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What Lies Beyond Smoke

By Ben Burns All Rights Reserved ©

Thriller / Mystery


14-year-old Caleb Goldswoode has an almost perfect life. Until recently when he lost his beloved big sister to the hands of a tragedy that no one knows and his parents can't pull themselves to speak of. The ever so happy and innocent boy, seeking peace of mind takes up the habit of smoking and to his surprise... It makes no difference, well, at least not to him But due to this new habit (Which he takes up for a different reason than simply feeling better due to intoxication) he starts to have hallucinations, seeing imaginary people and talking to a special stranger clad in black...only to find out the horrors of his new addiction and inevitably revealing secrets about his sister's life and death Join Caleb on his spine-tingling journey in unravelling the secrets far beyond any human's comprehension and meet a whole new side of yourself that questions, what is right and what is wrong and experiences every emotion in between Because we're all human...seeking only one thing...a little Peace.

Chapter 1: How It All Began

I was in that room again; the room of my elder sister, Elizabeth. She was young, only in her early twenties when she had left this world 2 weeks prior.

I still did not know how she died. One day she failed to come home, mum and dad were in an angry frenzy; the next day passed but still, there had been no contact, that’s when they knew something terribly wrong had happened. On the second day, the police arrived at our house, I was sent to a friend’s house while the officers took my parents; they had not yet said anything about her condition. After that, I can only guess that they were taken to a morgue for identification and that’s when their world crumbled down.

She had her whole life ahead of her and we hadn’t even spent nearly as enough time with each other like a normal family. It troubled me, that my parents hadn’t really talked about her death and I couldn’t even ask them what exactly happened else they would break into tears and I hated to see them cry.

The walls in her room, their colour now faded were just a dull shade of blue which did nothing but intensify what I was feeling. I looked towards her dressing table mirror and saw my face, pale and tired due to the restless nights I had been experiencing those past few weeks. I missed her. I missed her dearly.

Pulling the drawer I took out her lucky necklace. But in the process, I dropped the drawer to the floor. ‘Damn! Must have pulled too hard...’

But I could not believe what I saw on the floor. A cigarette!

‘What the hell!’ my eyes shot open in bewilderment. I was shocked, my sister did not smoke —or so I thought.

‘Caleb, everything okay honey?’ I heard my mother’s call.

‘Yes!’ I replied

‘Are you in her room again?’ she asked, concern laced in her tone.

I hesitated but replied positively.

‘Come down,’ she calmly said, ‘dinner’s ready.’

‘At least I’m not in any trouble,’ I thought as I picked up the cigarette and something in my memory flashed to life ‘Is it true what I’ve heard? That this little pack...helps you relax...’

An event from earlier that year popped into my head.

My mum and I were at the mini-mart once and while she brought the groceries a teenager walked in surrounded by smoke and he kept puffing at the thing between his lips. The store owner disliked it. He had a strict no smoking policy and there was a fight, things got physical pretty soon and the guy got a black eye but the store owner had it worse; he sprained his ankle and got cut with one of his own knives in the store.

As the black-eyed rebel walked out the store he showed a new cigarette and taunted, ‘See, it’s a painkiller. You can’t use it, old man, your lungs can’t take the heat,’ he laughed, ‘pathetic.’ It was the cruellest thing. To cause someone misery and laugh it up. I can not imagine anything crueller.

Once the memory ended I spotted a lighter laying near me on the ground and I hesitantly lit the straw in my hand. Taking a puff like I saw people do I felt an odd grotesque taste in my mouth and cringed. My breath stopped and something stung at my throat.

‘What in the name of God is this?’ I coughed vigorously and the smoke escaped my mouth in eerie shapes.

After a minute of coughing, I felt my eyes well up, the smoke stung badly. I took another look at the ember at the end of the cigarette and threw it away, ‘They were wrong,’ I whispered in a hoarse tone.

‘Oh, you say that now but give it a few more tries.’

I jumped as I heard a raspy voice behind me, turning around with a swift move to see a stranger under the door’s frame, leaning against it.

‘Who the hell are you?’ I shouted, pointing at him.

‘A pleasure to make your acquaintance. Myself, Christian,’ he flicked his hair that was hanging over his forehead, ‘you must have heard about me.’ his fair bright face lit up.

Christian? Who’s Christian?

‘Or did Elizabeth not mention me altogether?’ his lips twitched showing that he was disappointed, ‘That is very much like her.’ he chuckled under his breath as he pressed his right hand’s fingers to his forehead and I walked closer to him.

‘You knew my sister?’ I questioned sceptically.

‘Why yes and she was such a lovely friend,’ he winked making my skin crawl at the fact he could be so happy talking about her like that...didn’t he know she was gone...

‘Unfortunately, her life was cut short,’ his face became emotionless and his eyes stared blankly at me.

‘Who are you and what are you doing in my house?’ I shoved him out of the room and he stumbled on the railing behind him.

‘Careful lad,’ he glared at me, ‘I’ll tell you over at dinner, now come along.’

Dinner? Is he a guest?

Wait, oh no if he tells my parents about my smoking—they’ll kill me!

I saw his contour vanish as he walked down the stairs. I followed hastily, trying to catch up so I could try and convince him not to snitch.

In my eccentricity, I slipped on the very first step and tumbled down the stairs with a loud cry for help and realised I would land face first almost beside the person I just met, Christian. The name I would soon know to dread.

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