I’m not going to mince words here, I feel like I’m being haunted. I don’t know if any of you have ever felt that way. It is an odd sensation to say in the least. I constantly feel the presence, but I know that there is nothing out there that I can touch. The reasons behind this sentiment will be made clear later. I will start at the beginning and let you all make sense of it. It started with a fight.
My mom and I never really got along well. My dad was always the mediator between us. He would relay messages back and forth and try to patch things up between us. It wasn’t always this way. I used to get along with my father like a house on fire. I idolized him when I was younger. I want to say that he changed, but that’s not the case, I did. Somewhere in my teens I decided that the real me was a nihilist and a pessimistic one at that. My mom tried to act as the buffer when we would butt heads, but that all changed five years ago.
I don’t want to get into too much detail. It started as an innocuous cough. It persisted for a few days, but she seemed fine. It wasn’t until she went to a doctor to get something a little stronger than cough medicine for her coughing that she got the diagnosis, cancer. As soon as she got the prognosis, it was as if her body became aware of its malady. She died two days later, hooked up to respirators, wheezing away the final moments of her life.
I was fourteen at the time. I was angry, I still am. I don’t want to say this, but I need to. I need to get this off of my chest. I was angry with her, angry that she left me with my father, angry that she didn’t fight against the cancer that riddled her lungs, angry that she left me. I know you must think that I am a horrible person; I know I do. A by-product of her passing was an extremely strained relationship with my father and the sad little fact that I now have to wear wristbands to cover up what I had done in the lowest moment of my life. I have to cover up the pink little lines that delineate how far I’d sunken in my life.
Back to the fight I had with my dad. I had just graduated from high school and I wanted to take a year off before going to college to find out more about who I wanted to be by going on a road trip. It was a foolish thing, but it felt necessary at the time. My father was against this for two reasons: the first being that he thought it was an excuse to lie around doing nothing and the second point being that we really didn’t have the money to send me off on a journey of self-discovery.
The argument was fought in small skirmishes all throughout my final exams and my high school graduation. It culminated in a massive blow-out one week after graduation. He snapped that we didn’t have enough money and I returned that we would if we sold his Lexus and he bought a cheaper car. It was a stupid fight where we both said stupid things. It wasn’t until we were shouting vitriolic words at each other that he lost his temper and struck me.
He struck me with his open hand and my vision exploded in a bright flash and I felt the sting of the slap and shock radiating throughout my entirety. Tears welled up in my eyes and he truly looked apologetic, actually shocked with himself. He went to say something, but I didn’t give him the chance. I closed my ears to his apologies and I fled the house. I drove off saying the worst thing I had ever said in my life, I blamed him for mom’s death.
That night was a blur. I remember screaming, crying into the steering wheel, I remember raging into the night. I needed time away from my dad so I rented a cheap motel room with my debit card. I knew it would overdraw, but I didn’t even think about it. My mind was a whirling tempest of anger, ill-placed indignation, and pompous pride. I remember hopping in the bath and trying to think things through, but I failed.
I spent the next couple of days fuming and being angry. Looking back, I can’t believe how childish I was. I thought I deserved a year to bum around, smoke pot, and wax philosophic about my life. I needed some more time to think so I got the motel room for another week. It was practically a steal. (Probably because it was such a shit hole.) The ghost didn’t appear until the next day.
I had just woken up from a weird dream. I can’t remember the dream exactly, but the snippets I remembered were really weird. I dreamt of people, encased in trees, their flesh poking out through the bark of the trees. They were wailing. I woke up to the sound of something in the living room area. At first I thought it was a rat, so I tried to ignore it but the sound persisted. After a couple of minutes of the continuing sound, I got out of the stiff bed and went out of the room. Standing in the middle of the room was a strange man.
The strangest thing about him was what he was wearing. He was wearing a fairly nice suit. My first thought was it was the kind of thing one would wear to a funeral. He had some sort of veil over his face. It was white and if I looked hard enough, I could make out that he was a middle-age man with stern-looking features. He looked at me for a second as if he couldn’t see much beyond his veil before he said, “Come with me.”
Those words broke my paralysis. I tried to say in my most intimidating voice, “I don’t know who you are breaking into my room like some sort of pervert, but you had better get the fuck out of here right now!” It came out as a croak. The man didn’t move. Losing my patience, I grabbed the nearest object that happened to be a glass and hurled it at him, hoping to motivate him to leave. I watched in surprise as the glass sailed right through him and shattered to pieces on the wall behind him.
I thought at first that I had missed him so I grabbed something else of the table and winged it at him. The magazine ineffectually fluttered open as I threw it and slowed down. I half-expected it to impotently bounce off his chest, but I was dumb-founded when it slid right through him. He continued looking at me and spoke again, “Come with me.”
Faced with the unknown, I fled back into the motel bedroom. I would have run out of the room, but I was afraid of what might happen if I got too close to him. Would he grab me? Could he grab me? It took a few minutes to steel myself before I poked my head out of the doorway. I expected to see him standing inches away from me, but he was in the same exact spot as before.
I ducked back into the room before he could see me. I spent the next couple of minutes contemplating what I could do. I decided my best option would be to try and call the police. My cell phone was on the table in the next room that meant that I would have to venture back out into the room with the odd man. I stepped outside and he was waiting for me in the same spot. I looked down at the table and found my phone amongst the clutter. When I looked back up, the mysterious man was gone.
His disappearance confused me more than anything. I looked around the motel room thinking that he might have slipped by me while I was getting my phone, but an exhaustive search of the room revealed nothing. He hadn’t used the door either or I would have heard him. I debated what to do for the next fifteen minutes. I could call the cops and explain the mysterious man who could re-appear in a locked room, that was immaterial, and capable of vanishing without a trace and risk being labeled a fool or I could chalk it all up to a trick of the mind. I settled for the latter despite being its foolishness. I felt like an even bigger fool when the man returned.
By now the guilt of what I had said to my father was beginning to take its toll on me. I had the phone in my hand. I could easily call him and apologize for the hurtful things I said. I was this close, but my pride intervened. I felt like I needed to take a year off before college and the fact that he had struck me did some damage to my pride. I was too arrogant to swallow my pride and call him. I wish I did because it was while I was preoccupied with this contemplation that the mysterious man returned.
He didn’t just teleport into my room, he kind of faded into the motel room. I will try to explain this a little better. He appeared like a mirage in the desert. He was a shimmery, wave-y, and insubstantial thing. Slowly over the space of a few seconds, he began to take form. It was the same man as before. His suit was the same and the veil he worse still obscured a lot of his features. He scanned the room before his eyes fell on me. He slowly raised one hand towards me. He beckoned to me and said, “Come with me.”
His unnatural entrance and freakish attire was too much for me. I wanted nothing to do with this man, if he was even a man. I gathered what little stuff I had here while keeping an eye on the man. I just wanted to get the fuck out of this room. I didn’t want him to suddenly start moving towards me or anything like that. He had materialized just a few feet to the right of the door. If I was going to leave, I would have to walk right past him.
I took a couple of moments to ready myself. I thought that the second I got within reach of him; he would try and grab me. I don’t know where he wanted to take me, but judging by his odd appearance, I would wager it was a place I didn’t want to be. I pressed my back to the wall and began to slide towards the door. As soon as I was within his range, he suddenly raised his other hand.
I would have fallen on my ass had it not been firmly pressed against the wall. Part of the reason why I was stunned was due to the fact that even though I knew he was probably going to do something like that, I had not prepared for it at that instant. The second reason for my shock was at the two items that he held in his hands.
In his hand, he held an old yellowing piece of paper that a few years ago could have been a ticket to a stadium for a baseball game and the second was a photo. I recognized the photo instantly. It was a picture of my mom and me. It was taken at my elementary school graduation. The other item must have been a ticket from the time my father took me to a stadium. The appearance of these two items immediately put me on edge. He had to have been to my house to have those two items. I kept one on a shelf in my room and the other in a small album.
My mind was racing, how the hell did he get those things? Was he in my house? Oh God, was he in my house?! He turned his head towards me and looked into my eyes. Through the veil he spoke those words again, “Come with me.” There was nothing I wanted more than to flee screaming from the room and never look back, but something told me it would not be that easy to get away. I would not escape him. He would follow me everywhere I went. He would haunt me until my last day. I took his hand.
I don’t know how to describe it other than saying, it was like the world around me dimmed and began to compress in around itself. My vision reduced until it was nothing more than the width of two pinpricks. I felt myself being drawn forward. I wanted to scream, but I couldn’t seem to find the power in me to make my vocal chords work. The blackness surrounded me and threatened to swallow me. In the blink of an eye, it was gone and I was in a familiar setting.
I was in my kitchen. We were at the table where I would always eat my breakfast. The man still held my hand. I tried to pull away, but his grip was so tight that I couldn’t free myself from his grasp. He spoke, “He’s here.” The room was dark and lit by a few candles, but I didn’t need a lot of light to recognize the man that was sitting across from the mysterious man. Looking at my father through the dimly lit room made all of the pieces click together and I remembered.
I was so angry that night. So angry. I remember buying the motel room for the night. I remember crying in the room at how unfair all of life seemed. I was alone, my mother was gone and I thought my father didn’t love me. The last thing I said to him circled around in my head, “You let mom die! You didn’t do anything to try and save her!” I remembered the tub. The water was so warm. I remembered the razor. I cut into me, hoping to quicken my end. I remembered leaning back into the warm water and feeling the dizziness overtaking me.
I looked down at my wrists and saw the fresh cuts. They were deep, too deep. My father asked, “Can he hear me?”
I croaked, “I can.”
The man answered, “He does.”
My dad paused for a second longer than a standard blink and then he broke down. He wept, “I’m sorry! I could have- I should have- Jesus! I wasn’t there. I wasn’t listening, I didn’t hear you crying out for help. I couldn’t save-” The rest of his words were swallowed up in his cries.
My father finally managed to calm himself and asked, “Does he blame me?”
The medium said, “First the payment.” I squeezed his hand as hard as I could, wishing I could break it, but he acted as if I barely fazed him.
My father slid the keys across the table and said, “Take it. He wanted me to sell it. I wish-” The words droned on as the world suddenly began to pulse around me.
The medium said, “There’s not much time left. He’s fading.” My vision started to dim and I realized that the end was fast approaching.
I spoke, “I never blamed you.” The man’s grip loosened and I felt something pulling me away. I knew that this would be my last chance to say something. With my last little bit of strength, I clutched onto the medium’s hand and said; “I remembered when you took me to the baseball stadium when I was a kid. It was a good memory. One of the happier memories of my childhood, I love you da-”
My grip slacked and I felt something violently jerk me free. The candles in the room flickered and the world faded to darkness around me.
I wish I could describe to you where I am now, but I can’t. It’s dark. I can’t see a thing; I feel nothing. I would say it’s like floating in one of those sensory deprivation tanks after it had been filled with a local anesthetic. Sometimes I think something has passed close to me, but there’s no way I can be certain. I hear him trying to talk to me sometimes. He keeps trying to reach out and speak to me, but I have no way of talking back. I don’t even know if I can talk.
I said at the start of this that I felt like I was being haunted. I sincerely mean that. This was not said in some attempt to be a red herring that was meant to throw you off or mislead you about my fate; I truly believe that statement. If I could, I would like to make the slightest change to that statement. He’s still trying to talk to me to this day, after so many years have gone by. It is not the dead who haunt the living, no; it is the living that haunt the dead.
Written by EmpyrealInvective