Chapter Eight: Jesta's Game
"Oh, that was just priceless."
Jesta scurried through the castle's maze of passages, chuckling wildly as she sought a better hiding place. "I didn't anticipate that something so simple would send those freaks into such a panic! Heck, I taped those footsteps myself earlier this afternoon. If that gets them scared out of their skin, what are they going to do when I turn a real ghost on them?"
She slid her hand into her pocket, her fingers closing around a small black box. It didn't look much, she mused, and yet she knew it could be the solution to making Jewel fail their overnight challenge. She had consulted Whatson earlier that afternoon, after having observed Jewel at the castle, and he had put her in touch with an associate of his in the local area, with skill in stage trickery. Jesta had gone along to see him, and had used the full extent of her persuasive charm on him until he had yielded to her request and had entrusted her with one of his stage props - a small, fairly basic holographic projector.
"But he uses it in his stage acts to project shapes and ghouls. It's gotta work for me here tonight." She mused. "I told him it was for a hallowe'en showdown - and so it is! Only nobody but me knows quite what kind of a hallowe'en showdown! Jewel will freak out and run for their mothers...failing the challenge, letting the sponsors and charities down and generally getting a whole load of bad publicity. And when anyone asks what happened? Well, they saw Bainbrook's ghost." She laughed. "It's just too perfect."
She glanced at the luminous dial on her watch, shivering involuntarily as an owl hooted overhead.
"Sooner I get this done, sooner I can go home to my nice warm hotel bed and watch the fall-out of Jewel's freak out." She decided. "It's almost eight o'clock - wouldn't it be a coup if they didn't even last a few hours? It's not even late yet. It's about time I exposed them for the wimps that they are."
She pushed open the big wooden door at the end of the keep, stepping out into the moonlit courtyard and glancing up at the tower's arrow-slit window.
"Somehow I have to get this thing to project up there." She mused. "I don't know how far it's range is...but if that silly girl jumped from the parapet then she should appear to them on the parapet. It only needs to be for a moment - but can I get back up there without one of them suspecting or seeing me? I know they're scared, but there are five of them and one of me. Think, Jesta - is there another way?"
Her dark eyes scanned the tower's shadowy outlines, looking for a possible place to seclude the precious projector. Finally, she decided on a walkway not two metres from the tower itself, nodding with satisfaction as she realised that it would be in full view of anyone looking out of the King's Room window.
"And they will, once they hear my wail again." She told herself, amused. "I knew all those sound effect CDs Whatson keeps in his backroom had to have a purpose. And hell, it is Hallowe'en. Trick or treat, Jewel...your trick, and my treat!"
Up in the tower, oblivious to what was going on outside, Jewel were slowly
recovering from their shock.
"It must have been the ghost." Sadie insisted. "How else could it have been here, and yet vanished when the light came in? The steps came right in here..." She shivered. "Right up to me. Then bam...it was all gone. What else could it have been?"
"Overactive imagination?" Nancy retorted. "Whatever it was, Sadie, it was no ghost. Did you actually see anything?"
"Seeing isn't always believing, Nance." Topaz said softly. "It seemed eerie to me too. The steps did seem to be getting closer - then the moon shone in through the window and there was nothing there. No steps going away, nothing. Just...us."
"If it was a ghost, why would it need to open the door?" Nancy folded her arms. The girls had gathered together their torches now, setting them up in a circle of reassuring light, and it was clear to the others how incredulous the song-writer was. "I thought ghosts were supposed to pass through matter...or is that only in the movies?"
"No need to be sarky, Nance." Copper said gently. "Whatever it was or wasn't, it scared Sadie and made us all jump. Now it's gone and I vote we don't talk about it any more. We have a long time till dawn yet, and we have each other. There's nothing to be afraid of so long as we stick together."
"I'm with that." Topaz nodded. "If we all stay together in this room till the sun comes up, nothing bad will happen. Noone is going to run off and leave you, Sadie...it'll be all right."
"I'm okay now." Sadie assured her. "It just freaked me. That's all."
"In the circumstances, noone can blame you." Topaz squeezed her hand. "But like Copper said, it's gone now."
Sylva got to her feet, moving to the window.
"While the moon is shining in, it's not half so creepy." She decided. "If it wasn't for the fact we were in a stinky, dusty old castle, it might even be a romantic kind of night."
"You have a weird sense of romantic, Syl." Nancy rolled her eyes. "The most important thing is that we see out tonight, regardless. A lot hangs on this - our publicity train among the rest. Come sit down, huh?"
"We could play a game." Copper suggested. "I have cards in my bag - we could play poker! I think there's enough torchlight for us to see where we're going."
"That might settle us all." Topaz nodded. "Syl, are you coming to play?"
"Yeah, sure." Sylva nodded. "So long as it isn't for money, because I'm really hopeless at keeping a straight face and all that...hey!"
"All that hey?" Nancy stared at her. "What now, Syl? Come sit down and quit gawking out there, huh? There's nothing there but stone, owls and darkness."
"And cold." Sadie pulled her sleeping bag around her. "Okay. Deal me in."
"Syl?" Copper frowned. "Are you coming?"
"Lemme take a rain check on that." Sylva's eyes narrowed. "I'm starting to take Nancy's point of view about the ghost."
"Excuse me?" Copper paused in her dealing, staring at the synth player in confusion. "What do you mean?"
"What I mean is that we're not alone at this place." Sylva said darkly. "And I don't mean spectral company, either."
"I'm lost." Topaz looked nonplussed. "Not alone?"
"No." Sylva shook her head. "I just saw someone cross the courtyard...a decidedly human someone, too!"
"A saboteur?" Sadie's eyes widened.
"Could one of the papers be trying to scare us outta here for the scandal?" Copper demanded. Sylva shrugged.
"I don't know, maybe." She replied. "But either way we should have seen it coming. Nance, Sade, we even discussed it, back at the hotel in Birmingham. We should have known that this was gonna happen."
She turned from the window, grabbing her torch and slipping on her coat. "I'll be right back, you guys. I have a ghost to go hunt down."
"I thought we were sticking together!" Sadie objected.
"Well, that was when we thought there was a spook and we were scared." Sylva shook her head. "I ain't scared now, guys - just angry. It was Jesta that I saw."
"Jesta?" The name came in an incredulous chorus, and Sylva nodded.
"Yes." She said grimly. "If it isn't enough for that bitch to harass my cousin's group, and try and ruin Zoe's life by publicising her sexuality, she's now trying to make Jewel renege on their charity obligations, too!"
"Geez, how low does that girl stoop?" Anger sparked in Sadie's blue eyes. "So it must have been her behind my little trip the other night? Nancy was right?"
"Almost a cert, I'd say. And she's up to no good here." Sylva said darkly. "If it ain't bad enough we have to put up with crap from Stefana when we're in Los Angeles! I am not going to let some upstart bitch wreck our tour here, either! So..." Her expression became resolute. "I'm going to go flush her out."
"We should all go." Topaz got to her feet. "So long as we don't leave the castle, it should be okay. And there are five of us and one of her. We're more likely to find her if we split into two search parties and hunt that way."
"Sooner she's off the premises, sooner we'll get a good night's sleep. Count me in." Nancy nodded. "Though she could have accomplices...and we don't want her to know we're onto her. Copper, you and I can check out this side of the castle grounds, and Syl, you, Topaz and Sadie check out the other. It's like Syl said - she is not going to ruin this tour for us!"
"All right." Sylva glanced at her watch. "So we'll all meet back here in an hour, yeah? That should be enough time." She grimaced. "Besides, I'm starving and I want my sandwiches. The quicker she's gone, the quicker we can eat."
"Perfect logic from Syl, as ever." Nancy looked amused. "Okay, all. Let's go."
In virtual silence the group of girls divided into two units, slipping carefully out of the King's Room and down the steep stone steps to the gallery below. Once at the foot of the steps, the two groups seperated, Copper and Nancy heading left and Sylva, Sadie and Topaz turning right, towards the courtyard and the far side of the castle grounds.
"Do you suppose she's still here?" Sadie murmured. Sylva shrugged.
"If she is, we'll find her and give her the fright of her life." She muttered. "I bet she's here to try and scare us out of the castle grounds, so we look really cruddy in tomorrow's press. I don't know who put her up to it or whether she's just doing it out of natural spite, but whatever happens, we can't let her succeed. We're all here till dawn, girls - regardless of whether we find Jesta or not - that's the best way of breaking her plot!"
"I agree." Topaz nodded. "Though it doesn't hurt to see if we can't flush her out ourselves. With any luck we'll scare the heck out of her by surprising her and she'll run off and leave us all in peace." She stifled a yawn. "I'm getting tired, to be honest, and hungry too. It's all this darkness - my body thinks it's a lot later than it is."
"I know what you mean." Sylva agreed. "It's barely half eight but it seems like it should already be midnight."
She started as an owl hooted overhead, then let out a sheepish giggle.
"I knew it was an owl, really I did." She murmured. Sadie laughed.
"Sure." She agreed. "I tell you something, though. I've been out in pitch black before, guys, and I've snuck around and crept about and done all of that stuff. So long as it isn't a ghost - and obviously it isn't a ghost - then I'm not scared any more."
"Hey, I forgot we had the cat burglar extraordinaire on our side." Sylva dimpled. "You know the best way to stalk around buildings without being heard, don't you, Sadie? Do you think we can track her down and take her by surprise?"
"There aren't many places to hide." Sadie replied. "Tessa showed us around the place earlier, and there were a lot of locked doors. Some of those rooms aren't even safe to go in, because they haven't yet been restored. Jesta wouldn't risk her neck just to spite us, so she must be hiding out somewhere in the main part of the castle. Probably not so very far from where we're supposed to be spending the night." She grimaced. "After all, the King's Tower is supposed to have the ghost. That's where she's most likely to carry out her little plan."
"Should we double back, then?" Topaz suggested. "See if we can catch her in the act?"
Sylva shook her head.
"I saw her down here." She responded. "She wasn't on the tower steps, because we'd have run into her on our way down. So she must still be down here somewhere."
"Shh!" Sadie stopped dead, putting a finger to her lips, and instinctively the other girls stopped, eying their third expectantly. Sadie frowned, dousing her torch and, after a moment's hesitation, her companions did the same.
"What can you hear?" Topaz ventured after a moment's silence.
Sadie did not respond for a moment, then she grabbed both of her friends by the arms, pulling them back into a crevasse. Sylva opened her mouth to protest, but the sound of footsteps made her hold her tongue, and in silence the three girls waited for the intruder to get closer. In the darkness it was hard to make out anything clearly, but it did not take the three girls long to register that this was a lone set of footsteps, and therefore unlikely to be Nancy and Copper doubling back on their search.
As the steps drew nearer, they stopped about two metres from where the three musicians had concealed themselves, and there was the sound of a clatter, followed by a muttered curse, and the sound of someone feeling their way across the cold stone floor for something they had dropped.
This was enough for Sylva. With a shriek she sprung herself on the intruder, startling her and causing her to emit a blood-curdling yell of her own. Sadie and Topaz fumbled with their torches, as Sylva grabbed the intruder firmly by the arm, pulling her along the corridor and pushing her against the wall.
"What are you doing here?" She demanded. "Who are you and why are you trying to frighten us?"
"Get your bloody hands off me!" The intruder retorted.
"So I was right. Jesta." Sylva's tones were rich with disgust. "I knew it was you I saw cross the courtyard. You're well and truly caught in the act this time! Wait till the press find out that you tried to ruin our charity project, huh? You don't scare Jewel so easily as that!"
"I told you already, take your filthy claws off me!" Jesta exclaimed, struggling to free herself, but Sylva held her fast. "Let me go!"
"What, and let you ruin our project? Not a chance!" Sylva tightened her grip, and Jesta cursed, shoving against her captor and overbalancing both of them as she did so. Sylva let out a squeal as she lost her footing, and she was aware of Jesta hitting the floor a split second later. Before she could get to her feet, there was an ominous shudder, a creak, a groan and a cloud of dust. In an instant the whole world seemed to be spinning, confusing her and turning her upside-down. She opened her mouth to scream again, but at that moment something hard and unyielding checked her fall and the world seemed to burst into light.
Then, everything went black.
NO SUCH THING AS GHOSTS
Chapter One: Flight To England
Chapter Two: A TV Welcome
Chapter Three: Avril
Chapter Four: A Rival
Chapter Five: Sadie's Family
Chapter Six: Suspicions
Chapter Seven: Bainbrook Castle
Chapter Eight: Jesta's Game
Chapter Nine: Trapped!
Chapter Ten: The Castle Ghost
Chapter Eleven: To The Rescue
DISCLAIMER: PLEASE NOTE
Copper, Nancy, Sylva, Anna, Blade, Raesha, Sirena, Topaz, Aaron, Sophie, Justin, Elliot, Rosita, Luis and any other characters in this fiction which do not appear in the animated Jem series are copyrighted to me (E.A Woolley) as of January 2002 <unless otherwise specified> and are not to be reproduced without permission ANYWHERE. Jetta, Pizzazz, Stormer, Roxy, Raya and all other original Jem characters are the copyright of Hasbro Inc, Sunbow, Christy Marx and the other writers of the Jem series. The future world of Pizzazz, Raya, Jetta, Roxy, Stormer, Clash, Synergy, the fate of Jem and her memorial are all copyrighted to me. The future world of Kimber and Shana is copyrighted jointly to myself and Gemma Dawn.
The concept of 'Jewel' is entirely my own, and any apparent link with any fictional or actual person or persons of this name is entirely coincidental. Equally the characters in this fiction are not based on any real life individual.
The concept behind the future world of Danse, Aja and Craig, the idea behind Jerrica's futureworld and the split of the Holograms is copyrighted to Gemma Dawn, whose Teenangel Outsiders fiction is directly twinned with Just a Dream. The character Sammi and any of the other Teenangel Outsider characters mentioned in this fiction are entirely copyright to Gemma Dawn and appear here only with her permission.
Pay her page a visit!