Wanda Lamb could think of a hundred and one places she’d rather be at this very moment.
She could be in the library, cramming in a few stories before closing time.
She could be in her living room, watching TV with mom and dad.
She could be in her basement, where all her video games were.
She could be in her bedroom, underneath her sheets, with a pen, paper, and ink, drawing her own little ghosts and ghouls, illuminated by nothing but the beam of a flashlight.
And so on.
But no, instead, she was freezing her fingers and toes off in the heart of a graveyard, in the middle of October, all because she wanted to join some stupid club.
The Haunts were the most exclusive club in school, and they only accepted new members in the month of October. You could not nominate yourself to be one of the Haunts. They had to come to you. Nick, the leader of the Haunts, sat across from Wanda at lunch one day.
“That’s a nice drawing,” he observed, peering over Wanda’s hands attempting to shield her work in progress. It was a pale woman with stringy hair, no pupils, and a gaping black hole for a mouth.
“Thank you,” whispered the chronically shy Wanda, pulling her drawing closer to her, like a protective mother.
“We’ve been watching you, Wanda Lamb. The Haunts think you’d be a perfect addition to the club. What do you think?” Wanda could only nod her head in response, flabbergasted. Nick gave her a toothy grin. “Excellent. We’re doing initiations a little differently this year. Meet us outside the Golden Leaf Cemetery tonight. Details will be provided there.” Without waiting for a response, Nick hopped off the bench and disappeared back into the school, leaving Wanda alone with her drawing.
Now she was following Nick through the Golden Leaf Cemetery, with members of the club surrounding her on all sides. They had shown up in black hoods and cloaks, concealing their faces. Only Nick took his hood off when they finally reached a large, weathered tombstone. The name and dates had faded from its face. All the other places where she could be in that moment still lingered in Wanda’s mind. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to become a Haunt. She had dreamed about it since…