BOOK DETAILS

The Fantastic Phantasmic Detective Agency

The Fantastic Phantasmic Detective Agency

by D.L. Dugger

ASIN: B01IFESR1Q

Publisher BookBaby

Published in Teens/Science Fiction & Fantasy, Children & Teens (Young Adult), Teens/Literature & Fiction

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Book Description

It’s just another summer day of hunting frogs for twelve-year-old Billy, Abby, and Toby, when they stumble upon a deserted lake cabin and meet Mary, a real live ghost, searching for her lost locket. The trio offer to help her find it and the Fantastic Phantasmic Detective Agency is launched. But when the agency enlists the help of the grumpy medium Mr. Monsento to help them with their second case, locating a ghost’s missing ghost brother, a mysterious visitor from the UnderWorld appears.

Sample Chapter

Prologue:

Zeaflin Plants the Seeing Stone

The tall, dark-haired creature called Zeaflin surveyed the forest with his deep amber eyes, searching for the perfect place to put the stone. It was still midsummer but there were plenty of dead leaves on the forest floor that would hide his object well; he just needed to find the correct spot. Zeaflin paused in his search when his gaze fell upon the old lakeside cabin a short distance from where he stood. He could catch the glint of sunlight scattering off of the broken glass of one of the windows but there was no sign of the cabin’s inhabitant. That didn’t worry Zeaflin; he knew she was there, waiting impatiently as always for him to bring her one of the living. As your run-of–the-mill ghost, she didn’t understand the nuances of selecting the appropriate living for this job. Fortunately, Zeaflin did and they had finally arrived. He cocked his head to one side, listening to the voices of his selection, three children, before focusing back on the task at hand. There wasn’t much time before they would arrive at this spot in the woods.

The main path to the cabin was overgrown, save for a small break in the wild blackberry bushes. The roots of the bushes had trapped water from a recent rainstorm and that part of the path was thick with mud. Perhaps not something that would deter the boys, thought Zeaflin, but it might deter the girl. For added insurance, he leaned over and dipped his long-nailed finger into the mud and swirled. A deep gray fog burbled up from the mud with a popping noise, releasing an aroma of rot and death. Zeaflin wrinkled his nose in disgust and took a few steps back. He looked to the left of the main path. The bushes were too thick to pass that direction. He looked to the right. An old willow tree with low hanging branches was the only obstacle. Several of the willow’s roots peeked up through the dirt of the forest floor.

A sharp-toothed smile of approval passed Zeaflin’s lips as he stepped forward toward the tree. Dropping to his knees, he used his thin, bony fingers to dig the dirt from around one of the shallowest tree roots until a small arch of root, perfect to snare one young girl’s foot, was exposed. His handiwork completed, Zeaflin reached into his front suit pocket and pulled out an irregularly-shaped object wrapped tightly in a red silk handkerchief. He removed the wrapping gingerly to reveal a milky white stone, smooth on one side but quite jagged on the other. The jagged side had deep black lines carved along the surface leading to a V-shaped trench. The apex of the V created a perfect funnel toward an almost imperceptible hole drilled deep into the stone.

Zeaflin brushed aside the leaf litter underneath the willow tree and placed the stone, jagged side up, a few feet from the exposed tree root. He then covered the stone with the litter and rose slowly to his feet. The children’s voices were growing near. It was time to leave. Zeaflin took one last look at the cabin and then vanished in a puff of gray smoke.

While Mary Waits

The ghost named Mary stood by the window of the cabin and looked out toward the lake. In the distance she could hear the sound of children’s voices and wondered if Zeaflin had also heard them and was somewhere nearby. He’d promised her he would bring someone living to help her find her necklace but he had failed so far. Sure, she’d had several visitors to her cabin over the past few days but they neither saw nor heard her, so they must have failed to find the Seeing Stone. Or perhaps Zeaflin had failed to plant it.

Mary couldn’t understand why Zeaflin didn’t just put the stone in her cabin for the living to find. Surely they would pick it up, wouldn’t they? It was such a beautiful looking stone, milky white and translucent, much like an opal. But Zeaflin would just wave his hand dismissively whenever she suggested he leave it out in the open. He could be so stubborn and arrogant sometimes! Working with him was difficult. It tried Mary’s patience, and she was grateful that all she had left to do now was to obtain her necklace and arrange a séance for Elizabeth. Then Zeaflin would finally summon John out of Halcyon and the two of them could live in the cabin until the usurper Belial was ousted from power and Ambrogio reinstated as the OtherWorld ruler. Once that happened, she and John could then return to the OtherWorld and enter Halcyon together.

Things might have been different if John had waited for her before moving on to Halcyon. They could have explored the StopOver shops together. But John was a simple man and Mary was sure he hated the commercialism of the StopOver. He must have decided it was better to wait for Mary to join him in Halcyon, even if it took her a while to get there. If only he knew how long it took to move on nowadays. Belial had created such a bureaucratic mess that few spirits ever moved on!

The voices of the children grew louder and Mary saw two boys who looked to be around eleven or twelve years old, one with blonde curls, the other with dark hair, emerge through the bushes on the path that led toward the cabin. Behind them, Mary saw a girl of similar age, red hair, pony-tailed, and freckled. The girl hesitated just before the break in the bushes and then veered off the main path. Mary lost sight of her so she focused her attention back on the two boys. The boys were drawing nearer yet they still showed no sign that they could see her standing by the window of her cabin. Mary sighed and wandered back into the cool shadows of her old home. She sat on the dusty chair in the corner and rested her head in her hands. Zeaflin must have failed her again.

Chapter 1

“I’ve got it!” Billy cries out, jumping from his chair, pushing it back with a loud screech against the treehouse floor. “We’ll call ourselves Sleuths Supernatural.” He plops back down with a self-satisfied grin so typical of Billy. We’ve been debating the name of our detective agency for over an hour. Earlier suggestions, such as “Grave Investigations” and “Phantom Sleuths”, were soundly rejected. It’s not easy coming up with a title for a budding detective agency with ghostly clients.

It all began yesterday. Billy, Toby, and I were doing what you’d usually do on a warm summer afternoon, looking for frogs at the nearby lake. Well, if you could call it a lake--it’s more like a reed filled pond. A few years back the three of us would have gone swimming instead of frogging on such a nice summer day, but lack of rain and a few hot summers had reduced the lake to a shadow of its former glory. Luckily for us, it made it a great place for hunting frogs.

As we beat around the reeds, hoping to scare out a hopper, Toby suddenly grabbed my arm. “Abby, look over there,” he whispered sharply, pointing to a narrow opening in the wild blackberry bushes growing around the outer edge of the woods. I peered through the thin slit, seeing the sun dapple on what appeared to be a small shed or cabin.

“What’s up?” Billy piped in, nearly crashing into me as he rushed over to see what held our attention. “Oh,” he said with a disappointed shrug, “it’s just an old fishing cabin or something.”

“But I think I saw something moving around inside through the window,” Toby replied, his brow furrowed with worry.

“Really? I don’t see how you could see anything through that dirty old window but hey, let’s go check it out,” Billy said.

I felt uneasy. “Wait!” I hissed. “What if it’s some crazy derelict or something?”

Billy rolled his eyes and let out an exasperated sigh. “Abby, you’re such a girl sometimes.”

With a disgusted shake of his head, Billy pressed forward on the path toward the bushes. I looked at Toby, who just shrugged and followed Billy. That was one of the problems hanging out with boys. They always seemed indifferent to danger; in fact I think sometimes they actually looked for it. As always, I followed them to lend the voice of reason when it might be needed. As if they’d listen!

I had almost caught up to the boys when they tromped through some muddy water on the path, stirring up a smell like dirty gym socks marinated in garlic. I decided I’d rather not to traipse through that muck so I veered off to find a dry area to cross. The left side of the trail was impassable, unless I wanted to go home with a million scratches from the blackberry bush thorns. The right side was mostly clear, other than a willow tree with low hanging branches, so I headed that direction. I ducked under the lowest branch and felt a sharp tug. The branch had snagged my ponytail. I yanked my hair free, lost my balance, lurched forward, and caught my foot on a tree root sticking out of the ground.

This tree was trying to kill me!

I fell to my knees and caught myself just before I planted my face into the leaves carpeting the forest floor. “Ouch,” I cried out, feeling a sharp pain in my left palm. Something had sliced into my hand. I pulled my hand out of the leaves to look it over. Small droplets of blood dripped from a thin slit, as narrow as a paper cut, in the center of my palm. “Ouch,” I repeated for good measure and then dug into the leaf litter to find the offending rock and chuck it into the lake so it wouldn’t be able to attack anybody else.

After I uncovered the stone I changed my mind and decided to spare it the watery demise. I’d never seen one like it before. It was milky white, almost pearlescent. It had a sharp, jagged surface that was etched with black lines that came together in a V-shape. In the groove of the V was a small smudge of red which I assumed was my blood. I carefully picked the stone up. It was smooth as a pebble on the underside. Strange. Usually the upside of a stone is smooth, not the downside.

I popped up quickly and hurried to catch up with Billy and Toby. “Wait up, guys! I found something!” I called out. The boys were almost to the cabin. They both turned at the sound of my voice and stopped next to a maple tree, where they stood in its shade to wait for me to catch up. I ran up and held out the stone, bursting with pride over my discovery.

“Cool stone, huh?” I declared. Billy eyed the rock jealously and reached out to take it from me. “Be careful,” I warned. “It has a sharp edge on one side. It cut me.”

Billy shrugged nonchalantly and, as usual, didn’t heed my warning. Instead, he ran his finger over the jagged edge as if to test out how sharp it is. “Ow! That is sharp!” Billy exclaimed, holding up his finger to examine the damage. A thin stream of blood dribbled down the side of his finger and dripped onto the forest floor. Billy pulled a handkerchief from his back jean pocket and applied pressure to the wound. Then he handed the stone over for Toby to examine. “This has to be an opal of some sort, wouldn’t you say, Toby?”

Toby took the stone from Billy’s hand, careful to avoid the sharp edge. He held the stone up to the sunlight and peered at it with one eye. “I don’t think it’s an opal. It looks more like a moonstone. It’s flawed, though. See the red bubble in the center?”

“That wasn’t there before,” I said defensively, snatching the stone from Toby’s hand to take a look.

“Ouch! That hurt, Abby!” Toby cried out, his blood now added to the stone along with Billy’s and mine. Toby sucked his wounded finger and gave me a dirty look.

Billy laughed. “Hey, we’re all blood brothers now!” Toby and I both rolled our eyes.

”Let’s go check out the cabin,” Billy suggested, obviously no longer interested in my stone. While the boys forged on ahead, I lagged behind so I could gather up a few maple leaves to wrap around my treasure before I put it into my jean pocket. No sense in taking the chance it might cut through my pocket and into my leg.

By the time I caught up to the boys, they were already peering into the cabin window, a small opening with cracked, dirty glass. I opened my mouth, prepared to warn them about broken glass, infections and tetanus shots, when Toby, quick as a dart, dropped to a crouch, dragging Billy down with him. So there is someone in the cabin, I thought. My heart skipped a beat when I saw a look of alarm cross Billy’s face as he lost his balance and, with a muffled cry and flailing arms, tottered into the dead leaves surrounding the cabin.

The resulting crunch shattered the silence of the woods like a gunshot. The noise drew a startled, pale woman to the cabin window. She looked out at me. I stared back. She was a pretty woman, with dark eyes and light brown hair that hung in waves down past her shoulders. Around her neck I could see a thin gold chain that she was nervously twisting in her right hand. Then the sun moved out of the clouds and a shaft of sunlight highlighted the woman. My heart pounded even harder and I began to feel faint because I could see the peeling paint of the cabin wall behind her right through her face!

A g-g-ghost!

Continues...

Excerpted from "The Fantastic Phantasmic Detective Agency" by D.L. Dugger. Copyright © 2016 by D.L. Dugger. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Author Profile

D.L. Dugger

D.L. Dugger

Debra L. Dugger has worked in the biotechnology business for over 18 years and, as a departure from penning dry science reports, decided to try her hand at weaving bizarre stories about the afterlife.

View full Profile of D.L. Dugger

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