Have—have you ever gotten a bad feeling from a new student, or maybe a recently employed co-worker? I don't normally, but when a certain person came to my small high school in my senior year, I can't say I didn't. He was also a senior, and thus ended up having many of the same classes as me. Come to think of it, he was there in all my classes besides the two where I took online courses in the office. I had issues from teachers yelling, since I sat in front of the classroom, but I digress. This isn't about that part of my anxiety, after all.
Charon was his name, he was a little taller than me, a bit short for a guy since I'm only about five foot two (and a half) inches tall. He didn't really talk much to anyone, but for some reason he talked to me whenever he got the chance. His eyes were the creepiest. They were an even darker hazel than mine, almost looking completely black, and they had no reflection from the light.
I'm not sure how, but there just... there wasn't. It kinda creeped me out, so I tended to avoid eye contact; I did that with most everyone anyway, so I figured he wouldn't notice. He'd talk about all sorts of things, from mythology to ghosts, because he'd heard from a friend of mine that was what I was interested in.
A few weeks after he first arrived, Charon stopped coming to school. As creepy as he was, I kind of missed talking to him. I didn't have many friends, and the ones I did have were all in different classes, so having someone to talk to was a nice change from my year spent in almost complete silence.
It was about a week later since his fifth absence, so he hadn't been to school in about two weeks; four more days and he'd be expelled. It was the weekend, a mid-spring Saturday, when I'd see him again. I lived near a park that rarely had more than a few people visiting, so I'd go there to listen to music while I played on one of the swing sets. Yet, when I got there that evening, I could easily make out his white dress shirt and pants he tended to wear most often. He probably noticed me before I noticed him, he was already waving as he stood up from his place on the swing.
"Natalia, I figured you'd come," he'd say with a bit of an eerie smile. He must have heard from the townspeople that I spent a lot of time here, I was a bit well-known for it. "I found something you might find interesting, on the other side of town. Do you have time?"
I gave the offer a bit of thought. There wasn't much to the town, but I hadn't done much research on the history, so it was likely there'd be something to catch my attention. Besides, the entire town could fit into one square mile, so walking there wouldn't be much of a chore. With nothing better to do, I went with him. On our way, we talked mostly about random things that came to mind. I even tried asking where he'd been, but he just dodged the question, saying that we weren't far from our destination.
Charon stopped, went quiet for a moment before turning to me, "Do you see that alleyway? I heard that there was a bloody murder at the end of it, that you can even still see the bloodstains left behind. There's rumors that the victim will show up at dusk and stares at whoever is there, I figured we could see if we could find anything. Why don't you go first, and I'll meet you once I get my camera?"
I didn't think much of the plan, accepting the offer to go ahead while he set up, nor did I think of what would happen next. He handed me a copper coin, saying that it'd protect me from any negative energy that may be present. I went ahead, looking around for any bloodstains that I may see.
I don't remember much. I remember there was a sharp pain in my chest, and I remember falling. I don't remember seeing anything or even hitting the ground. When my consciousness returned, I was in darkness, wandering around for what felt like hours. It took a long time of walking, but I finally saw a candlelight, and ran to it.
It was a lantern, suspended from the bow of a boat that almost resembled a very small replica of a Viking ship. There was someone standing there, mostly hidden by a shroud, looking downwards so that I couldn't see their hidden face. I wasn't sure what to do, so I finally managed to find my voice.
"Ex... Excuse me?"
They looked up, slowly turning their head to face me. I froze at the eyes that stared back at me, black and lacking a reflection from the candlelight. He remained silent for a moment, his eyes staring into mine, before he spoke in a haunting voice that seemed to echo.
"You finally made it, Natalia. Now that you're here, give me that copper coin."
My arm seemed to move on its own as it reached into the pocket of my jacket, grasp the copper object, and held it out to him. He took it, a shaky skeletal hand snatching the coin away before he instructed me to get into the boat. My legs did the exact same thing, forcing me to climb into the boat and take a seat. When I did, I noticed the river it sailed on was- was made of souls. I wish I'd realized who he was before I went to the alley; no, who he is. The ferryman of the Underworld, Charon.
They say you can still see the bloodstains at the end of the alleyway.