Chapter 1: A New Case
“Cosmo! No!” Kaz grabbed Cosmo about a second and a half before he passed through the craft-room window and into the Outside. Kaz peered out the window. He didn’t see what his dog was all excited about.
“You can’t go into the Outside,” Kaz scolded. “What are you thinking?”
Cosmo lowered his eyes. His tail drooped.
“He’s a dog, Kaz,” Claire said, glancing up from her homework. “He doesn’t know it’s dangerous for ghosts to be outside.” Claire reached out to pet Cosmo. But Claire was a solid, so her hand passed through him.
“He should know,” Kaz said, holding his dog tight against his chest. “He’s seen what happens when ghosts go into the Outside.”
Kaz and Cosmo used to live in an old schoolhouse with Kaz’s mom and dad; his grandmom and grandpop; his little brother, Little John; and his big brother, Finn. Finn liked to stick his arm or leg through the wall to the Outside just to scare Kaz and Little John. But one day when the ghost boys were playing Keep Away, Finn stuck his head a little too far through the wall, and his whole body was pullllled into the Outside. Grandmom and Grandpop tried to rescue Finn, but they ended up in the Outside, too. And they all blew away.
“Plus, Cosmo has been in the Outside himself, too,” Kaz reminded Claire.
Last summer some solids came to the old schoolhouse with their big trucks and their wrecking ball. They destroyed the old schoolhouse, and the rest of Kaz’s family was forced into the Outside. Like Finn, Grandmom, and Grandpop, they were all scattered in the wind. Kaz ended up here at the library. He felt lucky to have found Cosmo a few weeks ago when he and Claire were out solving a ghostly mystery. He hadn’t seen anyone else in his family for so long.
Now Cosmo wiggled and squirmed in Kaz’s arms. Kaz hugged him even harder.
“I don’t think your dog likes to be held so tight, Kaz,” Beckett said. Beckett was the other ghost who lived at the library. He’d been here way longer than Kaz had.
Kaz loosened his grip on Cosmo, and the ghost dog pawed his way out of Kaz’s arms. He paddled right back toward the window.
Kaz sighed. What is out there? he wondered. Cosmo had never been so interested in the Outside before.
“Claire, could you please close that shade?” Kaz asked, grabbing his dog again. “If Cosmo can’t see what’s out there, then maybe he’ll settle down.”
“Why don’t you close the shade, Kaz?” Beckett said.
“I can’t,” Kaz said. And Beckett knew he couldn’t.
Kaz simply didn’t have the skills that other ghosts did. He was working on them. Really, he was. But ghost skills were hard. And he didn’t like to practice. What ghost did?
“How do you know you can’t close that shade?” Beckett asked. “Have you tried?”
“That’s right, Kaz,” Claire said. “Now that you can pick up solid objects, maybe you can pull the shade.”
Kaz had only just learned to pick up solid objects. He still wasn’t very good at it. And picking up a solid object wasn’t the same as pulling on a shade and making it move.
But he was willing to give it a try.
With one arm wrapped firmly around Cosmo, Kaz grabbed the shade with his other hand and pullllled it down.
The shade didn’t move.
“Squeeze it harder,” Claire suggested.
Kaz squeezed harder, but his thumb passed through the shade.
Claire went over and yanked on the shade. Cosmo let out a low groan as it came down over the window.
“Now you can be free,” Kaz said as he opened his arms and released his dog.
Beckett clucked his tongue. “How will Kaz learn to do things for himself if you do everything for him?” he asked Claire.
Before Claire could answer, her phone rang. She grabbed it from the table. “Hello? . . . Yes . . . Yes, it’s true; I’m a ghost detective . . .” She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and grinned at Kaz. “It means I solve ghostly mysteries . . . Yes . . . Yes . . . of course! What is your address? . . . Okay, I’ll be right there. Wait, how did you hear about me? . . . Cool! Yeah, okay. I’ll be right there.”
Claire stuffed her phone inside her front pants pocket. “Guess what, Kaz? We have a new case!” She closed her schoolbooks and stacked them in the middle of the table. “Do you remember Jonathan from the school play?”
“Of course,” Kaz said. He and Claire had just solved the case of the ghost backstage a couple of weeks ago. Jonathan wasn’t just involved in the case; he saw Kaz’s mom at Claire’s school! But by the time Kaz got there, his mom was long gone. She left behind a bead from her necklace, though. Kaz still carried it in his front pocket.
“Well, Jonathan has a friend named David,” Claire explained. “David Jeffrey, I think he said his name was. Anyway, David has a ghost in his house.”
“What kind of ghost?” Kaz asked as he squeezed the ghost bead in his pocket. Is it someone from my family? Is it my mom?
“I don’t know,” Claire said. “David hasn’t actually seen the ghost, so he can’t describe it. But it turns on lamps, it makes the garage door go up, and it messes up their TV. I told him I’d come take a look.”
“You’re not going to go now, are you?” Beckett asked.
“Yes, we are,” Claire said as she reached for her water bottle. Kaz always traveled with Claire inside her water bottle.
“But your homework isn’t done,” Beckett objected. “Kaz hasn’t practiced his ghost skills. And it’s almost time for dinner!”
Ghosts like Kaz and Beckett never ate dinner or any other meals. But Claire ate dinner every single day. Usually with her family.
“So?” Claire twisted the top off her water bottle. “You’re not in charge of me, Beckett. And you’re not in charge of Kaz, either. You’re not our dad.”
Claire was right. Beckett wasn’t Kaz’s pops. But he was the closest thing Kaz had to a parent here at the library.
“I don’t know,” Kaz said as Cosmo swam toward the window again.
Cosmo nudged the solid shade aside with his nose, but Kaz quickly scooped him up. “Maybe we should wait until tomorrow to go,” Kaz said to Claire. He wasn’t sure about leaving Cosmo right now.
Claire shook her head. “We have to go now,” she said. “This ghost is different from other ghosts. It only comes out at five o’clock.”