TW: violent murder
The car screeched to a halt. Two masked figures jumped out. They were carrying a gagged and tightly bound man with bulging eyes and a look of horror on his face. The masked figures carried the captured victim to a small grove of trees on the left. Apparently I hadn’t been noticed, yet…
Who were these people? What were they doing with the tied man? Curiosity was overwhelming me. I knew what the consequences would be if I got caught spying on them, but I couldn’t resist the temptation. I needed to find out. Besides, a tiny peek wouldn’t do anything would it?
I dived into the overgrown bush. It was the perfect hiding spot and at an angle peeking at all the action. I watched as the masked figures dropped the body on a decaying rampike. One of them took out a rather ominous-looking but magnificent knife. It glinted in the setting sun, and shone with a menacing gleam. I almost gasped. They wouldn’t, would they?
The bound man knew what was coming. He looked so petrified; I had never seen someone like that before. His face showed a grief-stricken expression and his eyes watered. His body trembled, and he let out a stifled cry. Then, suddenly, with no warning or hesitation, the masked figure stabbed its unfortunate victim. That cursed blade sunk deep into his guts. Only its awe-striking hilt arrogantly stood out.
I watched the essence of life drain out of him as he died, with the blood slowly seeping from his body and engulfing him in a dark pool, ever-increasing every second. I had never seen anyone in such excruciating agony. He clutched his side, desperately trying to scream out but ghastly muffled by that horrendous gag. Then he was just still, completely unmoving. As still as a statue. No raspy breathing could be heard anymore, or stifled moaning. He was gone from this world, never to return. But what haunted me the most, was his very last expression before his death. He was looking at me.
Then the masked people quickly dug up a large hole, buried the body and left, as quickly as they came. I waited until the loud hiss of the car engine faded away before I dared to venture out. I was horrified, startled and witless. This was scarring. Trembling, I felt chills running down my spine. My body was shaking and my head suddenly felt too heavy for my neck. I felt sick and revolted. My legs gave way and I was left on the ground on my knees. The nausea made my stomach churn and its contents uncomfortably rise as I forced it back down.
I couldn’t believe that the murdered man had seen me. Actually seen me. The guilt was eating away. Here I was, a kid who had just witnessed a major crime and stood there bamboozled on what to do. His expression, when he was looking at me, oh that expression, is something I’ll never forget that. A mixed look of pure terror, horror, pain, shame, pride, sadness, anger, how can it be described? He was terrified about what was happening and how he was dying, in unbearable pain, and on top of that seeing me watch him like that just aggravated his already damaged mental state. But what can I do about that now? I mean he’s dead, so of course it was a pity, but I can do nothing feeling guilty at the moment. Of course I should’ve called the police, but it was a dangerous situation, and the fear and stress had stopped all my rational senses. Besides, it was dangerous with such vile and murderous killers nearby, who would definitely terminate my existence if they found out I was there and what I had saw. In fact, I really was lucky to escape the scene and save my life.
It was twilight, and gloom slowly enclosed around me. My senses were coming back, and the first thing I did when the shock had passed over and my limbs had returned to their natural state, was run, run all the way home as swiftly as I possibly could. I sprinted through the streets like I was being chased by a monster. That was what it felt like. Some monster was chasing me. The monster was my own fear, my own insecurities and cloudy guilt.
A slight drizzle had started, and I submerged in a feeling of overwhelming melancholy. It was strange, I didn’t even know myself how I was suddenly so dejected. What had happened was not in my control, I tried to convince myself. I couldn’t have done anything, and what’s done is done now, I should try and forget what I had witnessed and move on with my life. It had nothing to do with me and therefore would not affect me at all, provided I didn’t replay the scenario in my mind a million times and drove myself mad.
I reached the porch, and pressed the bell. At that moment, a sudden wailing sound filled my ears from behind. A shadow cast over the lantern on my door in front of me. I turned around apprehensively, only to perceive nothing. My mother opened the door and saw my fearful look.
“Are you alright”? she asked. “Oh, um yes, I just thought I saw a bat”, I quickly retorted. She nodded sympathetically and I went into the house. I knew I could count on that excuse to pass over any discomfort. She knows that I absolutely loath bats. We don’t see them too much here in the outskirts of Sydney, but of course they do come around occasionally.
I ran up the stairs to my room and tucked my flute away in the cupboard next to my bed. I had a lot to practice from my teacher and I decided to get a start on it tomorrow. “Hi Pepper” I called to my gerbil. She immediately bounded up to me. I opened the cage door and let her out. “I know you don’t like being trapped in a smelly cage all day long little fellow”. “I don’t like it either”. “If I had my way, I would never lock you up”. Unfortunately, dad would’ve gone bonkers if Pepper was loose. “I don’t want anything to do with that filthy rat, you hear that Fornax”? “Keep it away from me”, he would always tell me.
Then I went to shut the window, when something peculiar caught my attention. I stopped in my tracks. There was something uncanny and deeply unsettling outside. I hesitantly crept forward and leaned against the glass. The glass was cold as I pressed my nose against it, squinting in an effort to discover what it was I had seen. My heart was about to explode out of my chest. There was nothing obviously disturbing in sight, but something seemed off about the environment outside. The uneasiness was ceaseless. Then, out of nowhere, a spectral jumped at me on the other side of the glass. I recoiled, startled.
The spectral had torn clothes, and was glaring daggers of pure malice into my soul. He was tightly bound in coiling rope that had burnt into his ragged skin, forming hollow impressions and red stripes all over. It was him, again. That malevolent ghost was the same man whose death I had just witnessed less than an hour ago.
I took a good long look at it, retreated slowly to see if it was following me, and then ran down the stairs at superspeed. Was I safe nowhere, not even in my own home? I shuddered at the thought while I went into the sitting room. Why were all these things happening to me today? I kept glancing behind me to see if it was there again. But I’m too old to still be believing in ghosts. It must’ve been my wild imagination and subconscious mind that was playing tricks on me. I mean, this experience shook me to my very core so it’s natural that I would hallucinate a little right? It would go away as the memory faded.
Or that’s what I thought. Supper with my parents went fine, and I was able to comfortably enjoy our conversations, but at night when I went to bed, it was worse. The torment I was facing from witnessing the murder was deeply disturbing me. Anxiously I was kept on my toes the whole night as I waited to see if the spectral would return. What if the ghost got me? Ghost. Ghost? What ghost? What I saw was just a figure in my mind. A hallucination. Thirteen was too old to still be believing in such fairy stories. But deep down, I knew it wasn’t.
My vigilance ensured insomnia that night. I woke up all groggy and dishevelled with low energy and I didn’t even feel like getting out of bed. But though I was sleepy and tired still, I couldn’t stay longer, my restlessness was getting unbearable. I got out of bed, got dressed and went downstairs. My heart stopped cold when I saw what was on the television. It was the picture of the murdered victim, before he got murdered. He was everywhere, in my mind’s eye, in my nightmares and now in the public too?!
It was on the local news channel that my parents watched every morning. I sat down shivering, even though it was a typical thirty degree weather. The goose bumps on my skin shone out like strawberry seeds as a dreaded anxiety creeped over me.
The news channel reported that the new detective Carl Jenkins (the man I had watched dying) went missing, and that the police were searching without any trace of where he disappeared. I’m the only one that knows then, I thought to myself.
The next few days were abominable. I had hallucinations of the spectral all the time, and I kept getting distracted in class. I didn’t know it would bother me this much. The delusions of the murder that had conjured up in my mind were ceaseless. No matter how hard I tried and what I did, I couldn’t get that out of my head.
I remained highly solitary and reticent at school, seldom talking with my good friend Robert. Poor chap, he was confused about my sudden odd comportment. I didn’t have the heart to tell him anything, mainly because I knew he wouldn’t believe my thinking of the ghost, being a very rational person. If anyone had heard this, they would conclude that I was fantasising, because “ghosts don’t exist”. But then again, my conscience didn’t tell me to spread the word so I could convince everyone I was a lunatic. This was obviously going to be kept private. By now I was unquestionably certain that the ghost was no figure of my imagination. I knew it was real.
Less than a week after that horrid incident, my second encounter with the poltergeist happened. I had just switched off the light so I could sleep, (and repeatedly checked that the window was bolted firmly), when a faint murmuring started. I tried to figure out where the sound was coming from, but just then my eyes felt a painful pang. I couldn’t see anything at all. Then a hushed voice started talking. I tried to find out where it was coming from but then I realised in horror that it was emanating from my head, from me. I was possessed by someone. I breathed desperately as the suffocation rose.
“Close your eyes” said the voice. Unresistingly, I obeyed. A face zoomed in my head. It was of course, the horrendous face of that murdered victim. “Surprise, Fornax Asher Ottum” he said in a deceivingly soft voice. “You remember me, don’t you, you pompous dwarf of a boy”? He snarled maliciously. “I’m Carl Jenkins”. “Why did you watch me die? Why didn’t you call the police? Why didn’t you stop them? Why didn’t you save me”? He boomed.
“Forgive me, but what could I have done”? I said nervously. “If I had interfered, I would have died too”. “I can’t resuscitate you”. I felt that deep inside, the ghost knew this was true. Nevertheless he continued to take out all his frustration on me.
“Listen boy” the ghost hissed from my head. “I lived a lonely life. It got better at the end, just in time for me to die and forget what happiness felt like”. He looked downwards and I saw the sadness in his eyes. “I grew up in an orphanage with no friends. The kids didn’t like me, the supervisors didn’t like me, the teachers didn’t like me, I had no one. No one at all. When I turned eighteen I started working in a supermarket. A few years later I got my beloved Pixie, a lovely Persian cat, my only source of happiness. My soulmate. I worked at that supermarket for fifteen years, before I got the detective job from the police. It was my lucky day. I found the loot from a gold shop in Dubai that was smuggled all the way here in Sydney”! Said Carl proudly. “The police were amazed at how I had done that, it was no accident I assure you, and impressed with my critical thinking and method of action they didn’t even ask for qualifications! I had that job for only five months before those wretched gold thieves killed me, revenge for ruining their plan. They knew me personally, you see, and they weren’t able to let it go easily. They accused me of being a sociopath, a manipulative lone fiend who messed up everything”. His voice dropped and I heard stifled sobs.
“Why are you telling me all this” I asked Carl. “Why are you haunting me”? I finally managed to croak, hoarsely. “When will you stop pursuing me?” “That’s the second part” he said. His voice had undergone a 360 degree change. Where it was emotional, heartful, nostalgic before, it had completely changed to sadistic, manipulative and evil. How was it humanely possible to undergo such a change? “The twist. It is quite simple, dear” said Carl, gleefully. “All you need to do, is trap the two assassins. Trap them, turn them in to the police, so they get incarcerated, and even better, hang. Then I will go back to my grave in peace. You won’t hear from me again. But if you fail, I will be all there with you all your life. I will be there with you during school, in your dreams, with your parents, all throughout your childhood. I will be there with you when you graduate school and get a job, when you find a partner, get married, have a family, whatever. I will be there with you always, and there is no way you’ll ever be able to get rid of my wrath. No way out, except death. Suicide. I ensure you, I will drive you deranged to the point where you will be forced to take your own life to escape the disastrous reality you have brought upon yourself”.
My suspicions were confirmed. Not only was this ghost real, but this man was a classified lunatic. Obsessive, controlling and utterly mad. Plaguing a kid rather than sorting it out with the killers. Feeding his self-absorbed elusive ego.
“Let me give you some information about them that I found out” said Carl Jenkins. “The two criminals are twins, Orion, and Delphi Paver. As children they were inseparable and fell into a crowd of older malicious kids. They learned to steal, and later to kill. They learned how to stay anonymous, lie low, and get away with crime. A lot of crimes that are shown in the newspapers or the television are done by them. The police have been out and about searching for the criminals, but in vain. No one alive has ever seen the rascals before. They don’t live in one place for long, and constantly move about. They make deals with crooked people, brainwash the treacherous ones, and get away with everything. Only once have the police seen two faint silhouettes in the distance, only to lose them again. They are masterminds, and to play a game with them is dangerous”. finished the ghost.
“How do you know all this”? I asked Carl. “I am a spirit now, and spirits can travel faster than light itself, into the past and the present” he replied. “Besides, it was part of my case study as a detective to investigate into them, so I was starting to get information about those cursed fugitives”. “What about the future”? I questioned curiously. “As a spirit, do you know that?”
“No one knows the future, for anyone can change it, anyone at any time” he said sagely. “Why don’t you tell all this to the police, or perhaps the Paver twins” I asked, irritated that he should bother me. “The Paver twins are not afraid of anything” he said spitefully. They are darker than darkness itself. And it is easier for a ghost to manipulate a child rather than an adult police officer, said Carl Jenkins. I did not understand what he meant by that. Obviously if he revealed himself with such tormenting images and threats to an adult, however more influential and high ranked in society, he’d get the same effect. Fear knows no age. “Goodbye” said Carl Jenkins. “You have a fortnight to finish the business”. Then he roared and I felt his presence leaving. The coolness and clamminess of the air disappeared with him. I could breathe again.