Last night I saw upon the stair,
There was a man who wasn’t there,
He wasn’t there again today
Oh, how I wish he’d go away…
Simone leapt back from the apparition before her. “Ghost!”
“Don’t scream, you’re going to upset it,” Darkness sighed, leaning on the window sill looking perfectly calm with his back eyes and dark casual suit.
“I’m going to upset it?!” she nearly screamed back.
Slowly, Darkness approached the poltergeist, staring at the apparition indifferently.
The specter looked back and forth between Simone and Darkness like a trapped animal. Simone was about to ask what was happening when the translucent man suddenly looked at Darkness, began shaking his head, and backing away.
“Pity,” Darkness sighed and stepped aside as the man ran for the small attic window.
Simone sidestepped quickly as the poltergeist dove straight through the closed window like it was nothing, leaving not even the slightest trace behind.
Simone ran for the window and looked out. There crouched in the yard was the ghostly figure. Standing up, it crossed the yard and passed through the fence without breaking stride. She squinted through the darkness at the neon hotel sign where the creature joined a group of figures much like itself.
With jaw agape, Simone turned, half expecting Darkness to have disappeared. But there he stood leaning against the wardrobe with his arms folded across his chest.
“I assume you have questions.”
“Only about a thousand,” she replied. “What the heck just happened? What was that-”
“— That was a very sad and confused soul.”
“It was a ghost!”
“Shhh,” he told the raising a finger to his lips. “They don’t like being called that.”
“They have feelings too. It’s like calling you short. You need a better bedside manner. They’ll never cross over if you yell at them like that.”
“What? Cross over where? What are you talking about.”
“Come on,” he sighed and headed for the door. “Let’s see if we can’t undo some of the damage you’ve done.”
“Hang on a minute. Why should I go anywhere with you?”
“Fine then. Stay here if you’re going to be like that,” he replied and was out the door.
Simone stood alone in the drafty attic trying to process all that had just happened. Who was this strange man and what creature had he brought into her house?
Hearing the lower footstep of the first floor creek, she quickly snapped out of it and headed out the door. She would never get answers if Darkness disappeared again.
“Wait!” she called, racing after him down the stairs, but there was no one in the house. Where had he gone?
She hurried into the kitchen. The back door was ajar, as if it had been left open for her.
She stepped outside, and her whole world seemed to shift. The sun should have set by now, yet now it was only a lighter shade of twilight. Suddenly she couldn’t tell if the sun was coming up or going down. It had to be going down, right?
Across the yard, Darkness sat perched on the back fence.
“Come along then,” he called impatiently and dropped off onto the other side.
Simone hurried to the fence and quickly scaled it. She’d never been very athletic, yet in her excitement, it seemed hardly a challenge.
At the top of the fence she paused and looked back. Her house seemed so dark and lonely. Feeling a strange indifference, she kicked her legs off the other side and dropped into a gravel lot riddled with weeds.
Standing, she brushed herself off and looked up to find Darkness waiting.
“Are you ready?”
“Ready for what?”
“Does it matter?” he scoffed. “Are you ready?”
“— I guess,” she replied.
“That’ll have to do,” he sighed as though disappointed and headed down the gravel decline to the big neon motel sign.
As before, Simone saw figures milling about beneath it. Some stood staring at the sign, as though transfixed. Others focused intently on odd minuscule things like a rock or quarter that shimmered in the neon light. However, all of them had something in common, they were all sad and all semi-translucent. A strong feeling of loss came upon her and felt as though she might might faint.
Simone stared in wonder. “What are they doing?”
“Grasping at life,” Darkness replied plainly. “It’s an epidemic these days. Use to be people didn’t cross because of longing for a loved one or some kind of revenge. Unresolved issues they called it, but now people hang on for useless things like greed. They cling to so many possessions in life that they can’t bear to part with them in death. It’s sad really, they cant take it with them.”
“By cross do you mean, die? You’re telling me they’re dead, right?”
“Souls wandering around on their lonesome are often missing that key living factor, namely a body,” he answered.
With that, Darkness began wandering through the crowd of ghastly figures, examining them one by one. Most ignored him. But three souls followed him through the crowd until he came back full circle to Simone.
“Only three?” he sighed disappointed. “I’ll get the rest of you, just you wait!” he yelled at the crowd, but they paid him no mind.
Just then, a strange vaguely glowing handwritten sign on her back fence caught Simone’s attention, ‘Never Alone.’
Wandering out of the gravel, Darkness called to Simone. “Ok, come on then.”
“Wait,” she answered. “Where are we going now?”
He stopped a moment and turned to her. “You really don’t know, do you?”
Darkness sighed, hung his head, and continued on.
“Where are we going?” she asked again.
“To show you your destiny.”
Ready for the next part? Click here for the fourth part of The Friend That Wasn’t There series: The Friend Who Wasn’t in the Park.