Baylor’s Guide to Dreadful Dreams
TIP 1 Keep your electronics away from ghosts. BOY MEDIUM BAYLOR BOSCO: BEWITCHED OR BEDEVILED?
Keene, New Hampshire. A small town with a big claim to fame. Just last year, the annual Keene Pumpkin Festival achieved a Guinness world record for most jack-o’-lanterns gathered in one place—that’s 30,581 pumpkins carved and lit up with candles.
In the last few weeks, however, the city has captured national attention for a very different reason.
Baylor Bosco, 13, claims to be a medium. A boy who, yes, talks to dead people.
Bosco first caught people’s attention when he seriously injured a 68-year-old woman at a local Italian restaurant in early November.
“He was walking right toward her and sped up,” said Michael Lindberg, who witnessed the incident. “She went flying to the ground. That little punk did it on purpose.”
The paramedics were called, but strangely, no charges were filed. Witnesses reported that Bosco then held a group séance and communicated messages from patrons’ “loved ones” for close to 30 minutes.
Less than a week later, Bosco was plastered all over the news again for his involvement in the disappearance of Winchester, NH, resident Rosalie Timmons. Ms. Timmons seriously injured herself after running full-speed into a vehicle that had blocked her path, according to the police report. And the driver of that vehicle? None other than Constance Bosco, the mother of the boy medium.
When asked about her role in Timmons’s disappearance, Ms. Bosco emphatically uttered “No comment” no less than eight times while virtually running away from this intrepid reporter.
Baylor himself was a little more forthcoming. I was able to ask him questions during a recent walk home from school. The 13-year-old seems rather short for a boy his age; he has unstyled dirty blond hair, eyes the color of dirty lake water, and a permanent scowl stretched across his face.
“That woman was evil!” he screeched about Timmons, who had long been known in the Winchester community for her philanthropic efforts. “She tried to kill me!”
Then he appeared to have a spasm, as he grimaced at the air next to him and said, to no one, “No, Kristina, I’m not doing that.” His clear affinity for inflicting pain onto others reared its ugly head when, a few moments later, he spouted off some deeply personal information about this reporter; information he’d clearly thoroughly researched before our meeting.
Whether Baylor Bosco does more good than harm with his supposed gift remains to be seen. Regardless, it looks as though Keene has another eccentric attraction here to stay.
—Carla Clunders, editor-at-large, NewEnglandRealNews.net
I finished reading the article on my phone and sat dumbfounded on my bed. Rage tingled across my skin.
“Baylor, it’s one bad article written by one terrible person,” Kristina said, hovering over my shoulder. “Ignore it.”
“Easy for you to say!” I scrolled through it again, trying to figure out which part was the worst.
“Isn’t this the same website that picked a fight with the mayor and called him a ‘really big doo-doo head’?”
“What’s your point?”
“It’s not exactly reputable. Think of all the nice articles about you that were posted on legitimate news sites. This woman is a fraud.”
“I’m not short, Kristina, okay? I’m, like, five foot four. With shoes on, definitely five foot five.”
“I didn’t say you were short,” she said slowly.
“Well, you didn’t say I was tall, either,” I said, glaring at her.
I didn’t think I needed to considering how I’ve been saying for ten minutes that this woman is a moron,” she said, her hands forming fists. “She’s clearly a nonbeliever bent on making you look bad. Why are you wasting any energy on her?”
Somewhere deep down inside, I knew she was right. I mean, what kind of real journalist would compare someone’s eyes to dirty lake water? (Especially when other people have compared those same eyes to a majestic spring sky, but that’s beside the point.)
How could this woman sit there and write such negative things about me? What had I ever done to her? Well, aside from delivering her dead sister’s message about constipation solutions, but that was hardly my fault. It was, in the most literal sense, a healing message, and it was my life’s purpose to deliver as many of them as possible.
I reread the line about spouting off some deeply personal information I’d researched before meeting her. Ha! She made it sound like we’d agreed to an interview when, in reality, she’d hopped out from behind a tree and ambushed me on my way home from school two days ago.
“Carla Clunders. What kind of stupid name is that anyway?”
“That’s it, Baylor,” Kristina said, her hand outlined
in blue. “No more.” She wrapped her fingers around my phone and squeezed hard, emitting a pulse of blue energy; the screen went haywire.
“Did . . . did you just break my phone?”
She frowned, releasing her grip. “I really hope not, but I’m still getting used to this.” She’d never been able to use any sort of energy before, but after my recent escapades battling some uninvited demon visitors, she’d finally gotten the go-ahead from . . . someone.
I still wasn’t exactly sure how it worked with Kristina, my twin sister. She was miscarried in the womb, but somehow she grew up with me and hung around on the other side. She split her time between hanging with me and mingling with other ghosts in the Beyond, the place where all ghosts eventually wind up. The Beyond is sort of like an exclusive club on the other side, and only decent ghosts get admitted. There are other places and dimensions on the other side too, but unless you’re a big fan of hordes of fiery-eyed demons, it’s best to avoid those bad neighborhoods and stick to the Beyond.
She claims to go to the Beyond to learn lessons and get advice from spirit guides, but in my head, the Beyond was nothing more than one giant party, with a few billion ghosts just hanging out, sipping on some ghostly soda, eating some ghostly chips, for
all of eternity. She always mentions chatting with all these iconic people, like Napoléon or Washington, but the only people I ever got to talk to were random dead people who wanted to tell their loved ones they needed to hit the gym. I wasn’t jealous, per se—I like being alive, after all—but sometimes it felt like I was getting the short end of the stick.
Her long golden hair whipped around her face as she flexed her hand for a few seconds, wiggling her fingers. “I wonder if this is what it feels like, Baylor, when you lie on the couch for an hour watching TV and then your arm falls asleep and you whine about how much it tingles.”
“You’re not being helpful.”
I glanced at the clock and sighed. I was going to be late for school if I didn’t leave in exactly four minutes and speed walk the entire way. My day was already off to a bad start, and the last thing I needed was a detention on top of everything else.
I rushed through my morning routine—the usual stuff like brushing my teeth, combing my hair, and lighting candles to ward off evil spirits—and headed out the front door as Kristina chattered away in my ear.
“Think of all the positive news stories about you after the Rosalie incident. Why focus on the negative one?”
“It’s just weird. It’s almost like she’s on a mission
to make me look bad. Isn’t there some sort of law to protect me against creeps like her? I’m only thirteen, after all. She’s endangering a child.”
“You’re acting a tad dramatic about this, don’t you think?”
“No, I don’t,” I said. “In fact, I think I ought to sue Carla Clunders for libel.”
Kristina rolled her eyes and muttered, “She wasn’t wrong about the height thing.”
I pretended like I didn’t hear her and sped up. It was mid-November, and Keene was already experiencing frigid winter temperatures. I tried to convince my mom to drive me to school yesterday morning, but she laughed and said that the cold built character. I disagreed and told her walking a mile through freezing temperatures would only make me a bitter, unhappy person for the rest of my life, but she didn’t seem too concerned about that.
By the time I got to school, my teeth were chattering like broken wind chimes.
“You look rough,” Aiden said as I took my seat next to him. “Oversleep?”
“No,” I said shortly. “I woke up to some stupid article written about me.”
“Oh,” he said, chuckling. “Another Bayliever blog post rambling on about how cute you are?”
My cheeks burned, but no longer because of the cold. “That was one time.”
He shrugged. “Still. She had two hundred comments all agreeing with her. Another one’s bound to pop up sooner or later.”
“Well, this new one is the opposite of that. For some reason this woman is determined to make me look bad.”
“Make you look bad?” J said, sitting in the desk in front of Aiden. “That’s not exactly hard to do, Baylor.” She winked at me through her neon-green glasses. J was so smart that if she didn’t become one of the youngest astronauts ever, it’d only be because she was probably busy studying for medical and law degrees at the same time.
“Good morning to you, too, J,” I said, scowling.
She turned to Aiden and smiled. “Morning!”
Aiden sputtered and choked on his own breath. Kristina and I looked at each other and shook our heads. They’d been going out for maybe ten days now—after Aiden finally got the nerve to tell her he liked her in a musical blaze of glory prompted by yours truly—but he somehow acted more nervous than ever around J
“Anyway,” J said, her eyes framed by the bright green glasses. “Are you guys ready for tomorrow?”
The band was marching in Keene’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I played the tuba; Aiden rocked the flute. The parade always takes place the Saturday before Thanksgiving because most of the residents head out of town for the holiday. Keene learned that lesson the hard way during its inaugural parade a few years ago, when it was held on Thursday morning and only, like, twenty people showed up to watch it.
“I think so,” I said. “Now that Mr. G. finally dropped that weird “Silent Night/All I Want for Christmas Is You” mash-up, I think we’re in pretty good shape.”
She chuckled. “I’m bummed I never got to hear it.”
Kristina groaned from behind. “She should consider herself lucky.”
I agreed with Kristina. If I never heard any of those songs again, I’d be a happy guy. It wasn’t just because the mash-up sounded like a chorus of dying parrots, though. It also brought up some bad memories from the last few weeks.
Right around Halloween, I’d been plagued by a demon wearing a sheet, whom I endearingly referred to as the Sheet Man. It turned out the demon was this poor dead guy named Alfred who was being controlled by his ex-wife, Rosalie. That wasn’t so easy to figure out, though. At one point, I’d wound up in the hospital after the Sheet Man visited me during band
practice. We’d been rehearsing the mash-up when he just showed up out of nowhere and, next thing I knew, I woke up in hospital, nearly concussed after my tuba had fallen on my head.
All’s well that ends well, though, and that whole situation ended when Rosalie was suddenly picked off by a horribly evil spirit called a Bruton, one of the worst kinds of demons around, and taken to some place far, far away.
Okay, so maybe it didn’t end well for Rosalie, but that’s what happens when you involve yourself in evil activities.
* * *
After school, during the last rehearsal before the parade, Mr. G. made us run through the songs and practice our marching about a million times. By the time I got home, I was ready for a nap before dinner.
“Well, before you nap, I just want to warn you,” Kristina said, her voice sounding a bit thin.
I turned to her slowly. Warnings from Kristina were just about my least favorite things in life. “What is it?”
“Well, it’s nothing bad,” she said quickly, looking sort of embarrassed, “but tonight we’ll be having some company.”
I glared. “Are you saying—?”
“Kristina! Baylor!” rang a British voice from behind me. “How are you this fine evening?”