Posted by: Caitlynn | January 20, 2010

Genre #15 — Ghost / Paranormal

(For more information on my Genre Self-Challenge, read previous entry here.)

————

“A Slight Surprise”

————

“Ugh…” Lisa moaned as she regained consciousness. “What happened?”

She slowly dragged herself up, wincing as she put pressure on her ankle. “I wonder if I sprained it,” she muttered. “That’s right, I remember now. I fell down those rickety stairs. But…didn’t it almost feel like I was…pushed?”

Lisa stared at the old steps for a few minutes before forcing out a laugh. “What am I saying? I’m the only one in here. And there is absolutely no such thing as ghosts.” She turned around and began walking away. “I can’t let what the others said get to me.”

As it went, Lisa was only in the condemned house due to a dare. She had next to no interest in the house, but rumor had spread that it was haunted, and anyone who went in would be cursed or, worse, killed. She refused to believe anything so nonsensical, but these tales were quickly gaining popularity. And so, by accepting her friends’ challenge to spend the night inside, she could dispel the rumors once and for all.

As much as she hated to admit it, however, a small part of her regretted her decision now.

“It’s not ghosts I’m afraid of,” she whispered, walking along with careful steps and methodically searching the room she was in with her flashlight. “But, well, who knows what…no, rather, who, might be hiding in here. All sorts of dangerous people pass by, I’m sure.”

“That is unexpectedly true,” a voice came from behind her.

Lisa let out a startled scream and dropped her flashlight. The other voice laughed lightly. “Sorry, sorry, I didn’t mean to frighten you.”

She got down on her hands and knees and quickly retrieved her light. When she shone it in the direction of the voice, she sighed in relief. There stood a very normal-looking, very corporeal-looking, young man, not much older than she. Then, chuckling a little, she said, “No, I guess I’m just a little on edge.”

“That makes sense,” he said, taking a few steps toward her. “You are in the famed haunted house, after all.”

“It’s not like I thought you were a ghost or anything!” she protested. “I don’t believe in ghosts. I’m here on a dare, but it’s not like I actually believe any of the stories about this place.”

He chuckled a little, and she felt the tension lessen a little more. “He actually has a nice laugh…” she mused.

“And,” he smirked, “just what did you think that I might be?”

“A murderer…or…criminal, of some sort, maybe,” she trailed off.

He chuckled again. “Well, I’m not, if it makes you feel any better hearing that. Of course, I doubt my word means much in a situation like this, but…”

She took a few steps back, suddenly noticing that he had closed the distance between them earlier. “No…no, it’s fine. I think I believe you,” she assured him regardless. “Anyway. Why are you here? Are you on a dare, too?”

“Something like that,” he said, backing off some upon seeing her uneasiness. “At any rate, perhaps it’s best to get you out of the house now.”

“I can’t,” she replied hesitantly. “I mean, if I leave now, those rumors will never go away.”

“Why do they need to?” he shrugged.

“Because they,” she paused, not quite sure of how to explain it. “Well. They’re not true, that’s why! The whole idea of ghosts and spirits is preposterous to begin with.”

“Ah, I see. So you’re one of those people who are uncomfortable with anything supernatural, I take it?” he said, turning around and walking towards the door.

“Uncomfortable?” Lisa could feel herself becoming defensive. “That makes it sound like I’m avoiding some ‘truth’ or something.”

“Maybe you are,” he retorted.

“And maybe you’re just—” she began.

Suddenly, the creaking in the house became louder, and a strange wind began to hum inside of it. “It’s almost like…whispers?” Lisa muttered unsure.

The look on her companion’s face changed drastically, though, and he spoke with a renewed sense of urgency. “You have to get out. Now.”

“I already said I couldn’t, didn’t I?” she snapped back.

“…Leave…” came a whisper.

“Cut it out,” she scolded the man. “I’m not falling for it.”

“That wasn’t me!” he shouted back. Then, upon seeing her doubting expression, he added, “I’m serious.”

Her resolve weakened for a moment, but she quickly recovered, saying, “Well then, someone else must be in here, too.”

Lisa moved toward the door as well, standing close to the stranger. “Hey,” she muttered. “I never asked your name.”

He gave her a sideways glance before mumbling, “Rick.”

“Nice to meet you, Rick. I’m Lisa.” She moved past him, saying, “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a house to finish exploring. I’ve covered the upstairs and the main floor, so now all that’s left is the basement, I believe.”

“No!” Rick shouted. “Not the basement. You can stay in the house, if you really need to, but don’t go down there.”

This time she was the one to smirk. “What? Don’t tell me you’re frightened?” she teased.

“That’s not it,” he sighed. “I’ve actually…been down there already. Please, just believe me when I say that it’s best to avoid it.”

“Okay, okay, I understand,” she said, turning away from him.

“Are you certain?” he insisted.

She glanced over her shoulder at him and, with a laugh, answered, “No!” At that, she darted off to the basement stairs.

“Lisa!” he called after her. “Don’t—”

She ran faster than he could keep up with, though, and before long she had descended the steps into the cold, dank basement. “It’s so dark here,” she muttered casually. “I can hardly see anything, even with my flashlight.”

Just then, her foot hit something soft and vaguely warm. “Hmm?” she wondered.

“Don’t look!” Rick instructed from the top of the stairs, racing down to meet her there. But it was already too late. She had shined the light directly at the object she ran into. And there, at her feet, she saw…Rick!

She screamed in sudden shock. “What…why…who…?”

Rick—or, at least, the Rick she had met upstairs—appeared behind her. “That’s me,” he answered quietly. “When I ‘woke up’ a few hours ago, my body was lying there like that.”

“No,” she whispered. “No. That can’t be right. That would mean you’re—”

“—Dead?” he finished. Shrugging his shoulders forlornly, he continued. “I guess so. Of course, I couldn’t check for a pulse or anything, so I can’t say for sure. But being like this, I guess I really must be.”

“A pulse,” she repeated, letting the words sink in. “A pulse! Of course.” She bent over the body to check.

“There’s no time for that,” he said, a little flustered. “I didn’t get that way by accident. I was attacked.”

“Then that’s more reason for me to check,” she replied. Her hands shook as she touched the body.

“No, that’s more reason for you to get out,” he insisted. “There was a man…”

But before he could finish, someone came up from behind them and grabbed Lisa, causing her to drop her flashlight. “No!” she screamed before he covered her mouth with his hand.

“That’s him! That’s the man who—” Rick began, stopping before he finished his sentence. Instead, he began shouting, “Let go of her!” He rushed forward but passed through the man without being able to gain hold of him.

Lisa struggled against the attacker, who muttered, “Two in one night? What fun. I chose the right basement to hide away in.”

Rick screamed in frustration. “Someone help! Please! Save Lisa, someone!”

No sooner had he finished, the entire house shook, the creaking became louder again, and the strange whispering wind could be heard once more. “…Leave…” it repeated. A clanging could be heard at the other end of the basement. “…Leavethem alone…”

Neither Lisa, Rick, or the attacker could see quite what happened, but an object suddenly shot from the other side of the room, smacking into the criminal. The gruff man let out a yelp, releasing Lisa.

Leave!” the whisper came again as more objects shot at the man. Lisa ducked and felt around for her flashlight. When she could finally see what was happening, the vagrant was unconscious, with a variety of blunt objects lying around him.

Rick stepped toward her. “That’s a relief,” he sighed. “Now go, quickly, before he wakes up again.”

“But you—” she started.

“Don’t worry about me!” he interrupted. “I’m already dea—”

“—You’re alive!” she shouted. “I felt a pulse. It’s faint, but it’s there.”

A surprised look came to his face. “Alive?” he whispered, gradually breaking out into a disbelieving smile.

Lisa clenched her fists. “I’ll go outside,” she muttered. “But only to call for an ambulance! My cell phone doesn’t get any reception in here.”

He nodded as she ran up the stairs. And before long, the sound of sirens—both police and ambulance—could be heard racing down the street.

Two days later, Lisa found herself stepping into a clean white hospital room. “Rick?” she called out hesitantly.

“Yes?” came a familiar voice. “Who’s there?”

She turned the corner, coming into view. “I…I don’t suppose you remember me?”

He studied her seriously for a moment. “Of course I wouldn’t. I mean, you’re only the girl who I shared my weird out-of-body experience with. Why would I remember you?”

Lisa couldn’t help but grin. “Well the whole thing seems fuzzy to me, even, and I was conscious the entire time.”

“I know. I can hardly believe that there was a wanted felon hiding out in the basement of that old house,” Rick sighed.

That’s the part you’re struggling to believe?” Lisa asked dubiously. “You nearly die, you communicate with me via some doppelganger thing, and just when all hope seems lost, the house attacks the bad guy and saves us both. And the part you struggle to believe is that there was a criminal hiding out in an abandoned basement.”

“Well, you just never think it’d happen in your neighborhood,” he chuckled. “But I guess that other stuff might have been slightly out of the ordinary, too.”

“Only slightly, hmm?” she replied, sitting down at the foot of his bed.

“Yep. Only slightly,” he nodded back to her. “And what about you? You were so sure that things like this weren’t real. Change your mind?”

She smirked, glancing at him out of the corner of her eye. “Only slightly.”

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