Her mother was Greek and her dad English. She blamed her dad for both her sensitivity to sunlight, she always wore sunglasses in the day, as well as her sometimes painfully cynical attitude. Her mother she thanked for gorgeous olive-toned skin, full lips and almond-shaped eyes. But then again, she loved mom. Dad was a pain in the butt, so she just blamed him for most of the problems in her life anyway. Bad hair day? Must’ve been dad’s fault.
“How’d it go?”
Alison jumped in her seat, turning to look and finding that Gregory Jones was sitting beside her on the passenger side. Greg Jones was also dead. He also acted as if he were madly in love with her, which was more odd than anything. She could only hope his shameless flirtations were his idea of a bad joke. Alison sighed, starting the car engine with her keys. “You scared me,” she said, feeling annoyed.
He was cute, but unfortunately, as previously stated, he was dead. He was thirty, with Greek heritage and born in American like herself. A half-breed like herself, anyway. Both their mothers were straight from Greece and had married in America. He must’ve thought they were soul mates with such daring coincidences in their lives. “Anyway, it went fine,” Alison stated. “The woman crossed over.” A quick glance in his direction. “Unlike some people I know.”
Greg held his hands up defensively. “Hey, I know I’m dead, all right? But I like it here. And besides…”
“Don’t give me that ‘unfinished business’ bullshit again,’” Alison complained, pulling out of the driveway. “That’s for fairy-tales. You know you’re supposed to find that golden light at the end of the tunnel the second you get it through that thick head of yours that you’re dead. Something’s just wrong with you. Maybe you’re defective or something.”
“I’m not defective. I’m serious. I really do have unfinished business here before I go.”
“And what business is that?” Alison asked sarcastically.
Greg smiled. “To get married to some gorgeous Greek-English woman, around twenty-eight years old or so, start a family.”
Alison laughed out loud. “You’re gonna be stuck here a long time if that’s the plan. Good luck.” She couldn’t believe it. Never in her life had she thought she’d be pursued by a dead guy. Just what she needed. No wonder she could never meet the right person. No wonder she couldn’t even get a date! She was stuck with weirdos like Greg who scared them all away. “Anyway, if you do have unfinished business, and that’s really the reason why you’re still here, then you are, in all honesty, the only spirit I’ve ever met that’s in that situation. And you know me. I’ve been doing this for three years, and seriously, the second these guys find out they’re dead, they just go. It’s like, time to go. You know?”
“Guess I’m just special in that way.”
“Special,” Alison smirked. “Yep. That’s definitely the word I’d use for you.” She turned the corner and onto a quiet road, headed to her house, a small colonial-style building that she lived alone in and that doubled as her workplace.
She gave Greg a quick glance from the corner of her eye. She really did like him as a friend. He was interesting to have around, but he could get annoying at times too. He always talked about his unfinished business he had to take care of, without ever telling her what that unfinished business really was. Acted like it was some special secret that she couldn’t know about.
Which, the whole thing was still odd to her, since out of all her experiences with spirits, she had never actually met one before that really had unfinished business to do. Usually, they were pretty happy to go. The second they found out the reason why they were so pissed off and confused about everything (i.e. being dead), they just accepted it and went on their merry way.
“Can I come in?” Greg asked hopefully as they pulled into her driveway.
Alison let out a louder sigh, pushing a hand through her thick hair. “I dunno, Greg. It’s like, almost four in the morning.”
“I know,” he said quickly. “You can sleep in tomorrow. We can watch a movie or something.”
Hmmm, should she or shouldn’t she? She supposed she could just sleep in tomorrow. She didn’t have any appointments. No errands to run either. As long as there weren’t any emergency calls, there was a good chance she could enjoy a lengthy twelve-hour nap. But still, Greg liked to get the wrong idea about things, and he got them a lot. “I guess,” she said finally. How did she always manage to give in? “But you remember the rules!′
“I’m not a pervert,” he said.
“Then say it,” she said. “I need to hear you promise.”
“I promise. No appearing in bedrooms or bathrooms at any time, under any circumstances, not even if you’re bleeding and dying and need me to save you.”
“And, I have to leave the second you tell me to.”
It was a simple agreement, but a necessary one. It was bad enough when spirits dropped in while she was showering or taking a dump to begin with, the last thing she wanted was for Greg to get his greedy eyes full of her naked body. “Because I’ll know if you’re there,” she muttered. “I can tell so don’t even try it.”
“How many times do I have to tell you I’m a decent guy!” Greg exclaimed. He floated slightly off the seat, floating through the passenger door and appearing next to it outside. She opened her own door and climbed out. “I don’t peep. I swear.”
“But you could,” Alison complained. “Don’t you get how annoying that is? It’s the fact that you could, at any time, just do it and try and get away with it.”
“Fine,” Alison said. “One movie, but that’s it. Tomorrow, I’m sleeping in. If no one calls tomorrow night, I’m going out and finding myself a real boyfriend. I need to go on a date for once.”
“Hey, I’m real.”
“I meant a living one.”
He looked annoyed. “I knew what you meant,” he said.
They headed toward the painted front door and Allison pulled out her keys as well as another cigarette. She stuck it in her mouth and unlocked the door. She glanced at Greg, pushing it open. “Wanna watch a DVD? I got a couple good action flicks. I bought ’em on sale the other day.”
“I like slashers,” Greg reminded her.
“Yeah, well I got that too.” She lit her cigarette as she stepped into the living room and kicked off her shoes. “My neck hurts.”
“Looks like it. What happened?” He floated beside her, his hands resting together behind his head. His hair was darker than hers, and his eyes were a blackish-brown color. Damn, he was cute. She hated to admit it, but she had wished he wasn’t dead on more than one occasion already.
“She was one pissed off ghost,” Alison said, puffing away at her cigarette. “Started strangling me. It actually kinda hurt, you know?”
For some reason, the strangling thing came fairly common with these guys. Strangling and scratching. Greg was the only one that she couldn’t make physical contact with, even if she wanted to, and the only one that couldn’t make it with her. It was a fact that never ceased to leave her perplexed since there was apparently no difference between him or any other dead person. Guess they were just on different wavelengths or something.
“Sorry I wasn’t there to help you out. I didn’t know you had a job tonight.”
“It’s not a big deal,” she smiled. “I can take care of myself.”
“Well, you’re a tough one.”
He smiled. “You only like it when I call you tough. You never like it when I say you’re pretty.”
“I’m really not big on compliments in general.”
It was something Greg liked to do though she never asked him to. He liked to help her when she went out on a job. Tag along, seemed a better way to put it. But he was useful, even if he did seem to tag along wherever she went, whether she wanted him there or not. He’d grab the spirit and hold them in place for her. It kept them from trying to fight her physically.
When it came to other spirits, they were the only things Greg was able to come in contact with in his current form. He couldn’t touch objects and he couldn’t touch her or any other living person.
She took a seat on her chocolate-colored couch. It was probably a nice couch when it was new, which must’ve been like eighty years ago. She bought it used from an old lady for about ten bucks a few years earlier and had been using it ever since. “I’m starving. I wish you could cook me something.”
“Sorry,” he shrugged. “You know I’m no good with solid objects.”
“Yeah, I know,” she sighed. “Guess I’ll have to get up.” She climbed to her feet again, lifting the remote and turning the television on. She felt depressed. She needed a boyfriend. This was pathetic. Greg had mentioned it more than once before and she knew he was right. She hung around dead people way too much. If she didn’t get reacquainted with the living soon she was going to end up a complete psychopath.
She glanced at the television, watching two talking faces as they blathered something or another to each other. Some kind of corny sitcom. She hated sitcoms. They were never any good. Plus, she had a short attention span and it was hard for her to find anything that could hold her interest for more than ten seconds at a time.
She felt a rough shiver as it suddenly raced throughout her body.
A black image engulfed the television screen for a full second, revealing narrowed slits over black pupils and a wide mouth. A face completely engulfed in shadow, the features almost completely unrecognizable. She blinked, freezing in place at the sight. She knew that face. She had seen it before.
The face disappeared as quickly as it had come. She felt terrified. She lifted her hands, realizing that they were shaking.
“You okay?” Greg asked, giving her a strange look.
Alison nodded, turning away from him. “You didn’t see it?”
“Nothing,” she said. She headed to her refrigerator, trying to ignore the goosebumps that rose over her chilled skin. She knew the face. It was the face of death. Her experiences with the figure had been all together too frightening for her to take. It was a bad sign. She opened the fridge, pulling out a beer and a plate of cold chicken legs. Something bad was going to happen. She didn’t want to think about it.
She headed back to the couch, her gaze turned to the floor.
“You sure you’re okay?” Greg asked doubtfully.
She hated it. She was the only one that ever saw it. Why was that? Maybe she really was losing it? Could she be imagining things? “I’m really tired,” she reminded him. She stuffed a bite of chicken into her mouth. “Too bad you can’t try this. It’s really good.”
It was something she could never forget. The first time she had ever seen it had been in high school, right before her sister had died. Alison closed her eyes, wishing she could push away the painful memory of that day. The thing had taken her sister with it to the afterlife. Death had taken her away. It was from that moment on that Alison could see the dead, could hear them, and could be hurt by them. She let out a small sigh. But she could never talk about it. Could never tell anyone what had really happened to her. When she was younger and the voices first started and the dead appeared before her eyes, it seemed like nothing but bad things had happened to her afterwards.