This is the fifth installment of the J A Campbell Blog Tour.
By J. A. Campbell
I barked at the bright white thing hovering in the middle of the room. It turned to look at me, but didn’t spin like the wind-devil shaped ghosts from the Saloon. Instead it seemed more like a bed sheet flapping on a clothesline, but it had eyes and a slit-like mouth that slowly opened, voicing that same eerie howl. My hackles rose and my teeth ached at the sound, but I forced myself to meet the ghost’s eyes and stare. Its howl cut off abruptly and the flapping motion quieted. The ghost struggled but I’d done this before and I was confident that I could control the ghost and push it back toward Elliott. I crept into the room, dodging obstacles I didn’t even bother to identify, all my concentration on the ghost. It turned as I did, eyes locked to mine as I maneuvered so that I could push it out the door and into the dining car. Once I was lined up with the door I pushed the ghost, creeping forward. It struggled harder, perhaps reacting to my moving it, but it couldn’t get away as I pushed it like I moved a flock of sheep into a holding pen. The dining area was a mess but I managed to navigate around the fallen chairs. The nice, juicy steak lying on the ground didn’t even tempt me, though a little drool leaked from my jaws when the scent overpowered the ghost smell for a moment. People screamed but I ignored them, pushing the ghost into the hallway and toward the room I shared with Elliott.
Shouting distracted me, and I felt the ghost slip. A ripple went through it and I tightened my focus, concentrating as hard as I could until it quieted again. I pushed until I reached our door, but I wasn’t sure how to get around the corner. There was no room for me to get behind the ghost.
Elliott’s shout distracted me and the ghost howled as it tried to escape.
"Holy Jesus!" I heard the sheriff exclaim.
The priest began to pray.
The ghost dove at me and I wished I had my special boots on. They protected my feet from sharp things and had extra protection against ghosts. Elliott hadn’t had time to put them on yet. Dodging, I yelped when the ghost passed through me. It was cold and my fur got slimed but I wasn’t dead so I spun and launched myself at the ghost, snarling.
It seemed startled, eyes going a little wider and I plowed through it, shoving it backward a little and toward the room.
A couple of shots rang out, deafening me and I barked in alarm. I thought I heard Elliott shouting something over the ringing in my ears but I wasn’t sure. The ghost turned and flew into our room. Chasing after, I skidded to a halt just short of the ghost trap drawing. I didn’t want to smudge it. The ghost howled, flapping around inside the trap and the priest and the sheriff, both covered in slime, stared, mouths agape.
"I have to banish it," Elliott said.
The priest seemed to jerk before he tore his attention from the ghost and looked at Elliott. "You can banish that demon?"
"Yes, that’s what I’ve been trying to tell you. I hunt ghosts."
Wincing when the ghost howled again, I looked for Elliott’s book. He’d need it and I remembered him dropping it.
"Very well, get on with it then."
I found his book near the priest and pushed it with my nose.
"Good girl, Brown. Good girl." Elliott picked up the book and flipped through it.
I sat and stared at the ghost, daring it to try and escape, while Elliott found the right page.
"Mother of God," a new voice said.
"Hal, we caught the ghost," Elliott said to the conductor. "I’m going to banish him now."
"Pleased to hear it, Mr. Gyles." He sounded a little out of breath, like he’d run a long way.
Elliott nodded and began reading from his book. The ghost howled. The humans covered their ears, except Elliott. Whining in pain, I crouched down but continued to watch, just in case. Elliott reached the end and shouted the last words over the ghost’s scream. He picked up the salt and tossed it at the ghost. I thought my teeth were going to rattle out of my mouth at the noise and I had to shut my eyes as the ghost light grew too bright. Suddenly, I heard a loud pop and ghost slime splattered me. The howl stopped and I opened my eyes.
The humans all stared at the empty ghost trap, covered in dripping slime and looking a little shocked. I went over to Elliott and pushed against his leg. He rubbed my ears.
Thumping my tail on the ground, I grinned up at him.
"Well…." The priest shook his head, glanced at the sheriff and then they both walked out.
"Salt water gets the slime off," Elliott called after them.
Hal laughed. "Guess you showed them. They give you any problems?"
Elliott nodded. "Tried to arrest me."
The conductor shook his head. "This is a mess. Let me get you a new room. Salt water you say?"
Suddenly I remembered the steak I’d passed in the dining car. Woofing happily I ran back out into the hallway and toward the dining hall. Once food made it to the floor, it was mine. I didn’t even think it had slime on it.
Elliott chased after but he didn’t call me back.
To my dismay the annoying, flower scented, lady was in the dining area when I arrived, and she’d picked up my steak! I huffed in annoyance and she gasped when she saw me. We stared at each other, her eyes wide, mine narrowed. That was my steak.
"Whatever is all over you?" At least she wasn’t screaming.
"Ghost slime," Elliott said coming up behind me.
"Yes, we banished the ghost that’s been plaguing the train." Elliott sounded wary.
"You don’t sound surprised."
She actually smiled. "My father is heavily involved in the trains. I was hoping my psychic abilities would assist in ridding the train of the ghost."
"Obviously your dog was more prepared. I nearly slept through the whole thing, though getting thrown to the floor when the train stopped did wake me. Why is she staring at me like that?"
I looked at the steak on the plate and licked drool from my lips.
"I think she’s decided that’s her steak."
"You’re certain she doesn’t have fleas?"
The lady set the plate on the ground and backed away. I darted forward and grabbed the steak before she could change her mind and took it back to Elliott’s side. There was no slime on the floor except where it dripped from us so I set my steak down and tore into it, wagging my tail happily. Maybe I’d forgive her for thinking I had fleas.
Hal laughed when he joined us and said something to the lady, but I was concentrating fully on my steak. If I got paid with steak every time I hunted a ghost, I hoped we found many more.
"So, Mr. Gyles. How do you feel about steamboats?"
"Never been on one."
"I’ve got a friend in St. Louis who has a ghost problem. I think you and Brown could help them."
If they had a ghost problem, I was the dog for the job. Especially if they had steak.
Be sure to check out Anne Michaud - http://annecmichaud.wordpress.com/ for Brown’s interview, where you’ll find out such things as her favorite treats, and how she started hunting ghosts.
Intro - June 11th – J. A. Campbell - https://writerjacampbell.wordpress.com/blog/
Part 1- June 12th – Sam Knight - http://samknight.com/
Part 2 - June 13th – Bea’s Book Nook - http://beasbooknook.blogspot.com/
Part 3 - June 14th – Amaleen Ison - http://www.amaleenison.com/
Part 4 - June 15th – Jen Wylie - http://jlwylie.wordpress.com/
Part 5 - June 16th – David Riley - http://sftrails.blogspot.com/
Interview with Brown - June 17th – Anne Michaud - http://annecmichaud.wordpress.com/
Follow the link to enter a contest to win a copy of Science Fiction Trails 10 in which Brown battles Martians. US only. I’ll send the winner a signed copy, the rest of the world, you have to take an unsigned copy, sorry. You gotta be willing to give me your address though J Alternately the winner can chose a Kindle copy. Contest runs from June 11th through June 30th. I’ll pick three winners.
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Brown – Brown is a Border Collie who hunts ghosts, and other things as it turns out, with her human, Elliott Gyles. You can find out more about her adventures here: https://writerjacampbell.wordpress.com/eye-of-the-dog/
Julie - Julie writes fantasy novels. When she’s not out riding her horse, she can usually be found sitting in front of her computer with a cat on her lap and her dog at her side. Read more about her other stories here: www.writerjacampbell.com
Excerpt from Brown and the Sand Dragon in the Different Dragons Anthology:
Nata tugged on Elliott’s shoulder and we crept away from the demon. I hated turning my back on it, and I couldn’t keep my hackles down until we were back at the horses.
"Is it safe to talk?" Elliott asked quietly.
"That’s not a demon, or a ghost! It’s the bastard child of a lizard and a firefly. What the hell!"
"Shhh. I said it was okay to talk. Not to shout."
"Sorry. Quite right." Elliott took off his hat and scratched his head. "Let’s get back to the ranch before it gets dark."