Flash Friday 24/07/2015: A Ghost At Most
“Mum,” Betty called, covering the majority of herself with the blanket. “Come here, quick.”
The door opened, allowing a crack of light to shine in. Susanna’s head poked through. “What is it?”
“I think…” Betty pointed down towards the end of the bed. “There’s a ghost in my closet.”
Susanna pondered on this for a moment, and then said, “Yeah, you’re probably right.”
Then she shut the door.
“Wait,” Betty squeaked, causing the door to open again. “What do you mean by that?”
“Well, honey, when a mummy and a daddy love each other very much, and they get married and live in a lovely place, and the mummy catches the daddy doing things to a receptionist that daddies really aren’t allowed to do, mummy and her kid have to move into a haunted house in order to stay on top of the bills. So, yes, there’s probably a ghost in your closet, it’s probably really scary and will suck your eyeballs out while you sleep, goodnight.”
The door closed again.
Betty stared at the closet. She knew the one secret to survival; all ghosts, skeletons and serial killers hate light. As long as the room you were in was lit, nothing could harm you. Shuffling over, she peered at the strange bedside lamp that came with the house. It had a switch inside of the shade, and even after she found it, pushing it to the ‘on’ position took effort.
“Just push it harder than you think you should,” a female voice said. “It usually snaps on.”
Betty pressed harder. As promised, the lamp snapped on, bathing a quarter of the room in light.
“Thank you,” Betty began, before realising the voice was not her mother’s. With wide eyes, she span around to look at the end of her bed.
“Catch,” the voice said.
By instinct, she caught something white, like a ball. The headless spirit standing at the end of her bed was the main focus of Betty’s attention, however. It wore a Victorian dress, and despite not having anything to see, gave Betty the sensation that it knew she was there.
Betty looked down. The ball was actually a female head, wearing a wide-brimmed hat which clipped through anything it touched. It looked back up at her. “And what might your name be, darling?”
“Betty,” she managed.
“Good name, Betty. I used to know one. That is, before she got hanged. Same day I had my head chopped off. Still, between being able to toss my head about, and her hovering around with her neck at a jaunty angle forever, I think I got the better deal. But where are my manners? I’m Alice. Pleasure to meet you. Oh, wait, hold on.” Alice winced. “I think I can still do this. Come on, you old crone, do it.”
The body performed a curtsey.
“Yes, there you go. Haven’t been headless like this for a long time. Gotten all rusty.”
“Are you,” Betty whispered, “a ghost?”
“…yes,” Alice said with a frown. “This is what ghosts tend to do. Be translucent, haunt homes, throw heads at people. Very ghost-like.”
“Do you…suck eyeballs out of the heads of people sleeping?”
Alice sighed. “I have no idea what that witch you have for a mother meant by that, but no. I have no use for anyone’s eyeballs, or even eating, for that matter. I just tend to…float around and get bored. Scare away people who come in. Laugh. Get bored again.”
“But…” Betty risked. “You’re not really trying to scare me right now.”
“Well, yes. It’s inhumane to try to scare children. They’re the ones who believe in us, and are more than willing to talk things over without calling an exorcist. They’re nice. No, it’s the adults you have to look out for. Those are the ones who come in with minds full of scepticism and doubt, which means they don’t expect it when you scare the living daylights out of them. And then entire television crews come in, and they have strange recording devices, and you throw a few orbs about and whisper things that need to be reversed in editing, and it’s a lot of fun.”
Betty blinked. “I see.”
“But yes, we don’t go around scaring children. That sort of behaviour is–”
Alice’s face squinted, her eyes looking towards the door. Her body had turned towards it, as if expecting someone.
“Do me a favour,” Alice said. “Throw me back my head.”
Betty gave it back. It seemed the polite thing to do to return someone else’s loose head. Alice quickly shot straight upwards and through the ceiling, leaving no trace of her visit.
The door creaked open again, Susanna poking her head through. “Are you talking on your mobile phone late at night again? I told you I only got you that for family and emergency–”
From above the door, a spectral arm shot down, dangling a screaming head by its hair. Alice’s eyes were black sockets, and her mouth stretched downwards longer than mouths should. Susanna managed to get half a curse word out before she door was slammed shut and the sound of hurried steps down the hallway.
Alice, still hanging from the ceiling, pressed her now normal-looking head back onto her neck, making the sound like a cork being squeezed out of a bottle. “Well, I’m glad that hasn’t gotten rusty over time. I should probably leave you be to get some sleep. But if I dare catch you on your phone like your mother claims you do, I’ll make sure you regret it. I don’t sleep, remember.”
“Yes, Alice,” Betty squeaked.
“Now get some rest.”
Betty leaned over and turned off the lamp as the ghost ascended into the attic. She wasn’t sure if she was supposed to be less or more afraid of the ghosts in her closet now.