Creaking floorboards make their noises in the night, as ghostly traffic makes its way back and forth along the long abandoned corridors. Ancient flock wallpaper hangs from the walls, curled at the corners. Outside comes shouts and singing from drunken teens as they walk past the decrepit building towards a petrol station outside of town. Trees hang limply, like failing titans, lined up in crooked rows around the mansion. Once it was a grand estate. Now it has come to this. Now it is haunted with the music of hopeless abandon, as the decades tear flesh from bone.
To the ghosts it is homely, and there is no place like it. Curtains dance in the afterlife’s gentle breeze, the sky is tinted red. Crows sit in the branches of trees, and butterflies dance with the angels. There is the sound of ether flowing nearby, and the pleasant feeling that all is right with the world (hereafter).
The angels, when they tire of the butterflies, eat them, and flit away into the shadows, winged-monkey forms shrieking in laughter. The ghosts sit chatting in the patio, watching the black orb of the sun set.
“There are guests due?” a little one says.
“That Rab, was always good at the pre-emptive. We can rely on his gut feelings,” explains Concordance.
“Not got any guts to have feelings with mind,” says Rose.
Tres, who has been fading in and out of each world keeping an eye on everything just watches them, as they debate.
“Are you in Tres?”
All of the fade back to the world. Here the full moon shines silver (not black), and the sun shines with light (instead of darkness). Here the wind is cold and chilling.
All move through the house following each other in quiet expectation. Waiting for the moment to come. Then cries break the silence, and the sound of laughter draws closer.
The ghosts watch as six youths stagger towards the building, each with bottles of this and that in their hands. Laughing and joking with each other.
Suddenly screams echo through the night. The scream of blue murder. Smashing, screaming, and then in terror the ghosts depart back to their realm, unsure what to make of the youths. Only Tres remains, having become accustomed to them, but chuckles at the unexpected result. Kids are scarier than us these days, she thinks, but can do nothing but watch as they smash bottles and stab each other, then all tumble away into the night. Their screams follow them into the darkness, till all is left is that note of darkness and nothingness.
By Gregory Alter