Halloween Short Story
Audrey Francis-Plante from audreywritesabroad & Nimika from wordhaven.
“Okay, okay,” I mutter to myself as I walk toward the next room. “Calm down. It was all in your head. It’s all just in your head.”
It’s in your head. It’s in your head. It’s in your head.
I cross the hole in a wall where a door used to stand and step into a corridor with about five doors on each side of it. I open the first door on my right.
He’s in my room.
Mara is in the room.
“Oh my god,” I whisper, turning to run away but a hand on my shoulder stops me. Her hand. It’s cold and flimsy and terrifying.
“You’re not real,” she says. “Why can I touch you?”
“You’re not real. You’re dead!”
I’m not dead
“What are you talking about?” she asks, dropping her arm.
Breathing a little better, I take my phone from my pocket and show her the date. “See? It’s 2053.”
“No, it’s 2018.”
“This place burned down in 2018.” I look up at her. Her gaze is a whirlwind of confusion and fear. “And you burned with it,” I finish, quietly.
In your head. In your head.
In your head.
“What?” I jump back, hands in the air.
“YOU’RE NOT REAL! GET OUT OF MY HEAD! GET OUT!”
She pushes me against the door, and I fumble for the knob a little before I manage to run the hell out of the room, out of the corridor, out of the asylum, and back into the van, where I curl up on the couch, trembling.
“She’s not real, she’s not real, she’s not real,” I repeat over and over again.
“Oh my god,” Rachel’s voice says and I startle out of my skin with a shriek. I hadn’t seen her sitting at the wheel. “You saw one too.”
The tension in the van is thick enough that it could be cut with a knife.
“You’re saying,” Chandler begins, incredulously, “that both of you saw actual ghosts?”
“And let me remind you that we’re not filming this so cut the bullshit, yeah?” Phoebe adds, eyebrows raised.
All four of us are having lunch in the van while exchanging stories and my revelations about Mara sound unreal to my own ears.
I sigh. “I’m not making any of this up. Rachel?”
Rachel leans forward, fingers tapping in a non-rhythmic pattern on her faded jeans. She hasn’t been able to be completely still ever since she confessed seeing ‘one of them’. “Do I look like I’m in the mood to kid around right now?”
Chandler throws up his hands. “So we’re just supposed to believe that Joey saw a dead girl who’s talking to him and you saw a bald guy who keeps sharpening his knife?”
Phoebe lets out a little snicker. “You sure you don’t want us to turn on the camera for this, people?”
I push aside my food and stand up. I don’t have any appetite left to eat anyway, let alone another lunch of store bought noodles.
Lunch is more meds.
Doc says it’ll keep the
boy voices away.
“Liars,” Phoebe teases, when we don’t say anything. “You’re just pranking us, right?”
“We’re not lying,” Rachel says.
“So, you saw ghosts?”
I saw a
dead boy from the future.
not in your head, Mara.
“It’s probably just in my head,” I lie.
Rachel gapes at me, hurt. “Oh, so I’m the only psycho here, Joey? Nice.”
I ignore her and get out of the van. I just need breathing space. I can apologise to her later.
He said the
prison asylum will burn down tonight.
I’ll burn with it.
Tears on my face.
I can’t stop laughing.
I decide to smother my fear and spend the next hour inside, editing in a room that looks like a cafeteria. The sun comes in from the wide windows and crumbled ceiling. When I hear the others come into the hall, I don’t get up. I don’t want to talk to them after the conversation in the van.
I feel like someone is watching me.
He’s not real. He’s not real. He’s not real.
Slowly, I turn around, afraid of seeing Mara again. She’s not here. Only dusty tables.
But I can still feel eyes on me.
I keep working until I hear a sudden commotion outside. A few moments later, Chandler bursts into my room, panting heavily, his expression is so tense.
“What’s wrong?” I ask at once.
“She’s not here,” he stammers, gasping for breath. “We can’t find her.”
“Rachel.” Chandler’s eyes bore into mine. “She’s missing.”
TO BE CONTINUED