The Ghost Girl - Episode 7


Illustration By Carlos Uribe

Illustration By Carlos Uribe

THE PRAYER OF ALL LIFE, illustration by Carlos Uribe
Back in the tiny churchyard cottage, Abby’s mind was flooded with too many questions to think clearly. She needed someone to talk to. Suddenly she felt very alone and scared, practically imprisoned in the churchyard, isolated from her friends. She began to pace around the room, disturbed by a feeling that she was missing something. With a sudden inspiration she remembered the envelope from the grocery bag brought by Geraldine, and her hand flew to her pocket. There it was, plain and small and thin, with her name written boldly on the front in pencil. She tore it open and discovered a note from Phoebe. Feeling her heart pounding, she read:

Abby -- I miss you already! I’d like to give you time to get settled, but things have come up that we should talk about right away. As you know, Tuck is not allowing us in the churchyard, and you will be watched and followed wherever you go. The men from that mob last night are likely to be pretty nervous about the outcome of all this. I’m sure George wants to see you, but I think it’s too risky for him. But I will come to the back door of the churchyard, tonight at 1AM. I’ll continue to send notes through Geraldine, who is very cooperative.
With Love and Hope,

“Ah!” thought Abby with relief. “That helps. But why does Phoebe need to see me so badly? And why is it especially dangerous for George?” She began to pace around the tiny cottage like a caged animal. “And where is Reverend Tuck?” she wondered. “This Church Council meeting seems to be going on for a long time.”
Abby recalled everything she knew about the Church Council. The picture that came to mind was not reassuring. The Council would be voting, maybe at that very moment, on whether or not to allow her to be the church gardener and live in the cottage rent-free. She had moved heaven and earth to achieve this change, and was already planning the gardens and orchards she would plant, a dazzling array of vegetables, fruits, and flowers, all from Wendy’s seeds and cuttings.
“My seeds! Oh my God, I don’t have my seeds!” She remembered in a panic that her seeds were carefully hidden behind a decaying sheet rock wall on the second floor of the haunted house. Her guitar and whistles were back there too. And her bike was under the floorboards of the broken porch. Abby felt certain that the haunted house would be thoroughly searched sometime soon, if it had not happened already. Her seeds had been carefully chosen over years of planting in Wendy’s gardens. They were an irreplaceable treasure. Worrying frantically about the council meeting and her prized possessions, Abby could not sit still, and felt her heart race. The loss of her new home would leave her with nowhere to go. It was all more than she could bear.
“Help me! Help me!” In her thoughts she called out, looking for the voice of her inner friend, the green being from her vision. 

Thumbing through her copy of Black Elk Speaks, she was reminded of a strange idea that had grown in her heart since childhood. Many times she had been moved to tears by the words near the end of the book, the part where Black Elk says, “And I, to whom so great a vision was given in my youth – you see me now a pitiful old man who has done nothing, for the nation’s hoop is broken and scattered. There is no center any longer, and the sacred tree is dead.”
And then Abby turned to his last words in the book, where Black Elk prays from a mountaintop, crying aloud:
“It may be that some little root of the sacred tree still lives. Nourish it then, that it may leaf and bloom and fill with singing birds… In sorrow I am sending a feeble voice, O Six Powers of the World. Hear me in my sorrow, for I may never call again. O make my people live!”

Each time Abby read these words, she thought of the urgent sadness in the eyes of the green being, her earth angel, and she imagined that Black Elk and the angel were the same being, that an angel had been born as Black Elk, and became an angel again when he died, a guardian of souls, and of all life. And his vision, his dream of helping the sacred tree to live – that dream was not dead, but was fought for by angels, and lived in the heart of humans. Wendy had taught Abby that this is the prayer of all life.

“Let it live! Let it live! Let it live!” came the voice, surging with fierce energy inside her. 

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Mysteries arise as Phoebe unravels the secrets in her small town. Deep in the marrow of her bones, she feels that all her hopes are in danger of being lost. A powerful gem called dreamstone appears at the heart of the mystery.

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 Ghost Girl - Episode 5



Dr. Geraldine Bear entered the cottage, saying, “I hope I’m not disturbing you, dear. I know we’re all exhausted from yesterday.”
“No, no, I’m up and around,” replied Abby quickly. “How are… um, things?”
The doctor looked at her carefully. “Well, things are generally good. But I’ve had to act on your behalf since I saw you last, and I owe you an explanation.”
“I already know,” returned Abby. “You told people I’m suffering from post traumatic stress, and can’t receive guests.”
“You must be wondering why I did this. I know it was presumptuous – after all, I’m not really your doctor. You have every right to be angry.”
“No, I’m actually relieved. You’ve given me an excuse to keep the crowds away. It’s all a little overwhelming.”
“Ah! You do understand! I’m trying to be your friend, unless you really want a doctor. And please call me Geraldine. You need some help here.”
“I’d like to know,” Abby said, “do you really think I have post traumatic stress, or just need a rest?”
“I would say a good deal of both,” answered Geraldine. “There are enormous conflicts here that affect all of us. These matters run very deep, and you probably know more about them than I do.” Geraldine waited for Abby to respond, but she began unpacking the grocery bags and avoiding Geraldine’s eyes.
“That’s okay dear, but if you need to talk, just let me know.”
“Oh, this food is just what I need!” exclaimed Abby, ignoring Geraldine’s offer.
“You have wonderful friends. Just a few minutes ago Phoebe, Stephanie, Jeremy, George, and Eddy all arrived with these gifts for you.”
At the bottom of the second bag Abby found an envelope addressed to her. She folded it in half and slipped it into a pocket of her jeans.
“My goodness!” cried Geraldine in alarm. She was looking out the small kitchen window. “Do you see? The crowd is already on the sidewalk! Tuck will need me. We’ll talk later, don’t go anywhere!” She disappeared out the door.

Abby stared out the window at the action on Bridge Avenue, watching people arrive on foot and stepping out of taxi-cabs. Soon a line of double-parked cars ran up the road as far as she could see, including a WBCS television van. Reporters were interviewing people on the street. Abby found it hard to remain still, and began to pace around the tiny cottage. “What is Tuck going to say?” she wondered. “Is he going to mention me?” 

In half an hour she grew frantic, and exceedingly curious. Soon almost no one was left on the street. Abby opened the cottage door to get a better look, and noticed that the side door of the sanctuary was wide open. Clearly they needed a breeze through the church on that hot day. Abby examined the layout of the churchyard and made a plan. She climbed out the back window behind the line of old apple trees, and then advanced toward the church partly screened from Bridge Avenue by a few large maple trees. Finally she risked a few quick steps to a well-hidden position between the church wall and the back of the large, wide open door. Looking carefully through the opening at the hinges, Abby saw the altar well lit by a chandelier high above. Off to one side stood Geraldine at the podium, reading out loud from the Bible. 

“From Proverbs, chapter 8,” she said.
Abby listened carefully: 
“Listen! Wisdom is calling out. Reason is making herself heard. On the hilltops near the road, and at the crossroads she stands. At the entrance to the city, beside the gates, she calls: ‘I appeal to you, mankind. I call to everyone on earth… I was made in the very beginning, at the first, before the world began… before God made the earth and it’s fields or even the first handful of soil. I was there when he set the sky in place, when he stretched the horizon across the ocean, when he placed the clouds in the sky, when he opened the springs of the ocean and ordered the waters of the sea to rise no further than he said. I was there when he laid the earth’s foundations. I was beside him like an architect. I was his daily source of joy, always happy in his presence – happy with the world and pleased with the human race… The man who finds me finds life, and the Lord will be pleased with him.”
Geraldine bowed her head. “This is the word of the Lord,” she said.

The 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.

The Ghost Girl - Episode 3

Episode 3


Illustration By Carlos Uribe

Illustration By Carlos Uribe

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

The Ghost Girl - Episode 2

Episode 2


Illustration By Carlow Uribe

Illustration By Carlow Uribe

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.”



The Ghost Girl- Episode 1

Episode 1



Later that night – after the state police and the reporters and the television crew had all gone – Reverend Tuck told Abby she’d better make herself a decent place to sleep in the gardener’s cottage. That small, flimsy two-room structure had not been lived in for a decade, and needed work and supplies. Tuck gathered sheets and blankets and a pillow, a broom and dustpan, light bulbs, sponges, two kinds of soap, toilette paper, some dishes and cups, a small pot, and a frying pan. “But don’t sleep yet,” he added. “I must have another word with you before tomorrow.” Then he turned to Middletown Police Chief Santiago and Dr. Geraldine Bear to continue their conversation.

Abby took five trips from Reverend Tuck’s living quarters near the sanctuary to the cottage in the churchyard, taking all the above items as well as her duffel bag, striped red blanket, a handful of tea bags, and some leftovers from their excellent dinner. Long after midnight she finished cleaning and organizing part of the kitchen and a place to sleep. Then she rewarded herself by taking an old folding chair outside and sitting under the amazing night sky. A breeze blew through the leaves of the giant maple trees. The world was blissfully empty of people. She scanned the tumultuous events of the day, and their happy ending.

“This happened to me!” Abby thought. “Something special happened for me!”
She leaned back and took a deep breath of the fresh air that had blown into Middletown some hours before, sweeping out the enormous thunderheads and drenching rain, and leaving a crystal clear sky and a sense of a new world beginning. The stars were unusually bright and colorful, and dazzling in their swirling multitudes, going on forever. Abby began to sense a strange shift in her awareness, a sense of another world she had experienced since childhood. She normally avoided these feelings whenever possible, and quickly tried to snap her attention back to the mundane objects close at hand. But it was too late. The stars had triggered her most powerful memory…

Already she saw the stars coming closer, and felt the eerie sensation that she was rising to meet them. The small gray shape of Wendy was walking ahead of her through the dark forest. Abby could hear an uncanny melody, with a high voice singing. Her memory of the song obsessed her as the years went by. 

Through heaven and earth a tree is growing
Around the world a river is flowing
We can travel by secret ways
Like a shadow through our days
Follow me, come and see
We’re climbing the world tree

As the ages have gone by
The abyss has grown so wide
Heaven and earth are separate now
A journey no one know how
Follow me, come and see
We’re climbing the world tree

Do you see how we come closer
We’re on the pathway to the stars
Reach out your hand and touch the heavens
It’s not far, it’s not far!
Follow me, come and see
We’re climbing the world tree



by John KixMiller


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Our deepest thanks to all of you from around the earth following our story of a group of misfit teenagers who save the world from climate change. In Books 1 and 2 we saw the action from the point of view of Phoebe, an eighteen-year old girl who returns from college to find her hometown suddenly in the grip of mystery and danger.

In book #3 Abby becomes the church gardener and moves into the old, run-down churchyard cottage. She soon discovers that she is watched night and day by professional investigators hired by the colossal corporation trying to take over the town, and force Abby to reveal the secrets of the forest and the source of dreamstone.

Reverend Tuck, Abby, and their allies form a community council to run churchyard events and gather support for their efforts to engage the church in the fight against climate change. The community in Rivergate, an island in the wetland preserve, and Abby’s childhood home, joins their mission. The struggle with Milton Morphy and his corporate empire reaches a dangerous climax as Abby flees for her life into the forest.


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Protectors of the Wood #3 by John KixMiller

Protectors of the Wood #3

by John KixMiller

Giveaway ends May 05, 2019.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

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