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The Ghostly Ghastlys - 1 - Finding a Home

by  Issy

Posted: Monday, April 30, 2007
Word Count: 2353
Summary: Really sorry to be posting this again. My agent is wanting to submit this and the 3 subsequent stories to Walker's for a new series. These 4 stories will all be in one book, but each has to be 2,000 words. I am paring down like mad, but not wanting to lose the funny bits. Am 350 words over still on this first one, and any help would be appreciated to get it down!


The Ghostly Ghastlys were ghosts. There were five of them - Mr and Mrs Ghastly and the three little Ghastlys, Bubble, Trouble and Puff.

To begin with, the Ghastlys lived in the castle above the town, but the other ghosts there got fed up with the tricks that the little Ghastlys played.

The little Ghastlys would jump out on the ghosts when they were wailing down the corridors, trying hard to frighten the paying visitors. Or they would lead people to the ghost staff room where the ghosts had their feet up having a ghostly cup of tea. Off-duty they called it.

The visitors would say, “Ghosts drinking tea! That’s silly, not scary at all!”

One day the little Ghastlys hid the head of the headless knight. He carried it under his arm, and couldn’t see where he was going without it. He walked right into the moat, and wasn’t found for hours.

Ghosts don’t mind playing tricks on people, it’s all part of the scaring business. But they don’t like having tricks paid back on them. The castle ghosts told Mr and Mrs Ghastly that if they couldn’t control their children, they would have to go.

“This is outrageous!” cried Mrs Ghastly, who was like a tall spiky cloud. “You ghosts should be grateful we live with them. We're extremely famous.”

Mr and Mrs Ghastly were singers, and celebrities in the ghost world. They gave nightly performances in the woods below the castle, and ghosts from miles around would come to hear them.

That meant Mr and Mrs Ghastly were always busy, and didn’t keep an eye on the little Ghastlys.

Mr Ghastly was round and short. “My dear,” he said to Mrs Ghastly. “It’s time for us to leave. Your wonderful talents are not appreciated here. We will find somewhere better to live.”

So accompanied by cheers and jeers, Mrs Ghastly stuck her spiky nose in the air and led the way out of the castle, down the hill and into the town.

Finding another home was not easy. People did not want to share their houses with mischievious ghosts who made duvets fly off beds, and pictures jump off the walls.

“Don’t scare people who are not expecting it,” said Mr Ghastly, severely to the little Ghastlys.

“Ordinary ghosts play silly tricks like that” said Mrs Ghastly, haughtily. “Important celebrity ghosts have better things to do.”

But the little Ghastlys had nothing better to do, so the tricks went on and the Ghastlys were turned out of many houses in the town.

“Whatever happens, I’m not going to live with those hateful castle ghosts, ever again,” said Mrs Ghastly.

One evening, they floated past Alphonso’s Italian Restaurant. It was lit with colourful lights and music came out the open door.

Round the corner was a side street called Chamber Road.

A tall dark house stood next to the restaurant. The front door had a rusting doorknob, and peeling paint. No lights came from the windows, and as the Ghastlys drifted closer, they saw spider webs in the grimy window panes.

“My dear, a most delightful residence,” said Mr Ghastly.

“Yes, indeed,” said Mrs Ghastly.

They drifted in through the letterbox. Letters made a pile on the floor inside. The envelopes said “To the Occupier” and “Urgent.” The little Ghastlys dived into the piles and tossed letters up in a cloud.

Mr and Mrs Ghastly floated into a long room. The air was dusty with dust. Dim moonlight lit a table laid with plates and cups. Spiders had woven webs between everything.

“What a magnificent fire place,” said Mr Ghastly, rubbing his ghostly hands. “We’ll have a good blaze here.” He looked severely at the little Ghastlys, who had made a trail of letters into the long room.

Mrs Ghastly floated about the room, admiring the peeling paint, the faded pictures and the threadbare carpets.

“Very tasteful,” said Mrs Ghastly.

“You are exactly right, as usual, my dear,” said Mr Ghastly. “We’ll stay.”

The little Ghastlys bounced into the long dusty curtains, crept behind chairs with the stuffing coming out of them, and disturbed creepy crawlies in every corner.

The little Ghastlys went exploring. They nosed in the kitchen, in cupboards and the hallway. Stairs led up to a dark landing and a room with a four-poster bed. The little Ghastlys jumped on the bed until the room was foggy with dust.

“Here’s another stair,” said Bubble, peering round a corner. The stairs were narrow and winding, and led to an old wood door.

Rattling noises came from behind the door.

“Help! Let us out!” came a squeaky voice.

“Please,” said another.

“We’ve been here for years and years,” said a third voice.

The voices were muffled as if they were hidden under layers of thick coats.

The Ghastlys tried the door, but it was locked. The key in the door was too stiff to turn.

“How did you get there?” called Bubble.

“We’ve forgotten, it’s been so long,” came the voices. “Don’t leave us. Nobody has talked to us for years and years.”

The Ghastlys tried again, but the key would not move.

The voices called out more sadly than ever. “Please let us out. We’ve been here a very long time.”

“I could get into the lock and turn it from inside,” said Puff. “I can make myself very small.” She slipped into the lock and used her ghostly arms to pull the levers. With a grinding clunk and a clank the lock clicked back.

Puff joined the others and they pushed the door open. Light, cloudy with dust, streamed in.

Out of the door stepped first one, then a second, and ten a third skeleton.

“I’m Rattle,” he said. “I have a lot of bones missing. The ones that are left make a lot of noise.”

“I’m Bones,” said the next skeleton. “I have lots of bones."

“I’m Smash,” she said. “I have a smashing grin. I have the most teeth.”

“Thank you for rescuing us,” said the Skeletons, all together.

The Ghastlys floated in and of the Skeletons’ bones. The skeletons twitched.

“We’re ticklish,” said Smash, grinning.

The Skeletons wobbled as they walked downstairs. They clutched at the rail, but soon they were walking better, and they looked around them.

“What wonderful round worm holes in this woodwork,” said Rattle.

“Look how the crack in the window pane makes everything look double,” said Bones. Morning light shone through the window.

“Listen to this,” said Smash. She jumped up and down on the floorboard making a grinding, creaking noise. Rattle and Bones joined her and delighted, together they made louder, squeakier, creakier noises.

The little Ghastlys were getting bored with listening to a creaking floorboard, when they heard a loud banging on the front door downstairs.

Mr and Mrs Ghastly were peering through the letterbox. A large man stood there. He dropped a letter through the letterbox, turned and walked back to the road.

The letter was addressed to “The Occupier.” It had “Very Urgent” written on the envelope.

“Silly people stuff,” said Mrs Ghastly, blowing the letter into the heap.

“Nothing to bother us, my dear,” said Mr Ghastly.

The little Ghastlys floated out of the back door of 19 Chamber Road. There was an overgrown garden, and a on the right hand side was covered with ivy. They chased each other through the stalks and leaves, and found a door hidden in the fence.

They turned the handle and the door swung open.

A boy in a white apron was sweeping outside the building next door. Steam was coming out of a window, and a voice was heard singing from indoors.

“The back of Alphonso’s restaurant,” said Bubble.

“Let’s play a trick on that boy,” said Trouble.

So they grabbed the boy’s brush and swept up the path. The boy stood open-mouthed, twisting one hand inside the other. The little Ghastlys looked like whizzing shadows and he could hear ghostly giggles. He ran indoors. The singing stopped, something crashed and an exclamation came from the kitchen.

The Ghastlys dropped the brush. It was no fun if the boy wasn’t there. Crates marked “Best Plum Tomatoes” in red letters were stacked outside the kitchen door. Something was moving inside the top one, and the side bulged out and in again.

Then came a tap, tap, tapping.

“Tomatoes don’t usually tap inside crates,” said Puff.

“They are quiet things,” said Bubble.

They lifted the lid of the crate up and out flew a large bat.

The bat flew blindly at the fence, then at the kitchen door, hitting his head. He hung upside down on the windowsill.

“I think better upside down,” said the bat.

“Bats don’t usually talk,” said Puff.

“I’m no ordinary bat,” said the bat, “I’m a vampire. Look. I’m going to change.”

“Change what?” asked Trouble.

The bat twisted himself upright. Before them stood a tall young lad, wearing a long black cape, lined with red silk, and a top hat that was too big for him. He gave a grin, showing two freaky, long white teeth, one each side of his mouth.

“Vampires can change from bats can into people,” said the vampire.

A round jolly figure appeared at the kitchen doorway. “Ah, the English, they are crazy, to dress up in the morning. So, signor, you are keen for my cooking? My restaurant is the best in town, but it’s not open now. Come back this evening.”

“I’m a vegetarian,” said the vampire. “I only eat tomatoes, carrots and beetroot. I like squashy ripe tomatoes best. May I have some of your plum tomatoes

Alphonso waved to an open crate. “Have them. They no good for me. Too squashed.”

The vampire took two tomatoes out of the crate.

Alphonso shook his head. “You strange people! I never will understand youe English.” He shrugged, and went back to the kitchen. They heard him singing again.

“How did you get into the crate?” asked Puff.

“It’s a long, sad story,” said the vampire. “I had a most unhappy childhood. My family couldn’t understand about a vampire who only eats tomatoes, carrots and beetroot. I accidentally fell into the crate when I was chosing the tastiest. The top got nailed down. Now I’m all alone. You have to feel sorry for me.”

“Aw,” said Bubble.

“We’ve just moved in next door,” said Trouble. “Come and live with us. You’ll get Alphonso’s tomatoes all the time.”

“Might as well,” said the vampire, biting into the tomato with his two long teeth.

The Ghastlys led him through the garden door. On the other side, they could hear Mrs Ghastly shouting from the long room.

“I’m not leaving!” she cried. “Not when we have found this exactly right place with its wonderful décor, handy for the woods, and our lovely new friends the Skeletons.”

“Yes, of course, my dear, we need to stay close to the woods. We have your fans to think of,” said Mr Ghastly.

“Why should we have to leave?” asked the little Ghastlys, drifting in. “We like it here.” The vampire followed them into the long room.

“It’s the council,” said Mrs Ghastly, outraged. “That man came back with some other people. They called the Skeletons a pile of bones that needed clearing up.”

“We are a pile of bones,” said the skeletons, “but we don’t want to be cleared up.”

“They can’t clear up the Skeletons,” cried the little Ghastlys,

“Please don’t put us in the cupboard,” said the Skeletons.

“Certainly not,” said Mrs Ghastly. “You are so polite, you’ll be a good influence on the little Ghastlys.”

“The house is to be pulled down,” said Mr Ghastly. “No rent’s been paid. They say the place is useless. What can we do? Whoever heard of a ghosts paying rent? It’s something that humans do, not ghosts.”

The vampire stepped forward. He picked up the urgent letters from the floor, and read them. “These are rent demands,” he said. “I could write to the council to explain we’ve just moved in.”

“Excellent,” said Mr Ghastly. “You three, find some pen and paper.”

“Dear sirs,” wrote the vampire, in curly letters full of loops. “We have only just moved into 19 Chamber Road. We haven’t had time to pay any rent yet, but they will do. Do not come back and upset the Skeletons. They don’t want to be cleared up.”

“But how will we ever pay it?” asked Mr Ghastly. “Ghosts don’t bother with money.”

“The castle made lots of money,”said Trouble. “People paid to be frightened.”

“We’ve got Skeletons, and a vampire who’s sometime a bat,” said Bubble.

“We could scare people better than at the castle,” said Puff.

“I would like to show those castle ghosts a thing or two!” said Mrs Ghastly.

“Yes, indeed, my dear. They treated us badly,” said Mr Ghastly.

The vampire added another paragraph about how the house would be open to the public and bring visitors to the town. “Councils like that sort of thing,” he said.

He signed his name - Sir Branwin.

“Are you a real sir?” asked the little Ghastlys.

“I like a bit of class,” said Mrs Ghastly, approvingly.

“I don’t always use my full title,” said Sir Branwin, “but we must impress the council.” Under his signature he wrote: Earl of the Tomato Isles, Viscount of Vampton, Baron of Batshire.

Mr and Mrs Ghastly posted the letter into the council offices.

They called the house the Chamber of Horrors, and opened it to the public. The hallway became a gift shop and Sir Branwin collected the entrance money. He showed people his long teeth, and changed into a bat for them.

The little Ghastlys were allowed to play tricks. It was all part of the scaring business, and visitors expected to be frightened.

The Skeletons told the people how they escaped from the cupboard, and about the perfectly round worm-holes, the crack in the glass where everything looks double, and best of all, the creaky floorboard.

Then the little Ghastlys got bored again, and the mischief really started.