"Thus, paranormal phenomena include extrasensory perception (ESP), telekinesis, ghosts, poltergeists, life after death, reincarnation, faith healing, human auras, and so forth."

-Terence Hines

In traditional ghostlore and fiction featuring ghosts, a ghost is a manifestation of the spirit or soul of a person. However, sometimes the term "ghost" is used synonymously with any spirit or demon.


A fire burned beneath his skin.

Ashton Watcher pressed the cold handle of his gun against his palm, the cold calming the burn raging beneath his skin. He took a deep breath, pressing his back against the wall, and brought his gun up even with his face. He'd been preparing for this for months, and if he failed now he would never forgive himself.

"Agent Watcher, do you have eyes on the target." Ashton shook himself out of his thoughts as the voice filled his ear.

He turned around the corner and made his way down the hall, shaking his head despite the fact that he knew the people on the other side of his earpiece wouldn't be able to see him.

He froze at the next corner, as something turned in his gut. A warning. He stopped and waited for the person to turn the corner, and as they did, he trapped them in a headlock, cutting off their air supply. As he struggled to hold onto them, the voice came again.

"Need I remind you how important this mission is? If you don't complete your task many people are going to lose their lives."

"Believe me, I know." He said through gritted teeth. The man let out a final gasp before his body went completely limp. Ashton nearly threw the man to the ground, but stilling himself, he slumped him gently to the ground.

He moved around the corner only to come face to face with a gun. The man behind the handle smirked before tightening his fist on the trigger.

"Wrong move, Tipo."

As the bang of the gun rang in his ears, Ashton shot up in his chair, the simulation ending. He kept his eyes shut for a moment, taking deep breaths, knowing that if he opened them immediately his primal instincts could take over and that would leave a lot of bodies behind.

When he finally did open his eyes he was looking into the very disgruntled eyes of his boss. Agent Rosy Meyers gave him a look with a cocked head, "I don't understand what's been going on with you Ashton. That's your third attempt at a simple training exercise this week. I don't know what's going on, but I want you to go home now and rest, and be ready to report back in two days for your mission. Dismissed."

Ashton saluted and exited the room, his shoulders slouching as soon as the door had closed behind him. He rubbed his forehead, the ghost pain of the bullet giving him a headache. He made his way to the locker room and climbed into one of the showers turning it all the way cold.

Even if most things in the simulation had been faked, the burning in his skin was not. His showers were one of the few reliefs he received from the pain of his immortal soul attempting to contain itself in a mortal body.

When Ashton arrived back at his apartment he pushed the door closed with his foot and called out into the emptiness as he looked through his mail. "Actaeon, show yourself."

He dropped the mail onto his kitchen table before walking through and sitting down in his armchair with an ice-pack, pressing it to his skin.

"Actaeon!!" A man appeared a moment later on the couch across from Ashton, his arms crossed and a scowl on his face.

"You know Amdusias, I don't appreciate being called like a dog."

"Two things: First, do not call me Amdusias, I've already told you that when I'm in this form you call me Ashton. Second, you knew full well what you were signing up for when you and I brokered a deal all those years ago, as Artemis caught sight of you spying on her in her pool."

"Yes, but I was expecting that you would at least give me a corporeal being, not this incorporeal forced existence."

Ashton scoffed, "it's not like your existence is a hugely tortured one. Your form allows you to appear however you wish and I'm sure you've utilized your abilities to peek in on rather entertaining situations and conversations. I would say that overall, you're incorporeal existence is a blessing."

"Of course, how can I even complain," a sneer appeared on Actaeon's face, "after all, Amdusias, I'm not the one with an insatiable hunger that I'm not allowed to fulfill. How is that going by the way? The whole, not bathing yourself in mortal blood, thing. After all, a princely demon such as yourself deserves to relish in the screams of others."

Ashton's face dropped into a deep glare. In a blink of an eye, he'd shifted back to his true form. That of a hulking man with pupils as dark as the pits of hell, and red skin that roiled with the images of people screaming.

Actaeon shriveled back at the sight as Amdusias leaned over him, his now deep, gravelly voice sending chills through him.

"I have warned you time and time again, that I can make your existence far more putrid than it already is. And still, you test me!!" Actaeon vanished with a squeal and Amdusias laughed, sitting back into the armchair. He sighed as he stretched his fingers.

"Actaeon, show yourself. I have need of words with you." Actaeon reappeared significantly farther away from Amdusias, who sighed and returned to his human form.

Ashton gestured at the couch and Actaeon walked back over to it, sitting hesitantly.

"You know, I don't like scaring you that way Actaeon, so perhaps in the future, you will call me Ashton and I'll stay in this form."

"Of course my lord," Actaeon said his eyes cast down to the floor. His next statement came through gritted teeth, although Ashton ignored it, "what council do you need."

"I have taken this form for the greater good of mankind, and as you know I have a mission coming up. I sent you to go spy and I would like a report."

"The guards will be simple to take out, just as you suspected my lord."

"Good," at this point Ashton stopped talking to Actaeon and spoke to himself. "This must go perfectly." He looked back up and gave Actaeon a smile. "To ensure that this mission will go just so, you will be accompanying me. My, senses, have been off recently, I believe this form is beginning to take its toll. As such, I will need you there as my eyes."

"As you wish, it will be done," with those words lingering behind him, Actaeon disappeared.


"Agent Watcher, it's good of you to finally join us."

Ashton nodded as he entered the room giving his apology and sitting down at the head of the table.

"Agent Watcher will be leading this mission. You all know the nitty-gritty details of the mission, so we're just going to go over the basics." Agent Meyers pressed a button on the end of the table and a screen came down from the ceiling. "You'll be traveling to the Honduras capital where our latest target, the terrorist Fierro Flores is currently housed. We've made a deal with the Honduran government and they're going to allow a small squad to infiltrate the base where they've seen him coming and going. Get in, find him, and bring him back alive if you can, if fatal force is necessary, all that matters is that we get him off the streets. Head to the launch point, your jet is waiting for you."

When they arrived at the base in Honduras, their connections met them at the airport and guided them to the hidden base. "The base is over there señor." The man who was guiding them said. "He emerged a couple of days ago then returned, but we haven't seen him since then."

"Thank you," Ashton said, "I want you and your partner to get out of here as quickly as you can, my people and I are going to be in and out as fast as we can, and hopefully without any casualties." The man nodded and left as Ashton turned to his group and gestured with his hands for them to spread out.

He took the lead, removing his gun from its holster. "Actaeon," he mumbled under his breath as he advanced toward the bunker door. Actaeon appeared next to him a dower look on his face.

"Ready to serve your highness."

"I've changed my mind on your objective. Your new assignment is to protect the other people in my squad. They've sent a lot of rookies with me and I want them to return home."

"As you wish my lord," Actaeon said swallowing, then zooming off after the left group of agents.

Ashton slipped up to the door and threw it open, swinging into the bunker. He gestured for the others to follow him in and walked down the hall. Suddenly, a series of screams filed Ashton's head. He nearly collapsed, and at first, he thought the screams were in his head, but as he turned he realized someone had triggered a trip-wire in the dark and shotguns had emerged from the wall, gunning down his partners.

Ashton fell to the floor as the guns re-aimed in his direction. Actaeon appeared at his side, a panicked look on his face, "I'm sorry my lord, they're gone, they're all gone. I tried to protect them, I swear I did my best, but there was nothing I could do. The guns ripped through them in seconds."

Ashton choked up as rage ripped through him. He fought the anger back and threw himself backward. He landed on his feet and started running, pulling a knife from his belt and throwing it backward, destroying the gun as it continued shooting in his direction.

He ducked under a set of lasers that came shooting from the walls before leaping over a set of saws that came from the floor. The door at the end of the hallway began closing and it was nearly closed when he slid down through the gap at the bottom.

He came back up onto his feet in a crouch and stood as he spotted the large group of men standing in front of him.

"You're not going to get him señor. We will protect him with our lives."

"Then I guess you'll have to lose them." Without warning, even to himself, Ashton attacked, his demon anger taking over his body. He listened to the sounds of the men's screams as he cut each one down, be it with their own weapons or his. He slid beneath one man, shooting him as he did, and for a split second his true form took over. The few men that were left screamed as his body changed in waves.

Ashton came back to awareness standing on the other side of the room. He nearly puked as the smell of blood hit his nose. He turned and gasped as he saw the blood and bodies he'd left in his wake. He collapsed to the ground, his breaths becoming shaky as he fought the urge to hurl.


"I've told you, it's Ashton!"

"Ashton," Actaeon said putting his hands up, "you need to breathe."

"I haven't lost control like that in years, I don't know what happened. If anyone at the agency ever finds out what I am..."

"Finish the mission, you know that I hate you, but in this case I'm telling you, finish your mission."

Ashton nodded, slowly standing. keeping his face set, he walked cautiously through the doors in front of him. The moment he entered, something came flying at his face. He felt the change in his gut, warning him of the incoming danger. He turned and caught the glass vase coming towards him. He tore it free of the man holding it and threw it across the room, grabbing the man by the throat.

Ashton lifted him up as the rage burned beneath his skin. His eyes flashed back to the room behind him and froze a moment before pressing the gun to Fierro's forehead. He dropped his gun to the floor, "you're done Flores, your story ends today."

January 17, 2020 07:11

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