rides at the state fair seem tame. Her truck straddled the center line of the road, even when we went around curves. The engine backfired regularly, a loud
Bang! Pop!
noise. Each time it happened, the truck jerked forward erratically. Wondering whether Aunt Ethel had ever bothered to get a driver's license, I clenched my teeth and braced myself for the crash.

Luckily, we met no oncoming cars, a clue that nobody else went where I was headed. We banged and popped our way out of Carbon City, up a wooded hill, and past an old cemetery. We curved first left and then right and finally turned down a long gravel road.

When my nerves were totally frazzled, we lurched to a stop in front of an old two-story wooden house. By then the darkness was complete, with no street lamps or neighboring lights to serve as beacons. The run-down house loomed in the headlights, the perfect setting for a horror movie.

“Here we are,” Aunt Ethel said.

The truck gave a final hiccup as I lifted my suitcase out. I followed Aunt Ethel into the house.

The second she turned on the light, Aunt Ethel screamed. Let me tell you, that woman's voice is louder than a fire engine's siren.

I jumped, then dropped my suitcase with a thud.

BOOK: The Ghost's Grave
13.15Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

The Good Neighbor by Kimberly A Bettes
The World Above the Sky by Kent Stetson
The Kingdom by the Sea by Paul Theroux
Sixkill by Robert B Parker