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 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.”

A Ghost Story part 5

Here we are again. Another segment in the new story Revis and I are working on. We hope you are having a ghoully good time.

….

Jake’s mom snatched her hand back.  Jake, startled, hadn’t realized he had never moved his hand off hers when he’d tried to get her attention.  He was slightly embarrassed but pleased to see her eyes had returned to normal all the same.  Coughing, Jake looked back to the screen.

His mother asked, “Did you read any of that?”

“Yes.  I got a little bit of it before I blinked and it went back to being blurry.”

“This is so strange.”

“You’re telling me.”

Frowning, Jake’s mother looked at him.  “Is there anything else you haven’t told me?”

“Not that I can think of, no.  Why?”

She was taking all of this far more calmly than he ever could have imagined.  It wasn’t that he didn’t think she loved and trusted him, she was always just very strict and meticulous about how things were supposed to be done.  But, her behavior since he’d first told her about his encounters made it seem like she’d had experiences like this before.

“We’re missing something.”

Jake was confused.  “What?”

“Hauntings happen for a reason.  We need to figure out why you are being haunted.”  Jake thought about mentioning that she had very nearly been attacked too but kept his mouth shut.  His mom continued, “I need to remember where I’ve seen that man before.”

“I don’t know, Mom,” he replied. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen him before. He doesn’t look familiar to me.”

“It’s going to annoy me until I figure it out,” she sighed. “Plus, I’ve worked all night. I’m tired and my brain isn’t functioning correctly right now. I need coffee if I’m going to figure this out.”

The two of them went down the stairs and into the kitchen. His mom poured water into the coffee maker, put new grounds into a new filter, and turned it on. They waited in silence, both lost in their thoughts. Jake was staring straight ahead at the wall until the sound of coffee dripping into the pot pulled him out of it. He turned his head from side to side in an attempt to pop his neck. It didn’t work, but he noticed something as he did it. 

“What’s that?” Jake asked as he pointed to the package sitting on the counter next to the fridge. 

“I don’t know. The guy dropped it off last night when I was trying to talk to you before I left,” she told him. Jake was about to ask a follow-up question, but his mother’s face suddenly changed. “That’s where I’ve seen him before,” she cried. “He was the delivery driver!”

“What?”  But even as he asked the question Jake knew it was no more absurd than the man showing up in his bedroom last night.

Without waiting for his mom to respond, Jake went over to the counter and began to unwrap the package.  Whatever it is, it must be important.  Hopefully it will at least give us a clue as to what in the world is going on.

He’d ripped the seal off the package but hadn’t yet pulled the contents out.  It felt like a book.  Why is everything circling back to books?

“Stop!” His mom screamed, her voice firm but unsteady.

He turned to her and saw a look of terror on her face.  He was going to ask what was wrong when he felt the room suddenly go cold.  His arms erupted in gooseflesh.  A shiver ran up his spine.  His next breath was visible as a puff of warm air in the freezing room.

“Run,” he said.  It was all he could think to say as a pair of hands emerged from the shadows next to the counter and reached for his mom.

She didn’t though.  She was frozen in place.  Her eyes were the only part of her moving as they flicked between the package delivered by a ghost and the phantom that had followed its hands into their kitchen and was gliding swiftly towards her.

Jake’s head was telling him to run away, as far away from this situation as he could possibly get. His heart was telling him to rush over and save his mother. While the two body parts fought with each other, another of his body parts began acting of its own accord. Mindlessly, his hand reached inside the box he’d just opened and pulled out the contents. Then, it positioned the object directly in his line of sight.

It was not a book as he originally thought it would be, though it was the same shape as one. Inside the box had been a clear hard plastic case containing a severed human hand. Wanting only to get it far away from him, Jake instinctively threw it as quickly as he could. Without taking the time to aim, it ended up flying straight at his mother. 

Seeing a severed hand coming at her snapped Jake’s mother out of her stupor. She ducked out of the way, causing the case to hit the cabinet behind her head. With a loud crack, the plastic shattered. While the pieces of the case went flying in every direction, the hand floated down gently, like a leaf, until it landed on her shoulder. 

Just as her son had, she grabbed the hand and flung it away from herself. The unattached appendage only made it a few feet before it stopped, caught in the air by the spectral hands.

“Run!” Jake yelled again but his mom still didn’t heed his advice.  His own feet refused to budge either.  For good or ill he wanted to see what happened next.

The decapitated hand seemed to shift of its own accord, moving from the hand that had caught it into becoming the hand that had caught it.  The sight was so disturbing that Jake wanted to look away but he couldn’t.  He was fascinated.

Once the decapitated hand had completely fused with the ghost there was a piercing shriek of laughter and the rest of the spirit seemed to swell forward.  Where there had only been a shadow beyond the arms there was not a full body.  And a face. 

Its eyes glowed with a malice that Jake could feel crawling on his skin and its lips were twisted into a snarl that made Jake immediately think of one thing and one thing only.  This thing hates us.

The ghost took a step forward, now reaching out with one spectral hand and one very real hand, and was nearly in reach of his mother.  Jake knew that shouting for her to run again would be useless.  He needed to do something though.  Another step and the thing would have his mother in its grasp.

Time stood still for Jake at that moment. For his whole life, whenever he was scared, or in trouble, it was his mother who was there to help him out of it. He had no siblings. His dad had long ago left the picture. He had friends, sure, but he knew that none of them would ever be there for him as much as his mother was. And now, now she needed him.

As much as he wanted to be there for her as she had been for him, he had no idea what to do. He didn’t have a Ghostbusters backpack. He didn’t have a Bible. The only clue he had about what this ghost wanted was a book about preparing for college, and, as a clue, it went right over his head. What did preparing for college have to do with hanging around in the afterlife? And what did the book’s author, someone neither he or his mother had ever met, have to do with any of this? 

Time snapped back into being when he remembered what he’d just read about running away from the ghost. Then something else came to mind. “Over here,” he yelled at the spectral hands. “It’s me you want, remember?”

Jake was sure of it. He was the one who was warned. He was the one who was choked. Whatever this was, it wasn’t until his mother started helping him that she was targeted. This ghost, for whatever reason, wanted him. 

The ghost turned slowly towards Jake.  It seemed like it was taking time for the message to get to it.  Maybe it takes time for sounds to cross through the barrier between worlds.  Or maybe he’s just not very smart.  Jake hoped it was the latter but felt certain it was the former.

The burning eyes locked onto his own and Jake felt panic grip his heart as he saw recognition behind the ghost’s eyes.  The spirit flew at him.  It moved faster than he’d seen it move up to that point.

Run! Jake screamed internally and this time he listened to himself.

Nearly tripping over his own feet, Jake turned, stumbled, and fled towards his room.  He wasn’t sure why but perhaps the answer was there, in his bookcase, or in the college prep book.  He could feel wisps of icy air brushing against the back of his neck.  The touch burned and a scream escaped his lip. 

The ghost was nearly on top of him.

He threw himself up the stairs two and three at a time.  His heart pounded.  He could hear his mom shrieking somewhere behind him.  Another brush of ice on his neck nearly made him stumble but he reached the landing and hurtled down the hallway to his room.  His eyes spotted the college prep book, Unprepared, he grabbed it and whirled around holding the book in front of him like a shield.

Without thinking, he closed his eyes and waited for whatever was coming next. Something hit the book hard, almost making him lose his grip. The sound the impact made reminded him of a baseball hitting a bat. He opened his eyes right after and saw the unattached hand go flying away from the book, also like a baseball. It flew out into the hallway, into the bathroom directly across from his room, and smacked against the wall.

Jake held the book out in front of him as he rushed out of his room. The hand had made a hole in the drywall when it hit and it appeared to be having difficulty extracting itself from the damage. He closed the door to the bathroom and ran back downstairs to the kitchen. When he arrived, his mother was shaking her head slowly from side to side. Her rhythm was interrupted when he grabbed her shoulders and got right in her face.

“Mom!” Jake shouted. “We’ve got to get out of here!”

Recognition came back to her eyes when she looked at him. “No,” she returned calmly. “We have to fight it.”

A ghost story part 3

Yep, Revis and I are back again on this story already. Sometimes the words come easily. Hopefully you continue to enjoy our little tale of fright and intrigue.

…..

The book, a dark purple with silver markings he didn’t recognize running up the spine, sparked as he touched it.  The tiny electric flare seemed to hang in the air far longer than any normal static-electricity and then it disappeared with a loud pop.  Jake flinched at the sound but didn’t stop what he was doing. He had nearly been killed now twice and he needed to know what was going on so he could keep whatever was attacking him from finishing the job. 

Pulling the book completely off the shelf, Jake began to flip through the pages.  There were all kinds of macabre pictures, from headless people riding horses, to unrecognizable horrors under beds, to barely scene phantoms in the shadowy recesses of closets.

A shiver ran up his spine as he flipped through the book.  At the same time, a sense of frustration began to build up.  The pictures were horrifying, yes, but they didn’t give him any information on their own.  Not that he immediately understood anyway.  He didn’t know what he was looking at or why.  And the markings that covered the pages that didn’t have pictures were in a language he didn’t know.

What am I supposed to do with this?

Jake started to put the book back on the shelf when movement from the corner of his eye caused him to stop.  He turned towards the open room but there was nothing there. A week ago he would’ve moved on without thinking any more about it. Today was a new day, however. Just because he didn’t see anything now didn’t mean there wasn’t anything there. After all, he didn’t see what was causing the pressure that cut off the air to his still sore throat. 

The last time he was in trouble he got out of it by waving a book around in front of him. While he wasn’t necessarily in trouble at the moment, the movement was more than enough to make him feel like trouble was coming. With that in mind, he shook the dark purple tome all around. Nothing happened. Not physically, at least. The foreboding feeling he was getting went away after continuing to move the book around for a few moments. He waited for a minute to see if it would come back, but it didn’t. 

Jake kept his hand on the book while his mind went back to trying to figure out a way to read it. Immediately, an idea struck him. He sat down at his desk and turned on his laptop. There were a number of programs online that were designed to translate things. He’d never used any of them on anything more than a word or phrase, and that was after typing the words into a text box on the screen. Using one to translate something written in a book was something new.

He took pictures of the first few pages of text with his webcam and loaded them into the first translation program he found.

The thinking icon spun for longer than it should have, even given the large amount of data he was trying to translate, and Jake began to frown.  He knew it hadn’t worked before the page refreshed with the red letters across the top saying no translation had been found.

I can’t give up though.  There has to be something here.

Setting aside the purple book, Jake picked up Unprepared and flipped through it again.  Nothing jumped out at him so he closed it and turned to the back cover.  The picture looked exactly like the man who had been standing in his room.  Then, for the first time, Jake noticed that under the author’s name were the dates, “June 1st, 1953 – June 7th, 2020.”

“Wait?  He’s dead?”

He felt foolish saying it.  He hadn’t really stopped to consider how the man had been in his room and then disappeared.  The how of what was going on had seemed less important than the what or the why.

Was that his ghost?

He didn’t want to voice that question.  Somehow saying the word “ghost” out loud seemed like a bad idea.  But, he hadn’t gotten a new idea.  Turning to his laptop again, he opened a search engine and typed in “Marten Revulus,” the author’s name.

He had a sense of trepidation that only grew as the search results popped up immediately with one missing person account after another. Jake looked through them until he found the newest link, dated almost a year ago. His trepidation faded as he read. It was replaced by interest. The story of Marten Revulus was not as boring as he first thought it would be. 

Ten years prior to the article’s publication, Marten had been reported missing by his wife, who had come home to find him gone and a pile of glass in his garage where his car should have been. One theory was that Marten had walked in on someone trying to steal his car and the carjacker took care of him in order to keep him quiet. Another was that his wife had paid someone to kill him while she was away. No evidence to support these claims ever surfaced and, by all accounts, Mr. and Mrs. Revulus had a loving and strong relationship. The rest of the theories got crazier from there.

Years passed with no new leads and the story was mostly forgotten until Marten’s wife petitioned to have him declared legally dead, a petition that the judge granted the day before the article. There was no specific reason given for the timing of the wife’s petition. All the article said was that she needed to do it for “legal reasons”. More than likely, Jake thought, it had more to do with finances than legalities. 

How did all of that fit in with what  happened to him? It didn’t, as far as he could tell. What would the ghost of Marten Revulus want with him? He was barely older than a toddler when Revulus disappeared. Plus, there was no way to be sure that the man was even dead. How could there be a ghost of someone who was still alive?

How could there be a ghost of someone who is still alive?  Now that’s a funny thought.  Like something out of one of those space wizard movies…

Jake shook his head, half smiling.  Nope.  Too ridiculous.

He went back to scanning articles, trying to make some sense of who the author was, why he had disappeared and what it all had to do with him here and now.  The sound of the front door opening, his mom getting home from work, startled him from his research and he realized how late it was.  He turned off the computer screen and jumped into bed.  He’d be in for it if she knew he’d spent the night online instead of sleeping.  

Eyes closed and doing his best to slow his breathing, he listened as she came up the stairs, stopped at his doorway for a moment, and then carried on to her room.  He opened his eyes again and stared at the ceiling.  It was useless to try and get to sleep now.  His alarm was going to go off in about an hour and if he dozed it would leave him groggier than if he just stayed up.  Plus, his throat was still sore.  He didn’t exactly feel like he could fall asleep again.

A moment later he was sitting upright in bed.  The front door had just opened again.  A new set of footsteps was coming up the stairs, coming down the hall, nearing his room. Before he could even start to contemplate what this second occurrence was, it happened a third time. Then, a fourth. It was followed quickly by a fifth.

His mind was racing. He wanted to get out of bed, rush to the doorway, and investigate the noises. At the same time, he also wanted to stay in bed. Not only were the sound of the footsteps confusing, but they were ratcheting up the fear he was feeling. Jake was already scared after the two times he almost suffocated in the last half a day, but adding these noises on top of that was beginning to fray his nerves. Each footstep made him wince just a little, especially when they didn’t stop at his doorway like they had been. Whatever was making them was coming into his room.

Jake closed his eyes. When the footsteps sounded like they were next to his bed, he peeked through his eyelids, hoping that whatever was there wouldn’t notice. It didn’t work. His mother stood over him and she didn’t look happy. “Have you been up all night?” she asked angrily. 

“No,” he answered honestly. “I slept.”

She looked him over, trying to decide if he was telling the truth. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, she instructed, “Go back to sleep.”

“But…”

“No buts. Go back to sleep.”

She didn’t give him a chance to argue before she turned around to walk out of the room. Jake had words that he wanted to get out, but they had nothing to do with arguing with her. The words he wanted to get out were a warning to her about the spectral hands that were trailing in her wake, closing in to grab her.

A Ghost Story, part 1

Revis and I are at it once again. We are just starting the story so no promises on frequency or timing of posts. But, hey, at least we are writing again? Hopefully it’s even entertaining. Anyway, we hope you enjoy it because we will have a blast writing it.

……….

The first time he saw a ghost it was nothing like what he’d seen in scary movies or read about in the horror books he owned. The room didn’t suddenly get colder. He couldn’t see his breath. His teeth didn’t start to chatter. The hairs on his neck and arms didn’t stand on end and no strange sensation ran up and down his spine either. There were no shadowy faces or rattling chains, no unexplained thumps in the night or half-glimpsed movements from the corners of his eyes.

All of that would come later. Yes, all of it.

But, that first time, there was nothing sinister or scary about the experience. Perhaps, he should have been scared. It happened so quickly that it was over before he had time to process what he was seeing. Plus, the first ghost he saw, he only saw an empty hand. There really isn’t much scary about that. And he wasn’t the type to scare easily anyway.

He had been sitting on his bed, reading a magazine he liked, when he looked up casusally as he turned pages, to see a hand, as if from another dimension reaching through the thin fabric between the worlds, pluck a book off his shelf, set it on the ground, flip to a specific page, and then withdraw, as if nothing untoward had happened at all. It had happened so fast, too, that he hardly would have believed he had witnessed it if not for the book, one of his favorites, turned to a page with only four words on it, “And so it begins.”

But it didn’t. Not for a while, at least. Weeks passed before the next occurrence. 

That was enough time for him to convince himself that he had been asleep and dreamt the whole thing. The book was back in its customary spot on the shelf the following morning and he didn’t remember putting it back. Therefore, he couldn’t have seen what he had seen. It had to have been a dream.

“Dinner’s ready!”

He jumped at the sound of his mother calling up the stairs to him. Looking down, he saw that his mind had wandered and he’d made no progress on the English paper he’d been working on. It stared up from his desk, mocking him for mentally going back to the night of the book. Cursing himself for not staying focused, he got up from his desk and started walking to the door so he could go downstairs and eat.

His eyes caught movement out of the corner of his eye while he was going through the doorway. With a quick step backwards, he looked around his room until he found what he’d seen moving. It was another book. He stepped back inside and picked it up from where it sat on his pillow. It wasn’t opened to a specific page, but the title caused a chill to pass through him as he read it off the book’s spine: Unprepared. 

“Jake?  Let’s go.”

The slight elevation in his mother’s tone, the pitch that meant he only had a few seconds to make his appearance for dinner or he’d be in for it, kicked him into gear.  Dinner was served at 5 o’clock sharp and any tardiness had to be rigorously explained.  He put the book back on the shelf, ignoring the gooseflesh that suddenly rushed up his arms, and hightailed it to the table.

His mother’s piercing gaze caught him as he took his seat.  “What were you doing?”

“Trying to finish up my English paper.”

The half-smirk, raised eyebrow, look she gave his answer meant she didn’t fully believe him but wasn’t going to push it further.  He would have to give it to her to look over before he went to bed later but that was fine, he really needed to spend time on it anyway.

While eating he tried to bend his thoughts to how he wanted to reword the paper but he found his mind drifting over and over to the questions that had swarmed his mind when he had picked up “Unprepared.”

Had the first incident with a book really not been a dream? If so, what did it mean?  And if this was some sort of message, that he was unprepared, then what was he unprepared for?  What did he need to be doing?

By the time dinner was done, he had no answers. It didn’t help that his mom kept talking to him during the meal, interrupting his thoughts. She always did that when she knew his mind was elsewhere. It was her way of getting the most out of their limited time together. Between his schedule of studying for his final exams and getting ready for graduation, and her working the night shift, they didn’t see each other much outside of their dinners together. Besides, he reminded himself, there was far more annoying parental behavior that she could be engaging in than trying to have a conversation with him.

Once he’d finished dinner, he went back upstairs to his room to finish his paper. With the strangeness happening there earlier, Jake didn’t think he’d be able to concentrate on his work. To his surprise, however, the words came flowing to him when he sat back down Iat his desk. His thoughts became clearer the longer he worked on it and when he was finished, he was surprised by how good he thought it was. English was his worst subject, but he was pretty sure he nailed this assignment. 

“I thought I’d find you up here furiously pounding on your laptop.”

Jake turned to see his mother standing in the doorway in her work clothes. “Mr. Johnson doesn’t want us to type out every assignment,” he explained. “He thinks it’s important for us to know and use cursive.”

She shrugged and walked next to him. His mother looked over his shoulder at what he’d written. Almost immediately, her face turned red and angry. “Is this some kind of joke?” she demanded. 

He was about to ask her what she was talking about when his eyes drifted down to his paper. His face turned to one of confusion. The words on the page weren’t what he’d written. 

“Mom, I… I…,” Jake struggled to understand what he was looking at, let alone come up with a reasonable explanation.  He started to sweat and felt like he couldn’t breathe.  He forced his mouth open to say something, anything, but nothing came.  He sat there with his mouth agape.  He could feel his mother’s wrath swelling.  It was like a physical presence in the room pressing against him.

Suddenly, making him jump a bit, a knock on the front door came to his rescue. 

His mother fixed him with a stern glance and then said as she was leaving the room, “I don’t know what you are playing at young man but, when I get back up here, you better have your real paper ready to show me.”

“My real paper?” Jake whispered glancing down at the jumble of words, doodles, and unrecognizable scientific calculations.  “What happened to what I wrote?”

Jake reached up to scratch at an itch on his head when he realized the physical presence he felt before must not have been coming from his mom.  It was still there in the room with him.  The feeling, the pressure, was growing.

He faced the empty room behind him and stammered, “Hel… hello?”

The ghostly hand appeared directly in front of his face. Jake jerked away from it, burying himself deeper into his desk chair. Helplessly, he watched as the hand drifted down to grab ahold of his wrist. He struggled against it, but the hand was too strong. After he stopped struggling, the ghost hand began to move his wrist. 

Jake’s hand moved over the paper, causing the pen he was holding to write. Had he been holding it the whole time? Where did the new notebook come from? Was there anything else he hadn’t noticed? Why hadn’t he cried out for help? Those questions flew from his mind as he began reading what the ghost hand was forcing him to write.

“You…were…warned,” he read aloud as the words appeared. “You… did… nothing… to… prepare… for… the… beginning. Now… it… is… time… for… your… end.”

While he was still more afraid than he’d ever been in his life, Jake overcame it enough that it was no longer paralyzing him. He hollered for his mother as he got up and ran for the door. Unfortunately for him, the ghost still gripped him by the wrist. He came to an abrupt halt within a few steps. Suddenly, the ghost hand yanked on his arm, sending a wave of pain throughout his body and making him wonder if it popped out of the socket. 

He felt the ghost hand let go of his wrist. His relief was short-lived, however, when he felt it grab onto his throat. Even though it wasn’t squeezing yet, Jake was starting to have trouble taking a breath.