The Secret Behind Colonel Shrub
Elsa sat down on the porch and swung her legs in the cool, night air. The only light she had was a torch in her hand. She could always turn the porch light on, but it wouldn’t have the same effect. Tonight she was going to meet the ghost that haunted their garden. Elsa had grown up being told that the garden was off limits after dark. Her parents had never really told her why she couldn’t be out after dark but she had long had a suspicion of the grave in the back garden having something to do with it. She even thought she had seen from her bedroom window a green man walking around in the garden at night, once!
So where was he? She had been sitting here for ages, and her butt was starting to get cold. Elsa flicked the torch light on and off to pass the time. Her eyelids got heavy and she started nodding off. But then she saw something out of the corner of her eye. It had been standing there on the other side of the porch!
“Hello?” she called out into the night. She was suddenly wide awake.
Elsa turned on the torch and pointed it to the place where the green man had stood. At the same time she felt a cold presence in front of her.
“Boo!” said the ghost, with a devilish grin on his face.
Elsa just blinked at him. He looked like an ordinary, grumpy, man dressed in military clothes. He wasn’t even that old. The only problem was that he was see through, and his skin glowed blue…
“That was it?” Elsa said, not hiding her disappointment. She had been expecting something scary and exciting. Something that she could tell Lily about.
The ghost looked frustrated and angry. He started stamping his feet on the ground, mouth moving as if he was shouting something, but no sound came out.
Elsa tilted her head slightly. “What’s the matter? Are you throwing a temper tantrum?”
The ghost didn’t seem to here her.
“I get angry too sometimes. It helps if you talk about it, or cry. We’ve got some biscuits in the kitchen. D’you want some? Biscuits always make me feel better when I’m angry.”
The ghost didn’t say anything. He still had an angry look on his face, but he wasn’t shouting and stamping his feet anymore.
“Wait here, and I’ll get them for you.”
Elsa ran into the kitchen. She jumped up on the kitchen counter and opened the kitchen cupboard that her parents hid all the goodies in. They thought that she didn’t know about all the secret snacks they hid there, but she used to pay this cupboard a visit now and again, when she was alone. Elsa found some biscuits quick enough, grabbed them, then lay down on her tummy so that she could just hop down from the counter without making a sound.
She was half expecting the ghost to be gone when she came out again, but he stood in the same place where she had left him.
“I’m back! We don’t have any chocolate ones left though -- I think I ate them all yesterday -- but these ones are the next best thing. Here.” She handed him a biscuit.
The ghost reached out to touch Elsa’s hand, but his went straight through hers. His touch sent little chills up her arm.
“You can’t touch me?”
He shook his head.
“Oh, that’s really sad.”
The ghost looked more miserable than ever.
“Do you miss your family and friends?”
He didn’t answer.
“What’s your name?”
The ghost looked up. He looked like he thought for a moment, then pointed to a golden badge on his chest.
“Colonel Shrub? Is that your name?”
He nodded and Elsa wrinkled her nose. “That’s not a very nice name…”
It looked like Colonel Shrub was actually smiling. Elsa smiled back at him. Somebody opened the back door behind her, and her daddy came out onto the porch. Elsa got up and ran to hug him.
“Daddy, daddy! I saw a ghost! He’s right here--” but when she pointed to the place where the ghost had stood, she saw that he was gone.
“Come one, honey, let’s get you to bed.”
“It’s true, daddy. I saw him and spoke to him and his name is Colonel Shrub and--”
“It’s late, Elsa. You should really be going to bed. Lily’s going tomorrow and you want to be there to say goodbye to her, don’t you?”
Elsa sighed, “I guess.”
She took her daddy’s hand and let him steer her into the house. Before she went inside, though, she took one last look at where Colonel Shrub had been standing moments before.
“Bye, Colonel Shrub,” she whispered. “See you soon.”
A close up of Colonel Shrub.>> Next Chapter