Myra was perched on the rooftop of the little church in the village, looking down into the graveyard below. It was dark. The only light came through the tall stained glass windows beneath her feet, flickering firelight pictures onto the gravestones and grass, like it was trying to animate a story. The smiling oak tree beside the spire shaded a row of stone tombs, looking like a clown at a party of miserable people dressed in grey.
A slight breeze chilled the back of her neck. She looked down onto the graveyard and saw three silhouettes that had been mysteriously absent until that moment. Two were skinny and tall, like a pencil before it has been used. The third was much shorter and squatter, a little bit more pig-like. Myra watched them, her eyes tight slits, her brows frowning deeply.
The pencils were laughing, their voices rough. The little pig was backing away from them, its entire body shaking, trembling like jelly.
“Go on, Timothy,” one pencil said in a patronising voice. “Hand over the cash.”
“I — I can’t,” the pig replied, his words stumbling over each other, as if each one was a foot trying to escape as fast as possible. “Mum said to bring back all the change.”
“A tenner? What did she give you, a fifty pound note?” snarled the other pencil. “Coz you bought like thirty pounds of crisps for yourself, dincha, you greedy pork pie…”
The pencils laughed cruelly.
Myra’s scowl twisted steadily into a horrifying glare. She looked at the fence that ran round the edge of the churchyard, half wondering if she could get help from someone and save Timothy the pig from being robbed. No, she decided, the pencils were in the way of the exit. Instead, she flattened herself out onto her stomach, tucked out of view, and called out in the most hollow voice she could: Leave this boy alone!
The laughter stopped instantly. She repeated herself. Leave this boy alone!
“Who’s there?” came a voice.
Myra smirked. I am the ghost of — she paused, thinking, and then hurriedly continued — ten pound notes! Leave this boy alone or I will haunt your dreams!
There was the sound of shuffling feet. Then, a high-pitched voice whispered, “Can ghosts actually do that?”
“I don’t want to stay and find out!” wailed someone else. “Run for it!”
A series of echoing thumps followed, gradually fading into the distance. Then, a more gentle voice called, “Who is actually there?”
Myra lifted her head up, and looked down at the boy. He looked less pig-like now that there were no incredibly slim people to compare him to.
“You go to my school,” he said suddenly. “Thanks for helping me.”
“No problem,” she replied. “But get going, before more thieves show up!”
The boy nodded, like he understood. “Alright. See you on Monday.” And, almost as cheerfully as the smiling tree, he walked down the path, and was lost to sight.