Tracking the Laugher

story & illustration © 2001 Bruce Van Patter

hen you have a mystery on your hands, you go where it leads. Even if it leads to a haunted school.
Brent looked at the scrap of paper again, just to make sure. He frowned. There was no doubt about it. The Laugher had challenged him to find the stolen backpack in the old Main Street School. And here Brent was, on the doorstep of the broken-down, empty building some kids said was haunted. Rain was beginning to fall, making the summer evening darker than it should be. And much creepier.

This time, thought Brent, I'm going to find it. Not like the other times.

Twice before, The Laugher had challenged him to come to scary, dangerous places. Each time, Brent had ended up just getting in trouble, and had nothing to show for it but these three notes. Each note was unsigned. They ended with the words: Ha Ha Ha.

There's nothing funny about this, thought Brent as he looked up at the broken windows of the abandoned building. Kids said that there was this old teacher named Miss Harrow who died the very day the school was shut down forever. Now, they say, she roams the rooms as a hollow ghost, moaning about her late students, screeching fingernails on chalkboards.

There was no point in standing in the rain, so Brent took a deep breath, flicked on his flashlight, and opened the door.

From above, someone watched Brent enter. "Ha, ha, ha," laughed The Laugher.

It's Your Story - OoooOoooo... (that's my ghost noise.) Creepy fun, huh? Now decide:

What can the Laugher do to trap Brent? How will Brent escape? What's in his backpack? Is there really a ghost? Can you write an ending in which Brent catches the Laugher and finds out who he or she is? And... who will have the last laugh?

Have fun -- finish the story -- and be creative! When you finish, why not email it to me?