The Haunted Shop
written by Clever Clover

Brightblade had spent several weeks cleaning and rearranging the antique store and was preparing for the grand re-opening. It was now nearly dusk on the day before the scheduled event. Medley, who had been helping him prepare for the big day, was hanging a banner above the door. After tying off the banner to the cornices, Medley fluttered lightly to the sidewalk next to Brightblade. "Well, what do ya think, BB?" she asked.

"It looks good. Thanks for the help. Will you be able to give me a hand with the opening tomorrow morning?"

"No, I'm teaching a class tomorrow morning, but I'll stop by in the afternoon."

"That would be great."

"Would you like to go out for some ice cream?"

"Sure. I'll take one more look around and lock up. I'll be right back." Brightblade had already checked the store several times, but he wanted everything to be perfect for the re-opening and didn't want to take any chances. He had been misplacing things all day; it at times seemed as if things were disappearing or moving about on their own.

Brightblade went into the store and looked around. All looked to be in order– all, that is, except for the crack of light coming from under the storeroom door. "Hmm, I could have sworn I turned that light off." He made his way through and around the now neatly arranged shelves of antiques to the back of the shop. As he opened the door, the light went out. "This is weird," the pony mumbled. He flipped the light switch to make sure it was working. The lights came on as normal. He turned the lights off and, as he turned to leave, he heard something. He paused and listened. Nothing. "I must be imagining things."

Medley was standing just inside the shop. "What's up?" she asked.

"I don't know," Brightblade replied. "Probably nothing. I must just be nervous about tomorrow."

Suddenly there was a loud crash from the storeroom. Medley jumped in start. "What was that?" she asked nervously.

"What's wrong, you don't believe in ghosts, do you?" Brightblade asked jokingly. He wished he could say he didn't believe in ghosts, but having been to the underworld, he couldn't deny them. He was just trying to calm Medley's nerves, though he noticed that she didn't seem to need calming. "You wait here. I'll check it out."

The sun had just set and the only illumination in the shop was from the streetlights outside, lending an eerie atmosphere to the small shop. Even though he had no reason to, Brightblade felt a chill run down his spine. "I can't believe I'm so nervous," he thought to himself. "Even if it is a ghost, I've faced their kind before. Now if it were one of those Fu*by thingys, that would be scary." He smirked at the silly thought; still, those little furballs were showing up everywhere. Even Medley had one. She had tried to teach it to sing and to play an instrument, but it just tried to eat her flute. Brightblade shook the frivolous thoughts from his mind as he reached the storeroom door.

The flame-maned stallion cautiously opened the door. He thought he saw a blur of motion out of the corner of his eye as he peered into the dark room. A gust of cool air washed over him. He turned on the lights. The room was just as he had left it just minutes ago, except that a pile of junk that he had planned to donate to Goodwill had collapsed, spilling all over the floor. The window opening onto a back alley was open.

"I don't remember opening any window," Brightblade mumbled. He went to close it; it was stiff and squeaked loudly as Brightblade pulled it shut. He heard a stifled giggle from the back of the storeroom. "Who's there?" the pony asked as he spun around. There was a shadowy figure barely visible behind a shelf of antiques. "Okay, come out from there, whoever you are."

A small yellow pony stepped out from behind the shelf. "I's jus' me, Unca' Bwi'b'ade," said the baby pony.

"Baby Racer?" Brightblade said in disbelief. "What are you doing here?"

"Me's lookin' fo' a 'alloween costume, unca'."

Brightblade sighed. "This isn't a costume shop, Baby Racer, and I'm not your uncle."

"Bu' Aunt Medley said you'd me my unca' when you mawied hew."

"What! I think you mean she said I'd be your uncle IF I married her."

"Oh, no, I said 'when'," said Medley from the doorway. "I thought you'd understand, being such an optimist and all."

Brightblade shook his head. "Baby Racer, you can have one thing from that stack," he said, pointing to the donation pile. "Then we'd better get you home. It's late and your parents are probably worried about you."

The baby pony excitedly jumped into the disheveled heap. After a few moments he came up with a brightly-colored Easter egg. "Ooh, cool wacing stwipes," he said. "But I need somptin' scawy." A minute later he came up with a wooden sword. "This pewfict! Me's gona be Squire! He was hewo jus' like my unca' Bwi'b'ade!"

Brightblade shook his head. "Cute kid. But why'd you have to tell him we were getting married?"

"Oh, what's the harm? He's only a baby."

Brightblade sighed in resignation as the trio exited the shop.

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