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What Are Ghouls?


by cannizarro

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      After yet another successful unhaunting, Brave Bren, the Professor, and Glyn were heading back to the Ghoul Catchers headquarters to recoup.

      Bren held the used equipment, the Professor held the lantern, and Glyn held the amulet containing the troublesome ghoul that they'd just been chasing for half an hour. As the Purple Usul stared down at the amulet and the forlorn face circling around on the inside, a strange question suddenly came to mind.

      "What are ghouls?"

      "Well, Glyn, ghouls are...egh..." the Professor began, stopping to contemplate this.

      "Annoying," finished Bren with a smirk.

      "No, no, that's not what I was trying to say," the Professor groaned. "The fact is, Glyn, we really don't know what exactly they are."

      "You don't?" Glyn asked, rather surprised by this confession.

      "No, we don't. Before Doctor Boolin...left us...he used to study the little creatures in his house," the Professor explained. "Boolin learned a great deal about them and recorded all of his findings in a series of journals. Believe me, he left almost nothing about them a mystery. Because of Boolin I know how they eat, float, and sleep."

      "Would it be alright with you if I took a look at those journals?" Glyn asked hopefully.

      "By all means," the Professor answered. "Actually, I would encourage it. Bren's read over them many times. That's why he's such a skilled Ghoul Catcher."

      Bren winked and the three continued on to their headquarters. As soon as they were settled in, the Professor retrieved the stack of journals from storage and handed them over.

      While Bren and the Professor recharged the equipment for their next job, Glyn sat down in her office to read. It seemed, however, that the more she read, the more things became unclear. For all of the research that Doctor Boolin had done on these strange multicolored creatures, he seemed to have no idea what they actually were. Some of his earlier recordings suggested that the ghouls might be able to be tamed as Petpets, but later on, however, he began to suggest that the ghouls were far more intelligent than Petpets. At one point he even suggested that they were Neopets, only to discount that thought with the fact that...well...they just didn't look like Neopets at all. The best he could reason was that the ghouls were just simply ghouls and nothing more. They were their own special creature, and existed in a dimension apart from Neopia. But that revelation didn't satisfy Glyn's curiosity in the slightest.

      When Glyn had grown bored of studying the journals, she decided to find the answer for herself. She took the haunted amulet she'd acquired earlier and opened it up, releasing the trapped ghoul into the room.

      The blobulous little pink creature blinked a few times at its new surroundings, then grinned and zipped behind the bookcase.

      Glyn didn't think that the ghoul seemed particularly malicious, although it could be because of the fact that it was by itself. She parted the books on the shelf and peered at the creature with wonder. "Hello, there," she said to it softly. "Sorry about earlier...I'm Glyn. I'm going to study you."

      The ghoul blinked and then grinned. With a giggle, it hopped right out of the bookshelf and began bouncing across the floor towards Glyn's desk. Before Glyn could stop it, the ghoul leapt up and landed right on top of her paperweight, absorbing it into its body.

      "Hm...Boolin was right. They really do absorb their food," Glyn remarked to herself. She approached the ghoul and kneeled down so the two were eye to eye. "I'm going to need that back, you know."

      The ghoul giggled again and hopped off of Glyn's desk, making its way towards the door. As the creature went, the little colored beads and glitter from the paperweight sloshed around inside it, creating a rainbow light pattern on the floor.

      "Now that's something Boolin didn't try," Glyn smirked. She opened the door and watched the little creature bounce down the hall, then shut the door and followed it.

      The ghoul passed by the balcony above where Bren and the Professor were talking. They did not see the ghoul hop by, but they immediately noticed Glyn.

      "Glyn, how did your research go?" the Professor called up to her.

      "I'll get back to you on that," Glyn answered, not bothering to stop and wait for their reaction. She continued down the hall and peeked into the room that the ghoul had disappeared into.

      This was the storage room, a resting place for outdated equipment, old suits, and a lot of useless buttons and dials. And there was the ghoul, hopping back and forth between the buttons of a ghoul destabilizer with a big goofy grin on its face.

      Strange, Glyn thought, how the ghouls knew how to use Neopet-made technology like this. Did the ghouls have technology where they came from? The thought of a ghoul using its stubby little appendages to operate machinery was rather amusing.

      Glyn attempted to catch the ghoul, but it quickly darted out of her reach and went to play on another piece of equipment...a creature catcher.

      The device launched a net at the shelf with a deafening bang, causing the shelf and all of its contents to come crashing down.

      "Something tells me Bren and the Professor heard that," Glyn grimaced.

      The ghoul snuck up behind Glyn and gave her tail a hard tug.

      "What now?" she asked.

      The ghoul giggled. It then did two loop-the-loops out of the door and continued on down the hall. It looked like it really wanted her to follow it this time.

      Glyn obeyed, but this time she had a bit of a strange feeling. Was the ghoul getting more powerful, or was it just her? Glyn paused outside of the library, the room that the ghoul had just flew into. She took a deep breath and pushed open the heavy wooden door. What she saw on the other side made her jaw drop.

      The ghoul was now levitating in the center of the room, books and papers bumping and fluttering in circles around it. It peered down at the Ghoul Catcher with a proud grin.

      "Stop!" ordered Glyn. "You're wrecking the library!"

      The ghoul frowned, but did not move.

      Glyn rushed forward in an attempt to capture the ghoul, but one of the books that was whirling around the room smacked into the back of her head and made her lose her balance. Before she could recover, a chair freed itself from a table nearby and knocked her off her feet.

      Just then, both Bren and the Professor burst through the library door.

      "Glyn! What is this madness?" the Professor yelled, rushing to her side. "Where's the amulet?!"

      "I've got one, Vinsjin," Bren cut in. He swiftly pulled an empty amulet from his vest, and in less than five seconds he'd dashed forward into the chaos, cornered the ghoul between two bookcases, and banished it back into the amulet. He then turned and walked back to Glyn with a mildly dazed expression.

      "Are you all right, Glyn?" the Professor asked.

      "Yes," she replied sheepishly.

      "It's alright. That happened to Boolin a couple of times as well. I told you. These ghouls are more dangerous than one would think." The Professor paused and stared at his surroundings. "What's with all of this glitter everywhere?"

      "My paperweight was in there."

      The professor raised his eyebrow and then grimaced. "Oh. Well...that's not coming back."

           Hours later, the Ghoul Catchers were called to their next mission.

      Though Glyn hadn't discovered the ghouls' greatest secret, Boolin's journals had changed her perspective on a few things.

      "I don't want to keep the ghouls in these amulets anymore," Glyn stated as they were approaching their next haunted house. "It's cruel. We need to find another way to do this."

      "Well..." the Professor replied, pausing to glance at Bren with uncertainty, "There was another method that we considered in the beginning. We thought we could send them back to where they came from. Problem is, we have no way to stop them from coming back."

      "Well...can't we find a larger container for them? So at least they could move around?" Glyn tried again.

      "That never works for long," the Professor sighed. "The ghouls can escape from just about anywhere. We keep them in the amulet because the tight space seems to deactivate their powers."

      "There has to be something better. I wish Boolin had been able to figure these things out," Glyn groaned with frustration.

      "I do as well," the Professor replied solemnly. "But there's no doubting that he was a great Ghoul Catcher, as are you. I think that you have the potential to answer the questions that Boolin couldn't. Now...as for this house..." he continued, casting a worried glance over his shoulder, "I think we'd better get inside there and take care of this haunting. I think I can hear furniture sliding across the floor."

      Bren nodded, and the three rushed inside to do their unhaunting.

      Glyn was sure that the Professor was right...she just might be able to finish Boolin's research and finally discover the origins of these ghouls. But for now, the Ghoul Catchers were going to have to do things the old fashioned way.

      The End.

 
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