Together, Kit and Dane hurried to the Coulbourne Manor. They had done some trick-or-treating earlier so that they'd have candy in their sacks and could prove to their parents that they weren't fibbing about their Halloween activities. Dark clouds loomed overhead, blocking out most of the stars and casting an eerie haze over the moon. The chilly October air bit right through their makeshift costumes. Kit shivered but kept pace with Dane. The running was helping to keep her warm.
They slowed as they approached the ominous structure. Kit didn't care what Dane said about castles only being in England. This place was huge and made of stone. It looked like a real castle to her. Too bad it didn't have a moat.
"Be careful. Don't trip," Dane warned as he led her along the side of the structure. The grass was thick and weedy.
"I hope there aren't any snakes in here. That would freak me out." Kit didn't want to admit she was pretty freaked out already. She clutched her treat sack as if it were her only connection to something rational and sane. Following Dane into the graveyard on Halloween certainly was not the brightest thing she'd ever done.
Dane let go of her hand so he could open the gate leading in to the graveyard. An agonizing creak came from the gate's rusty hinges. It only budged a few inches. "Here, hold this." Dane handed his treat sack to Kit, then pushed harder on the gate with both hands. With a snap, it gave way, hanging askance.
"You broke it!" Kit's jaw dropped in horror. "Someone is going to know we messed with it now!"
"Nobody comes back here, Kit. Look at the place. The weeds are all grown up here. This place is deserted. We'll be safe."
"Safe is the last thing I feel right now."
Dane stopped and hugged her. "Don't worry. I won't let anything happen to you."
"Dane, this better not be a prank. I swear, if one of your friends is hiding here and jumps out from behind a gravestone to scare me, I'm going to kick your butt so hard..."
"It's not a prank, Kit. It's a séance."
"Don't you need stuff for a séance, like candles or something? What about a book with the magic words in it?"
"I already have it memorized. Candles are just for show. The ghosts like to make them flicker and it is just for atmosphere. We can't burn candles out here. I don't want to set anything on fire."
"What about a Ouija board?"
"Dang it, I should have brought one! Oh, well, I know words to call the ghosts. We don't need it."
"Where should we do it?"
"Over there by that big gravestone."
Kit looked around at the tiny cemetery. There were only three stone markers. One of them towered over the others. That was the stone Dane was pointing at. She still held both treat sacks as she followed him toward the gigantic monument. They hadn't brought a flashlight and there weren't enough stars in the sky to illuminate the stones well enough for her to make out the names. She knew who was buried here, but not which grave belonged to which Coulbourne family member.
Dane stamped his foot in the grass to flatten it down, then sat. "Sit down here and face me."
Kit complied, sitting across from him. She put the treat sacks down beside her. "Now what do we do?"
"Take my hands." He extended both hands to her.
Kit grasped his hands. "OK, now what?"
"Only the person in charge of the séance needs to talk. You don't have to say anything. Just watch and listen."
Kit nodded her understanding.
"Spirits of the Coulbournes, we seek you. We ask you to show yourselves. Mrs. Coulbourne and son, we want to talk to you. Come to us."
An icy shiver ran up Kit's spine. The hairs on the back of her neck prickled. The wind blew harder, scattering fallen leaves around the duo. She wanted to get up and bolt out of the graveyard, but Dane's grip kept her riveted.
"Spirits of the Coulbournes, we seek you," Dane repeated. "Grant us this wish so that we may bridge the gap between death and life."
Kit thought that was a careless and irresponsible remark for Dane to make, but she was too scared to reprimand him. Besides, she had agreed to just watch and listen.
The wind circled harder. A cloud of dust choked both teens. Suddenly Dane's hand jerked from hers.
"Kit!" Dane shouted. His tone showed pure terror.
Kit blinked against the maelstrom of dust and twigs to see Dane's body being pulled backward. His arms and legs were splayed out in front of him. His fingers flexed, reaching for her.
"Dane!" Kit stood up and tried to follow him. Suddenly, he disappeared. "Dane, where are you?!" Kit looked around but there was no sign of her compadre. She heard a hideous laugh and ran from the graveyard, screaming all the way home.
"Mom! Dad! Help! Help!"
"Calm down, Kit! What is it?" Both parents were on their feet immediately.
"Dane! Dane got kidnapped!"
"Oh, my goodness! Thelma, call the sheriff," her father instructed. "Kit, tell me exactly what you saw. Who did it? Did you get a look at the person who took him? Where was it? Did anybody else see this?"
Tears flowed down Kit's grimy cheeks, creating muddy rivers of sorrow. "We were at the Coulbourne Castle."
"What in the hell were you doing there?"
"Dane wanted to do a séance. He said it would be creepy and fun to do on Halloween. I think we got a real ghost, though, because something picked him up into the air and then he was just gone! He disappeared!"
"Kitrina Eisley, this is no time to be telling ghost stories. Tell me now exactly what happened or I'll tan your hide." Her father's tone deepened severely.
"I'm not lying, Dad! You can beat me if I'm lying, but that's what happened! A ghost kidnapped Dane! He's gone!"
"Thelma, tell the sheriff we're going over to the Coulbourne Manor to look for Dane."
Kit sobbed silently as her father drove. The spooky old manor loomed in the distance like a tangible nightmare. She shuddered and closed her eyes tightly, hoping it was just a prank, even though Dane told her it wasn't. That must be it. Dane was just kidding. He was hiding there and they'd find him. She'd smack him hard for scaring her like that, but he had to be safe, right?
Kit and her father trudged up to the manor, flashlights in hand. "Dane!" she called. "Dane, this isn't funny! If this is a joke, so help me I'm going to kick your butt!"
"Kit, don't be talking like that," her father admonished. "Dane! Come out, boy! If this is a joke, it's gone far past being funny! Dane!"
Several minutes later, flashing lights cut the darkness. A sheriff's deputy approached the duo. Kit and her father walked toward the deputy. "Hello, Sheriff. We're looking for Dane."
"Did you find him?" Deputy Joe Kaminski towered over the slight teenager. He was even taller than her father and much stockier. Nobody thought of messing with Deputy Kaminski. Nobody in their right mind, that is.
"Not yet," Mr. Eisley shook his head no.
"What happened?" The large deputy looked pointedly at Kit.
"Dane wanted to do a séance, so we came here and had one in the graveyard. Then the wind was blowing, leaves and sticks started to swirl. I think we summoned a real ghost. Something grabbed Dane from behind and dragged him up into the air. I'm not lying. You have to believe me!"
"Something dragged him into the air, then what?"
"He disappeared. One second he was there, then he was just gone."
"If this is another Halloween prank, young lady, I have a good mind to take you down to my office and arrest you for making a false report."
"I swear I am not making this up! Dane is gone and I don't know where he is or who took him!" Kit cried harder. Nobody believed her. She should have known. It sounded stupid, she had to admit. Who would really believe that a ghost kidnapped Dane?