Hey everyone! It’s that time again. It’s time for the next chapter in the story written by Matticus and I. We hope you enjoy!
The spectral hand moved closer and Jake prepared himself for the inevitable choking that was to come. That choking never came, though. At the last second, the hand veered away from his throat and touched the wound on his forehead from the door crashing into it. Jake thrashed as it felt like his head was on fire. His scream of pain echoed inside his skull. Then, as quickly as it came, it was gone.
Tentatively, Jake reached up and felt where the wound was. It was gone. His vision cleared, allowing him to see the ghost clearly for the first time. This one didn’t appear as menacing as the other ones did. In fact, he looked rather normal, kind of like the dead Jedi in the Star Wars movies. His glow, which was bright in the beginning, had dimmed. Finally, the ghost dropped his hand and backed away. Studying his face for the first time, Jake found that the ghost looked familiar.
Seeing the boy staring at him, the ghost tiredly said, “You’ve seen me before, but only in pictures. Jake, I’m your father.”
He wanted to laugh. This was all some kind of weird dream, he thought. Jake was starting to become convinced that this was a horror movie induced nightmare. That opinion changed when the ghost brushed his hand across Jake’s forehead, causing another wave of pain. “Please don’t make me do that again,” the ghost pleaded. “Healing you hurts us both. I don’t mind doing it, but it drains a lot out of me.”
Jake didn’t have time for this. Even if the new spirit, or whatever, was his father, his mom needed his help. If his dad was still around after he’d saved his mom he could ask him the thousands of questions he had never had the chance to ask before, and the thousand new ones he’d come up with in the last twenty-four hours.
“I gotta save Mom,” Jake grunted. He turned on his heel to head back into the house but was stopped by an invisible force.
He tried to move forward again but it was like his feet were glued to the ground. He actually glanced down to see if he was stuck in something before turning to look at the thing that claimed to be his father. He had half expected to see some sort of mocking grin there if not the downright evil smiles like the ghost he had faced inside. Instead, all he saw was sadness.
“It’s you, isn’t it? Why are you stopping me?” Jake demanded.
“It’s too late.”
Jake felt himself getting dizzy again and stammered, “What? What? No. No, it can’t be. Let me go. I’ll save her.”
The ghost of his father shook its head. “No, there’s nothing we can do now but wait and hope. She called in the demon, she has to prove she can control it.”
“But I can help her!”
“No,” the ghost shook his head sadly. “No, you can’t. Only the person who summons the demon is involved in the battle to see who is in control. If your mom wins, she will be able to use it to defeat her enemies, but the demon will leave a piece of itself inside of her. Turning her. Corrupting her even more than she already is.”
“My mom isn’t evil!”
The ghost’s expression turned to condescension as if explaining something that should be obvious. “She summoned a demon. How many good people do you know that have that trick in their repertoire? Do you know a single good person who would want to summon a demon? Especially knowing what would happen if they lost control of it?”
Jake wanted to argue, but found that he couldn’t. The words formed on his lips, yet he couldn’t bring himself to say them. Instead, he asked, “What happens if she loses?”
“Then the demon will go on a killing spree, indiscriminately murdering as many people as it can until its host body, your mother, dies. After that, it’ll go back down to Hell and wait until the next person summons it.”
“What can we do?”
“All we can do right now is wait on the outcome. Everything after that will depend on who wins.”
“Why is this happening?”
His father didn’t answer.
Jake smirked and then wobbled unsteadily for a second before sinking to the ground, his legs bent in front of him and his head hanging between his knees. His mom was evil? She had, likely, killed some people before? She had summoned a demon now to save herself but had damned herself in the process? His father, who he had never met, was here and talking to him?
“Nope, nope, nope, nope.”
It was all too much. It couldn’t be happening. It was some sort of crazy dream or hallucination brought on my stress. He was going to get up, walk back inside, climb the stairs, get in bed, and then he’d wake up and everything would be back to normal, back to the way it was supposed to be.
Jake looked towards the smashed front door, contemplating getting back to his feet. He felt, more than saw or heard, the ghost of his father slide closer. His presence, somehow, made this real. But why was he here? If he hadn’t come to save his mother? If he couldn’t help?
Dropping his head back between his knees, Jake asked, “Did she kill you? Are you here for revenge too?”
The ghost of his father paused before answering. “Yes and no. Yes, she killed me and no, I’m not here for revenge. If I was, I’d look more like the other two spirits you’ve met already. I have no desire to become one of them.”
“Then why are you here?”
“Despite what she did to me, I went into the afterlife not holding a grudge against your mother. I moved on. I was existing in a peaceful place until recently. You see, certain ghosts keep their eyes on anyone who practices the Art, people like your mother. When I first heard the whispers from them about something happening in her house, I ignored them, determined to leave her to her fate.”
“I thought you weren’t holding a grudge,” Jake angrily broke in.
“Letting someone face the consequences of their actions is very different from actively working against them.”
Once again Jake had no comeback against the ghost’s logic. “If you were just going to let it happen, why are you here now?”
“Isn’t it obvious?” Jake’s face told the ghost that it wasn’t as obvious as it should have been. “You, Jake,” the ghost explained. “I eventually heard that you were in trouble and I wanted to be here to protect you.”
Jake wanted to be furious. He clenched his fists and opened his mouth to shout something about saving his mom would be protecting him because if she died in there he would be an orphan but looking at his father all he saw was sadness and his anger quickly ebbed away. He was exhausted.
He looked back towards the house and mumbled, “I hate waiting.”
It sounded lame and he wished he hadn’t said it. Imagine, complaining about waiting around to someone who had all of eternity stretching before them as a ghost. Sure, his father said he had been at peace but what did that even mean to a ghost. He thought about asking his dad what it was like being a ghost. But that led him to other questions: How had he died and why had his wife killed him? And it all got so jumbled in his tired mind that he couldn’t get any of his questions asked.
His father said softly, “We don’t have to wait here. It might be best if we aren’t here if she loses. Won’t be too much longer now, either way, I think.”
“Shouldn’t we stay,” Jake started and then paused to gather his thoughts before finishing, “in case she loses and we need to keep the demon from killing a bunch of innocents? And what if she wins against the demon but loses against the other ghosts?”