All throughout Boothville, there were rumours of a ghost. Everyone claimed to have seen it. Gossip Guy claimed to have seen it in while tending to the grapes in his vineyard. Ferry said they'd seen it one night while taking a moonlit stroll down past Goldeen Lake. Quiquito had been studying the night sky when it flew past his telescope. Even King Jon was said to have seen it lurking in the chambers of his castle.
The sightings became more and more frequent and soon everyone decided that something had to be done. Gossip Guy gathered some people together in his bookshop to decide on what they should do. He had to kick out one person who tried to enter with a Team Edward t-shirt on, but otherwise everyone was welcome.
"So what are we going to do about this ghost?" he said.
"I don't really know what we can do," croaked Croakers. "A ghost cannot be affected by human hands. It's a nuisance, certainly, but one we will have to get used to."
"I took some pictures of it," said Jerry, reaching into his bag and pulling out a small stack of photographs. He handed them to Gossip Guy who pinned them up on the portable corkboard behind him. Jerry continued, "Some of them aren't very clear but you can definitely tell that it's a male." Everyone scrunched their eyes up to look and they had to agree.
"Maybe we can try and speak with it, sorry, him with an ouija board?" said Jenni, who had got hers out. Martha creased her toes up in her shoes ouija boards gave her the heebie-jeebies.
"I don't know if that's such a good idea," Croakers croaked. "They can be messy things. Does anyone else have any ideas?"
"Me!" said Gee. "We should call the Ghostbusters!" There was a pause.
"You know the Ghostbusters don't live in Boothville?" said Gossip Guy. "Or, indeed, in this dimension." He turned around and ran his hand along the spines of ghost story books. "We know the ghost isn't aggressive, but what if it becomes so?"
The door opened with the tinkle of a bell, but it was immediately masked by thunder and lightning. Martha and Jenni leapt out of their seats. Gee fell to the floor. Gossip Guy stumbled back and knocked Murder on the Orient Express off the shelf, catching it as it dropped.
A figure stood in the doorway, cloaked in black, a hood pulled up over his face. As soon as he entered the shop and closed the door, the storm subsided and the sun returned.
"Convenient," Jerry said with disdain. Gossip Guy shot him a look the kind of look he saves for Mormon writers of romantic fiction. The figure pulled his hood down, revealing an attractive male face with short black hair and stubble.
"Is this the meeting about the ghost?" he said.
"Yes, come in, who are you?" said Gossip Guy.
"They call me Francis," said Francis. "And I know a thing or two about this ghost. I thought I had better tell you what I know." He took his black cloak off and threw it over the back of an empty chair. Gossip Guy moved to sit next to Jenni and Francis took the stage in front of the corkboard and Jerry's photos.
"I knew the ghost well," he began. Tension buzzed around the room like electricity. "He was a man called Vic Morrow, a former boother. He was old, ancient, one here since the town's beginning. I was good friends with him but then, he died. It was sudden and he never really understood I think. I heard from the News Feed that he was tormenting the town
"Not exactly tormenting," said Gee. "He's just being a pain in the ass."
"But still, it's undesirable," said Francis.
"What can we do about it?" said Martha.
"I know where he spends most of his time," said Francis. "If you will all come along with me, we might be able to convince him to leave us all in peace." Croakers leapt up and croaked excitedly. "Everyone ready to go ghost hunting?"
The group all replied in the affirmative and so they set off into town, with Francis leading Gossip Guy, Croakers, Martha, Jerry, Jenni and Gee off on a little adventure.
They walked some distance through town, past shops and houses. A group of young newbies were in the park as they passed, playing a tag-like game of their own devising called "follow4follow". The lake was surrounded by what appeared to be a blur: someone running at full pelt. Martha surmised it was the Zooms-Whizz Kid, but they didn't have time to stop and meet him they kept on trekking.
Francis led the group over the Sandshrew Sand Dunes, circumvented the grounds of King Jon's castle, and after many hours of walking and complaining, they arrived at the KT-Marsh, between the GP-Marsh and the VC-Marsh. To the south was the county of Squalled they had reached the edge of Boothville.
"So now we're just in the swamps?" said Gossip Guy, watching Croakers looking at the frogs swimming gleefully around the algae.
"He lives although I use that word quite wrongly in a cave in the centre of the KT-Marsh," said Francis, pointing. "We must use the stepping stones to get across there."
"What stepping stones?" said Jenni, but her question was answered when large flat rocks bubbled up from the murky water, instantly drying and looking as if they'd always been there.
"Those ones," smiled Francis. And so, the party continued on, stepping across the KT-Marsh. As they went, they made vain attempts at conversation.
"What's so special about your toes?"
"Jenni, put it away."
"Are you really the seventeenth Gossip Guy?"
But it was hard to keep up, and they stopped, traversing the rest of the way in silence. Everyone was relieved when they reached the cave. The KT-Marsh stretched all around them and, as Gee hopped off the last stone, they all disappeared.
Francis put a finger to his lips and beckoned everyone in. The cave was much larger inside than out, which none of them questioned, all too busy worrying that the ghost would suddenly appear.
"Leave me alone," came a mournful voice once the party had reached the central chamber.
"We mean you no harm," said Francis, authoritatively. "But we must ask you to stop causing a nuisance in Boothville."
"What else can I do?" said the voice. "I just want friends." Jenni and Martha both said, "Awww!"
"Come with us, and we'll take you to King Jon," said Gossip Guy, stepping forward. "Show us your face, we will help you. King Jon will be able to give you all you desire." The ghost materialised in front of them, a hunched figure shining bright white against the darkness of the cave.
"Will he be able to get me some company?" said the ghost of Vic Morrow.
"Anything you want," said Francis, nodding. Just come with us, back across the KT-Marsh and we will take you to him." After a little more cajoling, the ghost of Vic Morrow agreed to come along.
Everyone hurried back outside and along the magic stepping-stones again, with the ghost of Vic Morrow floating alongside them. The boothers were in a hurry now, to get the ghost to be happy. They didn't like seeing anyone feeling down.
As they marched out of the KT-Marsh and back into Boothville in the direction of King Jon's castle, they sang songs.
Oh, you can sit on Facebook
Or waste time on Bebo
There's YouTube for the haters
But that's not where I will go
There's just one place that I belong
I tell you, that's the truth
So keep your Plurk and Twitter feeds
I'll stay on Dailybooth!
By the time they arrived at the gates, they were ready to deal with the guards, but all they found were two red pillows emblazoned with the letters BRB.
"I guess we can go right in," said Francis, pushing open the iron gate. The group ran up the long path to the castle door, laughing and joking. Even Vic Morrow's ghost was now singing and smiling. Croakers pulled open the main door of the castle, surprising a butler who happened to be passing through the hall.
"Which way to King Jon's throne room?" said Jenni. The butler pointed behind them to a door and said, "Back and to the left."
The group walked down to the throne room and soon found themselves kneeling before King Jon. They told him the story of Vic Morrow's ghost and he listened attentively.
"Your story saddens me," he said. "But after meeting these people, who appear to have cheered up considerably."
"Oh yes," said the ghost of Vic Morrow. "It was just what I needed to see these people."
"Then I shall pass a new law," he said, sitting up straight. "Every Saturday morning, a group of seven randomly selected boothers will come here to the castle, where you shall live from now on. The swamp is no place for you; I have a room in the tallest tower you can haunt. The boothers will stay until Sunday evening and you shall be treated to a weekend-long party every week by them."
"That sounds wonderful," smiled the ghost. King Jon sent him off to examine his new room and then turned to the seven people still kneeling before him.
"You did a very good thing today," he said. "I am proud of you all and I shall never forget your kindness. Now, run along and enjoy the rest of the day it will soon be twilight."
Had Martha and Francis not reacted quickly enough, it is believed that that would have been the moment that Gossip Guy had tried to assassinate King Jon after mishearing him. As it was, he was dragged from the room as the group went off to carry on with their lives.
A week later, the peace of Boothville was breached again by a new threat
but that's another story