Do you believe in ghosts? ‘Cause if you do, that would really help.
My name’s Aaron. I’m twelve years old. I’m gonna be twelve years old for a long time. For however long it takes, really. I’m not gonna get any older. You see, I’m a ghost. Seriously, a ghost. I’m not some freak in a sheet who yells ‘boo!’ at people. I’m not some grisly, blood-covered skeleton with flesh hanging off and empty eye sockets. That’s just gross. I’m pretty much the same as I was as a kid but with one key difference. I don’t have a body anymore. That’s it.
I get it. You’re probably jumping to all sorts of conclusions about me already. You must think that, since I’m a ghost, something really horrible must have happened to me. That some psycho snuck into my house and killed me in my sleep. Or maybe one of my parents poisoned me or beat me for misbehaving. Or maybe I just hung out with this really awful crowd.
That’s lame. I got sick. I didn’t get better. End of story.
So, why am I here? Pretty easy. I chose to stick around. It’s not that I was scared of the afterlife, of going to heaven or hell. It’s not that I had ‘unfinished business’ or whatever the psychics think up. I’m here because I wanted to help. Because I hoped that, if I chose to stick around, there’d be a lot less ghosts in the world.
It’s not that I’ll never get to move on, either. If a ghost serves a good purpose in the Shadow Life, then they move on to heaven. If they’re bad, they go . . . well, elsewhere. Some souls chose to become ghosts before they move on to see if they can clean up their act if they had a crummy life. If a person dies who is comfortable with the life they’ve lived, they just go straight on. If a person has lived a life of evil, and I mean pure evil, like really, really, really bad, then they don’t even get the option of becoming ghosts. They just, as they say in the board game, ‘go directly to jail’. Do not pass ‘Go’. Do not collect $200.
I still remember my life. I remember who I was, where I lived, who my family was. I lived in Montana. I was born in 1983. I had parents, Roxanne and Carl, or Mom and Dad to me. I had friends. I went to school (not that I was any good at it). I was a normal kid. I liked sports. My favorite color was green. My favorite food was mashed potatoes and gravy. I like the Star Wars films (seriously, they’re awesome!). See, a normal kid.
Still, there were a few things about me that was kinda different. I was one of the toughest kids on the playground, but I wasn’t a bully. I liked sticking up for people. I hated bullies. So, whenever I saw one picking on other kids, I’d jump in and take over the fight.
But don’t think I won every time. I lost to them a lot. It’s a miracle that I died the way I did, rather than died from blood loss from a grisly wound in one of my fights. Even though I lost a lot, people still hailed me as the toughest kid. Why? Because I kept coming back. Even if I had two black eyes, a bloody nose, and the skin scrapped off my knuckles, I still fought. I wouldn’t stop until I blacked out. Even then, the first thing I’d ask when I woke up was “Where is that big, fat moron!? I’m not finished with him!”
Those days are over though. The winter I turned twelve was a bad year. Lots of snow, lots of cold, and I didn’t have the strongest immune system. I got pneumonia. Mom and Dad took me to the hospital, but it didn’t do any good in the end. I couldn’t get better. I died. Mom and Dad were heartbroken. It sucked.
I remember the day I died pretty well. Instead of waking up in my hospital bed, where I’d fallen asleep, I woke up beside my bed . . . looking at myself in my bed. I didn’t mistake it for a dream. I knew what happened the moment I saw myself in that bed. I didn’t cry or feel too mad about it. Pneumonia sucks. I was kinda glad to be rid of it. It was just too bad that I had to get rid of it by being dead. I stuck around and watched as Mom and Dad came in and realized that I wasn’t breathing anymore. Mom cried. So did Dad. They cried a lot. I wished I could cry too. I couldn’t for some reason. Maybe because I wasn’t really feeling too sad. Yeah I was depressed, but not really sad.
I kinda wandered around for a little bit while my parents cried over my body. It was kinda weird. I could walk through walls, but only if I wanted to, so I didn’t sink through the floor. I couldn’t see myself in a mirror. I wished I could have. That way I’d know if I really did look like some kind of zombie. I really didn’t want to be a zombie. Before long I was getting bored and kinda anxious. Why wasn’t I going anywhere? Why were there no angels or Grim Reapers coming to pick me up and take me to . . . well, anywhere? It wasn’t until a few hours later when Mom and Dad called in a priest to read my last rights did something happen.
I watched the priest read scriptures over my body and say all these blessings. He wasn’t an old guy, maybe mid-thirties at the most. He had black hair and brown eyes behind those tiny little glasses that people wear when they read. Spectacles, I think my Dad used to call them. Then, when he was finished, he ushered my parents out of the room. They did so, crying a lot. Finally, when my body was alone with the priest, he turned and looked right at me (and I mean me-the-ghost-me) and smiled.
“Well, young one,” he said. “You’ve yet to move on to the next life, I see.”
I blinked. “You can see me?” I asked.
“Indeed, yes,” said the priest. “You have a very strong spirit, my child.”
“Is that supposed to be a pun?” I asked.
The priest laughed. “I’m sorry, my child. I meant no offense. You seem abnormally comfortable with your current situation.”
If I had shoulders still, I’d have shrugged. Instead I just kinda made the motion with my spirit shoulders. “Well, it’s not like I can do anything about it, can I?”
“No, child,” he said, sadly. “There is nothing you can do.”
“Shoot,” I mumbled.
“Well, what would you like to do now?” the priest asked politely.
“I don’t know,” I said, irritated. “Aren’t I supposed to . . . I don’t know . . . go somewhere? I mean, you’re the holy man, here. Shouldn’t you know what comes next?”
“Certainly, I know,” said the priest. “Right now, young man, you have entered what some refer to as the Shadow Life. Still present in the realm of the living, but not alive.”
“Shadow Life?” I asked, nervously. “That’s not like . . . limbo or something is it?”
“It is sometimes called that,” said the priest. “It has several names. “Limbo” and “Purgatory” are some of them.”
“I thought purgatory was for evil people,” I said, now getting pretty scared. “I wasn’t that bad, was I?!”
“No, no,” said the priest, kindly. “Not at all. You’re a young, good, strong-willed boy and have done nothing evil. Sometimes people feel they’ve done evil. If they do, they stay in the Shadow Life to atone for their sins.”
“Does this mean I have something to atone for?” I asked.
“Not really,” said the priest. “Every human being in the world is guilty of some sin. It’s what makes us human. Only the Son of God is perfect.”
“Okay,” I said, slowly. “So . . . why am I . . . not going anywhere?”
“Because you have a choice,” said the priest. “You can stay in the Shadow Life or you can move on right now.”
“Why would anyone want to be a . . . well, what I am?” I asked.
“To justify their sins,” said the priest. “To make up for lost time. To protect the living. To see the end of damnation. Many reasons.”
“Yes,” said the priest, now looking grim. “The veil between the Shadow World and the Realm of the Living is thin. Sometimes their paths cross. Some things from the Shadow World are evil and try to harm the living. It is spirits of the dead, like you, who can put a stop to those evil things. You can fight evil.”
“What kind of evil?” I asked.
“There is always evil in the world, dear boy,” said the priest, darkly. “The living can do only so much to be rid of it. But, as a spirit, you cannot be tainted by that evil. You have the power to aid in it’s destruction. Will you do this, or would you rather go on to the next life? The choice is yours.”
When the priest asked me that, I was dumbfounded. I’d heard ghost stories when I was alive, but this? I thought he was crazy. Still, there’s something . . . interesting about the idea of fighting evil. Like I’d be Superman or something. I mean, only superhero’s fight evil, right? I was really, really into the idea. On the other hand, it might have been better to play it safe. Being a ghost would probably be really tough. Well, things couldn’t be that much worse, could they? What’s the worst that could happen? I’d die? A little late for that one.
I gave the priest my answer.
I said yes.
So, here I’ve been for the last twenty years. Well, not in the hospital, exactly. I’m able to move around because my body was buried in the priest’s (or I guess, Father Harrison is his name) churchyard. At my funeral, he said a prayer over my body that allowed me to wander free as far from my remains as I want. When he said that prayer, he spoke to me (I mean ghost me) and told me that one of the first things I needed to do was find someone who could see me, just like he could. He said I needed to find that person and stick with them. The person who would be able to see me would be a clairvoyant, or a person who could clearly see and communicate with ghosts. Father Harrison was one, that’s how he could see me at the hospital.
A ghost needs a clairvoyant in order to stop the evils that hide in the world. The things that Father Harrison sent me out to rid the world of as best I can. If I can find a clairvoyant who would help me, if I could help in the fight against evil, then I could move on having fulfilled what I stayed behind to do. Twenty years I’ve been breezing through city after city, town after town, to try and find the right one who would complete my mission in the Shadow Life.So, do you believe in ghosts? ‘Cause that would really help.