As my head broke through the freezing sea water, salty drops dripped down my face as I gulped up the chilly night air. The only illumination on this cold February night was the breathtaking, lonely stars above, staring down at me as I looked up to meet their gaze. While I softly treaded water, only one thought ran through my mind: I can’t believe that son of a bitch actually pushed me in. Guess he was serious about that “trying to murder me” thing, huh?
The growl of my boat’s engine grew faintly as my supposed “friend” left me to drown in the Pacific Ocean. Jerk. What is it with humans and trying to kill those closed to them? It’s happened to me in like two out of thirty-five of my previous “lives”. Honestly, I’m tired of it. I leaned on my back, letting the inky water rock me. It’s a good thing I’ve been working on my backstroke.
It takes me a solid twelve hours of drifting, looking for a direction like an eighteen-year-old that doesn’t want to go to college, to finally make it to the soggy shores of whatever island I’ve been living on for the last five years. I’ve lived in so many places and left so many places that the names just blur together. I must have looked like a pale ghost from the overnight soak in liquid ice because a couple pointed at me, shouted “ghost!” then ran away. And yes, I checked behind me. No one was there. I’m the ‘ghost’, apparently.
Except, technically, I can never become a ghost because I’m immortal, but I’m not gonna split hairs over mortals’ inability to correctly identify magical beings.
I ran my fingers through my soaked hair, pulling it into a Greaser-like look with a sigh before standing. Shoving my hands in my pockets, I trudged along the beach to my shared apartment with Benny—ex-friend, current attempted-murderer. What a lovely reunion this is gonna be.
I’ve seen a lot of funerals in my time. Enough that I can guess the price of any coffin or tombstone, and gotta say, I’m offended Benny only sprang for a pine coffin. Murdering me is one thing, but using pine is just rubbing salt in the wound.
From the shadows, I watched my funeral take place. Closet casket. Not the best funeral I’ve had, but decent considering the time frame. It’s almost like my death was planned or something. I chuckle to myself. Ah, silly mortal, a quick funeral for a twelve-hour case that barely constitutes a missing person certainly isn’t a red flag for the police or anything. Because that would be terrible, if it was.
I chuckled to myself, and slipped away from the lobby and towards the elevator. Yeah, that’s right. Benny held the funeral in the lobby of our apartment building. Stay classy, Benny. Like washing your underwater in the dishwasher because you don’t feel like going to the basement where the washers are.
Once one I reached our apartment, the first thing I noticed was the trash bags full of my things. Well, at least he won’t notice what’s missing when I pack my things now. That’s gotta be the worst part of being immortal: reclaiming your stuff.
Always travel light.
That’s my motto when it comes to packing up and starting a new life. So, I settled on taking the bare minimum in an old, fraying backpack and headed for the door. As I reached it, I halted. I gotta say, even though it’s only been five years, I’m gonna miss this life. My apartment was within three blocks from the two best pizza joints in the state. Life’s good.
I balled my fists. And now, I have to leave because people will start asking questions if I just magically show back up after being declared dead. Ugh, this is Pompeii all over again.
I smirked. And you know what I did in Pompeii? I laughed evilly.
Oh, wait no, you don’t know. You’re too young. Basically, I got revenge. It was worth it—even though I didn’t mean to rupture that volcano. Honest accident, I swear.
Anyway, I set the backpack by the front door for a speedy getaway and started the tub’s faucet. There’s no telling how fast Benny would fake grief, so I needed to be quick about this. Benny, dear Benny, I thought as the tub’s water leaked over the edge, say goodbye to these expensive hardwood floors and your security deposit.
I waited until the water reached a depth of a quarter inch throughout the apartment before turning the faucet off in the bathroom. Yes, Benny, drown in the repair expenses like you tried to drain me in the sea. Old age doesn’t make one wise a peaceful, but a healthy serving of revenge does.
As my hand grasped the bathroom door knob, the familiar squeak of the front door opening made my heart skip a beat. Oh fuc—
“God, that took forever,” Benny exclaimed as he stepped inside. “Huh, why’s the floor wet? Oh shit, the entire apartment is flooded. Did someone leave a faucet on? Is it coming from the bathroom?”
Footsteps splashed towards my direction as my heart beated wildly in my chest. I never got caught in Pompeii (because everyone died, but same difference), what do I do?
Reflexively, I took a step towards the tub at the back of the bathroom with every step Benny took towards me. Considering, I’m the one who flooded the apartment, you’d think I’d be more careful about slipping, but nope! With wide eyes, I registered the tub’s icy water on my skin before I knew I fell. Cold!
“Who’s in there—” Benny swung the door open and gasped. He collapsed to the ground with a shriek, “Ghost!!!!”
I know I spend a lot of time indoors and everything, but am I really this pasty?
I glared at Benny though my wet locks that had glued themselves to my face. He raked his shaking hands through his hair. “Oh man. Oh shit. Oh man. Oh shit. Oh man—man! Ghost Danny, please don’t seek ghostly revenge and kill me.”
I answered him with a scowl.
So, he really thinks I’m a ghost? Damn, if I knew Benny was this gullible, I would have tried more pyramid schemes on him.
“Yo, Benny, are you good? We heard you scream,” a voice called from the hallway.
“Help,” Benny exclaimed as he jumped off his butt and ran towards the door.
Taking this as my out, I leapt from the tub and towards the window. We were on the third floor and this window outlooked the alley, so no one would notice as I opened it and jumped.
My legs crunched on the ground, sounding like they snapped, but they worked just fine as I ran away. Over head, I heard Benny shrieking something about a ghost and his friend not believing him.
Well, well, well, an interesting situation has presented itself. Looks like my revenge isn’t over yet.
Benny works at a Benjamin’s Bait and Fish Shop—his dad’s store. He murdered me for my boat because he was tired of people making fun of him for working at a fishing store without having a boat and he couldn’t actually afford one. Really puts a new meaning to “I’d kill to have a boat like yours”.
Okay, but seriously, who murders someone for a boat? Murder me for a million dollars or something—make it cool at the least.
Anyway, since Benny’s dad is in the Caymans with stepmom #3, Benny was running the shack by himself for the next week. He always comes in at noon, which gave me plenty of time to set up the next part of my revenge—and given that it was a fishing store, supplies were… plentiful.
About two hours later…
Dead fish. Dead fish. Dead fish as far as the eye could see.
I spilled tackle, fish guts, and raw fish across the shop’s floor. It was tile this time, don’t worry. That's disgusting, but easy to clean.
When Benny’s car clicked locked outside, I took my position at the chair in front of the cashier’s desk in the center of the room. For extra effect, I dropped a bucket of water over my head to get that ‘freshly drowned’ look. Then, I waited.
He brushed open the door, a high-pitched bell rang through the air, almost like warning. It took him three seconds to notice me, scream, and back into the closed door.
“Hello Benny,” I sang in my deepest voice.
“Wh… what do you… what do you w-want?” He stammered.
I gazed down at my arms. After staring for a couple of seconds, I smirked and stood. “I seem to be missing something.”
I walked towards him slowly, dragging out every moment of terror. I’m beginning to see why my ex called me “funny, but sadistic”. A couple thousand years of existing tend to give you a morbid sense of humor.
“Wha… what?” Benny asked.
I dropped my head to whisper into his ear, my breath icy cold from the ice cube I was sucking one a minute ago. “My body, Benny.”
“I don’t… I don’t have… have y-your body.”
“Then find it.”
“How… how I am su-supposed to—”
“I don’t want excuses, Benny, I want my body back. I can’t move on without it. You have my boat… find it. Or the haunting never stops.”
He turned to me with wide eyes.
“Ever,” I added. “Go.”
His lip trembled like he was about to say something but his fear got the best of him.
“NOW,” I bellowed.
He ducked his head and darted out the door, tripping a few times. Silent tears plopped on the sidewalk.
“And don’t think of stepping back on land until you find it. I’ll be watching you, Benny.”
Once he was out of sight, heading to the pier in his car no doubt, I relaxed and took a seat. The funny thing was, if he just apologized, I wouldn’t have gone so far.
Nah, I would have. This was fun.
About a century later, I got to return to that small town—just passing through, nothing too extreme. The culture had changed and the people too (since they died). I loitered at a coffee shop, wondering how far coffee had fallen to not include coffee beans at all, but I should have guessed we were heading in this direction from the all the no-sugar, no-milk, no-carbs, no-taste crap that was going on a century ago.
A couple behind me was gossipping about some urban legend. Apparently, there was a man who drowned at sea in a storm while looking for his friend. His ghost and ghost boat now wander the open seas, looking for any men that look like his lost friend, and if he finds a living person that resembles him, he drowns them. Spooky stuff. A total of twenty deaths had been accounted to him. All blondes with two moles on their left cheek and hazel eyes. Funny coincidence, that’s what I looked like. Maybe they made up that urban legend after my “death”.
I shrugged it off. While I was in town, I’d be damned if I didn’t visit the sea that convinced me to eat ramen for two years to buy a boat. I rented one from a new boat shop on the pier. Everything was automatic by now, so the salesman had to give me an ever so complicated tutorial on how to operate it.
“Push this button to start it,” the salesman said. “And you can verbally tell it what to do.”
Like that, I was a professional at this new age technology and off on my way.
The weather was pleasant. A few seagulls cawing. Steady waters. A sweet-salty breeze. I really missed this.
After a couple of hours, a thick fog started to roll in. I squinted up, trying to find the sun, my lost lover. No use. “Better head back, then.”
As I asked the boat to head back to shore, something swished gently in the water next to my boat. I gazed into the fog to make out a silhouette of a person standing on a boat. “Oh hey,” I greeted.
No response. They drifted closer, staring at me. The mast of the boat was ripped and waterlogged. Dents and holes decorated the boat’s hull—it shouldn’t have been floating at all. It was like a horror movie… for them. I brought a gun.
Only takes a few dozen murder attempts to realize you need one.
I retrieved it from the captain’s cabin and flipped off the safety. “Whatacha doing there, pal? Mind backing up. You’re being awfully creepy.”
“Danny~” A low throated voice sang.
Danny? Who’s that? Sounds familiar.
I snapped my fingers. I think I went by Danny once. The names change so much, it’s hard to remember the fine details.
“Danny~ Is that you~” The singer stepped off his boat and onto mine. While he was wearing heavy fisherman’s boats, his feet made no sounds as he crossed over to me.
The singer’s outfit had a “lost at sea” vibe to it. Torn, soaked, faded clothing that cling to his skinny figure. His face was hollowed out like he hadn’t eaten in decades. Grey-blue skin covered his body with moles like barnacles Actually I think those were barnacles. Despite the fact that the singer clearly wasn’t human, he still looked familiar.
I snapped my fingers. “Benny! What happened to you man?”
Instead of answering my question, he lunged at me with yellow fingernails like claws. I raised my gun, fired twice, but the bullet went right through him. A ghost?
His fingernails swiped at my beautiful face, drawing blood. A ghost that can touch me!
He pushed me back, shockingly strong for a dead guy. Benny hit the gun out of my hand and it clattered on the metal boat. His fingers wrapped around my throat as black dots danced in my version. “Danny~ I’ll give you a body back, just you wait.”
Does he not recognize me? That’s probably for the best.
Our bodies backed into the boat’s edge and he bent my upper half over the edge by choking my neck. My fingers scrapped at his hands, but kept passing through. Hardly a far fight.
With a final growl, he shoved me over the edge. “Danny~”
Underwater, I could see the ripples in the water of when Benny took both boats and left me to drown.
I broke through the surface, gasping for air as the fog left with Benny. The sun had left, replaced with a starry night sky.
How do I keep ending up like this?