By Mike Raab
Thomas ran down the alleyway. He didn’t have many options. It was coming. Thomas was confident that he lost it. Why him? He thought. Thomas was just taking a late-night run. He had a long day at the office, and he wanted to clear his head. When he was returning home, it was waiting for him. It looked like his brother, so he let it get close. That was his first mistake. Thomas knew something was off about him. His brother didn’t seem like himself. It kept saying it wanted to show him something. When it grabbed him by the arm and started pulling him into a dark room, Thomas knew he needed to get out of there as fast as he could.
Thoughts plagued his mind. “What happened to his brother?” “Was he alright?” “What is this thing?” Thomas needed to find out, but first, he needed to get away from it. Panicked, Thomas turned left but was blocked by a fence. Thomas turned around; it was closing in on him fast. Thomas tried to climb the gate. He got halfway up when he felt a hand clasp around his ankle. It pulled him back down with inhuman strength. Thomas was already out of breath, but when it slammed him to the ground, that knocked the wind out of his lungs. It smiled down at him. Its teeth were sharp, and its nails were elongated. It plunged its claws into Thomas’s chest. It pulled out Thomas’s heart and showed it to him.
“Too slow. Better luck next time,” It said in his brother’s voice. “You look just like he did when I killed him. Only you lasted longer. Good for you.” It bit into Thomas’s heart, eating it right in front of Thomas’s eyes. Then everything went white.
Lori jumped out of bed, painting like a madwoman. She looked down at her chest. “The hell am I doing? Poor guy. Didn’t stand a chance,” She said, glad her heart was still where it should be. Glancing at the clock, she noticed that it had only been an hour since she fell asleep. She stood up and stretched. Her body felt exhausted. Even though she didn’t experience it, she felt like she did. “Just this one time, could this just be a bad dream?” She asked the universe. She knew that was wishful thinking. Turning on the light, she saw a man standing in the corner. She nearly stumbled back onto her bed.
“Jesus! How long have you been there?” She asked, grasping at her heart. Making sure it didn’t jump out of her chest.
“You saw it. It killed me. Find it. Only you can. Please. I-I need to know what it was,” The man asked. He had a hole in his chest, and his eyes were hazy.
“Thomas?” She asked.
She really wanted to say no. If she just ignored it, maybe it would go away. Most of them do. She closed her eyes and tried to make him go away. WIth lesser spirits, she could do it. This one shouldn’t be that difficult.
“I’m not going away until you agree to help me. Lorelei! I’m talking to you!” Thomas shouted.
She hated that they knew her name. It made it personal. The last thing she wanted was to get attached to a spirit. Not again. She grabbed a pillow and held it to her face. “Go away. It’s late. I have classes early in the morning. Come back later.” She said; her voice was muffled.
She yanked the pillow off her and threw it at him. It passed straight through him and hit the wall. “Ugh! If I agree, will you go away?”
“How do I know if you’re telling the truth? If I leave, you might take it back later. No, new deal, I agree to leave FOR NOW. However, I will be back later. If you don’t keep your word, I will make your life hell. Do you understand?”
“Are you threatening me? You wouldn’t be the first. I’m not that bad. I promise I will TRY to help you. I don’t even know what I’m looking for,” She said, putting her arm over her eyes.
“I…can’t help you there. It looked like my brother at the time. You saw it. It’s a monster. No, something more deadly than that. I can’t leave this world until I know it is dealt with. You need to stop it, or a lot more people will die. See you later, Lorelei. Don’t forget our deal.” He said before he disappeared.
“Technically, I didn’t agree. She smirked. Suddenly her bed started shaking violently, causing her to fall to the floor. “Alright! ****. I will help!” Her bed stopped shaking, and she sat back on the bed. She grabbed her phone and decided to call her friend. He was the only one who knew about her powers. She laughed. “Powers.” It was so odd to her that she was the only one who could do this. She could talk to the dead ever since she was a little girl. When she was seven, a little boy came up to her with half of his skull crushed in, asking if she had seen his mommy. She looked at the street and saw the boy’s body being put in a body bag. Apparently, he had been playing in the street when a car came out of nowhere and hit him.
“How are you alive?” She asked him.
“Huh? I-I don’t…wahh!” He started crying.
“It will be okay. Your mom is over there. See? She’s sad right now. But she’ll be okay. You both will be okay. Okay?” She smiled at him. She didn’t know that everything would be alright. She just wanted to make him stop crying.
“She’s going to be okay? I’m going to be okay? You promise, Lorelei?” He said through sniffles.
“How did you know my name?”
“I-I don’t know. Mom!” He cried, running over to his mother and disappearing.
That memory always stuck with her. It made her uncomfortable thinking about how calm she was at the moment. Anyone else would have been freaking out seeing dead people. Not her. She was never scared.
“Hello?” Conner said over the phone.
She was so lost in thought that she forgot she called him. “Hey, Connie. Were you sleeping?”
“Don’t call me that. I was about to be. It’s late. Are you alright?” He yawned.
“I need you to come to my place, okay? I don’t think I need to be alone right now,” She said.
“I’m on my way. Be there in ten. Mind buzzing me in?” He said, sounding more alert.
“Okay, I’ll meet you in the lobby. See you.” She disconnected before he asked her a million more questions. She put the phone in her pocket and went to the bathroom. After changing her clothes and brushing her hair back into a manageable state, she grabbed her keys and walked out of her apartment.
“Hi, Lorelei!” A spirit said, passing by.
“Hey, still hanging around?” Lorelei asked.
“Not much to do. You know, with me being dead and all. You look worried. Are you good?” It asked. When some spirits are gone too long, they lose their original shapes. They look like a ball of light in the form of a person. She could tell it was a teenager from the way it carried itself.
“I’m good. Why are you outside the girl’s community room?” She asked with a raised eyebrow.
“N-No reason. I, um, bye!” It disappeared.
“I better not catch you here again!” She shouted. Someone stuck their head out of the community room.
“Are you crazy? It’s almost midnight!” The student said.
“Sorry, my bad. It won’t happen again,” Lori said.
The student narrowed her eyes at Lori and slammed the door shut.
“Now, who’s crazy?” Lori said under her breath. Making her way downstairs, she could see Connor waiting outside. He was wearing a green hoodie with black sweatpants. His black hair was getting way too long. She knew if she said anything, he would just let it grow longer just to annoy her. She opened the door for him. “Sorry, I ran into…someone.”
“Oh, are they still here?” He asked, looking around. She thought it was cute that he thought he would see something.
“No, it left. Thanks for coming, by the way.”
“How could I say no? You needed me, so no big deal. Hungry? I got cookies,” Connor held up a bag. “They’re your favorite. Double chocolate fudge explosion. No nuts.”
“You had me at cookies,” She said, snatching the cookies and calling the elevator.
“You’re on the third floor, right? Why not take the stairs?”
“You can take the stairs. My cookies and I are riding the elevator,” She says, hugging the warm bag.
“Hold on, that’s for both of us.”
“Look, it’s behind you!” She said,
“Huh?” He turned around. Then feeling stupid, he turned around and saw the elevator doors closing. “Sneaky little…” He said, stomping up the stairs.
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