About Spirits of Oz
- 2014 Community Novel Project of the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library
- Written and illustrated for a younger audience
- Just joining us? Please start reading with Chapter 1
- A new chapter is serialized each week
- A different Topeka author and illustrator featured in each chapter
- Read online or download to your ereader!
Downloading Spirits of Oz Chapter 4 by Rose Pennock
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Read Online: Spirits of Oz Chapter 4 by Rose Pennock
“Boo!” Nico shouted, making Lola bump her scraped knee on her dresser.
“Nico! What was that for?” she hissed at her tormenting twin.
Nico laughed and plopped down on her sleigh bed. He kept grunting or sighing, waiting for his sister to pick up on it and ask him what was wrong. When he had gone to the garage to get a wine bottle out of the recycling bin, the barrel was empty. Everything must have been picked up before they made it out of bed. Now how were they going to find an empty glass bottle for the sea water mixture? Everything else in the house came packaged in plastic.
It was only after the fifth sigh that he realized she was staring at the ceramic horse figurine their grandmother had given her for her birthday earlier that year.
“You okay, sis?”
Finally, Lola looked up. She had a small frown on her face as she picked up the figurine.
“I’m gonna use this to help Mom and Dad.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, it’s for the greater good, and I’m sure after they’re done with it, we can just fix it back up. Right?”
Without an answer from Nico, Lola raised the horse in her hand and tapped its back leg against the footboard, hard. The figurine cracked, then Lola wrenched the leg free. She pulled out an empty shoebox from under her bed and placed her horse in it, with the loose leg alongside. “We can use this for one of the items we need.”
Nico didn’t like how sad the atmosphere seemed, so he changed the subject. “I can’t believe Mom and Dad left us here.”
“I’m not surprised. You did break part of the exhibit.” Lola settled onto her bed next to Nico. She wasn’t feeling up to much today; her knee hurt, and she just had a gut feeling that something was about to go terribly wrong.
“I broke it? I think you broke it.” He scoffed. “I wasn’t even scared.”
“Of course not,” she said. “Normal people yell for their mommies and kick doors when they’re calm. At least I can admit I was scared. If the security guards hadn’t gotten those doors open when they did, I don’t know what would’ve happened.” Lola looked at her favorite cat poster, with three fluffy kittens sitting in a bucket. The cute image usually brought a smile, but it wasn’t working today.
“Okay, so I was scared.” He shrugged. “I didn’t break anything important. Just a prop. And it’s not like I meant to break it. You fell on me!”
Lola recalled the rough shove she had felt after they heard the haunting words. She had fallen into Nico and scraped her knee on the ground. When she looked up, she saw Nico and crushed Styrofoam underneath him. At the time, all she could do was get them both on their feet and run towards the door.
Next, she thought of the tight embrace their parents had given them, checking both of them over multiple times before they were assured that they were safe. That’s when the lectures began.
“Don’t you dare scare us like that again!” Meriam had said.
It was followed by their dad’s famous “Why didn’t you come get us as soon as you suspected paranormal activity? You know we’d prefer it if you let us handle it. You’re much too young, and obviously, you could get hurt.”
The children had been too frightened to care. They only buried themselves in their parents’ arms.
“Earth to Lola!” Nico snapped his fingers in front of her face. “I said, did it just get cold in here to you?”
Sitting up, Lola rubbed her hands up and down her arm. “Yeah, actually it did.”
Nico looked up at the fan then the window to check for the source of the cool draft. He was about to get up and see if the air conditioner was running when he heard Lola’s sharp gasp. He spun around to see a tall shadow figure filling the doorway. Even though he couldn’t make out any facial features, he could feel the creature’s eyes staring into his own. Neither of the twins could move.
They faintly heard the front door open and shut and just like that, the shadow was gone. They could breathe again.
“Kids, we’re home! And we have great news!”
In the living room, the kids saw their parents talking enthusiastically with the babysitter, Zoey. When Meriam turned to greet them, they gasped.
“Mom, what happened to your face?” Nico blurted.
Meriam raised her hand to her face in confusion. Her fingers met the raised skin of a deep scratch.
“I don’t know. I didn’t even notice it.” She shrugged. “I must have run into something.”
Lola didn’t think that was the case. Her mind was still stuck on the dark figure. She wondered, had the apparition scratched her mom? “Where were you guys?” she asked.
“We got a call from somebody about Harrison Church. They finally okayed us for the last filming there before it gets knocked down. And boy, did we get some footage,” Victor said with a huge grin. “It’s going to be the highlighted episode.”
“The Harrison Church? You mean The Harrison Church? And you didn’t take us?” Nico exclaimed, throwing his hands up in frustration.
“What’s the Harrison Church?” Zoe asked.
Nico’s eyes widened. “You don’t know about the Harrison Church? It’s one of the most haunted places in Kansas! Mom, Dad, did you hear the little girl crying?”
“Nico,” Meriam said, “let me tell the story!” She began listing off everything they had experienced at the church, including the shadow people they encountered in corners and doorways. She closed her eyes and shuddered at the memory.
Victor spoke up. “I’m just sure that the souls in that place want help, and that was why they were choosing to reveal themselves so openly to us.”
Lola was staring down the hallway at her door while she listened to her parents share their adventures. Something still didn’t feel right to her. Why had that shadow been in her door? They had never experienced anything paranormal at home before, so why now? The more her parents enthused over the dark spirits, the more Lola began to connect things. She pulled Nico into the kitchen without an explanation.
“Something followed them here. That’s what we saw in my room.” Her voice shook with fear. She wished she had never said that she’d help the ghosts. She wouldn’t be feeling terrified now if she hadn’t. Nico’s eyes widened at her words.
“You think so?” he said. “Do you think Mom and Dad are in danger?” Nico seemed just as scared as his sister and that worried Lola more than anything.
“Let’s just get this list together as quick as possible and go see the ghosts, okay?” Lola opened the fridge and pulled out a juice box for both of them before returning to the living room.
“So, I followed the crying and you know what I found?” Meriam was saying to the babysitter. “An apparition! A full body apparition of a little girl, hunched over in the chapel. I couldn’t believe my eyes. She was just crying, and then she let out a scream and just-poof! Gone. It was amazing.” The baby sitter hunched her shoulders and shivered, but she looked more excited than scared.
“Wow, that sounds so creepy!” she said. “Nico, Lola, you’ve got to tell me more about this church!”
Lola frowned. “Yeah. I guess we could fill you in later.”
Nico looked at his sister. He was worried about how she was acting. Something was affecting her, and he didn’t like it. He just wanted to get this stupid quest done with so she could go back to his happy, annoying sister. He remembered briefly how she used to force him to play tea party—
He stopped mid-thought and shouted, “I’ve got it!”
“You’ve got what?” Victor looked at his son with a raised eyebrow.
Lola laughed nervously and threw her arm around Nico’s neck. “I told him a joke earlier and it took him a little while to catch on.”
Victor seemed to accept that reply, even though Nico stuck his tongue out at Lola for making him look dumb.
“Kids, we’re going to go to the office to review the evidence. We only stopped by to give Zoey money for pizza and to share some of our stories,” Meriam explained, putting some bills on the TV stand. “You two be good for her. Be in bed by 10, okay?”
The twins agreed with a pair of groans and sunk into the couch. They watched in silence while their parents left and Zoey ordered the pizza. It wasn’t that they didn’t like Zoey, but they wanted to be with their parents. Truth was, they were still a little scared. Lola couldn’t shake the feeling that someone was watching her.
“So, what do you guys want to do?” Zoey asked cheerfully. The twins were her favorite kids to babysit, and she was always glad to see them.
They both shrugged, but Nico went on to say, “I’m going up to our tree house. Come get me when the pizza is here, please?”
Lola was about to ask him why he was going out to the old tree house when Zoey interrupted. “That’s fine, Nico. Lola and I can have some girl time. Won’t that be fun?”
Zoey winked at Lola, making her smile and temporarily forget about her brother’s sudden interest in the tree house they had abandoned about a year before. The two girls settled onto the floor with Zoey’s bag in between them, and Lola dumped it out. Inside, there were games for the pink Nintendo DS in the side pocket, an iPod, a couple of coloring books with colored pencils, and an unopened makeup brush in a crinkly package.
Lola picked up the package and looked to Zoey with her eyebrows raised.
Zoey laughed. “I stole that away from my sister. She bought it without knowing what it was made of, and I don’t like animal fur in the house. I feel like it brings bad vibes.” Zoey took the package from Lola and continued. “Those poor squirrels. I mean, why would anyone want to use their fur to put makeup on anyway?”
“Did you say squirrels?”
“Yeah, it’s a squirrel hair brush. I hate them. Could you actually throw it away for me? My sister won’t find it here, and I want to set up a surprise for you.” She passed the package back to Lola and turned around so the younger girl couldn’t see what she was doing.
Fortunately, this worked for both of them. Instead of running to the kitchen, Lola ran back to her room—hesitating for a moment to cross the doorway—and pulled the shoebox from under her bed. Trying to make as little noise as possibly, she removed the plastic wrapping from the brush and lifted it for a close look. It definitely looked like squirrel fur. She’d just have to hope it was real. She placed the brush in the box and slid the small collection back under her bed. Two items down.
Out in the tree house, Nico was practically upside down in the toy box they had left up there. He was looking for Lola’s old tea party set. Sure, it wasn’t porcelain, but the ‘horse with a broken leg’ wasn’t an actual horse, either. He knew for sure one of the purple plastic cups was chipped. Nico had thrown it to the ground in frustration one day when the two were arguing, and he remembered Lola yelling at him for breaking her favorite cup. She wouldn’t dare throw it away. She couldn’t have, right?
But after removing everything from the chest, he slid down to the floor in disappointment. It wasn’t there. Where else could it be? He didn’t have a clue. Maybe Lola had brought it inside to her room, but he couldn’t remember her playing with it recently. After the incident, she hadn’t been in the mood to play tea party again. Not even his great Boston version.
Meanwhile, Lola was getting ready to paint her toenails. She couldn’t believe her luck. Two things crossed off their list! She felt ecstatic until a familiar chill went through her. She stood up slowly, leaving Zoey and the nail polishes on the floor. One foot painted, she began to step towards the back door. She couldn’t stop. There, in the back doorway was the same shadow figure from before. Except it wasn’t turned toward her; it was turned towards the back yard.
It turned its head to look at her over its shoulder, then looked back at the tree house.
“Nico!” She screamed. She lunged forward but felt as if she came up against a wall. She couldn’t get to her brother. Behind her, she heard something break, and Zoey screamed.
Suddenly, a strong gust of wind thrashed the tree, and Nico cringed at every creak of the ancient oak. It wasn’t as clear as before, but in the wind, he swore he heard the same words from the museum.
“I am the one who rots your teeth. I pray your bones are mine to keep.”
Lola made it to the door just in time to see her twin falling towards the ground.
Chapter 5 will be published next week at https://www.tscpl.org/novel
About Rose Pennock
Rose Pennock has enjoyed writing since she was a little girl. She wrote her first short story in first grade and many have followed. While none have been published, she dreams of writing her own series of fantasy novels. Aside from writing, Rose also enjoys the paranormal side of the world. She spends many nights on ghost hunting websites looking over the newest evidence of energy left behind.
About Aimee L. Gross, Illustrator
Local author Aimee L. Gross loves to tell stories. She writes for both Middle Grade and Young Adult audiences, and has several novels in the works. MG titles include The Alchemist’s Lawn Boy and Seven Ways To Lift A Curse. YA Contemporary work is represented by Lost To History: Anthony’s Story, while the YA Fantasy genre consists of a trilogy, Crows Know Best, No Mercy From Crows and As The Crows Fly Home.
She welcomes followers on Facebook as Aimee L. Gross, author & artist. Or, connect on Twitter @Aimee_SanG. She invites you to check out her blog or send a message at agross9999author.com. Readers are her favorite people!
An Interview with Rose Pennock
What is your writing background? What sort of work do you usually write? (Fiction, Poetry, Nonfiction, Genre?)
Why did you want to participate in the Community Novel Project?
To get back into writing after my son, Junior, was born.
Have you ever written fiction in collaboration with other authors before?
Do you usually write in a burst of inspiration, or is your work carefully outlined? Did writing for the community novel differ from the norm?
I absolutely write in a burst of inspiration and that’s why a lot of my works don’t get finished. This was so far from my norm I feared I’d have trouble with it, but it worked out nicely.
What do you like about the premise and characters of this year’s Community Novel Project? What challenges you about them?
I like that the characters are so unique and lead unique yet somehow live ordinary lives. I found their ages to be challenging. I usually write in a young adult point of view.
What was your first reaction when you saw the chapter before yours?
I got a little excited, honestly. It was written by family members, and I was happy that I was the one that got to pick up where they left off.
What do you hope happens or doesn’t happen in the chapters that come after yours?
All I can say is that I hope the kids don’t get too scared by what they’re facing!
What sort of writing can we expect from you in future? Are you currently at work on any writing projects?
Well, I’m working on a few things. No great promises though.
Especially for Our Younger Readers
What was your favorite book as a kid and why?
My favorite book was definitely Time for Andrew by Mary Downing Hahn. It’s a ghost story and it always just hit all of my interests! I’d recommend it to anyone. I checked it out every single year of school until 7th grade.
What are some of your favorite foods?
Food. Now there’s a subject I could sink my teeth into. I love chili, pizza, enchiladas, nachos-there’s just too many choices!
What is your favorite animal? Do you have any pets?
I have three favorite animals: Otter, Penguin and Tigers. I do have a pet, a large dog named King. He’s such a big baby.
Why did you want to write for kids?
I thought it’d be something my son could read and be proud of me for it. There’s a less than likely chance he’d read any of my other works. Too mushy.