Abby and Wendy - Episode 4



Episode 4
Illustration by Carlos Uribe
Abby stood knocking at the tiny door, getting no response. ‘Wendy’s gone…’ she thought. ‘Oh, I just can’t take it! What am I going to do now? I’m too tired and weak to try anymore.’ She flopped down in despair, hanging her head, determined to sit there until Wendy or the day of doom arrived, whichever came first.
‘The garden,’ came the voice. ‘The storm.’
Her mind made the connections instantly. ‘Of course! The snow, the hailstones! Wendy will be inspecting her garden, shaking the snow off the leaves, babying her fragile, precious plants.’
With her life in tatters all around her, the only goal Abby could cling to was finding Wendy and receiving her help, support, and forgiveness. She stood up. But before she could take a step she encountered another obstacle. Wendy’s garden was carefully hidden by nature and human ingenuity. Abby was aware of only one route to the garden: a tunnel accessible only from the cellar under Wendy’s house. Abby did not dare attempt this strange pathway without Wendy’s permission and guidance. The tunnel was part of a maze of caverns and passageways, and included the closely guarded storage closet of Wendy’s precious medicines, and other mysteries beyond Abby’s knowledge. The extent of the maze of tunnels was impossible to guess. Clearly a lost soul could die down there, unable to find a way out.
Despite her knowledge of the landscape, Abby was uncertain of a good overland route to the garden. It was surrounded on three sides by a connected series of ridges with nasty cliffs. The fourth side – the shortest by far – was protected by the tallest, thickest wall of brambles Abby had ever seen. No one could pick even a small fraction of the raspberries and blackberries that grew there, because they were unreachable.
‘There’s got to be a way!’ she thought. ‘There MUST be a way.’ She had a feeling that the mapstick was pulling her in a certain direction, up the stream that made such lovely and soothing music. It was impossible to be sure whether she was imagining this pull on her hand or not, but she followed her intuition, however absurd it might be. The forest was quite still. Then she heard a crow call overhead, and pictured in her mind that sheltered spot hollowed out of the stony ridges. She began to walk upstream, and spotted a path through the tangle of mountain laurel. She followed, but the path ended midway through the thicket. In frustration Abby ploughed her way through the tough branches and found herself scratched and angry. Standing there feeling hopeless, she noticed that to her right another stony ridge began a steep ascent. Struggling to hold the mapstick and the briefcase, she climbed and stumbled up to a point where she could survey the surrounding countryside.
Trees screened her view, but she felt sure the garden was straight ahead below her. Following a deer trail descending in the right direction, she reached level ground and found the going easy. She made a guess and turned left through a stand of white birch trees all in shadow. The sun was setting behind the ridges, occasionally glaring in her eyes. Then another dreaded thicket of laurel blocked her way.
Abby almost burst into tears. Feeling lost and alone, she sat on the ground, breathing hard. She glanced absently at the laurel before her, and noticed how it looked from a sitting position. 
‘Of course,’ she thought. ‘I knew that. Pathways for small animals under the branches.’ She moved forward on hands and knees, and emerged at a rocky ledge. On the other side lay the wall of raspberry and blackberry bushes, the immense patch of brambles. She went down on all fours again, and sure enough, a path barely large enough to crawl through appeared ahead of her. Scratched, her shirt torn, her face stained with tears, she squirmed and wiggled her way forward. A view through the brambles opened up ahead of her, a window out into the garden some distance ahead.

Abby and Wendy - Episode 2



Illustration by Carlos Uribe
Abby was suddenly aware that she was wet and cold. The storm had blown off, but the cold rain had soaked her clothes. Hailstones had fallen on her neck and shoulders, and slipped down her back to melt there on her bare skin. She knew she had to get moving. Her teeth were chattering. She felt dazed.
‘But what’s my route to Wendy’s house?’ she wondered. ‘It would have saved time to hit the Half Moon River upstream, where Cedar Creek and the Half Moon can be crossed on those logs.’
But a voice quickly spoke in Abby’s mind: ‘Remember the flooding. The logs have been swept away.’
‘Of couse,’ she thought. And a chill of fear crept into her heart. Since leaving the church she’d felt as if someone, something, was inside her mind, advising and helping her. 
‘Am I going crazy? What am I to make of this? Hello! Is somebody in there?’
But no reply came forth. She remained still, holding the briefcase and the mapstick, unsure which way to go. ‘Your boat,’ said the voice. 
‘Of course,’ she thought. ‘I’ll cross the Half Moon in my boat, and head upstream to the stairway up the cliff. But what in God’s name is going on?’
Abby began walking at an easy pace, hugging the ridge on her right. It was a relief to have shaken off all pursuit, and to be confident of the road ahead. The branches of the tall old pine trees occasionally spread across her path, and she had to struggle to get through, even crawling a few times, holding the mapstick and pushing the briefcase ahead of her. She vividly remembered going this same way with Jeremy only three evenings before. That journey had begun as a fabulous adventure, and then… it became a disaster, part of the collapsing house of cards that had been her experience of the last three days.
Eventually the pines thinned out and the ridge met the rising ground. Abby walked up over the slope and descended to the Half Moon River. Her dinghy was where she and Phoebe had left it, hidden under the brambles. She slid it into the water, jumped in with her briefcase and the mapstick, and paddled furiously with a flat piece of wood. The current had eased up over the past two weeks. The boat hit the far side not far from its hiding place under the enormous fallen maple tree. After pulling the boat out of sight, she hiked along the bank of the river. The towering cliff grew closer and closer, leaving only a narrow rocky path for the traveller. She struggled along, tired and confused. To her relief, the voice in her mind was quiet for now. 
The wind died down. Abby grew warm as her clothes slowly dried. Walking near the cliff was hard work, and the distance was about three miles. The cloudy sky was dimmer by the time she reached the stairway. She sat for a moment next to the thin oval rock that hid the entrance, dreading the climb ahead. The multiple crises of the last few days had exhausted her nerves and mental energy, and shaken her confidence.
She forced herself to think through the climb, and realized that the mapstick and the briefcase would make awkward, even dangerous baggage – awkward through the first two thirds of the climb, and dangerous near the top. How could she safely hold them when she had to go on all fours, gripping the face of the mountain?
‘Remember the piece of twine,’ said the voice in her mind.
‘The piece of twine? What piece of twine?’
She recalled the twine she had used to tie the mapstick across her back as she rode the bike, but had no memory what she had done with it. But there, wrapped around the mapstick several times, was the piece of twine. The mapstick and briefcase would still be hazards near the top of the cliff, but now the climb was at least possible. 




Ghost Girl - Episode 10



Illustration by Carlos Uribe
Abby, Tiny, and Lucy gazed at the lovely new place they had discovered.
“Awesome job exploring, girls!” exclaimed Abby. “Look what you found!”
The space was shaped as a triangle, with the stone walls covering two sides and the long fallen tree covering the third. Abby was amazed that the gigantic old maple tree had never been removed. The result was a virtually impassable cocoon of vines, young maple trees, and thorny brambles. As the slope of the yard received less sun in the shadow of the wall, smaller plants and herbs grew, until in the corner by the door only some thin grasses covered the ground. Except for the locked door to the outside world, only the narrow path from the privet fort provided an entrance to this hidden domain. They walked along the back wall and found a pile of branches and short sections of the fallen tree. Years ago someone must have cut it off the wall. Abby rolled three circular pieces to the open space near the door to serve as seats, and then rolled a larger piece to serve as a table. They sat down to consider their stunning success.

After surveying the scene in silence, Lucy said, “We need to bring cups and cider.”
“And chocolate,” added Tiny.
“It’s a secret place, only for us,” said Lucy, looking at the others to emphasize her words.
“Can we tell Glenda?” asked Abby.
“Only Glenda,” said Lucy generously.
“I have a few friends who help me,” said Abby. “They know how to keep secrets.”
“Phoebe is one of them,” said Lucy.
“How do you know?”
“Chester said that Abby and Phoebe won the day.”
“Dawn said that Phoebe’s okay,” said Tiny.
“That’s all right then,” conceded Lucy. But she turned to Abby and laid down the law, saying, “You and your friends have to promise to not let them ruin it.”
“What do you mean? Who’s going to ruin it?”
“You know, they always ruin it. The grown-ups don’t like these places. They never let them be. You’ve got to promise!”
“Whew!” whistled Abby. “That’s a tall order. I’m supposed to be the gardener here. They’re going to want me to clean up this place.”
“See! See!” returned Lucy. “They never understand! Never! You can’t say anything to them! What good are you and your friends? I thought you were on our side.”
“Dawn says she wants you to promise," declared Tiny. "Where’s Emily going to play? That’s what Dawn wants to know. Someday Dawn’s coming to Middletown, and Emily is going to play here.”
“Oh my,” muttered Abby, “this is all more serious than I thought.” Some water in her eyes ran onto her cheeks as she shook her head. “I wonder what Reverend Tuck will think if I tell him we can’t touch this…”
“Well, maybe you can touch it,” said Lucy, willing to compromise a little. “But you can’t ruin it.”
“Okay, hopefully we can manage that. I promise to do my best. And my friends will promise too, I know they will. We already promised to protect the forest.”
“That’s what Chester said,” Lucy told them.
“But I need you girls to understand,” warned Abby, “I am not the king of the world. Sometimes I have to change my plans. Like for instance I notice a lot of poison ivy over there. Do we want children to play here and get poison ivy?”
“No!” They exclaimed. 
“And what if they want a path to this door so people can walk through and see the birds? But I promise to do the very best I can to protect this place and make the world as good as I can.”
Lucy looked at Tiny, and Tiny nodded. “Okay,” said Lucy. “That’s fair.”
Deep shadows were growing around them. Mosquitoes and fireflies roamed around them. Abby jumped up and said, “What will Glenda think? It’s getting dark. She’ll have no idea where we are.”
And in almost no time they were filing out of the privet fort and walking to the cottage door.

Ghost Girl - Episode 9



Illustration by Carlos Uribe
At that moment came a knock on the door. “Yes, come in!” yelled Tuck.
The door opened part way and a gray-haired woman leaned into the room. “I’m sorry to bother you, but Glenda Trimble with Tiny and Lucy insist on seeing Abby.”
“Yes!” cried Abby.
“Ah,” replied Tuck. “Send them in! Thank you so much, Janet.”
Suddenly Tiny burst into the room, scanned it in a microsecond, saw Abby and shrieked, “Abby, Abby!” running to her with outstretched arms. “Abbyyy!”
Abby embraced Tiny and lifted her up, swinging her through the air. Lucy Winkle immediately followed, and stood taking in the whole room with surprising composure for a five year old. Glenda entered rather timidly, clutching a briefcase and looking apologetically at Reverend Tuck. “I didn’t realize we’d be interrupting…”
“Not at all, not at all,” replied Tuck.
“We saw you on TV,” Tiny told Abby breathlessly.
“Oh! I was worried about that,” Abby replied. “I hope it didn’t scare you.”
“You’re famous,” Lucy announced.
“Me? Not so. I’m nobody.”
“Yes so!” returned Lucy. “You stopped the cars and escaped from the men. My Grandpa said so.”
Abby smiled. “Okay! It must be true then. Do you think they’ll leave me alone now?”
The words popped out of Abby’s mouth without thinking. She immediately regretted it. 
“I don’t know,” replied Lucy with a frown. “Tiny said they’re after you.” 
“No one’s going to bother me here,” Abby tried to reassure her. “Let’s… take a walk in the churchyard. It’s still a nice afternoon."
“Yes!” cried Lucy. “We want to explore.”
“Can I interrupt for a second?” asked Glenda. “I’ve got a research paper due tomorrow. I got nothing done this weekend, so I brought some work with me. Is it okay if you explore without me?”

And so as Glenda worked in the cottage, Tiny, Lucy, and Abby walked out into the glow of the setting sun. The shadows stretched across long grass, wild plants, fallen branches, and leaves. There were dark corners and shifting light as the breeze blew. The yard had been neglected for years. “No wonder they need a gardener,” Abby thought.
“Dawn wants to go this way,” announced Tiny. Abby and Lucy were familiar with Tiny’s apparently imaginary characters, Dawn the Good Fairy and Emily her daughter. Tiny often spoke of them as if they were actually there to talk to.
She led the way past the row of apple trees toward the back of the churchyard. Soon they reached an enormous privet hedge, almost eight feet tall. Tiny followed the hedge part way across the yard, and then turned left as the hedge ran down toward the back wall. Suddenly an entrance with an arched roof of privet branches opened into the oldest and largest mulch pile Abby had ever seen. An area about twenty-five feet square was full of a hill of leaves about six feet high in the middle. The children laughed and ran about, jumping and throwing leaves in the air. Tiny inspected the edges of their fortress of leaves. “Dawn wants to go this way,” she said, and pointed to a narrow opening where the privet hedge met the churchyard wall. Walking slowly, they passed the upended roots of an old fallen tree, thickly overgrown with Virginia creeper and poison ivy. They slid along the wall past raspberry bushes with sharp thorns, and suddenly emerged onto a small open slope that descended gently to the back wall. An old wrought-iron door led to the dirt road and cornfield beyond.
“Ah!” thought Abby. “This is where I’m supposed to meet Phoebe tonight!”

Lucy and Tiny ran a few steps to the door and found it locked. Abby joined them, and ran her fingers across the upper edge of the doorframe, and found a long silver key among the dust and crumbled fragments of leaves. She slipped the key into her pocket. “Awesome job exploring, girls!” exclaimed Abby. She waved her hand at the small concealed space, a special place all their own. The children’s eyes glowed with excitement and satisfaction.

We're excited that Protectors of the Wood #1, Phoebe Comes Home, is listed as #13 on the Goodreads list of Best eco-fiction! Please give us your vote and make us #1, just click the link to Goodreads and vote! Many thanks from all of us at Protectors of the Wood.

Ghost Girl - Episode 6

From Book 3, The Ghost Girl
Episode 6


“Ladies and gentlemen, members of the congregation!” announced Reverend Tuck. To Abby’s surprise, he was speaking without notes, just in front of the first row. He even paced back and forth and up the aisles, talking to the enormous crowd in a conversational tone amplified by a small microphone around his neck. “I know that our church is in the midst of controversy,” Tuck began. “We have caught the attention of the wide world. I am grateful for this opportunity to discuss the problems we face today. First of all, I know that many disagree with my call to make the stewardship of the earth and the fight against climate change a major commitment for our congregation. Many have argued that climate change is a matter for science and politics only. I have responded by insisting that the lives of our children and children’s children are surely a spiritual responsibility, as can be seen at length in scripture. In fact this is not just a responsibility. It is a matter of urgent and dire need that forces us to take a stand. And there are consequences to taking a stand, consequences that disrupt business as usual and create conflict.

“For example, we belong to a world-wide religious denomination, an organization that raises and invests what we would consider a large fortune. Does it make sense that our church is making money by investing in corporations that are destroying the balance of nature? For the science is no longer in doubt. Only the ethics are in doubt, very much to our sorrow. When our ancestors approached the civil war, the great campaign to end slavery, some churches stood on the sideline. When Hitler moved to dominate the world and slaughter minority groups by the millions, some churches stood on the sideline. Do we accept the excuse that these are not religious issues? No, we understand that humanity was in the midst of a great battle against evil, a battle that would determine the very nature of the future of life on earth. Yet even if we accept this struggle, can we really make a difference? The good news is that we have help, help from on high. Wisdom, the daughter of God, is reaching out to us. As we heard today from the book of Proverbs, wisdom is all around us, trying to be heard. She rejoices in the divine gift of life on earth. She delights in the lives of people. Hearing her call is the great challenge of our time. I stand here sharing my heart with you.”

At this point, as if by plan, a large group rose and filed out of the church amid great bustle and muttering. Abby easily recognized some of the men. Indeed, a few were a part of the mob threatening to burn the haunted house with her in it only the night before. Loud comments were heard: “You’re crazy, Tuck, and you’ll soon be gone!” and “We can’t take these insults any longer. It’s over.”
Tuck waited patiently. When he was about to begin again a man shouted from the back: “What are these lies about the daughter of God? You’re not even a Christian!” 
Tuck stood there in silence, and finally said, “All thanks to those of you who have heard me out. I must take a few more minutes of your time to talk about our new gardener, now living in the churchyard cottage, and my decision to rescue her from an abandoned house. I hope that after our council meeting today we will call it our decision, for with your help she will be here in the name of our church as a whole. I know the history of Middletown as well as many of you. Do we want to stand by and see innocent victims burned alive for a second time?”

The audience gasped. Murmuring spread forward and back, like a shifting wind. Abby stared, breathless. Tuck waited a few seconds, and then bowed his head: “Lord, we reach out to you in this world endangered by our own blindness and greed. We need you! We need you! We need you! Help us to find a way into a future for all humanity, for all life, a world that can flourish for millions of years to come. Amen.” 

Tuck raised his head and said, “Before we finish today I want to invite all of you to an important meeting here in the church basement this Tuesday at 7PM. We will receive a visit from our colleagues from the nearby town of Rivergate, and discuss the emergency problems threatening their community. Rising water levels in the Half Moon Wetland have damaged their only bridge off the island. This will be an important opportunity to reach out to our neighbors in distress. We urge the youth of Middletown to attend. I’m told there will be music on the program.”
The congregation buzzed with whispering, and Abby heard someone say, “That’s Swamptown, you know, not a place where people should be living.”
As Tuck announced the final hymn, Abby glided back the way she had come. The future spread out before her. The battle lines had been drawn.

THE CHALLENGE OF OUR TIME illustration by Carlos Uribe

Ghost Girl - Episode 4

Episode 4


“Have you fallen asleep?” asked Reverend Tuck quietly. He stood beside her in the darkness. “It’s been a long day I know.”
Abby looked up and realized that she was still sitting outside under the stars. She shivered in a cool night breeze.
“I know we’ve got a lot of catching up to do,” Tuck went on, “but for now I just want to mention a few things. Have you prepared a place in the cottage to sleep?”
“Yes, that’s fine, I’m all ready.”
“Okay, I’ll let you go in a minute. Let me remind you that tomorrow we have our 11AM church service, and with all this uproar and publicity it will be packed, and require a response from me. Dr. Bear has taken the liberty of telling reporters and police that you are recovering from a traumatic experience. You already answered a few major questions on television last night, and a video of that little interview has spread over the internet. I think that’s enough exposure for the present. Our job now is to keep you quiet and hidden away, and let this hysteria die down. So tomorrow fix up this cottage, or whatever you like, but stay inside, out of circulation. Dr. Bear will handle the outside world for you. People have offered donations, and she will receive them for you. We will bring food. So stay out of sight. No visits, no interviews…. Any questions?”
“Not now,” replied Abby. “Maybe tomorrow.”
“Then get some sleep. I’ll see you after the morning service. No, it will be a little later than that. I have to meet with the Church Council.”
Abby stood up and looked at Tuck in the faint light from her cottage. “Thank you! I appreciate all you’ve done, so much I can’t tell you.”
“That’s all right,” said Tuck with a smile. “I love my job. We’re glad to have you as a part of our family here.”

Abby awoke in the full light of day to the noise of beautiful blue jays making a ruckus outside her open window. The cottage felt peaceful, a much-needed haven. It was true that it lacked decent furniture and a refrigerator, and needed an enormous amount of work. And despite a night of open windows, the cottage exuded a damp, sour odor. 
“But that’s why no one else wants it,” she thought. “That’s why it’s all mine.”
She thought for a few minutes about Wendy: “Will she be lonely? Yes, most definitely. And I will be lonely without her. But this is my future. I have a mission in the world, as she has told me so many times. And I know she believes it. She proved it by letting me ride Hilda.”
‘Hilda’ was Wendy’s name for the flying stick, the Volador, sometimes called the broom. Abby often wondered about the nature of Hilda, the spirit of the broom. In Abby’s view, Hilda expressed a personality even though she could not talk. Yet she could listen and move and respond. Her movements could express disagreement or annoyance, or even happiness and joy. When Abby asked about Hilda, Wendy had said: “She offered me this favor long ago, when I chose this mission. Always respect Hilda, she is smarter than you.”
Abby had replied, “But she is not a person!”
And Wendy had replied, “She was a person at one time, and now she’s a kind of angel, you could say, a gift from heaven.”
Not to be put off, Abby had asked, “But what are angels?”
And Wendy said, “That’s the last question for today! They are messengers between heaven and earth, the Guardians of all life, our helpers from the other world. You don’t think life could grow up to heaven without help, do you? And you don’t have to call them angels. I just use that name because people here understand it. Your ancestors and mine on your father’s side had other names and ways of seeing them. I wish you knew more about that!”
“I wish I did too,” thought Abby.

A faint knock made her jump as if she'd heard a scream. She opened the door to see Dr. Geraldine Bear carrying two shopping bags.

Ghost Girl - Episode 3

Episode 3


Abby found herself watching a small, very bright sphere approaching them from above. The golden light was surrounded by sparks or tiny flames, and grew so bright that Abby had to close her eyes. When she looked again a third being stood before her, with a body covered by a golden film. Within the light was the shadow of a very expressive, almost seductive face.

“We are all overjoyed to see you,” exclaimed the red being, and then bowed with the others. “If you have advice from above we sorely need it!”
“I am bringing a message of both hope and fear,” said the new arrival, looking steadily at Wendy. The tiny golden flames flickered and grew around that beautiful head.
“Please,” replied Wendy. “Tell us. I have no secrets.”
The being stared at Wendy as if no one else existed, and declared, “This much I know with certainty: your mission hangs by a thread. The Adversary is free and active, more determined than ever to prove this long experiment a failure – here on earth above all! Whatever help we have provided, humans have not stepped up to the challenge. Over the coming ten years the crisis will come like a flood, and if the tide does not turn, the destruction will become irreversible. But you have a chance of success. Follow through with your plan – your whole plan, mind you – and do not be thrown off course by anyone or anything. I bring you this message: ‘Take courage,’ they said. ‘You are our beloved daughter. This is your hour!’”

Wendy’s face remained hidden in shadow, and with hardly a pause the messenger added in a different tone of voice, looking at the countless lights in the wide circle: “We are taking great risks here. Our presence will be discovered.”
“Do not fear,” replied Wendy. “I am nearly invisible, one of many humans, nothing special. And we are now finished here, my purpose is complete. I am very grateful to all of you.”
“Just a word before we go!” For the first time the green being’s powerful voice rang out, addressing Wendy. “I have served you across the heart-breaking years, and shared your hopes and labors here on earth. My power is limited – the work ahead will need the hand of the Hidden One to succeed. But all I can do is yours.”
Then the green being turned to Abby and spoke: “Little one, I hear an unspoken request in this meeting, and my answer is yes. I will be your guardian.” The strange face looked at Abby and expressed a complexity of identity and emotion that she would know forever, and left her speechless. ‘He will be my inner friend,’ thought Abby.
“Call on me from your heart. You know me.” The being turned back to Wendy and said, “Is that what you had in mind?”
Wendy’s eyes blinked and glistened. She bowed, concealing her tears. “More than I can say,” she answered, trying to control her voice.
In the next moment Abby saw the throng of lights recede into the night sky, back among the swirling billions, the perhaps infinite lights in the vast and mysterious cosmos. All but the green being, who disappeared into the forest.

Abby’s dream-vision ended there. The next thing she remembered was waking in the hospital, breathing through a respirator. Her desperately anxious parents were sitting nearby. She was a very skinny ten year old with chronic asthma, recovering from pneumonia.



by John KixMiller

Ghost Girl - Episode 2

Episode 2


They arrived in a large meadow Abby had never seen before or since – a meadow like a great cathedral between rows of tall trees with branches arching above like a vault.
“Wendy, what’s going to happen?” Abby asked in fear.
The Guardians are coming,” Wendy replied. “The Guardians of this world.”
The stars came down as many spheres of searing light, a throng that assembled around the meadow in a vast circle. Abby could distinguish some of their features by shades of shadow amid the radiant glow of their bodies. They were strikingly beautiful, pulsing with color and a sort of musical hum, the uncanny melody.

One of these glorious beings stepped forward, bright with a reddish light even to the hair and skin. Another entered from behind Abby and stood next to the first. This second being presented a radically different appearance, with skin a dark green color, and a smooth head that came to a point like certain kinds of fish. The body was partly covered with clothing like leaves in autumn, and glowed with a greenish glimmer. Abby risked taking a look at the glistening eyes, and found them staring back with great urgency and sorrow. Wendy appeared dim, frail, and tiny amidst these beings from the sky, and Abby felt even smaller and totally useless. Her whole body was shivering. “What am I doing here?” she wondered over and over.

The being with the red glow advanced even closer, and Abby saw a face so beautiful she felt her heart jump. The pupils of the eyes sparkled with an intensity of life and color she could hardly endure. 
“Yes?” asked the being in a warm voice with an undertone of anxiety. “As you see, we have come.”
“I am forever grateful,” said Wendy in her broken voice. “I present one of the young warriors, as you have foreseen.”
“Their future leader?”
“No, for they will have many leaders. She will be their representative to you.”
“Why do we need such a person?” asked the being. The sparkling eyes gave Abby a piercing look that made her turn away.
“My work draws to a close in the coming years,” replied Wendy. “But the transformation on earth will go on for a long time, nearly a century. Trust me, this meeting will prove important for all of us.”
Abby shuddered. “Her work draws to a close?” she thought frantically. “No! I need her!”
“We shall see…” said the being, conveying uncertainty and doubt. The glowing eyes of the multitude were riveted on Abby, and she felt her heart racing. “Yes,” said the being, who had stared long at Abby. “She has the talent, if it develops. Dreamstone will help her.”
“So… You will know her,” said Wendy.

“I will,” said the red being. Then he raised his voice: “But tell us! Your long labors draw to a close? Yet the most important things are left undone! You stay in retreat and do not cooperate with Teresa!” The being paused as if to control the anxiety pouring out, and the voice became sad. “You have given complete devotion to this work, yet you have accomplished very little given the need. Yes, yes, we know you have potential and strength in reserve…”
The red being paused, staring at Wendy, and then said in a tone of fierce warning: “But we also know that this great era of time is coming to the crisis, and you do not seem ready! Eons of development are in danger. The outcome is shrouded in darkness!”
“I chose the dark path on purpose,” replied Wendy, her voice uneven and frail. “I am hidden until the end, but that does not mean I am unready. And never forget that I cannot force people and events. I must inspire them. People are as free as ourselves to choose their path.”



by John KixMiller



Phoebe Breaks Through - Episode 33

Episode 33



George was still standing, the tears still wet on his face.

Jeremy and Phoebe looked at each other and waited.
“I see what you mean,” George finally said. “I do see your point. What are we going to do about it? I know I’m a beginner at all this, but can’t we be Junior Protectors or something?”
“A great idea!” cried Phoebe. “In a way we already are. On the night we met in the store we kind of decided. You and Jeremy and Abby and me. And Stephanie and Eddy too, they joined the night we met here in this room.

“I feel like a baby in a new world,” George told them. “I can’t just go to sleep.”

“Well, pretty soon now,” Jeremy said. “But George, before we end this amazing day, I want to say one more thing: we were fantastic last night! I’ve never felt that way before about music. I knew you could do it.”

“I didn’t,” George replied.

“Do you know now?”

“I’m not sure. I’m not sure of anything.”

“The last couple of days,” Jeremy said, “ I started writing something…”

“Well let’s hear it!

Jeremy grabbed a guitar, and sat back in their tight little group, and finger picked some chords and began to sing:

The sun is shining in a bright blue sky

The world I know it comes alive

I’m feeling like the time has arrived

To be what I can be

It’s like the universe is at my front door

To you it may be just a corner store

But I’d be afraid to ask for more

It’s a lot to me

It’s a magic land and we’re all in it

Step right up and let’s begin it

Jeremy’s voice stopped. “That’s all I’ve got. It’s not finished.”

“That is nice!” exclaimed George.

“I love it,” said Phoebe.

“Do you really think it will all work out?” George asked. “I felt like we’d lost it all…”

“We haven’t lost it,” said Phoebe. “Except maybe I’m losing it right now.”

“I understand,” George replied. “What a day. I’m just going to curl up right here.”

Phoebe gave George a hug, and then stood up and hugged Jeremy. “We’ve all got to get some sleep,” she said.

“I’ll drive you home,” Jeremy offered.

“Thanks, but I want to walk home and settle my mind. It’s been the biggest day of my life.” Phoebe wasn’t sure if Jeremy was disappointed or not. ‘But he sure can handle things,’ she thought. 

“And nice going,” said Jeremy. “You did great.”

They hugged again, and kissed on the cheek, and Phoebe was out the door. In a moment she was walking under the swarm of bright stars on a crystal clear night. She felt almost as if she were floating.


And The Upcoming...GHOST GIRL (Book III) 

by John KixMiller

Breaking News illustration

by Gideon Chase

Learn More About Phoebe And The Players In Middletown!


Phoebe Breaks Through - Episode 32

Episode 32




Outside the air was cool and the sky was flooded with stars. Phoebe, Jeremy, and George stood near the tow truck for a minute or two.

“I’ve got to hear every detail of this,” George told them. “It’s time for both of you to own up. No more secrets. Tonight’s the night.”

They drove to the gas station, and walked into the office in a daze. A deep exhaustion was setting in. Inside Phoebe saw that the usual jumble of things had become total chaos. Guitars and amplifiers and boxes filled the open space on the floor. Clothes and books were scattered around amid tools and office supplies. Blankets and pillows were on the floor near the couch.

They rearranged a few things and sat close together. 

“I still feel like an outsider,” said George. “I can’t help it.”

“Don’t worry,” returned Phoebe. “It’s not just your imagination.”

George watched her in fascination, as his fate swung in the balance.

Phoebe pulled her thoughts together and said, “George, look, this is the deepest secret that’s ever been mine to tell, and I don’t know all of it. We must promise to keep it among ourselves unless we all agree to add another person.”

“We promise,” they said together.

“Okay, Phoebe said, “here’s what you don’t know in a nutshell: my parents’ organization, the Protectors of the Wood, really does include an old, old man in the forest who no one ever sees, and the famous Wendy is his daughter, and Chi Chi is his son, and there are many others involved in the forest and the swamp. They are mostly related to the native people who have been the guardians of dreamstone over countless centuries, and they are the ones who know the underground caverns where it can be found, and they are the guardians of the wisdom of how it should be used. And they have decided to share this wisdom, slowly and carefully with the wide world, as a source of help in the current crisis of climate change. They protect dreamstone with such secrecy for many reasons, but the most important one is that if you look into a big enough chunk of dreamstone you’re likely to see a vision that will be an important challenge for you, a message from a higher power. You have to be ready for this… There really do seem to be higher powers that care about us and want to help us… bring good into the world. That’s what we’re here to do, bring good into the world. I’ve seen this for myself, in dreams and in dreamstone.”

Jeremy nodded. “Nice,” he said. “Keep it simple.”

George stared wide-eyed at Phoebe. “That’s… that’s… more than I ever dared hope for! But what about Abby? Where does she come in?”

“She’s actually related to Wendy and the old man. Wendy’s her godmother. There’s a lot of mystery about Abby, but one thing we do know: Abby did fly over the town, or maybe a dream image of her did – something she calls soul-traveling. That’s one reason why Tuck was so persistent about warning us against talking to reporters, and the need for great care. But the most dangerous thing is this: Morphy already knows part of this secret! He’s sure that dreamstone was available around here years ago, and he’s doing everything in his power to find it and control it. And he has reason to believe that Abby knows the secret source, and that’s why he has been hunting her with such persistence. And that’s why Abby found a way to live in the cottage in the churchyard. Her only other option was to flee far away, and give up her friends and the life she has found. She chose not to do that.”

George stared at her. His mouth fell open. Then he stood up and flung his fist into the air, over and over. “Yes! Yes! YES!” he cried, and began to pace around the room. “Thank you!” he suddenly declared, as if to the whole room, or maybe the whole universe. “The world is a place I want to live in!”


And The Upcoming...GHOST GIRL (Book III) 

by John KixMiller

George Learns the Deepest Secret illustration

by Carlos Uribe

Learn More About Phoebe And The Players In Middletown!

Phoebe Breaks Through - Episode 31

Episode 31



Jeremy led Phoebe and George down Main Street to where his tow truck sat by the roadside. They climbed up into the cab. He put the old tank into gear, took a u-turn, and they were on their way home.

“Wait!” exclaimed Phoebe. “Turn left here.”

With a puzzled look Jeremy downshifted and turned up Oak Knoll Lane.

“I just want to reassure Glenda and Tiny,” Phoebe said. “They’re in a tough spot. Stephanie’s uncle was talking about a TV crew. This news will travel fast.”

“Why is it such a big deal?” asked George.

“As soon as they hear about a mob with torches and a haunted house and an innocent girl, we might have reporters combing the countryside.”

“A mob with torches!” cried George. “Fill me in!”

“You’ll hear it all,” Phoebe replied. She knocked on Glenda’s door.

“Oh my God!” shrieked Glenda. “Phoebe, George, Jeremy! What happened? Call your sister! They’re frantic!”

Tiny jumped into Phoebe’s arms. “You’re okay!” she yelled. “Mom, look, she’s okay!”

Phoebe called Penny and learned that her parents and Sammy had been released an hour ago. Photos of the afternoon’s arrests had caused an uproar.

“I saw your picture on TV,” said Glenda. “You sure look better now.”

“It must be Freddy Baez,” said George. “I gave him my memory card a few hours ago. I’m a photographer!”

Jeremy had been focused on the TV. “Here it comes!” he told them.

The room became silent as the newscaster spoke: “WBCS brings you more breaking news from Middletown in Half Moon County, where our reporters Stan Miller and Janet Rivera are already on the scene with live interviews from witnesses of today’s bizarre and frightening events. Here is Stan Miller reporting from outside the Middletown United Church. It’s been quite a day, Stan.”

The camera zoomed in on the well-known newsman standing on the sidewalk near the gate to the churchyard. 

“Thanks Tim! We’ve got quite a story developing here. Town Police Chief Daniel Santiago has apparently just returned with the Reverend Tuck, minister of this church, and Dr. Geraldine Bear of Middletown Hospital, and a young girl from Half Moon High School named Abby Chapman.

Tiny screamed. “Abby! It’s Abby!”

“And here is Janet Rivera now with another live interview.”

The camera zoomed in. The smooth and attractive TV reporter stood at the churchyard gate with Abby, who looked skinny and shy, staring at the ground.

“Thank you so much for taking a moment with us,” the reporter began, leaning toward Abby with her microphone. “We understand you’ve had a trying ordeal, and we appreciate any help you can offer to clear up the rumors that have been circulating about this story.” The reporter smiled, and Abby managed a little eye contact. “Now, your name is…”

“Abby Chapman.” Her voice was thin and soft, but she looked up at the camera.

“I’ve been told by both the Reverend Tuck and Dr. Bear – both standing here with you – that they found you this evening in an abandoned house near the Forest Preserve. Can you tell us what happened this evening?”

Abby looked up and said, “I… I was staying in that house, living there you might say, because I have no other home here and my friends are here in Middletown. I wasn’t bothering anybody.”

“I see.”

“A crowd of men appeared out of the darkness and were yelling for me to come out. I was afraid. Then they lit a fire and carried burning branches toward the door…”

“Did you recognize these men?”

“It was hard to be sure of their faces.”

“And then what happened?”

“Suddenly Reverend Tuck and Dr. Bear appeared and yelled for them to go back or they’d regret it for the rest of their lives.” Abby’s voice was beginning to break. Her eyes were tearing up.

“And how did this end?”

“The rain came down with thunder and lightning, and the people ran away. I asked Reverend Tuck to bring me to the church here.” Tears began to roll down her cheeks. She looked straight into the camera and said, “I’m okay, Mom and Dad, I’m sorry I made you worry… I’m okay, everyone, and thanks to all who helped me.” She began to sob. Dr. Bear put her arm around Abby and gently escorted her back through the gate. Reverend Tuck followed.

Phoebe was thinking, “I’m feeling dizzy. This day has been too much.” Glenda and Tiny were crying. George’s eyes were wet, and he was trying to hide his face.


And The Upcoming...GHOST GIRL (Book III) 

by John KixMiller

Breaking News illustration

by Lawrence Tate

Learn More About Phoebe And The Players In Middletown!

Phoebe Breaks Through - Episode 29

Episode 29




As Phoebe and Jeremy stood in the back of the church they listened to the talk of people moving down the aisle. “I can’t believe this is happening,” an old man said. “It’s this strange new weather. There was nothing like it in the old days.”

Another voice added, “Did you see that thing in the sky? That weird dark thing…”

An angry man exclaimed, “It’s revenge for what they did to Sammy and the Hoods!”

“Where’s the police?” asked someone else. “Either they arrest her, or we’ll do something ourselves. We’ve got a right to protect this town, just like they did in the old days.”

“That’s crazy talk!” responded another man. “No one knows who’s doing anything!”

“Yeah? Think a bit,” said the angry man. “The dead end house!”

At the front of the church Reverend Tuck rose up and raised his open hands. “People of Middletown!” he exclaimed. The talk died down. “I am offering this church for a town meeting, in an effort to come together as a community. There are many problems that none of us can solve alone…”

“If you get punched, you punch back!” yelled a voice.

“I’ll ask you not to speak unless called upon,” returned Tuck. A number of hands shot up. “Officer Harley!”

The policeman, well known and respected, stood up and said, “Reverend Tuck, it seems to me that people are getting carried away over nothing, calling the clouds a witch and the storm a magic spell. I think everyone should calm down and go home.”

“We can’t go home,” yelled a man. “We’re trapped here!”

Another man stood up and said, “It’s revenge, I tell you! The police arrest Sammy and the Hoods, and what happens? This freak storm comes of the forest, all the traffic freezes, and something flies over the town laughing at us!”

“Yeah,” screamed another voice as many stood up to see. “And we know who she is, and where she is!”

“What are we waiting for?”

“Back on the dirt road. The dead end house!”

“Please, please, everyone,” yelled Tuck. “You’re not thinking straight. Listen to me.”

But many people were already standing, and some were moving toward the aisles.

Reverend Tuck was shouting, but a throng of people stormed from the church. As others saw they followed to check out the action. Phoebe realized that her moment to join Abby at the haunted house had come.

“Jeremy!” she said. “Get Tuck and follow to the haunted house as fast as you can.”

“This is it,” he nodded.

Phoebe limped out into the dim and strangely quiet street. The crowd was already half a block down Bridge Avenue. The cars and trucks were dark and still, as if the street were a parking lot. Frightened and angry people were hanging around hoping that this bizarre dream would soon come to an end. Thunder rumbled in the distance. Thick clouds raced across the sky.

Phoebe loped along with all the speed she could manage on her injured knee. Soon she crossed the bridge, gaining on the group ahead. Their numbers kept diminishing, as stragglers came walking back toward town. Phoebe moved up close, desperately looking for a way to arrive at the door of the haunted house before the crowd. The wind was rising, and made a roaring noise like a train in the distance.

Suddenly the open lawn and the house loomed up before them in the darkness. Phoebe slipped through to the right along the fringe of trees, and grabbed part of a branch along the way. 

“We’ve gotta have some light for this work,” yelled a voice. “You weren’t here last night so you don’t know.” They began piling up the branches and sticks that covered the lawn. Soon the flames leaped up, swirling in a gust of wind. The thunder cracked again, very close by. Finally the lead man approached the broken porch with a burning branch like a torch. 

“Where is Reverend Tuck,” thought Phoebe in a panic.

The wind whipped the bonfire into a frenzy. The flames danced and roared.

“We can’t wait all night,” howled the lead man. “Come out if you know what’s good for you! Last chance!”

Phoebe stepped out onto the broken porch, and stood there silently, ready to defend the half opened door. Abby’s urgent whisper hissed in the darkness behind her. “Phoebe! Come back through the door!”

But the man was already close by, with others behind him. “Aha!” he yelled. 

Suddenly Reverend Tuck ran into the space between the crowd and the porch. He raised his hand and roared, “Go back, or you’ll regret it the rest of your lives!”

A bolt of lightening flashed, and the long-awaited rain poured down in sheets. The crowd turned and fled. Thunder shook the earth.


And The Upcoming...GHOST GIRL (Book III) 

by John KixMiller

The Storm Breaks illustration

by Lawrence Tate

Learn More About Phoebe And The Players In Middletown!

Phoebe Breaks Through - Episode 28

Episode 28




Phoebe and Geraldine scanned the crowd on Bridge Avenue in amazement. Geraldine leaned over and spoke softly in Phoebe’s ear: “Maybe this is something you understand better than me.”

“Maybe it is…” replied Phoebe. “But I don’t know what to do.” She spotted Jeremy on the street looking frantically through the groups of people. He saw her and came up close to be heard without yelling. 

“Any idea what’s going on?” he asked. They looked at each other. Phoebe couldn’t speak. “A car backed up into a bus on Main Street and blocked the intersection,” said Jeremy. “And that truck up there stops traffic the other way. But there’s something else… People are starting to panic. They think the cars are somehow stopped by the storm. I heard one man claim the traffic is frozen by magic.”

“Magic…?” murmured Phoebe.

Geraldine looked carefully at them, from one to the other. The lightening flashed again, and Geraldine looked up, startled. “Now what was that?” she exclaimed, pointing toward the gathering storm. They stared out toward the cliffs, but could see nothing against the bank of clouds marching over the valley.

The lightening flashed again, and for a moment Phoebe saw a dark wavering form, like an unbelievably huge crow. Others had seen it too, and were pointing. The thunder crashed, and out of the storm clouds Phoebe saw a dark figure riding a sort of pole arrive low in the air. This apparition flew a quick, jagged course, and there was an uneven, high-pitched sound of screeching. It might have been laughter. Phoebe glimpsed a pale face, and knew it was Abby. Thunder rumbled again, and Phoebe lost the vision in the enveloping darkness.

Silence prevailed for a few moments. Someone screamed – and then everyone seemed to be talking a once. The crowd grew, and wild rumors spread. Scutter appeared on the sidewalk, asking for news. The tall, thin form of Milton Morphy soon joined him, stooping low to whisper in his ear. Scutter listened, and then remarked in a loud voice, “I knew something like this would happen! I knew it!”

“What should I do now?” thought Phoebe. “Run for Tuck? Or the haunted house? Not yet. It’s not a rescue yet.”

Geraldine turned to Phoebe and Jeremy and said, “This group needs to calm down or they’ll start doing harm.”

“Where’s Reverend Tuck?” asked Jeremy. “Isn’t this something…”

“That’s it!” interrupted Geraldine with great urgency. “We’ve got to get this group into the church. Come on!” And she began telling groups of people, passers-by, anyone she encountered, that there would soon be a meeting in the church. The word spread like wildfire. Within minutes the crowd – like an enormous swarm of bees – began to move toward the wide church door.

Phoebe and Jeremy were swept into the swarm and through the door into the large, dim cavern, lit only by faint chandeliers high above them. Once inside Phoebe gripped Jeremy by the hand and took refuge against the back wall near the door.

He looked at her questioningly. “Got a plan?” he whispered into her ear. 

“I do,” she said. “You’ll see.”


And The Upcoming...GHOST GIRL (Book III) 

by John KixMiller

Abby’s Plan Moves Forward illustration

by Carlos Uribe

Learn More About Phoebe And The Players In Middletown!

Phoebe Breaks Through - Episode 26

Episode 26




His hands cuffed behind his back, Sammy turned to the officers and said, “You must love this job, protecting the public from a monster like me.”

Captain Bloward approached Patti and said, “Patricia Hood? You’ll be coming with us.” Peter stepped into the group and the Captain said, “Peter Hood? You too.”

“I’ve never seen you in my life,” Peter declared. “How do you know me? Been looking at photos of us? What, are we known criminals?”

“Just go quietly, and we won’t bother to cuff you or your wife.”

“What are the charges? Am I under arrest?”

“Do you want to be?”

Freddy Baez stepped forward and displayed his press identification. “Am I to understand that you’re going to hold these people without charges? Where will they be held?”

“We’re just going to have a friendly chat down at the barracks. Don’t give us a hard time, Freddy. Why are you nosing around in this business? I’m trying to be nice to these folks. You should try my job someday.”

George stepped in front of Captain Bloward and took five or six photos in a matter of seconds.

“Get out of here!” growled the Captain, and George slipped back among the crowd.

“Hey Austin,” said the Captain. “Grab some of that stuff they’re selling. A few toys would be good.”

Austin walked up to Tom Winkle’s area and looked around, and then continued on to Peter’s crates in front of the toy store gate. There were no toys to be seen.

“Nothing here,” he yelled.

“Grab a few vegetables.”

Austin looked around and returned empty handed.

Patti stepped over to her flower display and scooped up a few remaining blossoms. She presented the captain with a bouquet. “Will this do?” she asked.

The Captain stared at her, refusing to take the offering.

A finger bean suddenly flew out of the crowd and slapped into Captain Bloward’s cheek. “God in heaven,” he muttered, and stood at high alert, staring into the crowd. Another bean flew from a different direction. “Someone’s going to pay…” he yelled, as another bean bounced off his head from behind. The sound of laughter broke out and spread through the crowd. The Captain grabbed Patti and Peter by the elbow and pulled them toward the car. Austin took Sammy and hustled along behind. The boys on skateboards, the girls and their friends, even the adults, all followed at a distance. 

Once his prisoners had been pushed into the back seat with Austin in the front, Captain Bloward ran back toward the crowd, looking for a victim to punish. But the boys had foreseen this maneuver, and were already scattering at a safe distance, and the Captain was unwilling to arrest a girl or an adult.

Meanwhile Freddy Baez talked with Sammy through the window, and George madly snapped pictures of the action. The Captain saw his mistake and ran back, pushing people out of the way like a football player. 

He jumped into the driver’s seat and gunned the motor. The red lights flashed. The siren wailed. Captain Bloward screeched the car into a u-turn and roared down Main Street.


And The Upcoming...GHOST GIRL (Book III) 

by John KixMiller

Sammy And Phoebe’s Parents Are Arrested illustration

by Carlos Uribe

Learn More About Phoebe And The Players In Middletown!

Phoebe Breaks Through - Episode 25

Episode 25



The new day dawned clear and hot, promising to be yet another scorcher. Phoebe woke to a bad headache. It was hard to stand up. The swelling in her right knee was as bad as anything since the operation. On arriving home the night before, Dr. Bear had bandaged her cuts, but both her eyes were swollen and her cheek and forehead bruised. She glanced at herself in the mirror and went back to sleep.

The sound of voices floated through the open window and woke Phoebe from a doze. Penny and Jeremy were talking on the front steps.

“She’s sleeping,” said Penny. “Banged up pretty bad. And the party for Sammy we’d planned for the toy store courtyard won’t happen. The toy store’s been closed too.”

“What?” cried Jeremy. “What for?”

“Chester called me a couple of hours ago,” Penny replied. “He says the papers from the Health Department are on the courtyard gate and Sammy’s door. It was a bad ending last night. Sammy dragged himself home without a word. He already knew he’d be closed down for overcrowding, even though we kept the audience below the limit.”

“I’m sorry,” said Jeremy. “That hurts.”

“Yes, it does. And all my cakes will go to waste.”

“I’m awake!” called Phoebe through the window. “I heard all that!”

Penny and Jeremy were upstairs in a moment, talking to Phoebe. They decided to head to town and have the party on the sidewalk if necessary. Penny and Phoebe’s parents were due in town soon, and others would be showing up.

In half an hour a group had formed on the sidewalk in front of the toy store and coffee shop. Peter Hood was giving away his carved figures of the Good Fairy and Santa Claus. Patricia Hood gave bunches of flowers to passers-by. Tom Winkle gave finger beans and lemon cukes, and Penny handed out pieces of cake. A crowd formed, and discussed the events of the night before. Phoebe joined her father behind his display of figures laid out on wooden crates. 

“I actually wanted to give these away,” Peter told her. “As I made them I imagined giving one to every person in town.” He turned and looked her in the eye. “Phoebe, I’m so proud of you. I want you to know.”

She was speechless. 

“I just want you to know,” her father said.

Later on Phoebe limped to the small frame house where Sammy lived alone. She rapped on the door again and again. “Look, Sammy!” she yelled. “I’m not going away until you talk to me. We need your help.”

“You don’t fool me,” came Sammy’s voice from an upper window. “You’re trying to trick me into feeling good. I don’t feel good, and I’m not going to.”

“I don’t feel good either! You should see my face. But we’ve got things to do. We’re running a free store in front of the coffee shop.”

In a moment Sammy appeared at the front door. “All right, let’s go. This free store idea, I like that. I can’t miss it.”

As they turned the corner onto Bridge Avenue Sammy stared at the enormous crowd collected in front of his store. Officer Harley and many others were standing in front of Peter’s carvings. Phoebe and Sammy joined the group.

Peter was saying, “But we’re not selling anything! We haven’t taken a dime. If the stores have to close, we thought we’d give a last gift. Join us, Harley! Or you could arrest us, we understand. But first take a couple of these toys for your grandkids.”

“Well said!” cried Sammy.

“Hey Sammy’s here!” people yelled. The crowd gathered round and began to clap.

“Arrest us both,” Sammy told Harley. “You’d be doing me a favor. I don’t know what to do with my life.”

“Oh leave me alone, you two,” Harley replied. “I’ll be damned if I’ll arrest you. But watch out for those gray hats off the highway.”

And at that moment they saw a state police car double parked down the block. Two officers with wide brimmed hats walked up the sidewalk. Phoebe recognized Captain Bloward from the night before. Sammy stepped into the path of the police. 

“Good to see you gentlemen,” said Sammy. “I was hoping we’d meet again.”

“It’s too much, old man,” said the captain. “This time you’re going in.”

“I know I’m a menace to public safety,” returned Sammy. “I really shouldn’t be out on the street. You know, it’s great to have a job where you can really do good and help people. It’s a rare thing these days.”

“Cuff him, Austin, I’m tired of his mouth,” the captain said.

The policeman stepped in, and with a quick move cuffed Sammy’s hands behind his back.


And The Upcoming...GHOST GIRL (Book III) 

by John KixMiller

THE TRIALS OF SAMMY illustration

by Carlos Uribe

Learn More About Phoebe And The Players In Middletown!


Phoebe Breaks Through - Episode 24

Episode 24



Abby led the way along a stone wall – really just a pile of stones that went on and on in the strange silvery world of the forest night under the stars. As they walked downhill through a glade of maple trees the wall ended, and by the sudden coolness and smell in the air Phoebe knew the river was ahead. Suddenly she saw a smooth glimmering surface through the trees. Near the end of the downhill slope Phoebe’s foot slipped on the leaves and her knee gave way with a stabbing pain. Down she went, sliding into a giant old tree on the riverbank. The thick roots bruised and scraped her forehead, but it was her knee that worried her. 

“Are you okay?” Abby cried. “Please say you’re okay!”

“I think I’m all right,” answered Phoebe, but she knew it wasn’t true. Her knee wobbled like a loose table leg. Abby threw her arms around her. Phoebe smiled. “I’m really okay,” she said. “Let’s go.”

Abby led the way along the riverbank to an enormous old fallen tree, and pulled a very small boat, an old wooden dinghy, out from under the space made by the thick roots elevating the trunk of the tree. She slid it into the water.

“Go ahead, jump in,” she said. Phoebe limped carefully into the boat and sat in the bow. Abby handed her a flat piece of wood. “Paddle!” she hissed. “Paddle!” The boat picked up speed, heading toward the opposite bank at an angle. The water shimmered in the starlight. The twinkling sky opened up above them.

“Grab that branch,” came Abby’s urgent whisper, and the boat twisted in the current and slid sideways onto the bank.

After pulling the boat up the bank they sat and gazed at the water. The view before them seemed so spectacular, with the stars above and the stars reflected in the water. It seemed just like life, with the immensity outside and the immensity inside. There was something hypnotic and caressing about the dark and silvery water gleaming by, something so nourishing about the strange light, as if it were a kind of food with vitamins essential to life that you could rarely find. And so when you did find it you had to take out the time to fill up on it.

“I still don’t get it about tomorrow,” Phoebe said. “You’re taking too many risks.”

“Without some risk there’s no emergency.”

“Well, ‘fess up! How are you going to create this emergency?”

“Wendy’s helping me,” Abby answered.

“To do what?”

“I’m going to fly.”


They were silent for a long moment. The sweat dripped off their bodies.

“I shouldn’t have told you.”

“How are you going to do that?”

“Okay. Wendy has a broom like a pole with a spirit in it. She flies. I’m going to try it.”

“But why don’t other people do that?”

“Wendy is special,” Abby told her. “You should see the things that she can do.”

“I can’t believe it,” cried Phoebe in frustration.

“So don’t believe it… But you know, Wendy thinks dreamstone has been around for thousands of years. That explains a lot if you think about it.”

“But flying will be horrible. No one will ever let you alone after that. They’ll bring in police and scientists and reporters and God knows what…”

“Don’t you see,” Abby calmly replied, “Even if they did, there’d be nothing to find. It’s called soul-travelling. And it will be late dusk. They won’t get a clear view of me, and few will believe it.”

“But how can you be so sure?”

“It’s all happened before. I tell you, the world is full of bizarre things. They even have photos of them, but nobody believes it. Wendy’s been doing it for years. It’s happened since there were people on earth, usually in dreams. In fact, Wendy told me that you looked into dreamstone. Did you fly?”

Phoebe was shocked to hear that Abby knew. “But that was a dream,” Phoebe replied. 

“Are you sure? Did it feel real? Wasn’t I there?”

“Yes,” whispered Phoebe.

“So can we go ahead and do this together? Please?” Abby was begging.

“I’m definitely absolutely for certain coming with you, no matter what,” Phoebe told her fiercely. “Nothing will stop me.”

Abby put her face in her hands. Her body shook with sobs.


And The Upcoming...GHOST GIRL (Book III) 

by John KixMiller

Across The Forest By Night illustration

by Carlos Uribe

Learn More About Phoebe And The Players In Middletown!

Phoebe Breaks Through - Episode 22

Episode 22



As the song came to a close the crowd began to chant, “Living! Living! Living! Living!” Phoebe wished she were inside with her friends, but a different reality bore down upon her. The police were moving in. Soon they stood near the back steps of the coffee shop, and behind them other men lurked. As the crowd began to exit people noticed the police and alerted their friends. Someone screamed.

“Don’t be afraid,” said the central officer. “You are free to go. We’re here on an investigation.”

Phoebe darted inside. Ellie was screaming, “I can’t believe they did this!”

“Ellie,” Abby said calmly, “they’re not after you. I’m much more of a runaway than you are.” Ellie stared in disbelief. 

The voices at the back door grew loud and angry. Sammy was blocking the doorway, and the captain was threatening to arrest him. Abby looked at Phoebe. “Here we go,” she said. “It’s time.” In a few quick steps the girls were at the back door. “Coming through!” yelled Abby. Phoebe saw the police exchanging glances. “We’re looking for a runaway girl,” said the captain. "Can I have your name?"

“I’m Abby Chapman.”

“And your name,” he said, looking at Phoebe.

“Phoebe Hood.”

Stephanie appeared behind Sammy and announced, “I’d like to introduce my uncle, Freddy Baez, the managing editor of the ‘Evansville Record’. He’d like to interview you all for a story.”

The police looked at each other. “Sorry Freddy,” said the captain. “We were just leaving. I think we’ve finished our investigation.”

Meanwhile Phoebe followed Abby down into the shadows away from the spotlight. In a moment they were at the back door of the toy store, and stepped inside into complete darkness. They felt their way to the tiny chairs in the children’s corner and sat in silence. Phoebe nudged Abby’s knee. “How long?” she whispered.

“Long enough for the crowd and our friends and the police to leave,” replied Abby.

“But the watchers will stay,” Phoebe pointed out.

“Of course they will,” returned Abby.

“Why give them what they want?”

“I want to trap them,” Abby went on. “And they’re so greedy they’ll fall right into it.” 

“I just don’t see how you’re going to manage it,” Phoebe complained.

They sat in silence for what seemed to Phoebe like forever, when Abby picked up her head. “All right, it’s time. They’ll all be gone. We’re out the front door and down the sidewalk toward the river.” The street was deserted except for a few men lounging on the benches in front of the Middletown Standard office.

“Oh yes!” exulted Abby in a whisper. Her eyes gleamed. “That’s Bob Bentley standing there! We’ll just stroll along.”

On they walked. The Half Moon Bridge and the dim trees lining the river seemed to be a dividing line between the town and the wilderness. Beyond the river, the lights were few and then none at all. The stars shone with a vivid, colorful brightness that shocked Phoebe. But above the cliffs those stars were smothered in a thick black curtain, punctuated only by the lightning that lit up the landscape for brief moments. “They’re behind us,” came Abby’s low voice. “Don’t turn around. Don’t ever turn around. Just let them follow as if we don’t know. They’ve got their lights off.”

Phoebe was already aware of the noise following them. She’d heard it before. The fan belt or something made a click, audible in the deep quiet. A dog barked in the distance. Something howled far, far away.

Suddenly a bolt of lightning cracked close at hand, lighting up the landscape with a vivid power she had never seen before…


And The Upcoming...GHOST GIRL (Book III) 

by John KixMiller

by Gideon Chase

Learn More About Phoebe And The Players In Middletown!

Phoebe Breaks Through - Episode 21

Episode 21


The punch to her cheekbone had opened a cut on Phoebe’s face that dripped blood, and the bruise began to swell. Stephanie and Abby walked her to a chair near the band and washed the cut. Sammy appeared with the house first aide kit, applied ointment and a bandage, and advised her to go to the hospital for stitches. Phoebe refused. Sammy threatened to call 911, but Police Chief Santiago said he was already on the scene and would drive Phoebe to the hospital once he took her statement. Phoebe told the band to get started ASAP, and asked if she could speak to Chief Santiago outside.

They moved a couple of folding chairs out onto the soccer field and sat down for a talk. The music was loud enough to cover their voices, but distant enough to make conversation possible. “There’s an awful lot to say,” began Phoebe.

Nico and Geo suddenly appeared next to them as if they had sprouted from the grass. In the shadowy darkness they resembled elves more than 12 year old boys.

“Ready to report,” said Nico, and saluted.

The Chief started. “What the…?”

“Maybe she’s busy,” whispered Geo.

“Not too busy for what we got,” retorted Nico.

“Nico and Geo,” said Phoebe, “meet Daniel Santiago, Middletown’s chief of police.”

“Hi Chief,” replied Nico. “We met before, but no need to go into that. “ He turned to Phoebe. “We got business. Should we report here?”

“Yes, give us all the details.” Phoebe turned to the Chief and said as an aside, “Scouts. The best.”

Nico saw that his audience was ready, and began: “Well, we were watching the watchers, keeping track of all of them, when we noticed the new watcher move over to the white van, and look through the fence.”

“The watchers?” asked the Chief.

“Men watching the coffee shop,” explained Nico. “They been there since it was light. Five of them, now six. They moved back across the street when you came out.”

“I see. Very interesting. Continue.”

“We kept an eye on the tall thin one that gave the kid the bag. After the kid punched you the tall guy started cursing, and then knocked on the window of the van.” Nico tossed his head to indicate the nearby van past the hole in the fence. “A guy in uniform stepped out and they started talking.”

“What kind of uniform?” asked the Chief.

“Like brownish gray with stiff hats like Parks Police, but light colored.”

“I see,” said the Chief. “Go on.”

“The tall guy wanted them to stop the concert, empty the place, and search for something.” Nico began to imitate the tall guy’s voice, loud and angry. “I told the governor I want action! Do you hear me! Action! And what are you doing? Nothing! I’ll have a word with the governor…”

Geo laughed. The Chief and Phoebe looked at each other, and they both mouthed the word, ‘Morphy’.

“So the other guy says, ‘I have my orders. We’ll close in as people leave, and search the place afterward. You’ll find the girl…’”

“You boys deserve a medal!” exclaimed the Chief. “But that will have to wait. Now go watch the concert, we won’t forget you.”

The Chief walked back inside to talk to the lawyers, and Phoebe took a moment to lean against the back wall of the coffee shop and let the time go by. Her head swam. The wound had begun to throb… but it didn’t matter. She knew that whatever Abby had planned, she would accompany her. It was her fate, Phoebe thought. She was on the way, come what may. There was no stopping it now. Everything was at stake, and she would have her chance to be someone, and make a difference.

Her eyes had been looking at nothing for some time. The music had stopped. Suddenly she noticed a movement in the shadows. There were men in uniform moving forward to the edge of the backyard. The music began again, and she recognized the tune. It was Jeremy’s song, the one they used to close the concert. The chords and the cowbell started out clean and simple, one strum to a line. The audience reacted with scattered whoops and cheers. The guitar ripped into the melody, and Jeremy’s high, thin voice rang out…

Something’s happening I can see

Didn’t used to feel like this to be me

I’m living, living


And The Upcoming...GHOST GIRL (Book III) 

by John KixMiller

Living illustration

by Carlos Uribe

Living Music By The Protectors of The Wood Band

Learn More About Phoebe And The Players In Middletown!

Phoebe Breaks Through - Episode 20

Episode 20



In just ten minutes, the tickets to the concert were gone, except for a couple Phoebe kept in reserve. The backyard returned to normal, except now it was all about food and socializing, with soccer playing at a minimum. Only a few young children kicked a ball around. Eating and chatting people surrounded the tables.

Nico and Geo appeared, waiting for Phoebe’s instructions. “Where have you been?” she asked.

“Just wandering around,” replied Nico. “It’s different tonight.”

“What kind of different? People doing things they shouldn’t be doing? Things I wouldn’t want them to do?”

“I don’t know.” Nico had a serious look. “Maybe.”

“What’s maybe?” Phoebe asked. She could tell they had spotted something.

“Grown men standing by themselves with nothing to do,” Nico said. “Just watching.”


“Over there beyond the fence.”

“Okay,” Phoebe told them, “your job is to watch them from a distance without attracting attention. Tell me immediately if they do anything. Don’t approach them.”

The evening haze settled over the town. At a certain point Abby took Phoebe aside and said, “They’re here. But don’t do anything. I just want you to know.”

“Who’s here?

“Don’t look until I go back inside. Mitch Connelly’s brother and half-brother and some others. Even Bob Bentley’s out there. He’s got some nerve, that criminal. They’ll just watch until it’s time to leave. I’m going to need your help.”

“What about the police?

“That’s just a ruse, a way to smoke me out. They don’t want me talking to the police. They don’t want anyone knowing what this is all about, not even their own people.”

“So I just wait?” asked Phoebe.

“Exactly,” returned Abby. “And help Sammy. That’s where the police could do harm.”

The haze was turning to dark. The party went on. The watchers stayed at a distance. Nico and Geo appeared at Phoebe’s side. “Reporting for duty,” Nico said crisply with a salute. His brother laughed.

“What’s up?” asked Phoebe anxiously. This waiting game was getting on her nerves.

Nico came closer and spoke softly. “A kid appeared and talked to one of the grown men doing nothing. The man gave him a bag and said, ‘Scatter these around under tables. Don’t get caught. The money’s in there.'"

“What’s he look like?”

“Taller than me with a baseball cap and a strange coat, too big for him.”

“Fantastic work. I owe you. I’ll see you both get free food. Now go off duty and see the concert.” 

“We like this better,” replied Nico. “We’ll find out more stuff.”

“I don’t know…” Phoebe was nervous. “You’re great at it, but it’s getting dangerous.”

Suddenly a few chords sounded from an electric guitar, and the conga drum laid out a rhythm. The crowd grew restless and swarmed over the area near the steps. Phoebe struggled to hold her post. In the excitement people became rude as she checked their tickets and admitted them. Nico pulled on her shirt and she looked down at him. “Here comes the kid,” he said. “Remember what I said?”

Phoebe looked up and saw someone approach from off the line and try to slip by her. She threw out her arm and caught him around the waist. In the jarring collision she heard the muffled clink of glass. ‘Bottles,’ she thought.

“Hey, get in line! Where’s your ticket?”

“I just want to see my friend. If I don’t I’ll get in trouble.”

“Sorry, can’t let you.”

The boy lowered his head and took a step away. In a second he turned and darted back under Phoebe’s arm, but she grabbed his jacket as he went by. They both fell, and as they stood up a small bottle of vodka fell onto the steps.

“I’d like to know who gave you that,” she said.

In a panic he looked wildly at the crowd around him and swung at Phoebe, hitting her hard, knuckles on the cheekbone, and flew off like a streak into the darkness. Stunned for a moment, Phoebe staggered. The crowd swarmed around her.


And The Upcoming...GHOST GIRL (Book III) 

by John KixMiller

The Tension Heats Up illustration

by Carlos Uribe

Learn More About Phoebe And The Players In Middletown!