A little Halloween story, a Samhain sampling, or a little Noir to colour the shadows this winterfinding. This story is not mine, for it was born from myself and Kat Kerns. Neither one of us is sure how much the story told itself, so neither one of us takes much credit for it.
How it began:
Soundly asleep then instantly awake, but not knowing why. The clock reads 2:00 am; the house is silent except for the ever present dripping of the leaky faucet in the bathroom. ‘Why am I awake’ I thought to myself. My mind was alert to every sound and shift of shadow, my heart beating quickly out of time but not afraid. Suddenly I realized I wasn’t alone, not that I could see anyone in the darkened room, but I could feel a presence… instead of racing faster my heart beat calmed.
I felt strangely safe even though I knew I shouldn’t. Who could be in my house, in my room, and why wasn’t I afraid? I sat up in bed and turned on the lamp on the night stand. Looking across my room I saw…
I don’t know how long it had been this time. When your dead, time doesn’t matter that much. I got plugged back in ’32, that was OK. You cross some lines you have to figure there’s going to be a cost. A dame gets involved and suddenly you start breaking your own rules, people get hurt. Dead hurt. I fixed it back then; but not before the kid got caught up in it. One innocent, and a whole bunch of mooks who probably had it coming. Like I did. Somebody was keeping score though, ’cause it didn’t end when I died.
It was 43 when I got brought back first I think……..that little wop kid getting a bum rap because he had the wrong accent when they needed to hang an ugly wrap that came from one of the country club set. Last time was what 93, the old broad who thought she was losing it because she could see me. She couldn’t see her kid putting the squeeze on her loot, or selling her meds on the street.
He took a long drag on his smoke, pulling it deep into his lungs. The cherry on the end burned in the night like a red eye. Ghost smoke into ghost lungs. The broad on the bed turned and looked right at him, and turned on the light. He put out the smoke on the wall, noting it didn’t leave a mark. Ghost smokes don’t leave marks. Neither did he. Or at least, not enough to erase the mark he made when he was alive.
He waited for the screams to start, or looking at the bottle from last night to figure out where the ghost crawled out of. He hated this part. Funny how nobody wants to listen to the dead they called back. It’s not like he chose to be here. That’s a lie. He smiled, cold and hard. I made my choice a long time ago. Every drinker knows, no matter what’s your poison, the bill comes due at the end of the night. It’s a long night when you’re dead.
Time to find out what this dame’s story was. He didn’t always get it right, sometimes they still died. He didn’t know how many times he had to get it right before he would get to rest. Not a lot else to do when your dead. She didn’t seem to be screaming. Maybe this one would listen long enough to stay alive.
The spectral man seemed to be waiting for me to do something… perhaps scream or faint, not sure. He seemed surprised when I just watched him calmly. He looked vaguely familiar, like I should know him from somewhere. Perhaps he simply reminded me of someone I knew once or something. I took a moment to asses him, he had all the marks of a hard life when he’d been alive; at least I assumed he did. Not knowing how death worked, I really couldn’t say. Part of me knew I should be freaking out or questioning my sanity, but for some reason the only thing the spirit inspired in me was a sense of safety and calm, I knew somehow that he wasn’t here to hurt me.
Perhaps it was his eyes that inspired that, they had the look of a man resigned to his fate tinged with a touch of sadness. He put on a strong front as he drew on a spectral cigarette before putting it out against my wall; I was more than a little bit relieved to see that it didn’t leave a burn mark. They were always so hard to remove, I’d learned that well enough from an ex boyfriend who had been nothing but trouble when we were together and for a time even more trouble when we broke up. I still don’t know what it was I saw in him to begin with; maybe it was the challenge of the bad boy that many women make the mistake of assuming they can change, or perhaps pure masochism on my part. Whatever it had been, it was bad from beginning to end and I was well quit of him. I decided to say something maybe find out what he was here for, I was sure the spirit had a reason for being here; he didn’t seem the type to just be wandering through randomly. It was like I knew that he had a message of some sort, or perhaps he simply needed my help.
“Um… hello?” I said hoping that we could actually communicate.
The broad wasn’t freaking out like most of them did. Wasn’t just sitting their giggling like that twin in 73; she never got straight long enough from the junk she was on to realize what was up. It wasn’t hard watching that one go. I watched a lot of people go in the Great War, and a few when I came back and worked as a cop. Only a few more when I started work as a private dick, but one of those was her. Angie. The one I screwed up. The reason I’m here.
This girl looked smart, he could work with that. She didn’t look scared though. That was bad. He may not have figured out much about why he kept coming back, but he knew that he only came back for kids on the edge of getting whacked. Innocents like Angie. No bottle this time, and no blonde; no chance to screw it up.
Sometimes they got in deep with the wrong people. Sometimes it was family, and that got real ugly. Sometimes it was love; god knows love is what screwed him up bad enough to let Angie get killed. Even dead, that one won’t let him go.
This girl didn’t have the look; didn’t look hunted or scared. That was bad. She had no idea what was coming for her, and couldn’t tell me. I pulled my .45 and checked the clip; five rounds, always five. It begins again the same.
The girl pulled the blanket up when I pulled my gat, but still didn’t look scared. She should be. I only had one chance to get it right, last chance was all I ever got.
Memory gets bad towards the end, the things you try not to bring with you. I remember the endings. The blonde comes again, when I lose, she spits on me. When I win she kisses me. Funny, when she kissed me for real, I lost it all. I lost Angie. The dark one comes, her I know. Half her face rotted and rat chewed, like the guys the shells dug out and tossed back in the trenches, all swollen up and bursting. Half her face pale, cold, and hard. A smile like the cocked hammer of my .45. Then the dark. Always the dark.
I walked forward into the light, no shadows for me I guess, since I’m not much more than one myself. It was time to talk. Probably too late, I was usually too late. Two rounds wasted one bottle and one girl gone.
“What’s your story kid? Who wants you dead?”
I lit another cigarette and took a drag, the smoke pulled deep and held, as I looked for her response. Surprise. Huh. Always hard when you didn’t see it coming.
“Nothing personal toots, but if you see me, you got maybe an hour before somebody gets dead. And right now, the smart money is still on you.”
I blew a long trail of smoke into the lamp light, and I laughed gently.
“But I always bet the wrong way, and sometimes win”
My smile used to do the trick. Calmed the guys in the trenches calmed the cops on the scene who were turning green over their first corpse. It never worked on dames though. Of course, I never got that part right. Even dead.
Dead? Someone wanted me dead, and this spirit was here to warn me. The gun he’d pulled out had startled me a bit, but I still didn’t think he was here to hurt me, but asking me who wanted me dead, that was totally unexpected. To the best of my knowledge no one wanted me dead. I mean the only person I could even think of who might even be angry with me was Joey, I mean he did take the break up hard and I had to get a restraining order, but I couldn’t imagine him actually wanting me dead because of it… could I?
Well, there was no way to be sure, if this spirit was here to warn me of my impending potential death then I had best figure out what to do about it. From the sound of things, he felt there might be a chance for me to survive so I’d better work quickly. Did he know the nature of the threat; was it personal, could it be accidental? All I knew for sure was that I wasn’t about to just sit in bed and let it happen. My mother didn’t raise a fool; she made sure that if her baby girl got herself into trouble she was strong enough to get herself out of it. I nodded my understanding to the shade, and got out of bed. Moving to my dresser I started pulling clothes out, I wasn’t going to face whatever was coming in my freaking nightgown. I paused only momentarily to glance at the spirit, but than continued to get dressed. He’d mentioned an hour at most, now was no time for modesty. Fully dressed in a tee shirt and jeans, I pulled my hair back into a pony tail to keep it out of my face and moved to my closet. I found myself very glad that my parents had seen fit to teach me how to shoot as I opened the gun safe and took out my 9mm glock. For a moment I considered grabbing my fathers .357 magnum but I wanted something light just in case. Who knew what I was going to be up against. Speed and maneuverability might be my saving grace. I made sure it was loaded with a round chambered and put a couple of extra clips in my pocket just to be sure.
I decided to grab my hiking boots and put them on, who knew if I was going to need to make a run for it. I was still unnaturally calm through all of this; well maybe I would fall apart later if I made it through the rest of the night. Once again I turned to look at the spirit, harbinger of doom or saving angel, didn’t matter, I was going to take full advantage of this warning. I for one was not ready to die this night.
“Okay, now what?” I asked him.
She said she didn’t have a clue who would want her dead, but her eyes said she was lying. She picked up a cannon, and put it back in favor of some boxy piece that looked like someone took my .45 and squashed it down to half size. She stripped the clip and checked it, chambering and safing what looked like about a 9mm like she knew what she was doing. This dame had her head straight. I might save her, like I should have saved Angie.
“Hey toots, how about you roll up that sleeping bag in the closet, and put it under your covers like you was still asleep”
The closet was beside the door, anyone sitting in it would see the bed, but the door was out of sight. To get a shot at the bed, you would have to step around the walk in closet, with your back to it.
“Sit yourself here in the closet. I will let you know when somebody comes through the door. If they start shooting at the bed, don’t blow smoke asking stupid questions, you plug them hard and fast until they drop. If they look like they are turning to face you, plug ’em again”
The kid looked green, like it was sinking in, but she checked the safety, and worked it to make sure it broke clean. Her face went flat, like newbie’s usually did, faking cool until they bought it themselves. I saw that a lot in the trenches, and on the force. Sometimes I saw it in the mirror, or the bottom of a bottle.
It must of been about twenty minutes, but the sweat off the girl showed she felt it like hours. I forget how much the waiting gets to you, when your dead, some things just get easier.
I heard the back door open. I slipped into the hall to see a young guy pull a key from the lock. Huh. He had a key. With dames it was usually the things they didn’t want to talk about that got them killed. It was usually the one they would swear could never hurt them, but they were trying real hard to get away from because their brain read things clearer than their heart.
He pulled a gat of his own. Some shiny chrome job bigger than my Colt 1911. Maybe he thought he was hunting bear, because that was a lot of gun for a sleeping broad. Of course, it wasn’t going to be enough. Not this time. He ghosted back to the closet.
“Show time doll. One guy, one gun. Coming quiet. You don’t make a sound until he makes his play. Then you shoot. Don’t talk, don’t think, and don’t die!”
I gave her the hard stare, if she was going to freeze, I had to know. You can’t tell sometimes, until the time comes, whose got the steel to finish, and whose going to fold… Her lips went white; her breathing got deep, but slowed down. Her thumb slowly pushed the gun off safe. Well now. I’ve seen worse. I winked at her, and faded back by the bed.
Her left hand gripped her necklace, some kind of half cross or upside down hammer. Her right was at shoulder height, ready to bring her piece down on target.
The jackass came through the door screaming. I cleared my piece, even thought I can’t touch the living. Reflex I guess. Any surprise he would have had was gone. He lowered that cannon and started to blast.
Five shots rang like trip hammers. Three sounded like shotgun blasts, the cannon jumping in jackasses hand like a scared rabbit. He put a hole about chest level in the woman shape under the covers, then another in the pillow beside where her head would lay, then at the top of her headboard. Whatever that cannon was, he couldn’t control it, anymore than he could control his screaming. The last two shots were sharp cracks, as the muzzle flash from the doll’s little gun snapped out a sharp double tap, and jackass hit the floor.
“Nobody leaves me, you bitch!” Joey screamed as he came in the door. Unloading his Desert Eagle and his hate towards the girl who dared to leave him. He blasted out three times before he felt something hit him, and he fell to the floor.
He struggled to roll over, and saw her. That little bitch! The one who left him, the one who had the balls to send the Sheriffs to serve him at work with a restraining order, as if it was up to her when it was over. His chest was cold, and his legs were weak, but he snarled as he raised his Eagle towards his woman, HIS woman, whatever anyone said.
Joey heard a cold voice say “Finish it sister, this kid isn’t stopping”.
Joey looked into those eyes that used to look at him with love, and the ones he taught to look at him with fear, but this time they were flat, cold, and looking back in the moonlight on either side of the glowing sights of her Glock. Two more shots rang out, and he heard his pistol hit the floor. He couldn’t feel it. He couldn’t feel anything.
“Joey” the dame said, and then started to cry. Let the kid cry. She had earned it. He felt the end coming, they were coming again. They always did.
Joey came out of his body, and reached for his gun. You could do that if you hated enough. I did.
“This isn’t over” Joey sobbed as he picked up his gun, and raised it towards his loved/hated ex. “This will never be over!” he screamed.
“Hey bub” rang a cold voice, edged with cruelty
“You want to bet on that”
He spun to face the trench coated figure shining moonlight silver in the darkness, but thunder spoke, and a hammer took him in the knee.
“My gun can’t touch the living any more, but you should see what it does to the dead”
“You could have let it go buddy, you could have let her go and lived”
The gun spoke again, and Joey screamed.
“Both legs-you will never rise, never walk”
Twice more the gun spoke, and Joeys shoulders were slammed to the floor.
“Both arms-you will not raise them to another woman”
Joey started to beg now; he was almost out of time. They both were.
The grim ghost looked down, his eyes shaded by his fedora. The muzzle of the .45 looked like a train tunnel, as the smoke from the first four rounds puffed like a dragon’s breath around its muzzle.
“And your head, because I’m tired of listening to you”
Joey faded into silence. A roughly man shaped pool of silver in the darkness, without form, without movement, without hope.
“Your choice to be stupid, my choice who lives”
He looked at the locked slide on his pistol, and released it. Slapping its empty form back into its holster, he turned to face what was coming. He lit a cigarette and sucked deep on it. He knew what was coming, If he could have run, he would. It hurt too much to remember, except at the end.
From the moonlight came her. Shining the blonde came. Angie’s mother. I wished I died this time first. Sometimes when I failed, I ate my gun before they came, and missed this part. Sometimes I wished I had failed at this point. Five rounds, that’s all I had at the end.
She was smiling, the way she was when she fed me the spiked booze, and left me passed out while she handed her kid back over to the monster that paid for her, the one whose guys I took her from in the first place.
The kid’s grandmother paid me to track Angie down, and I did. Two knuckle draggers for hire had grabbed her and were holding her at a hotel. Neither one was willing to face a drawn pistol for the money they were getting. Bottom feeders, not the kind that came back from war, or came up through the gangs.
I brought her back to the mother. The blonde. Her face was hard and cold when I brought her back, and she told Angie to go to her room while she made a phone call. I cooled my heels in the living room while she made the call. When she came back she was all smiles, and brought a drink. Her blouse was unbuttoned enough to really distract me, and I never turned down good booze.
I never had much luck with broads and none with ones as hot as this one. I tried to play it cool, but my brain shut off as she ran her hands on my chest, and told me to finish my drink.
When I came to, I was passed out in the chair with a headache. Angie was gone, her mother too. I staggered to the girl’s room; it looked like a fight happened. Angie was a fighter, she didn’t go easy. I saw a button on the ground. Her mothers. Her mothers.
Played like a fool. Her mother sold her, just like the last time. Two mooks too scared to face me didn’t snatch the kid themselves, they got her drugged unconscious by her mother, only this time she used it on me.
Booze and broads, I never could turn them down, and this time a kid was paying. Angie.
I called the operator, gave them my old badge number, and got the last number called. Lassiter. Old man Lassiter.
Lassiter was old money, bought judges and congressmen out of petty cash, and was untouchable. We all knew about him, and the rumors about his tastes. Nobody ever linked him directly to the bodies; nobody ever looked that hard, or were warned off. Nobody ever went after him.
I rubbed my head and my eyes fell upon the bottle. Well, I guess I just proved I was a nobody, a real chump.
I cleared my pistol and blasted the bottle and glass. Two rounds out of seven spent. Five left.
“Angie baby, I swear I’m going to get you back, Hell take anybody who gets in the way”
My Ford weaved all over the road as I shook off the Mickey Finn. I clipped a mirror on the gate post on the way in, and went through the shrubs on his pretty lawn.
I came up the stairs at a run, Colt in my fist.
Two guards were at the door and reached for me. Amateurs. I didn’t waste a bullet on either of them. I knocked mustache boy’s coconut off the door post, and pistol whipped the second mook. I didn’t slow down. You crossed the wire at the run, and didn’t stop until you hit the opposite trench. Slow was dead. Dead was OK, but only after I finished. Only I after I saved Angie.
I hit the stairs at the run; there was a butler in a stupid costume. He clawed at a piece behind his back. The stupid suit made him slow, my .45 made him stop forever. Four left.
Another stood at the top of the stairs, and got off two shots of his own. One hit my chest, I felt cold, but it wasn’t enough. It threw off my aim, and my return splashed his throat into a red mess. Three left.
I came through the door, and there she was. Angie’s mom, her purse was grasped in her hand, and she shot a look at the bedroom door. I heard a little girl screaming, and the wet slap of a man’s hand stopped it. I put a bullet just above those sweet red lips. Couldn’t let her speak, they made a fool of me before, and I may already be too late. Two left.
I hit the door, kicking beside the lock, not with my shoulders because the movies got it wrong. My vision was starting to grey out, not a good sign. Did I have enough time? I would have to.
Lassiter was kneeling over Angie. His pants were down, and he had his hands at her throat. I put a bullet in his spine, but the old bastard got up again.
I was on the ground, I didn’t notice falling. It was cold, and my vision was graying out. Not good. The old bastard raised himself up, and reached for the girl again, I put my last round through is temple, and blew his brains all over the antique bed drapes.
I couldn’t move now. I heard the screams of the mansion staff, heard soft sobbing from somewhere.
“I didn’t make it Angie, I let you down. I swear I’ll make it right”
From the shadows of the bed came two figures, one was a horror, half her face bloated and rotten, half cold and beautiful. Both her eyes were hungry as they looked at me. You see strange things at the end. I looked away from her, and there she was, the blonde; Angie’s mom, the vision of beauty seemed to have gotten over the slug through the skull, and was smiling at me too. I shut my eyes. Some things I just couldn’t face.
“Mine” said the blonde.
“Not yet” said the two faced horror.
It was a mercy when the dark came. It never lasted, but I welcomed it at the end.
It was the new dame that shattered the memory. She turned to my specters as if she saw them too, and shouted two names
“Hella!” She said raising her arm in salute to the dark one, her eyes unafraid as she took in the two faces of the cold dark. The dark one nodded in return.
“Freya” she said saluting the blonde. That wasn’t Angie’s mother’s name, but the blonde laughed and nodded in return.
This had never happened. Not even I knew who they were; just that they came for me, at the end. Nobody saw them but me.
Who was this girl, and how did she know his specters?
It was hard to think, standing over the body of her dead ex, but the shock of the killing was nothing compared to the coming of the goddesses. Hel was cold, her presence deep in ways that spoke of the mound, of eternity. Her coming swept away shock and fear, for hers was a presence that anchored deep in the roots of the earth, and beyond.
At her glance, the silver pool that was the sundered essence of her attempted killer sunk into the floor, and the slight smile on her face was like moonlight on a bared blade. The look she turned upon her defender, the trench-coat clad ghost was softer; if not kind, then at least understanding. When she looked at how her specter faced the keeper of the dead, she was shocked to see him flinch, not from the half-corpse grave-queen, but from the Goddess of Love.
Freya was hard to look upon, her light was bright, not as sunlight, but as fire; amber and gold. Her beauty was vibrant, wild and fierce; even still she had the quality of dance, as if she was but a frozen moment between frenzied steps. Her gaze upon the ghost was warm. In those eyes shone understanding, love, and a fierce possessive desire. Not the desire of a lover, so much as the desire to possess, the need to have something discovered.
Her specter turned on trembling legs of ghost-silver away from the shining light of Freya, and towards the corpse-queen’s dark. At last Freya’s gaze fell upon her, and the goddess spoke.
“Kitten, would you know why he flees me? Would you know what he sees?”
I nodded; I could not speak under that gaze.
“Then see his memories, look at the things he won’t see. He has earned more than he allows himself. He has won more than the task he sets himself. There is a place for him in other halls than the mound”
Freya looked at the specter with sad eyes.
“For him I wear the face of she he first saved, but he sees only the mother. His generation had forgotten us, many won great worth, but even some of those were lost, and need a guide to find their way home”
Those last words fell upon me like a great weight. As her eyes met mine, I saw the visions that haunted, that trapped my specter. As he lay dying upon the ground, I saw a young girl, shining golden with the promise of beauty to come, rush to his side, and weeping, close his eyes. When the police came, she told them weeping, of his heroism. She heard the echo of a name….Angie.
He didn’t know! He had been condemning himself for generations for failing her, but he didn’t fail. He was not running from the woman he killed (she shuddered at the thought of a mother selling her child to that fate), but from the child he saved!
A gift for a gift she thought, looking at the bullet holes in her bed; she had been given the gift of life. She looked at her ghost, the haunted look in her haunts own eyes. She owed a life, and but how was she to pay it back. She looked at Hel, and for the living to meet that dread gaze was harder than looking down the barrel of her pistol at her former lover. Turning from the light, to face the silver shadow in the heart of the dark, Kat turned to face Hella.
As she met the gaze of the two faced queen, Hel turned the corpse face she showed the living. Staring at the corpse bloat, and milky eye of the keeper of the dead, Kat steeled herself and met Hel’s gaze.
“Great Hel, I beg a question”
Hel turned her maiden face to the hard faced ghost, fumbling to light a cigarette for whatever comfort it offered the dead. A soft smile touched the Keeper of Silence, and she asked a question in a voice that was soft as a lullaby.
“For the champion?”
Freed to speak when the Dread Queen turned to look at the smoking specter, Kat mumbled her assent.
“He is not mine to keep. He will not rest. Those that are mine know rest, an end to strife, He flees to me, and I wrap him in my darkness, but always the call will come, and his guns and wrath, not my arms, will hold him.”
The Keeper of the Dead turned her corpse face to the living once more and spoke her last.
“He is not mine to keep.”
It was times like this the sagas had great words from inspired poets. Too bad she was standing in her closet in her pajamas, standing over a body, looking at two goddesses, and trying to save a ghost. Sadly, this did not make for poetry.
“Shit” said Kat. She stripped the mag from her pistol, clearing and safing it. Checking the chamber was clear; she worked the slide lock and put down the empty gun. It was time to finish things; she thought she heard sirens already.
Quick and dirty heathen 101 or ghost intervention. It was now or never.
“A gift for a gift” she said. “I don’t have a lot of time, the police are coming, but there is something you need to know.”
The darkness was lapping around me now, the cold black promise of oblivion, the chance to forget. I could feel the blonde behind me, feel her calling to me. One day I might be weak enough to give in, I gave in once, and Angie died. I died too; but I couldn’t even get that right. I turned to the dark lady again, her smile was cold and hard as a drawn knife, she knew me, and she knew what came next. The cold, the silence………the call again.
“Shit”, the dame I saved had a mouth on her like a platoon sergeant, but she shot straight, and didn’t flinch, so I guess she was alright. She said she had something I needed to know, but she was wrong. Stuff only mattered to the living; it only mattered until you got the big one wrong, then you were screwed for life. Or death in my case. You screwed up the big one, you paid and paid, and even a bullet couldn’t get you out.
I smiled, the darkness was drawing back. The dark lady wanted me to listen, and I guess the kid earned a minute. Being dead, my time got cheaper than a plug nickel.
“You never remember the end” she said.
No kidding. I got played for a sucker, and Angie died. I got the broad that sold her and the fat cat who bought her. The torpedoes didn’t count; they were nothing, so was I. I didn’t save Angie, and even if I got it right a few times, I failed when it counted, I failed when I died, because so did she.
The sirens were getting closer, the kid seemed desperate. She stepped away from her gun, and looked like she wanted to slap me. I get that a lot, or did when I had a body to slap.
“No, you idiot!” Kid had a silver tongue alright. He chuckled, but the kid had her motor running and shifted gears like she had places to go.
“You died, but she didn’t. The crying you heard was Angie, she lived. She was crying and closing your eyes when the police got there. That’s not her mother’s face you see behind you, that’s Angie when she grew up.”
The dark lady looked sad; her eyes were almost soft as she nodded. Eyes like that couldn’t lie; they never tried. Death didn’t cheat; she was the one unbroken promise. He didn’t know much, but he knew that.
The sirens grew loud, as they did that night when he was fading out. He heard then from a child, what he heard now from the blonde, so beautiful it hurt, so bright she burned.
“You came back for me. I knew you would. You are a hero. There is a place for heroes. My lady keeps it. You don’t have to go into the dark. You can come again when you are called”
The kid seemed to understand. I didn’t. I turned to her, because she played it straight so far, and I wasn’t trusting myself to think, not with her in front of me.
“Go with her.” The dame was smiling and crying the way only dames could.
“Freya’s hall is for heroes and lovers”
I looked at the empty clip in my 45 and the spot the ghost died again and laughed.
“I ain’t a hero, doll face. And if there is a bigger fool at love than me, I never met him”
My voice turned hard and cold, I knew how it played out. How it always played out.
“Out of bullets, out of time. Now the dark comes”
A golden laugh lit the darkness, and I felt the shiver run up my spine like the caresses you dream about, but never know. My gun grew heavy in my hand; I stripped the clip and counted. One, two, three…….seven? NO! I wasted two, and since I died, I only had five left, like when I tried to save her. Seven slugs looked back at me, and I looked up to three smiles.
The kid was crying, the dark one nodded and turned away, and ……Angie took my arm. I felt a rush, like blood and fire pour through me, like a living man, like whiskey and a first kiss, and dawn after a night of war. I looked down at the ghost of my arm, and saw it fade.
Kat watched Hel turn away, and the amber tones of life fill the bone white hollows of the dead man’s face with life. Love hid behind walls of fear in his eyes, but wonder made him look at Angie, and see love shining back in return.
A gift for a gift, a life for a life.
Standing alone in a room with no ghosts and a single dead body, she heard the police come in and she began to laugh. This was actually going to be the easy part of her evening. Tears streaking her face, she sat back in the closet to wait. There had been enough truth for the evening. Her ghost prepped her for the coppers, and a little damsel in distress beat the hell out of telling the local flat-feet about goddesses and ghosts. Gods, now he had her talking like that. Next thing you knew, she would be smoking……
By Kat Kerns and John T Mainer
Previously published in
All proceeds donated to The Troth.