To my readers... it's October, and what better time is there for a spooky tale? I originally wrote this fictional story in 2015 and published it as an e-book on Amazon, just as I did with "To Chase The Rainbow." I've made a few edits to the original story, mostly within the dialogue in an effort to make it flow better, and broken it up into two parts since it's a rather long one. I've also changed the name of the original title... it is now called "Manuscript Unleashed." Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoy.
Manuscript Unleashed, Part One
“Simon! Simon! Come on, wake up!” Simon tossed and turned a little. Groggy, he opened his eyes then suddenly sat straight up in his bed. “What? Who are you?” Simon said, startled to find another boy, about his age, standing beside the bed. He was slightly taller than Simon; and had light brown hair with blue eyes, just like Simon did. Simon wondered if he was dreaming. He’d never seen this boy before… not at school, not in the neighborhood, not anywhere! He turned to look at the clock. It was only three in the morning!
“Hi, I’m Johnny! Don’t you know me? I’m from your book!” Simon began to think. His book? Yes, Simon remembered, he was writing a book. He was writing a book to enter into a young author’s writing contest at his school, Valley School, where he attended as a 4th grader. He’d just begun to write it. It was going to be a story about a group of four kids (all the same age as Simon) who form a club and call themselves “The Pranksters.” Johnny was one of the characters in Simon’s book. But what was he doing here, in his bedroom? Simon wondered to himself, “Am I dreaming? Or did Johnny actually come to life?”
“Come on, I’m bored!” Johnny said. “Let’s go outside and play! We’ll jump on the trampoline!”
“Uh, no thanks!” said Simon, still somewhat bewildered. “I gotta get up for school in a couple hours. I’m going back to sleep.”
“Okie dokie then!” With that, Johnny left the room, slamming the door behind him on the way out. Simon went back to sleep.
Simon woke up later in the morning, at his usual time when his alarm clock went off at 5:30. He looked around his room but could find no trace of little Johnny, the mischievous young character that he had created for his book. It must have been just a dream. Simon headed downstairs to the kitchen for breakfast. “Good morning Mom!” His mom was standing by the stove, the eggs and bacon were already in the pan cooking and the biscuits were in the oven. Simon’s dad had already left for work. His father always got up every morning at 4:00, and would toast himself two English muffins and make a cup of instant coffee before leaving for work promptly at 5:00. His mother got up every morning at 4:55, to see him off to work before preparing to fix breakfast for herself and for Simon. Simon was an only child, having no brothers or sisters. He lived with his mother and father in a small suburb about 30 miles outside of Richmond, Virginia.
“What were you doing outside at 3:00 this morning?” Simon’s mother asked him.
“What? I wasn't outside!” Simon remembered his dream, how Johnny had come to life and wanted him to come play with him outside. It was just a dream after all, right?
“Oh, yes you were! You were jumping on that trampoline for over 45 minutes! What’s gotten into you?”
“Um, nothing. Sorry Mom!”
“Well, just see to it that it doesn’t happen again! So, how’s your new book coming along?”
“Uh, fine… I guess. I just got started on it, though.” Simon replied.
“You have got to be kidding me! Simon, you’ve had a whole month already to get started on it! It’s due at the end of next week! Now listen. You have got to stop procrastinating. You always do this. You put things off and wait until the last minute, then you’re always rushing to get it done. Simon, this is a book you’re writing here. You can’t just write it all at once! You’ll never get it done on time! I’ve told you this a thousand times already. If you start early and work on it everyday, you can pace yourself. You won’t always be rushing to get it done at the last minute. You had a whole month to do this, and you’ve wasted all this time without doing a thing! Now you’ve got only a week and a half to get it all done. Please Simon… you have to stop procrastinating!”
“I know Mom. I’m sorry! I’ll get it done… I promise!”
“Here, hurry up and eat your breakfast. Need you to get ready for school. Don’t forget…. when you get home tonight, you’re working on that book!”
Simon finished his breakfast. He went upstairs to wash up, then get ready for school. His mother was right, of course. Simon had always been quite the procrastinator. Putting things off until the last minute had always been one of his worst habits. To be fair, he actually did get started on it right away this time, though. The first few pages were written within the first day, but Simon stopped there. Every day, he meant to continue the story. But every day, he figured he’d just put it off until the next day. Now, a full month had gone by. It was Tuesday, and the deadline to enter the book in the contest was a week from this Friday!
Simon already knew what his story was about. He’d already created his characters, his setting, and the general plot. He had made up four different characters, all of them in 4th grade just like him. They were two boys, and two girls… together, they formed their own club and called themselves “The Pranksters.” Simon had named everyone of them too. There was Johnny, of course… the others were Mikey, Jackie, and Lindsay. It was to be a funny story about a group of mischievous kids, who formed a club and played practical jokes every where they went… just to make people laugh. These four kids were to be mischievous; playful, but not harmful. At least, that’s the way Simon had them in his story.
After Simon was finally ready for school, he grabbed his backpack and headed out the door to the bus stop. While he waited for the bus to arrive, he began to think about what he was going to write later that night. He wondered how much he could get finished. Maybe, Simon thought, a lot of work tonight could mean another day or two off!! Suddenly, he felt someone tap him on the shoulder.
“Hey Simon! Remember me?” It was Johnny again. Simon blinked his eyes. He was still there. Simon knew he couldn’t be dreaming this time. He was all alone at the bus stop. It was just him… him, and this fictional character he created. “Hey, watch this!” Johnny picked up a small rock and threw it at a car that was driving by. The rock hit the rear passenger door and bounced off. The car appeared to slow down, and the driver turned his head to look at Simon, before driving off. “Hey! Don’t do that!” yelled Simon. Johnny laughed, then went running off. Finally, the big yellow school bus came around the corner and stopped to let Simon on board. Simon paused for a second and turned around to make sure Johnny hadn’t come back. After being certain he wasn’t being followed, Simon boarded the bus and took his seat.
All day long, at school, Simon couldn’t stop thinking about what happened at the bus stop that morning… or about what had happened in the middle of the night. Johnny was fictional, after all. He was just a character that Simon had made up for his book. He wasn’t real, was he? He didn’t actually come to life, did he? Simon was puzzled, a little freaked out. It had to be his imagination. That’s right, Simon thought, it’s all in my head. He tried to put it out of his mind as best as he could. Later that night, he sat down to get some work done on his book. As he began to write, and started to get immersed in the story for the first time in weeks… he felt something hit him, very lightly, in the back. Startled, he turned around then looked down at the floor. It was a paper airplane!
It was a girl’s voice. Simon looked up to see a girl, about his age, standing behind him with a mischievous grin on her face. She had red curly hair, and hazel eyes. “Who are you?”
“I’m Jackie! Don’t you remember me? I’m from your book!” she said, cheerfully.
“Come on, I’m bored. Let’s play hide and go seek!”
“I, uh… I can’t. Not now. I’m… umm… I’m busy!”
“Simon?” his father called up to him. “Who are you talking to?”
“Uh, nobody Dad!”
“You know you’re not supposed to be talking on that phone of yours! It’s a school night. Don’t make me take it away from you again!”
Simon turned to Jackie and whispered. “Hey, you gotta go. I’ve got homework to do.”
“Okie dokie then!” Jackie yelled, as she headed for the door and then slammed it behind her as she left.
“Hey!” Simon’s father called up the stairs to him again. “What’d I tell you about slamming doors?”
Simon closed his book and put his pen down. Now, he was really starting to get freaked out. He couldn’t have just imagined that! Apparently, the Jackie from his book had now come to life the same way that Johnny had! But how can they do that? Simon wondered. More importantly though, how can I make them stop? They’re going to get me in trouble! Simon got up from his desk and began getting ready for bed. I’ll just keep working on it tomorrow, he thought. I’m done for the day!
As Simon lay in bed, another thought crossed his mind. If Johnny from his book could come to life, and Jackie from his book could come to life… then what about the other two? What about Mikey? What about Lindsay? Then, what would happen if any of them should happen to meet each other? Johnny and Jackie already, by themselves, had done some little things that could have gotten him into trouble. What if Jackie and Johnny were to meet and join forces? What if Mikey and Lindsay came to life too, and then joined them? Certainly the four of them together would create mayhem! It would be bedlam, for sure! Simon knew he had to put a stop to this. But how was he going to do that? “Eh, this is too much!” Simon thought. “It’s just my imagination! Fictional characters from books don’t come to life; that’s silly! This isn’t a science fiction movie, after all… this is real life!” Now, it was really time to go to sleep for Simon. It was time to stop worrying. He’d work more on the book tomorrow. “The sooner I get it finished”, he thought, “the sooner they’ll go away, and I can forget about them!” With that, Simon closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep.
The next morning, Simon awoke to the sound of his alarm clock. Turning it off and blinking his eyes, he sat up and looked around. Johnny was no where to be found. There was no trace of Jackie. He looked at the clock; it was 5:30. Relieved, Simon got out of bed. He was indeed very thankful to have slept through the night uninterrupted, unlike the night before. His troubles with the imaginary characters must really have been just the work of his wild imagination!
Simon went downstairs and headed to the kitchen for breakfast. “Good morning Mom!”
Simon’s mother looked up from the stove and glared at him for a second before speaking. “Simon…” she began. Right away, Simon knew she was unhappy about something. “Why were you up in the middle of the night?”
“What? I… I… uh…”
“Why were you down here, playing with your Legos in the middle of the night? You left them all over the place! In the kitchen, in the bathroom… even on the stairs! Your father slipped on one of them and almost had a terrible fall! Now, what has gotten into you?”
Simon just stood there, in shock. He hadn’t heard a thing! He slept all night! He wondered if maybe he should tell his mother about the characters in his book; of how he’d seen two of them come to life already.
“It… wasn’t me Mom. Honest. You see… in my book… I have these characters I’m writing about in there. They’ve been coming out of the book! They… uh… came to life. It was Johnny. Or Jackie. It wasn’t me!”
“You’re telling me that the characters in the book you’re writing are coming to life and playing with Legos in the middle of the night? Fictional characters?”
“Well, tell them to clean up after themselves next time!” Clearly, Simon’s mother didn’t believe him but she was willing to humor him a little, recognizing that he always did have such a big imagination. “Now, hurry up and eat your breakfast. You're going to be late for school!”
Simon hurriedly finished eating, then raced upstairs to get ready. He grabbed his backpack and headed out the door to the bus stop. “What are they going to do today?” he thought.
Simon stood at the bus stop waiting. Nervously, he kept looking over his shoulder. First over his right shoulder, and then over his left one. Where was Johnny? Was he going to show up again here this morning, at the bus stop? What about Jackie? Where was she hiding out? How about Mikey and Lindsay? What were they waiting for? After what seemed like an eternity, the big yellow bus finally came around the corner and stopped to pick up Simon. Simon paused for a second before boarding, just as he did the day before. He looked over his shoulder once more, to make sure he wasn’t being followed.
“Come on Simon, let's go!” Mrs. Johnson called to him. “What’s wrong?” “Nothing, Mrs. Johnson! Just thought I saw someone behind me… that’s all!” Simon got on the bus and took his seat as the bus pulled away from the corner. About a minute later, he felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned to see a young girl, about his age, kneeling in the aisle next to his seat. Simon did not recognize this girl. It was not Jackie. She had long blond hair, and blue eyes too.
“Hi! I’m Lindsay! Don’t you recognize me? I’m from your book!”
“Wha- what… what are you doing here? How did you… get in here?”
“Come on, let’s have some fun! I’m bored! Wanna jump out the back door?”
“Uh… no. It’s… not a good idea!” Simon answered her.
“Okalee-dokalee then!” Lindsay yelled as she stood up and began running down the aisle towards the back of the bus.
“NO!” Simon shouted as he got up to run after her. Simon just knew what would happen if he let Lindsay get to that door. She’d open it, the alarm would sound, and there would certainly be total chaos! “Where are you going?” Mrs. Johnson yelled at Simon. “Sit down!” Simon stopped and looked around but Lindsay was suddenly nowhere to be found. Instead, he saw 40 pairs of eyes all staring at him and everyone on the bus began to laugh. Embarrassed, Simon quietly took his seat. Man, this is going to be one LONG ride to school today, he thought to himself. What were they going to do next?
It was Wednesday. The day passed, and nothing more out of the ordinary occurred. Simon felt relieved, but still a bit nervous. On the bus ride home, he kept waiting for one of his characters to show up again. On the walk from his bus stop to home, he kept looking over his shoulder. As soon as Simon got home, he opened up his book again and got right to work. He was determined to get it done early now. But then, after writing a couple more sentences, he stopped. He began to let his thoughts wander again; he began to daydream. It had always been a problem for Simon, because he always had quite a huge imagination. He was always drifting off into thought whenever he was doing schoolwork of any type. A big project like this, of writing a book, was certainly no exception. If anything, it seemed to open up his imagination even more. It was as if his imagination just took on a life of its own, much the way the characters in his own book appeared to have done. It was probably the number one reason why Simon had such difficulty staying focused on the task at hand. It had to be the reason why he put things off all the time.
Somewhat absent-mindedly, Simon closed the book again and got up from his desk. He sat down on the floor and turned on the X-box. “I’ll just take a break for a little while”, he thought, “and play video games, then I’ll get back to the book.” That’s when he first heard the sound of the harmonica. It was coming from right behind him. Startled, he turned around to see another boy, about his age, sitting behind him with the musical instrument in his hand. Simon didn’t recognize this other boy. It wasn’t Johnny this time. He had red hair, kind of like Jackie, except his hair was not curly.
“Hi! I’m Mikey! I’m from your book!”
Great, just great, thought Simon. Just when he thought his characters had gone away… the fourth and final one had come to life as well. That harmonica… was sure to attract attention!
“I’m bored! Want to hear me play?” Without waiting for Simon to answer, the red-haired boy began playing. Very loudly!
“Simon!” It was his father calling. “What’s all that noise?”
“Uh… I dunno.” Simon really didn’t know what to say.
“Well, go wash your hands and then come on downstairs! Dinner’s in five minutes!”
Simon got up and started to head downstairs. He was beginning to get freaked out again. All kinds of thoughts flooded his head. “What am I going to do about these kids? What if they don’t go away? How can I make them stop? They’re going to get me into trouble, or maybe worse!” Simon began to think. He pondered long and hard, but could not think of a solution. If the characters came to life on their own, they would have to go away on their own. Simon would just have to figure out how to convince them. Perhaps first though, he’d have to try and figure out why they had come to life in the first place. If they’re only supposed to be fictional, then why didn’t they just stay in his book? “I know!” Simon had an idea. “I’ll just ask them!”
Simon sat down at the dinner table. “What took you so long? I called you ten minutes ago!’ his father asked him.
“Just thinking about some stuff, I guess!”
“How’s that book of yours coming along?”
“Yeah, um… about the book…”
Simon began to answer. He was going to tell his dad, and his mom too, about everything. He was going to tell them both about the four kids he made up as characters in his book, and about how all four of them had come to life. Simon was going to tell them about Johnny and the trampoline, and the rock he threw at that car. He was going to tell them about Jackie, and the paper airplane… and how she was the one that slammed the door last night, which Simon’s father had blamed on him. He was going to tell them about Lindsay, and how she almost caused a major catastrophe on the school bus that morning. Finally, he was going to bring in Mikey… because it was he that was playing the harmonica just a few minutes ago. Simon was going to tell his parents about all of that, but just as he began to do so… the dinner table started shaking.
All three of them stopped and looked at each other. Then, Simon’s mother and father both looked at him. The table began shaking again, and Simon looked down to where he could see underneath the table. There was Jackie, and Lindsay too! They were both underneath the table, causing it to shake. They looked up at Simon and giggled. “Hey Simon Simon Bo-Bimon-Banana-Fana-Fo-Fimon!” said Lindsay, as the two of them giggled again.
“Simon Patrick Roberts! Stop that!” His father was really starting to get annoyed now. Simon knew he was in trouble whenever he was addressed by his full name. “But I didn’t do it!” Simon was really starting to get frustrated at this point. Still giggling, the girls shook the table one more time. “That’s it!” Simon’s father erupted, throwing down his napkin and standing up from the table. “Go upstairs… now! Your mother and I have had enough of these silly little pranks of yours! Go on up to your room and get into bed!”
Simon ran up to his room and slammed the door behind him. He could hear his father yelling at him again about slamming the door, but Simon didn’t care. Tears began to roll down his cheek as he climbed in his bed. It wasn’t his fault. These kids he created as the characters for his book… they wouldn’t stop! They got him into trouble, yet again. And it was just as he was about to tell his parents about what had been going on. Of course, Simon knew it would probably have done no good to tell them anyway. His parents weren’t going to believe him. He had a hard enough time believing it for himself.
Just then, Simon heard Lindsay’s voice pipe up again. “Simon Simon, Bo-Bimon Banana-Fana-Fo-Fimon, Fee-Fi-Mo-Mimon, Simon!” she started singing. Then Jackie chimed in. “Simon Simon, Bo-Bimon, Banana-Fana-Fo-Fimon, Fee-Fi-Mo-Mimon, Simon!” The two of them sang together over and over again a few more times, seemingly to mock him. “Stop, STOP!” Simon yelled. Then Mikey and Johnny joined the chorus. All four of them singing “Simon Simon, Bo-Bimon, Banana-Fana-Fo-Fimon, Fee-Fi-Mo-Mimon, Simon!”, over and over until they heard footsteps coming up the stairs then a knock on the door. “Simon?” It was his mother. She opened the door. “Simon, what’s going on in here? I thought I heard singing. Did you have the television on?”
“Well, here. I heated up the rest of your dinner. You can eat it up here. Simon… tell me something. What’s going on with you lately?”
“Mom, I know you’re not going to believe this, but I gotta tell you anyway.” Simon told his mother everything that was going on. He told her about the story he had come up with for the book. He told her about the four characters he made up for the story, and how one by one they had all come to life. Everything that had been going on… from the trampoline, to the Legos, the dinner table, and the singing… Simon explained it all.
“Mom, I’m scared now. What if they don’t stop? What are they going to do next? They’ve already gotten me in enough trouble… now what else are they going to do, that I’m going to get blamed for? They keep on playing all these pranks, but what if they take it too far? How do I stop them? How can I get them under control? They’ve become… like… ghosts!”
“Simon” his mother began. “I know you. You have a very strong imagination. Most good writers do… that’s a good thing! But your imagination can also get you into trouble now, don’t you see? These characters you made up are all in your head. I think this is one of the reasons you should not have put off writing this book until the last minute, the way you did. The quicker you get done writing this book, the quicker you can forget about them. Understand?” Simon nodded. “Now, I want you to finish eating your dinner then go to sleep. After school tomorrow… I want you working on that book more. I want you to finish this early, so you can put it behind you and forget about it, okay?” Again, Simon nodded.
“Good night now Simon!”
“Good night, Mom!”
Simon tossed and turned a little, then began to drift off to sleep. Just then, he felt someone tapping him on the arm. Startled, he sat up in his bed. It was Lindsay again. “What are you doing here again? Uh… where are the others hiding?” Simon nervously glanced around the room. “Relax, Simon! We didn’t mean to freak you out earlier and all. We just thought it would be fun to sing that song. You know that name game song, right?”
“Um… yeah.” Simon remembered singing that song from the time when he was in preschool.
“Oh, and we didn’t mean to cause you any trouble earlier. We were bored, we just wanted to have some fun. That’s all! So hey, come on… let’s go outside. The others are all out there already! Let’s jump on your trampoline! That’s so much fun!”
“Um… Lindsay? Lindsay… I got to ask you something.” Simon had to ask, he had to know what they were all doing here. How could they just spring to life the way they did? Not only how, but why? “Hey Lindsay… you, and you all… you’re all characters! I created you for my book I was writing. I gotta know how… how can you all just come to life the way you did? How is it that you’re here? How, and why?”
“Look Simon… we’re The Pranksters. We just want to have fun. We formed a club, the four of us, to play practical jokes on people… just to make them laugh. You started writing our story, but then you just stopped! We got bored! Now come on… you coming outside or what?”
“No… you go ahead. I’m supposed to be asleep. Just whatever you do, don’t slam the door on your way out! Please!” Simon begged her, so scared he’d get in trouble again.
“Oh, okay! I won’t, I promise!” said Lindsay. She went to open the door and just before leaving the room, began laughing. “Sike!” Lindsay then slammed the door behind her, laughing hysterically as she scurried down the stairs and out the back door.
Simon waited in fear. He knew any second, his father was going to start yelling about the door again. Simon waited, and waited… and waited some more. Nothing happened. His dad hadn’t heard the door this time! Relieved, he closed his eyes and went to sleep.
The next day was Thursday. Simon woke up and looked around. Nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary. He went downstairs for breakfast, wondering what these “ghosts” of his that he created had done in the night to get him into trouble. Simon sat at the table and waited nervously for his mother to say something. But she instead quietly served him his breakfast. “What’s wrong Simon?” Look like you’ve got something on your mind.” “Oh, nothing. Just thinking about my book, that’s all!” he replied. Apparently, nothing unusual had happened in the night. “Well, hurry up and eat. Then get ready for school. When you get home tonight, you can work on your book.” Simon finished eating, then went upstairs to get ready for school. In the back of his mind, he was still worried. What were they going to do today?
Simon walked to the bus stop and waited nervously. Nothing happened. The bus came, and he got on. Anxiously, he sat in his seat on the bus wondering which one of the pranksters would show up this time and what they would do. Nothing happened. Through the entire school day, Simon continued to wonder, and worry. Still, nothing happened. To Simon’s relief, it was a very quiet day. He got home and went right to work again writing his book… taking only one break to eat dinner. He managed to get a couple more chapters done but still had a lot more to do. Simon was tired though, and went to bed. When he awoke the next morning, it was Friday. Again, there was nothing out of place; nothing unusual. There was no sign of Johnny, or Jackie. No trace of Lindsay, and Mikey was nowhere to be found either. “Maybe, just maybe”, Simon thought, “They’re finally gone! Maybe now they'll leave me alone for good!” Little did he know what they had planned next for this day, and what was in store for him over the upcoming weekend.
Later that morning, while Simon was sitting at his desk in school, he felt someone tap him on the shoulder. He turned around to see Jackie sitting there in the seat next to his. “Oh no!’ he thought. “Not again!” “Hey Simon! I’m bored! Let’s play!” “We can’t.” Simon whispered to her, trying his best not to attract attention. “We’re in school.”
“Simon?” His teacher, Mrs. Cartwright, looked up from her desk. “Who are you talking to? You’re supposed to be reading now. Finish the reading assignment I gave you, then answer the questions at the end. If you’re finished, please wait quietly until everyone is done, then we’ll go over the answers.”
“Hey Simon!” Jackie appeared to not hear him or his teacher and continued as if nothing happened. “Want to see me make a paper airplane? I can make it fly really good!” Jackie got out a piece of paper and began folding it until she had made a paper airplane. “Now watch this!” Simon started to open his mouth again to tell Jackie to stop but it was too late. She threw the paper airplane at Mrs. Cartwright, hitting her on the shoulder while she wasn’t looking. She stopped what she was doing and looked around the room. “Who did that? she asked the class. Everyone pointed at Simon, since the paper airplane had come from his direction. Apparently, nobody else had seen Jackie.
“It wasn’t me… honest! It was her!” Simon pointed to the empty desk next to his. “Alright Simon, that’s enough. Come with me!” Mrs. Cartwright took him down to the principal’s office. “You wait out here while I go in and talk to him.” After about a minute, the door opened and Mr. Wilson, the principal, took Simon into his office. Mrs. Cartwright returned to the classroom.
“Mr. Roberts… what seems to be the problem? I understand you were throwing paper airplanes at your teacher? I also got a note from your bus driver the other day. Mrs. Johnson said you jumped up from your seat yelling and started running towards the emergency exit! Now Mr. Roberts… this isn’t like you. Would you care to explain your behavior?”
“Really,,, it wasn’t me!” Simon answered. “It was Jackie. She threw the paper airplane, not me. No one else can see her except me. She’s a character in the book I’m writing. You know… for the young author’s writing contest. She came to life. They all came to life. They’re like ghosts! Lindsay, the other one, was running on the bus the other day. I was just trying to stop her! There’s also Mikey, and Johnny. They’ve been playing at my house in the middle of the night and they leave toys everywhere! I don’t know what’s going on! But it’s them! Not me!”
“Alright Mr. Roberts… do I need to call your parents and have them come pick you up?”
“But… but it’s true!”
Mr. Wilson sat and stared at Simon for what seemed like a very long time. He seemed to be sizing up the young boy; analyzing the wild tales that he was hearing. Mr. Wilson was not known to get angry very easily, but he was not into playing games either. He had been the principal of Valley School since it opened nearly 30 years ago… he’d seen and heard it all. You just didn’t try to fool him, because you knew better. “Very well then, Mr. Roberts.” With that, Mr. Wilson picked up the phone. Simon began to cry.
Both Simon’s father and mother came to the school to pick him up and take him home. As they were driving home, after a long period of silence, Simon’s father finally began to speak. “You know what this means, Simon… don’t you?” Simon nodded his head, still in tears. “You’re spending the weekend indoors. I don’t want you going anywhere. I don’t want you going outside to play. I’m taking your phone too; I don’t want you talking or texting. You can have your phone back after school on Monday. Understand?” Again, Simon nodded. His father continued to lecture. “I don’t know what’s gotten into you, Simon Patrick Roberts. But I can tell you this… we can’t allow you to behave this way. And I don’t want to hear you blaming it on your pranksters, or ghosts… or whoever these friends of yours are. Now your mother and I have been talking and she told me what you were telling her the other night. We talked, and we agreed… you need to finish your book, so then you can forget about them. You have a great imagination, we know… but we can’t excuse your behavior. You’ve got the whole weekend now to get the book done. It’s time you put that great mind of yours to good use, and finish writing that book. Understand?”
Once more, Simon nodded. Of course, his parents didn’t really understand. These things were really happening. These characters he created, these ghosts… he’d seen them. He’d heard them. Simon knew they were real. He even talked to them. Of course, he knew it was no use trying to get his parents to believe him. But they were right. He had to finish writing the book. He created these characters, the four pranksters, and left them hanging. He had to finish writing their story. It was the only way to put them to rest. Little did Simon know, however, what these four kids had in store for him next.
Later that night, Simon was woken up by what sounded like a crash and glass breaking. Startled, he jumped out of his bed and turned on the light. He waited for his mom and dad to wake up. Surely, they heard it too. Simon waited in his room very quietly. He waited, and waited… and waited some more. His mom and dad apparently were still asleep. They must not have heard the loud crash, and the broken glass. It sounded like a window had broken, but they did not hear it. Of course, Simon was sure this was the work of one of his characters. He opened the door and quietly began walking down the stairs. He looked all over the house, but could not find any broken glass anywhere, and no broken window. “Is it possible that I dreamed it?”, he thought. The sound was so loud; Simon was sure it had come from somewhere in the house, but he couldn’t find anything. So, he went back to bed and fell asleep.
A little while later, he was awoken by another crash, and what sounded like another window breaking. This time it was much louder than the first time. Again, Simon bolted out of bed and turned on the light. He waited quietly for his mom and dad to get up but all he heard was his father peacefully snoring in the next room. Then he heard the giggling. It sounded like there were two of them and Simon figured it must be Lindsay and Jackie. He looked around the room but could not find them. Too scared at this point to leave his room again, Simon crawled back into bed and got all the way under the covers.
“Hey Simon-Simon-Bo-Bimon!” It was definitely Lindsay’s voice. She began singing again, just like the other night. “Simon Simon Bo Bimon Banana-Fana-Fo-Fimon Fee-Fi-Mo-Mimon Simon!” One by one, the other three joined in the chorus. All four of them… Lindsay, Jackie, Johnny, and Mikey sang it over and over again, seemingly getting louder each time. “Simon Simon Bo-Bimon Banana-Fana-Fo-Fimon Fee-Fi-Mo-Mimon Simon! Simon Simon Bo-Bimon Banana-Fana-Fo-Fimon Fee-Fi-Mo-Mimon Simon!!” Finally, Simon had enough. He kicked off the covers and bolted out of bed. “Stop! Stop!” he yelled. He ran out of the room screaming.
“Mom! Dad!” he yelled, as he ran into their room. “What is it? What’s wrong Simon?” said his mom.
“Th-th-they’re here! They’re… th-they’re back! The pranksters! The ghosts! They’re in my room again! They keep making all these noises, and they’re singing… and… and… laughing! And… and… I heard a window breaking!”
While Simon’s mother was trying to calm him down, his father went to look around the house. After a few minutes, he returned. “Simon Patrick…” he began. “I checked out the whole house. I even went in your room. There’s nothing there! There’s nobody in the house except the three of us. There’s no broken window. It’s all your imagination! You need to get to bed!”
“I said… go to bed!”
Simon ran to his room and slammed the door. Leaving the light on this time, he jumped back into bed and hid himself under the covers again. “Why can’t they just try and understand?’ he thought. Simon was getting very scared now. These kids, these characters he made up, were really starting to get scary. Lindsay, who appeared to be the leader of the pack, was especially freaky! They were mostly playful at first, but now they were really starting to terrorize him. Simon felt something poking at him through the covers. He slowly took his head out from under the covers to look. It was Lindsay. “Hey! It’s me again! Ha-ha-ha… did I scare you? I was just trying to have a little fun!” Simon didn’t answer her; instead, he pulled the covers back over his head and hoped she would just go away. Once again, he felt something poking at him through the covers. He looked out from under the covers again but this time, there was nobody there. Simon pulled the covers back over his head once again. This went on again and again, all night…. more poking, and more giggling too. Simon knew it would do no good to get upset and make another scene. Nobody believed him. So, he stayed hidden under the covers all night; unable to sleep, quietly wishing they would just go away. Simon was indeed getting quite frightened, and while he wanted to believe things couldn’t get any worse… somehow, he got the feeling they were indeed about to escalate.
Somehow or another, Simon was finally able to get to sleep. He awoke to a knock on his door. He looked at the clock. It was 9:40! Simon never slept this late! “Simon!” He could hear his mother calling him from the door, as she opened it. “Simon… what’s all this on the floor?” Simon looked at the floor to find several paper airplanes lying around. There were even a couple of them in his bed, near his pillow! “Get all this cleaned up, and then come downstairs for breakfast!” his mother told him.
Simon picked up the airplanes and tossed them in the trash. He went to go grab his phone, the way he always did on Saturday mornings, only to find it wasn’t there. Then he remembered his father had taken it away from him for the weekend. Making his way down the stairs, he sat down at the table and began to eat his breakfast. His mother and father sat at the table too, and watched him until he finished eating.
“How’s that book coming along, Simon?” his father asked. “You got more work done on it last night, right?”
“Yeah, a little.” Simon replied.
“Well, you better buckle down and get a whole lot done! And you can’t be carrying on the way you were last night either! You are nine years old now son… you’re way too old to be running around, screaming, and making up ghost stories. You are too old to have imaginary friends. Understand?” Simon nodded. He wasn’t about to argue with his parents. He knew they didn’t believe him. He knew they just didn’t understand. “Now go on upstairs and get to work!” Simon spent the entire day working on writing his book. He got a great deal of work done on it by the end of the day and was quite proud; though he knew he still had a good long way to go. Finally, he was making progress! Satisfied with the day’s work, he went to bed promptly at 9:00 and got right to sleep. It wouldn’t be long, though, before he got woken up again.
Simon woke up to find the light in his bedroom was on. He was sure he had turned it off before he went to sleep. He looked at the clock; it was 11:45. Still early, he thought. Plenty of time still left in the night for his little ghosts to do who-knows-what. Still half asleep, he got up and opened the door. The hallway light had been turned off, meaning his mom and dad had already retired for the night. Simon shut the door and turned the light off, then crawled back into bed. Just as he was about to close his eyes, something else caught his attention. On the wall, he saw what appeared to be the reflecting light of a flashlight. It was as if someone was pointing a flashlight right on the wall and shining it there. It flickered on, then off, then on ,then off… followed by more giggling and then what sounded like a harmonica being played. Just keep calm, Simon thought. No screaming. No crying. No scenes. Just keep calm, he thought… maybe they’ll go away. Just then, he felt another paper airplane hit him. He turned around to look. Three of them were in the room this time; the only one missing was Lindsay. Johnny was holding the flashlight and Mikey had the harmonica in his hand. It was pretty clear to Simon that Jackie was the one who threw the paper airplane. The three of them laughed again. “Gotcha!” said Jackie.
Suddenly, the door swung open. Lindsay called out to the others, “Hey guys! This way… follow me!” They all ran out the room. Lindsay, of course, slammed the door behind her. It seemed like every time she did that, she would do so louder than before! Simon put his head back down and tried to get back to sleep, but it was no use. The four kids were running up and down the stairs, yelling and laughing hysterically. “Simon Patrick!” Apparently, his father heard the commotion and had woken up. “Get back in bed this instant! What on earth are you doing?” “I am in bed” Simon pleaded. “Then go to sleep!” his dad hollered back. Simon closed his eyes and tried again to fall asleep. Amazingly, the four kids had stopped their antics. Simon took advantage of the break and got to sleep as quickly as he could.
Simon woke up to a knock on his door the next morning. It was his mother again, wondering why he had slept so late. He looked at the clock. It was 10:15 this time, even later than he had slept in the day before! “Simon, you made another mess all over the floor last night!” his mom said. He looked to find paper airplanes scattered all over the room, again. “Pick all this up and come downstairs to eat, okay?” Simon began to pick up the paper airplanes when one of them got his attention. It appeared one of them had writing on it. He unfolded it and read the message. “We’re the pranksters. You created us, and then left us hanging. We’re bored. Finish writing our story… before we finish writing yours! Signed, Lindsay, Johnny, Jackie, and Mikey.”
To Be Continued...