“Unsettled” by Chere Snow – Flash Fiction Ghost Story

by E.V. Jacob on December 29, 2012

Written by Chere Snow.  Check out her website and follow her on Twitter!

“Boo!” I yell, making parts of my form flicker in and out. The children scream and their faces twist in horror. The long fabric of their costumes billow out behind them as they run away into the night. Their candy rattles around in their buckets as their little arms swing back and forth. This group had been dressed up as superheroes.

If you haven’t guessed yet, it’s Halloween night. The clock will soon strike ten and it always baffles me how parents can let their children stay out so late. I know its a holiday, but there are still creeps out there who would take advantage of the vulnerability of this night. Anyone could dress up as some axe murderer and no one would look twice at them. I think it’s too dangerous.

I sigh and write down how many kids had just been at my door. Five in all. That brings my total up to sixty and the night is long from over. We are all supposed to scare a minimum of one hundred children tonight. I know that I will end up scaring way more than that.

It saddens me that I have to do this, but it is what every other ghost does. Just because my father is the head of Central doesn’t mean that I get any type of special treatment. I am constantly reminded of that.

I don’t like having to scare people so that I can stay in this world. Most of the time it’s boring work and then other times it gets quite cruel. Sometimes I end up scaring someone so much they go and kill themselves because they can’t deal with what they have seen. Sometimes they go insane and have to be put into a mental institution.

I am a ghost, though, and so I have to do it. There is no way around it. I have to keep reminding myself of why I don’t just quit. I would much rather go on to the next life after ghostliness. Whatever that next life is. No one around here will tell you. They just tell me to finish my quota and then I will find out. But every time I meet the requirements, they always have some other new goal for me to conquer. See, the upper ranks of Central love their jobs. They love the business of scaring people and the numbers I bring in every week. I’ve become the best ghost in our division.

I wish I hadn’t though. If I would have known what it entailed, I wouldn’t have put myself out there. I thought that if I could complete my original quota quickly, I would soon be out of here. As you can see, that was not the case. All I can do is continue meeting their demands in hopes that one day my father will take pity on me and tell me that I can move on.

Move on past the hurt that I still feel over losing her. She was the light of my life and my soul. When we had gone out that night, I didn’t expect the car to crash. I thought I had it all under control. Even though I had sat through class after class on how we weren’t supposed to drive drunk, I still did it. I still made that stupid mistake that most guys make to save their egos. I had only three beers that night and so thought I was good to go. I can’t go backwards in time no matter how much I wish I could.

She didn’t die, but it might be better if she had. And while I feel the need to leave my new home, I also want to relive the pain of the fact that I had caused my girlfriend’s paralysis. I had hurt the love of my life. I deserve to be miserable, because she is unable to move her legs. I deserve to remember what I did.

I float past her house often. I watch as she eats dinner with her parents, and continue watching late into the night until all of the lights are shut off. I do that once a week (twice if I can get away with it). It feels good to see her face on those days. Seeing her reminds me of the inherent freedom she has lost. She was supposed to move out to college the week before the accident.

I hear the doorbell ring and try to banish the thoughts of her out of my mind. I have a job to do. I float over to the door and whisper the words that will open it. It’s a fairly simple spell that I mastered months ago. For a minute, I stare out at this new band of children and for once there is also an adult with them. Six people this time. I inhabited this abandoned house because people were intrigued by what they thought could be inside. I prepare myself for the slight pain that accompanies the shimmer spell. One of the children steps forward to peer inside the house and I can feel him as he stops in the middle of my form. That’s when I speak the spell into existence.

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