I woke up on a recent morning with the title in my mind but no idea for a story. But later this morning I sat down and wrote the whole thing in less than half an hour. And the next day I re-wrote it. And a few days later I re-wrote it again. It’s my first ever attempt at a children’s book, and I have no idea if it’s any good or not. I hope others will read this and critique it.
Billy Bland’s Improbable Future Ghost
By Alec Clayton
Billy Bland was blithely walking to school one bright and sunny morning when he ran into a ghost. Well really, he didn’t run into it, but there it was right in his path, floating in the air like a leaf in the breeze. But it wasn’t breezy.
Oh, who are you? And why do you look just like me? And why are you floating there in the air like a leaf in the breeze when there’s not even a hint of a breeze? Billy Bland asked the ghost.
I’m your improbable future ghost. I’m you long after you are no longer alive. Far, far, far away in the future. And I’m floating in the air like a leaf in the breeze because that’s what ghosts do.
Oh. But it’s not the future. It’s now, and I’m still alive. I’m not even grown up yet, Billy Bland said as he continued walking along the sidewalk headed to school.
If ghosts can pass through walls, surely they can pass through time, Billy Bland’s improbable future ghost said, continuing to float in the air like a leaf in the breeze while the school bus drove past and Billy Bland’s friend Johnny Jumpup rode by on his bicycle.
Why are you here? Billy Bland asked his improbable future ghost.
I’m here to keep you from making terrible horrible mistakes with terrible horrible consequences, his improbable future ghost said. Like I know Johnny Jumpup is going to ask you to race him to school. You most definitely should not do that. If you do that, it will be a terrible horrible mistake.
How do you know? Billy Bland asked.
Because I’m from the future. I know what happens. You will be so intent on racing that you won’t see the car turning that corner up ahead, and he will run into you and hurt you, and you will be in the hospital for six days and you’ll have to use crutches for walking for a long, long time after that, his improbably future ghost answered.
So Billy Bland told Johnny Jumpup I can’t race you, and you better be extra special careful or you will get hurt.
And no sooner had Billy Bland said that did a car turn the corner too fast and almost hit Johnny Jumpup, who stopped just in time because he was being extra special careful.
Whew! That was really, really lucky, said Billy Bland, rushing up to where Johnny Jumpup was standing still by his bicycle.
It wasn’t lucky, his improbable future ghost said. It was because you told him to be extra special careful.
Gosh, you’re right, Billy said. I guess you saved him.
Johnny Jumpup, jumping back on his bicycle, said, Who are you talking to?
Billy said, My improbable future ghost.
There’s nobody here, Johnny Jumpup said, and took off pedaling his bicycle as fast as he could.
Billy’s improbable future ghost said, He can’t see me or hear me. Only you can see me and hear me.
Wow! Billy said.
In school, he asked Sullen Sally Spike, Do you have an improbable future ghost?
What? You must be crazy, Sullen Sally Spike said, and she stuck out her tongue at him.
Do you have an improbable future ghost? Billy asked Michael McMichels.
Shhhhsh, Michael McMichels said, and Billy Bland’s improbable future ghost said, Remember, only you can see me, and only you can hear me.
So Billy raised his hand to ask the teacher, Miss Burgerbumbler, a question.
Yes, Billy Bland. What is it? Miss Burgerbumbler asked.
I have an improbable future ghost that only I can see and only I can hear. Do other people have improbable future ghosts, Billy asked.
I think that would be highly improbable, Miss Burgerbumbler said. Now quit asking silly, stupid impertinent questions.
After school was out and Billy Bland was walking home with his improbable future ghost floating along just over his left shoulder, his ghost said, Tomorrow morning Johnny Jumpup is going to ask you to play hooky with him. Whatever you do, please don’t play hooky with him. It will be a terrible horrible mistake that will have terrible horrible consequences in the future.
Sure enough, when he was walking to school the next morning, Johnny Jumpup pulled up next to him on his bicycle and said Hello, Billy Bland.
Hello, Johnny Jumpup, Billy Bland said.
And then Johnny Jumpup said Let’s not go to school today. Let’s play hooky and go to the mall and eat lots of candy and go to the movie and eat lots of popcorn.
I can’t do that, Billy Bland said. My improbable future ghost said if I go with you now it will be a terrible horrible mistake with terrible horrible consequences, and you and I will grow up to be terrible horrible grownups who do terrible horrible things and get in a lot of trouble.
You don’t have an improbable future ghost, Johnny Jumpup said. There’s no such thing.
Is too, Billy Bland said, sounding very put-upon. He’s right here with us floating in the air like a leaf in the breeze.
But Billy Bland’s improbable future ghost said He can’t see me and he can’t hear me. Only you can see me and hear me. Remember? So you have to convince Johnny Jumpup that playing hooky is not a good thing to do.
How can I do that? Billy Bland asked.
And Johnny Jumpup said, Who are you talking to?
Nobody, Billy Bland said, because he knew Johnny Jumpup would not believe him if he said he was talking to his improbable future ghost. And then he said. We can’t skip school because if we do we will grow up to be terrible horrible grownups who do terrible horrible things, and we will get in a lot of trouble. Besides, I don’t want to skip school. I like school. We get to see all our friends and learn a lot of good stuff.
You’re right, Johnny Jumpup said. I’ll race you to school. And he started riding his bicycle as fast as he could, and Billy Bland started running as fast as he could, and they both got to school just before the first bell rang, and Billy Bland’s improbable future ghost disappeared and went back to the future because Billy Bland didn’t need him anymore.