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Excerpt from A Ghost of a Chance

By ten-thirty that Tuesday night, the boys and Mozart were back in Blackbeard's yard. At first they were tense, dreading the mysterious sounds of the previous night. Skeeter leaned on his spade and stared at the house. "I don't hear a thing," he said after several minutes. That curtain isn't movin' either." Punch carved out another square of sod. "There isn't any wind. Must have something to do with wind. Dig, Skeeter! We don't want to be here all night." "Sure is hard work," said Tom, panting as he piled squares of sod beside the hole. "But it's better tonight. Even Mozart thinks so." Punch glanced at his dog, resting on the grass with his nose on his paws. Last night he had been alert every second, emitting frequent growls at the house. Punch began humming "This Land Is Your Land," an old Woody Guthrie tune they had heard earlier in the evening when they had sat on the deck, visiting with Skeeter's dad. Punch liked Guthrie's music and Mr. Grace. Both made him feel good. Lila's music—and his dad's—on the other hand, usually put him to sleep. And he couldn't sing along with any of their pieces. If those songs have words, he thought, I'll bet they're pretty sappy. Contentedly he sang. " . . . from the Gulf Stream waters . . . "—interspersing words of the song with hearty grunts as he piled dirt next to the squares of sod. "Hrrr," said Mozart, now on his feet, staring at the house. "Hrrr." His lip curled upward to reveal his teeth. Everyone stopped digging. Skeeter moved from his side of the pit to stand between Punch and Tom. Punch forced himself to look at Hammock House in the light of the moon, now fully round. It shone at an angle on the back of the house, illuminating some of the windows and leaving others as dark, blank panes. "On the right, upstairs," whispered Tom. Punch felt himself grow cold all over as he watched the deeply shadowed window. Behind the panes, from somewhere in that room, a light moved back and forth. It wavered as a candle might, then came nearer and nearer to the window. "It's her," Skeeter quavered, clutching Punch's elbow. "Rraarf!" yelped Mozart. Instantly the light disappeared and the window went dark. "Whoever it is heard Mozart," Tom whispered. Punch scoured his brain for a good, scientific reason to explain the eerie light in the house. "Nnnn," moaned Skeeter as his fingers dug into Punch's arm. "Look downstairs. She's there, Lord help us." Punch looked and there it was! The light had moved downstairs, just as Skeeter said. Punch stood immobile now, feeling the first stabs of real fear. His throat was so tight he couldn't make a sound. As they stood there—all of them nailed to the ground in terror—a tortured, unearthly scream filled the night and Blackbeard's yard.

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