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“Ryan Gospeiro, please come down to the dean’s office immediately,”

Ryan froze in his tracks; this sort of announcement was never good, and since he was younger than ten, he could only assume the worst.
“Good luck, buddy,” Nico said to him, backing away slowly; the children called down to the dean’s office usually came back a different person, and no one likes to associate with Them. Ryan took a deep breath and strode down to the office as calmly as he could. As he walked down the hallway, the other students, with the exception of Them, tipped their heads in a silent salute to a soon to be lost classmate. Ryan stood before the large door with the words “DEAN” written on it, with graffiti covering the “n” making it look more like the word “death.” Ryan rose his hand to the door, and a gruff “come in!” come from inside before he could properly knock. The door’s creak made Ryan’s hair stand on end, and he walked in, forcing his legs to keep moving forward.

“Take a seat,” the dean huffed. Ryan complied quickly, scared to make his case worse than it already was. The dean gave a slight smile, reveling in Ryan’s discomfort.

“Y-you wanted to see me Dean?” Ryan’s shaky voice matching his shaking body. “Sir?” he quickly added, noticing the dean’s disapproval.
“Look at these grades,” he said, pulling out a file. “What do you make of these?”
“I’m sorry, Sir, I’ll try harder to bring them up in the future,” The dean seemed unimpressed.
“You are nine, correct?”
“Yes, Sir,”
“You do know what happens to students who are under ten who can’t maintain the proper 3.5 GPA, don’t you?”
“Yes, Sir,”
“And you know just how forgiving and fair I am, don’t you?”
“Yes, Sir,”
“I’ll be kind; the grade you get on your next test will determine whether or not I will carry through with my plans for you,”
“But Sir, I,”
“You are dismissed,”
“Yes, Sir,” Ryan walked out of the office glumly; there was no chance for him to do well on his next test, he had spent the night playing video games instead of studying. In class, Ryan tried to mentally prepare himself.
“Maybe it won’t be so bad,” he murmured to himself. “Maybe I’ll actually do well, for once.” Mrs. Goruea dropped a large test on his test. Ryan peaked at the question: all short answer. A folded piece of paper landed on his desk, Ryan looked over, and Nico mouthed “open it.” Ryan, did, and sighed.
So, buddy, you a dead man?
“Yes” Ryan wrote on it. A moment later the paper returned.
Literally, haha!
Ryan crumpled it and chucked it at Nico’s head. He gave a slight smile as it hit his target. After one failed test and a walk down death row, Ryan was back in the Dean’s office.
“Please, Sir, give me another chance,” Ryan pleaded. The dean laughed.
“Are you ready to be marked?” he asked with an evil grin.
“No,” Ryan said softly. The dean pulled out a metal needle and chuckled.
“That was a rhetorical question,”
“Don’t my parents have to agree with this?” Ryan tried, trying to stand up.
“I’m afraid after this you will legally belong to us,” The dean moved closer, and metal clasps sealed Ryan to the chair.
Ryan screamed in pain as a large tattoo of the state’s seal was printed forever around his eye. The dean grabbed Ryan’s hand and dragged him outside.

“On the bus,” he barked. When Ryan hesitated, the dean gave him a harsh shove. Tears ran down Ryan’s face as he watched his school and home disappear into the distance.

“Tough break, kid,” the bus driver said between puffs of his cigar. “But don’t worry, I hear it’s painless.” They arrived at the cemetery, and Ryan completely lost it. He fell to his knees and sobbed hysterically. A woman waiting for him yanked him to his feet.

“Have some dignity, boy!” she scoffed. “Now follow me.” Ryan remained where he was standing, and she gave an angry sniff. Ryan willed his legs to move, and before he knew it, he and three other children were standing before four graves. Ryan studied them; two were boys, and one a girl. The boys were twins, around nine, and they were each sniffling as softly as they could manage. They girl was extremely young, about five. She must have messed up big time to be condemned at so young.

“Let the ceremony begin,” the woman cried. She chanted an incantation, and slowly four soft bluish wisps floated up from the graves. The woman called the child’s name and the ghost’s name, and each stepped forward. Each of them tried to back away, but the woman held them in place. I watched in horror as the ghost touched the child. The child seized up and briefly seemed frozen, but after a moment of stunned silence, they would turn to the woman and nod, the transformation. I stared at the three possessed bodies and gulped; they each smiled an unnatural smile, and their eyes glowed a soft slightly hypnotic blue.

“Ryan and Christopher,” the woman announced. Ryan stood in place, not able to will his feet to move. The woman, obviously annoyed, grabbed his shoulders and shoved him up a few steps, and then he saw Christopher; even though he was barely visible, Ryan could tell that he was about his age, had dark brown hair, and he had a slight space between his front teeth. The woman nodded, and Christopher floated towards Ryan. He reached out and his hand swept across Ryan’s chest. Ryan’s body seized up from the sudden cold shock that flowed through it. The woman released Ryan, for now he had no control of his body. Ryan slumped slightly under his weight, for neither he nor Christopher had full control over the part of Ryan’s brain that controlled motor movements. The seconds ticked by painfully slowly as the ghost made a slow takeover of Ryan’s body. Ryan fought it with all his will, but he couldn’t seem to muster the strength to do so.

Christopher began erasing Ryan’s mind: family, friends, home, gone. In a final attempt to regain control, Ryan screamed. He forced his will over Christopher, and the ghost flew out of his body. Ryan ran as fast as his legs would carry him, and he refused to stop; the police were probably after him, since technically Ryan was the state’s property. Ryan’s running was aimless, the thoughts and memories erased by Christopher were gone forever, and Ryan would have to hide from the police for at least a few months until things died down.
A light rain began, and Ryan whispered, “Goodbye” to the forgotten memories and his lost life.



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