Amazing Kids! Magazine

The Figure

By David Asch, age 13, Spain


It all started when my friend, a poet called Laurence Fenton, was challenged by a bloke in a bar. He was apparently a poet, too, but he didn’t look it. Now this fellow challenged him to a poetry contest, and Laurence accepted, hardworking yet worthy opponent he was. He invited me to keep him company. When he got home that night, he started working as soon as he had hung up his hat and coat. He worked for over an hour without pause, from time to time asking if I thought this or that verse was all right. Then inspiration began to fade, and he crossed out a good many lines. He was using an ink pen, and so it turned out the ending of his poem was too blotchy to be read, so he threw it into the fire, saying he was retiring to bed and would finish it in the morning. I set off home. But only halfway there, a strange light in the sky made me turn back. Once he was asleep, the piece of paper must have rolled out of the fireplace and set his house on fire. That was the last anyone heard from Laurence Fenton.

Now, while the fire was being extinguished by the firemen, a figure came out the back way. He was tall and had a trench boat on as well as a scarf, baggy trousers, boots, and a white balaclava but without any holes for the eyes and mouth. Just the nose, which told me there was a human under there. He walked with one hand slightly outstretched, and the other was holding a small leather-bound book. I took a picture of him and examined the photo I had taken. I was about to take another one, but as voices grew louder, he moved quickly and in a moment had disappeared! I took it to the professors of photography, where they examined it and said they could only make out that he was probably blind.

After that, several queer things happened, and people were injured, mostly friends of Laurence who tried to investigate the cause of his death. All got close to the same figure somewhere near Laurence’s house. Here are their names:

1) Harry Gray, driven crazy with fear, talking about some tall monster with a white head—three guesses who.

2) Fred Nimp, a little boy from the back streets, who saw the figure and foolishly tried to throw rocks at him. The figure disappeared and appeared near him, and he ran away at top speed, shouting, “Ghost! Ghost!”

3) Charlie King went so far as to dive into combat with the man but found himself sprawling on the ground while the figure had disappeared.

4) Dick Harrison followed the figure into a warehouse. There was a blinding flash of blue light, the figure left the building and vanished, and Dick was never seen again.

After all this, I decided to investigate the situation and find out who the mysterious figure was. My friend policeman, Chad, lent me some information on Laurence’s acquaintances. I also wanted to look at any remains of Laurence’s belongings. Nothing was left in the house, but his diary, which the police found in the grass out back, remained, so I took it with their permission.

I found he was “troubled physically and mentally” in the last few days of his life. The only strange thing I found was a poem and a note from two days before his death. I have written it out for you here:

Back when I was born,

Recklessly in a ferocious storm,

Almighty God protected me.

Yet things went wrong,

Deciding I was made for a song,

Exploring was the life for me,

Nothing could save the man who was so friendly!

Note: His name is in there! He will come! Be warned!

Look at the note. I presumed the person whom he mentioned was the man with the eyeless and mouthless balaclava. But I still needed the name. Eventually, I figured it out, and then came the scariest event of my life. I was walking through my house when suddenly the building set on fire! I ran and saved the diary, and as I sped to the front door, I gasped and froze. There was the man.

He began to reach for the diary in my hands. As he did, he spoke, “Give me the diary, and you can keep your life and go the easy way, or you can go the hard way. Choose.”

I ran for my life, dodging the spurts of fire and ember, to the back door. He followed at top speed, arm outstretched. He ran smoothly, as if he weren’t even running at all. I stumbled over a chair just as the upper floor began to collapse behind us and everything began to fall and break. I jumped through the back door, which wasn’t very strong, and broke it down doing so. Glass and wood flew everywhere, and I was cut on the face and arms. I sensed a deeper cut on my forehead and blood trickling from it. The fire was flaring behind us, and I felt hot and dizzy. I hit the dewy grass hard and took a second or two to recover from the shock. Then I looked around me. I saw the figure with the white balaclava approaching me as my house collapsed. I suddenly felt faint again, and he disappeared as voices and people crowded around me. Then everything went black.

Since then, he hasn’t been seen. As for his name, I’ll let you figure it out. (Hint: Look at the poem carefully…you’ll find it.) After much research, I discovered that it was the name of a man who became blind on an expedition with his brother and Laurence when they were in their twenties, in the jungle looking for poetic inspiration. The man’s brother fell and died, and he tried to get the body. He managed but slipped on the way and scraped his eyes and face, becoming blind and horribly scarred. The man blamed his brother’s death on Laurence for urging him to look from a ledge jutting out over a gorge. He also said none of it would have happened if Laurence had not brought them to the jungle in the first place and that he would never be Laurence’s friend again. And that was the man’s history with Laurence.

I went to the public records to find any further information and came back to Chad’s office with some papers.

“Chad, I have got the details on Brayden, the ex-friend of Laurence who was blinded on their trip together. I’m sure it was him. Everything fits.”

“Good. Date of birth?”

“April 24, 1946. And there’s another date you need to know.”

“Go on, tell me…”

“Date of death, 1974.”

At this Chad spewed coffee over the office table and coughed violently. “What? You’ve got to be kidding me here!”

“Chad, if this book is right and I think it is, we are dealing with the supernatural.” I stayed calm and looked at him intently with the slightest tint of amusement, only just visible.

“We’re dealing with the supernatural!” gasped Chad, as if he were trying to reassure himself. “I’ll do what I can to help you,” he promised gloomily. “See you, Mark.”

And with that he trudged out of the office. I gathered up the papers and left.

Chad is working on finding a more plausible explanation to tell the police to distract them while he and I are working on the actual case. We’re still not sure how to imprison a ghost, though. Maybe we should look through our ghost-hunting books from when we were younger. We haven’t seen the figure in months.

But I know he’ll come back, and he’ll come back soon. I still wait for that day. Maybe I’ll tell you another time, after he returns, what happened.