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.”
“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.