A Ghost Story: Finale

Here we are, my friends. We’re at the end of our tale. Matticus and I would like to thank all of you who have taken the time to read our words. Hopefully, you enjoyed them.

Jake couldn’t take his eyes off his father’s spirit, which had shot out of his body and was flying at the demon Mocregork. It was still hard for him to focus those eyes of his because of the bump he took to the head, but he saw the two supernatural entities clearly. He watched as his father’s spirit disappeared into the demon. He watched as Mocregork began flailing around. He brought his hands back up over his ears as the demon let loose another unearthly howl of pain.

“Jake,” said a voice inside his head. “This is your father. You’re probably wondering why you’re still hearing my voice even though I’m not with you anymore. Well, the simple answer is that if you’re hearing this, it means we’re no longer sharing a body. The spell I used to communicate this message would only be activated if I split us up before the demon was dead. The only reason I would do that is if I had no choice. The last resort plan has been put into place.

“I took some of your magic with me when I left. All you need to do is say the trigger word, which is your mother’s name, and that magic will destroy me. Destroying me will also destroy the body that I’m in, which will be the demon’s. I wish it didn’t have to be this way, but it’s the only way I can think of to ensure your safety. 

“Since my time with you is being taken away again, I’m doing what I can to let you know me. I’ve implanted all of my knowledge, including all of my memories, in your mind. It will all unlock once Mocregork is back in Hell where he belongs.

“Goodbye, Jake. I’m proud of you, and I know that you will do great things in your life.”

Jake couldn’t believe his eyes or his ears.  This couldn’t be happening.  He half-winced, expecting his father’s voice to berate him for his thoughts.  But his father’s voice was gone.

Mocregork growled and writhed, catching Jake’s attention and bringing him out of his reverie.  Jake assumed it was doing everything it could to free itself of his father and understood that he should hurry.  He should say his Mother’s name and be done with this nightmare.  He couldn’t bring himself to do it though.

The nightmare would end but he would lose his father too.  If only there was some way he could get access to his father’s parting gift before sending Mocregork back to hell, perhaps he could see a solution that didn’t involve losing his father at the same time.  It was a silly thought.  Jake could hear his father chiding him for it.  If his father hadn’t seen another way with all his experience and wisdom, what was the likelihood Jake would?  Zero.

A tear dropped from Jake’s left eye.  The heat of it burned as it slid down his cheek to drip from his chin.  He’d lost his mother.  He was about to lose his father, a father he hadn’t realized how desperately he wanted in his life until he had suddenly entered it to save his life. 

And I’m going to be the one to end his life, Jake thought then immediately shook his head, half smiling, half sobbing.  No, you big dummy, he’s already dead.  He died before you were born. 

With that thought fracturing his heart, Jake looked at the demon and said, “Victoria.”

Nothing happened. 

Mocregork kept writhing and growling, but not as much as before. From the sound of it, the demon was beginning to win. Jake was confused. Why didn’t it work?? He had said his mother’s name, just like his father had told him. Then, a small smile worked its way onto his face. Just like his father…

His father didn’t call her by her given name, Victoria. He called her Vicki, a name she hated. “Vicki,” he said in a voice filled with both power and sadness. 

Suddenly, Mocregork began his unearthly howl again. It didn’t last long, however. Jake hadn’t even had time to cover his ears before it was over. It was replaced by a humming sound. As the humming grew louder, a light was forming in the demon’s stomach. Like the sound, the light grew too. It grew brighter. Soon, it was so bright that it was hurting Jake’s eyes, but he didn’t want to look away. When he finally did, he would’ve sworn that the last things he saw before he turned were the smiling faces of his parents within the light.

He wasn’t sure how long it took for his vision to return to normal after the blinding light, but when it did, Mocregork was gone. All that remained was a path of destruction leading back to his house.

Had he not been somewhere else, some other plane of existence?  Had he been on his street, feet from his home, the whole time he’d been battling Mocregork?  Had the battle been in his head?  Had it even been real?  Had any of it been real?

Before further questions could plague him, the full weight of his father’s knowledge and experience flooded his mind and Jake stumbled to his knees.  It wasn’t pain that drove him to the ground but the sensation of suddenly knowing so many things he hadn’t known before was dizzying and he couldn’t keep his feet.  His head swam.  Closing his eyes did nothing to steady his mind or body.  The whole of him seemed to spin outward in larger and larger circles.

Then the sensation was gone and his vision cleared.  He looked at the scarred and torn scene around him and knew exactly which spell to cast to clean it up.  His vision drifted towards his front door as regained his feet and could see clearly the words to more spells he could cast that would allow him to continue to live there if he wanted to, to fool his neighbors that his mom was still around, to keep the utilities on, until he finished school.  He wasn’t sure he would want to stay there much beyond that.  Even if he never saw another ghost, the place would be haunted.

First things first, he had to make everything go back to normal. Physically, at least. No matter how good this spell worked to make his house return to the way it was before all this started, it could never take away the memories he now possessed of the Hell he’d endured over that time. Or, the Hell he was enduring at that moment as his father’s memories continued to creep into his head. As much as he tried to push it away, he couldn’t stop himself from seeing the moment of his conception. 

With a prayer to whoever was listening that this was the last torture he’d have to face for a long time, Jake recited the spell.


In the weeks that followed, the house was visited by many ghosts. None of them were malicious, though. They were drawn there either by curiosity or the overwhelming amount of magic that had been expended that night. Once the magic had dissipated, and word spread throughout the ghost community about what happened, the spirits began leaving Jake alone.

Now it was six months after that night and he hadn’t seen a ghost during the last four of them. Those four months of freedom had given him the opportunity to really comb through his father’s knowledge. He had taken the time to catalog which spells were helpful in the present and which he could wait a while to work on. There was one spell in particular, one that he was under the effects of at that moment, that was proving more useful than any of the others so far. It was an illusion spell and he’d been using it to make people see him as his mother in order to sell the house, something that he’d just signed the papers for.

It was a relief to finally have the paperwork done.  The lack of actual ghosts in the house hadn’t kept him from seeing his father crossing the lawn or seeing his mother shooting black flames from her hands in the kitchen.  Those visions wouldn’t stop until he no longer lived in the house.  And, if everything went smoothly, he’d be out before escrow closed in 45 days.

And then?  College.  Money wouldn’t be a problem.  He’d discovered that there was always work for someone with his knowledge and it was work that paid well because of the nature of the problems and the desire to be discreet.  He hadn’t taken more than a couple jobs in the last six months, just enough to get a taste for what it meant to work as a magician.

He understood he didn’t need to go to school any more if he didn’t want to.  But, he knew it had been important to his mother.  While she hadn’t turned out to be the greatest person, she had loved him and always tried to do right by him.  Plus, he understood that it would give him different opportunities later in life.  That piece of paper after four years of work was worth a lot in unidentified possibilities.  And, he expected he’d have some fun at the same time.  Work and play.

That’s sort of how the magic was beginning to feel too.  He had a lot to learn.  It would be hard work to become as a great magician as his father had been.  But it would be fun getting there all the same.  He was excited.  Who wouldn’t be?

A Ghost Story, Part 13

Part 13 is ready for you to read over at the Matticus Kingdom! What will happen next? And what does Cyclops of the X-Men have to do with our story?

Well… nothing. He’s not involved in it in any shape or form. But, you should check it out anyway!

The Matticus Kingdom

Lucky number 13? Cursed number 13? Read on and find out as Revis and I bring you another segment of our little tale of family and demons. As always, we hope you enjoy.


Jake started chanting again but the demon rushed at them, even faster than it had when it still inhabited his mother’s body, and Jake felt himself yanked aside just before the creature could slash him with its clawed hands. The demon roared and spun towards him again, slashing with its hands, trying to grab him and puncture him at the same time, and once again Jake felt himself moved aside just in time.

It was a very weird sensation to be so detached from what his own body was doing. He didn’t have much time to dwell on it though as the demon rushed at him again and again. Each time it missed it snarled louder…

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A Ghost Story Part 12

Another installment of A Ghost Story? Yes, please!!!

“You will soon regret your bravado,” the demon hissed.

Hearing a voice that evil coming from his mom was unsettling, especially when it was directed at him. Jake almost regretted his statement. The only reason he didn’t was because he hadn’t made it. Not consciously, at least. To be honest, he didn’t even know what was said. It was like the other words his father made him say.

Sharing a mind with his dead father was another thing that was unsettling him at the moment, especially after his father took control, mumbled a bunch of gibberish, and taunted a demon.

“Don’t worry,” a reassuring voice told him. “This isn’t the first time I’ve fought a demon.”

Flashes of a memory that wasn’t his played in his mind. Feelings of rage and terror flooded through him. Fire and darkness originally dominated the vision, but they were quickly replaced by peace and light. The last thing he saw before he returned to the present was the smiling face of his father.

As comforting as that should have been, Jake found it hard to hold onto that feeling when he saw that the fire and darkness wasn’t part of the memory. It was happening right now. He was surrounded by them. “Yes,” his father reminded him, “but they’re not touching you.”

His mom laughed once more and Jake’s father immediately warned, “You need to stop thinking of it as your mom.  That’s just a shell.  The beast inside is in control.  Focus on the aspects of her body that will help you know it is no longer the person who raised you.”

Jake knew what he meant.  He’d seen it in her eyes and the way she smiled.  The thing controlling his mom was not of his world.  Then again, with a quick glance beyond the flames, it didn’t look like Jake was in his world anymore.

“The demon has brought us to its plane.  It thinks it cannot be defeated here.”

“Why does it think that?”

“Likely because it never has.”

Jake frowned and the demon laughed louder.  Jake’s father had said it couldn’t hear the conversation they were having in his head, so it must have been reacting to his frown.  His father agreed, “That’s right.  And that’s good.  Let it think we are worried.”

“I am worried,” Jake retorted.

“That’s okay, too.  Just trust me, son.  Together we’ll get you out of this mess and back home.”

“Okay, what do I need to do?”

“Nothing.  We need it to attack you first.”

Jake’s frown deepened causing the demon’s laughter to amplify further.  Jake could feel the laughter on his skin.  It crawled and wormed and made him want to scratch himself clean.

“And why do I need it to attack first?”

“Because,” his father replied, “it’s a trap.”

“How do I get it to attack first? It seems content to stand there and laugh.”

“It’s a psychological trick. The demon does that to demoralize you, to get into your head.”

“I already have enough supernatural crap in my head. I don’t need any more.”

His father chortled. “I’ll forgive you for calling me ‘crap’ when we get out of this. Now, the first thing you need to do is make it think you’re attacking it.”

“I thought you said it had to attack me.”

“And it would be.”

“Yeah, but in self defense.”

“Yes, but if you’re not intending to attack it in the first place, it’s not self defense because you can’t defend yourself from someone who isn’t out to harm you.”

“What kind of bull…”

“It doesn’t matter. The older you get, the more you learn that magic, like everything else, has loopholes. You’ve just got to learn how to exploit them.”

Jake shook his head and pushed that stupidity out of his mind. He ignored the umbrage that came from his father at calling his plan stupid and moved his feet. As soon as they were under him, he slowly lifted himself off the ground with his leg screaming at him the whole way. Then, when he was fully upright, the pain went away.

“It’s still there,” his father warned. “All I’ve done is block it so that you can do what you need to do without it interfering.”

“I’m done listening to you laugh.” 

Jake was surprised by how steady his voice was.  His dad started to say something but Jake ignored him.  He was focused on the demon in front of him.  He trusted his dad to have set up whatever trap was going to catch the demon after it attacked but he needed to figure out how to make that happen.  He needed to figure out what would piss off the demon enough to act, or what would scare it enough to act first.

The demon was still laughing but Jake could see it eyeing him with new interest.  Slowly, he switched his feet into a fighting stance and raised his fists.  He steadied his eyes on his mom and waited.  He wasn’t sure what he was waiting for but the demon’s laughter was quieting.

“You know you can’t actually punch it, right?”

“I figured as much, because we need it to attack first.”

“Well, yes,” Jake’s father responded, “plus he’s a demon and your fists can’t hurt it.”

“Not even if you had put some magic in them?”

The demon had stopped laughing entirely and was studying Jake.  He could feel its eyes on him as a physical presence.  It made his skin crawl.  He didn’t want to give it the satisfaction of seeing him twitch though so Jake held firm.

“I’m growing tired of this game, son.  I’m sure my dear, sweet, husband thinks he has done something to help you but you’ll both soon learn how wrong he was,” Jake’s mom snarled.  Then she flew at him faster than he could believe.

To his surprise, he stood firm. He may have flinched a little, but, for the most part, he didn’t move as the demon closed in on him. Jake could only assume that he had his dad to thank for this sudden burst of bravery. Then he remembered that he had bigger issues to worry about at the moment. Namely, the angry demon about to attack him. He silently said a prayer begging for his father’s trap to work. 

It did.

His mother’s hands came within inches of grabbing onto his throat when a large concussive blast shot outward from Jake’s body. He rocked backward, but was able to maintain his balance. The demon, on the other hand, went sailing away. When it hit the ground, his mother split into two pieces. One was her normal form. The other was something straight out of a painting of Hell.

While his mother lay unmoving, the demon stood up. It was easily eight feet tall, with blood red skin and horns coming from its head. The demon wiped its mouth with the back of its hand, revealing a purple hued bit of blood. “Impressive,” it nodded. “This will be the first time that a host of Mocregork will die of something besides old age. Still, you made a mistake by separating me from my host. Now I’m not restrained by the frail human body.”

Jake found himself laughing again. “And now I can use the full extent of my power without fear of hurting my mother.”

“If you could give me some kind of warning before you take over my voice, that’d be great.”

Jake felt his dad smirk.

At the same time, the demon smiled.  And now that it wasn’t constrained by his mother’s body, it could display it in all its toothy horror.  Jake shuddered.  He couldn’t help it.  He’d never seen anything so disgustingly terrifying, not even in the horror movies he liked.  Those were cinematic trickery.  This was real.

“And I no longer have a need for your mother’s body.”

Before Jake could react, the demon lifted his mother’s body in its terrible clawed hands and bent her in half.  Her spine cracked so loudly Jake could feel it in his own bones.  He ground his teeth together.  His breathing became ragged.  He could feel three distinct emotions fighting for dominance: disbelief, sadness, and anger.

Once again, his father’s voice came in as a calming influence, “She was already lost.  The demon is trying to make me lose focus and the only way that can happen now is if you fight against me.  Trust me, son.  I know I was never there for you before.  But, I’m here fighting for you now.”

Still gritting his teeth and breathing heavily, Jake replied, “Destroy that thing.”

“My pleasure.”

A Ghost Story Part 11

Head on over to The Matticus Kingdom and check in on what’s happening over at Jake’s house! Is his mom a demon? Will his dad help him save her if she is? Did Jake empty the dishwasher like he was supposed to? Find out the answers to some of those questions in Part 11 of A Ghost Story!

The Matticus Kingdom

Revis and I are back and things are getting explosive. That might be a bit of foreshadowing… Read on to see what I mean.


“Dad? Shouldn’t we stay?”

It felt weird using the word “dad.” It wasn’t something he was used to saying. Jake’s mom hadn’t talked about him much and growing up without him, not having a father was what he knew, so Jake never felt the need to ask a lot of questions.

“You should run,” his father replied.

Jake studied the ghost next to him. In their very short time together he had seen a lot of different emotions displayed on his dad’s face. In that moment there was a look of determination. But, the ghost wasn’t looking at Jake. It was looking at the house.

The ghost began to slide forward and Jake asked, “Where are you going?”

“You should run,” his father repeated.


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A Ghost Story Part 10

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?”

A Ghost Story, Part 9

Son of a buscuit! Darn life getting in the way! Sorry I’m so late in reblogging this, but here we go!

The Matticus Kingdom

How are we up to this many posts already? Feels like we just started this tale, Revis and I. So it goes, I guess. Hopefully you are still enjoying reading it as much as we are enjoying writing it.


“I’m bored of this conversation,” the ghost stated flatly. It turned away from Jake and started drifting towards his mother again. “My time here is growing short again, I’m going to finish what I came for once and for all.”

Jake thought he heard the ghost say, “And then I’ll finally be free,” under its breath. It definitely said something but he hadn’t heard it clearly enough to be sure.

His mom needed more time. He had to do something to buy her that time. He still held the book in his hand. He wasn’t sure what good it would do but it was the only weapon he had.


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A Ghost Story Part 8

It’s that time, everyone! It’s time for the next installment of everybody’s favorite blog hopping story about ghosts and spirits…and stuff.

Jake looked at his mother, begging her to tell him that the spirit was lying, that she didn’t make a human sacrifice to gain some sort of power. She didn’t say a word. She did nothing to assuage his concerns. All she did was stare dumbly at the spirit. “Mom!” Jake yelled at her.

“The fire didn’t burn you,” she mumbled dumbfounded. 

“Of course not,” the spirit replied. “I wrote that spell, remember? Did you really think I didn’t put in a safeguard to prevent it from being used on me…Vicki?”

Pure hatred replaced the dumbfounded expression on her face. “My name is Victoria,” she seethed.

“I know, Vicki.”

“The only good thing about all of this is that now I get to kill you again.”

It was Jake’s turn to be confused. “You’ve killed someone before?” he asked in shock.

“Only those that deserved it,” she spat back. Suddenly, she remembered who she was talking to and her demeanor, along with her voice, softened. “Don’t listen to him, honey. I only killed him in self defense.”

“Self defense?” the spirit laughed. “What danger did I pose tied to a table in your basement with my mouth taped shut?”

“You lie!”

“Do I?”

The corpse gestured to his face. Dangling from one of his cheeks was a dirty and worn piece of duct tape.

Jake wasn’t sure what to do next.  The thought that his mom had killed someone, self-defense or not, unsettled him almost as much as the spirit that had come back to kill her out of claimed revenge.  This brief stalemate wouldn’t last long though and it didn’t seem like his mom was up for the challenge.  The fire spell not working on the spirit had clearly shattered her confidence.

But, thinking about that, Jake realized the spirit hadn’t been completely right.  The fire spell had worked on it.  His mom had destroyed its hand using the same spell.  That meant the magic had worked against it to some degree.  If it was wrong about that, perhaps it was trying to trick him about her motives for killing it in the first place.  There was some hope anyway.

The only thing Jake could think to do next was get the same book that had worked before.  It was on the counter nearby but he would have to turn his back to grab it.  Anything could happen in that split second.  The spirit was still advancing and he needed to do something.  Glancing at his mom, he realized it was a risk he had to take.  She was still staring at the ghost in disbelief.  If he didn’t act, they were both doomed.

Jake turned and lunged for the book. Before he got to it, he stopped short. Sitting on top of it was another severed hand. He almost fell into the same trap as his mother did, but he shook his head when he caught himself simply staring. The words of his mother ran back through his mind. “How?” Jake stuttered. “We destroyed that hand and it’s too early for it to have come back yet.”

“You destroyed a hand,” the spirit corrected. “You didn’t destroy that one. The hand you destroyed belonged to my friend Marten Revulus. The hand that’s on the book is mine.”

His head began to spin. So much was happening and he had no clue what most of it was. To top it all off, his mother was still staring blankly at the spirit possessed body. “Mom,” he cried. “Do something!”

“She can’t hear you, you know.” Jake looked back at the spirit as it continued on. “She cast a spell. Right now, she’s locked against me in a contest of wills, trying to banish me.”

“If that were true, you’d be unable to move too, I’d bet.”

“If I didn’t possess magic before I was killed, or I was more recently deceased, you’d be correct. Because of those two things, I’ve had years to build my defense against her. At this moment, she’s hitting harmlessly against a wall of pure rage. Rage at her using me. Rage at her killing me.”

Jake desperately wished his mom had taught him anything that might have been useful in this moment.  But, with no better knowledge, the book was still his best bet.  He narrowed his eyes and stared at the hand resting on top of it.

It’s just a hand.  It might be dead.  It might be part of a ghost.  But, it’s still just a hand. 

He snapped his right hand forward and snatched up the severed hand.  At the same time he grabbed for the book with his left hand.  Immediately the severed hand tried to free itself from his grip.  Its fingers twisting and digging into the flesh on his wrist. 

Turning he attempted to throw the hand towards the spirit, but when he released it, the hand still clung to him.  His momentum spun him around wildly for a moment, he could hear the spirit laughing in the background, and the hand began to race up his arm.  He knew it would head for his neck.  He’d already been choked twice and had no desire for a third time around.

Sweeping the book across his body and down his right arm, he connected with the hand and sent it flying down to the floor.  The spirit’s laughter died abruptly but Jake didn’t waste time looking up.  He switched his grip so he had the book in both hands and he slammed it down on top of the hand.

“That was uncalled for,” it said in a voice dripping with disappointment.

“Uncalled for?” Jake shook his head. “You and that hand have tried to kill me twice now.”

“I hate to keep correcting you, but once again you’ve got the wrong hand. Yes, a disembodied hand tried to kill you, Marten’s hand. Not mine. Marten wants to kill you to punish your mother. I, on the other hand, just want to go straight to the source and kill your mother. Sure, I’d feel bad for making you an orphan, but I’d only be responsible for half of that. She’s the one who killed your father.”

Something clicked in his head. “You’re saying that my mom killed my father and she killed you. Are you trying to tell me that you’re my father?”

“You’re not Luke Skywalker and this isn’t Star Wars. I’m no man’s father.”

Something else dawned on him. “What about this Marten guy? How does he fit into the picture? Mom said she didn’t know who he is. Why does he want her dead?”

“He was your father’s best friend in college. After your father died, Marten tried to summon a spirit to help figure out what happened to him. The spirit was too strong for Marten to handle. I’m sure you can guess the rest.”

Once again Jake saw a flaw in the ghost’s statement.  “That can’t be.  There’s no way he was my dad’s best friend in college.  My mom would have recognized him.”

The ghost laughed.  “Ah, to be young, and alive, and naïve.  Adults are not the perfect creatures we assume them to be when we are children.  They make mistakes.  They have secrets.  I don’t know why your mom didn’t recognize your father’s best friend from school but it doesn’t surprise me and it matters little to me.

“Maybe he never told her about his college days.  Maybe he did but she didn’t pay close enough attention.  As I said, it doesn’t concern me and very soon that history will be rendered unimportant with her death by my hands.”

A voice inside Jake’s head said, “Keep him talking, I think I’ve finally broken through his defenses against me.”

Frowning, Jake kept himself from looking towards his mom.  It was her voice but it was under great strain.  He didn’t want the ghost to know she has spoken to him, though, so as concerned as he was about her he couldn’t give any clues that the situation might be slipping from the spirits control.

“Fine, whatever,” Jake muttered.  “So I’m not Luke Skywalker and you aren’t my father.  Then who are you in all of this?  And why did my mom kill you?”