Via The Haunted Wordsmith’s Finish the Story #9
Thank you, Denny, for tagging me in this fun challenge. Without further blabber, here are all three parts of the story:
Welcome to Finish The Story
The Haunted Wordsmith starts a story, then another has to pick up the story and add to it, then hand it off to another person, etc. until the story is complete. This has proven to be quite fun in a blogging situation since we all have different approaches.
The County Fair Part 1 by The Haunted Wordsmith
Ashley and Jacob, Jared and Melanie, and Tony decided to skip school on Friday to spend the day at the Reno County Fair. The Midway didn’t open until noon, so they looked at all the animals, pet the goats and camel in the petting zoo, and felt completely ripped off by the world’s smallest horse. Tony waited and ate a snow cone while the couples went on the Love Canal ride.
“Where do you want to go now, Tony?” Ashley asked.
They all made a point when they went out together to not make Tony feel like a third wheel. While they all thought their fourteen-year friendship was stronger than that, they really didn’t want him to feel left out or pushed away.
“I’ve been thinking.” Tony grew a wicked grin that everyone recognized. He wanted to do something that would either get them kicked out, the police called, or worse — they would call someone’s parent. “Let’s go check out the ….”
Part 2 by Denny McBride
“Let’s go check out the old county jail!”
Ashley looked at Jacob. Jacob looked at Ashley. Jared looked at Melanie. Melanie looked at Jared. All four were gape-mouthed and wide-eyed. They all turned toward Tony, who was still grinning like a madman and actually rubbing his hands together, and spoke simultaneously.
“Yeah I don’t think that’s such a good idea.” “What, are you crazy?” “Um, no?” “Oh hell no!”
“What?” Tony cried, eyebrows arched and shrugging his shoulders. “Are you all too chicken?” He tucked his fingers beneath his armpits and started flapping his folded arms. He strutted in a rough circle, jerking his head forward and back, forward and back. “Bawk! Bawk! B-GAWK!”
Ashley folded her arms and cocked a hip. “That’s not even funny, Tony. That place gives me the heebie-jeebies just looking at it from the road.”
“Yeah,” Jacob added, “and that overgrown field around it’s gotta be full of ticks. I bet there’s snakes in there, too!” He shivered.
Melanie had gone pale and quiet. She drooped her head, and her straight, brown hair fell over her eyes. She hugged herself tightly, fingertips pressed so firmly into her triceps that the skin around them was white. “You know that place is…” she whispered, then gulped, her throat clicking, “…haunted.”
Jared hugged her with his right arm. “Even if we wanted to, how would we get over that fence? The concertina wire on top would rips us to shreds. No thanks to tetanus today, man.”
Tony put his hands on his hips, threw his head back, and cackled. “You are scared! I can’t believe it! Haunted? I’ve been going there every weekend for the past month,” he spat, “and there aren’t any ghosts.”
“Still,” Jacob said, “how would we get over that fence? If we were interested, y’know?” He looked at the others, elbows bent and palms up, a silly grin on his lips. “You don’t really believe the jail is haunted, do you?”
Jared rubbed Melanie’s back in soothing circles. “Yeah babe, and even if it were, Big J would take care of you!” He stepped back, flexed his left arm, and kissed his bicep, looking at Melanie and waggling his eyebrows.
Melanie giggled and punched him softly on his left arm. They hugged. “I know you would, Jare.” They kissed.
Tony rolled his eyes. “Ugh, knock it off. Anyway, I cut the fence. We won’t have to climb.”
Ashley and Jacob stood side-to-side, arms around each other’s waists. “I don’t know, Tone,” Jacob said, “what’s so special about the jail?” “Yeah,” Ashley added, “what could there possibly be to see? That place has been empty since before we were born.”
Tony stuck his lower lip out and jammed his hands in his pockets, shoulders up around his ears. “Well,” he pouted, “I wanted to surprise you, but if I have to tell you to get you there…”
“Spill it, Tone,” said Melanie, “or else I vote we go to Brrr Stacks for mochaccinos.”
Tony stepped toward the couples and put one hand on Jacob’s shoulder, the other on Jared’s. “Now don’t freak out,” he said, “but I’ve kinda been seeing someone—“
All four of them gasped then congratulated him all at once.
Jacob pounded his back. “Awesome, dude!”
Ashley clapped her hands and hopped up and down. “Tony, that’s wonderful!”
Melanie hugged him then stepped back, beaming. “I’m so happy for you, Tony!”
Jared put him in a headlock and knuckled his scalp. “’Bout time, son! Hey wait, what does that have to do with the jail?”
Tony blushed. “—and she kinda lives there.”
Jared’s jaw was punched agape. Melanie and Ashley were on the cusp of a Victorian faint.
“You’re messing with us, right?”, Jacob inserted, hopeful.
Jared became conscious of his parting lips and closed his mouth.
“You want to meet her or not?”, Tony challenged.
A minute-long silence blanketed the air. Pale Melanie and dubious Ashley shook their heads. Jacob and Jared looked back and forth between Tony and the girls.
“Why can’t she meet us at the fair?”, Ashley broke the silence.
Tony’s forehead was throbbing with frustration. “Because … because she is…”
“A ghost?”, Jacob interjected with a condescending chuckle.
Ashley and Jared burst into broken giggles. Melanie tightened the grip on her arms, nails digging into the skin.
Tony’s grin appeared on his face and stretched from right ear to left cheek. “No, but she ran away from home and is hiding in the jail”.
Four distinct voices simultaneously shouted, “WHAT?”
“I know…I know. But her parents are horrible people, a’ight? And she is very cool, I promise”, Tony said in a haste.
“And there’s no ghost?” Melanie croaked.
“No ghost. It’s probably only run-away kids that hide there, and folks assume it’s haunted. Just a bunch of desperate, lonely, but cool teenagers!” Tony presented his argument with a confident voice.
“Okay, fine. But you better not be lying about her being cool, we don’t wanna get into trouble”, Ashley pouted.
“Let’s go meet Tony’s girl!” Jared announced, enthusiastically punching Tony’s arm and then giving Jacob a double punch on the shoulder.
Five shadows moved towards the county jail. Tony was washed with disbelief. He had somehow convinced them to go to an almost-collapsed building, infested with all sorts of revolting insects, to meet an imaginary rebellious girl. He made sure to take them around the jail and in from the right side so that they wouldn’t see the ‘No Trespassing’ sign.
As they got close to the fence, Melanie halted, “I’m not sure about this, it doesn’t feel right”.
“I said I’d save you, Mel, don’t worry, need I flash my guns again?”, Jared smiled.
The excitement was bubbling in Tony’s stomach, “Okay, enough vomit-inducing cuteness, through here”. He pointed to a hole in the fence.
Jacob went in first, holding out a hand to Ashley. Jared crouched and crawled in next. Melanie took one last glance at Tony and moved her hesitant body through the hole.
“Just go straight in, I’m right behind you”, Tony reassured as he pulled his phone out of his jeans’ pocket, the grin siting wide on his face.
“Oh, hi, I wanted to report trespassing teenagers in the county jail…”
A shrill scream interrupted him. It sounded like Melanie. Tony thought, she probably saw a spider or a rat.
He looked into the window, focusing on their shadows. Melanie was covering her face with both hands while Jared held her protectively. Jacob and Ashley were walking backward, away from a fifth shadow.
“Hello…are you still there..?” the voice in the phone inquired.
Tony turned and ran towards the fair.
“The county jail, county jail, there’s someone…”
He tripped on a protruding rock and fell onto the grass, asleep from the hit. His phone lay among the crickets and the muffled voice kept asking, ”Which county jail? Hello?”
My part was supposed to end the story. But if anyone fancies continuing this fun, please do so!