Here’s a preview for All Hush (Ghosts VII), which will be available at the weekend from Amazon.
I look up as I hear the door to the house open. Immediately, the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and my heart starts to race. There are only a few people who know that Elise and I are here, and this abandoned house on the edge of town shouldn’t be on anyone’s itinerary, especially not at 5am.
I get to my feet and head to the door. There’s definitely someone here, in the house, moving about. I can hear footsteps. I look back at Elise. She’s still fast asleep. I take a deep breath. If there’s someone here, what can I do?
Well, I suppose I could always haunt them. I mean, isn’t that what ghosts are supposed to do?
I step into the corridor. I’m not quite sure what I’ll do when the person sees me, but I guess I can just walk through a few walls and generally act spooky, and they’ll get the message and run off. I mean, a ghost is a fundamentally scary thing to see, right? It’s not like I have to rip my head off and fly around spewing out ectoplasm. Although if I could do those things, it would be so damn cool.
“Hey Beth,” says a voice from behind me.
I spin around to find Katie standing there. She has the usual sad, slightly bitter smile that she’s had ever since she died.
“Jesus,” I say, “you scared me”.
“That’s not me,” she says. “There’s some old tramp in the other room”.
I walk through to the front room, where I find an old man in a torn old brown coat. He’s poking about, no doubt looking for stuff he can steal and stuff he can eat. He doesn’t seem to have noticed me, but while he seems harmless, I can’t let him disturb Elise.
“What are you doing in my house?” I ask him, deliberately sounding spooky and odd.
He looks up, shocked.
“Get out of my house!” I say firmly.
He stares at me. I can see that he’s not sure what to do. Run? Stay? Fight?
“Get out of my house!” I shout, and I step straight through the coffee table in the middle of the room.
All the colour drains from the tramp’s face and he turns and runs, slamming into the door frame as he desperately tries to get away. I go to the window and watch him racing away from the house.
“I hope he doesn’t have a heart attack,” I say, frowning.
“That was a bit over the top,” Katie says, joining me at the window.
“Sorry,” I say, smiling, “but I don’t get much fun these days”.
“How’s Elise?” Katie asks.
“Asleep,” I reply. “That’s good enough for now. I don’t know what to do with her when she wakes up. We can’t live in here forever, but there’s nowhere safe to go. We can’t even leave town”.
Katie nods, but she seems distracted, as if she’s not really listening to me. “I need to talk to you,” she says, and I can tell by the tone of her voice that something serious has happened.
“Come on,” I say, leading her over to the kitchen table. We sit down and she seems reluctant to start the conversation. “You can talk to me,” I say eventually. “You know that, right?”
She nods, but she doesn’t seem convinced. She’s just staring into space. “I was so lonely,” she says suddenly.
“Yeah,” I say. “I get that. It’s lonely being dead”.
“It’s more than that,” she says. “It’s like all the people you used to know are still there, but you can’t be a part of their lives any more. They don’t even know you exist. They’re mourning you, and you can’t do anything about it because if you let them see you, they’ll just think they’re going crazy”.
“You’re talking about your brother?” I ask. “Don’t worry. Over time -”
She starts crying. Putting her hands over her face to try to hide from me, she breaks down sobbing. I reach over and put an arm around her, but nothing seems to help.
“It’s okay,” I say. “You can still see him. You just can’t talk to him right now. It’ll take time before you know how -”
“You don’t understand,” she sobs. “You don’t know what I did”.
“There’s nothing you could have done,” I say. “There’s nothing any of us can do except watch and decide when’s the right time to let them see us”.
She looks up at me, tears still falling down her cheeks. “You don’t understand,” she says again. “I wanted to be with him. I wanted to hang out with him again. I wanted to be alive again, but I can’t be, but I still wanted to be with him. I wanted him to be with me. Don’t you get it?”
I stare at her. “Katie, what are you trying to say?” I ask.
She squeezes her eyes tight shut for a moment, then she opens them again and takes a deep breath. “I shouldn’t have done it,” she says, and then she reaches into her pocket and pulls out a large, bloody kitchen knife, which she puts on the table. “But I wanted him with me so bad”.
All Hush (Ghosts VII) will be released at the weekend.