After school had finished, Valorie was ready to visit Charley again, but had to wait five minutes because Amrita had left her coat in one of the science labs.
Amrita knew that Valorie went to Charley for training, and every day had new questions to ask.
They started walking.
‘But what does he actually do? Does he have a job?’
Valorie thought. ‘I don’t know. I think so. I mean, he writes articles about bugs and things for magazines. I don’t know if that’s his job, or just something he does for fun.’
‘Strange hobby,’ Amrita said. ‘My granddad likes bugs. Birds too.’
‘Not really. I like fish. I sometimes walk down to the canal to watch them all.’
‘Yeah. Hey, my dad told me that there are supposed to be two koi carp down in the canal. Some guy threw them in there because he couldn’t afford to look after them.’
‘Wow. Someone should call the RSPCA,’ Amrita proclaimed, scuffing her feet.
‘Or the RSPCF.’
‘What’s – Oh yeah. Fish.’
Amrita waved goodbye to Valorie and turned of down another street.
Valorie kept walking until she saw Charley’s house. His house was easy to spot because it had an orange door. The other doors in the street were blue-grey.
She knocked. No answer.
Frowning, she knocked again, and then rang the bell. There were noises. Finally Charley appeared.
‘Hiya Valorie. You’re a bit late.’
Valorie stepped in. She dumped her bag near Charley’s coat rack, and sank into the big squashy sofa.
‘So, how was school today?’
‘It was OK,’ Valorie said, sinking further into the sofa. ‘English was a bit boring though.’
‘It’s Mr Faulkner. He’s just so -’ Valorie pulled a face ‘- like that.’
Charley pretended to look bamboozled.
‘I wish you were our teacher. If the class lost interest, you could wake them up a bit by setting your moths on them.’
Charley chuckled as he wandered into the kitchen. He pinched a few biscuits from\ the cupboard. ‘Admittedly, that does sound like fun, but it’s most likely prohibited.’
Valorie sat up. ‘That’s true.’
Charley wandered back through again. Today he was wearing a black shirt, black trousers and a blue and purple poncho.
‘OK. When you started as an etheric body, you had little appearance. Recently you’ve progressed to some discernable shape or form, which is good. Your form is something like smoke. That’s fairly common. With practice you can retain your body shape when you leave your body.’
Valorie nodded. ‘Sure.’
‘You’re also now able to hear in an etheric body, which is good because it makes teaching you a hell of a lot easier. But you still haven’t mastered your grip. That’s what we’ll be going over today.’
‘I think it would help if I showed you how it’s done, so… OK. Start to concentrate on what you have to do.’
Valorie stood opposite Charley, and relaxed her muscles.
‘Look into my eyes.’
Valorie stared into Charley’s eyes. She felt the boring sensation, saw them in negative.
‘Now breathe out.’
Valorie did as he said. Then there was the pulling in her belly and WHOOSH – she was out.
Valorie watched, fascinated, from her spot near the ceiling as Charley left his own body behind. Another identical, if slightly transparent Charley, flew out into the open air.
He looked at Valorie and nodded.
Charley was all she could see – the room had become, as it always did, an empty void, apart from Charley’s empty shell, still standing on the carpet.
‘OK,’ Charley said. His words still sounded distorted and strange. ‘Now follow me carefully over to this fruit bowl over here.’
He led the way, gliding effortlessly across the room. Valorie followed awkwardly.
Charley stretched out an arm, picked up an apple, passed it from hand to hand.
‘When you pick something up, you have to will yourself to do it. It’s not going to happen automatically. Will yourself to be as strong as steel – feel the strength building up within you, and then reach for it. Try that.’
Valorie concentrated. She clenched herself up as much as she could, preparing to let it loose. Then she wobbled, nearly falling out of the air. She righted herself just in time.
Valorie clenched herself even more, focussing her mind. She had to do it. She was strong. She was powerful. She could -
Valorie felt herself explode outwards, heard something smash, then she whoosed backwards – too far backwards – she started to scream –
And her head hit the ground.
She sat up, shocked. Somehow, she was outside Charley’s front door.
Valorie stood up, a little dazed. She knocked.
Charley answered. He looked just as confused as she did.
‘OK,’ he said. You’ve made excellent progress today. You also broke my fruit bowl. See you tomorrow.’
‘Wait, Charley, what did I just -’But he had already slammed the door in her face.