1451 words (5 minute read)

Dark and Stormy Night (Short Story Pre-Novel)

There’s a storm rolling in tonight, I can feel it. The wind that will make the branches of the trees knock on my windows. The lightning that will make my whole house light up like it’s day time. The thunder that will shake the whole building and feel like a small earthquake. It’s nights like these that I get paranoid, it seems like the spirit world gets more condensed when storms roll in, it seems like all of the spirits congregate and some even get forced out into the living world.

I close the engraved box that rests on the mantle with a sigh before turning to the window.

"I don’t want to deal with any of you today." I say to the empty room. I can feel a small weight lift off my body as the stuffy energy of the room dissipates. Breathing a sigh of relief I open the door to the small patio and step outside. I live alone and rarely ever leave my house because I can’t stand people but, I like to stand outside and watch from a distance as the people around me lead seemingly normal lives. Sighing again I pull out a cigarette and hold it in my mouth while I get the lighter. I light it and take a long drag before releasing the breath along with a small cloud of smoke. I need to relax, storms always put me on edge. I look at the sky and see the dark grey clouds in the distance. I put out the cigarette against the railing before throwing it in the pot next to the door with all of the others.

"So did you mean that you don’t have any time for me?" I hear a familiar voice but it still makes me jump. I turn around to see my best friend standing there smiling at me.

"I always have time for you. I just don’t want my apartment filled with creepy spirits." I tell her and she scoffs before walking toward the mantle. She runs her hand over the box that I had opened earlier.

"You know when I told you I wanted to be cremated, this isn’t exactly what I thought you would do with the ashes." She comments and I feel a small smile form on my face.

" Do you think I’m being selfish?" I ask and she laughs a bit before shaking her head.

"No. That’s not what I meant. I was your only family..." She starts but I cut her off.

"You’re still my only family." She shakes her head as she turns to look at me.

"You spend all of your days alone unless I can find a way to get through the veil or you call me.  Despite how much you say you miss me being here, you don’t actually talk to me that much. You need to get out and find a job or something, I mean does anyone even know you live here? You don’t pay rent and you have minimal belongings," She sighs as she motions around the mostly empty room, "look, I’m not really here anymore, you need to move on. Find a different place to live, learn to interact with people again and just live your life again." She tells me and I frown.

"I’m perfectly comfortable being alone. You know I struggle to interact with normal people. That’s why you always talked and I stayed back. I can’t function around normal people, they’re just too weird to me." I tell her and she shakes her head.

"They’re weird because you don’t take the time to try to know them. Maybe once you actually get out there you’ll find that it’s really not so bad." She says and I scoff.

"Yeah? And what about a job? I didn’t finish college and other than talking to dead people I don’t really have anything to give. And my "gift" isn’t exactly something people look for." I tell her and she scowls at me.

"You discredit yourself. You gave up on yourself because you didn’t have someone rooting for you anymore. You developed a bad habit and moved into a dump and I’m telling you, because I care about you, that you need to get off your ass and do something with yourself. I don’t want to watch you destroy yourself anymore." She says as she comes to a stop right in front of me and I start to feel anger build up just as a clap of thunder shakes the building.

"You don’t know what it’s like. I’ve tried so hard to figure everything out and I just can’t, I just can’t find anything. Most days I lay in the middle of the floor and cry because I’m feeling so lost. Did you know that?! Apparently you think you know a lot about me now!" I yell at her as lightning strikes. Her eyes widen and I shrink against the wall as she looks angry.

"You’re right, I don’t know what it’s like for you. I know what it’s like to be dead, I know how it felt to die, I remember the thing that killed me. I still feel the fear that the thing will come back for me and I’ll be taken away from you for good. You’ve been trying to "figure it out" for five years. What’s holding you back now?" She says and I can’t help the tears that build in my eyes.

"It’s my fault, I brought that thing into our house. I can’t just move on from something like this. I killed you through my own inexperience with the spirit world." I tell her as I sink down to the floor and cover my face. I can feel her staring at me as sobs wrack my body.

"You know it was an accident. Neither of us expected for a monster to show up. You shouldn’t be continuing to hold on because you’re beating yourself up. You’re keeping me here as a reminder of what you think you did. It’s not healthy, please promise me that you’ll try to do better." She says and I take a few shaky breaths before nodding.

"I will. I’ll try my hardest. Just please stay with me at least until I have my new life completely figured out." She smiles and sits next to me against the wall.

"Of course. You know I’m always one call away. I would like to be around more but I know that you need to move on. And I’m expecting you to move on. And I’m expecting you to find someone new, not right away obviously, but don’t be alone for the rest of your life. Start working, put your name out as a PI and see if anyone needs your services, you might be surprised. You know there’s a lot of crazy shit that happens in this world and spirits that go crazy. You never know, but just try." She tells me and I smile at her as I see her slowly fading.

"I’ll see you again soon." She says and I nod as I try to hold back more tears.

"See you." I whisper as I lean back against the wall and stare around the dark room.

"Move on. Easier said than done." I say as I close my eyes against another flash of lightning. It’s times like this that I wish the darkness would just swallow me so that I wouldn’t have to deal with the memories. A sigh escapes me as I stand up again and walk over to the kitchen. There’s not much food left but I couldn’t possibly make myself eat anything after that. I reach up in one of the cabinets and pull out a plastic cup before pulling out a bottle of vodka.

"There’s not much left of this either." I mumble as I sway the bottle back and forth and then sigh. I take the lid off and chug the rest before suddenly feeling angry again and throwing the bottle against the wall causing it to shatter and little glass pieces to cover the floor.

"It never fucking helps. Nothing ever helps." I walk out of the kitchen and to the front door. I open it and the wind howls through the small space as I walk out. I walk down the stairs and out into the storm with my hands in my pockets letting the rain soak through my thin clothes. Moving on will have to wait until tomorrow.