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Ghosts Territory (Anna Farmer #8)

When Anna had first heard Bartholomew name “The Ghosts”, she had envisioned a sort of amateur bowling league, probably comprised of senior citizens as they were the nearest to death. Anna wasn’t quite sure why Jake would join a senior citizens’ bowling league, but she was prepared to respect his choices and commend him on the positive impact he was clearly having on the community. However, Bartholomew shortly elaborated, and it became clear that Anna was not dealing with a bowling league – but rather, a gang.

“Oh, I see,” Anna frowned, nodding carefully. “Quick question: What on Earth is a gang?”

“It’s a group of people,” Bartholomew explained.

“That doesn’t seem so bad,” Anna relaxed ever so slightly. “Do they go bowling with senior citizens?”

“No,” Bartholomew shook his head. “But my father told me about a gang that beat up senior citizens in order to welcome new members.”

Anna blinked, unable to quite fathom this. “So a gang is a collection of… mean people?”

Bartholomew shrugged. “I guess.”

“Well, then, I’m very disappointed with Jake and his new bowling friends,” Anna huffed. “In fact, I think I should give them a piece of my mind!”

“Oh, dear, that’s a terrible idea, no,” Bartholomew shook his head with much conviction.

“Your opinion has been noted and disregarded,” Anna informed Bartholomew. “Have a wonderful day!”

Anna expected it to take some time to find the Ghosts, but she hadn’t counted on the graffiti which had popped up all over Weary Winds. Some simply said “Ghostz”, while others proclaimed “Ghostz Territory” or spouted some confusing language and imagery Anna didn’t understand, or care to understand. Being a clever girl, Anna linked together the various “Ghostz Territory” signs in her mental map and was able to approximate what exactly was “Ghostz Territory”. From there, it was a simple matter of wandering the streets until she came upon somebody doing something mean.

As Anna wandered through the dilapidated town, she found herself humming a quiet song to herself. Passing shuttered storefronts and broken down homes was fairly depressing and so the song was a helpful way to keep the little girl’s spirits up.

As she hummed along, walking, a shadowy figure ducked through the shadows behind her. Abruptly, a scrawny teenager leapt in front of her, brandishing a sharp-looking object threateningly.

“Stop right there,” he grimaced.

“Okay,” Anna smiled, and stopped right there. “My name’s Anna. What’s yours?”

“Give me your wallet,” the teenager snarled.

“I don’t have a wallet, I’m only a little girl,” Anna pointed out, though she felt this was quite obvious.

“…Oh,” the teenager wavered, looking confused and then embarrassed. Feeling badly that she’d disappointed the stranger, Anna quickly spoke back up.

“I could ask my father to borrow his wallet, if you wanted?” Anna offered. “He’d probably say no, though.”

“Th… that’s true,” the teenager breathed out a sigh of relief. “I could ransom you!”

“I don’t know if I like the sound of that,” Anna frowned. “What’s a ransom?”

“Come with me,” the teenager grinned, stepping towards Anna.

Anna was about to scream, kick the boy, and run, when she noticed the spray paint staining the scary boy’s hands. He was a Ghost! How lucky. Anna was so happy she’d been attacked.

“Okay!” Anna chirped amiably, grabbing the teenager’s free hand before he could react. “Lead the way!”

The teenager frowned. “…You’re not very smart, are you?”

“And you’re very mean! Perfect!” Anna let out a delighted laugh. “I can’t wait to meet the rest of your mean friends.”

“Whatever you say, kid,” the teenager sighed, and jerkily pulled Anna into the Shadows.

Next: The Ghosts!

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