Chapter 1 - Swimming Fiasco
"School trip to the swimming pool, who's genius idea was that?" Samantha Manson grumbled from beside me. I sighed.
"Sam, it's over ninety degrees outside! We haven't had a day this hot since Vlad brought Vortex to Amity Park." I replied, rubbing the back of my neck with my hand. If I were normal it would have come away sticky with sweat. But it didn't cause I wasn't normal. Being me did have its advantages.
"Danny's right Sam. Look on the bright side; we get to see all the girls in their swimwear!" Tucker Foley said, wiggling his thick eyebrows over his glasses. I rolled my eyes and Sam groaned. Tucker Foley and Sam Manson were my two best, and only, friends in Amity Park. I had met Tuck in early primary school. He was pretty nerdy, complete with glasses, a red beret, and his ever-present PDA. When the bully Dash had tried to make him eat sand, I had intervened, and so we both ended up having to eat sand. Ever since then we had been best friends. I met Sam when she and her family moved here in fourth grade. She was very outspoken with straight black hair, violet eyes and strong opinions. She was quiet at first, until we sat next to each other in English. We started talking and eventually she joined my small, very small, circle of friends.
"Not everyone wants to see stuck up girls flaunting their skinny bodies with boys drooling all over the ground we have to walk on. It's gross and unsanitary." She said crossing her arms, causing her black, bat like cape to ripple and reveal two long, creamy white legs, for once not covered in her usual tights and combat boots. I swallowed roughly and averted my eyes. Sam wouldn't appreciate gawking, especially from her best friend. Tucker was shirtless and wore only red boardshorts, his red beret and was currently blowing up a floaty toy. Every other boy on the bus had no shirts on, except me. I had on blue boardshorts and a white singlet. I would be shirtless; it's not that I feel ashamed of my body, quite the opposite actually, I was quite proud of how fit I was. But being shirtless is not a good idea for me as it covered up all my many scars I had received from ghost fighting since I first got my powers.
I should probably explain. Two years ago, my professional ghost-hunting parents decided to build a machine, a proper version of the prototype they built in college. A Ghost Portal, which would allow them to access the 'Ghost Zone' a realm where, you guessed it, ghosts lived (or dwelt, you know what I mean). They had been so excited that they'd dragged my sister Jazz and I down the stairs and made us watch as they turned it on. A light started to show, and I have to admit I got a shiver of anticipation, but then the light fizzled out and died. Mum and Dad looked so upset…they'd spent months on this machine, and it didn't even work-or so they thought. Later that day, Sam and Tucker were over and I mentioned the Ghost Portal. Immediately they wanted to check it out so I lead them into the Ghost Lab and showed them the 'broken' Portal. Sam then convinced me to go inside and check it out, and so I did. But while inside I slipped, put my hand on a wall and accidentally pressed the ON button while inside the machine (I know, who puts the ON switch inside the machine? Jack Fenton, that's who) and it activated. The entire thing filled with a bright green energy and completely engulfed me. It was agonizing; I had felt like I was being ripped apart. No words could express how much pain I had felt in that moment. Somehow, I managed to find my way out of the now-working Portal and back to my friends, who were staring at me, shocked. I passed out, only to awaken a little while later, but I felt different. Looking in the mirror I saw my raven black hair and turned snow white and my ice blue eyes were a glowing, neon green and my skin had gone a shade darker. We later discovered that my DNA had been infused with ectoplasm, the essence of a ghost. I was what is known as a Halfa – a half-human, half-ghost hybrid; all the powers of a ghost, but the life of a human. Best of both worlds, right? Ever since the accident I have been gaining new abilities – and enemies.
These enemies are the reason I don't take my shirt off in public. I have too many scars from the countless battles I have been in, and I couldn't explain how I got them all. My shirt hid these scars, and most of the muscles that had formed over the two years since I first walked into that Ghost Portal. Questions would be asked, questions I wouldn't be able to answer.
"Danny?" I blinked as Sam waved her hand in front of my face. I shook myself out of my thoughts and looked at her.
"Oh, uh, yes Sam?" I asked. She rolled her violet eyes.
"Get up, we're here."
Sam, Tucker and I filed off the bus with our classmates. In a matter of minutes we were inside the Waterpark and splitting up, each social group going in different directions. I started off towards the tallest ride in the Floody Waters Waterpark, Terror Mountain, Sam and Tuck close behind. When we lined up I heard their conversation.
"Seriously Sam, how are you not sweating? You're dressed in all black!" Tuck exclaimed, gesturing to her black hat and bat cape.
"Goth's don't sweat-"
"They simmer." I finished for her. She grinned at me as Tucker sighed. We shuffled along as the line shortened. After a few minutes of waiting we finally reached the front of the line. I grinned excitedly at my friends.
"We've been waiting for this ride for ages!" I said, my mood lifting. But with my luck, I knew it wouldn't last. Sure enough, I saw my friends expressions change and a shadow cast over me.
"Well, well, well." A familiar voice said from behind me. I sighed and turned around. Dash Baxter, Casper high's most popular boy, and the star quarterback (yes it's the same Dash, the one who made Tucker and I eat sand in second grade). "You'll be waiting longer cause look who saved our spot in line!" He sneered, causing his friends to snicker. Behind him I saw Paulina, the prettiest girl in school, Paulina's ever-present best friend Star, who Tucker called Satellite, and Star's on-again-off-again boyfriend Kwan. Usually seeing Paulina in her bathing suit would cause my heart to skip a beat, but for a while now, I had stopped caring. I mean she was pretty, but she was – for lack of nicer words- a complete and utter idiot. A girl needed brains and had to be able to hold a conversation that didn't involve herself, makeup, herself, shoes or herself. Yeah, Paulina was pretty shallow.
"We didn't save a spot for you Dash." I said. "You can wait back there along with everyone else." I gestured to the back of the line. Dash scowled.
"What did you say runt? I don't do waiting in lines." He said stepping in close. I stayed where I was and to my shock I found myself looking Dash in the eyes. I saw Dash's eyes flicker as he came to the same realization that I had. I was taller than him. I heard Sam snicker when she saw.
"Since when did you get tall Fenturd?" He asked, blinking at me. I smiled.
"Since my growth spurt." I replied. I saw Paulina lean over to Star and whisper something in her ear. Thanks to my super enhanced hearing I could hear everything they were saying as if they were next to me rather than ten feet away.
"He's taller than Dash!"
"Look at his arms… Do you think he has muscles?" Star asked her. Paulina snickered.
"It's Danny Fenton. If he ever has muscles, let alone a six pack of abs, I'll kiss Mikey." She said, naming the nerdiest guy at school. She snorted with laughter. I couldn't help the grin that spread across my face. If she saw what was under my shirt she wouldn't say that. I was tempted to take off my single to see their reactions, but I knew better. The risks were too great, and the key to keeping a secret identity is by not drawing too much attention to yourself.
"What are you grinning at Fenturd?" Dash said, raising his fist. I returned my gaze to Dash, my ice blue eyes staring into his without wavering. I had faced Pariah Dark, King of All Ghosts, whom even Skulker ran from, and won. I had looked death in the face and kept going. A little high school bully like Dash didn't scare me. But I had to keep up the pretence that he did so I averted my gaze and started at the ground.
"Nothing you'd be interested in." I said, lowering my voice.
"That's what I thought." Dash sneered, letting his fist drop back to his side. I gritted my teeth together. I wish I could show then what I can do! I thought irritably. Then they wouldn't be such jerks. But I did as I always do, bite down on my pride and don't do anything. I do enough for these losers as Phantom. I clenched my fists and let out a low sigh. I saw Dash turn to his friends and I automatically grabbed Tuck and Sam's arms and dragged them through the opening for the ride. I heard Dash's outrageous cry as Sam, Tuck and I laughed.
The ride had been amazing! When we came out the end into the giant pool, we all fell out into the water and came up laughing, water dripping off our hair. My shirt clung to my body like a second skin, and I hoped it didn't define my muscles too much; it was mainly the scars I was worried about. I glanced over at Sam who was staring at my chest, a strange look on her face.
"Sam, you okay?" I asked as we waded out of the pool. She shook herself and smiled.
"Yeah of course." She got out of the water and groaned. "I better get this wet cape off, I'd rather be a Goth out in sunlight that be dragged down by this." She said, lifting her dripping cape off her shoulders. She turned and walked over to where Mr Lancer was guarding our bags.
"While she is putting her stuff away, I'm going to go over there, ready to provide the girls with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation." He pulled breath spray from his pocket and proceeded to spray his mouth with mint. I coughed as the scent reached my sensitive nose.
"Tuck, that didn't work last time, it won't work this time." I sighed.
"Who knows, this time it might be different." He said. "Third times the charm." I rolled my eyes as he walked away. Highly doubt it. I thought to myself as Sam returned. I looked over at her, a smile on my lips. It faded as I saw her without her cape or hat. Her creamy skin was flawless, and the purple bikini she wore underneath was the same shade as her eyes. Her black hair was drenched and hung around her in a wavy curtain, framing a pale, heart shaped face with eyes the colour of newly bloomed violets. I shook myself the way she had earlier and smiled at her once again.
"Sam, you look…" I trailed off.
"Great." Tucker finished for me as he walked up beside us, a red handprint just taking form on his cheek.
"Is that-" I began, pointing to his face.
"Don't ask." He cut me off. I chuckled. My laugh was cut short as a hand grabbed my shirt and pulled me backwards. I stumbled for a moment before gaining my footing. I turned to find Dash, a furious look on his face.
"I didn't find it funny, you making me look like a fool, Fenturd." He said angrily.
"You don't need my help for that, you do it all on your own." I said, speaking before thinking it through. Sometimes, having witty banter as an instinct can really cause you problems I thought. I saw Dash's eyes harden and the muscles in his right arm tense and I knew he was going to punch me. Instinct caused me to duck and twist under his other arm, causing my shirt to slide up my chest and over my head. I spun around, regaining my balance with ease. I glared at Dash who was looking at me in shock.
"How did you move so…" Dash's voice trailed off as he looked down at my chest. I glanced down and realised my shirt was in Dash's hand and everyone could see my bare chest that was covered in scars. One such scar was a line across my stomach, courtesy of Skulker and forgetting to turn intangible when he was 'showing' me his new knife. Another was a small circular burn on my right shoulder, zapped by Technus's electrical cords. A larger, more obvious scar was right above my heart and was the size of a fist but the shape of a seven pointed star – the shape of the Ghost Portals power opening. Several smaller scars were there but only seen up close or with super vision such as my own.
"Who knew Fenton had a six pack?" Star mused, giving me the 'elevator look' before turning to Paulina. "Looks like you have to kiss-"Star broke off as Paulina pinched her. I felt awkward with everyone staring at my bare chest.
"Fenton, where did you get all those scars?" Dash asked, his voice low. I scrambled for a reason.
Ghost fighting? Too close.
Dog attack? Too stupid.
Oh, I know.
"I was in an accident a few years ago." I said honestly. It was close enough to the truth so it wasn't a lie.
"But when did you get muscle? And how?" He asked incredulously.
"A few years back. Started working out. Duh, how else would you get muscles?" I said, feeling more comfortable now they were all buying my story. Dash frowned at me and I could practically see him thinking about what I'd said. He looked slightly sceptical, whereas all his friends were nodding.
"I still don't know how you got that fit Fenton – but you're still a freak!" He spat, throwing my shirt at my feet. The word bounced around in my head freak, freak, freak… I'd been called a freak by Spectra, because she knew how out of place I felt. Dash obviously didn't know the background story, but it was the easiest insult to throw out on short notice, and it still made me feel insecure. If they think I'm a freak now, imagine if they knew. I tore my mind from the thought. I frowned and bent down to pick up my shirt. I don't care what they think or what they say. I said in my head. I might be different, but who wants to be a mini clone of those idiots. I smiled wryly as I straightened up. As Dash waked away I heard Kwan whisper to him.
"Dude, with Fenton being that ripped, he could've thrown one punch and you'd be down – I mean did you see those biceps, they're bigger than yours!" He said. That's cause he doesn't have to fight as many ghosts as I do.
"Shut up Kwan!" Dash hissed at his best friend. Kwan instantly shut up, but that didn't stop the other A-Listers from talking. I sighed. School will be interesting tomorrow I thought as I turned to Sam and Tucker who had been unnaturally quiet.
"That was…" Tucker began slowly.
"Too close for comfort." Sam finished. "That was pretty intense. Are you okay? What were they saying?" She asked. I nodded and told them what they said.
"Paulina should keep her word. Imagine that! Paulina kissing Mikey." Tuck laughed. Sam crossed her arms.
"Sure would make first page gossip. I can see it now, 'Paulina Kisses Nerd Below Her Social Status'." She snickered.
"Yeah, but instead I think I know what the topic will be." I said, glancing over my shoulder at the A-Listers, who were all lining up for Terror Mountain, and then back at my crumpled white shirt in my hands. "No use wearing this now." I said, throwing the shirt to the ground.