The wind was blowing south again.
There were hundreds of bodies floating in the air, and not everyone enjoyed it.
The president was screaming about how he would lose his job and be a laughing matter to everyone. And the assistant of the president was screaming about how he would lose his job and be a laughing matter to the president.
Children raced around trying to be the first to collect candy from the trees. Jerald Lison from class thirty-two was teasing Mary-Anne Grey and making her give all her candy to him. Freda Grey was trying to stop Jerald from teasing her sister, because she knew that she would be the one getting in trouble for not protecting Mary-Anne once she got home, and be grounded from scaring the kids in Manhattan.
And Alexis Grey, the middle child, was thinking as usual.
I must tell you that there are only two ways to become a ghost.
It’s very much advised that you do not become one though, since you will never grow any older or any taller. The only thing that will grow is your knowledge.
The first way is to die, and anyway would work just fine. The second way is more difficult. And much more strange.
It’s to trick a ghost on the night of Halloween.
And that is nearly impossible, because it’s most likely that the ghost spots you first.
But there’s a chance.
Alexis Grey once tricked one. On the exact night of Halloween
A ghost is very hard to spot.
Most ghosts are whitish and and a little clear. Some are a translucent green, and those ghosts often hide in trees. And very rarely, you spot a pink ghost. Pink ghosts don’t like to stay on earth. Only if they need to talk to some other ghost badly. When you first become a ghost, you start to float up into the sky. Your body suddenly feels like air, and you start to drift away. It’s best not to panic at this point.
You arrive at a brown gate with often an angel or two guarding it. Just in case a human accidently pasts. If the angel is wearing a blue hat with the words “Aussie” written on it, the best thing that you should do would just be to slip through. Because that’s Jakedy, and his questions will keep freshly ghostified people there for hours. If it’s somebody else, just let them inspect you. They’re the ‘proper’ angels.
Then a group of skeletons escort you to a bridge. They will ask you a few questions, and you have to answer honestly. Or you might get sorted into the wrong group, and that’s when you will start to feel very uncomfortable indeed. The wrong group means the wrong friends and the wrong conversation. For example, the pink ghosts keep to themselves and hardly ever talk to anyone else. None of the other ghosts like them much.
The green group is very friendly, but everyone there hates scaring real living people from Earth. They call it ‘unfair’ and ‘not very nice’.
White ghosts are the most normal. They enjoy flying down to earth in their spare time and are very socialised.
Very few humans other then I know about this. I only know because I have seen one. It’s the most unusual case for me, since I had no intention of trying to trick her, or becoming one myself. No, not I. I was different. Tomorrow I will be turning one-hundred. It’s the day that I’ll finally go away. I must keep writing this down immediately.
Eighty-one years ago, I met Alexis Grey.
We were best friends from the very beginning. She would help me to do my arithmetic, and I would help her with English.
She was a very queer child. Her eyes were a startling shade of grey, and they were always so sharp and alert, I remember feeling highly awkward whenever she looked at me, her eyes always looked like they were easily able to kill. Her hair was raven black and there was always a piece at the back which stuck up.
At one point, I started to fancy Freda, her older sister. My mother told me that it was better to be older than your wife though, so I soon lost interest. I think Alexis liked me a little, but I was never too sure. I didn’t look very handsome for a start, with brown eyes and dark brown hair, and sunspots on my face.
Alexis asked me to go trick-or-treating one day. Mama agreed since she was on good terms with Alexis’s mother. I dressed up as a pirate and my older sister Leah helped me make a pirate hat and cardboard cutlasses. Alexis was a fairy princess and she waved her wand at me all day, pretending to throw evil curses. We had lots of fun at my house, and Mama baked a pumpkin pie. We all sat down to enjoy it. Afterwards we played pirates and fairies in my room with Mary-Anne.
That’s when It happened. Alexis’s whole family dropped to the floor. They fell like fallen angels, and never stood back up again.
“Everyone! Wake up!” Alexis had screamed.
We all ran over to help.
But nothing worked.
We didn’t go trick-or-treating that night. The police came over and suspected that it may have been poison. We sat glumly through many interviews. Alexis moved to our house, and Mama treated her like her own child. Leah and I pretended that she was our sister. I cracked endless jokes and tried to make her laugh. But Alexis couldn’t return back to her normal self.
Halloween eventually arrived. We didn’t do much to celebrate. Nobody talked about why there wasn’t any pumpkin cake. It was a rule made without words. Everyone insisted that we went trick-or treating, to lighten up the mood a little. Even Leah joined in, though the year before she had said that she was ‘too old and mature for that kind of silly game.’
I had told her that she was missing out on a whole lot of candy.
Alexis eventually agreed, and we all dressed up in the previous years halloween costume, other than Leah. Leah didn’t even go that year. She wore a plain black dress instead, and pretended to be a witch. Mama gave us a basket each, and told us to move along.
We had only walked a few steps out of the street when Alexis told us to stop and wait for her. She ran off before we even had a chance to react.
Leah started panicking immediately, and she ran off soon as well, leaving me all by myself. I looked for Alexis. And then saw her with some whitish ‘thing’. I walked over to tell her not to talk to strangers, and that Mama would get very mad if she saw. I thought that it was only just somebody dressed up. But I was very much mistaken.
I grabbed Alexis’s arm, and then she started floating away.
“Alexis!” I cried. “Alexis!”
I remember her looking down at me with a determined expression on her face.
Leah came running towards me. Her face was white. I told her what I had just seen, but all she did was laugh and say that Alexis must have wondered somewhere, and that we should go home and tell Mama.
I was restless that night. Mama had walked all the way over to the police station, and I had tagged along.
We put up missing posters, but then Mama told me to go to bed and that there was enough excitment for one night. I whimpered and begged, but she sent me off.
That night I crept into Leah’s room, we had a secret conversation about what to do with the whole Alexis case. Then Leah told me to go to sleep. And I did.
The next morning I ate a small bowl of cornflakes, and counted them as a waited for Mama to tell us some news. She was speaking to the policeman who was actually called Mr. Sacerpoint. But I called him Sir Bush because of his beard.
I had to go to school.
Mama wouldn’t take no for an answer. I spent the whole of class thinking about Alexis.
It had been a year since Alexis had disappeared. There was no sign of her family.
I had searched for her every single day, with no luck at all. I decided to go trick-or-treating, to see if I could find more clues. Leah made me a costume. It was a chunky paper hat with black scribbled on it, and a long matching coat. She said that it would make me look like a mysterious magician. I thought that it only made me look dumb.
We walked across the street to Mrs Ohlon’s house. We knew her well, since Mama sometimes asked her to babysit us. She usually gave us the most candy at Halloween.
“Trick or treat,” I muttered.
Mrs Ohlon greeted us with her usual smile. She took out a bowl with flowers on it, and handed us each a caramel and chocalate brownie. The caramel was still oozing out, and it was hot, sticky, and delicious.
“I made it myself,” she explained.
Leah bit into hers as she listened to Mrs Ohlon talk about her cats Sammy and Greta, and how they ate their food in the most adorable way ever last night. I thought about Alexis.
Finally, after a few long minutes (which seemed like hours to me), we moved on.
We went to a few other houses and recieved sour suckers, sherbet lemons, and liquarice sticks. I chewed on mine thoughtfully while Leah was trying to tip the rest of her sherbet into her mouth.
Then I saw it. I sudden movement.
I whipped around. And started chasing it.
I could hear Leah’s faraway calls behind me.
But I knew what I’d just seen. Alexis.
I sprinted across many streets in order to catch up. Finally she stopped.
“You,” she whispered.
We faced each other. I threw questions at her. Where had she been all this time! Why had she abandoned us? And why… just why couldn’t I touch her…
“Let me explain everything.”
“As you know, when my parents and sisters died it was a shock for all of us. We were all surprised and didn’t really know what to do. But one day I found a note under my bed. You see, there was a curse that ran in our family. My great-great-great grandmother once did a bad turn for a ghost. She told all of her friends about it, and they started hunting it down. The other ghosts decided to spare her and instead, curse our entire family. The eldest would know about it, and have to decide who to spare and who not to spare. And they chose me.
I didn’t know what to do. Until Halloween, that was.
I saw a ghost that day. It explained to me everything. ANd then I tricked it. It was a very simple trick. I told it that there were haunted mulberrys growing on the other side of the world. It was more of a lie than a trick. But it worked. And I joined them.”
Alexis turned to smile at me. I looked down at the ground.
“See you next year.”
And she left.
Every year after that, she came to visit me. Always a child.
I was growing older and older. I finished high school. I graduated from university. I fell in love with a lovely woman called Esme, and we had three children. I kept thinking about how different life would be like if Alexis was still alive. Maybe Esme would be replaced with her. Gradually, I grew old. Esme had died from a disease outbreak, and only one of my children had survived.
Bellina, the eldest of the three. She reminded me of Alexis, with her sharp mind and stubborn ways.
We would sometimes sit under the oak tree and talk about life, and the mysterious parts of it.
Bellina got married, had children. I was nothing more than a cranky old man. In fact, only Alexis kept me going. Last year, she promised me that she would make sure I was dead by the time I turned a hundred. There, in the clouds, I could spend the rest of me days with her.
Tomorrow, I will find her. And she will find me.
Gabriel Matthew Lints