Once again Cassidy found herself walking into the library. She pushed the door open wide enough that Simon could slip in behind her without it closing. He’d been distracted after breakfast and missed his chance to put on her grandfather’s coat before the sun came up, but it didn’t really matter. He couldn’t feel the early morning chill, and Cassidy had discovered that she quite liked the shirt he’d chosen that morning. She hadn’t noticed at first, but it wasn’t his usual white t-shirt. Instead it was a deep blue long sleeved shirt that had obviously been her grandfather’s, but he managed to pull it off.
Simon knew his way around. With his hands clasped casually behind his back to avoid touching anything, he led her through the aisles until they reached the paranormal section. He wasn’t very helpful after that, he just stood off to the side and watched her; occasionally nodding towards certain books he thought might be useful. Cassidy looked through many of them, but they were mostly collections of ghost stories and in no way helpful. She wanted facts, but she was beginning to realize that there would be none. How could there be facts about ghosts? She slid the book she was holding back into its spot and sighed.
“Can I help you?”
The voice startled her. Out of the corner of her eye she noticed Simon shift, his elbow slipping through the shelf behind him. She turned around to see the friendly librarian from her last trip standing a little down the aisle. She was smiling and clearly hadn’t noticed anything odd about Simon.
“Oh, hi,” Cassidy said. “No, I don’t think so.”
Simon moved again. Cassidy got the feeling that if he could have, he would have been nudging her, trying to communicate something. She wished she could push him back. Then something occurred to her and she turned back to the librarian.
“Actually, do you know if there are any other books about ghosts? Local ghost stories, maybe?”
The librarian nodded. “I know the perfect book.” She strolled down the aisle towards them. “Is this still about that death you were looking into?”
Cassidy avoiding looking at Simon and nodded. “Sort of. I’m hoping to write a book and I thought some ghost stories from the island would be good inspiration.”
The librarian reached them and spent a moment looking over the books, her eyes flickering over the titles quickly. “Ah, here it is,” she said, bending down to take a thin, old book from the bottom shelf. “This was written years ago, before either of you were born. A fisherman named Charles Acres gathered and wrote down a collection of ghost stories and myths which took place on the island.” She held out the book.
Cassidy stared at it blankly and slowly took it from the librarian’s hand. “Acres?”
The librarian nodded. “Acres was a popular name on the island. Until about… actually, George Acres only recently died. He was the last Acres left, I believe.” She looked down at the book thoughtfully. “Given the time this was published and Mr. Acres’ age, Charles was probably his brother. The island was named after that family, you know.”
Cassidy nodded. “I knew that. This book sounds perfect, thank you.”
“Just let me know if you need anything else.”
Cassidy waited until the librarian had walked away before really looking at the book. The cover was dark brown, almost black, and the letters across the front were embossed in gold.
Tales of Akre Island
She flipped through the book quickly. It was filled with short chapters, each headed by a name and a date. It had clearly been typed by a typewriter, the text was dense and hard to make out in a few places. Aside from that, it seemed like the perfect place to start their search.
They walked to the back of the library, where the tables and chairs were. The furthest corner was clearly set aside for children; there was a plush carpet and a few colourful beanbag chairs. Cassidy looked over at it thoughtfully. “You can walk, so you’re touching the ground.”
Simon nodded. “I suppose so.”
“So could you sit on the ground?”
He followed her gaze. “Worth a shot.”
Luckily, it was still early and there were no kids in the library yet. Cassidy propped one of the beanbags chairs against a shelf of kid’s books and sat on the ground, leaning back against it. After a brief hesitation Simon sat down beside her and the two exchanged a smile.
Cassidy flipped the book open to the first story. “Sam Keeper,” she read out loud. “1942. The story of Sam Keeper is one of the most famous on the island, and also the only one I’ve experienced in person. Legend has it that Sam Keeper was the lighthouse keeper for the old Northern Lighthouse. In the years following his death, the lighthouse fell to ruin. However, there have been many stories of fishermen seeing the light, as if he was still there. I was seventeen the first time I saw the light. I was being reckless, sailing out further than I should, and when night fell I was no where near the island. I tried to stay on course. Then I saw the light flashing up ahead. I’d heard the stories, but refused to believe them. In that moment I changed my mind. The lighthouse led me back to safety. The next day I went to the lighthouse searching for answers, to find nothing but the old ruins I was familiar with. That was the day I started collecting stories.”
There was a pause in the writing there, where Charles stopped telling his personal story and moved on to other sightings of Sam Keeper’s light.
“I know that story,” Simon said. He was leaning back on one hand so that he could look over her shoulder at the book. “Everyone who grows up here hears the story. People say that the light only shows up when someone is in danger, and only at night.”
“How do they know it isn’t just a person?” Cassidy asked.
“Well, the lighthouse is in ruins. I’ve been there, there isn’t much left. But the light people see comes from higher up, where the light would be if the building was complete.” Simon shrugged. “That’s the version I’ve heard, at least.”
“Night…” Cassidy said thoughtfully. She pulled her notebook and a pen from her bag and flipped to a new page. Across the top she wrote “Ghosts”, and her first bullet point was “Can touch things at night”.
“You think there’s a connection?”
“Let’s assume, for the moment, that Sam Keeper is a real ghost. Chances are the rules would be the same, wouldn’t they?”
Simon nodded. “Makes sense.”
Cassidy flipped to the next story. Instead of reading it out loud, she just scanned the page quickly. “Here, listen to this. “She was spotted several times in broad daylight. Each encounter was similar; she could speak but couldn’t be touched. Only one encounter seemed to break this rule. She was once spotted at night, and the witness only paid attention to her because she had walked into him roughly, almost knocking him down.” It’s like she didn’t realize she could touch things at night and bumped into him by accident.”
In every story Cassidy looked at, she found some detail that reminded her of Simon. By the time noon rolled around Cassidy had made a list of observations.
- can touch things at night – not during the day
- can have an effect on surroundings (Sam Keeper’s lighthouse)
- can speak (occasionally make other sounds instead of words – the screamer)
- can be seen at night and during the day
- may not be aware of each other (the brothers)
- seem to follow daily routine, repeated actions (Simon – different? Why?)
- may not know they are dead (Simon does)
- do not seem harmful
- some seem unaware of living people (or do they just ignore them because they
don’t think they can interact? – Courtney Crossing walking into the man – an
- Need to eat and sleep (Simon only example – because he is trying to be more solid?)
- Why these people in particular?
Cassidy wrote the last line and put down her pen. “So why them? Clearly not everybody comes back as a ghost.”
Simon shrugged. “Here’s another question, why am I constantly here while some of the others, like Sam Keeper, seem to only show up at certain times? Or is he just lurking around somewhere?”
Cassidy wrote it down. “Good point. The screamer does the same thing, but Courtney Crossing seems more like you. She was seen all the time for awhile.” She closed her notebook. “I’m starving, let’s check out the book and go get some lunch.”