Have you read Blackmoon WarMage yet? Do it!! Do it now!!! That’s an official Kingdom directive. When the First Knight of the Matticus Kingdom publishes a story, I insist that all layal kingdomites go forth, purchase, and read that book. Furthermore, I require that reviews be left afterwards as feedback for both the author himself and for potential future readers. So… stop reading this silliness and go read Revis’ book!!
He grew up in a haunted house so each new place he moved to he was open-minded to the possibility that it too would be haunted. He looked for signs. He watched for movement and listened for unexplainable sounds. He waited patiently for the ghosts to show themselves but they never did. Then, one night, nine plus years after having moved into his current home, he heard her voice coming through the shower pipes.
He dismissed it at first. Ghosts don’t just show up unless something happened to invite them in or to keep them from leaving. Nothing tragic had happened in the house or nearby. There was no reason a ghost should have chosen that specific night to reach out. But, she continued to talk through the pipes when the shower was running and that made it so he couldn’t ignore her. Besides, he’d waited for so long he didn’t want to.
Her words were garbled. The water made them impossible to understand but her voice only came through when the water was turned on. No matter what he tried, he couldn’t understand her.
It was disconcerting to have her chattering away while he showered. Though, once the initial shock wore off, he tried to engage her in conversation. She didn’t respond to any of his questions in any discernible way. It didn’t seem like she cared what he said because her tone and the pacing of her words never changed. He grew used to having her voice in the background as the days passed, until it no longer seemed strange and he no longer even tried to understand what she was saying.
And then, one morning during his shower, her words turned to screams.
He called out to her, asking fervently how he could help, what was wrong, what she needed. When there was no change, he turned the water on and off, hoping to get a break from the onslaught. Hoping the cycling of the water might help or reset the scenario or anything that might break off the noise. He turned on different taps and called out through them. But, when the water was on in the shower nothing stopped the screams. Nothing he tried did anything to diminish her wails.
He had to turn the water off. Even at a trickle her cries of anguish came through at piercing decibels. He felt bad about it but he had to go about his life. He couldn’t leave her screaming while he wasn’t home. He couldn’t leave her screaming while he was trying to get things done around the house: eating, sleeping, …
He turned off the tap and left it off for several minutes. The silence was nearly as deafening as her screams had been. Nearly. For the first time since her sudden arrival, he was scared.
What would happen when he turned the water back on? What if she was still screaming? What if she wasn’t?
The unanswered questions couldn’t wait forever. He only had one bathroom in his place. Eventually, and sooner rather than later at that, he would have to turn his shower back on.
He couldn’t face it naked, though. Though he had mostly dried in the process of running around trying the other taps in his house, trying to get to the women, to help her, to get her to calm down, he still had soap on him. He didn’t worry about that, though, as he finished toweling off and put some clothes on. Then he walked back into the bathroom, haltingly, timidly. And with his heart racing, he pulled the lever that would turn his shower back on.
Water poured forth but nothing else. No screaming. No talking. Just water.
He stared at the drain as the water filled around the edges before being pulled away, forgotten, lost forever. Where had she gone? Had he imagined the whole thing? What was he supposed to do now?
He shut the water off and then immediately turned it back on. Still, there was no hint of his ghost. With a frown he turned off the tap and left the bathroom. He had to get to work. The mystery would wait until he got home later and could see if she had returned. Then again, perhaps he would never know why she had come, why she had screamed and why she stopped…
The crows fled before him in splashes of darkness against the coming dawn. It was often said that such birds were omens of ill fortune. He’d never seen them that way. He had always been fascinated by their ability to fly and he had long been searching for a flock of us his own. He wasn’t likely to find one but that didn’t keep him from hoping. He paused long enough to watch them disappear into the gloom where his eyes could no longer penetrate and then he lifted his gaze to the eastern skies. Very soon a new day would start and he still had a ways to go before he was safely within the confines of his home.
The bard had warned them not to get caught outside during the day.
It used to be that there were certain risks that could be taken while the sun was up, to get water, or relieve oneself, or tend to something else immediately near the house. But, the last time the bard had come through to sing his songs and share his tales he had warned all who would listen that the daytime would soon be completely unsafe. Only those who had listened survived the following weeks. The rest disappeared but only after their painful screams floated away from their homes.
Trist had been friends with the bard before he’d taken on the noble calling and so had trusted his word and stopped going out in the daylight. He had spent some time wondering if he would have listened so well if he hadn’t known the story master before. In the long hours of sunlight, there was time to ponder all kinds of what ifs and what could have beens.
Stepping forward again, Trist quickened his pace. He needed to hurry.
He’d spent the night checking on and chatting with his closest neighbors. He did that most nights. Trist didn’t mind that nobody ever seemed to come around to check on him. They were scared or had families to look after or had to spend the safe nighttime hours toiling away to provide for themselves and their loved ones. He understood. That was one of the reasons he was willing to go out and knock on doors each night. He didn’t have those same set of worries and responsibilities.
Being friends with the bard had certain perks like that. Trist did not take that for granted. He took it upon himself to help his neighbors as much as he could.
A hint of sunlight flashed across his path and Trist cursed. How he longed to be a bird. He could simply take to wing and fly away from the danger. He was fairly certain that he would be safe in the sky.
His front door came into view and Trist began to sprint.
He knew he was being paranoid. It was still too dark. There was no reason his heart needed to race the way it did, or his palms sweat, or his mind linger on the worst that could happen. He had heard that worst happening to some of his neighbors, some of his friends, though. And their screams were not easily forgotten.
So… it’s been a while since I’ve been here with any sort of regularity. I guess I should get a broom out and take care of some cobwebs (safely transporting the spiders outside first, of course) and maybe do some dusting.
Ugh. Dusting. Really? It’s the worst.
You might be seeing a bit more of me this year… I don’t want to promise and than not deliver, hence the “might,” but I should have a lot of good news to share throughout the year.
And that starts now.
Revis, Arden, Ethan and I have a book coming out soon… very soon… Tuesday of next week or so… Yes, I’m just teasing you for now, no specifics, no details, just an anthology of fantasy stories related to a world you may or may not be familiar with already.
So, there’s that bit of awesome…
What? You want more?
Okay, okay… here’s some words for you:
New book! New book! New book!!
What?! Not the words you were hoping for? Be patient my faithful kingdomites, and you shall be rewarded… A cover reveal? Some tantalizing quotes from the various stories? An author interview? Okay, maybe not that one, but we shall see. Indeed, we shall see!
I regained consciousness with a tube in my trachea, many more attached to my body, and an expression on your face that I could not discern.
I tried to tell you that I remember the accident in its entirety and ask if anyone survived. If anyone died, my life would be truly pointless. The others in the car were my mom, sister, nephew, and your parents.
If my sister died, her children would become orphans, as their father died nearly two years ago. If she survived and my nephew died, she would be devastated with the loss of a child and a spouse, within two years. If my mom and your parents died, we would have the loss of both parents in common, along with our love of football (soccer as others call it). The possibilities were endless. I needed to know that all others survived.
You left the room. You left again. I tried to yell for you to come back. You leaving is what helped this chain of events. I know it sounds selfish, but I need to know your intentions from that night and why you ran away from me.
The tube prevented any of those words from escaping and I blacked out.
I remember the day we met. I was at the apartment office making sure my rent payment cleared. You were applying for your residency. You asked how long I lived in the community and if I would recommend it to a friend. I responded 12 years and I did just recommend the last unit to a friend, so you were probably SOL due to that recommendation. I quickly added a, “Just kidding and good luck” to my response. You asked me my name and I said and spelled it. It is a difficult name to spell. I returned the question. You answered. I asked you if it was spelled with “ea, au or aw” as it could be spelled many different ways. You told me you would text me for the avoidance of doubt. I retorted that it was a clever way to ask for someone’s phone number, but I gave it. My phone buzzed with your number and the word “Shawn”.