I screamed, ran into my house, hurried into my room and threw myself into bed and covered my head with a pillow.
What would you have done!?
A multitude of thoughts were spinning through my head as I lay there with my face pressed into my mattress. The thought that occurred more than any other was: I’m crazy! I’m absolutely crazy. I’ve lost my mind. I’m seeing things, I’m hearing things, I saw a kid’s torso talking to me…I’ve absolutely lost my friggin’ mind!
My uncovered body felt the cold before my head could. I felt something enter my room, even though the door remained closed. I could tell that the thing from outside was in here with me now and, after a moment, it spoke.
“Look, if there was any other, more delicate, way to have done that, I’d have done it,” the kid’s voice said. “But I thought it might be better it we just got the initial shock out of the way first, you might be more willing to…y’know…get to business with all this.”
I didn’t say anything. I wasn’t about to start talking to a voice that I knew wasn’t really there. If I’d gone crazy, I wasn’t going to make it worse than it was. I was NOT going to start talking to myself.
“My name is Aaron, by the way,” the ghost-that-really-wasn’t-there was saying. “You’re name’s Gina, right? I heard that other girl at the pizza place call you that. Do you always dress like someone at a KISS concert when you sing karaoke?”
“Shut up!” I yelled into my mattress. “Go away! You’re not really here! I’m not really talking to a floating human torso! You’re not here! You’re a hallucination! Now, leave me alone!”
“Sorry, no can do,” the ghost-named-Aaron-who-was-not-really-there replied. “You can see me and I need your help.”
“I can’t help something that’s in my head!” I snapped, still not taking my head out from under my pillow. “This isn’t really happening! It’s impossible!”
“Search your feelings, Luke, you know it to be true,” Aaron-the-ghost-hallucination said.
That, and the fact that it wasn’t very easy to breathe with a pillow over my face, got me to sit up and look around at the ghost. He was standing (could he do that with no feet?) near the foot of my bed, staring blankly at me. Just the sight of him made my insides feel cold and tight with discomfort.
“Wh-what are you talking about?” I said. “I…I’ve never seen a g-g-whatever you are before! How is it I can see you now?”
The ghost boy shrugged. “I dunno. You’re a late bloomer, maybe?”
I groaned and buried my face in my pillow again. “If blooming means losing my mind, then I don’t want to bloom!” I whined.
“I can tell this is a tough pill to swallow, but I don’t know what else to tell you,” the ghost said. “I’m here, you’re here, you can see me, and so I need your help!”
“My help!” I yelped, sitting back up again. “What do you need my help for? I can’t help you…you’re dead! Just go into the light or…whatever you have to do!”
“Profound,” said Aaron, dully. “I don’t need help passing on, thank-you-very-much! I can do that…well, when I’m ready to do that. But not now ‘cause I have too much stuff to do, and that’s not what I need.”
“Well, I’m sorry, I can’t help you!” I said, stubbornly.
“And why not?” he asked.
“Because I…don’t…believe…in…ghosts!” I cried.
At that moment, I heard footsteps in the hall and then the doorknob on my room began to turn. I twisted my head so fast that I cricked my neck just before Mom opened the door to my room.
“Gina?” she said, sleepily.
“Oh! Mom!” I yelped, rubbing my neck, eyes watering. I glanced around to where the ghost boy had been but he wasn’t there anymore.
“Gina, what on earth are you doing?” Mom said, incredulously. “It’s late. You’re going to wake your sister up, not to mention everyone on the block! Who are you talking to?”
“I…I…” my head was spinning in an attempt to think up a convincing lie. “I just…got off…the phone…with…with Ria!” I spluttered.
“You were on the phone with Ria?” Mom said, scratching her head and messing up her already disheveled hair. “Were you arguing?”
“Yes,” I said, lowering my gaze. “Yes, we…were arguing. Sorry, Mom. I’ll be quieter from now on.”
“Well, just keep it down and don’t stay up too late,” Mom said, clearly too tired to give me a proper scolding. She then bid me goodnight and closed the door. I sighed heavily. I never liked lying to my mom.
“Would you feel better about this if I let you call me ‘Casper’?” a voice said in my ear.
I jumped a foot in the air and saw that the ghost hadn’t disappeared, but had moved behind me, blinking calmly despite my own terror.
“Why…!?” I started to shout, but then I remembered that I couldn’t wake up my sleeping family again. I took a deep breath and said, forcefully yet more calmly, “Why are you still here!?”
“Because you can see me,” he said again.
“So you’re punishing me for seeing you?” I hissed.
“It’s not punishment,” Aaron insisted. “I already told you, I need your help. And the only kind of person who can help me is someone, like you, who can see me.”
“But…why can I see you!?” I whined, frustrated to the point of tears.
“How am I supposed to know that?” Aaron said. “It’s your life. All I know is that you’re the person who is meant to help me. You looked right at me yesterday and, when I peaked into your kitchen window, you saw me again.”
I blinked, confused about what he was talking about. But then I remembered seeing the kid hiding in the shadows as I came home…and then the face in the window that had scared me so bad…the voice in my ear the other night…
“That…that was all you!” I gasped.
“Yeah,” he said. “I would have explained myself yesterday night, but I didn’t have enough energy. But I’m certain…without a shadow of a doubt…that you’re the clairvoyant who’s supposed to help me.”
“Clairvoyant,” Aaron replied. “A person who can see ghosts.”
“No!” I said, stubbornly. “I’m not anything like that! I’m not psychic! I’m not anything! I’m normal. Now, please, leave me alone!”
The boy sighed. “Well, I kinda expected this, I’m gonna admit. For what it’s worth, could you please just listen to something I’ve got to say really quick?”
I looked over at him. He looked dead-eyed and kind of depressed. I suddenly felt a little bad for how I’d reacted to him. “Wh-what?” I said.
“You really need to be careful now that you’ve started seeing as a clairvoyant,” he said. “Next to some of the other things out there, I’m one of the nicest you’re going to come by.”
“Wh-what’s that mean?” I said, confused.
“I’m just saying that this is the beginning of something that, if you don’t accept soon, really will drive you crazy,” Aaron said. He didn’t sound very threatening, but there was no doubt of the warning note in his voice. “Life isn’t easy for clairvoyants who can’t just embrace what’s to come. Like it or not, spirits will approach you. You’ve got to accept what’s going on around you.”
“But…but…it’s all too impossible,” I wailed, burying my face in my hands. “I…I don’t even like ghost stories and things like that. I…I’m too scared!”
“Even if you weren’t scared, you will be,” he said. “You will be.”
I looked up at him, irritated. “What’s with all the friggin’ Star Wars quotes?”
“I don’t know,” he said, with a slight shrug. “Maybe because they’re totally awesome?”
“Great,” I grumbled. “I’m being haunted by the ghost of a nine-year-old science fiction nerd!”
“I was twelve when I died, I’ll have you know,” he said, defiantly. “Well, okay then. I’ll leave you alone for a while. Oh,” he said suddenly. “Before I forget, I ought to tell you something else that’s kind of important.”
“W-what?” I said.
“Take care when you’re at school,” Aaron, the ghost boy, said, his voice sounding slightly more distant. “There are things going on there…well, things are about to get really hairy in that place. Be on your guard.”
I sat up again and blinked. “What? What are you talking about? What’s wrong with my school?”
But the boy drifted backwards and through my wall facing outside. I hurried over to my window and opened it, but I couldn’t see him anywhere. Just like that, the ghost boy was gone.
I spent my entire weekend trying to convince myself that the ghost boy had been a dream. I didn’t see him at all through Saturday and Sunday, so by day it was easy to pretend that it was just some crazy nightmare. By night, however, I would lay awake for hours; my eyes open wide for any sign of the boy. But he didn’t show.
By Monday morning I was feeling a bit better, more confident in my sanity and my “the-ghost-boy-was-a-dream” theory. Thankfully, I didn’t have to think about it too much. When Ria and I arrived at school, all anyone could talk about was the surprise appearance of Aquadeus in our small town. Rumors had spread like wildfire over the weekend. I heard some kids saying that he’d held a small concert at Venn’s, singing every song on the karaoke machine while others swore that he stopped by their house to use the restroom.
“Of course, we know what actually happened,” said Ria, smiling. “We actually got to meet him, in person! Oh, he’s so dreamy!”
“I thought he was kind of stuck up,” I admitted.
“Of course he’s stuck up!” Ria said. “He’s RICH!”
“Ria, you’re rich.”
“Not as rich as he is,” Ria fought back. “Oh, he’s handsome and awesome and gorgeous and…”
I just let her gush on. I went about my classes, my mind blissfully off the ghost but now focused on Aquadeus. I couldn’t really tell what bothered me about him. There was something about the way he had looked at me with those strange, violet-colored eyes. It was like he was looking through me, right at my soul, making me feel exposed or something. He’s been more creepy than appealing to me.
As the last bell for the day rang, I gladly packed up my stuff and went to find Ria. My lack of sleep over the weekend wasn’t doing much for my ability to focus in class. As I left my classroom and into the crowded hall full of people eager to leave the school, I felt the now dreaded chill run down my spine. My insides froze with momentary fear. Was the ghost here? At my school? I spun around and something strange caught my eye.
A girl about my age was leaning against a wall opposite of where I as standing. That wouldn’t have been strange except for the fact that nobody else seemed to notice her but me. People didn’t even brush her as they walked by, even though it was so crowded. I didn’t recognize her from any of my classes. She had long, curly black hair and was wearing a light blue sweater over worn-out jeans. Her arms were folded across her chest and she seemed to be waiting for something. As I continued to watch her, I saw her sigh, turn around....
…and walk right through the wall of the school.
I blinked several times, tried to tell myself that that wasn’t really what I saw, but I knew it was a lie.
Now there was a ghost at my house…and one at my school!