Gaby’s Ghosts is a Middle Grade ghost/mystery series suitable for all ages! Gaby Brown is a normal grade 5 girl who happens to have type one diabetes. Oh, and who also happens to see ghosts! Follow Gaby and her friends in each book as they face spirits from all times in history, decipher dreams, and collect clues.
The Mysterious Manuscript
Gaby’s Ghosts Book Two
Gaby’s back and so are her ghosts!
Last time it was an ancient Egyptian ghost named Kesi. This time, when Gaby gets too close to an old Japanese manuscript, a ghost named Akemi appears. And Akemi wants justice. The boy shows Gaby visions of his life in medieval Japan, and of the shameful downfall of his family. But Gaby realizes something is not right with the story.
Once again, Gaby and her friend Jacob must delve into the past. Can they decipher the visions and secret haikus and restore honour to Akemi and his family?
“What are you doing tomorrow? Wanna come over?” Jacob settled himself back on the floor.
“I can’t. I’m going to the museum with Uncle Edward, he’s supervising a new display about Japan and he said I could watch them move the objects around and set up the cases. Stuff like that.”
“Seriously? You don’t want to avoid that place?”
“No, I like it there.”
Jacob paused the game and turned to face her, his lips pursed. “Are you crazy? Don’t you remember anything? Kesi? The nightmares she gave you? Your bedroom wall blowing up? And being attacked by mummies?” His voice rose questioningly as he spoke.
“Those didn’t really happen,” she murmured defensively.
“She left a mark on your arm. And a cut on my hand. I don’t care HOW it happened, it definitely happened.” Eyes narrowing, he shook his head.
“I’ll be careful.”
Jacob continued. “Your uncle even told you about your grandmother…”
“Great great grandmother,” Gaby interrupted.
“Whatever. Your relative from a long time ago, she could do the same thing. Touch an object and see a ghost?” He raised his eyebrows at her.
Annie McLean was Gaby’s healer ancestor and Gaby had inherited Annie’s ability to see ghosts. She shook her head, acknowledging his point. “Still. My uncle will be there. It’ll be okay.”
“It’s your life.” As he returned to the game, the living room filled with the noise of gunshots and explosions.
“I won’t be touching anything, just watching, like Uncle Edward said,” Gaby thought to herself. “How could anything possibly happen?”
Gaby sprang out of bed the next morning, nearly knocking her cat, Carter, onto the floor. He was named after Howard Carter, the man who found King Tut’s tomb in Egypt.
“Sorry, kitty,” she said, running her hand over his ruffled back. In seconds he’d calmed to purring and Gaby went to take a shower and dress. Uncle Edward had warned her it might be dusty today so she wore her jeans and an old hoodie that had been splashed by bleach, leaving white splotches all over the front and arms. Tying her curly brown hair up into a large clip, she took a final look in the mirror, sticking her tongue out at her reflection before running to the kitchen.
“Slow down!” Mrs. Brown put a plate of pancakes and another filled with bacon on the table. “You’ll trip over your own feet.”
Gaby speared a few pancakes onto her plate, then covered the pile with bacon strips. “Can I have syrup?”
“Show me your blood sugar.” Gaby, eager to impress her mother, held up her pump. “Fine. Take just a bit.”
Grabbing the syrup bottle, Gaby hummed ‘mmm’ noises as she poured the sticky material on her breakfast. Spooning a mouthful of food into her mouth, she sighed. “Bacon and syrup, mmm mm mm.” Wiggling in her chair, the excitement of today’s trip to help her uncle took over her body.
“I know you’re excited, but can you at least chew your food instead of gulping it down like that.” Mrs. Brown raised an eyebrow at her daughter.
“Okay,” Gaby murmured through a mouthful of pancake. She tried to eat more slowly. When her mother’s head was turned away, though, Gaby grabbed another huge forkful of bacon and shoved it into her mouth. She quickly acted like normal when her mother turned back to her, eyebrow still raised.
Finally she finished and rushed to the bathroom to wash the syrup from her hands. As she was drying them she heard the front door open and her mother greet Uncle Edward. Finishing up, she stumbled over Carter in the hall as she hurried to the front door.
Gaby picked up her backpack. “Ready to go?” She turned to her uncle.
“Good morning to you too.” Edward smiled at her.
“Gaby, here, take this.” Mrs. Brown held a jacket out.
“Mom, it’s not cold out and I’ll be inside all day.”
“Take it anyway. Just in case.” At her daughter’s still doubtful face, she added, “Make your mother happy.”
“Fine.” She stuffed the jacket into her backpack beside the snacks and juice box she always carried with her, in case her blood sugar went too low and she needed a quick hit.
“Ready?” Edward nodded at Mrs. Brown. “See you later, sis. Depending on how tired we are, we might go out to get a bite to eat afterwards.”
“Sure, just message me to let me know what you’re doing.”
“You know, you could come with us,” Edward suggested.
Before her mother could reply, Gaby responded. “She doesn’t want to come, do you mom?”
Mrs. Brown grinned. “No, the museum is your thing.” She waved a finger at both her brother and her daughter. “And your father’s.” Shaking her head, she walked over to the kitchen counter and retrieved a heavy paperback. “I’ve got some work to do then I’ll be in the living room finishing my book.”
“See?” Gaby tugged at her uncle’s sleeve. “Can we go now?” Without waiting for a reply, she flew out the front door.
Edward smiled and rolled his eyes at Gaby’s mom. “We’re going right now, apparently. Talk to you later.”
Gaby was already sitting in the car, waiting, when her uncle got in. When he started the engine, music blasted out from the speakers, old music from the 80s her uncle and his husband, Steven, enjoyed. Usually Gaby would cover her ears in mock agony, and joke about how ancient music was weird. Today she bounced in her seat to the rhythm of the song. She was going to the museum with her uncle and it was going to be a great day!
The museum was open on Sundays, but the area they were working in today was closed to the public, with thin plastic sheets covering the gallery entranceways so the space could be prepared. People were already working when Gaby and her uncle arrived, men and women assembling display cases, rolling items around on carts, and cleaning and dusting every surface. The noise was incredible: shouts from the gallery staff, drills from the case builders, a floor polishing machine someone was using in a far corner, and conversations all over. After a while, all the sounds merged together to create a loud hum that hung over the entire room.
“Sit over there. Did you bring some homework to do?” Edward pointed to a table and chair off to the side.
“I did. But I want to help you.” Gaby frowned.
“Just go get yourself settled, I have to speak to a few people, and have to find Dr Yura, she’s the Asian culture expert. We’ll see if there’s anything you can do.”
“Goody!” She obediently sat at the table and looked up at her uncle hopefully.
Edward walked away, calls of “Morning Dr Adair!” breaching the room’s noisy buzz. Gaby watched him stop to talk to a group of three people moving something in a large thin storage box. She noticed how the others nodded and smiled as they spoke with her uncle, and felt proud she was here with him. Flipping through her geography book, Gaby waited for Edward to return. The homework was simple, and she could easily finish it in twenty minutes. What she really wanted to do was help her uncle.
Finally, he returned to the table, one arm held behind his back. “C’mon, there’s something you can do if you really want to work.”
Jumping up from her chair, Gaby stood straight. Mock saluting her uncle, she said, “Yes sir, Private Brown here to work.”
“Well, ‘Private Brown’, here’s your weapon.” He moved his arm to reveal what he’d been holding.
“Paper towels?” Gaby’s face scrunched in confusion.
“Yep. Come with me.” He led her to a glass case that the workers had just finished constructing. Edward pointed at it. “Have at it.”
“What?” Gaby frowned.
“I mean, go, clean the case. There’s cleaner over there.” He pointed to a box of bottles and cloths. “More weapons for you. Use them well, Private Brown.” Her uncle nodded at her, a stern expression on his face. Gaby could see, however, the small grin he was trying to hide. He was enjoying this.
With a dramatic sigh, Gaby’s shoulders fell. “Fine. I’ll do it. There are child labour laws in this country you know.”
Edward had already started walking away, but turned back. “What did you say?”
“Nothing,” she muttered.
Gaby cleaned for most of the morning, stopping to have her snack around 11. At lunch she ate with her uncle and a few of the other workers, sitting on the floor of the gallery. The day had flown by quickly so far, much to her surprise. Once she’d started, the work mesmerised her, and she lost track of time, letting her mind wander where it wanted.
After lunch, they all got back to work. Gaby stopped for another small snack mid-afternoon.
“How’s it going?” Her uncle sat down next to her on the floor.
She looked at him and tilted her head, her eyebrows raised.
Edward held up his hands. “I know, I know, it’s boring. But it’s important all the cases are really clean.” At the resigned look on Gaby’s face, he leaned in close. “You’ve done such a great job, I have a treat for you. Want to see one of the items for the exhibit?”
Gaby’s eyes widened. “Yes!”
He stood and helped her up. “Come over here.” They walked to one of the carts, upon which sat a long plastic storage container, the one she’d noticed earlier. Edward carefully opened the box and removed the lid, placing it to one side.
Gaby gasped when she saw what was inside: a document, made of smooth creamy white paper, with some sort of leaves around the outside creating a frame. Inside the frame was writing, beautiful bold black ink symbols written vertically on the page.
She watched as Edward gently took the top corners of the paper in his thumb and index finger and slowly lifted the document from the box. On the opposite side of the container to where he’d placed the lid, a soft rubber surface had been readied. Laying the document on the surface, her uncle took a step back so Gaby could admire the work more closely.
Leaning in, she smelled the scent of old books and dusty libraries. Yet the document looked like new, not old and yellowed like the smell suggested, but fresh and clean.
“It’s from Japan, the mid 1600s, over 400 years ago.” Edward’s words floated over Gaby’s shoulder as she gazed at the work. “That period of Japan was called the Edo period.” He pronounced Edo ‘Eh-doh’.
“The paper is funny. It’s thick and not very smooth.” Gaby glanced over her shoulder at her uncle.
“It’s handmade, not made by a machine like our paper. Someone made that themselves a long time ago. It’s called washi. Wa means ‘Japanese’ and shi means ‘paper’. Farmers would plant special trees around their farms. In the winter, when the other crops had been harvested, the farmers and their families would sit inside and make paper with the bark from the special trees.”
“It’s beautiful.” She’d returned her gaze to the manuscript, pointing at it without touching it. “What are these leaves?”
“They’re bamboo leaves, a very popular plant in Japanese manuscripts.”
Gaby nodded, still staring. “What does the writing mean?”
“The specialist in Japanese art translated it for me, it’s a haiku.”
Frowning, Gaby looked over her shoulder at her uncle again. As she did so, her hand, which she’d forgotten to put back by her side, hovered close to the surface of the document. “What’s a haiku?” she said, as the gallery spun around her and darkness descended.
Copyright Kelly Evans 2021