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A Screeeech in the Night!



A Screeeech in the Night!
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   5.41

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    apparition, arsenal, chewy, elfish, ghastly, giggly, humanity, jello, purpley-black, SCREEEECH, self-assurance, star-studded, supernatural, suspense, unavailable, supposedly
     content words:    Twelve-year-old Morgan


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A Screeeech in the Night!
By Colleen Messina
  

1     Twelve-year-old Morgan ran her finger across the star-studded cloth and smelled hot, melting wax. Séances were silly! Then why did she feel so excited? The pit of her stomach was jiggling like a bowl of green jello.
 
2     Morgan was in this predicament because Sasha was having a sleepover for her birthday. Morgan and four other giggly girls arrived with their arsenal of sleeping bags, candy, makeup, and CDs. Each girl supplied a favorite treat. Morgan brought chewy red licorice, and as they passed treats around and listened to music, they noticed that it was finally getting dark. The pale moon peeked shyly through the basement window. As clouds drifted by, the room suddenly became purpley-black. It was a perfect climate for discovering whether ghosts were real!
 
3     Sasha had set up a card table with a rough tablecloth on it. The material had a nubby texture and looked like it had once belonged to a gypsy. A stubby yellow candle sat serenely in the middle of the table, holding its flame high like the torch of the Statue of Liberty. Fingers of liquid yellow wax crept onto the tablecloth. Morgan wondered whether they would actually contact spirits with this set up.
 
4     "We don't have a medium, so I am going to attempt to contact the spirit world myself," said Sasha with a smile. Sasha had just lost two molars and the black gaps at the side of her smile made her look a little bit more like a witch than she might have realized. The other girls nodded. After all, Sasha had read a book about ESP just last week. She obviously was an expert on the invisible world. She also had more self-assurance than anyone else. The spirits would obviously prefer to contact her because of her executive ability.
 
5     "How will you know when the spirits answer?" asked Hazel, a red-haired girl who looked like a fairy. She looked too innocent to be a part of any magic ceremony, but she happened to be Sasha's best friend.
 
6     "Well, I don't exactly know," said Sasha. "The book said that the spirits could contact us in lots of different ways. We might hear furniture move. The wind might turn into a spirit voice. Or maybe, if we are lucky, we might see an apparition!"
 
7     Everyone gasped. What if they saw something?
 
8     Then, mischievous Morgan had a terrible, wonderful idea. If the ghosts happened to be unavailable, she could certainly chip in and help. After all, Sasha and the other girls were looking forward to a little supernatural suspense. She grinned an elfish grin. She had a plan that would make pale Hazel even whiter with surprise!
 
9     Morgan had a simple, brilliant plan. When the girls closed their eyes and joined hands, Morgan would keep her hands free and let the two girls on either side of her join hands. She didn't consider that the other girls might sneak a peek. Then, she would use her fingernail on the underside of the card table to make a ghastly sound. She thought that a scratch would be perfect, but a louder screech would be even better. She hoped that her fingernail would not break.

Paragraphs 10 to 20:
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