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Authors: Daren King

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School of Meanies

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Frightfully Friendly Ghosties

School of Meanies

Also by Daren King

Mouse Noses on Toast

Sensible Hare and the Case of Carrots

Peter the Penguin Pioneer

The Frightfully Friendly Ghosties Series:

Frightfully Friendly Ghosties

Ghostly Holler-Day

New York • London

Text © 2011 by Daren King

Illustrations © 2011 by David Roberts

First published in the United States by Quercus in 2014

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by reviewers, who may quote brief passages in a review. Scanning, uploading, and electronic distribution of this book or the facilitation of the same without the permission of the publisher is prohibited.

Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

Any member of educational institutions wishing to photocopy part or all of the work for classroom use or anthology should send inquiries to
[email protected]
.

e-ISBN: 978-1-62365-990-5

Distributed in the United States and Canada by

Random House Publisher Services

c/o Random House, 1745 Broadway

New York, NY 10019

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, institutions, places, and events are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons—living or dead—events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

www.quercus.com

1

Ghost School

Ghost School is boring. You get told off for bumping!

Bumping is my best thing. The only thing I like better than bumping is cake and lollipops, and the only thing I like better than cake and lollipops is bumping a box of cake and lollipops, and—

“Humphrey!”

It was Tabitha Tumbly. Tabitha is the youngest grown-up ghosty and the nicest of them all—no fibbing!

“Humphrey Bump, what happened to that box of cake and lollipops?”

“The cat bumped it,” I said. “I mean, the cat knocked it over, with her paws.”

Tabitha folded her arms and frowned at the upside-down cardboard box and the lollipops scattered across the kitchen floor and the splodged cake.

“Humphrey, are you fibbing?”

“No,” I said. “I mean, yes. I mean, I don’t know.”

We were in the kitchen at the back of the house, just me and Tabitha, and it was a school day but I didn’t want to go.

“Put your blazer on,” Tabitha said. “I’ll float you to school.”

I looked at where I’d left my blazer in a heap on the kitchen table. “I’m not going to school today.”

“But it’s your first day back.”

“That’s why I’m not going. The first day back is horrible.”

My blazer floated off the table and hovered behind me like a bat. Tabitha is a poltergeist. She can move things with her powers. No fibbing!

“Why don’t you like the first day?” Tabitha asked as I poked my arms into the blazer.

“It’s horrible. You haven’t seen the other children all summer, and then you have to see them—and they make fun of you because you’re fat!”

“Children can be so mean,” Wither said, floating in from the garden. “And, Humphrey, you’re not fat. You’re just, er, overly proportioned.”

Wither is a poet. That’s why nothing he says makes any sense.

“Come along, Humphrey,” Tabitha said, floating into the hall. “We’d better wisp, or you’ll be late.”

“I’ll wisp with you,” said Wither.

“It’s a lovely day for a wisp, and I need to stretch my transparent bits.”

Ghost School used to be a still-alive school, in the old days, but then it got run down, so the still-alives built a new school on the other side of the village.

“Wait,” I said as Ghost School loomed into view. “I have to tie my shoelaces.” And I wisped behind an old oak tree and hid.

“Humphrey?” Tabitha said, floating back and forth. “Humphrey, where did you go?”

“There’s nobody here,” I said in a sort of tree voice. “Just us trees, and—”

The two grown-up ghosties peered around the trunk, and Tabitha took my hand and led me back to the path.

“You’ll be fine when you get there and see your friends waiting for you,” Wither said.

“I don’t have any friends,” I said. “Everyone hates me.”

But then I spotted Samuel Spook and Phil and Fay Phantom flitting across the playground, and I let go of Tabitha’s hand and bounced off through the school gates.

2

Haunted Homework

“Ghost School is stupid and rubbish, and, um, I’m not going to Ghost School ever again!”

I’d practiced saying that all the way home, but then I saw Tabitha and Agatha chopping vegetables in the kitchen, and the words bounced about inside my head, and when I opened my mouth nothing came out.

“Humphrey, how was your first day back at Ghost School?” Tabitha asked as carrots rolled across the cutting board.

“It was, um, fun,” I said, bobbing by the stove.

“Dinner will be ready soon,” Tabitha said. “Pie, with your favorite side helping of sausages, pie, sausage pie, french fries, pie and pizza.”

“Us girls are having salad,” Agatha said, biting a pointy, pointless carrot.

“I’m not hungry,” I said, even though my tummy felt like a cave.

“That’s not like you,” Pamela said, emerging from the cellar, her arms piled up with plates. Pamela Fraidy is always nervous, so the plates rattled and clanged.

“Humphrey,” Agatha said as I floated out to the hall, “you look as if you’ve found a lollipop and dropped it.”

On the stairs I floated past Wither and Charlie Vapor. Charlie winked at me and took off his hat.

“Master Bump,” Wither said, “Charlie doffed his trilby, and you didn’t so much as bid him good day.”

“I did the polite thing to do,” Charlie said. “The least you can do, Humphrey, is do the polite thing to do too.”

“But it isn’t a good day,” I said, bumping the banister. “It’s a rotten day, and then some.”

“Don’t be mean,” said Wither, pursing his lips.

“Humphrey is sulking,” Charlie said. “Today was the first day back at school. He’ll feel right as rain tomorrow.”

At the top of the stairs I bumped through the bedroom door, then bumped it closed behind me. I had my own bedroom now that the still-alives had moved out. The grown-up ghosties shared the four-poster bed in their old room.

I rummaged through my blazer pockets and
pulled out a fluffy doughnut. I was halfway through munching it when I heard Charlie and Tabitha talking on the landing.

“I don’t know what’s gotten into him,” Tabitha was saying. “He used to love Ghost School. Have a word with him, Charlie.”

“You talk to him, Tabitha. You’re closer to him in age. Humphrey won’t listen to an old stooge like me.”

“But you’re a man, Charlie. All boys
together! And you can pass through. In you float!”

Charlie Vapor can pass through doors and walls and, well, anything—even when he’s got his hat on. I’m not telling fibs!

I’d just taken another bite of the doughnut when Charlie’s head passed through the bedroom door.

Charlie winked at me and doffed his hat. “Are you all right, son?” he said in his cockney accent.

I nodded. My mouth was full.

“Glad to hear it,” Charlie said, and he passed back.

The door handle turned by itself—Tabitha using her powers again—and Tabitha floated into the room.

“Humphrey, I’ve brought you a snack,” Tabitha said, and she dropped a crusty pork pie onto the bed.

“That wouldn’t feed a mouse.”

Tabitha smiled, sort of kind but telling me off at the same time. “If you want your dinner, you will have to float to the kitchen.”

“I’m not hungry,” I fibbed.

“Then there really is something wrong. Either you’re coming down with the flu, or something happened at school and you’re afraid to say what.”

“Nothing happened at school,” I said. “I’m just doing my homework, that’s all.”

“If that’s true, the homework must be haunted and see-through,” Tabitha said, “because all I can see are doughnut crumbs and a grumpy face.”

I looked up at Tabitha’s big eyes and said, “Tabitha, if I tell you something, do you promise not to be cross?”

Tabitha sat beside me on the bed. Well,
floated. Ghosties can’t sit on things, they can only float above things.

“I got expelled,” I told her. “I’ve been thrown out of Ghost School. For good.”

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