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A Christmas Ghost Story... well, sort of (part 2)

Joe Spivey's picture
Submission type:

Tucked up in bed, in the hour before lights out and with the big dictionary by her side, Finny began to read. The sights and sounds, and even the smell, of the orphanage faded away as Finny entered and embraced the world of Ebenezer Scrooge and Jacob Marley. Of Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim. When the lights went out fifty-nine minutes later, Finny was thrust reluctantly back in the real world. Tomorrow, though, once work at the factory was done she would have the whole afternoon to learn the fate of her new friends.

But tomorrow had a shock in store. Joe Spivey stood on the balcony outside his office and told them of a rush order that had just come in. An order that had to be filled. Consequently, everyone would be required to work the following day, Christmas day.

Finny’s afternoon off faded into memory as everyone volunteered to work over so that they could diminish the workload of the following day. It was an exhausted Finny who flopped down on her bed after the evening meal. Her feet ached from standing all day and her fingers hurt from working the crimp. But not enough to stop her pulling her new book from her lockbox under the bed and propping herself up on her pillow to read.

Joe woke up hearing the deep toll of a nearby bell that existed nowhere in New Flagstaff. But that wasn’t the weirdest part. He was also in bed fully dressed. Then there was the fact that there was no Kirsten shaped big spoon leaching away his body heat. Finally, he was lying in a big four poster bed, and he was pretty sure he would have noticed Kirsten sneaking that up the stairs. Joe sat up, reaching for his shotty, and his hand came up holding a long bar of soap. He stared at it.

“What the f…”


Dropping the soap onto the bed, Joe scooted forward and slid off the end of the four poster just in time to witness an apparition float effortlessly through the wall opposite. The spectre shimmered as it floated down towards the wooden floorboards in front of him. The figure was small, like a child, and its shape flickered like the brightest of candle flames. So much so, that the thing’s features seemed to shift just as they came into focus. Joe crouched down, squinting and discerned bare feet as they came to rest on the bedroom floor. He shielded his eyes against the glare and could see that its stature was, indeed, that of a child dressed in what looked like a nightgown and wore on its head a hat that resembled nothing less than a funnel. Suddenly it lifted its arms and, alarmed, Joe stood back sharply until he felt the solidness of the bed against his legs.


The Gost of Christmas Past... really?!


Joe squinted again, looking for the face beneath the strange hat. Something was not right here. Not right at all. Although not a believer in any kind of supernatural anyting, Joe had yet to hear of a ghost sporting freckles.


The not very ghost-like wailing came to a sudden stop and the figure’s arms dropped to its sides.

“Eh? No!” The voice, which did not sit well with the etheral image, changed again to something more in line with the otherworldliness of the visuals. “WOOOOO. I ammmm the ghost offffff Christmas Paaaaaast.” There was a small pause, then the arms rose again, the fingers waggling in what the diminutive ghost hoped was the correct actions for something beyond the understanding of mere men. It added another, slightly less convincing ‘Woooo’ for emphasis.

Joe took stock of everything that had happened since the non-existent clock had woken him up.

“You’re the ghost of Christmas past?” The ghost nodded its head vigorously, then had to catch its weird hat with both hands to stop it walling off. “Right. Of course you are.” Joe nodded towards the hat. “What’s with the funnel on your head?”

The ghost pulled its hat down tight.

“’Snot a funnel.” The voice was back to being very similar to that of Joe’s favourite student. “It’s a candle snuffer-outerer-thingy.” Realising she had again broken character, the ghost tried to fix it with a belated “WooooOOOOO”. She didn’t bother with the finger waving bit this time. Probably because of the way Joe was now looking at her.

Joe was also taking in his surroundings. Like the wood panel room. The bare floorboards. The candle on the table next to an empty bowl of what Joe assumed would have been stew. It was all making a kind of sense. He still wasn’t sure about the bar of soap replacing his shotgun… or his most recent discovery that everything he was wearing was now brown, including his favoured footwear. Whatever it was that was happening it was obvious Joe had his part to play. Only then would he likely find out what was really going on. Looking down at the Finny/ghost figure staring determinedly up at him, Joe sighed.

“Ok then Oh Ghost of Christmas Past. Let’s get on with it.”

The ghost of Christmas past almost did a little dance of glee.

“Cool! Grab my hand! Er, I mean WOOOOOO! Take my hand and follow meeeeee. Wooooo.”

Joe allowed his hand to be taken and found himself floating towards the far wall.

“We could just take the…” Finny or whoever it was started to slide through the wall. Joe squeezed his eyes shut as the wallpaper loomed large in front of him. “Fine. Wall it is then.”

For a brief moment, as his atoms and those of the wall intermingled, Joe felt utter brickish contentment in a job well done. Then he was Joe again and opened his eyes to find himself floating in mid-air outside the bedroom window of his own house. Well, almost his own house, except for the fact that everywhere was covered in a thick blanket of snow. What surprised Joe was that he wasn’t surprised. Of course there would be snow. Just as of course he would be floating above it while holding the hand of a badly dressed ghost child.

Joe let himself be led through the streets towards the centre of all New Flagstaff business, both the legitimate and the less so. Apparently invisible to the few people around, Joe found himself floating over the pond on a descending trajectory towards one of the pond-side benches. They touched down. The Finny G.O.C.P looked around her, as if to see something she had expected. Then she sank down onto the snow covered bench looking slightly perplexed. Joe went to brush the snow off the bench to sit next to her. Instead of fluffy white powder, the ‘snow’ turned out to be remarkably solid… and a bit sticky. He sniffed his fingers.

“Wait a minute…”

Ghost Finny looked up at him.


Joe scraped some of the ‘snow’ onto his fingers and tentatively tasted it.

“This isn’t snow. It’s bleedin’ icing.” Joe sat down next to the ghost in silence, thinking.

Meanwhile, the ghost seemed to be coming to a conclusion of its own.

“This isn’t right.”

Joe looked at her thoughtfully.

“I know, that’s what I said. But I think I know why we have icing instead of snow…”

The ghost interrupted him impatiently.

“I don’t mean that.” She stood up. Looking around her again. “I mean this. This is supposed to be like way back in your past.”

Joe looked reflective.

“I’m a clone. My past is, well, complicated.”

“’K then. What did you do before you was a clone?”

Joe wasn’t quite sure he wanted to get into a discussion about his previous self with an eight year old. Ghost or not.


The illumination from the ghost flared for a moment. Then she/it turned and stared off over the pond.

“It’s happening.”

Joe followed her gaze. Darkness was covering over the scene like rolling fog. The ghost held out its hand. Joe took it and stood up and immediately the pair of them ascended into the pitch black sky. Below, New Flagstaff and all its lights faded out and now Joe could feel wind on his face. They were moving, fast.

“Where are we going?”

The light of the ghost was intense, almost obliterating, but Joe saw that she was grinning with excitement.

“I don’t know! The past. Your past.”

Joe wasn’t too sure that seeing his past was going to be worth all the excitement on the childish face. But, it appears it was happening anyway.

They flew on over invisible landscape until lights started to appear ahead of them. Joe strained to make them out. Just twinkles on the horizon until they started to get closer and then Joe, even from this unfamiliar vantage point, recognised the squat silhouette of Barret Manor. They were heading towards Hope Springs. Joe couldn’t think of anything in his chequered history that warranted a visit to Hope. Something to do with Tuki maybe?

Now there were more lights, not as bright my any means, but closer. Campfires? It took a second or two for it to dawn on Joe. This was a camp. If they were coming from Flag then between them was the Devil’s Own camp, and not only were he and the ghost coming up on it fast, they were also losing altitude. Joe had a sudden bad feeling. He looked up, searching. Sure enough, coming from Hope was a long line of car headlights.

“Oh shit.” He whispered. Joe tried to pull back on Finny’s hand but, of course, being airborne there was nothing to pull back against and they continued their inexorable descent. “Finny! No! Don’t do this.”

Finny, the ghost, or whatever she was meant to be looked back at Joe with a puzzled look on her shimmering face. Then it was too late because their feet touched down on the thankfully snowless ground. Joe again reached for his shotty before remembering that it wasn’t there. He tried to pull the little ghost away, back into the darkness but whatever spell had joined them in the air was now broken and Joe’s fingers slipped through the small hand like it was smoke. Then the firing began… and, shortly after, the screaming too.

The entire ridge above the Devil’s Own camp was lit up with headlights and every other car had opened up on the sleeping camp below with machine gun fire. What few guards patrolled the perimeter tried to return fire but they were very soon silenced. Now Joe saw figures, passengers from the vehicles running down the slope into the camp itself and the shooting and the screaming became much, much worse. Joe looked at the Finny ghost. The little spectre stared at the horror unfolding fifty metres away. They may be invisible and untouchable by the flying bullets all around them but they were not unaffected. In fact, it was worse. Instead of running around them, fleeing Devil’s Own would have ran straight through Joe and the ghost if they had not, from habit, stepped out of their way.

Joe turned to the paralysed figure by his side.

“Finny! This isn’t my past. Finny, it’s yours.”

But it was like she couldn’t hear him. Joe saw Finny’s eyes lock onto a small group running towards them. Three or four adults and maybe half a dozen kids. One woman, ugly as sin ran carrying a toddler and dragging a slightly older child by the hand. Behind them another woman, this one with blue hair and a fearsome expression ran whilst firing behind her at the yelling men pursuing them.

Joe had to stop this. And he realised he knew how, he had read it many years ago. He reached out and took hold of the ghost’s ridiculous cap and began to push it down.

The ugly woman carrying the child ran past Joe and he turned to look back at them. Which is when he saw the face of the toddler she carried staring back past him, its little arms outstretched towards the blue haired woman, its mouth a screaming ‘O’. The same wild red hair. The same mask of freckles. Joe felt sick. It was too late. In slow motion he turned back to the blue haired woman just in time to see her head explode in a spray of blood, brains and spinning bone fragments.

With all his strength, Joe forced the cap down all the way to the ground until the ghostly light was extinguished and all was black.


Hyle Troy's picture

((Cheese... eating cheese before bed does this... Bedstemor always told this... 

I would rather die peacefully in my sleep, like Grandad, than screaming, like his passengers

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