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  Is this the next JK Rowling? Part 2
Updated 08 July 2003, 08.01

Have you already finished OOTP? Well see what you think of this story written by budding children's author Louise Arnold.

She won BBC News Online's Are You the Next JK Rowling? competition.

This is the second part from her story The Invisible Friend - the remaining three instalments will be published one a day, with the final instalment on Friday.

The Invisible Friend
Copyright Louise Arnold 2003

Continued from Monday....

If you are really angry, or really sad, the quietest words can be the loudest screams to ghosts. If you've just had someone spill drink all over your homework just after you've finished it, and you whisper "Oh, pants!" to a ghost those words will echo around for hours, booming off the walls.

Ghosts avoid sports days, people getting exam results, and long lost family reunions, because they leave their heads ringing for weeks afterwards.

So, when the human boy Tom Golden had just had a terrible day at school, and he'd bumped into the Spitting Kids with the baseball caps on the way home, and they'd tripped him over and laughed at him, when this boy muttered, as he flung himself on his bed, that "LIFE ISN'T FAIR", these words screamed through all the ghosts in the country.

These words, whispered by Tom Golden, roared down streets and echoed through the Ghost World. And it just so happened that these words shouted through the ghosts at the exact same time that Grey Arthur was feeling lonely and miserable and useless as well.

Grey Arthur didn't believe in the magic misery cat of Peru that William quite often talked about in his poems, and Arthur didn't believe in pots of gold at the end of rainbows (because Leprechauns were far too tidy to leave precious money lying around), and Grey Arthur most definitely did not believe in coincidences.

Grey Arthur picked himself up off that wooden bench, and set off to find the source of this shouting.

Ghosts, being very light, and having no breath to run out of, can travel long distances very quickly. It was easy to find Tom, because he was whispering so very loudly that you could follow his upset all the way back to its source.

Arthur chased the words about bullying, and about lousy days, and spitting children and cruel nicknames all the way through many streets, moving like a grey blur. He dashed past humans, and Faintly Reals, doing their shopping and ignored the Goons shouting rude words and pulling faces from the sewers, faster and faster he ran, trying to find this person who finally felt the same as he did.

A few minutes later he found Tom Golden, sobbing into his pillow in his bedroom at number eleven Aubergine Road.

Tom was muttering to himself, thinking that nobody could hear, how awful it was not fitting in at school, and how he was useless and couldn't do anything. To Arthur, he could have been shouting through a megaphone.

Everyone needs someone who understands how they feel, and Arthur had finally found him. What should it matter if one of them was Real, and one of them wasn't? Arthur decided there and then that while he may be a lousy ghost, he was sure that he'd make a fantastic best friend, and Tom Golden certainly needed one.

Arthur made the biggest decision he'd ever made, although it was a long time before he realised just how big this decision was. Arthur decided to become Tom's Invisible Friend.

Nobody can really blame Grey Arthur for getting it wrong, since he had never actually read the Terms and Conditions of becoming an Invisible Friend. It was an honest mistake, and honest mistakes are few and far between these days, with so many dishonest ones about. He was invisible after all, and he did want to become Tom's best friend, so what more was there to it?

So, that day, Grey Arthur became Tom's Invisible Friend. Grey Arthur would read him stories that he couldn't hear at night time, and do a silly dance that Tom couldn't see at his birthday party.

Grey Arthur was there when Tom ran the 100-metre sprint on school sports day, and he was there when Tom tripped five metres from the finish line and came in last to half-hearted applause and a fair amount of giggling.

He was there when Tom accidentally called his geography teacher, Mr Griffin, "Dad", and the whole of Class E had nearly wet themselves laughing. He even went on holiday with Tom to Bognor Regis, and he was there when Tom trod barefoot in dog poo on the beach, and had to stand forever in the cold sea until he smelt less disgusting.

Arthur was there every single time the Spitting Kids on the corner of the street called Tom names and shouted abuse, and even though Tom felt very much alone, he wasn't. Grey Arthur was a very good friend indeed, apart from the slight problem of Tom not knowing he existed.

Three hundred and twenty one days later (which is of course an exceptionally long time for a human boy, and not very long at all for a ghost) Grey Arthur was telling Tom all about the day he'd had, in a voice that Tom couldn't hear, when he heard a rustling coming from the laundry basket in the corner of the room.

Suddenly, the lid of the basket flew up into the air, and out crawled Miranda and Mike, dragging out all the dirty clothes with them. The Mischief Twins had arrived.

The Mischief Twins were poltergeists in training, and the Laundry Run was something all poltergeists had to do when they first started out. It's a well-known ghost fact (and a very little known human one) that all laundry baskets are magically connected together, and poltergeists can "ride" laundry baskets to pop from house to house.

Grey Arthur had never tried this, because the thought of travelling through grandma's stockings and Dad's sweaty work clothes to get from house to house when there was a perfectly useable front door just seemed plain stupid to him, but poltergeists do it all the time. It was their trademark.

Here is another little known fact: poltergeist activity is responsible for 90% of all cases of losing a sock in England.

Young poltergeists start off by stealing socks, in order to make the remaining one "odd" (which is probably why travelling through laundry baskets is so popular with them), then progress onto hiding house keys and similar acts of naughtiness, before eventually working up to greater levels of mischief as they got older and stronger.

Quite often you'll find poltergeist gangs in supermarket car parks, shuffling the cars and then laughing until they fall over at all the humans trying to remember where they parked.

Legend had it that one day, in 1997, when a human called Mr Whistle was running late for a job interview, a poltergeist by the name of The Red Rascal managed to hide an entire building! No human ever believed Mr Whistle, and he didn't get the job, but the ghosts all knew the truth.

The next instalment from The Invisible Friend will be published on Wednesday 9 July.

More InfoBORDER=0
UKPart 1: The Invisible Friend
UKPart 4: The Invisible Friend
UKPart 3: The Invisible Friend
UKPart 5: The Invisible Friend
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