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The man that hired me was pacing around the hallway of his house. He had been bursting with anticipation from the moment he had contacted me. His worried grimace turned into an elated one when he noticed my car lights turning up his driveway. I stepped out of the car, which had been wet by the ongoing drizzling rain, with my younger sister, Elizabeth, and walked to the front door at a fast pace, attempting to stay as dry as possible. I looked to Elizabeth, who was following right behind me up the cobblestone pathway to my client's house.
“Remember, no talking with the client.” I said, trying to assure her compliance.
“I've gone with you before, I know the drill.” Elizabeth replied.
The client had already opened the door for the two, allowing us to enter the house, but the client closed the door again so quickly that it nearly hit Elizabeth as she came in. I felt a strange, unsettling chill go through me as I entered the house. The man, who was bald-headed and appeared to be in his mid-40's, stood in place for a moment, inspecting me from top to bottom.
“So you are David Lancaster, right?” he asked.
“That I am. I guess you're my client.”
The man stared at me again, ignoring Elizabeth completely, and nodded.
“I thought you'd be older.” he said.
“Does my age really matter,” I said, “as long as I can do what you hired me for?”
“I guess not.” the man said as he turned his gaze to the floor, “Follow me. It's up in the attic.”
The client lead me and Elizabeth through his house, towards the stairs. His house looked like a bomb had gone off in there – I noticed scorch marks all over the place, and some bits of the ceiling were missing here and there. This and the fact that all the windows had become incredibly dusty over the years made the house quite creepy. No wonder the man called me over. During our walk to the staircase, I was distracted by a golden-framed mirror that had an eerily mesmerizing effect. Not to say that I looked particularly dashing that day, but something about the mirror just made you look into it for a while longer. I couldn't quite put my finger on it.
We made our way to the first floor, and headed up the makeshift stairs that made a horrid creaking noise with every step we took. The staircase appeared to be a temporary replacement, as the old staircase seemed to have collapsed. After going halfway down the upstairs hall, the client pointed us to the hatch on the ceiling that obviously lead to the attic.
“It's up there.” the man said, and he started pulling the handle, “The hatch tends to jam though. Hold on.”
After a while of pulling the handle, the hatch turned downwards with a loud pop, and the man pulled down the ladder that was stacked upon the upper side of the hatch, so that it could easily be extended.
I looked up into the attic and immediately noticed a small hole in the roof, small enough to block out the rain, but large enough to welcome a dim ray of light into the small space, making it its only light source. The man wished me luck. I told him to head back downstairs and stay there, and I climbed up into the attic with Elizabeth. Elizabeth looked at me in fear, as she probably felt the same haunting chill as me. We waited for a while, staring into the darkness in front of us, expecting the chill to pass. When we realized the chill wouldn't pass, but was instead the reason we were there, I grabbed a small electronic device from my chest pocket. I turned it on and pressed the “play” button, after which a monotonous, slightly annoying tone played from the device. I put the small speaker back into my pocket as it kept emitting that strange, after all this time still nauseating noise.
I looked to Elizabeth as the chill grew colder and an odd breeze was starting to come up inside the enclosed space, and she stared back at me with the same fear that was probably hiding in my eyes as well. You just never get used to it; the disturbing 18.98 hertz tone that came from the device, feeling the presence of something unseen, and finally – the entity's reveal.
Both Elizabeth and I were shocked to see what form the entity had taken – it was me. We both stared at the entity for a while, while it stared back at both of us.
“You're seeing this, right?” Elizabeth asked.
I turned to her and nodded, then quickly turning back to the entity that had revealed itself to our eyes. After a bit more staring, I decided to break the exponentially awkward silence.
“Why do you take this shape?” I asked the entity in a seemingly fearless tone of voice, hiding my true angst.
“Because I have no form of my own. It was taken from me.” it calmly said in my voice.
“But why do you take my shape? What shape did you take before?”
Elizabeth looked at me with confusion.
“Your form? It looks like me.” she said.
I looked at her, equally confused, but quickly realized what was going on. I turned back to the entity.
“So you take the form of the beholder. I see myself, Elizabeth sees herself. And I guess that man must have seen himself as well.”
The creature's suspicious frown turned into an intimidating smile.
“You seem to have experience with matters like this. Tell me, what is that excruciatingly annoying noise?” it said.
“It's a 18.98 hertz infrasonic tone. It attracts the attention of beings that reside in the latent plane of existence.” I replied.
“You mean it lures ghosts.” it said, creepily smiling once again.
“Is that what you are?” Elizabeth asked the entity.
The entity did not respond to the question, but instead turned his head to Elizabeth, keeping its haunting smile.
“Tell me,” it said as it turned back to me, “What is that in your pocket?”
I saw into my chest pocket, looking at the device that was still playing its unpleasant noise.
“The device that is playing the infrasonic tone.” I said.
The entity's daunting smile turned back into the former suspicious frown.
“No. The other pocket.” it said, starting to sound a bit angry.
This response surprised me. How could it have known? However this was possible, I knew that I had to stop it from revealing more... secrets. I quickly grabbed the device in my pocket and pressed the play button again, ceasing the tone and making the entity disappear instantly.
“What the hell was that all about?” Elizabeth said to me.
I told her that we should do some research on the history of the house before we proceeded to speak with the entity. I ignored all her pleas to tell her what the pocket thing was about, telling her that it was best for both of them if she just let it go. Because it really was.
I asked the owner if he knew anything about the past of the house. He told me he only knew that a fire ravaged the house some thirty years ago. After the fire, the house stood vacant for a few years, until a man decided to buy the house to fix it up and sell it later. The man had suddenly changed his mind about the renovation for reasons unknown (although those reasons seemed very obvious to him at this moment), and decided to resell the house. It took him many years, nearly two decades, to finally find some avid new renovator that dared take on the difficult task of repairing the house. Most people weren't up to the challenge of fixing up such a devastated house, others had visited the lot and were scared off by the daunting supernatural presence. Eventually, a man became interested in the house and bought it – namely the current owner, my client. A big mistake, as it turned out.
The client gave me the last known contact information of the former owner. I told him I would return as soon as possible, and I drove to the address he had given me with Elizabeth. In the car, I caught Elizabeth trying to stare at me subtly every once in a while. After several times, I noticed that she was in fact staring at my right chest pocket, the pocket the entity was referring to. I kept to my opinion: it would be better for both of us if she didn't know what was in it. I had no idea how she would react to it, if she were to discover it.
It had been me and her for more than six years now. When I was sixteen years old and Elizabeth was fourteen, our house burned down. My parents didn't survive the fire – so this case hit a bit close to home. From then on, it was me and her. I had told her to stay at home and keep away from people. It's safe to say that I became a little overprotective. But I couldn't lose her. Not her too. I assured her that I would provide an income to both of us, and that she needn't even come out of the house. Ever.
At the address, I indeed met the former owner of the house, who lamented that he thought he had heard the last of the house when he finally sold it. He told us the details of the house fire; he knew all about it, since he was a cop back then, and was assigned to the case.
He told me that thirty years ago, an ordinary family lived in the house, until one fateful night a fire broke out, probably because of a short circuit. The parents were locked inside their bedroom because burning rubble blocked their door. The coroner determined that they had suffocated to death, because of the smoke, before their bodies were burnt by the fire. The son was the only survivor of the fire, and the daughter was burnt alive in the living room. I asked him if he knew where the son hung out these days, and his answer came as the biggest surprise in my entire life. I can't even find the right words to describe how shocked I was. I had already met him. The son bought the house. He was the new owner. He was my client.
I thanked the former owner for what he had told me, and quickly started driving back to the house. The entity, presumably a ghost, must have been one of his deceased relatives. So if he had come into contact with it, then he must have realized this. Was he scared of the ghost? Was he working together with the ghost? Was he luring people to the house on the ghost's request for some reason? Whether it was an elaborate ruse or an unlikely coincidence, I had to get to the bottom of this.
One thing he knew for sure about ghosts, was that they were bound to something, or someone. Maybe they followed around the son, or maybe they stuck to an object in the house. The biggest question that remained for me, was what the ghost in fact wanted. And why did it choose to take the form of whomever looked at it? It was a ghost: a faded remnant of a person that once was – that once had a body, an image of its very own. I wondered what the ghost had meant when it said that its form was taken from it, but then I thought about it.
The bodies of the parents and the daughter were burnt beyond recognition. Their forms... were taken from them. I figured that, seeing as the ghost appeared on its own and the daughter was still alive when she burnt, it must have been her. Either way, I would discover the truth quite soon. Elizabeth and I arrived back at the house, and I parked the car behind the tall hedge in front of it, so my client wouldn't know I had returned. Who knows what he would do? Who knows what kind of foul plans he and his sister had planned for them?
I stopped the motor and stared out over the countryside in front of us. It was still raining, like it had all day, and the moon had replaced the sun in the sky. Elizabeth waited in anticipation for what I had to say, but soon figured, quite correctly too, that I had no idea what I could say.
“What are we going to do?” she said to me.
I kept silent for a second and stared at the car's glove compartment.
“We do the same thing we always do, Liz. We find whatever that ghost's bound to, and we destroy it.” I said resolutely.
Elizabeth looked at me with obvious traces of despair. She realized it was different this time.
“What if it's him? The brother? What if she's bound to him?”
I looked straight into her eyes, and knew exactly what she was thinking. What if it had been the two of us? She knew I would do anything for her, to save her, and vice versa. My response to the whole situation was perhaps hypocritical, but the right thing to do from an unbiased perspective. I asked Elizabeth to open the glove compartment and hand me the black, fake leather box inside.
I heard her gasp as I opened the box. I took out the Smith & Wesson revolver that once belonged to my father, and opened the cylinder to show Elizabeth the five silver bullets inside. She had started to freak out, as I should have expected.
“Why do you have this, David? What are you going to do with it?” she asked with a growing sense of panic in her voice.
“If he doesn't want to break the binding... or if he tries anything... I'm going to use this, Liz. I can't let anything happen to either of us. It's you and me, remember?”
“You... you can't just do this, David! What if it were us in there?”
“Then someone else should pick up a gun and do the same thing. The greater good.”
“What if they're up to nothing? What if she just doesn't know how to move on? What if the brother doesn't even know it's his sister?”
“What if they are up to something, Liz? Have you thought about that? What if they lured us to the house in the hopes of... sacrificing us, or something?”
Elizabeth looked at me, not knowing how to counter my arguments, as she knew how I looked at things compared to her, meaning she knew there was nothing she could say to change my mind.
“... Besides, if the ghost tries anything, these bullets will stun her... or him, or it, or whatever... leaving me with a chance to act accordingly. However that may be.” I continued.
“What do you mean, me?”
“I mean you're staying inside the car.”
“No, David, I can -”
“Not this time, Liz!” I shouted, perhaps a bit overly agitated, “This isn't a game. There's only one gun. You would only get in the way, you would only be a target!”
Elizabeth sighed and leaned back into her seat.
“You don't need to... you can't keep protecting me from everything, David.”
“Liz... I will protect you as long as I'm able. I failed once, and I won't ever fail again!” I exclaimed, perhaps a little rash.
“What do you mean, you failed once?”
“I mean... I... I couldn't save mom and dad. I couldn't save... I could have. If I hadn't been such a coward.”
“Don't say that! It's not your fault! The house was a blazing inferno, yet you managed to save me, didn't you? I'm the one who lost consciousness because of the smoke, but you came to save me. You didn't fail me that night. You never have.”
I felt like I could break out in tears any moment when she said that. But I couldn't. I couldn't tell her the truth. I had to stay strong, for both our sakes. For the greater good. The greater good...
I stepped out of the car and hid the revolver inside my coat's inside pocket. I grabbed the car door and looked back inside the car.
“Please Elizabeth. Just stay inside the car. Promise me you won't get out, whatever happens.”
She looked at me with a worrisome and slightly agitated expression. She knew things were serious when I called her by her full name.
“Fine. But don't you dare get yourself hurt.”
I smiled at her, promised her I'd do my best, and shut the car door. I walked around the hedge and up to the house using the moonlit cobblestone path. I used the door knocker to announce my return, and soon enough the owner, dressed in his white sleeping garments, came to open the door. He was obviously confused to see me at his doorstep at this hour.
“What are you doing here this late? Can't this wait until tomorrow?” he said, while inviting him into the house using gestures.
“I'm afraid it can't. I need to talk to her right now.” I said as I stepped inside.
“Her?” he asked, apparently genuinely confused.
“Don't tell me you don't know who that ghost is?”
I looked into his eyes, and realized that his confusion and ignorance was legitimate – he truly didn't know that the house was being haunted by his dead sister, or he was a good actor.
“You really have no clue, do you? It doesn't really matter, I'll explain it all later... but I really need to speak to the ghost.”
“What?” the owner said a little angrily, “You come to my house – at god knows what hour – and ask me to talk to the ghost in my attic? And then you refuse to tell me what you know! I want answers!”
I sighed. He was right, but it would complicate things. And after all, he didn't seem to be planning anything, contrary to what I was suspecting.
“Fine. You can come with me to the attic. You will understand everything, but you may not like what you'll discover.”
He started to calm down visually, and nodded. We walked to the stairs again, past the mirror, right up to the attic. We both stared at the hatch and then at each other in unison.
“You never actually told me... why did you call me? What did you see? And why didn't you tell me you used to live here with your family?” I said to him.
“He told you, didn't he? I just didn't want to be reminded of the past... I... I was looking for some old photo albums in the attic. I was looking through family photos with a flashlight, when suddenly I heard whispering... I thought it was just the wind, but then I heard what it said... what it said, in my own voice.”
He paused, thinking back to that awful memory.
“What did it say?” I asked impatiently.
Suddenly, something creaked loudly in the attic, turning both our attentions to the attic hatch again. We gazed at in fear, dreading what was awaiting us up there.
I looked at him, wondering about what he had just said, looking like I'd seen a ghost... well, figuratively, in this particular case.
“That's what it said. Help me. I haven't been up there since.” he continued.
I figured the ghost intended to use the man for whatever it had planned. I turned my attention to the hatch again, and wondered why I was so scared of what lay ahead. Nothing violent had happened to anyone, but the haunting vibe that everyone felt when they entered the house made it clear that something ill was at play. It felt like some sort of instinctive warning, and it made me nearly sure that the ghost's intentions were evil.
“Let's do this.” I sighed.
We pulled down the hatch together, releasing the same loud pop I heard last time. The owner extended the ladder and was ready to go up, but I convinced him that he should let me go first. Once we both stood inside the pitch dark attic, I took a small flashlight and the infrasonic device from my left chest pocket and turned them both on. I was doubting whether or not I should actually press the device's play button, but then I realized I had little to no choice.
I initiated the tone, and soon enough I was pointing my flashlight at what appeared to be myself, but what was obviously the ghost. The owner gasped.
“Why does it look like me?” he exclaimed fearsomely.
“It mirrors whomever is looking at it, so you always see yourself.” I explained.
The ghost seemed to have only two facial expressions: the suspicious frown and the daunting smile. It chose to take on the former.
“You're back. At least tell me you won't suddenly bail this time?”
I ignored the ghost's slightly mocking remarks, and decided to go to the point.
“Who are you? What do you want?”
“I want... a form of my own...”
“What happened to you? You're the daughter, right?”
The owner looked at his mirror image in amazement.
“Rebecca?” he exclaimed.
When the ghost stared back at the owner with a hint of both hatred and nostalgia, his suspicions were confirmed, and he started sobbing.
“I'm so... I'm so sorry, Becca...”
I was confused as to what he was in fact sorry for, which the ghost picked up.
“He didn't tell you, did he? It was all his fault. The fire.”
The man started sobbing even louder.
“He just had to go and smoke a cigarette in his room, and then throw it away in his trash can, which was placed beneath his curtains. Then, he decided to go for a late night snack. And we all know what happened afterwards.”
I looked at the owner. The fire was indeed his fault. Was his sister plotting revenge? But then why did she ask him to help her? Did she want him to help her gain a form of her own in exchange for her forgiveness?
“And what happened to you?” I asked hesitantly.
“I was already fast asleep, when I was awoken by my brother screaming for me and our parents. I left my room and soon enough I witnessed the flames engulfing my home. The stairs had collapsed, so this idiot here couldn't get upstairs to help us. The door to our parents' bedroom was blocked by burning debris... I spent so long trying to save them – while my brother stood downstairs, unable to do a thing – that the fire was turning into an inferno. I turned to saving myself after the roof collapsed and my brother couldn't even see me anymore. I crawled over the handrail and jumped downstairs, spraining my ankle. My only way out was by traversing the fallen debris... I sustained numerous burns, and once I had cleared the way, I tried jumping through the flames that blocked the path... Of course my stupid ankle wasn't exactly working with me, and I fell and I... next thing I knew, I was burning alive... the last thing I saw was me burning in that mirror...”
After processing the story and attempting to comfort my client (and failing miserably), I tried to further my business.
“How... exactly do you plan on gaining a form of your own?”
She now took to smiling creepily once again.
“I take over someone else's body, of course.” she laughed.
This was exactly the kind of thing I had been waiting for – the reveal of her evil intentions. I decided I wasn't having any of it, and took out the revolver.
“I'm afraid I can't let you do that.” I spoke, as I pointed the gun at her.
She laughed almost hysterically.
“What are you going to do? Kill me?”
“Come on, I deal with supernatural entities, that includes ghosts, for a living. Don't you think I know what I'm doing?”
“Do you really want to take that chance?” I said tauntingly.
She frowned again, this time with a fear-inducing look that signaled her oncoming angry response. As I expected, she let out a near-deafening scream and stormed towards me. Luckily, I had had my fair share of clashes with ghosts, and I shot one of my five silver bullets towards her. Though it went right through her, she soon disappeared into thin air, cutting off her terrible screeching. It sure felt strange to shoot yourself, or at least a mirror image, and not feel any of it.
“What the hell did you just do?” the owner shouted.
“I just shot a ghost that was about to possess me, that's what I did. For your information, I only stunned her. She'll be back. But you need to know – I will make sure she disappears from this world, whatever it takes. That's what I came for, and that's exactly what I'm going to do.” I told him angrily.
The owner looked surprised because of the reaction, but also sad because he realized he would have to give up on his sister. He nodded in agreement, and I bent over to pick up the flashlight that I had dropped in all the excitement. All of a sudden, I felt a hard push, and before I knew it I was falling through the hole in the floor.
He pushed me. The bastard pushed me.
I came to a few seconds after I hit the ground and heard the infrasonic tone still playing. I was lying on my back, facing my outstretched arm that looked like it was trying to grab the revolver that lay beside me. I quickly remembered the situation I was in and grasped the gun tightly before pointing it to my client, who was still standing at the top of the ladder to the attic. I soon realized that he was inviting his sister to possess him, in an attempt to achieve redemption in her eyes.
I put down the gun and grabbed the infrasonic device, pressing the play button as fast as I could to stop the sound from playing and keeping the ghost from manifesting. But I was too late. The owner turned around and looked down at me from the top of the ladder with the same smile that the ghost had shown me several times now, while I could only stare back at him in fear.
I turned to the revolver to pick it up, but was then shocked to see the owner standing next to me, with his foot on top of the gun. My response was, instinctively, to run for my life. I stood up as quickly as I could and rushed through the hallway and down the stairs. I was running through the living room, when the ghost, now possessing her brother, appeared in front of me.
I stopped in place, winced and felt like my heart could pound out of my body any moment. I decided to man up.
“What do you... want with me?”
The ghost exclaimed her brother's laugh.
“Do you really think I want to keep my brother's horrendous face? No... I'm going to need him. You, on the other hand...”
She grasped my neck with her firm, strong hand and lifted me from the ground.
“It'll be easier to possess you when you're dead. Less resistance, you know?”
Somehow, I decided to go for the first question that popped into my mind.
“How... how do you even know that?” I stuttered.
“There's chatter on the other side, you know? Hell, imagine how boring these last thirty years would've been if I had actually been on this side all the time!”
I figured it might be a good idea to stall a bit, so I decided to keep the conversation going.
“What is it like? The other side?”
She smiled, seemingly admiring my childish interest in what went on behind the veil.
“I couldn't accurately describe it to you if I wanted to... imagine... imagine a crowded train station. It's like... a bunch of people, waiting for a train that is never going to come. Some of those people are sitting by the side of the track, waiting for that train, some of them are talking to one another. Some return to the other side, thinking they had to “find peace” to get to that train. But others, like me, understand that there is no train. I now know that the only way is back where I came from. It's not because there's a track, that there's a train.”
“And... what if you decide to follow the track? On foot?”
While her grip hadn't loosened a bit, my neck really started to hurt.
“Ah, well, I told you I couldn't accurately describe it to you. The track... it's just not an option.”
I had so many possible follow-up questions that it took some time for me to pick one, which caused her to return her focus to the situation at hand.
“Right. Where were we?”
Her grip tightened momentarily as she flung me behind her with a smooth turn, and I flew past the entrance hall, into a wall, slightly breaking it. She dauntingly stepped towards me. She stopped in front of me, grabbed a wrench from the table next to her and got ready to strike me with it.
“Hey, at least now you'll understand what it's like.” she laughed.
She raised the wrench up in the air with great force, and right as I closed my eyes and raised my hands in front of me to protect myself, a loud bang echoed through the house.
I opened my eyes and lowered my hands to see the owner, who now had a newly acquired hole in his chest, drop the wrench on the ground, after which he followed its example. Behind him was revealed to be Elizabeth, holding the revolver, which had smoke coming from the barrel.
“Liz? What are you doing here?” I yelled.
“Are you serious? I just shot the guy who was about to bash your head in, and you're angry that I came as soon as I heard a gun shot?”
Meanwhile, the owner was moaning “I'm sorry...” on repeat until it slowly faded out into complete silence.
“You don't understand, do you? His sister is going to back, angrier and more powerful than ever!”
“But your device isn't playing, she can't materialize, right?”
“Ever heard of a vengeful ghost? The rules don't always apply to them!”
As fear filled Elizabeth's eyes, I got up as quick as I could, feeling a terrible pain in my back from being thrown into the wall, and took the revolver from her.
“We need to go, now!” I shouted, pulling her along to the entrance hall.
We reached the front door, but it wouldn't open no matter how hard I pulled the handle.
It was then that I heard the ghost's scream, now so high-pitched that it felt like a flash bang grenade had just gone off. I turned around, and saw her, back in her mirroring form, run up to Elizabeth, attempting to possess her.
I quickly grabbed the revolver and shot at the ghost as she failed to take control of my sister, which she made apparent by releasing a few more deafening screams. The bullet, again, went right through her, but had the desired effect – she had returned to the other side again, until she would inevitably return.
“We need to find what the hell is still keeping her here, and destroy it!” I shouted at Elizabeth, who was only just recovering from what just happened. I dragged her along while she was trying to figure out a couple of things, and went towards the upstairs area.
“It has to be one of the photo albums in the attic... she was able to speak to her brother when he was looking at some old family photos.”
As I walked up the creaking staircase, I noticed that Elizabeth was only following physically, but that her mind was elsewhere. But this could all wait – we were running out of time before the ghost returned.
I grabbed the flashlight from the floor where I dropped it after I was pushed down from the attic, then proceeded to jump upon the attic ladder and climbed it as fast as my hands could follow. I turned on the flashlight and started searching everywhere for the photo albums, while Elizabeth reached the attic as well.
“She couldn't possess me.” she muttered silently.
I was still looking for the albums, annoyed by the fact that Elizabeth decided to initiate this conversation now.
“We really don't have time for this now!” I yelled.
“What if she comes back now and kills us both? Will we have time then?”
I momentarily turned around and looked at her angrily.
“Yes we will, Elizabeth. We will have all the time in the world.” I noted sarcastically, and went on to search for the family photos. Soon enough I noticed a box containing what seemed to be the albums, when I suddenly felt a shiver go down my spine. Elizabeth's subsequent scream confirmed my suspicions that the ghost had returned.
I quickly fumbled around inside my right chest pocket and grabbed the old zippo lighter that was inside. I lit up the lighter and turned my gaze forward, where, as expected, I set eyes on the ghost.
“If you take as much as one step in this direction, you can say goodbye to your old family photos.” I threatened.
“So what? They are just photos of an extinct family. Who's going to miss them?” she responded mockingly.
“You don't understand, do you? You are bound to one of these photo albums. Once it's reduced to ashes, you'll be stuck in that... train station of yours, forever.”
She laughed, longer and more horrifying than ever before.
“Is that what you think? I thought you'd be able to sense such items, like that lighter you're holding, as well. But I guess I was wrong.”
Elizabeth stepped forward and looked at the lighter, immediately recognizing it. She identified it as their father's old lighter, but something didn't feel right. It was like it brought back a memory, but a... wrong memory. A memory that doesn't belong.
She remembered that fateful night six years ago. She remembered how it all went down, but it was far different from how she thought she remembered it. She remembered how I had gone out with my friends, while Elizabeth and our parents were watching television in our living room. She remembered a weird smell that had been hanging around the apartment all day. Elizabeth told our parents that she was going to prepare dinner that evening, as she had promised them. She lent dad's lighter, the same lighter I was holding right then, and turned on the gas for the stove. She lit the flame, heard a noise that resembled a hot air balloon burner, and that was were the memory ended.
Then it hit her. As I quickly looked back at her, I saw that she knew.
“No...” she muttered, completely shocked.
“Oh, she didn't know, did she? Now that makes sense. That's why you made me leave as soon as I mentioned what was inside your pocket. Why you're so very protective of her.” the ghost said.
“No... no! Please, David, tell me it's not true! It can't be true!”
I sighed deeply. Of all the moments. Of all the places. Why did it have to happen now? It was inevitable any way, wasn't it?
“Liz... where were you, two years ago?”
“I... I was with you, like always...” she sobbed desperately.
“Tell me something that happened that year.”
“I... I can't come up with anything right now, but that doesn't mean-”
“You don't remember, Liz... because you weren't there, two years ago.”
She started sobbing even harder, but continued to state her disbelief under her breath.
“Three years ago, I met an old man in a bar. He claimed to hunt supernatural entities. Of course, I laughed in his face, so he took me with him on one of his “hunts”. You can sure as hell say that I was convinced. From then on, I started hunting as well. I put up several ads for my services, and soon enough, I was hunting these entities full-time. Poltergeists, demons, banshees, I've seen them all, and I've vanquished each and every one of them. Well, not all of them. About a year ago, I was assigned to convince the old hunter I met in that bar, who had just passed away, to move on to the other side. But he told me that there was a way to... “resurrect” people that had passed away. Pull them to this side, erasing their memory of what happened to them. They would be able to interact with the world, but they could only be seen by the person who brought them back, or by other ghosts.”
“Shut up! Shut the hell up! You can't... this isn't... it's not true!” she screamed as she broke down.
“Six years ago I came home from a night of drinking, completely wasted, to find fire trucks parked in front of my burnt down house. A gas leak, they said. There were no survivors. I was sixteen years old.”
Tears started rolling down my cheeks as well, as I remembered that horrible night.
“Among the things that didn't burn to the ground, was this lighter. Little did I know that you unknowingly bound yourself to it.”
Elizabeth looked up at me, quickly grabbed the revolver from my right hand and shot a bullet behind me. I had already moved out of the way, thinking she was about to shoot me, and saw that she had shot the ghost, who was about to attack me. I looked back at the box with the photo albums and the lighter in my hand, and decided to burn the box down, just to make sure the ghost hadn't been lying to me in an attempt to stop from vanquishing her.
“Come on Liz, we need to get out of this house in case she was telling the truth.” I said calmly.
We rushed downstairs, not saying a word, but were once again stopped by the ghost in the living room.
“That... really hurts, you know? Although I'm grateful for the chance to feel some-thing other than hatred for the first time in thirty years, but four times on a single night is a little over the top, don't you think?” she said.
I pointed the gun at her once again. This was starting to get old.
“If I shoot you again, we'll be out of here before you can return. So how do you like your chances?” I said threateningly.
She showed no trace of fear, and instead she disappeared again. I thought I had actually scared her away, just like that. But then I felt an agonizing sting in my back, and I dropped the revolver on the ground. I looked behind me and found that she had reappeared behind me, and I felt her... crawling inside of me. It felt like every bone in my body was about to break down into a thousand splinters, as if my blood was boiling and all my muscles decided to convulse simultaneously – but I couldn't move an inch. I stood there, frozen, and whatever impulse I sent through my nervous system seemed to get lost somewhere along the way. Then I felt myself move again. But it wasn't me. It was her.
I turned around and faced Elizabeth, who had already been so smart to pick up the gun that I had dropped. She was pointing the gun at me, visibly panicking.
“Are you really going to shoot your brother?” I spoke reluctantly.
I looked at her as a spectator in my own body, and realized that she would never do what needed to be done. Of course, she could always shoot me in the arm or leg, but that thought obviously hadn't come up inside her mind yet. And then I realized something. If it wasn't her brother, or a photo album, what could she be bound to? And then I remembered how she died. The last thing she saw.
I had to tell her somehow, but I couldn't move a muscle. But I had to try. I focused all of my power onto my eyes, and hardly succeeded in making them look to the right. Luckily, but exactly like I expected, Elizabeth noticed this out of place movement and saw what I had pointed my eyes at. The golden-framed mirror.
She smiled, knowing that we would both be getting out of here.
“I wouldn't waste a bullet, would I?”
Elizabeth turned the gun to the mirror, and fired the last bullet in the chamber.
Next thing I remember, I was looking at the ceiling of the dark living room. I had only now noticed that all the light bulbs had burst. I blinked. I made me blink. I lifted my head and saw Elizabeth standing in front of me, holding the gun. Then I saw the shards of glass of the broken mirror that had fallen onto the ground. I was back. The ghost was gone. It was over.
Elizabeth told me how, after she had shot the mirror to smithereens, the ghost's soul spilled out of my mouth like droplets of white, glowing water that floated upwards. As soon as it disappeared to the other side, forever this time around, I collapsed onto the floor and remained unconscious for about ten seconds.
I turned on the car motor and the radio, and put the revolver back into the box that would in turn disappear back into the glove compartment. I turned to Elizabeth, who was staring out in front of her.
“What now?” I asked.
She turned her head to me, with neither a smile nor a frown.
“We do what we have always done,” she said, “we stick together.”
Written by Trycksterr