Zoinks! by Dale Culp

A WebFiction Published Thrice Weekly

The enthralling, true tale of a trans girl just trying to get by and make the most of her life.

Also, she hunts ghosts and occasionally solves mysteries.

New to Zoinks!? Start at the beginning.

Chapter 4 - Act 3 - "Don't Say It"

We're huddled around the spell book Harlan found, marveling at the arcane language and unusual writing when Howard comes into the room.

"Oh, hey guys. What is that, a book?" Howard asks.

Philip nods in response. "A diary of pure evil. Be careful, and don't attempt to read anything you see in there out loud. It could have dire consequences."

"So, what do we do now?" I ask.

"Let's head upstairs and have a look at the room where Harlan found the book," Philip responds. "We might be able to find some other clues."

"I was afraid you'd say that..."

Upstairs, we split up to cover more ground. I still think it's a bad idea, but I have to agree that we can cover more ground that way. Philip and I start in the room where Harlan found the book while Harlan and Howard see if they can find anything in the other rooms on this floor.

"Keep your eyes peeled for anything that looks out of place — a false wall, a handle, any kind of hidden feature where someone could stash something," Philip tells me.

We're running our hands along the walls, shining a light into every nook and cranny when I get a funny feeling as all the hair on my arms stand on end.

Philip looks over at me, "You feel that?"

I nod.

"That's never a good sign," he says as he slings the rifle from his back into readiness position.

From across the hall, we feel intense vibrations and see an eerie light begin to fill the room. And then we hear Howard — screaming.

"The spectral son-of-a-bitch has got Howard!" Philip shouts as he charges ahead with me following close behind.

Inside the room, Howard is cowering in a corner as Harlan stands with his arms raised, holding the skull ghost back, away from Howard. He begins to chant in some funny kind of words that I can't make out when, suddenly, a beam of light flashes across the room, blasting into the wall followed by another one.

"Get away from my brother!" Philip demands as he primes the quantum wave rifle with another round. "That was a warning shot!"

The skull turns towards us, roaring in rage and fury, "FIND THE KEY! FIND THE KEY!" The skull then charges at us, passing through our bodies and disappearing through the doorway. A moment later, everything is quiet.

"What happened? Why didn't you blast it into oblivion?" I ask Philip, as I shake where I stand.

Philip doesn't answer, instead rushing over to help Howard. Harlan looks over at me, "You ok, missy?"

"No! Not really. But thanks for asking!"

"We gotta find dat key; it's da only way. Blastin' da ghost ain't gonna solve the main problem, here."

I rush over to see Howard and Philip. Howard looks badly shaken, but he seems to be coming out of it.

"Phil... " he says. His voice is quiet, like a whisper. "I found it..."

Philip gives Howard a gentle shake, "What'd ya find, buddy? What is it?"

"I... I found the key!"

"What are you saying, Howard? Where is it?" Philip asks his brother, as he rises to his feet.

"When the skull attacked, I... I was so scared I ran into this wall. And when I fell down, I noticed this little cubby hole here."

Our eyes are focused on a small piece of wooden panelling that Philip tears away. From inside, he removes an object.

"Why, lookit dat..." Harlan remarks. "A key in da shape of a skeleton? Huh... It's literally a skeleton k--"

"Ugh... don't say it," I interrupt. "I can't handle puns right now."

Notes:

  • Get it? It's a skeleton key! That's a... I say, that's a pun, son. You gotta be quicker'n dat, see? I say, you gotta keep on your toes, 'round here, son, or the jokes'll hit ya like a truck. You won't... I say, you won't see 'em comin', now.