Excerpt for Diana's Incredible Journey Book One, Fall of Mendacium by , available in its entirety at Smashwords



Diana’s Incredible Journey

Book One

Fall of Mendacium



By

Eva Roblins


Text Copyright © 2018 Eva Roblins

All Rights Reserved

No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, or otherwise, without the written permission of the publisher.

This book is a book of fiction. Names, characters, events, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to persons whether living or dead or actual events is purely coincidental.

Cover Design by EbookLaunch

ISBN 978-0-9861861-6-5 - EBOOK

ISBN 978-0-9861861-8-9 - PAPERBACK

www.evaroblins.com


IN MEMORIAM

Ariana Binave (2004 - 2018)

Ariana was a lovely child who departed our world far too young. She was outgoing, always friendly with a perpetual smile of friendship on her face. Her Dad said, “She was like sunshine even when it was dark.” According to one of her dear friends, Ariana was an angel on earth, and she always said, “Live life beautifully.” Yes, Ariana, we will live life beautifully, as we fondly recall your wonderful spirit and your infectious smile. Your loving family and friends and the faculty, and classmates at Oliver Middle School, Nashville, Tennessee truly miss you. We will think of you often as you smile upon us from Heaven. Rest in Peace our lovely, sweet, precious Angel.

Sydney Renee Manley (2010 - 2018)

Sydney was a true warrior, a heroine in the eyes of thousands. She knew how to make others laugh. She always put others’ feelings before her own. She never gave up. She visited other children who were suffering from cancer so that she could help to bring smiles to their faces. Sydney organized a toy drive that brought in thousands of toys for cancer patients and their families. During her battle with cancer, Sydney’s beautiful smile never left her face. Her gorgeous eyes, happy attitude, infectious smile and generous heart were an inspiration to others around the world. Finally, when she had decided in her courageous way that she had enough, enough of the surgery, treatments, chemotherapy, being poked with needles, she decided it on her terms. She would decide when she would fly into the arms of Jesus. So, for those of us who might be jealous that Sydney got to meet Jesus before we did, we shall always remember her touching words. “I know you’re jelly I get to see Jesus first, but if you’re gonna be jelly be strawberry jelly. It’s the best!” We miss you, “Super Sydney.” And we love you. Thank you for blessing all our lives with your amazing presence. Rest in Peace our lovely, sweet, precious Angel.


Other Works by Eva Roblins

Eva Roblins and the Enchanted Gate, Book One - Return of the Princess

Eva Roblins and the Enchanted Gate, Book Two - Conquest of the Hidden Valley

Freddy Meets Carmen the Talking Mouse

Gloves for Jose - A Brief Tale of Love and Compassion


DEDICATION

With Love and Respect to my Dear Friend Diana Jane Fowler

with an awesome, totally coolio, yepity, yep, yep

~~~


“If there is something I frown on more than anything, it must be lying. Lying is worse than stealing. Stealing is tangible. It can be seen and touched. And one can always replace stolen items. On the other hand, lying is invisible and can remain hidden for the longest time. Once discovered, a lie can never reverse its trickery, renew trust in another or heal a broken heart.” ~ Diana

“It’s better to ignore ignorance than to travel the path of foolishness.” ~ Diana

“Well, as Dorothy had said in the Wizard of Oz, ‘Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore,’ I am fairly certain we are not in a place or era of my time.’” ~ Diana

“They remind me of overripened, nasty peas in a bully pod.” ~ Diana

“Right now, only four percent of nearly five billion dollars of research funds go to research for childhood cancer. Children with cancer deserve as much as a chance to live as adults.” ~ Charles

“I know you’re jelly I get to see Jesus first, but if you’re gonna be jelly be strawberry jelly. It’s the best!” ~ Sydney

“A bully was bullying others while being bullied by bullies. How ironic is that? When will it stop? Will it ever stop?” ~ Diana

“Like the nightmarish scenes you’ve witnessed and the battles you fought here in the World Beyond, your scars are yours and yours alone. Your scars and the suffering in your heart are yours to bear and nobody else’s.” ~ Charles

~~~




CONTENTS

DEDICATION

PREFACE

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

INTRODUCTION: SETTING THE STAGE

CHAPTER ONE: ASTONISHING EYE OPENERS

CHAPTER TWO: THE WORLD BEYOND

CHAPTER THREE: THE LETTER

CHAPTER FOUR: I DUNNO

CHAPTER FIVE: CONFESSIONS OVER CREAM SODA

CHAPTER SIX: DEEP IN THE FOREST

CHAPTER SEVEN: SELF-CONTROL

CHAPTER EIGHT: KINDNESS AND MENDACIUM’S MADNESS

CHAPTER NINE: JOURNEY FOR TRUTH BEGINS

CHAPTER TEN: REVENGE OF MENDACIUM

CHAPTER ELEVEN: ROCKS AND STONES AND FLAT TIRES

CHAPTER TWELVE: PREPARATION FOR THE FINAL BATTLE

CHAPTER THIRTEEN: THERE ARE WORSE THINGS THAN EXPULSION

CHAPTER FOURTEEN: THE BATTLE BETWEEN TRUTH AND LIES

CHAPTER FIFTEEN: TOGETHER AS ONE

CHAPTER SIXTEEN: DIANA, CHARLES, AND FRIENDS

EPILOGUE

CITED WORKS

GLOSSARY


PREFACE

Diana and my novel began with a simple question, as I asked her something along these lines. “How would you like to be in a book?” I had already published a book that included Diana’s fictional character, Dianise. Fortunately, Diana did not think I was going crazy. She replied, “Sure!”

I asked Diana for input to our story, assorted little-known things I mention in the acknowledgments page. As I worked through the plot of our story, I knew it would, by hook or by crook, focus somewhat on softball. Diana is the catcher on a ladies travel softball team. She is very talented, and her superb athleticism is apparent.

But a fictional novel about softball? Too constrained, too narrow and, although I love softball, too uninteresting for my liking. I mean, why read about softball when you can watch it on television or watch Diana at Play? I needed something more.

Diana told me about her lifelong ghost, Charles. He plays tricks on her and her friends. I also have a ghost, Jessica. So, I can relate to her having a ghost. Everybody should have a ghost with whom they can talk to - (when no one else is around!). Therefore, Charles became a primary character in our story. I also created three other primary characters. One is “I Dunno,” Diana’s protector pixie. Another is Jayvyn (Life Spirit), Diana’s noble steed. I will talk about the third character in a moment.

I understood that our protagonist, Diana, needed to be a heroine. I thought, why not make Diana a softball heroine? But, how to connect softball with Diana’s fictional character in an interesting way? Then an epiphany struck me like a hammer knocking me on my noggin.

Like the theme in my other published novels, I touched on the scourge of bullying. But, this time with a different topic. Adult bullying. Then, I added a bit more drama. I tied bullying to deceit, fabrications, and lies, all matters of falsehoods, resulting from a ladies’ championship softball tournament. I added corruption, threats and illegal, criminal innuendoes for good measure.

Then another epiphany hit me. I would split Diana into two separate beings. Her personae would be in two places at once! I understood at the onset that having two separate timelines, with two of Diana’s beings in two different worlds, would be difficult to pen. However, once I pursue a dream, I never quit. I kept writing.

In our story, Diana in the Real-world would navigate the tumultuous road of bullying, lies, deceit, corruption, scams, and threats as she sought the truth. Meanwhile, her double would battle the same falsehoods in the World Beyond. Diana in the Real-world would be a normal teenager doing what teenagers do. Diana in the World Beyond would use her intelligence, longbow, and sword to battle evil creatures. Naturally, as she battled evil creatures, she also met friendly, peace-loving creatures along the way.

Finally, I needed a villain. Certainly, the bully(s) in our story were villains. Diana in the Real-world would have to contend with those. Meanwhile, Diana in the World Beyond would need a villain as well. I thought, “Wait a minute here! Why not have a villain common to both worlds!”

The words lie, lying, falsehood, fraud, etcetera, translate in Latin to Mendacium. So, I thought, why not make Mendacium our common villain! I went a few steps further by giving Mendacium two other names to which I refer to him in our story. The King of Deceit and He who is Unmerciful.

There you have it. Diana, the heroine softball player in the Real-world battles, in an emotional sense, bullying, deceit, corruption, and lies after lies brought about by Mendacium’s wickedness. While at the same time, her primary warrior persona in the World Beyond battles Mendacium and his evil cohorts in a more physical sense, as the Heroine Youngster of the World Beyond, Empress Artemis-Diana.

In closing, I offer this. Our story is about a fictional fourteen-year-old female who overcomes insurmountable odds to make our world a better place. As such, teenagers can relate to our story. However, it is important to mention. Our story also deals with the scourge of bullying, an issue common to all ages. Also, since our story has no bad language, it is suitable for pre-teens, as well as for adults.

I hope you enjoy our story; God-willing, the first of many in the series, Diana’s Incredible Journey.

Edward H. Kightlinger, Sr.

Lieutenant Commander, United States Navy (Ret.)

Writing under the pseudonym Eva Roblins


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I must recognize my friend, the Real-world teenager, Diana, to whom I proudly dedicate our book of fiction. Diana’s likeness is the central character of this novel. As the storyline evolved from a thought and a prayer to writing it, up until its completion, Diana furnished essential input. She provided me with countless ideas concerning the idiosyncrasies, habits, and likes and dislikes of her fictional character likeness. Quips in our story such as yepity, yep, yep; coolio and Nnnnnooooooooooo, I owe to Diana. Other similarities presented in a fictional manner in our story also originated with Diana. These include our fictional character’s taste in music, her love of Chinese orange chicken and, yes, unquestionably, her fondness for French fries with a dab of ketchup on the side. These are but a few of the many examples of Diana’s invaluable input to the storyline. I cannot take an iota of credit, and I am deeply indebted to her.

Diana is an intelligent, inquisitive, and talented young lady. Her grasp of the fine arts and her reading of great books, along with her accomplished acting ability, are the basis for many scenes in our story. Her active involvement in athletics such as softball and roller skating attests to her athleticism and team spirit. Her physical prowess made it much easier to project her character likeness as a powerful, determined and resolute young lady, a warrior of uncharacteristic tenacity who has to persevere against all the odds.

Unlike many of her peers, Diana would rather play sports, write, draw, or read a great novel than gawp at a video screen. Stating this is not to say video games are prejudicial and that she doesn’t play Xbox games. On the contrary. She does play video games. They are a fantastic respite from the humdrum of modern life. Just the same, it is encouraging to recognize a teenager who patterns her daily routine around flexibility rather than technology. It goes without saying. Diana lives her life to its fullest.

More importantly, Diana is respectful, mannerly, humble, and a positive role model for others. She goes out of her way to make people happy. Everyone she sees, whether old or young, she says hello to without hesitation. I have yet to meet a more outgoing, bubbly teen with a positive outlook on life like Diana. Her attributes attest to her inner strength and yes, undoubtedly, to the love, respect, and attention given to her by her parents. To her parents, I say thank you. You have done a marvelous job of teaching Diana everything there is to know about righteousness and respect for others.

Until I penned our novel, I have never asked another person for input when writing my novels. Therefore, I am indebted to Diana for helping to enrich our novel’s storyline. Her invaluable assistance is one of the many reasons why, when I refer to this novel, I affectionally describe it as our novel. For it belongs to Diana as much as it belongs to me. After all, it is for, about, and lovingly dedicated to Diana as her courageous character likeness, Empress Artemis-Diana, battles evil as the Youngster Heroine of the World Beyond!

Thank you, Diana. You are brilliantly coolio!

Stay awesome. Three squeezes of your hand.

~ Ed

~~~


INTRODUCTION

SETTING THE STAGE

“You’re out!” the umpire screams.

Cheers of jubilation erupt on the field and in the bleachers of the home team. Slightly less audible are the loud moans and groans of the visiting team and its adoring fans. Suddenly, raucous boos and boisterous chants, “Fire the ump! He’s a cheat!” immediately follow from the visiting team’s bleachers. These dissenting calls and chants nearly drown out the home team’s jubilant cheers.

“But sir,” the girl cries as she dusts dirt from her uniform. “I was safe. The catcher never tagged me! You must believe me. I was safe, sir! Honestly!” She points to the home team’s catcher, Diana and adds, “Ask the catcher, sir. She will tell you the truth. I was safe by a mile.”

The girl had just hammered a stinging line drive over the center fielder’s head. She ran the bases, but when she slid into the home plate, she was called out.

The girl is Sally Turndle, a tall, athletic brunette who excels in softball, volleyball, and basketball. Her softball teammates and admiring fans affectionately call her Home Run Sally. Her nickname comes as no surprise. She is the team’s fastest baserunner and top hitter with 22 homers and 41 RBI’s this season alone.

The stern-faced umpire, Mister Reynolds, is well known by the local schools’ female softball teams as a strict, no-nonsense umpire. His daughter, Regina, is the star pitcher on the home team. It comes as no surprise that a perception exists throughout the league that Mister Reynolds’ sometimes questionable calls continually favor his daughter’s softball team.

Mister Reynolds glares at Sally, his piercing dark gray eyes conveying more anger than his words will utter in a few seconds.

Sally begins to plead her case once more, that she had slid beneath Diana’s tag. Her animated actions as she throws her hands high in the air and yells at the umpire are difficult to watch. Then she points to something that Mister Reynolds has clutched in his hand.

In reply to her rebellious actions, Mister Reynolds says in a loud voice, “I said you are out!” At that point, to the surprise of everyone who is watching the spectacle behind home plate, he points his thumb to the visiting team’s stands. “Out of the game! Ejected! Please leave the field now!”

He turns his back to Sally who looks understandably shocked and is now in tears due to Mister Reynolds’ ejecting her from the game. As Mister Reynolds tucks a folded piece of paper into his pocket, he yells more loudly than necessary to the visiting team’s dugout.

“Batter up! We still have this and one more inning to go. So, please hurry up!”

Mister Reynolds bends over to sweep dirt from the home plate. Diana gently tugs on his shirtsleeve to get his attention. She begins to say something, but before she opens her mouth, she notices the desperate gestures of her coach.

Her coach is Mister Downey. He is outside the dugout waving his hands high in the air and vigorously shaking his head back and forth. Diana immediately understands what he is trying to tell her. Coach does not want her to talk to the umpire and risk him ejecting her from the softball championship game as he did to Sally. She nods her head in recognition with what Coach just told her via his non-verbal actions. She picks up her catcher’s face mask from the ground and crouches behind the home plate.

The next batter is Sarah Cousins, the clean-up batter. Sarah is the second-best hitter on the visiting team’s roster. The first pitch to Sarah is a strike, in Diana’s opinion just outside the corner, but probably too close for the umpire to call.

After the second pitch, the umpire yells, “Strike two! The count is oh and two.” His call elicits a chorus of boos and robust shouts from the visiting team’s fans.

“The ump is blind! The ump’s a cheat!”

Diana frowns as she ponders, “I’m pretty sure that was a ball, in the dirt. Sure, it was a drop ball, but I had to scoop it up. I’m lucky it didn’t go past me.” Then she thinks the unthinkable. “Is the ump trying to throw the game? Is he trying to throw the game in our favor?”

To avoid being hit in the shin by the next thrown ball, Sarah must jump to her left.

The umpire yells, “Ball! The count is one and two.”

The visiting team in the dugout and the fans in the bleachers cheer loudly. Chants of, “Go Sarah go, go Sarah go!” reverberate from the visiting team’s fans.

Diana smiles. “Good. It looks like the ump is back on board with fair calls.”

The next pitch is another ball. It is low in the dirt, nearly uncatchable, but Diana manages to scoop it up. The umpire calls the following pitch a ball as well.

“Full count!” the umpire yells as he moves to brush dirt from the plate. “Three and two.”

Sarah fouls the next pitch along the left field line. She fouls the following pitch over the backstop.

The final pitch forces Sarah to once again move out of the batter’s box to her left. The umpire yells, “Strike three! You’re out!”

Sarah does not walk back to the dugout. She stands to the left of the home plate for a moment as if she wants to protest the call. However, she thinks better of it. She does not want the umpire to have grounds to eject her from the game. She quickly walks to the dugout.

Diana cringes as she thinks, “That was a ball if I have ever seen one. Certainly, I moved my mitt to the center of the plate after I caught it to make it look like a strike. That is what us catchers are supposed to do. But it was a darned ball, not a strike.”

In Diana’s mind, the umpire had now misjudged two calls, purposely calling two players of the visiting team out when they weren’t. He also had ejected their star hitter from the game. She wonders if Mister Reynolds is purposely missing the calls or if he needs new glasses. As she squats and readies herself for the next batter, she ponders everything that is happening in this, the most exciting game of her young life.

“If there is something I frown on more than anything, it must be lying. Lying is worse than stealing. Stealing is tangible. It can be seen and touched. And one can always replace stolen items. On the other hand, lying is invisible and can remain hidden for the longest time. Once discovered, a lie can never reverse its trickery, renew trust in another and heal a broken heart.”


CHAPTER ONE

ASTONISHING EYE OPENERS

Part I: Charles

Diana has trouble falling asleep despite the time, 2:30 in the morning on a school day. She had a super-fun birthday the day before, Thursday, June 18. The thrilling excitement of the softball championship game made her birthday even more special. She received loads of cool presents, to include a new catcher’s mitt and her very own catcher’s face mask. She also received new roller skates.

Another birthday gift, a tiny package the size of a jewelry box, remains unopened. Diana had discovered the beautifully wrapped gift in her softball bag. The giver of the mysterious gift did not reveal who he or she is. The gift is sitting on her bedside table, some inches from her reach. She has been tempted on more than one occasion to open it since she discovered it. But she figures she will wait until daybreak to open it.

She is laying in her bed propped up on her pillows. Her head is cradled in the palms of her hands as she stares at the ceiling. Her eyelids are heavy, but she cannot seem to do anything but toss and turn. She is overly excited, still jumpy due to yesterday’s excitement. Not only had her team won the ladies’ championship softball game; her teammates had voted her most valuable player, the team’s softball heroine for the game. That everything super cool happened on her birthday has made her happy beyond words.

Notwithstanding her euphoria, she has no clue what is in store for her. In fact, the thrill of winning the ladies’ championship softball game for her team on her birthday is going to be nothing compared to what the future will bring. More of this later.

She smiles as she rethinks the last few minutes of the game, a game she knows she will never forget. It was the bottom of the ninth inning, overtime for the two teams since the league normally plays only seven innings. It was a tie ballgame with the score nothing to nothing. There were two outs. Diana was at bat with her team’s bases loaded.

The final count against her was 3 and 2, a full count with three balls and two strikes. One more strike and the championship softball game would end in a tie. Then again, if she could only get a hit, her team would win! She was understandably nervous.

She calls to mind her time at bat. She had swung awkwardly at the first pitch connecting with nothing but thin air. That was strike one. The next throw by the pitcher was a ball, way outside to the right of the plate. The count was then 1 and 1, one ball and one strike. Diana slammed the third pitch foul along the third base line. The count displayed on the center field scoreboard inched up to 1 and 2, one ball and two strikes.

The next pitch was low in the dirt. It nearly got away from the visiting team’s catcher. The count was now 2 and 2, two balls and two strikes.

Diana recalls that her spirits were sinking at that point. One more strike and the game would be over, a tie. Her heart was beating wildly with both fear and excitement. Then, the unthinkable happened. The fifth pitch was a strike, catching the left corner of the plate. She was out, or so she thought. Her team had lost.

Diana vividly recalls she had shrugged her shoulders in defeat. She was visibly dejected. Shaking her head, and with her shoulders hunched over, she slowly turned to walk away from the plate. As if in a distant dream, she imagined she could hear the moans and groans of her teammates and from the home team bleachers. She had failed them!

Then, to her amazement, the umpire yelled at that very moment, “Ball three, just outside the corner!” The home team fans began screaming over and over, “Yes, Dynamite, yes! You can do it! Go, Diana, go!”

Diana had been incorrect. She had thought it was a strike. But no, the umpire said it was a ball!

She returned to the plate and swung practice swings a few times. She bent her knees and stared intently into the pitcher’s eyes. The count was full, 3 and 2. The game was not over. She still had a chance! Her team might win.

Diana twirls a lock of her long brown hair with her fingers. She frowns as she continues to stare dreamily at the ceiling. As a catcher who has probably seen a thousand or more pitches in her short softball career, she recognizes a strike when she sees one. She remembers thinking to herself at the time, “That was a strike. I should have been called out. But I’ll take a ball for sure!”

Despite her relief at not being called out, she remembers being upset at the time nonetheless. She felt the umpire had once again purposely messed up a call, probably to help his daughter’s team, her team, to win the championship tournament. Then again, perhaps what she saw as a strike was a ball. There is no way of knowing without a photograph or a video taken at the precise time the ball sailed over the plate. Notwithstanding the gnawing doubt she still feels in her heart, and yes, a tinge of guilt for the umpire’s presumed missed call in her favor, she smiles. She resumes recalling the final moments of the ladies’ championship softball game.

As she nervously stood at the plate, the umpire had ceremoniously walked between the pitcher’s mound and the home plate. He turned to face the crowd. He stated loudly, “Two outs! The score is tied nothing to nothing. We have a full count.” He pointed to his left in the direction of the ominous thunderstorm clouds slowly approaching from the west.

“The visiting and home team coaches and I agree. It is a matter of safety for the two teams as well as for the fans. If there is no score at the end of this, the ninth inning, I will call the game despite the lack of a winner. Then the league’s commissioners must decide whether to reschedule the game or to declare the ladies’ softball championship game a tie.” As he walked to the plate, he looked directly at Diana and yelled, “Batter up!”

With the umpire’s pronouncement and the ballpark’s attention once again focused on her, Diana became even more nervous. She felt that her knees were shaking and that her heart was racing a mile a minute. Her lips, mouth, and throat felt parched. Her breaths were coming and going in brief, shallow gasps. She could barely catch her breath.

Her predicament was crystal clear. If they won the game, if she somehow were able to drive the third base runner home, she would be a heroine. On the other hand, if she struck out, she would always be remembered as the catcher who denied her team the ladies’ softball championship trophy.

For what seemed like an eternity, but was probably less than thirty seconds, the visiting team’s pitcher and Diana looked each other square in the eye. The pitcher placed her mitt beneath her armpit, and then she proceeded to rub the ball between her hands more slowly than necessary. She sneered nastily at Diana, and then she popped her chewing gum loudly. She shook her head back and forth with a noticeable air of defiance. She was trying to intimidate Diana. The pitcher’s message to Diana was obvious.

“You’re toast.”

In return, Diana purposely swung her bat with two slower than usual practice swings. She sneered at the pitcher in return. She set her lips in a straight line, squinted her nose, and narrowed her eyes. Lightning bolts of defiance flashed in the pupils of her eyes. She bent over to pick up a fistful of dirt, all the while never taking her eyes off of the pitcher. She rubbed the dirt between her hands, and then she nonchalantly tossed the dirt to the ground in front of the home plate. The wind caught some of the dirt. It sailed right at the feet of the pitcher. She took a final practice swing and readied for the pitch.

The home and visiting teams’ dugouts were deathly silent. You could hear a pin drop in the ballpark, that is how quiet it was. An eerie hush had also fallen over both teams’ bleachers. The only noticeable sounds, other than the far-off thundering within the gathering storm clouds, was Diana’s rapidly beating heart and her slow, purposeful breathing. She took one final practice swing and readied for the pitch.

She watched with dreaded trepidation as the pitcher wound up for the pitch. Diana’s bold composure had immediately changed. She was certain the pitcher was going to throw a curve! She hated curves. She could never hit curves! She would strike out! She would lose the ladies’ softball championship game for her team!

Her eyes widened to the size of saucers the split second the ball left the pitcher’s hand. Then she felt the unmistakable twang reverberate to her hands as the bat connected squarely with the ball. Her instinct told her the ball she had just hit was traveling in the direction of the third baseman. Maybe she even hit the ball to the shortstop! She did not bother to watch the ball’s trajectory as it rocketed from her bat. She lowered her head and ran to first base as quickly as her long legs could carry her.

As a reflective, highly gifted and astute teenager, Diana immediately recognized at that very moment that everything to follow her hit was out-and-out karma. It was what it was. There would be no changing destiny. If her hit was a foul ball, that was okay. She would get another chance at bat. However, she seriously doubted if she could step up to the plate again without passing out with sheer nervousness.

If the ball were hit directly to the third baseman, the second base runner would be forced out. If it were a hit to the shortstop, an easy toss to the second baseman would get the first base runner out. Then the game would end in a tie. And she knew she would be devastated for not winning the game for her team, for her school. Of course, one of the infielders could bobble the ball, make an error. Then everything would be up for grabs.

As soon as Diana stomped on first base, she turned around and watched with uncertainty as her teammates spilled out of the dugout. They were cheering, their hands waving excitedly in the air. They were running in her direction! It was then that she had looked toward the left part of the ballfield where she had hit the ball.

The third baseman was standing stock still, dejected, seemingly in shock. Tears were streaming down her face. The shortstop was prostrate on the infield, facing toward third base with the arm of her glove hand outstretched as if she had dived for something out of reach. She was furiously slapping the ground with her mitt. She was screaming over and over, “No, no, no!”

Then Diana saw it, in left field, about ten feet in front of the left fielder. The ball that she had just hit had rolled to a stop midway between the infield and the outfield. It suddenly dawned on her why her teammates were celebrating. She had hit a soft line drive just beyond the infield, dab smack in the middle of the third baseman and the shortstop. She had driven in the winning run! The ladies’ softball championship trophy was theirs!

Within seconds, her teammates lifted her high on their shoulders. Then twenty girls gleefully walked the bases, first base to second, and then to third, and finally to home. All the while they were screaming and laughing and yes, crying tears of extreme happiness. They had won the ladies’ softball championship tournament in nine innings with a hard-fought score of one to nothing!

Shortly after the game, Coach treated the entire team to McDonald’s. There, with family cameras and smartphones happily snapping pics, the league’s commissioner presented Coach with the league’s ladies’ softball championship trophy. Then, to the surprise of everyone present, Coach pulled two huge cardboard boxes from beneath a table. With boisterous shouts of congratulations filling the restaurant, Coach proceeded to present each of the team’s players with a shiny softball trophy. The inscription on the trophies read Ladies’ Softball Championship Winner! Then, much to Diana’s slight embarrassment but absolute delight, Coach presented her with a second trophy. It read, Ladies’ Softball Championship MVP (Most Valuable Player).

Diana stretches and sighs deeply. Yesterday was one of the best days of her teenage life. Suddenly, she hears a soft noise, a scratching noise like someone is writing on a whiteboard. She turns on her bedside lamp. She glances around the room. Seeing nothing out of the ordinary, she snaps off the lamp. Then, just as the scratching noise resumes, she looks up at the ceiling. She covers her mouth with her hand and manages to stifle a scream as three words slowly appear on the ashen ceiling of the darkened room.

Lies! Lies! Lies!

“Charles?” Diana whispers. “Is that you? If so, please speak to me. Tell me what those words imply that I just saw on the ceiling.”

She is calling out to her lifelong ghost, Charles, an unseen being that haunts her. Charles seems harmless enough, friendly in fact. He likes to pull tomfooleries, as she refers to them, on Diana and her friends. Whenever Charles pulls a tomfoolery when her friends visit, her friends gleefully yell in unison, “It’s Charles!”

Charles’ tomfooleries or pranks consist of strange stuff like opening doors, switching lights on and off, making things fall, changing the volume of Diana’s radio, little things like that. His pranks are relatively innocent but super fun to witness. Diana’s friends look forward to Charles haunting them whenever they visit her. But, if the words on the ceiling are truly Charles’ doing, this is the first time he has tried to communicate with her. Then again, this is the first time he has tried to frighten her.

She glances at her smartphone to read the time. It is now 3:19 in the morning. Just as she is about to set her phone on the bedside stand, a notification appears on its screen. She squints her eyes to read the faint words.

“Too many lies against me, Diana. Too many devious entities are calling me a liar. In the closet. Come to me, Diana!”

She whispers with obvious foreboding in her soft voice, “Oh my God! This is getting too creepy. First, there are words on the ceiling, and now I’m getting scary notifications on my phone that aren’t even texts! I’m outta here.”

She throws back the covers and leaps out of bed. She hastily pulls on her robe and slides her feet into her slippers. As she does, she cannot help but look at the closet. She thinks that it may be her imagination since she is tired. But, she swears that the closet door is slowly opening by itself! As if to confirm her worries, she hears the telltale squeak of the door’s hinges.

She ponders, “I’m glad I didn’t oil those noisy hinges!”

She turns to dash out of her bedroom. She figures that perhaps it is better if she sleeps on the couch. Granted, she knows she will not sleep well. The couch is too lumpy. But, she is too restless, and she cannot fall asleep anyway, so it does not matter where she lays her head. In any event, she needs to get out of her bedroom. Now!

She scrambles to her bed to retrieve her comforter. As she hastily tears the comforter off her bed, she looks at the closet. It is then that she sees it. A bony, skeleton-like hand. From inside the closet. Clutching at the opening door! She shrieks in terror. She wants to run but for some reason, she cannot. She screams a second time.

Suddenly, an intense light blinds her. She slowly opens her eyes, shielding them from the intense light with her hands. She sees her mother standing in the middle of her bedroom. Her mother whispers, “I’m sorry to have turned on the light. But you were screaming. What is it, Diana? Are you okay?”

Diana is surprised to see she is not standing. She is laying in bed with her blanket pulled close to her chin. She looks past her mother to stare at the closet door. She breathes in deeply, and then she sharply exhales with an accompanying sigh of relief. The closet door is just as she left it before going to bed. It remains closed.

She whispers, “It’s nothing Mom, just a bad nightmare I guess. I’m okay, thanks. I love you. Goodnight.”

She turns onto her side and closes her eyes. She is bone-tired and desperately needs to sleep. She has no idea if what she imagined was real or if it was a nightmare. But one thing she knows for certain. She will not sleep well tonight if at all despite her tiredness.

The unusual scraping noises begin once again. Diana tries to ignore them thinking that she undoubtedly is imagining the noises as before. Or, just maybe, she is already asleep and dreaming. If she is dreaming she hopes this latest dream does not turn into a nightmare.

She whispers, “But that scraping noise! It is quickly getting to be a pain in the butt! It reminds me of someone writing on a whiteboard with a greasy Sharpie!”

She slowly opens one eye and then the other. Her head is still beneath the covers, well, not entirely beneath the covers. Her eyes, nose, and lips are peeking out but only slightly. Why at her age she covers the back of her head when she sleeps is beyond her reckoning. When her mom asks her why she sleeps that way, Diana shrugs it off saying her room is a bit chilly. But she even sleeps that way when it is too hot in her room.

She cautiously glances at the closet door. The ambiance of the room is shadowy, but she is certain that the closet door remains closed. Thank goodness! And, one thing is for certain. Given all that she witnessed in her nightmarish dream, she fully intends to never, never, never oil the door’s squeaky hinges no matter how loudly they squeak. If something or other is going to leap out at her from the closet at night, she wants to hear it coming. So, squeaky hinges it is going to be for now on and always!

She turns on her phone’s flashlight app. She slowly twists the phone in her hand so that the light illuminates each corner of the room. Everything seems normal, except.

“Wait! What is that? On the mirror on top of my bureau? Tiny writing!” She scrambles out of her bed. She stands motionless for a split second. Then she pinches her forearm firmly to make certain she is awake and not in another stupid nightmare. “Ouch! That hurts! I guess I’m not dreaming.”

As she rubs her forearm where she pinched it all too firmly, she crouches low as if she does not want anyone to see her. Then she drops on her hands and knees. She slowly crawls on all fours to her bureau. Placing her hands on top of the bureau, she slowly pulls herself up to peer guardedly at the round handheld mirror.

“Yes, there is writing on the mirror. It is pretty sloppy and very faint, but I can read it easily enough. Let’s see what it says.” Her heart seemingly leaps into her throat as she reads the scrawled note.

“Diana. We need to talk. Charles.”

She cannot believe what she is seeing. She grabs the mirror off the bureau and crawls back to her bed. Once her blanket is enveloping her body and surrounding the back of her head, she whispers into the mirror, “Talk, but how?” Then, logically assuming that Charles probably is not inside the mirror but somehow writing on it, she glances around the room with anticipation.

“Where are you? How are you doing this, writing on the mirror? And how do I know that you’re Charles and not the owner of that creepy hand opening the closet door that I imagined in my nightmare?” Just as she says this, dread seizes her heart. She holds her breath.

“Those are the closet door hinges squeaking. The door is opening!” She is ready to dash out of her bedroom. But, for some reason, she hesitates. Suddenly, scraping noises on the mirror resume again just as the closet door slams shut.

Her heart is now racing like crazy. She is scared out of her wits. She looks away from the closet door to stare at the mirror. Charles, or at least she hopes it is Charles, had hastily scrawled one word on the mirror in capital letters just as the closet door was opening.

“CEASE!”

She reckons that Charles had ordered whatever it was in the closet to cease, to stop. She watches in awe as words miraculously begin to appear on the mirror yet again.

“Diana, we need to talk. But not out loud. As of yet, he cannot see. But his hearing is astute. He also has limited magical powers. Charles.”

Diana whispers, “Okay, Charles. Gosh, I hope you are who you say you are. If not, I’m going to scream as loudly as I can, and then I will run out of here, clear across town if I have to!” Words rapidly appear on the mirror.

“Do not scream. Do not run. Trust me.”

“But how can we talk, Charles, if not out loud? I don’t know sign language or anything.” She places her index finger to her temple in thought. “And I don’t have anything to write with on the mirror.”

Her phone suddenly lights up. The note app appears on its screen. She notices the time. It is 3:25 am.

She whispers, “Oh, you want me to talk to you by using notes?”

Words on the note app read, “Yes! We can talk by using your cell phone. But first, you should charge it. The battery is almost dead. Charles.”

She notices that the cell phone’s battery needs charging. It is at one percent. Given all that has happened in the wee hours of this morning, she is understandably bewildered. She is also very sleepy. All she can manage to do is drowsily gawp at the phone’s screen as she speedily connects her phone to the charger.

She types on her phone, “Okay, Charles.” She stops typing momentarily to cover her mouth as she yawns deeply. Realizing that she is overly courteous to an unseen ghost on the other end of her phone, she renews her typing as her yawning persists. “What happens now? And what is that scary thing in my closet that I dreamed? It is freaking me out!”

“Not in your closet,” Charles replies. “All around. Everywhere.”

Diana is suddenly wide-eyed. She sits up on her bed and reaches over to turn on her bedside lamp. Trembling yet again, she glances around her bedroom nervously. She quickly types, “Everywhere? All around? What in the world does that mean? You’re scaring me, Charles!”

Charles’ reply appears on her phone. “Sorry. You asked.”

“Well, explain what you mean by the word everywhere! Dang, Charles! I’ve never experienced such a creepy thing in my whole life except, of course when you first started haunting me. Now that was creepy! But I am used to you now. So are my friends. Besides, you’re not scary. But that eerie thing in the closet is!”

“What I meant by ‘everywhere,’ ‘all around’ is complicated,’” Charles replies. “Lies, deceit, dishonesty, treachery, call them what you want, they are everywhere.”

“Well, that makes perfect sense, Charles. But what in the world does this have to do with me?”

Charles types, “Your unopened birthday gift. Open it, if you please.”

“I was going to wait until morning. It is a small gift which means it’s jewelry. Besides, I like the wrapping. Why should I open it now?”

“Because I asked you to. Besides, it IS morning.” Charles includes a smiling face emoji at the end of his typewritten words.

Diana hesitates slightly. She quickly types on her screen. “Wait a minute, Charles. Two questions. First, that creepy thing sent a notification to my phone. Is he, or it, reading what we type on notes? Second, do you know what the gift is?”

Charles types, “I shall answer the second question first. Yes, I know what the gift is. First question. I blocked him.”

Diana is somewhat offended and a slight bit angry at Charles’ response. She murmurs in a singsong sarcastic tone, “I blocked him. I blocked him. Harrumph! Well, it’s nice to know I have control over my phone.” With a purposeful, agitated groan, she roughly grabs the gift off of her bedside stand. As she does, another missive from Charles appears on her notes app.

“I heard that!” Charles follows his typewritten words with a wide-eyed face emoji.

In spite of her weariness, Diana cannot help but laugh at Charles’ typewritten reply. She types, “Sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you. I’m tired, that’s all. I love you, Charles.”

Charles replies with a heart emoji.

Diana removes the outer wrapping of the gift. She is amazed to see that a beautifully engraved leather box encloses the gift. There is an inscription on the box. She reads the inscription out loud in a hushed whisper.

“Honesty is the First Chapter in the Book of Honor ~ James Hall 521 BC.”

The light on her bedside lamp abruptly dims. Then a chilly breeze rushes into the bedroom. Amazingly, the closed window’s curtains sway slightly with the breeze. Diana begins to shiver a little. Pulling the blanket up to her neck, she takes a deep breath. Her heart is racing as she unhurriedly opens the box.

*****

Part II: More Ghosts!

Diana is thrilled beyond words when she sees what the jewelry box contains. A small, lovely lightning bolt charm of a dark blue color rests on a downy pillow of white. The lightning bolt charm is attached to an adjustable black leather string necklace. A small circular medallion with the letter D in calligraphy is attached to the charm’s clasp. Diana is not certain if she imagines it, but the charm seems to glow ever so slightly in the room’s dim light. She stares lovingly at the jewelry and considers the implication of this birthday present and the reason why she wanted to delay to open it. Her heart tells her that the lightning bolt charm is a symbol of good luck. She cannot wait to place the necklace around her neck. Nevertheless, something tells her now is not the time. Her thoughts return to Charles.

She types on her phone, “Goodness, Charles, I love the charm. It is very pretty. But what does it have to do with me?” She closes the jewelry box to look at the inscription on the outside. “Who is James Hall? Also, is 521 BC a date? I assume it is a date, but I want to make certain.”

Charles types, “James is my brother. And yes, 521 BC is a date, five hundred twenty-one years before the birth of Christ.”

Diana’s stares at her phone for the longest time. She is both surprised and excited to discover that Charles has a brother. Her stormy blue-grey eyes open wide, their pupils blazing with the customary little lightning bolts, in this case, of eagerness. She types, “Your brother? Goodness, Charles, I think that is very coolio because I never knew you had a brother. Why didn’t you tell me?”

Typewritten words unhurriedly appear on her phone’s screen. They read,”You never asked, Diana.”

Diana types, “Well, I guess I didn’t.” She scratches her head absentmindedly, and then she quickly types, “Quite frankly, it never occurred to me to ask. Let’s be honest here. A teenager having her very own gentle ghost is pretty cool in and of itself, wouldn’t you agree? So, why would I ask if you had a brother? Besides, you never communicated with me until this morning.” Just as she finishes typing, she notices the time as it updates on her phone. It is 3:47 am, Friday, June 19. She stretches her arms out wide and yawns.

Despite yesterday’s birthday celebrations, winning the girl’s softball championship and, naturally, the weirdness and excitement of this morning, she feels crummy. She glances at her phone to look at the time yet again. It is 3:52 am. A whole five minutes have passed since the last time she looked! She reckons she fell fast asleep while sitting up as she waited for Charles to respond.

“Darn! I need to get some sleep. I can barely keep my eyes open.” She stretches her legs before her and wiggles her toes. “And my muscles are aching from squatting so long on the softball field. The game seemed much longer than nine innings. Talking to Charles is pretty cool, but I’m bushed!”

Her cell phone lights up. Typewritten words slowly appear on the screen. As Charles types the words, he occasionally backspaces what he has written. It appears to Diana that he is purposely careful with his choice of words. As she waits for him to finish typing, she closes her eyes. Her head rolls to the left causing her to awaken suddenly. Then, a few seconds later, she is nodding off yet again. Just as her chin rests on her chest, her phone vibrates. Charles is trying to get her attention.

Charles’ typewritten words say, “You should have asked me, Diana. I think it is important for you to know that you should have asked. All these years I waited for you to ask via your thoughts.”

Diana quickly types, “My thoughts? Charles, if you do not mind me asking, can you read my mind, my thoughts?”

“Yes, Diana, I can comprehend your thoughts every time you mention my name out loud or in a thought process. I can even grasp your thoughts when you are in school or on the softball diamond. Like when you said in your mind a few seconds ago, ‘Talking to Charles is pretty cool, but I’m bushed!’” Diana unconsciously moves her hand to cover her mouth. She feels ashamed.

“Oh, I am very sorry, Charles. All these years, I’ve been focusing on how cool it is to have a ghost, bragging to my friends. And throughout, I’ve never questioned you either aloud or in my thoughts about you and your family. All I thought about was how cool it was to have my very own ghost. I’m truly sorry for being self-centered, Charles. Please forgive me for my rudeness.”

Charles types, “It’s all good, Diana. If you please, place the necklace around your neck. Right now is the moment in time that you should learn the truth. And trust me, do not be alarmed at what happens after you place the necklace around your neck.”

Diana sets her phone on the bedside table. She opens the box and removes the necklace. She carefully places the necklace around her neck. As she does, she immediately notices she does not feel the least bit tired! Miraculously, the achiness in her muscles has also disappeared. Somewhat startled, but surprisingly unafraid, she stares straight ahead awe-struck as a ghostly vision unhurriedly appears at the far end of her bedroom. The ghost’s image is not entirely like that of a Real-world person. That is because a translucent grayish-white aura surrounds its form from head to toe. Otherwise, the ghost’s form takes shape as something resembling a human.

She can hardly control her emotions as her heart races with excitement. She wants to run out of her bedroom, but Charles had told her not to be alarmed, to trust him. The ghost, definitely a male, is handsomely beautiful. Since he is an apparition, there is no actual coloring to his skin, hair, and eyes or even his clothes. Be that as it may, his almond-shaped eyes flicker with a flush of triumph and joy.

He has bristly eyebrows and defined cheekbones. His Roman nose and defined cheekbones surround a full mouth. While it is barely noticeable, Diana can make out a sand-rough stubble on his chin. He appears to be in his middle to the late twenties, perhaps even in his thirties. He stands about six-feet tall, slender but with well-developed, striking muscles. He is wearing what appears to be old-fashioned clothes, perhaps from the Unenlightened Period or even during ancient times. The ghost seemingly glides above the floor to stand near Diana’s bed. He bows deeply.

Nearly out of breath with anticipation, Diana whispers, “Charles?”

The ghost replies, “No, Diana. I am not Charles. I am James, James Hall, Charles’ older brother.” He extends his hand saying, “It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance finally, Diana.”

Diana reaches to take James’ hand in hers. Her hand goes right through his. Having her hand pass right through his causes delicate wisps of grayish-white smoke to curl around both of their hands. Flabbergasted and sort of embarrassed thinking she could shake a ghost’s hand, she quickly jerks her hand back.

She whispers, “Oh, I am very sorry, James. Please excuse me if I have offended you in any way. I logically figured that you were Charles. I also thought I could somehow shake your hand, that I could touch it.” She giggles. “I hope you understand. You are the first ghost I have seen. And my goodness! Where are my manners?” She places her right hand on her heart as a display of warmth. “It is a pleasure to meet you as well.” She glances around the bedroom expectantly. “But where is Charles? I cannot see him.”

Charles thoughts immediately enter Diana’s mind.

“I am here beside you as well, Diana, obviously not in a physical form like my brother, but always near, but a whisper and a heartbeat away.” He adds with a chuckle, “Unlike James who is merely here to escort you to our world.”

“Oh my goodness,” Diana whispers with an understandable tone of surprise in her voice, “to your world? But Charles.” She looks at James who is now kneeling on the floor beside her bed. “But Charles, James, I do not want to go anywhere.” She stretches and rubs her legs beneath her blanket. “Although my legs no longer hurt and I’m not sleepy, which is pretty amazing, I’m quite content right here at home in my happy place.” She shakes her head back and forth with disagreement with what Charles had said.

“No. I do not need to go anywhere. Besides, today is a school day, even if it’ll be a pretty easy day since we won the ladies’ softball championship. Also, I do not want to leave my parents, my brothers, David and Dima, my home and my friends. They will worry about me.”

She stares at her phone. Then she exclaims, “Goodness, Charles, it just occurred to me! You no longer have to type on my phone app or write on a mirror to talk to me. I can read your thoughts. This latest revelation is coolio, Charles!” She looks up at James once more.

“James, I do not need to go anywhere. I am quite content right here.”

“Diana, you shall be perfectly safe with me,” James says. “I shall endeavor to ensure no harm comes to you while you are in our world.” He frowns, adding, “Although I must tell you, I am afraid you may confront some danger.”

Charles’ thoughts enter Diana’s mind. “Diana, your family is asleep right now. There is no need to worry.”

“But when they wake up,” Diana cries, “they will not find me here, and they will worry themselves sick.”

James says, “Diana, you will journey to our faraway world of unbelievable beautiful scenes, strange creatures, and, as I said, you may encounter a bit of danger. At the same time, while you are journeying in our world, another part of you, your double, will remain behind. The other part that remains behind will function as normal. She will attend school, eat, sleep, and even hang out with her, or perhaps I should say, your friends.

“And you, the part journeying to our world, you will have the capability to occasionally glimpse into the comings and goings of your other half as she goes about her normal daily routine. However, you cannot influence her actions in any way. While she will be you, you will also be you, if that makes sense. So, as it relates to your parents, Diana, they will never even know you are gone.”

Diana whispers, “That is very coolio. I will be in two places at once. I can hardly believe it. But how do I know I can trust you? After all, I am a female teenager, and I do not want to go to a faraway world with two ghosts, two male ghosts at that. It simply is not proper.” She tilts her head and smiles sheepishly just as her face blushes. “I hope you understand what I am saying.”

Charles’ thoughts enter Diana’s mind yet again.

“True, Diana, and your concern is reasonable. That is one of the many reasons why I am your lifelong friend. You truly are a respectable young lady. Your values are proper. You are very intelligent and amazingly talented. I would never be a lifelong friend, a ghost, of someone of lesser qualities.”

James turns his head to the left. He whispers, “That is why my good friend April will accompany us.” He smiles, adding, “It is only proper and fitting that a kind woman escorts you, a woman with unparalleled character and graciousness such as yours.”

Charles’ thoughts enter Diana’s mind yet again. As his words form in her mind, she is certain she detects a hint of jealousy in his words.

“James is your masculine escort, your protection in case of trouble. One does not move from your world to ours without a suggestion of misfortune and, as James said, the potential for peril. Besides, you and I will meet in my world soon enough.”

James laughs at his brother’s words. As Diana stares at him, she is certain that if he had any color to his form, his alluring eyes would most certainly be hazel.

He says, “Indeed. Given that Charles is younger than me by many years, he is unable to escort you, notwithstanding that he is your lifelong compassionate ghost. Or, as those of us in our world like to refer to ourselves, your lifelong protective soul.”

Diana says, “Well, okay then, I guess that is only appropriate, to have a female escort me. So, when will I get to meet April?”

Just as she asks her question, a second apparition or, more correctly, Diana reasons, a protective soul, appears at the far end of her bedroom.


Continue reading this ebook at Smashwords.
Purchase this book or download sample versions for your ebook reader.
(Pages 1-28 show above.)