A Ghost Story, Part 9

How are we up to this many posts already? Feels like we just started this tale, Revis and I. So it goes, I guess. Hopefully you are still enjoying reading it as much as we are enjoying writing it.

…..

“I’m bored of this conversation,” the ghost stated flatly.  It turned away from Jake and started drifting towards his mother again.  “My time here is growing short again, I’m going to finish what I came for once and for all.”

Jake thought he heard the ghost say, “And then I’ll finally be free,” under its breath.  It definitely said something but he hadn’t heard it clearly enough to be sure.

His mom needed more time.  He had to do something to buy her that time.  He still held the book in his hand.  He wasn’t sure what good it would do but it was the only weapon he had.

Jumping between the ghost and his mom, Jake brandished the book like a club, raised over his shoulder and ready to swing, and said, “You didn’t answer my question.  Why did my mom kill you?”

The spirit narrowed its eyes.  The nearly translucent orbs became slits of anger as it stared down at Jake.  “Remember the wall of rage I mentioned before?” It spit venomously.  “Get out of my way or I’ll turn it against you first, as Marten tried to do, and then I’ll kill your mom as well.  There would actually be something poetic about destroying your family’s legacy in one fell swoop.  I’m starting to think that Marten had the right idea all along.”

Behind him, Jake heard a low voice. It was too deep to be his mother’s. She was the only one in the house with him. Well, the only one in the house that was still alive, at any rate. Had another ghost come in and attacked her while he wasn’t looking? Deciding to risk it, he glanced back over his shoulder. 

His mother was standing where he’d last seen her, but she was different now. Her face was contorted in a psychotic grin. A black fog, almost like smoke but more translucent, floated around her. Most of it moved back and forth in waves, although a tendril of it circled above her head before shooting down into her eyes. They blinked rapidly for a few seconds as if she was trying to get the fog out of them. When they opened up again, they glowed red.

“You tired old ghost,” the deep voice said, coming out of his mother’s mouth. “Did you really think I’d let you take my favorite plaything away from me?”

The spirit possessed body flared in a firelike light. “Let me? I’d like to see you try and stop me!” The hand that Jake smashed on the ground shot up and attached itself to the stump. It could’ve been Jake’s imagination, but it looked like the body grew larger. “Now I’m whole! You can’t defeat me anymore!”

The book nearly slipped from his fingers. His fingers, along with the rest of him, had suddenly gone numb as a blast of air pushed away from the spirit.  He managed to hang on but wasn’t sure it mattered anymore, if the book had ever really mattered.  This crazy situation was rapidly spiraling completely out of control.

Jake shifted his gaze from his mom to the ghost and back again and then decided he needed to move.  Stepping back towards the kitchen counter he freed the space between them. 

His mom, in the same unnaturally deep voice, said, “I don’t need to defeat you.  Not on this plane, anyway.”

Jake had no idea what that meant but the ghost stopped its forward progress with a sharp intake of breath.  “It’s not possible.”

His mom, or rather whatever had taken over his mom’s body, smiled in response.  It was an evil, twisted smile that made Jake cringe away another step.  He tried to look away.  He didn’t want to see his mom that way.  But, he couldn’t.  Whatever happened next, he knew he needed to see it.

“It is possible, of course.  I can smell the stench of fear rolling off you.”  At this, his mom’s nose crinkled as she appeared to sniff at air in front of her.  “It will be a simple thing to pull you down with me.”

Then, surprising Jake so thoroughly that he called out in alarm, his mom lunged towards the ghost with her arms outstretched. The instinct of fight or flight took over Jake’s body. Flight won. Gripping the book tightly in his hand, he ran through the kitchen, cut down the hallway, and toward the front door. Just as his hand touched the knob, the door exploded inward. It hit his hand, sent the book flying, continued until it smacked between his eyes, and knocked him backward onto his butt.

Dazed, he looked up and saw another animated corpse. This one he recognized, though. It was the decaying body of Marten Revulus. Standing over top of him, Marten reached down and grabbed the front of Jake’s shirt. “Where’s my hand?” Revulus demanded. Jake was still slightly out of it from taking the door to the forehead and just stared blankly at the undead being. Marten slapped him across the face to knock some sense back into him. “Where’s my hand?”

Snapping out of it, Jake wanted to ask how Marten appeared as a normal human when he dropped the package off to his mother. Instead,  he tried to back away, but Revulus held him tight. “I don’t know,” he stuttered out. “It exploded.”

Marten picked him up off the ground as if he weighed no more than a bouquet of flowers. “You’re lucky that you may prove useful in the future.” 

With that, Revulus dropped him and started for the kitchen to join the battle.

 Jake scrambled to his feet and raced outside.  A jagged edge of the busted door scratched his arm in his haste to get out of the house.  He felt the stab of pain but didn’t stop to survey the damage.  His need to get out, to get away, to escape the madness within his house was too strong for anything else to get in the way of that solitary goal.

He made it as far as the sidewalk where, suddenly winded, he stopped to catch his breath by the mailbox.  He wondered if he was going into shock.  It didn’t make sense that such a short run would leave him gasping for air.  But the stitch in his side and the searing pain in his lungs told him that, like everything else from the past twelve hours or so, logic need not apply.

Something wet landed with a loud splash on the sidewalk at his feet.  Looking down it took him far longer than it should have to realize the steady drip falling into the growing puddle was blood pouring off his face.  He touched his forehead with a hand and it came away slick with blood.

“Help!”

It was his mom’s voice, ringing clearly in his mind.

Suddenly unsteady on his feet, Jake swayed and would have fallen over if the mailbox hadn’t been there to hold him up.  When the dizziness cleared, he found he was looking back towards the house, the broken door gaping like the mouth of some insane demon.  He didn’t think he could ever set foot in there again.

“Help!”  The cry came again.

Jake took a step back towards the house, but stopped before taking another. Not only was he still a little bit dizzy from the blow to the head, he was also wondering whether he should go back or not. First of all, he wasn’t sure how useful he would be in his current state. Second, even if he was completely healthy, he couldn’t think of a way he would be helpful to his mother. He was just a normal human teenager. There were at least two corpses inside that were possessed by spirits, plus whatever had taken over his mom’s body. Without any knowledge of how to fight those things, if he continued into the house, he’d probably wind up dead.

But, his mom was in there, possibly in trouble. Jake had to admit that what the spirit had revealed about her had shaken him. She had confirmed some of it, however that didn’t mean that all of the accusations were true. And, she was still his mom. Despite all of the things going on around him, he believed in his heart that, deep down, she was a good person. 

“I believed that too, at one point.” 

Jake turned around quickly, too quickly. His dizziness overcame him and he fell to the ground. Fighting through his swirling vision, he saw a man standing there. No, not a man. It was another ghost, a ghost who could read his thoughts. Suddenly the ghost reached out his hand to touch Jake and, no matter how much he tried to move, Jake found himself locked in place. 

A Ghost Story Part 8

More ghosts. More spirits. More stuff… That’s even a star wars reference in there. Check it out!

33 Grams of Blog

It’s that time, everyone! It’s time for the next installment of everybody’s favorite blog hopping story about ghosts and spirits…and stuff.

Jake looked at his mother, begging her to tell him that the spirit was lying, that she didn’t make a human sacrifice to gain some sort of power. She didn’t say a word. She did nothing to assuage his concerns. All she did was stare dumbly at the spirit. “Mom!” Jake yelled at her.

“The fire didn’t burn you,” she mumbled dumbfounded.

“Of course not,” the spirit replied. “I wrote that spell, remember? Did you really think I didn’t put in a safeguard to prevent it from being used on me…Vicki?”

Pure hatred replaced the dumbfounded expression on her face. “My name is Victoria,” she seethed.

“I know, Vicki.”

“The only good thing about all of this is that now I get to kill you again.”

It was Jake’s…

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Another letter to myself

Dear Jester,

Is it okay that I keep writing letters to you, to myself, like this?  Yes.  I’m sure you’ll agree it is fine.  I should know.  I’m you and you’re me.

Anyway…

I’m not sure how to go about this, so we might as well dive into the crux of the matter: It is seeming harder and harder to keep up with the speed of life right now.  And that was really brought into focus by the death of a friend last week. 

You had seen them struggling and you had mentioned to yourself that you should reach out and then you didn’t and now they are gone.

And why didn’t you reach out?  Because you hadn’t seen him in 22 years?  Because you were busy with chores and school and toddler tantrums and infant sleep and birthdays and the day to day grind of life in the kingdom?  Because you didn’t know how much he was struggling?  Because you didn’t know…

You didn’t know.  You didn’t know you wouldn’t have another chance. 

If you had known, you would have sacrificed something else to make the time.  One less thing would have gotten clean.  Or a little bit less sleep would have been had.  You would have made a different choice.  But you didn’t know.  And, there is no way to know that reaching out would have helped.  Would have been worth doing anyway.

So, dear Jester, I’m not sure what the point of this letter is.  I was grasping for some sort of philosophical piece on the speed of life but the words on the page keep failing that, in my opinion.  Very unlike me, I have started, stopped, deleted, and started over this letter four times now.  And this will have to be good enough.  I don’t have the mental energy to attempt it again.

I guess, I just hope you can set aside any guilt you are feeling, we are feeling.  Be kind to yourself.  Grieve. 

And maybe next time reach out…  Because that pile of dishes can wait.  Sometimes, reaching out can’t wait.  And you don’t know what you don’t know.

Sincerely,

Matticus

So this is 40

My dear Jester,

Yes, that’s me.  Yes, I’m writing a letter to myself.  I did that last year too.  I think.  I guess I could look it up but it really isn’t that important.  Anyway…

So, this is 40…?

*Looks around and nods.*

Okay.  This is 40.

Why shouldn’t it be?  You’ve had quite the adventure. 

Married.  Three kids.  Two cats.  Home owner. 

Six cities.  Ten jobs.  More roles than that.  More managers than that too as it turns out.

You’ve been to the top of more mountain passes than you can remember.  You’ve snowboarded on seven different mountains.  You’ve been to (at least) sixteen different states.  You’ve been to four different countries. 

You’ve been a DJ, a beach bum, a blogger.  You’ve been a raver, a husband, a father.  You’ve been a friend, a brother, a son.  You’ve been lost, mentally and physically.  You’ve been a part of four published books and you have words in at least that many still waiting to be published. 

You see?  Adventures a plenty.  Why, you could write a story for each of the sentences above.  The time you watched the sun rise over the mesas on a backpacking trip in New Mexico.  The time you were in whiteout conditions on the slopes in Colorado.  The time you thought you might like to try and become a professional beach volleyball player.  The time you watched your first son being born, your second son being born, your third son being born.  The time you looked down from the top of Whitney.  The second time you looked down from the top of Whitney.  The day you brought your kitten rescues to their forever home.  The day you stood on the side of a mountain and vowed love and adventure to your Queen.  And on and on and on.

Adventures.  A.  Plenty.

So, why the letter at all?  Are you confused about the number?  Are you just bragging about all you’ve been able to accomplish so far?

*Looks around and shrugs shoudlers.*

You don’t know and that’s okay.

I’ll tell you this, my dear Jester, you better hang on tight because there is still so much to do, to see.  There is still so much to learn!  The next 40 years are going to be a whirlwind of adventures.  They won’t all be good, of course.  That’s the way it goes.  That’s as it should be.  But, there will be more good than you can imagine.  And, I know your brain.  I know you can imagine quite a lot. 

So, be patient.  You need to work on that.  Hug your kids.  Kiss your wife.  Pet your cats.  Take the trips.  Put in the hard work when it is needed.  Fix the sinks.  Take care of the house.  Go camping.  Go backpacking.  Go on bike rides and walks.  Go to the beach.  Watch the movies.  Listen to the all the music you possibly can.  Struggle.  Triumph.  Cry.  Smile.  Love every single second of it all as much as you can.

Because why not.

And let me know when the number ticks up one more.  I want to hear what stories you’ll have to share then.

Have a great year,

Matticus

A Ghost Story, Part 7

And we’re back with the next segment in our story, Revis and I. We hope you enjoy. I know I enjoyed writing my half… And that’s not half bad? I shouldn’t be allowed to write these intros after a certain point.

…..

“He called them the ‘dark arts’ but,” Jake’s mother stated after a few moments, her voice no longer quivering, “that was more of a joke, a play on words, than actually being related to what most people think of when they hear that term.  He wasn’t summoning demons.  He wasn’t doing blood sacrifices or anything like that.  There was no dancing naked in the moonlight.  Well, I mean, not related to any of this.”

She added that last bit in a whisper and then looked away, a wistful smile on her lips and a faraway look in her eyes. 

“Mom!”

Without looking back to her son, she continued, “He called them the dark arts because it was dark when the spirits liked to come out and magic is definitely a kind of art.  It takes practice and patience and skill…”

She paused again.  Based on her expression, Jake guessed she was still reliving some memory of her time with his father. 

Jake had a million questions but he knew the pause would be brief.  His mom needed this mental break and then she would gather her thoughts and spill the rest of her tale.  He took the moment to settle on the floor next to her.  He was tired and had a feeling that it was going to be a long day ahead.  There was an undercurrent of excitement bubbling in his thoughts. I’m going to learn magic.

“Again, I only know a few things. I’ll show you what I can, but it’s not much. If your father was here…”

There was pain in her voice. It was the first time she’d displayed any emotion other than anger when she talked about his father. He’d had many questions about his father when he was growing up, but he rarely asked them because she’d react angrily when he did. Back then, he thought she did that because his father had done something horrible to her. Now he thought she reacted that way purposefully, so he’d stop asking questions. 

“I wish I could tell you what happened to your father, Jake,” she said as she tried to hold back tears. “I really do, but the truth is that I don’t know what happened to him. Right after he showed me the fire trick, he started acting strange, kind of paranoid. When I asked what was going on, he’d either brush it off or tell me that something big was coming, but he didn’t know what it was, only that he had a bad feeling about it. Finally, one day, he just never came home.”

“Did you go to the police?”

She smiled sadly. “And tell them that my magic man was missing because he had a bad feeling about something? No. They wouldn’t have believed me. I was tempted to go a few times anyway, but each time I was about to walk out the door, I’d get a sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach. Eventually, I just gave up.”

Jake opened his mouth to retort his disbelief that she could just give up on looking for his dad, for her husband, but thought better of it.  He’d only been living with the idea that magic was real for a handful of minutes and he knew there was no way he’d take any of what had just happened to the police.  They wouldn’t understand.  They wouldn’t help.  If anything, it would make the situation worse because extra scrutiny would be put on him and his family.

His mom was studying him and seemed to be following along with his thoughts, because when he closed his mouth she nodded.  There was nothing more she could have done.

“Okay, you know I love fire, so let’s get started,” Jake said, trying to lighten the mood a bit while also getting back on track.  The spirit, or ghost, or whatever it was would be back soon and he wanted to be prepared to help fight it.

His mom laughed and shook her head, “Oh, you don’t get to start with that one.  You have to earn it.”

She pushed herself off the ground and moved next to the sink, setting the fire extinguisher on the counter nearby.  She ran two handfuls of water and splashed them into her face and then turned to look at her son.  “First, “ she said, “you have to learn the cadence of magic.”

Jake sighed. He hoped that he’d be able to jump right into it, especially given the circumstances, but it seemed like his mom was starting off with the boring stuff. It also sounded a lot like something she’d said to him many times before, “It’s not just what you say. It’s how you say it.” Throughout his life, he’d heard her say that to him a lot and, even though she was using different words, he was hearing it again. They didn’t have much time until the ghost, or spirit, or whatever, recovered from the fire. Shouldn’t she skip to the important parts instead of taking her time with the lessons? 

Despite his frustration, he paid attention to what his mother was saying. Or, at least he was until he felt a thump coming from underneath his feet. Jake wrote it off as his imagination until it happened a second time. He held up his hand to indicate his mother should stop talking. She looked annoyed when she saw him do it, but she followed his suggestion. Her expression changed at once when she felt the third thump.

“Oh no,” she breathed. Her volume increased exponentially when she then shouted, “Block the basement door!”

It was too late. An animated corpse, missing a hand, broke the door down, rage etched on his features.

Jake grabbed the fire extinguisher and prepared to throw it at the thing advancing towards them.  His mom screamed, “Don’t!  Not that!” and he shifted at the last moment and sent the extinguisher sailing out of the kitchen.  It crashed into something with a metallic clang but Jake had turned to his mom, eyebrows raised questioningly, a look of exasperation on his face, so he didn’t see what it had hit.

“The bottle,” his mom said, pointing towards the alcohol they had used earlier.

Jake followed her gesture and understanding hit him.  He raced to the far edge of the counter we’re he’d poured the cups earlier, grabbed it by its neck and threw it at the ghastly creature.  At the same time, his mom raced forward, the spray can and lighter once again in her hands.

The bottle crashed into the being, it grunted but didn’t slow its advance, and thumped to the floor at its feet where the alcohol began to slosh out the opening.  Jake’s heart fell.  He’d hoped the bottle would shatter and completely cover the thing in the flammable liquid.  His eyes cast about for some other weapon to attack with.

Then his mom was in striking distance and she once again created the black flames.  She pointed the jet at the pool of alcohol at the feet of the monster.  In a great whoosh, the whole thing became engulfed in flames.  A second later, the bottle exploded sending shards of glass flying in every direction.

Jake felt something like a needle prick in his cheek and a stinging sensation in his left arm, just above his elbow. Droplets of blood began appearing at the site, turning into a slow stream of his life fluid. Given the wet feeling on his cheek, he thought it safe to assume that he had a similar cut there. At a glance, he could see that his mother was also sporting a few blood spots, but none of them seemed to be too serious. 

She, however, was fixated on the walking corpse. It had just received the exact same treatment that destroyed the severed hand, yet it wasn’t affected at all. The corpse stood in the flames without being harmed by them. Decaying flesh turned upward as a devilish smile worked onto its face. A blast of icy air, one that Jake thought was colder than any winter breeze he’d ever felt, blew in from behind the corpse and extinguished the fire. Still, no damage appeared on the dead body.

“You were warned, boy,” it said without moving its lips. “I gave you a chance to save her. Had you told your mother earlier, she could have prepared a spell to save herself. Now, she must pay for her sins.”

“What sins?” Jake responded with a quaking voice.

“For starters,” it croaked, “she killed me in ritual sacrifice to make herself more powerful.”