“Accursed thing that this is, following me… tormenting me! How can I ever protect my home again? What vile thing is this that haunts me… me a ghost!”
Jade groaned and rolled over onto her side.
“Ever have I been so diligent as to protect my home, even going so far as protecting this very family!” he announced, throwing an arm out at the teenager as she began to wake in degrees when the ghost, pacing her room and ranting, woke her up. She pushed her hair back from her face and blinked bleary eyes at him.
“Jade! You must understand my peril! You must give ear to my lamentations that there, this night and many many before it, have been a demon below! Ever it prowls now!”
“The hell are you going on about? I can hardly understand a word that you’re saying, Shakespeare,” she murmured thickly, and then snapped to a mostly awake state. “Hey! That’s my phone! What are you doing with that?!”
“Tweeting…” he muttered as he floated to a corner and began to type. “For many nights now, a flat yet round apparition has stalked my very abode, taking away my peace and making me fear for my life. Has the family decided to exorcise me with this horrible creature? Am I its prey?” He hit send and then lifted his face to glare at Jade in accusation.
Jade looked at him with an irritated blankness. “Let me get this straight… you’re afraid of something downstairs?”
“Fear it!” he cried out as he gazed back down to the screen. “Perhaps,” he murmured, his voice going low as he suddenly grew calm. “My friends, they will offer suggestions.”
“Wait, wait, wait…” she said as she sat up fully and pulled her long hair back from her shoulders. “Wait… wait… you have friends on Twitter?”
“Yes, and they will understand and have compassion to this horrible situation better than you obviously do!”
“Who are they?” she asked, still bitter to be yanked from her sleep though amused at the conversation.
“Ned, he’s a zombie.”
“A zombie?” Jade asked with a smirk. “Okay, so you’re friends with a guy who thinks he’s a zombie?”
“You don’t believe him?”
“Zombies aren’t real!”
“Yet you speak to a man who died in the late 1700’s!” he cried out.
“Let me see that phone,” Jade said as she pushed her comforter back and rose. She stalked towards Billy with her hand held out. Billy, feeling petulant simply floated to the side, keeping the distance between them as he fixedly studied the screen.
“Perhaps he can offer some sort of salvation in this crisis. Or a place to stay if that demon below gains more awareness and comes after me again. It almost got me last night, Jade! I was in the living room, and all was well until I heard a supernatural growl and here it came! As if manifesting from the very bowels of hell, the creature sought me out and tried to devour me! Tonight it was waiting for me at the bottom of the stairs!”
“You have lost what was left of your mind,” Jade said through a ground jaw. She continued to follow Billy around the room, her hand outstretched in expectation. “Tell Ned goodnight, I need my phone and I need my sleep and I can’t have my sleep if you’re playing on my phone!”
Begrudgingly, Billy signed out of his account and placed the object into Jade’s palm with a dull smack. “I see how it is… you’re all against me, aren’t you? Trying to either drive me mad or drive me out!”
“No, the only driving going on in here is you driving me up the wall,” she said tiredly before turning and going back to bed. “Good night, Billy!”
“For you, perhaps,” he glowered before floating to the door. He pressed his face through it and studied the hall for a long while. Maybe the vile beast hadn’t learned to ascend the stairs yet, but he wasn’t ready to trust the small moment of comfort. When nothing moved in the hallway, he shot across it quickly and went straight through the attic door, where he found a bit of solace in his own chambers.
The old clock whirred, clicked, and then chimed the half hour. It was a comforting sound and the spirit let out a long breath of relief. “Old friend,” Billy said as he approached it, his features obscured in the reflection of the timeworn glass covering the clock’s face. “What am I to do? This beast hunts me incessantly and yet it seems as though it fears the living. It never comes out to torment them, only during the night when I am awake, or when they are gone. What hold over it do they have?” While he spoke, he had reached out to place his hands upon the ornate sides of the clock. Now, he pressed his forehead gently upon the glass covering that refused to give him his image.
He sighed once more and closed his eyes. “Have they betrayed me? Speaking to me in innocence when they really do wish to rid themselves of my person? Yet, I know not of what I have done to make them seek their leave of me. I…”
A soft whirring drew his attention away from his lamentations. That sound, that horrible revolting clamor that could only mean one thing.
“The demon hunts,” Billy whispered. He turned his head towards the left, his attention on the archway that led into the living room. The steady placid humming of his nemesis seemed to indicate ignorance to his presence in the hallway so he slowly floated towards it and peered his face by painfully slow degrees around the archway facing.
“I see you,” he breathed. The round disk had made its way into the living room, where it now made idiot circles on the rug before seemingly to choose a direction at random. “I will defeat you,” he whispered. It bumped into the leg of Kelly’s antique coffee table, eased back a few millimeters and then began to try to navigate its way around.
“You sense me, even now you continue on in your blind hunt, undeterred by any living obstacles that would stand in your way.” Narrowing his eyes, Billy placed his hand on the wall as he grew bolder. Tapping into the house, he drew energy and waited. For a long while, the round creature did nothing but slip along the floor, bumping into items on occasion only to pull away from them in its awkward path to go around and continue on. When it drew nearer to Ade’s hideous chair, Billy began to tense.
“Closer,” he murmured. “Just a bit closer…” and when it was within striking distance, he let out a discharge of energy that coursed through the house and into the ancient recliner. The foot rest popped up with a loud springy groan, but Billy was to have no victory. The monster skittered across the floor and circled once more in place, as if searching for its bearings.
“Damn!” he grunted, and when the disk began to come towards him, he let out a gasp of surprise and drew back, wide-eyed, from his hiding place. Seconds later his footsteps thundered up the staircase and continued on until he was safely hidden away into his attic.
It was 9:30 in the evening and the house had finally settled down. Billy had been caught off-guard once again by the creature below and had sent Ade’s chair flying across the room. Much to his (and possibly the family’s) dismay, the old recliner simply rebounded off the wall without an iota of damage. Much to his chagrin, the beastly abomination simply continued to glide along the floor untouched, whirring and buzzing as it continued to hunt the ghost hiding from it.
He had managed to snag Jade’s phone in his hasty escape, and began to tweet once he was safely at the top of the stairs.
Kelly just threatened to kick me in my "Ghostly Kajiggers" if I didn't keep the noise down. I've got a self aware demonic entity scavenging the floor below me! It's going to devour me and she wants me to keep quiet!?
“Jade?” Kelly asked as she scrubbed a pan in the sink.
“Have you noticed how quiet it’s been lately?”
“Quiet? What do you mean?”
“Well, it’s just that lately, I haven’t seen much of Billy. I saw him this morning bolting up to the attic. That was the first time I had seen him in two days. Something’s wrong,” she said as she turned the water on to rinse.
“Oh,” Jade said, and then smiled as she finished washing the table.
“Oh?” Kelly asked. “What’s going on? It isn’t like him not to at least make his presence known. He hasn’t been acting like his usual self in nearly three weeks. Well, other than the commotion he seems to make at random times, and even those have died down.”
“I know,” Jade said, her smile growing wider as she reached around her mom to rinse out the cloth.
When she was finished with the pan, Kelly set it in the drainer rack and then turned to face her still smirking daughter. For added effect, she tucked her fists against her slender hips. “Spill it.”
“You are not going to believe this one, mom.”
“Well, for me to believe or disbelieve, first I must hear the news. Spit it out, Jade. You’re having way too much fun with this.”
“Okay, but only on one condition.”
Kelly simply lifted a brow at her daughter.
“Okay, no conditions, but just please make me a promise. Please? Pretty please?”
Relenting, because the anticipation was starting to grow far too intense for her liking, she relented. “One promise.”
“Don’t make me have to spill the beans until I get him good.”
“Please tell me, Jade, this is starting to kill me!”
Laughing, Jade walked over to the Roomba, where it sat nestled and innocent within its charger dock. “He’s scared… no, he’s terrified of this!”
“He’s scared of the vacuum cleaner?” Kelly asked, and then before she could help it, burst into laughter. Quickly placing her fingers over her mouth, she inhaled deeply while working to gain control over herself.
“Yes! He thinks it’s some sort of demon we have that’s hunting him in the house!”
Erupting once more, Kelly was helpless as she began to laugh. After a time, it slowly abated and she walked to the fridge to get out a soda. “Alright,” she said. “Get him good once, and then I’ll set his mind at ease. The poor boy. They didn’t have hardly any technology in his day. I’m sure this is the first thing of its kind that he’s seen.”
“I wonder how he handled electricity, or the radio or TV? Did you know that he now has a twitter account? He tweets to some guy named Ned who thinks he’s a zombie, but he’s terrified of the Roomba! Could he be more blond?”
“Ahem,” Kelly interrupted as she tossed her ponytail, nearly as blond as Billy’s mane, over her shoulder while giving her eldest a prim look.
“Present company excluded, of course.”
“Jade? What are you doing?” Kelly asked.
“Getting my comeuppance,” she answered as she held her phone in her hand. She showed it to her mother, the app that controlled whether or not the device was to do her bidding on the screen and then gave Kelly a very large grin. “Wakey-Wakey Mr. Holmes,” she sang softly and then pressed the “Clean” button.
His rest had been fitful that day, even though the sun streamed in and bathed his writhing body in its warm glow. Nightmares kept his rest at arm's length and he struggled within his covers as he groaned. Trapped from one nightmare to the next he couldn’t escape nor could he even scream save for hoarse barks that would be emitted under the hardest duress of the bad dreams. A whirring caused his thin pale brows to arch upwards and his full lips parted. The whirring was suddenly replaced by the suctioning sound that he had associated with the beast wanting to suck his very soul into its maw and another groan escaped him.
“No…” Billy whispered, fighting hard to wake up. “Noooo…”
There came a bump and a rattle and his eyes snapped open once he came enough to his senses in that twilight between sleep and wakefulness to realize that the noise was indeed on this realm and very real. He sat up with a sharp gasp, holding his blanket to his chest in a clenched fist as his black eyes greedily searched his room. There, the round disk sat against the wall just inside the door, slowly edging its way along the baseboard molding. He drew his long legs up until his knees pressed against his arm and his mouth opened as he uttered a silent scream. The beast stopped when it bumped into his trunk, and then began to move in stuttering back and forth motions as it felt its way blindly about his room.
It bumped into a chair leg and turned and facing the ghost now was a monster with three large eyes mounted on the front in a triangle, none of them the same color. When it hit the chair leg again, the pupils of the eyes moved in different directions rather than settle on their victim and he finally found his voice. A shriek escaped him as he rose onto his mattress, his eyes pinned on the unworldly creature that was now coming at him. Another shriek, more ear splitting and devoid of hope than the previous followed and he leaped from his bed.
“Jade? What did you do?” Kelly asked slowly. Together, mother and daughter trekked the ceiling with their eyes as they followed Billy’s rapid footsteps.
Jade simply smiled as she gazed fondly down to the screen of her phone.
“Jade,” Kelly repeated, her voice taking on the time worn tone of all mothers in the world.
“I put googly eyes on it,” Jade said before breaking into laughter. “I made sure to put a big red one on the top, just to make sure it was scary. Then I used a green one and a blue one.” There was a crash, another shriek much shorter and harsher than the one before, and then more scrambling.
“I had no idea he could reach that pitch,” Kelly said. “You’re not steering that thing, are you?”
“Good, because that would just be cruel. And besides, there is no way we could get therapy for a ghost.”
“Be gone from me, you foul beast!” Billy cried out. “Ever have I suffered in my death, but not as much since the likes of you!”
“I told you he got flowery when he was distressed.”
“Well, he’s had enough,” Kelly said as she patted the back of her daughter’s shoulder. “Turn it off and let me go talk to him before he breaks a window or something.” Together, their heads shot up as the attic door slammed open and banged hard enough into the wall to cause them to wonder if the knob didn’t puncture the plaster. Another shriek came and then they heard him running along the upstairs hallway.
“Billy?” Kelly called. “Billy, it’s okay, if you’ll just calm down I can explain what’s going on.” She walked quickly to the stairs, where he was rapidly scrambling down. So afraid was he that he had forgotten to take his spectral form. He looked at her with frightened wild eyes before turning his head over his shoulder to give a pensive look behind him.
“Billy, it’s okay,” she said again. “There’s nothing to be afraid of. You’re safe.”
“It found a way to get to me in my room!” he exclaimed as he turned to face her once again. “It’s discovered where I sleep! There is no safe place for me now!”
“Billy,” she said once again as she held out her hands to him in a comforting manner. “It’s not a beast, it’s not a demon, it’s just a vacuum cleaner that Jade put up in the attic because she knew you were having a hard time adjusting to it.”
“A vacuum cleaner! Nonsense! You control those, they don’t mill about on their own, wreaking havoc upon the house! This is sentient! He searches me out even now!”
“No, hon, no,” she said again, using her most soothing tone. With her girls, it was well practiced. “I assure you, you are in no danger. Come here, we’ll show you.” She didn’t like the look of feral mistrust in his eyes, and it hurt her heart to see it slip onto his face like an old mask. “C’mon sweetie, let me show you what it is…” Kelly wiggled the fingers of the hand she held out closest to him. “It’s okay,” she whispered.
Twitching his head once, Billy fought the urge to look over his shoulder again, but instead, held her eyes. One by one, he slowly began to descend the stairs while the hard look of mistrust remained. It was ebbed into anger as soon as Jade began to boisterously laugh.
“You’re scared of a vacuum cleaner, Billy! That thing is not out to get you, it just goes out when we tell it to clean the floor! You should have heard yourself scream!”
“You… were playing a joke on me?” Billy asked Kelly before his angered eyes snapped to Jade. “Her I can understand, but you?”
“No, Billy, I had nothing to do with this. I thought, I honestly thought you knew what a Roomba was. I didn’t buy it to make you upset, I just thought it would help with the cleaning at night and during the day when we were out. If I knew you were having such a problem with it, I would have told you immediately. You really need to learn to come to me if something is bothering you.”
Squaring his shoulders Billy stepped into the parlor, and then strode past Kelly to walk towards Jade, who continued to laugh openly over the situation.
“Hey! Now you know how it feels to be haunted!” she said. “You’ve done that to everyone who’s ever come here; it’s good for you to get a taste of your own medicine!”
He was so angry that the only thing he could do was lean forward and put his nose to hers. “I will get you back for this,” he breathed.
“You can’t get payback on payback, pal.”
“Just you watch,” he growled, and then pulled away sharply. “I don’t like any of you right now! And you!” he pointed to Jade. “This is all your doing, I just know you talked your mother into this! All because you’re too lazy to do proper chores! In MY day we had to sweep the floors with large brooms! If it was good enough for me, it’s good enough for you! Now get that abomination out of my attic before I really get angry!”
“Yeah yeah yeah,” Jade chuckled as she turned off her phone and walked past the irate ghost. “What are you going to do now, go play with your zombie friend?”
“I’m going to Melissa’s!” Billy snapped as he began to fade out of their view.
“She’s my friend on twitter! She crochets!”
“Okay…” Jade looked over at her stricken mother. “He’s up to two friends now.”
“We’re gonna really have to make it up to him over this… but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that wasn’t hysterical,” Kelly whispered as the front door swung open, and then slammed shut hard in the frame.
If you enjoyed this short story based off the novel YOUR SIDE OF MIDNIGHT, please consider checking it out! Only 3.99 on Amazon. Thank you for reading and special thanks to Miss Jewel for being such a lovely person and allowing me to post this on her blog. And please, consider her works as well, she’s a very talented author!
Yes, Billy does have a Twitter: https://twitter.com/BH_WildChild