What a strange title for this little blog?
Now to directly contradict the title, I do believe in ghosts. I am, in fact, one of those crazies who thinks there’s ghosts and goblins and whatnot.
“So what’s the deal with the title then, Oh Illustrious and Great Captain of Chickens?” I hear a particularly spectral shout from the crowd.
Over on Mr. Chuck Wendig’s blog, Terrible Minds, he hosts a little Flash Fiction challenge every week.
This week’s challenge involved picking one of a selection of settings and writing a little story with a thousand words or less. I picked the setting that involved a haunted mountain pass.
Here’s my own humble addition to the contest.
Ghosts did not exist. Call them what you like: ghost, spooks, spirits, grandma. Stupid, silly names, something best left to crazies and children. More importantly, they especially did not exist here, on this ancient mountain pass, where everyone said they did.
Haunted my left foot. Probably just a bunch of sheep, or children, or…something easily explained.
That’s what I repeated, over and over in a litany of reason, logic and modernity.
The effect was somewhat spoiled by the rancid bubbles of fear threading themselves through my body.
Rock walls loomed in the darkness, craggy and indistinct. Snow glowed a faint and unearthly blue. Wind whipped the snow into flurries creating strangely familiar shapes in the darkling gloom. The comforting warmth of whiskey (the catalyst for this ill-conceived adventure) was rapidly fading and I realized belatedly that this was probably not a great idea.
The mountain air was frigid. The wind howled like a chorus of…well ghosts actually. A banshee’s wail, a piercing keening that assaulted my eardrums reverberated along the hunched cliffs. My flashlight made shadows rather than illuminating the darkness.
Shapes writhed in the black. I stopped looking anywhere but at my shoes.
I picked up the pace, hugged my coat nice and reassuringly close and tried to remember the fervent prayers and righteous exorcisms I had shouted at my spooky closet doors.
They seemed to have no effect.
‘Great idea,’ I thought. ‘Let’s go for a night hike. Let’s explore the countryside. Let’s prove a tough American mindset conquers local superstition.’
“Shut up,” I hissed. Then I froze. Trick of the wind. Must’ve been. Ghosts don’t exist.
“Interloper,” accused a voice that was probably the wind.
My shoes were fascinating.
“Trespasser.” the voice was cold. Still probably the wind though. Too bad the wind had stopped.
“You don’t exist,” I insisted, fear making me stubborn. My footfalls clattered as I started a jog, deciding that now might be the perfect time to go for a midnight run. At least, that’s what I told myself.
A pause for a moment. The wind died down with a distinctly whiny tone. Rocks clattered in the distance.
“We do so…” the voice claimed with what sounded like a feeble attempt at self-assurance.
I sputtered for some response, some clever thing to say, some repudiation. Nothing came to mind.
Mist started to writhe between my sneakers. The wind picked up. I could hear giggling. Then sobbing.
The breath hitched in my throat. Tears of manliness streamed down from my eyes. Courageous whimpers leaked out of my mouth. My legs pumped. Snow fell, drifting lazily and with menace down from wintry skies.
My flashlight flickered. It caught a face in the gloom, rotten and glowing, an evil smile plastered over withered lips.