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CHAPTER ONE: Mystery of the Vanishing Hatbox

From the Hatbox Ghost's point of view:


Where am I ? It's dark here… Darker than usual ! Normally, we have at least enough light to see the doombuggies… I see nothing but black… Let's make a few steps…

Oops ! Ouch !

@#$*€£`% Constancesque junk ! Why has she got to put all that in the middle of my way ! Am I alright ? I hope I haven't broken my nose again… My… MY NOSE ! MY FACE ! I can't touch them ?!? I suppose my head's in the hatbox, then… Let's see if I can glow a bit to lighten things up… The hatbox ? SOMEONE STOLE MY HATBOX WITH MY FACE IN IT !…

That's very rude.


From Mr Anybody Uninteresting Random's point of view:


Brrr… Enough of this sc-sc-scary stuff… 'hope it will soon starts to sing again, this Co-Co-Constance is cr-c-reep… YIIIIIIIIIK ! What's-th-that stuff again ? A… A headless ghost…? He's… No, he can't be… He's heading toward the DOOMBUGGY ? Hey ! Stop ! Sir ! Could you ? AAAH ! Get off this carriage ! Now ! Shew ! Shew ! I… I forbid you to touch me ! GET OFF ! HELP !


From the Hatbox Ghost's point of view again:


What have I walked into again ? …Looks like a doombuggy to me ! …a taken one, too !

After all, let's stay here. It's a safer way to go down than walking now that I can't see anymore… Down there in the graveyard, I'll find the Ghost Host… He'll understand…


From an external narrator's point of view:


Upon seeing the headless ghost sitting next to him, Mr Random was positively petrified with fear. After a minute, he raised a shaking hand toward the spook, touched him to be sure that it wasn't an hologram… and jumped out of the doombuggy right inside the arms of Constance Hatchaway, who was more than little surprised by the fact. No man had fallen into her arms since a very long time ago, and anyway, when it happened, it was under very different circumstances.

« Do you wish a normal cut or a… special one ? she said in a grin while she made her axe materialize once more. — Er… No, thank you, missis horrid ghost thing… — I'm afraid you haven't got any choice… Unless, of course, you GET AWAY FROM ME AND SCRAM ! »

She was more than convincing, and Random quickly escaped the attic by a trapdoor he had noticed during the ride.


The Ghost Host's Diary — Extract referring to the events that followed


Today happened the strangest thing I ever heard of. As I was having fun with the others in the graveyard and giving the mortals a tour, a headless Hattie came to me. All in his manners showed me that he was very worried, but, as (as I said) he was headless, he couldn't speak. And when I say headless, I don't mean in the usual "head-disappearing-from-the-shoulders-and-reappearing-in-the-Hatbox" way; neither his head or his hatbox where anywhere to be seen. Hattie tried to make me understand his situation by using signs, but I don't know this sort of thing, and I eventually gave him a piece of parchment and a pencil. He palpated the two objects to understand what they were, and he wrote (in an horrible writing, but it's normal when you can't see what you are doing) his story down. Apparently, his head (and his hatbox) were locked up somewhere, perhaps not even in the mansion.

He did not know who was the thief, and apparently they had operated while he was sleeping. He ended his story by telling me not to try to answer, which of course would be useless (since his ears were out of reach), and to search everywhere in the mansion. I pushed him inside the mansion and had him sitting in the ballroom until we found the hatbox. As I tried to get out, I came across a mortal, a Cast Member apparently, and high-graded one.


« Yes, sir ? What can I do for you ? Be brief, please, I'm a busy spook.


— Are you ?!? I friendly remind you that you were giving the mortal a tour, you lunatic ! They are about to get out of the mansion ! Hurry before they come warninglessly across the Hitchhiking Ghost !


— The… Oh my ! The Hitchhiking Ghost ! I forgot to mention them ! (I spoke to the audience with the strongest voice I could: ) HEP ! THERE'S A LITTLE MATTER I FORGOT TO… »


All I heard was: « Hurry baaaack… Hurry baaaack… » and I slapped my own face. Too late ! I rushed to the crypt, only to discover that my greatest fear had came true: the Hitchhiking Ghost had eventually managed to get out.


CHAPTER TWO: Ghosts on the Loose

From an external narrator's point of view:


Mr Jack W. Smith had never believed in ghosts and spirits, and had never been interested in them. His only motive for going to the Haunted Mansion ride that day had been that his son Willie desperately wanted him to. On the way back home, Willie told his driving father:

« Daddy, when do we bring him back ? — Bring who ? — The ghost. You know, the one that was in the mirror. — Willie, don't be so naive ! It is a special effect, like a movie… — Is it ? I would have swore that he was sitting next to me. — Me too… »

As you may have guessed, this last sentence had not been pronounced by Mr Smith, nor by his son Willie, but by Gus the Prisoner, who was sitting with delight in one of the passenger seats.

« My, this is something else than the doombuggies ! You can believe me ! And that's not even talking about the paddy wagon that was the last vehicle I saw in my living life…


— Mr SPECIAL EFFECT ! I… I… GET OFF ! DISAPPEAR ! YOU SOULDN'T EXIST, SO PLEASE CEASE TO !


— You aren't a very polite coachman. I knew better back in my days.


— I'm not a c-c-coachman ! I'm an or-ordinary living citizen and I'm proud to be so !


— Fascinating. Hey ! If you aren't the best coachman I know, this is certainly the most amazing carriage I ever heard off. It's so speed !


— Speed ? It's a normal family car…


— Oh, don't be shy ! I'd like to have one like that ! If I did have one, the Ghost Host could never catch on me again ! Actually… I think I will take this one. »


Report of traffic agent Casey:


On the *** of July 20**, 5 p.m., I noticed a car which was strangely zigzagging, and far beyond the speed limit. I whistled and honked at it, and saw a bearded man sticking his strange head out of the window, glancing at me, and quickly coming back inside the car and going even faster. I double-crossed him and stopped in the middle of the road, while keeping honking and whistling. The man in the car didn't stop as soon as I would have expected. Actually, as he began to be dangerously close to my motorbike, I jumped out in a hurry, just in time before the car crashed into my bike. As the two vehicle started burning, I saw, unbelieving, the short bearded man getting out of the car with not an injury, and obviously planning to leave the scene of the accident simply by calmly walking in the middle of the road. I confess that I was too terrorized by this sight to try to arrest him, and instead I stayed hidden in the verge until he was out of sight. As I thought about it, I have four different hypotheses to explain these strange facts; either the bearded man was a ghost to begin with; was insane and was killed in the accident, becoming a ghost; was insane but, for some reason, very lucky, and alive from beginning to end; or it was just a hallucination, and I am mad. Not believing in luck or in ghosts, I am sad to present, in the same enveloppe as this report, my resignation to the glorious Californian police.


Newspaper article: the Disney Gazette, #14.560, of the *** ofJuly 20**:


MASSIVE GHOST CRAZE IN NEWPORT BEACH, CALIFORNIA

Today, about two hundreds of citizen of Newport Beach, California, USA, swear having witnessed a strange little chained and bearded ghost. They have all been interned in a nearby asylum, to be safe, which caused a few problems, as the director of the asylum was among the (so-called) nuts. However, a picture of the "ghost" has been posted on the Internet, possibly by a witness who escaped from the asylum. The "ghost" looks suspiciously like Gus the Prisoner, a fake ghost from the attraction "The Haunted Mansion" in Disneyland Park. Given the proximity of Newport Beach and Disneyland Park, it is more than likely that the so-called ghost is actually a publicity stunt orchestrated by the Walt Disney Company itself. The author of these lines hopes that reading this article, the assistant manager of the Newport Beach asylum (who has taken over the management after the director's confinement) will release all the "patients".

C. Buckhard


From Mr Anybody Uninteresting Random's point of view:


I've been wandering in those endless corridors for hours now… Perhaps days… I don't like the look of that… Will I shriek ? …no, with all these ghosts, it wouldn't be prudent… This host was right: I really have to find… a way out ! And "his" way doesn't satisfy me !

…What's this ?

A SK-SK-SKELETON ! D-d-d-dressed like a ca-ca-ca… Cast mememe… Cast member… Holding a tototorch… NYAAAAAAAH !


From the point of view of Archibald B. Elephant, restorer in Anaheim:


This guy is strange. He has spent the last three hours here, and he does nothing but eating. I hope he'll have the money to pay for it… If he doesn't die of indigestion before paying ! I should really do something about it… And the strangest thing, he looks more like a big smurf than a client… He's blue ! No, it can't be food poisoning… First, my cooking is absolutely sane, and anyway, he was already blue when he arrived… Sincerely, I don't understand…


From the point of view of Martin Applepeal, autobus driver:


That is the strangest client I ever had, for sure. Big, skeletal, blue, no suitcase or others but dressed like a businessman… And he's been staying in my bus for three non-stop roundtrips ?!? He seems to enjoy being in this bus as much as a child enjoys being in a roller-coaster… Oh, I could take it as a compliment on my driving skills, of course, but… This is weird…


CHAPTER III: Answers

From an external narrator's point of view:


The Executioner approached the Ghost Host with a forced smile on his big sweating face.

« Er… Sir… Nothing… The Head’s not there… And, I’v done nothing, sir… I used to chop heads off, y’know… Bot this time, I’ven done it… The Head’s gone, and I dunno where tis.

— Oh, don’t worry, I don’t suspect you. You cut heads, but you don’t hide them, is that what you’re trying to say, I say trying, because saying you succeed in telling it would be a lie ? Well, as you see, this consideration already came to my mind. Rest in peace, you dumb one, you’re not a suspect. Well, anyway. Did you look everywhere ?

— Oh, aye sir host; everywhere, evan behin ache door of the Corrido’ of Doors, sir. The Head’s gone. We all search, sir. All but Constance, she don’t help, she chuckles.

— Yes, I would expect nothing less from her part… Did you ask Leota ?

— W’thought o’ doin so, sir, but you see, she’s the one who hid the head in the hatbo in the fust place, so’m not sure she’d agree… And I don’t wanna bean trooble with’her… She’s a witch of sort, you know… I don wannabe trapped in a magic lamb or somethinge…

— A magic lamp ! Goodness gravious, you aren't a genie ! Not a genius, either, on that matter, but only genies can be trapped in lamps ! You're a ghost ! As for Leota, I don't care if she wants or doesn't want to help us. As long as I'm the master here, she has to. Go getting her, tell her I order her to help. Now go and leave me alone ! I've got work to do. I'm a busy ghost. »


From an external narrator's point of view:


That’s what was done, and well. The mad medium even managed to make the portrait ghosts come out of their paintings, and people like Edward the Black Prince, Medusa, the Dynamite Man and Miss Lilly joined the search. The ghosts were all pretty noisy when they were all together, and some people swear to have heard strange noises coming out of Disneyland this night. They all looked everywhere, the Ghost Host opened all the secret gateways, all the doors of the corridor of doors were opened, all the furnitures of the attic moved (which made Constance even madder than usual, but nobody cared about her — she’s not very popular in the mansion, her presence having been required by the Disney owners and never approved by Master Gracey or the Ghost Host), but all that was useless. They couldn’t find even footprints of his goldtooth. All that they managed to do was to unwisely let the Coffin Occupant come out of the conservatory by opening the Coffin (which was STRICTLY forbidden, as you may know).


From the Hatbox Ghost's point of view:


If they could only hurry up a bit… It's getting boring… This complete silence… Silence ? Well ! Well ! Well ! Let's try to shout a bit. If I'm inside the mansion, it shall help them a great deal in their research ! Hrm, hrm…

« HEY ! HOO ! THE HATBOX GHOST'S HEAD SPEAKING ! HOO HOO ! HEARING ME ? HOO ! HOO ! HOO ! HEY ! YOU ! FELLOWS ! HAPPY HAUNTS ! SOMEONE ! THE HATBOX GHOST ! IT'S ME ! HATTIE ! »

Ah ? Ah ? Footsteps ? Yes ! Those are footsteps ! Someone found me ! And this someone is speaking ?

« Silence, you silly old noggin' ! Nobody can hear you but me ! And I do not like your voice at all ! — Who… who are you, you rude character ?


— No one you would recognize, I'm afraid. My name is Gorelieu, Captain Gideon Gorelieu.


— Are you a ghost or a mortal ?


— Me ! A mortal ! I left this ridiculous, corruptible state centuries ago. If I'm a ghost ! Ha ! ha ! that's funny. Well, anyway. I took the liberty to… invite you here, Hattie, because you and I are of the same side of the border, despite what you could think.


— What do you mean ?


— You don't have to do business with those unimportant, bombastic Gracey brothers and their ridiculous mansion. You're the HATBOX GHOST, for graveness sake ! THE deleted ghost par excellence !


— Your watch must be slow ! I'm back at the mansion, if you didn't know.


— Believe me, I do ! And that's precisely why I decided to take you away ! This is not your place.


— Well, indeed, the Imagineers insisted that I house from now on at the exit of the attic instead of my old spot, but this detail doesn't really mat…


— That's not what I'm talking about ! Compromising with the Gracey Brothers to be allowed to come back… Have you dignity ? It's time for the REVOLUTION, Hattie ! Those foolish Disney directors who thought they could decide arbitrarily who would be allowed to go in the Mansion and who wouldn't… Bah ! Bah ! Bah ! I'll show these humbugs what we, the ghosts they took out, can do ! Ha !


— The ghosts taken… what are you talking about ? You were never installed in the mansion like me ! I'd remember it, if…


— Precisely… You may remember that when those Disney Imagineers decided to bring a haunted house ride to their park, they had to chose between many candidates… Ghastley Mansion, Lonesome Manor, Bloodmere Manor, Gracey Manor… You remember that, don't you ?


— Of course, I do !


— I knew it ! Then… do you remember Gorelieu Villa ? An old manor on the coast… hm ?


— Why… why yes, indeed !


— So you know my problem. They've chosen Gracey Manor instead of my home ! Boohoohoo ! I'm feeling so lonely… While I know this ridiculous Ghost Host of yours parties everyday with his 999 friends ! When I think of it ! Now I contacted many friends in the same situation as me: Bartholomew Gore, the One-eyed Black Cat, Mr Bogeyman and Mlle Vampire… They're all ready for the great attack !


— The great WHAT ?


— The great attack, Hattie. That's our turn to haunt ! And yours, too, if you accept to follow me…


— Never ! I may have been refused by the Imagineers too, but I was originally from Gracey Manor… A thing you seem to have forgotten. I shall never attack them !


— Shan't you ? Well, in that case you're of no use to me. I can't release you though… You'd spread the word ! Ha ! Ha ! Ha ! I've got an idea. You can't transport yourself outside of this hatbox, hm ? That's what I thought. Now what about I burry forever this hatbox in the ground of the deepest crypt of Goredieu Villa ? Ha ! Ha ! Ha ! Ha ! Ha ! It will be an advance on my future revenge…


— WHAT ?


— Sorry Hattie, you should have chosen your side more carefully. Good bye forever ! »


From the Hatbox Ghost's point of view:


I feel like if years had passed. Years without seeing the light. Years blind and mute and deaf. Years with my head separated from by body, the former buried under the crypt of this Captain Gorelieu… and the latter sitting in a room of my beloved Mansion, with barely any way of communicating with the others… This would be enough to get mad ! Well, I do have the ability to write some messages; but how do I know if they read them ? My dear Emily moved downstairs to stay with me most of the time… touching my hand… the sweet creature… But that's not enough. It barely betters my horrible fate. I've tried many times to write them about the threat of Gorelieu. Apparently, his plan didn't work, but how can I be sure ? Only if Emily disappeared or if the whole mansion was teared to pieces would I know it !

…Hey ! I am hearing something ! A bell, I'd say. And drums. And a trumpet ! And that voice !

« …pents… lies… waken the spirits ! WHEREVER THEY'RE AT ! »

MADAME LEOTA ! Dear old murderous evil despicable Madame Leota coming to save me ! Ha ! Ha ! Ha !

…wait a minute, why would she want to save me ? I guess Master Gracey finally convinced her to… Otherwise, she isn't really of the helpful kind… Especially to me !

Why ? I'm seeing ! I'm seeing again ?!? That's my Emily's dear and sweet absence of face, looking at me in the most tender way imaginable ! And… And that is the Ghost Host ! Waitwaitwait… I recognize this place ! We're in Master Gracey's office ! But that must mean ? MY HEAD IS BACK !


From an external narrator's point of view:


Indeed it was. Madame Leota herself wasn't too sure that this would work… But it had worked, and how ! She had now proved that she could not only make disembodied spirits materialize… But also spirits from all over the world teleport inside the mansion ! A few incantation was all she needed to take the Hatbox Ghost's hatbox, and his head, back to the Mansion.

« Hahahaha ! Thank you ! Thank you ! How can I ever thank you enough ? Dear old Gracey, wonderful Emily, not so evil Leota ! I'm glad to be home in one piece… mwahahahah !


— Welcome home, Hattie ! the bride told him, kissing him on the forehead with her invisible mouth.


— Now ! How did things go during the many years I was blinded ? Did my fans miss me ?


— The many what ? said the Ghost Host, not really understanding.


— Well, all those decades my head was stuck in that fiend's crypt…


— What are you talking about, Hattie ? said the Ghost Host. You've been missing two days !


— I-I have ? Two most disagreeable days, then ! But then… Perhaps Gorelieu hasn't given up his nefarious schemes yet, then ? MASTER GRACEY ! I need to talk to you ! Our Mansion is facing a danger like never before…


— You're sure you're not dramatizing a mundane problem ?


— I am sure ! It's truly a matter of life and death… I mean… Oh, you know what I mean. COME HERE ! »


From an external narrator's point of view:


A few minutes later, the Ghost Host couldn’t believe it yet.

« Are you meaning to tell me… that this ghost, that monster of a sea captain… (you know I’m not talking about you, Culpepper !) …wants to take over our Mansion… with an army of spooks ?


— That’s the general idea. »

The elderly ghost tilted, jumped on his feet from the armchair where he had been sitting while the Hatbox Ghost had told his story, and yelled:

« Sound general quarters ! Attack ! Defend ! All leave of absence forbidden ! STATE OF SIEGE ! »

All the ghosts scattered in the corridors, running for their lives (or lack thereof, rather), panic-stricken. In one moment the graveyard was empty, all the portrait ghosts where back on the wall where they belonged, the Hatbox had jumped whole in his biggest hatbox, the Ghost Host had dematerialized, and all the lights went off. Alone in the middle of the empty Mansion, remained the Executioneer. The poor old spook was still wondering and pondering:

« I dun’t geddit. Genie ? Genius ? »

Meanwhile, at the gates of the park, was standing as usual Mr Patient Longwait, the very alive gatekeeper of Disneyland at night. Rarely did one see any job as boring as that of a gatekeeper of a theme park at night; few people could stay awake the whole time. Longwait had been chosen for his extraordinary insomnias, which had been recorded to sometimes last for a whole week.

The poor Patient used the time spent at the gate of the parks testing all manners of soporific drugs and potions, which had led him nowhere so far. That night, he was trying to get a new set of pills to jump out of a small tube he had recently bought. While he was incensed on the harmless container, a subtle shadow crept behind him. A shadow that looked awfully like that of a shrouded human being — in fact, upon closer inspection, it was a shrouded human being (or rather, the ghost of one), a tall, dark man with a black beard and magnetic eyes. He caught Longwait by surprise, silencing him by putting his skeletal hand over the gatekeeper’s mouth while beginning to recite incantations with a thick Russian accent.

« Go to sleep, my dearrr frrriend… Go to sleep… Let your trrrusted and only frrriend take carrre of yourrr rrrest… Trrrust in meeeeee… »

As he spoke, his two eyes were glowing and growing larger and larger, to the point of nearly merging into each other. Finally, the impossible happened: Patient Longwait fell in a deep, sweet, quiet, dreamless slumber.

The Russian ghost waved his hand at a little patch of bushes near the gate, as to tell that the way was clear. And, one by one, the ghostly army infiltrated the clueless park, coming closer and closer to their target: Gracey Manor.


CHAPTER FOUR: Battle of the Graveyard:

From an external narrator's point of view:


Emily the Bride’s heart was beating louder and faster than ever as she awaited the arrival of the malevolent forces that had been predicted by her beloved groom the Hatbox Ghost. She was leaning against the gates, listening with her invisible ear as she tried to notice any sign of the enemies approaching. First she heard nothing but utter silence in the deathly still night air; but, suddenly, a slight metallic creek pierced through the silence, one that felt as if something massive was slowly pushing the Mansion’s gate open. And indeed, it was.

A green giant with a prominent brow ridge, one of the many spooks that Gideon Gorelieu had gathered in his Army of the Forgotten, had been tasked to open the heavy gates thanks to his unnatural strength. Not managing to open the door properly, the creature nervously shook the iron bars until he ripped the door off the ground. He let out a growl of surprise and then threw the thing away, before rushing inside in a loud yell.

He was instantly followed by a heteroclite group of angry spooks from all over the world, led by admiral Gorelieu in a particularly prestigious and glittering grand captain suit. In the crowd, could be seen a trio of smug women, followed by their unhappy husbands, one strangled, one beheaded, one stabbed, and yet still going (that’s the wonder of being a ghost); a young girl who was flashing every now and then into a horrifying hag; a skeletal drummer holding one of his drumsticks like a bludgeon; an animalistic and vindicative octopus running on six of its eight legs, holding a skull with the seventh and a cage with a bat in it with the eighth; a walking aquarium-man freak with fishbones in his rectangular transparent belly; a « Candleman » made of wax, who seemed to be melting as he ran along with the group; a scary-looking bat-lady; a two-legged lizard walking on its arms; and so many more.

The small army, unable to open the large gates of the building, began to climb on the walls to get in through the windows. The Green Creature with the brow ridge shattered the glass of one with his bare fists and jumped right in, finding himself in a dimly lit room where eerie noises were playing. Walking around the small room with an annoyed grunt, he tripped on a small table, which made some heavy ball roll on the ground until it began to glow, revealing a face inside it.

« Yes, foolish creature ? » asked Madame Leota.

The Green Creature, apparently unable to speak, simply growled.

« My dear, you ought to speak clearly if you want me to foretell your future. »

The Green Creature let out a few ape-like ‘Hoo ! Hpp !’s.

« Who, you ask ? I see… Oh yes I see… I see who you are… Who you… ?!? Oooh, but you’re not from here now are you ? You’re one of the invaders that pesky Master Gracey warned us about.

— Grunt.

— I can’t do much against you, trapped in that glass prison as I am, but I can still play my part, I suppose. Let me see… »

Checking the spell in her spell book, she began to recited at the surprised monster:

« Serpents and ghoulies, creatures of fright, I summon you now at the darkest of night By the power of thirteen witches’ brew, Take that… that thing away with you ! »

A puff of green smoke circled around the monster, and swirled and swirled around him, slowly dissolving him into nothingness, until all that was left of him was a pair of old oversized shoes.

« Alright… That is dealt with. » said Madame Leota with a smug grin.


Still from an external narrator's point of view, but elsewhere:


The three Hitchhiking Ghosts were now together in a café of San Francisco, enjoying a nice glass of whisky each. Gus’s and Phineas’s noses had turned a bright red that contrasted their light blue skins, and Ezra’s would certainly have too if only he had had a nose to begin with. Gus had started to sing an old drunken song he had learned from his fellow prisoners, which happened to fit him pretty well:

« Oh, I’m a merry old soul,


That ain’t afraid of ghouls:


I got me partners here,


So I must have no fear, (hiccup)

…ha-ave no fea-ea-ea-ear !

Let’s rather have a drink !


I’m a merry old ghoul,


An’ I am not fool,


Though I cannot compute two plus two;


But I got me partners,


Me two good partners here,


He-ee-ee-eeeeeeeere !


So I must have no (hiccup) fear…


Let’s rather have a drink ! »


The other two joined him for the third verse, and their three squawking, cawing, rasping, hoarse voices soon rendered the song’s lyrics unintelligible, as well as making it much more unbearable for the other clients of the public house. They did not, however, complain, as such inconvenient were common here. And the three continued their awful singing.


Meanwhile:


Not all of the Mansion’s inhabitants were as combative as the mad medium; Edgar the Crow, for one, was being chased by the murderous Bat that had escaped from its cage. The poor bird flew as fast as he could but the monstrous ghost bat was bigger, stronger and faster than Edgar ever was; soon he felt the bite of the dark creature on his right wing, letting out a caw of pain. Flying with a badly injured wing was almost impossible and the raven plummeted toward the ground, knocking himself unconscious as he hit it.


Meanwhile:


« (hic) Dat’s… (hic) Dat’s really good whisky they have here in Fan Sancris… Cran Sanfis… in dis city… (hic) Nothing like the (hic) water the Ghost Host gives us to drink back at the (hic) Man… (hic) Mansion, right ? »


Meanwhile:


The ghastly octopus had trapped the Werecat lady in its sticky arms, and even though the female ghost, having flashed to her female form, tried to scratch and bite the monster back, it was to no avail.


Meanwhile:


« Ah yes, Gus, the Mansion… By this time, they must be having a party, right ? »


Meanwhile:


The Singing Graveyard was not so singing anymore: the singing busts had been kicked off their pedestals and replaced with other busts… busts with deadly glare, but mute ones… busts that were once considered to decorate the Great Hall but had been eventually discarded on the Ghost Host's demand. They had their revenge now. On every wall of every mausoleum, goblinesque figures with smoking nostrils and teethed mouths had appeared. The ghosts of Dracula, Nero, Attila and the like were fighting the Graveyard Ghosts with wrath, and the Drummer Boy was knocking his Phantom Five counterparts with his oversized drumstick.


Meanwhile:


« Yup… And I bet they aren’t missing us much ! »


Meanwhile:


The Ghost Host, who, humorous as he may be sometimes, could very well be very practical when the situation called for it, had dematerialized. His disembodied soul was flying atop the Graveyard. He was trying to motivate his ghosts for the fight the best he could, but from his overall point of view, he could not cower away from the fact that the legit Mansion ghosts were loosing to their refused counterparts. They were clearly outnumbered. Who could have possibly imagined that so many ghosts had been refused access to the "active retirement home", when there were already 999 of them who did get inside ? Worse, he suddenly realized that in the latest years, the Mansion had actually been loosing ghosts. First Purply Shroud, then most of the Sinister Eleven, and now, the Hitchhiking Ghosts. Funny thing, actually: while all those tons of angry ghosts were trying to get in, for all these years, the Hitchhiking Ghosts had been trying to get out. Was it a sign if the latter had just succeeded ? Would the Mansion fall, too ?


CHAPTER FIVE: Victory

From an external narrator's point of view:


In his Grand Admiral attire, looking over the battlefield from atop a crypt, Gideon Gorelieu was smiling. Soon he'd have his revenge over the Graceys, the Mansion, and most of all those blasted mortals. What, they thought they could control a bunch of ghosts ? Earn their loot over them ? Use them ? To him, the picture was clear: ghosts were -- had always been -- superior to mortals. Immaterial, blessed with flight, but with the ability to become material if need be, they were mighty and almost unstoppable. At the very least if they were to work for mortals, it should be as soldiers -- not as children entertainment! And even then, even then, why would they be so blind as to pick the worst of the worst when the time came to choose their ghosts ? Wasn't it obvious that he was the perfect Ghost Host ? Did his quick victory not prove it ?


From Mr Anybody U. Random's point of view:


Corridors. Doors. Other corridors. Another door. Twists and turns. Darkness. Thirst. Fright. This was the last, time, mark his words, the very last time, that Mr Random would visit a haunted house. Even one allegedly peopled with Happy Haunts. Even one allegedly faked with special effects. No way. Never again. He had the unpleasant feeling than he'd been looping around. Some of the corridors definitely looked familiar. On the other hand, some did not. It was not like these corridors were reliable anyway. He didn't know if anyone had ever attempted to make blueprints of this place, but it would have been a laughable idea. Normal paper simply couldn't contain such a place. Once or twice he had noticed that the corridors turned in… a direction that was not quite up, down, left or right. They seemed to turn into a dimension of space not yet discovered by man (and thankfully so, for the experience was quite unnerving). The ceiling and the floor were pretty undistinguishable, too. Actually, he was pretty sure he had seen some footprints on the ceiling, looking suspiciously like those of his own shoes. Mirrors perhaps ? But no, he was nowhere to be seen up there.


From the Ghost Host's point of view:


This was a difficult decision to make for Victor Beauregard Gracey, better known as the Ghost Host. Surrender. He tried to convince himself that it was just a word -- but what was he surrendering, actually? The Mansion itself? His freedom? That of his ghosts? Their (after)life? He did not even know what Gorelieu wanted, exactly. Hatty had said he wanted the Mansion, that much was obvious anyway. But did he also want revenge on the ghosts, personally? Did he want them prisoner? Or even sent back to the Other Side? So much was at stake. But he looked down upon his dear happy haunts -- what was left of them. They'd fought tooth and nail, but that hadn't amounted too much in the end. And not all of them could defend themselves, anyway. He'd noticed that Millie, the Baby-Face Bride, had been hiding terrified behind a tombstone since the beginning of the battle, her glowing Beating-Heart pale with fear. He'd seen the look of despair of the limbless, helpless Singing Busts as they were kicked and dragged into some improvised dump. So he floated down and materialized next to Gorelieu, and bowed his crooked head in submission. Behind his golden beard, Gorelieu smirked. His old salt face wrinkled and his blazing eyes closed as he laughed, laughed, laughed, mad with success, revenge and evil. Then the terrible man reached for the Ghost Host's noose, and suddenly tightened the knot. He gasped and choked -- harm from ghost to ghost could not, of course, kill or cripple, but it was every bit as painful as harm from one mortal to another.

« Oh, you surrender, right ? I want to hear you say it. Loud. So they all can hear.

— Y-Yes! the Ghost Host said, weakly. I'm-I'm afraid… we must -- gargl --… give up…

— Did you hear that, you fools ? the madman said to the crowd. I won ! I won ! You "official", mortal-friendly spooks have lost ! Once and for all, strength and force have succeeded ! »

And back Gorelieu went to laughing like mad. He finally let go off the rope.

« What-What shall we do… now… ? » the hanged man's spook said hoarsely.

Gorelieu stopped his mad laugh for a minute, and chuckled:

« Ah yes… Slave! Show me to this place's Séance Room. »




To be continued !

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