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       Elysium, p.1

           Catherine Jinks
 
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Elysium


  CATHERINE JINKS was born in Brisbane in 1963 and grew up in Sydney and Papua New Guinea. She studied medieval history at university, and her love of reading led her to become a writer. She lives in the Blue Mountains in New South Wales with her Canadian husband, Peter, and her daughter, Hannah.

  Catherine Jinks is the author of over twenty books for children and adults, including the award-winning Pagan series.

  To Joshua Burrows, who sent me a fan letter without a return address.

  Sorry it took so long to get back to you.

  First published in 2007

  Copyright © Catherine Jinks, 2007

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher.

  The Australian Copyright Act 1968 (the Act) allows a maximum of one chapter or ten per cent of this book, whichever is the greater, to be photocopied by any educational institution for its educational purposes provided that the educational institution (or body that administers it) has given a remuneration notice to Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) under the Act.

  Allen & Unwin

  83 Alexander St

  Crows Nest NSW 2065

  Australia

  Phone: (61 2) 8425 0100

  Fax: (61 2) 9906 2218

  Email: [email protected]

  Web: www.allenandunwin.com

  National Library of Australia

  Cataloguing-in-Publication entry:

  Jinks, Catherine, 1963– .

  Elysium : a ghost story.

  For children.

  ISBN 9781741140811

  eISBN 9781743434239.

  1. Ghosts – Juvenile fiction. 2. Jenolan Caves (N.S.W.) – Juvenile fiction. I. Title.

  (Series : Jinks, Catherine, 1963- Allie’s ghost hunters).

  A823.3

  Cover design by Tabitha King

  Text design by Jo Hunt and Tabitha King

  Typeset by Midland Typesetters, Australia

  ELYSIUM, n. - 1. The abode assigned to the blessed after death in Greek mythology. Also transf. of other states of the departed. 2. fig. A place or state of ideal happiness.

  Minutes of the Ninth General Meeting of the Exorcists’ Club, held at Alethea Gebhardt’s house

  1. The President (Alethea Gebhardt) declared the meeting open.

  2. The Secretary (Bettina Berich) read out her minutes from the last meeting.

  3. The Publicity Officer (Michelle du Moulin) wanted to know if the Club’s members had asked their parents about the Jenolan Caves Ghost Tour, as mentioned at the last meeting.

  4. The Treasurer (Peter Cresciani) replied that his parents couldn’t afford a trip like that.

  5. Bettina said that her mum couldn’t afford it either.

  6. Alethea said that her mum was really keen to go, but not because of the Ghost Tour. According to Alethea’s mum, the Jenolan Caves are a natural wonder that everyone should see, ghosts or no ghosts.

  7. Michelle said that she and her mum were definitely going. She pointed out that because the trip was being organised as a group tour by Paranormal Research Investigation Services and Monitoring (PRISM), the rooms had been booked at a slightly cheaper rate.

  8. Bettina said that she still couldn’t go.

  9. Peter said that, even at a cheaper rate, the trip would be much too expensive for a family of seven – like his own. He complained that it wasn’t fair. He really, really wanted to go, because the Jenolan Caves Ghost Tour sounded super-spooky.

  10. Alethea promised to write a detailed report about the trip for Peter and Bettina, since any information on the subject of ghosts would be important to them as members of the Exorcists' Club.

  11. It was agreed that this report would be read out at the very next meeting.

  12. No one had any other business to discuss, so the meeting was adjourned, and everyone went down to the kitchen to eat banana muffins.

  The President’s Report to the Exorcist’s Club

  by Alethea Gebhardt

  CONTENTS

  CHAPTER # one

  CHAPTER # two

  CHAPTER # three

  CHAPTER # four

  CHAPTER # five

  CHAPTER # six

  CHAPTER # seven

  CHAPTER # eight

  CHAPTER # nine

  CHAPTER # ten

  CHAPTER # one

  We left home on Saturday morning, in Ray’s car. Mum’s car is an old bomb; it’s been having ‘tummy troubles’, according to Mum. She was afraid that its insides would suddenly fall out onto the road, halfway up a mountain. That’s why we took Ray’s car. It belongs to the Department of Forestry, so it’s in pretty good shape. If it wasn’t, he wouldn’t be able to draw so many trees.

  (That’s his job, in case I never told you. Drawing trees in national parks. That’s what he does when he isn’t painting pictures.)

  The trip took about four hours. It would have been shorter if we hadn’t stopped for lunch. Bethan also had to keep going to the toilet – or so he said. Personally, I think he just wanted to get out of the car. He’s a very restless traveller, for someone who’s nearly nine years old. He can’t just sit back and listen to a CD. Oh, no. He’s always wanting muesli bars, or lemonade, or a game of ‘I Spy’. Then, when he gets really bored, he starts poking me with his foot. Just to start an argument.

  He finds arguments much more entertaining than scenery. Most boys of his age are like that, I’ve noticed. They won’t spend more than five seconds looking at a view, but they have to wrestle with someone at least three times a day. If only I had two brothers instead of one, they could wrestle with each other, and then I wouldn’t have to put up with so much poking and prodding.

  We ate lunch in the Blue Mountains. Mum had packed us a picnic, with wholemeal bread and apples, but at least she bought us some ice-cream as well. I had a chocolate ice-cream, and Bethan’s was blue. He smeared it all over his T-shirt, and dripped it onto Mum’s white shorts. That’s when she told him that she wouldn’t be getting any more blue ice-cream. It was unhealthy, she said – full of additives. I guess she must have been right, because the next day Bethan came running out of the toilet, exclaiming that his poo was bright green.

  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

  We reached the Jenolan Caves just after two o’clock in the afternoon. To get to the caves, you have to drive over a series of rolling hills, before plunging down, down, down into a very long, deep valley, with a small river running through it. The lower you go, the shadier it gets. The road is really narrow, with a lot of hair-pin bends, and Ray was sweating by the time we hit the bottom. But what we saw then was well worth the strain on his nerves, because we found ourselves face-to-face with an enormous tunnel. You’ve never seen anything like this tunnel. It’s the height of a six-storeyed building, and carved into a sheer wall of rock. You can drive your car right through it. In fact we did drive our car right through it.

  ‘This is the Grand Arch,’ said Ray, as we crawled along in the dimness. ‘I remember this.’

  ‘Is it one of the caves?’ asked Bethan.

  ‘The caves are mostly underground,’ Mum replied, and suddenly we were in the sunshine again, surrounded by people and buildings and footpaths and signs. Ahead of us was something that looked like a gigantic half-timbered mansion, with red umbrellas lined up in front of it. This, according to Ray, was the famous Jenolan Caves House. He turned left before he reached it, and parked in the guests’ car park, which was chiselled into a hillside behind the hotel.

  The minute I got out of the car, I knew that we were somewhere special. There was a feeling about the place. The valley walls were so
high and close that they seemed to be nudging at your heels. It was like being in a pocket. We passed a mysterious door in a cliff-face as we made our way out of the car park. High above, a scattering of little houses clung desperately to the bushy slopes. Trees were pressing in on all sides. Rounding a corner, we found ourselves back on the road. To our right, the Grand Arch loomed mysteriously.

  ‘Look! Look!’ cried Bethan. ‘There’s that arch again!’

  ‘We’ll look at it later,’ said Ray. ‘Right now we have to get our room sorted out.’

  ‘Are the underground caves as big as that arch? Mum? Are they all like that?’

  ‘I can’t remember, Bethan. I don’t think so. We’ll find out soon, okay? After we unpack.’

  So we went into Caves House. It’s the only place you can stay at, around there. Its reception hall has fake marble pillars, and a parquet floor, and a sweeping staircase. There’s also a gift shop opening off the hall.

  Bethan headed straight for the gift shop, naturally.

  ‘Bethan!’ Mum yelled, when she realised where he was. ‘Allie, will you go and get him, please? We’ll check out the gift shop later.’

  ‘Okay.’

  ‘Tell him we have to get organised, and then we can have – oh! Hi, Richard!’

  Richard Boyer had suddenly emerged from the gift shop. For those of you who haven’t met Richard (like Bettina, for instance), let me just say that he’s very tall and thin, with bright blue eyes, curly hair, and glasses. I guess he was hanging around the reception hall because he had organised the tour, and felt that he ought to be on hand when everyone arrived. Richard is a long-time member of PRISM; he takes it very seriously.

  The woman with him was quite short. She had wavy brown hair caught up in a barrette, and a calm face, and dark eyes. She also wore glasses. I don’t know if it was the glasses, or the way she was leaning against him, but as soon as I saw her I knew that she must be Richard’s new girlfriend. Mum had mentioned something about Richard bringing his new girlfriend.

  That’s probably why his old girlfriend hadn’t wanted to come. Even though she’s psychic, and knows a lot about ghosts.

  ‘Judy!’ said Richard. ‘Ray! You got here!’

  ‘Are we the first?’ Mum asked.

  ‘No, no. We’re only waiting on a couple more people. Jim Bainbridge and . . . Matsumoto something?’

  ‘Matoaka,’ I corrected. ‘Her name’s Matoaka.’

  Mum rolled her eyes. Matoaka is my dad’s girlfriend. He brought her over here from Thailand a few months ago, but she’s not Asian or anything. She’s from Brisbane, and her real name’s Maureen.

  Dad’s not from Thailand either, by the way. He went there when I was four. Ever since he came back, there have been problems. (Peter knows about some of them.) Dad and Mum have been arguing a lot, lately, because after so many years away from us, Dad now wants to have a say in our lives. Mum keeps telling him that this is ‘unacceptable’. Whereupon Dad replies that he’s never missed a single child support payment, and therefore still has some rights as a father.

  I don’t know what to think, really. Except that I’m glad we don’t have to live with him. It annoyed me when I heard that he was doing the Jenolan Caves Ghost Tour. I knew there would be arguments if he turned up.

  As far as I can see, he only decided to come because he wanted to show us how involved he was in our lives.

  ‘Oh,’ said Richard. ‘So you know these people, do you?’

  ‘I should,’ Mum replied. ‘Jim’s my ex. Didn’t he tell you?’

  ‘No, he just – no.’ Richard flushed, pushing his glasses up his nose. He’s very pale, and he flushes a lot. ‘Uh – this is Rosemary, by the way,’ he continued, as he flung his arm around his new girlfriend. ‘I’ve told her all about you guys. She’s been dying to meet you.’

  ‘Hi,’ said Rosemary, shyly.

  ‘Hi,’ said Mum. (Ray was talking to the girl behind the reception desk.)

  ‘Rosemary works for the Heritage and Conservation branch of the Department of Environment and Planning,’ Richard went on. ‘So of course she wanted to see the Jenolan Caves. It’s a very important historical site.’

  ‘Not to mention stunning,’ said Mum. ‘I’d forgotten how beautiful it is. So atmospheric.’

  Everyone nodded. Taking advantage of this brief pause, I asked, ‘Has Michelle arrived yet?’

  Richard just blinked at me.

  ‘Michelle du Moulin?’ I pressed. ‘You’ve met her? She’s my friend.’

  ‘Oh! The du Moulins!’ he exclaimed. ‘Party of three! Yes, they’re here – somewhere. I’ve told everyone to meet in the dining room at six, so you’ll see ’em there, I should think.’

  Party of three? And then I remembered – Sylvester. Of course.

  Michelle had been complaining about Sylvester. He was her mum’s new boyfriend. Michelle was furious that he had decided to ‘mess up the weekend’ by coming along too.

  ‘Right!’ said Ray, turning his back on the reception desk. He was jangling a set of keys. ‘All sorted. Let’s go. Hi, Richard.’

  ‘Hi, Ray. This is Rosemary.’

  ‘Hi, Rosemary.’

  ‘Allie,’ said Mum, ‘will you please fetch Bethan? I already asked you once.’

  It was hard to drag Bethan away from the gift shop. When I finally got him into the reception hall, he spotted a display of crystals and stalactites in a glass case, and I had to push him past that, too. But we reached the stairs eventually. Then he raced us all to the first floor, where he disappeared into a room on the right. It contained a billiard table.

  ‘Mum! Mum! Look!’

  ‘Come here, Bethan.’

  ‘We can play snooker!’

  ‘Not now, we can’t,’ said Mum.

  ‘Our room’s on the top floor, Bethan,’ said Ray. ‘We’ll look at this later.’

  ‘Don’t worry, Mum,’ I said loudly. ‘If he’s slow, I’ll get first choice with the beds.’

  That did the trick. Bethan shot out of the billiard room and surged up the next flight of stairs like a greyhound. When at last we caught up with him, he was bouncing off the green-and-white walls of a long, narrow corridor.

  ‘Which room? Which one?’ he yelped. (He was really over-excited.)

  ‘As long as it’s not room 104,’ said Mum.

  ‘Why?’ I asked. ‘What’s wrong with that room?’

  ‘It’s supposed to be haunted.’

  ‘Really?’

  ‘So Richard says. He wanted Room 123, though he didn’t get it. That’s supposed to be haunted, too. They call it Miss Chisolm’s room.’ Mum wrapped her arms around herself, as if she were cold. ‘Personally, I’d rather have a good night’s sleep.’

  ‘I wouldn’t!’ cried Bethan. ‘I want to see the ghost!’

  ‘Well you can’t,’ said Ray. ‘Because they didn’t give us room 104.’ And he unlocked the door to the room they did give us, which didn’t look particularly spooky to me. It had pale green curtains, and a green dado around the wall. The carpet was reddish, but not blood-coloured. There were two double beds and one single; Bethan wriggled past Ray and threw himself onto the closest double bed.

  ‘Bags this bed!’ he cried.

  Mum and I exchanged glances.

  ‘It’s all right,’ I sighed. ‘He can have it.’ As a mature twelve-year-old, I no longer felt the need to argue about double beds. ‘Where’s the bathroom?’

  ‘We share one,’ Mum informed me. ‘It’s just down the hall.’

  ‘Where’s the television?’ Bethan demanded.

  ‘There isn’t one.’ Ray heaved our suitcase onto the bed nearest the window. ‘You won’t need one. There’ll be too much else to do.’

  Bethan’s jaw dropped. I decided to visit the bathroom, before he began to protest. On the way, however, I was distracted by the pictures that hung in the corridor. They were photos of Caves House, going back to the nineteenth century. There was one of Caves House in 1885 (single storey, shingle roof); and ano
ther of the two-storeyed timber hotel (destroyed by fire in the 1890s); and a shot of the limestone structure built in 1907; and Caves House with its 1912 extension.

  I studied these photographs with interest. Clearly, Caves House had a lot of history. But was it really haunted?

  I would have to ask about this ‘Miss Chisolm’ person.

  ‘Hi,’ said a voice.

  I jumped, and turned. Michelle was coming out of the bathroom. Her hair was wet, and she was carrying a towel.

  ‘Michelle! Hi!’

  ‘Did you just get here?’

  ‘Yes. Just now. What about you?’

  ‘Oh, hours ago.’

  ‘It’s great, isn’t it?’

  ‘Do you think so?’ She made a face. ‘I don’t. Do you realise we have to share a bathroom?’

  You might not be aware that Michelle’s mum has her own ensuite off her bedroom, at home. Since Michelle is an only child, this means that she never has to share a bathroom.

  Except when she comes to our house.

  ‘Oh, it can’t be so bad,’ I said.

  ‘Have you seen it?’

  ‘No, but –’

  ‘Take a look. It’s disgusting.’

  Actually, the bathroom wasn’t that terrible. Just old-fashioned. The tiles were pink and blue, the cubicles were divided by slabs of pebblecrete, and there was a laundry basket in one corner.

  ‘It could be worse,’ I pointed out. ‘At least it’s only for girls. Imagine if we had to share with the boys, as well.’

  ‘It’s unsanitary,’ Michelle complained. ‘I’ll probably catch tinea.’

  I looked at her hard, then, and realised that she was actually cross about something else.

  ‘Did Sylvester come?’ I asked cautiously. Sure enough, Michelle began to scowl.

  ‘What do you think?’ she snapped.

  ‘Where is he now?’

  ‘I don’t know and I don’t care.’ Suddenly her scowl dissolved into a malicious grin. ‘He was really cross,’ she gloated, ‘because there’s no spa bath. He was expecting a spa bath.’

  ‘Oh,’ I said.

  ‘Come and see my room. It’s just down the hall.’

 
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