The Ghost Club encounters a less than friendly spirit when a new friend, Penny, invites Abby and Megan to witness the ghostly goings-on in her house. While her parents are unconcerned about the knocking sounds and the flickering lights, the Ghost Club girls know there’s something paranormal behind these events.
Soon, the poltergeist isn't content to just play with the lights and knock on doors. He begins to target Penny and tries to get her in trouble with her parents. When her parents begin to blame her for the poltergeist’s increasingly scary pranks, Elsa, Abby, Haley, and Megan contact the poltergeist and learn that he is a spirit with an old grudge. A spirit who can travel wherever he likes. It will take all of their newly-found skills to defeat this ghostly enemy if Penny is to be saved.
“It always happens at the same time,” Penny said with a hushed voice, drawing closer toward the girls who sat on their outspread sleeping bags. She directed her flashlight toward her bedroom door, casting it in a trembling, yellow circle. “The downstairs clock chimes midnight, and the knocking begins. It knocks at every door upstairs, and then it turns on the hallway light.”
Megan and Abby exchanged worried glances. This was the first time for the two girls to stay the night with their classmate, Penny McMaster, and things were taking an unexpected turn. Megan checked the time. It was 11:58. Two minutes until midnight.
“Why didn’t you tell us this before you invited us to stay the night,” Abby whispered, her eyes wide with worry.
“I thought you’d be interested in poltergeist activity. You guys have a ghost club, right?” Penny asked.
“True,” Megan said, “but we don’t have any experience with poltergeists.”
“Now you will!” Penny said with a mischievous glint in her eyes.
The downstairs clock chimed midnight. And right on cue, a knocking could be heard on Penny’s parents’ door. Within a few moments--the time it would take to walk between doors--a knocking came on Penny’s door. The girls jumped, and Abby let out a little squeak.
The knocking continued down the hall, rapping on the bathroom door, the closet door, and lastly, Penny’s brother’s door. Then, as Penny promised, the hallway lights flickered on. The girls were as still as the night. They waited, holding their breath, but nothing else happened. It was over.
“Whew,” Megan sighed with relief. “That’s very strange! How long has this been going on?”
“For weeks, but we’ve only lived in this house for a few months. At first, it was perfectly normal. When we started hearing the knocking, my parents chalked it up to the sounds a house makes when it’s settling and blamed the flickering lights on old electric wires. But, I don’t think it’s either of those things. And neither does my brother, Jon,” Penny said.
To her credit, she didn’t seem too spooked. Mostly, she just seemed curious. Abby had to admire that in a kid. She only wished that she could feel that brave.
“Do you know anything about the house’s history?” Abby asked, thinking of her friend Haley and fellow Ghost Club member. Haley’s house was a restored Victorian that had been haunted by a girl named Mercy who had been murdered there in 1942. After all these years, her murder had still been unsolved, trapping Mercy in the spirit world. When the Ghost Club solved the crime and captured her killer, Mercy was able to move on and reunite with her family in the afterlife. The girls had not seen her since.
“Not too much. It used to be an all girl’s school in the late 1800s. And for a short while, it was a boarding house. During the Great Depression, I think,” Penny answered.
“That’s a lot of people coming in and out of this place,” Abby said. “maybe it’s a former guest who has a bone to pick.”
“Could be. If I remember correctly, poltergeists are different from regular hauntings,” Megan said, thinking about what she knew about poltergeists. “I think that these entities can move things. And sometimes, even hurt people.”
“Thank goodness our poltergeist isn’t like that,” Penny said. “I wonder if that could change, though?” She chewed her bottom lip, looking nervous for the first time.
“Try not to worry too much about it,” Megan said. She wrapped an arm around Penny. “This one just seems playful and harmless. Although I have to admit I’d be a little nervous to be woken like this every night!”
“We’ll get the Ghost Club together and see what we can come up with,” Abby added. “Maybe there’s a way to get rid of it.” She had a lot of confidence in her friends. After all, how many kids have solved a cold case crime like Mercy’s?
“I hope so,” Penny said. “I just want to live in a plain, old quiet house.”
Almost as if it heard her, a loud rap on the door made them jump.
The girls looked at each other. For a moment, no one moved.
Since it was her house, and her poltergeist, Penny decided to investigate. Quietly, she stood up and tiptoed to the door. With a quick movement, she turned the knob and threw open the door.
No one was there.
The hall light shone brightly into Megan’s eyes, so she buried her head under her arms.
With a loud whisper, Penny addressed the spirit.
“You’ve had your fun and games, so now it’s time to let us sleep,” she said with a no-nonsense voice.
She gently closed the doors and then clambered into her sleeping bag. Her bare feet were freezing on this cold, winter night.
The girls waited quietly to hear if the poltergeist would retaliate. There was one faint knock from downstairs, and then the house was still.
“It seems like it was listening to us,” Penny said. “Let’s talk more at school on Monday.”
The next morning, the girls were downstairs having breakfast. Penny’s mom had made scrambled eggs and toast for the girls. The steam from the fluffy, yellow eggs floated above each plate, and a selection of jewel-colored jam jars sat in the middle of the table. Abby took a long drink of her orange juice. She felt groggy this morning: a perfectly normal way to feel after a sleepover, but this time, it wasn’t friends who had kept her up.
Everyone looked a little tired, in fact.
“I’m going to need a nap today,” Abby said, yawning again.
“We all will,” Penny said. She rubbed at her eyes. Her dark hair stood in silly spikes all around her head. Given her drooping, sleep-deprived eyes, Abby thought she looked a little like a koala with a bad hair day.
Penny’s father came in to the kitchen. He was a tall, thin man with jet black hair. He was wearing a red tracksuit and had a frustrated expression on his face.
“Maggie, have you seen my keys?” He opened a kitchen drawer and began to dig around. “It wasn’t by my wallet where I left them last night. Jon has soccer practice in fifteen minutes, and we’re running late.”
“No, I haven’t seen them. Did you ask the kids?” Penny’s mom opened up cabinets and other drawers in search of the keys, but to no avail.
“I guess I’ll have to use the spare ones,” he said with a sigh. He gave his wife a kiss on the cheek and rumpled Penny’s already rumpled hair. “You girls have fun! Next time, though, it would be better if you didn’t leave the hallway light on all night.”
The girls looked at each other. They knew who--or what--had left the lights on.
“Sure, Daddy,” Penny answered. Penny knew he wouldn’t believe that it was the ghost’s fault, so she didn’t even try to explain.
Jon wandered through the kitchen, a baseball cap pulled down low. He was a lanky boy with a mouth that normally looked ready to smile. He snagged a piece of toast and followed his dad out the door. Judging by the circles under his eyes, he hadn’t slept any better than they had.
“What are your plans for today?” Penny’s mom asked as she served a second helping of scrambled eggs.
“I thought we’d play Dance Explosion until everyone goes home,” Penny said. She looked around the table. “That is If you want to?”
The girls readily agreed. They had until noon to hang out, so they wanted to make the most of their time together.
After breakfast, they followed Penny into the living room. It was a bright, square room with a tall ceiling and a big window that faced the tree-filled front yard. A gray sectional sofa and a furry rug were arranged before a large TV. Penny’s little dog, Max, was nestled on the sofa. Abby scooped him up, and he settled happily in her lap. She petted him while Penny looked for the game.
“I found it!” Penny said after digging around for a few moments. “I also have Sing-It if anyone wants to play that one next?”
“I do!” Megan squealed. She loved a chance to sing and perform. She was born to perform, as she often said, and if she could only sing while performing gymnastics, she’d be the world’s happiest girl.
“That’s weird,” Penny said. She turned from the cabinet, holding a set of keys from her outstretched hand. “Daddy’s keys were in the TV cabinet.” She began to chew her bottom lip again. “I guess he forgot he left them in here,” she said with an unconvinced voice.
Penny left to take the keys to her mom.
“I bet he didn’t leave them in there,” Megan whispered to Abby.
Now, a very contented Max was on his back, and Abby was giving him a tummy rub. At least he didn’t seem too worried about a pranking poltergeist.
“Not very likely. That’s a poltergeist thing to do, isn’t it? Moving things around?” Abby asked.
“I think I’ve heard of that before, too. It seems like their ghost is up to a lot more than just knocking on doors and turning on lights,” Megan replied. “Let’s see if Haley and Elsa want to get together later. I think it’s time to call a meeting of the Ghost Club.”