“He” raised what Clive imagined to be a finger to his almost-lips, shushing him about alerting Douglas to his presence. Or at least that’s what Clive assumed he was doing, based on what he knew of the “physicality” of his unwelcome visitors. When they first started making themselves known to him, Clive assumed he was only having some sort of vision problem, in that the spirits weren’t really human in form. No, much like when you break the shell of an egg and the life of it simply runs out all over the place – free of shape or reason – the spirits were very much the same. Their bodies, now broken and discarded, left them free to be. A freedom that also damned them into not being. They could affect human form if they desired, but it seemed almost hard for them to do so. Like a faded habit that they could just never seem to get quite right again. For all but with the notable exception of the man with the red hair, that is. However, he seemed to be so much different from all the rest in almost every aspect. He seemed almost “real.” Though rare in occurrence, he was the one who made Clive’s skin literally crawl with each visitation. The very thought of him was enough to make Clive jump from his seat.
“We have to… I… I have to go Douglas.” “”But Clive, you haven’t even finished your burger, m’man.” “Right now Douglas, I need to leave right now” Clive replied urgently, ignoring Douglas’ concern about the damned burger. Rising quicker than a person normally should, he slammed his knee into the formica top as a reward for his efforts, and left the place with Douglas – grabbing the last of Clive’s burger – trailing behind him. The spirit, the ghost, the “he” – the whatever the hell it was – fortunately did not follow. Clive made sure of it. But had he looked back with a touch more scrutiny, he would have seen the cruel almost-smile that crawled across “his” almost-face, just before he disappeared again into the thin blue air.
Rushing to catch up, Douglas slammed down the last bite of greasy beef before grabbing Clive by the shoulder and stopping him dead in his tracks. “Clive, you want to tell me what in the hell that was about just now? You mind filling in a friend as to why a perfectly good cow had to die today in vein AND I’m all outta breath; when all I wanted to do was to sup with you and a delicious quarter pound?” Clive looked pensively around him, hoping to see no one, and was surprised to see he got his wish. This had to stop. This idea of keeping Douglas in the dark. He was his friend, dammit! So what if Clive spoke and Douglas laughed. Or worse. So what? Clive knew one thing for certain, not telling anyone was bound to kill him, and not in the good way. “Douglas, I need to tell you something” Clive said, almost whispering. “Well, imagine that!” boomed Douglas in response. “Shhh! Keep it down. I need to tell you something that will most likely ruin our friendship. I need to tell you something that’ll make you hate me, because you’ll finally see me for what I am.” “And what are you Clive?” Douglas asked patiently. “I’m a man who sees ghosts, Dougla…” Clive stopped mid-sentence, his heart sinking as he watched the smile that slowly danced across Douglas’ face. “You said you wouldn’t laugh at me Douglas.” “Clive, I’m not laughing at you my friend, it’s just that the kid said it better” replied Douglas. “The kid…?” “Yeah, the kid. The kid in that movie. You know, the whole ‘I see dead folk’ or some such thing. That kid.” “Oh, yeah. But I’m for real Douglas. I’m not making a joke or anything. I really do see ghosts. Spirits. Whatever. They’re all around me. All the time” pleaded Clive. “And what do they tell you, m’friend?” Douglas asked calmly. “Well, they don’t say anything just yet. But with every visit, it seems like they’re getting closer to, well, to starting to make demands or something. I don’t know, it’s hard to explain. I’m sorry Douglas, I shouldn’t have told you.” “No Clive, I’m glad you did. At least we now what we have to work with here, don’t we?”
As Clive had previously confirmed, there was no one nearby Douglas and himself – neither alive, dead nor other – while this conversation was being held, but the man with the red hair still heard it all. Unlike the others – those ignorant servants, those has-been peasants – he had figured out how to still listen into the other side. The “other side” as it pertained to him. And he had figured out how to do so without actually ever having the need to step “foot” into it. He duly noted the lack of surprise in Douglas’ response to Clive’s news, as he also relished in the fear that could be tasted in Clive’s hushed tone. Yes, things were coming together quite nicely. And freedom – his freedom – was finally well within reach. Ah yes, if even the man with the power couldn’t keep it under control… Then his plan would truly be unstoppable. How he wished that he could step through the veil to taste just a bit of Clive’s fear and self-loathing, but there was little time for pleasure just now. With an almost life-like hand, he casually summoned one of the others. A being that – had he been human in form – would have looked very much like an older, more fearful, version of Clive. “I believe the time nears where we shall speak” the man with the red hair communicated to the elder Clive-like spirit. “Now, why don’t you run along and pay a long overdue visit to your ‘beloved’?”
© t – 2o12