At first, Rafe thought he was dreaming. He rolled over in bed, grabbed his mobile, and looked at the time: 2:31 a.m.
He sat bolt upright in bed. It was no dream. He looked around the darkened room in the basement of his Mom’s house and saw no one.
A shape slowly coalesced near the foot of the bed. It was a shadow, then it was a man.
“Do you remember me, Rafe?”
“What the fu…”
“If you kill a man, you should at least remember what he looked like.”
Rafe’s memories suddenly flashed back to last month. The carjacking that had gone bad. The driver resisted. Rafe fumbled for the Saturday night special he had shoved in the waist band in his pants. It went off when the barrel was pointed at the driver’s gut.
Rafe ran, got rid of the gun. Got rid of the clothes with all the other guy’s blood on them.
He didn’t mean to kill anyone. He knew if he could steal a car, he could sell it to Johnny and his guys at their garage over on 5th. They’d strip it down and sell it. Easy money, Rafe thought.
The gun was just for show, just to scare the driver.
The figure in the shadows stepped forward a few feet, letting moonlight streaming in from the room’s single window illuminate his face.
“I didn’t mean to kill you, man. It was an accident. I just wanted the car.”
“You don’t even know my name, do you?”
Rafe had seen the story on the news. The victim had been identified but he didn’t remember his name.
“What do you want?”
Rafe was terrified. It really was that guy. But he died, bled out on the street before paramedics could get to him.
“You. You took my life. Now it’s time for me to take yours.”
The figure approached the left side of Rafe’s bed. He wanted to get up and run, but he was petrified, both by terror and something the dead man was doing to him.
“Wait! I’ll do anything. Don’t kill me.”
Spectral hands enclosed around Rafe’s throat choking him. It was too late to call out and hope his Mom would hear. It was too late.
A minute later, Rafe’s lifeless body was lying collapsed on his bed, sightless, dead eyes still wide and staring. The ghost turned to go.
“Aren’t you forgetting something.”
The ghost turned back, first seeing Rafe’s corpse and then seeing Rafe, his spirit, standing at the foot of the bed.
“Now we’re both dead. I was only seventeen, you bastard. It was an accident. I didn’t mean to kill you but you murdered me in cold blood. We can’t kill each other anymore, but I can make your life hell for the rest of eternity.”
Rhonda Jefferson, Rafe’s Mom, moved out six months later. She couldn’t stand the sounds, the screams in the night, the curses as the two ghosts battled endlessly, night after night.
The house was impossible to sell. It’s been twenty years, and the place has finally been torn down, but the battle goes on. Two immortal spectres locked in an epic battle until Judgment Day and trumpets sound.
A few months back, I wrote a short story called Final Justice which was inspired by Black Sabbath’s Iron Man. My wee tale told of an armored hero who had been gunned down by the mob. His ghost came back and, as is typical for these sorts of stories, took revenge by executing his killers and then vanishing into nothingness.
It occurred to me this morning that if a dead person killed someone for revenge, then that person would also become a ghost. What’s to stop the second ghost from battling the first? Neither could die because they’re already dead. It would go on and on until the end of existence itself.
I borrowed the last line of my story from the film Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003). Seemed appropriate.