Jump to Navigation

A Christmas Ghost Story... Well, Sort of (part 4)

 
Joe Spivey's picture
Faction:
Submission type:

Joe opened his eyes and listened. Something had woken him up but there was a distinct lack of ominous sounding bongs. It was also very dark, not a ghostly glow to be seen anywhere. He felt his way to the end of the bed and slid off.

Do you know that feeling you get when you are just about to go to asleep and then you get that sensation of falling? The thought went through Joe’s mind that perhaps that’s why they call it falling asleep. The thought also went through his mind that it shouldn’t be going on this lon…

Joe opened his eyes and quickly checked for damaged. Not finding any, he stood up and looked around. It was still dark, black in fact, but he could see his hand as well as if it were day time – which was odd. There also appeared to be a thick white mist around his feet, across the whole ground in fact, all the way to the horizon. Odd and odd again. Joe turned slowly, like a balding and weatherworn lighthouse, looking for any break in the horizon.

Nothing. Just white mist and black nothingness. So where was the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come? He felt a tug on his duster.

G3

“Ohhhh. There you are.” The diminutive ghost was not so much ghost-like, more perhaps ninja elf-like. Joe put his hands on his hips and stared into the ghost’s goggles. “I shall call you, let’s see. I shall call you, Finny.”

The ghost opened its mouth to protest but Joe loomed over it ominously and the protestation suddenly remembered it had somewhere else to be. However, ghostly pride, or whatever it was, couldn’t let it go entirely so it copied Joe’s hands on hips thing.

“Fine.”

They stared at each other for a couple of seconds. Joe sniffed.

“So. Finny. What happens now?”

Finny the ghost held out her hand.

“Take my hand and I will show you…”

Joe sighed.

“… Images of things yet to happen?”

“Erm… Yeah.”

“My future?”

“Uhuh.”

Joe stared down at the ghost, thinking.

“Tell you what, don’t bother.” Joe jerked a thumb over his shoulder. “See that?”

Finny bent sideways to see past him. Behind Joe something was appearing out of the darkness. It was a small set of steps with ornate metal railing going up the sides. At the top of the steps was a shiny black door. It was Joe’s steps and railings and Joe’s front door. Joe turned.

That, is my future.”

Finny looked from the door to Joe.

“But…”

“But nothing. This isn’t about me Finny. It’s about you.” Joe climbed the steps. At the top he turned to look down at her. “It’s always been about you. Your past. Your present. And this…” Joe held out an arm to encompass the blackness. “Is your future.”

Finny looked around, looking for things in the dark.

“Everyone’s future is hidden Finny. But you’ve got the goggles. Use them. Find your future.”

Scared of what might be in the darkness, Finny desperately flicked through the settings on the goggles. Suddenly, something appeared and Finny’s hand froze. Some distance away was a light, specifically a street light, illuminating a small area of New Flagstaff pavement. A corner.

Finny turned to ask Joe if he could see it. But Joe was gone, as were the steps. Finny’s heart fell into her stomach. Joe was supposed to be here, it’s in the story.

But he wasn’t. Finny turned back towards the scary looking corner in the distance.

“Ok.” She breathed the word to settle her nerves, but it still took a moment before her feet began to move.

Finny closed the gap slowly. Anyone who grew up in The Borough knew that you didn’t walk next to walls when approaching a door, a corner, or a man wearing a hoodie that hid his face. So Finny kept her distance until she was directly opposite the corner and could see what lay beyond. She gasped and froze.

It was an alley. There was a large refuse bin and the figure of a man kneeling, doing something to a thing on the ground behind the bin. The man must have heard her because it stood up and looked at her.

“Finny?” The figure stepped into the light. “Hey Finn. Didn’t see you there.”

Finny didn’t recognise the figure at first. But then... He was older, teenage maybe even twenty.

“Worms?” He looked nervous, ready to run and glanced around to see if anyone else was with her. “Whatcha doing Worms?” Finny tried to see behind him to the thing on the floor.

“It’s not what it looks like Finn. She was already dead, honest.”

The thing on the ground became a pair of legs, one foot missing a shoe. Finny looked back to Worms and only then saw the long knife in his hand, the blood sliding down the blade to create an impressive drip that almost reached the pavement before falling from the knife’s sharp point. His hands, too, were covered in sticky, glistening red.

Worms took a step forward. He shrugged and smiled.

“Just a souvenir. You know how it is.”

Finny felt sick. Worms always did have a fascination with dead things. Obviously rats and cats were no longer enough. She tried to remain calm.

“Where’s Onetooth?” Onetooth and Worms were always pretty much inseparable. They were a couple of years younger than Finny and Casper and the two little boys clung to each other.

Worms’ expression changed. He looked confused.

“You having trouble remembering again Finn? Onetooth didn’t make it out of the orphanage. Got into one fight too many. Didn’t see the shiv.” Again the shrug. He took another step towards Finny.

This time Finny took a step back.

“What about Casper?”

Worms stopped again.

“You really are having trouble remembering aren’t you? Seriously? You can’t remember Casper?”

“What happened Worms?”

“He went to work for Joe. Courier. This one time he needed chips but Joe had no work for him. So he done a job for Fat Eric. Delivery to Los Alamos.” Worms looked hard at Finny. “You really don’t remember? You being sweet on him and all?”

Finny felt a chill in her stomach.

“Tell me.”

“The customer didn’t want to pay, Finn. Casper never made it back.”

Finny’s world spun. But she daren’t faint. Not here. Not now. Worms was advancing on her again.

“Just you an’ me now Finn. How about we get together. Go for a drink.”

She took another step backwards.

“No.”

Worms stopped. He smiled at her. A predator’s smile.

“You sure? Maybe I’ll get some cash together and then me and you can make a night of it.”

Finny continued to back away, shaking her head. Worms didn’t follow her. He watched her, smiling, then turned and walked back to the alley. Only then Did Finny turn away and speed up. Only then did the shock of Casper’s death force tears from her eyes.

Ahead, in the blackness, another oasis of light grew until Finny was able to recognise the place. It was another corner, but this time a friendlier one. It was the corner where the bookshop stood. But there were figures standing under the glowing street light. Three teenage girls.

Finny slowed. Girls could be just as dangerous as boys. These girls were not dressed for the cool night air. Short skirts, skimpy tops and, as Finny got closer, way too much makeup. Then the shock. One of the girls was Lisa. Lisa who slept in the next bed to Finny for years. Poor Lisa.

Even at the age of eight Finny knew that no one stayed in the orphanage for ever. If you weren’t adopted you were kicked out at eighteen. It used to be sixteen but when Maisie took the place other she fought, with Joe’s help, to get the age raised. Most didn’t wait that long though. By the time kids were sixteen they were hungry to get out into the world. And Finny also knew what happened to a lot of them. What had happened to Lisa.

Lisa recognised Finny and her face lit up. But then a figure shuffled out of the surrounding blackness.

“You’re late.”

The newcomer was an old woman. She used a walking stick now but Finny recognised her. It was Aunt Lucy. The infamous hag who waited to take in girls who decided to leave the orphanage. Perhaps just ‘take’ would be a better word because rumour had it that sometimes the girls didn’t have a choice. Finny stared at her with her mouth open as Aunt Lucy went on.

“What’s the matter with you Finny? Have you been crying?” The bitter wrinkles twisted into the semblance of a smile. “Never mind sweetie. Aunt Lucy has something to make you feel better.” Lucy delved into her coat pocket and came up with a small hypodermic. “Then I’ve got a couple of nice gentlemen who are really keen to meet you.”

Finny staggered backwards, away from the advancing needle.

“What?! No!” She turned to the three girls for help, but they just stared back at her, unmoving. Even Lisa.

It was then that Finny saw the reflection in the window of the bookshop. There was Aunt Lucy, hobbling towards her. But there were four girls, not three. Four teenagers. Finny stared at herself. The finny looking back at her was a stranger. Her hair was short, like a boy’s. Her clothes figure hugging and barely covering half of her skin. For a brief fraction of a second the thought ‘I’ve got boobs’ flashed through Finny’s consciousness before the horror that was her face hit her. Dead, staring eyes. A swollen lip. A black eye. Bruises too on her arms, her legs. She backed away shaking her head.

“No.” She whispered. “No. No. NO!” Finny turned a fled back the way she had come.

Behind her Aunt Lucy’s voice was raised in screeching anger.

“Get back here you little slut!”

Now Finny was once again coming up on the alley where Worms had been engaged in his grisly pastime. He was still there. Behind her Aunt Lucy’s voice still screamed epitaphs at her fleeing back but now Worms was coming. As children she could always outrun him, but now it was Worms who had the edge in stamina and Finny knew it would not be long before he caught her. And then what? A knife in the ribs and another trophy for her former friend? Or dragged back to Aunt Lucy to be given to her ‘two nice gentlemen’?

Where could she even run to? Everywhere was black and anything in her future was always going to lead back to one horrible fate or the other. She could hear Worms gaining on her. Maybe the knife was better. End her future now before…

Her future. End her future. But she had started in Joe’s future. The goggles! More desperate than any time in her life, Finny flicked through the settings on the goggles looking for… There!

In the distance. Joe’s steps. Joe’s door. And, with a sob of relief that almost made her fall, Joe.

“Finny!”

It was Worms behind her.

Now Finny seemed to be running through molasses. Joe didn’t seem to be getting closer. She could see him hold out a hand towards her.

“Finny!” Joe’s voice. “Finny! Come On!”

She was, but her legs would hardly move. She felt a hand on her shoulder. Finny screamed.

“Finny! Come on!”

Finny opened her eyes. It was Lisa. A much younger Lisa. A laughing Lisa.

“Finny come on. Get up. It’s Christmas! Double bacon for breakfast. Hurry up or you’ll miss it!”

Lisa didn’t wait. It was double bacon after all. Finny climbed out of bed and her book fell, shedding pages even as it hit the floor. Still in her nightie, Finny dropped to her knees and scrabbled the pages together. One page caught her eye. One paragraph.

Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only? Men's courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead, but if the courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with what you show me!

Finny’s eyes filled.

 

Comments

Hyle Troy's picture

(( just... wow  ..

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



Main menu 2

Blog | by Dr. Radut