Category Archives: Ghosts

Preview for All Hush (Ghosts VII)

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?

I pause.

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”.

“Seriously?”

She nods.

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.

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Preview for Plague Fingers (Ghosts VI)

Here’s a preview for Plague Fingers (Ghosts VI), which will be out in a few days.

Dear Lord.

She’s dead.

Thank you.

I look up to the roof of our little shack, and I listen to the silence of the room.

Pure, blissful silence.

Dear Lord, do you know many months she spent on this bed, gasping for air, gurgling as blood filled her lungs? Did you count her final hours, Dear Lord? And now she’s dead. Silent. Still. Although in truth, in the last days, I felt as if she had already departed; as if her soul had left, and all that was left on the bed was a mindless body. That’s certainly what made it easiest for me to deal with the ordeal of watching her die. I just told myself that my poor, dear Isobel was no longer in the pain ravaged body that writhed in agony on the bed.

And now even the body is finished, though I’m still worried about whether it’s safe to untie the chains that kept her down. Maybe I’ll just bury her like she is now, bed and all.

It’s a dried-up, run-down husk. Even after I bury it, there ain’t gonna be much for the worms to feed on.

And where is Isobel now?

Is she with you in Heaven, Lord?

I watched her die, and you watched me as I watched her die. All morning, she grasped out at me in pain, trying to wrap her withered, thin fingers around me. I held back, knowing that she would not be able to reach me so long as I kept a safe distance. She kept her hollow, dead eyes fixed on me, and I told myself over and over that it was not really Isobel looking at me through those eyes. It was just her body, just a mass of bones and muscle, its neurons continuing to fire. And slowly, as the afternoon sun reached its highest point and began to dip once again, I noticed that the body was starting to move more slowly. It was so gradual, but over the space of a few hours she almost stopped moving entirely. Finally, by sunset, she was almost completely still. And then the sun went down, and I switched on the light, and I sat and watched her some more, and eventually I realised that she hadn’t moved at all for more than an hour.

Dear Lord, forgive me for wishing death on this wonderful woman. But Lord, you know the condition in which she found herself in her dying days. You know the pain that began in her abdomen and crept throughout her entire body. Lord, you probably know better than I know. And you saw the strength she showed as she fought the cancer. She didn’t give up, Lord, not until her body could no longer support her mind. She fought, even though it quickly became clear that there was no way she could survive.

“Ain’t gonna beat me,” she said when she first got sick. But it did beat her. It beat her down until there wasn’t nothing left of her. I still remember the day, about two weeks ago, when she said a few words about being cold and then she howled like she was in the most excruciating pain. I reckon, Lord, that’s the moment her soul left her body. What was left after that was just a ruined corpse, struggling against the pain. There was no more Isobel left in her.

Or at least, that’s what I tell myself.

But if I may ask one question, Lord, it’s this: Why her? Why did you strike my poor Isobel down, yet I remain healthy? Why have you taken some and left others? Some of those you took were good, honest people, while others were scoundrels and robbers. So why did you make the choices that you made? Dear Lord, if you could just show me, if you could just help me to understand…

Silence.

Where are you, Lord?

I leave Isobel’s body and I go outside into the scorching sun. Lately I’ve been feeling that something is different in the heavens. Something has stirred, and it ain’t right. It’s as if God ain’t up there any more; he’s down here. It’s as if the whole universe has lost its focus. I don’t know what that means, in the long run, but for now it seems like bad things and good things are just happening with no moral guidance. If God was in his rightful place, he would surely have either saved Isobel, or stepped in to make sure she didn’t hurt for as long as she did.

Grabbing a shovel, I start digging a grave. Ain’t no point doing nothing fancy. I don’t know what was wrong with Isobel, but it seemed to blow in on the wind and get down on her lungs like some kind of plague. So I reckon the best thing is just to get her body underground and hope that no-one else ever has to suffer such a thing.

And that’s what I do. I dig a big, big grave. It takes me all day. Eventually I go back inside and I grab hold of Isobel’s bed, and I haul it out into the sun, with her still chained to it. I know this seems strange, Lord, but the truth is I ain’t sure it’s wise to untie those chains.

I push the bed into the grave. It’s an unseemly, unnatural act that leaves the bed on its side, with Isobel still strapped down. And then I shovel dirt onto her until the grave is filled up, and I take a deep breath and go back inside. I’ve still got half a bottle of beer saved from last Thanksgiving, so I open that up and drink it in about thirty seconds, even though it’s warm as a prairie dog’s piss. And then, I swear, as I sit there, I hear a sound from outside, and I look out the window and I hear something moving deep beneath the soil, and the muffled sound of chains clinking, and I see the freshly dug grave start to churn a little.

She won’t be able to escape. Hopefully she’ll just die. Finally.

Give me that, Lord.

And promise me there won’t be no more like Isobel.

So I guess what I’m saying, Lord, is that you and me, we ain’t got nothing to say to each other no more. We’re done. If you want to show me some sign of your mercy, some sign that you’re still up in your Heaven, then I’ll listen. But barring that, I’m finished. I will pray no more to you.

I wish that it weren’t so.

I wish that I believed you were still there.

But this is me, signing off.

Goodbye.

Plague Fingers (Ghosts VI) will be released at the end of May 2012.

Preview for Tainted (Ghosts IV)

Here’s a preview for Tainted (Ghosts IV), which will be out next week!

I wake up suddenly, sweating.

I sit up.

The room is dark, and the only noise comes from Herb, sleeping happily on his own single bed. I look over at him. Sometimes I wonder if we should try having a double bed again.

After all, Herb’s problem might have gone away by now.

What was I dreaming about again?

I try to remember, but the dream – so vivid a moment ago – has already blown away on my mind’s breeze. Damn it, I can never remember my dreams these days, just the impression of how it felt. And this dream scared me. Terrified me. They’ve all been like that lately. If only I could remember…

I get out of bed and sneak over to the door, then out into the corridor and along to the bathroom. Switching on the little electric light, I use the toilet and then I pour myself a glass of water from the sink. It’s nice and cold, and it helps me to calm down.

Looking at myself in the bathroom mirror, I’m shocked by how old I look. When did that happen? When did happy, pretty, young Tammy Brightwell become an ageing, childless old lady sleeping in a single bed because her husband has an incontinence problem? When did life get like this? I see other people on the street every day, and they don’t seem to be in such a state. Then again, maybe they’re just better at hiding things.

I take a deep breath and then let it out slowly. I used to be pretty. And Herb used to be handsome. But time scraped away at our faces with its bony fingers until all that was left was this loose, sagging image that stares back at me from the mirror. And it’s only going to get worse.

I jump as the phone rings, off in the front room. I rush through, hoping to answer it before Herb wakes up. As I pick up the receiver, I glance at my grandfather’s Grandfather Clock and notice that it’s half past two in the morning. Who could be calling at such a time?

“Tammy Brightwell?” asks a distant, distorted female voice on the other end of the line.

“Yes,” I say quietly.

“I’m sorry, I can’t hear you,” says the voice. “You’ll have to speak up”.

“Yes,” I say, a little louder. “This is Tammy Brightwell. Who are you?”

“One moment please,” says the female voice. “I’ll connect you”.

There’s a pause, and then another voice, male this time, speaks.

“Tammy Brightwell?” he asks.

A shiver runs down my spine. I knew it would be him. Who else would call me at this time of the night? Who else would call me at all?

“What do you want?” I ask.

“It’s time,” he replies.

“No,” I say.

“Oh yes”. There’s a pause. “I told you not to argue with me,” he continues. “When it’s time, it’s time. And it’s time. You know what that means, don’t you?”

I swallow hard, trying not to cry. I’ve been dreading this moment for so long. Does it really have to happen?

“One day,” says the voice. “Do you understand?”

“I want longer,” I stammer.

“That wasn’t part of the deal!” the voice shouts, so loud that I almost drop the receiver. “One day. No more, no less. The deal is old and certain. Don’t try to wriggle out of it now, or I’ll come and cut your throat right now, do you understand?”

I pause. “I understand,” I say.

“No,” says the voice. “You don’t. But that doesn’t matter. You don’t need to understand. All you have to do is die. The clock starts running now”. I hear a ticking sound, and then the phone cuts off.

I gently put the receiver down. Is this really it? Is this the end? I have one week left, and then… I turn and look at the door to the bedroom. Was it worth it? Was all this worth dying for?

…And that’s all I remember. I have a few other vague memories, but the rest of my death is hazy. I don’t remember exactly how I died, or what I did in my final day. Like all ghosts, the actual moment of my death is not something that I can remember. Except… bits of it are coming back to me now. Fragments in time.
My name is Tammy Brightwell. This is the story of how I died, and what happened next.

Tainted (Ghosts IV) is available next week from Amazon.

Preview for Sins of the Father (Ghosts II)

Here’s a preview for Sins of the Father (Ghosts II), which will be out later in the week.

2am, Monday December 20th 2004. Just outside the town of Texas.

“Mommy!” shouts Henry. “Slow down!”

But Laura doesn’t listen to him. She keeps her foot down, sending the car speeding along the deserted, under-lit road. She knows she’s going too fast, and she knows she’s terrifying her son, but she has a wild look in her eyes. She knows where she’s going, and she has no intention of getting there late. To get there late would mean risking the chance of exposing her lousy husband for everything that he is. Doing that in front of Henry might seem mean, but she figures her son might as well learn what a creep his father is.

“Mommy!” Henry shouts again as the car rounds a bend, its tyres screeching.

“Quiet, Henry,” Laura says. “Mommy’s trying to concentrate on the road”.

“Please don’t crash, Mommy!” Henry shouts, his eyes filled with tears. He grips the seat, eyes staring ahead at the road as it rushes towards them and as the trees of the forest whizz past.

“I won’t crash,” says Laura, momentarily taking one hand off the wheel to grab her cigarette from the dashboard and put it in her mouth. The nicotine makes her feel good, though it doesn’t exactly calm her down. Then again, she doesn’t want to calm down. Calming down has always been a problem, and other people have always taken advantage of her. But not tonight. Tonight she’s not going to calm down until –

Henry starts coughing, the cigarette smoke getting into his lungs.

Laura slows the car down as they reach a turn-off, and she takes a left, heading into the car park of E.H. Rampf & Sons, the local building contractor. She drives past all the parking bays and pulls up right outside the main door.

“Come on,” she says, getting out of the car.

Henry pauses, and then his mother opens the passenger door and waits as he gets out. Henry looks up at the four-storey building, most of which is shrouded in darkness. But one or two windows near the top have lights on. Laura grabs Henry’s hand and marches him through the front door, past the empty reception desk and over to the elevators.

“Fuck!” Laura says when she realises the lifts aren’t working, having been switched off for the night. She leads Henry to the stairwell and they start going up. Laura’s heels make a loud clacking sound in the stairwell, and Henry struggles to keep up with his mother. There are still tears in his eyes. They eventually reach the top floor, and now Laura isn’t quite sure which way to go. There’s a large office next to the stairwell, with lots of desks and computers, but there doesn’t seem to be anyone here.

“Joe!” Laura shouts out. “Joe, where are you?”

Still holding Henry’s hand, she half-drags him between the desks as she looks for her husband. Believing he might be hiding under one of the desks, she checks under them all before realising that he’s nowhere to be found. She stares at the empty office. She was so sure he’d be here. So certain she’d catch him in the act. Now she’s disappointed, and she’s starting to feel that – yet again – he has managed to trick her. Did he stay late on purpose, just to trick her into thinking he’d be here so that she’d come over here like this?

“There’s his desk,” she says, marching Henry over. “Wait here,” she says, going over to a filing cabinet and grabbing some pens from on top. She walks back to the desk and scribbles on a piece of A4 paper: FUCK YOU. SIGNED, YOUR SOON TO BE EX-WIFE AND EX-SON. She puts a hole-puncher on top of the note to hold it down. “Come on,” she says, grabbing Henry’s hand and leading him back to the stairwell. As they go, Henry glances back at the desk. He’s never seen where his father works before.

When they get back outside to the car, Laura lets Henry into the passenger side and then lights up another cigarette, smoking it while standing looking up at the building.

“Mommy,” Henry says, “I’m cold”.

“I know, honey,” Laura replies, not looking at him. “Just give Mommy another minute”. She’s looking for any sign of life, for any sign that her husband was hiding. But there’s nothing. Wherever he is – and he sure isn’t at home – Joe clearly has better taste than to bang his secretaries in the office. No, he probably takes them to some local motel for the night. So now Laura is trying to work out which motel he might be at, because she wants their son to see his father in all his lack of glory.

“Mommy, what time is it?” Henry asks.

“Late, honey,” she says, getting back into the car and starting the engine. She glances over at her son and sees his tired, sore eyes staring back at her. “I’m sorry,” she says quickly, and then she realises she has to get the boy home. She sighs. This can wait. She’s a mother as well as a wife, and tonight she has to get her son home to bed. “I’m sorry,” she says again, this time meaning it. She leans over and gives Henry a hug.

“You smell of cigarettes,” Henry says as they separate.

“Sorry about that,” Laura says. She takes a deep breath. She knows she shouldn’t be out here, dragging her son around like this. She steers the car out of the car park and back onto the road, heading home. “You can sleep in tomorrow morning,” she says, glancing at Henry. She sees her son’s sad, tired face and her heart sinks a little. “I’ll even bring you breakfast in bed,” she adds, hoping for a smile.

There’s a pause as they head along the dark road.

“With eggs?” Henry asks.

“Two eggs,” Laura replies.

There’s another pause. “Three?” Henry asks, sounding a little happier.

“Three,” Laura says. “But don’t blame me when you grow up with crappy cholesterol”.

Henry sniffs away the tears. “What’s cholesterol?”

Laura smiles, turning to her son. “It’s when your -” At that moment, there’s a flash in the corner of her eye. Nothing much, but enough to catch her attention. She turns and sees a figure in the road, lit up by the headlights. It’s a young-looking man, maybe late teens or early twenties, looking shocked as he stares straight into Laura’s eyes. Like a deer in the headlights. Laura steers to try to avoid him, but the car just seems to go straight through him and off the road, taking a glancing blow against a large tree and spinning around before coming to a rest on its side. The wheels are still spinning and there’s smoke coming from the engine, and the air is filled with the sound of the engine grinding against itself.

“Henry…” Laura says, finding herself strapped into her seat, unsure for a moment what has happened. “Henry!” she shouts. She looks over and sees Henry starting to move. “Oh my God,” she says, unbuckling both their seatbelts and slowly pulling Henry out of the car and up onto the road.

“Are you okay?” she says when they get up onto the verge, looking into his eyes, checking his head and the rest of his body for any kind of injury. She’s terrified that her son is hurt; so terrified, she hasn’t even checked herself yet. All she can think about is Henry.

“I’m okay,” he says, sounding shocked.

Laura keeps looking, keeps searching for any kind of injury.

“My arm hurts,” Henry says.

Laura checks his arm. There’s no blood. “Can you move your hand?” she asks, and Henry shows her that he can. She hugs her son tight and looks around, wondering what happened to the guy she saw in the middle of the road, but she sees no sign of him and she feels sure that the car just… went straight through him. She closes her eyes as she hugs Henry tighter.

“Mommy, you’re squeezing me,” Henry says.

She loosens the grip she has on him, and she looks along the dark road. They’re in the middle of nowhere, but they’re not too far from town. She pulls her mobile phone from her pocket and fumbles to call for help. “It’s okay, honey,” she says as she dials. “It’s okay. It’s okay”…

Preview for Ghosts volume I

Here’s a preview from the first book in the Ghosts series, which will be released on Saturday. Hint: This isn’t necessarily from the start of the book…

From nothing, there comes blackness. And then from blackness, there comes a hint of light. And from the hint of light, there comes a bright blue sky as I open my eyes.

What the fuck?

Sitting up, I find that I’m in a piece of scrubland by the main road. Not in bed. Not under my duvet. On a patch of dirt, out in the morning sun, miles and miles from anywhere and anything.
A disturbingly large bug starts crawling over my foot. I shake it off and crush it under my shoe.
I recognise this place immediately: I’m on the limits of the Doakes family farm, about four miles out of the centre of town. It’s dusty and dead, nothing’s been able to grow out here for years. The only sign of life is the occasional lizard, and even that’s rare. There’s no tumbleweed, but there should be: this is dead land, a place where nothing ever happens and where no person in their right mind would ever go. Looking up, I see that I’m right next to the city limits sign:

Welcome to the town of Texas
in the state of Texas
Population: 9,437

I get to my feet. Looking down, I note another bug, walking away from the dead body of the first bug. The two bugs look absolutely identical. I guess that’s bugs for you. I sigh. I feel achy and sore all over, like I’ve just gone ten rounds with Mike Tyson. And I don’t feel right in my head, either. Concussion, maybe? I rub the back of my neck and look around. How the hell did I get out here? Seriously, did I go to a party last night or something? I try to remember, but it’s all a bit of a blur. I vaguely recall… being at home, watching TV with my sister, and our dad was out working late. And then I think he came home and… No, it’s gone. Maybe we had an argument and I stormed out. That’s probably what happened. And then I probably ended up at some god-awful party, drinking cheap beer. And…

I look up at the clear blue sky, and at the bright flare of the sun.

Did I get raped or something? That might explain the soreness, and the memory loss? Okay, time to calm down. There’s no sign that I got raped. Anyway, what are the odds of that happening? I’m so unpopular around here, I’m pretty sure no-one would want to touch me. I probably just drank too much. Still, I don’t have a headache. So…

I hear a noise nearby, and a red open-top car appears over the horizon, heading towards town. The radio’s on loud, and I instantly realise that it’s Don Redman, the father of one of my friends. I go to the side of the road and wave him down, but he just zooms past without even looking at me.

“Nice,” I say, watching as the car bounces up the road and away.

I turn and start walking towards town. I reckon I’m about four miles out, so this is gonna take me a while. And in the morning sun, I’m gonna get burned no trouble. I look up at the bright blue sky, half expecting to see vultures circling. Thankfully there are none so far, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they start following me, getting ready to pick my bones if I happen to collapse. Damn it, when I get home I’m gonna find out who dropped me off out here and I’m gonna make sure they pay. If this is a prank, it’s the worst, most annoying one I’ve ever experienced. Damn it, someone is going to pay for this. Big time!

After an hour or so, I start to see the haze of my home-town ahead. And closer, just a hundred metres or so ahead of me, I spot Don Redman’s red car pulled over to the side of the road. There’s steam coming from under the bonnet, and Don looks to be out of the car, talking on his mobile phone.

“Like I said, Earl,” Don is saying as I get close enough to hear him, “I don’t have a damn clue about cars”. He listens for a moment. “Sure, I suppose it could be the carburettor. Can the carburettor make a kind of clanking noise and then produce a load of steam?” He listens. “Yeah, it sounds like something’s really broken in there. So can you get out to take a look at it, or not?” He listens some more. “Two hours? Are you fucking serious? Earl… Okay, fine, two hours. I’ll walk into town, you can give me a call when you’re on your way and I’ll come back and meet you here, okay? Okay. And I want a discount for the crappy service”. He puts the phone down.

“Bummer,” I say, stopping next to him. “Hope you weren’t going anywhere important”.

Without even acknowledging my presence, Earl turns and grabs his briefcase from the back seat, then he starts walking towards town. “Fucking Earl,” he says out loud. “Fucking cocksucking asshole”.

“Charming!” I say, loud enough for him to hear, but he just ignores me and keeps on walking.

Seriously, I know Don Redman’s no saint, but I didn’t realise he was so… rude. I’ve never heard him talk like that before. There’s a part of me that wants to go and keep talking to him, to see what other crazy shit he comes out with. Then again, if he can’t give me a lift, I guess there’s no point talking to him at all. Ever. Walking the final mile into town with him would just be awkward anyway. But still… there’s no need to be so damned rude. He could have at least acknowledged my existence.

I start walking, deliberately going slower than Earl so that there’s no danger I’ll catch him up.
When we get to town, Earl heads straight for Joyce’s Cafe and I head off towards home. The large clock in the town square says it’s just after 9am, and people are strolling around as if this is just another day to be filled with pointless wanderings. Which, I guess, is probably true.

Texas has never been the liveliest town. Every day is like Sunday, except Sunday which is like two Sundays rolled into one. Seriously, this place is dead. Hell, I find it hard to believe there’ll even be a town here in a hundred years’ time, and the fact that it’s lasted this long is down to pure obstinacy on the part of the locals. Like many people around here, I’m just waiting until I can save up some money to get out of here. Then again, I’m not sure where that money’s going to come from. And when I look at the faces of the old folk sitting in the cafes each morning, part of me wonders if they’re still waiting to save up some money and get out of here. The thought sends a shiver up my spine.

“Hey!” I shout as a man comes out of a shop and barges straight at me. I barely have time to get out of his way, but he just walks on as if nothing happened. That’s not exactly unusual behaviour for people around here, but it’s still fucking rude. What is it, National Rude Day? National Behave Like an Asshole Day? Oh yeah, I forgot: that’s every day.

Up ahead, I spot a familiar car at the stop lights. It’s my friend Samantha, with her little brother in the back seat. Samantha’s twenty-one, like me, but her dad gave her a car for her birthday recently so she’s suddenly soared up the social ladder and our friendship has become strained as a result. Figuring I could use a lift back to my house, I run across the road and try to get to her car before the light changes, but I’m just a little too late and her car speeds off. I wave in vain, hoping she’ll spot me in her rear-view mirror, but there’s no chance of that.

So I walk.

I walk through the streets, thinking about how this is totally not my day. It’s not even midday and I’ve already had several crappy things happen. Seriously, could this day get any worse? Eventually I turn the corner and head towards my house. But as I get closer, I realise that there’s something large and white parked in the driveway. I haven’t got my glasses so it takes me a moment to notice the markings on the side: CORONER. I pick up the pace a little, starting to worry, but it’s probably okay: it’s probably just parked there for convenience while the driver eats a donut or something. But then, as I get closer, I hear the engine start and the van pulls out and heads off up the road. I turn to watch it go, and then I look back at my house, and something shocking is awaiting me.

There’s police tape across the front door, and across the windows, and there’s blood in the driveway. A chill runs up my spine. What the hell happened last night?

Ghosts will be available from Amazon on Saturday 28th April 2012.