A man meets a Ghost (a short story)

The funeral had been grand. The ceremony had been beautiful. The eulogy from the Pastor wonderful. The conversation had been interesting. Three weeks had passed since the inheritance had been distributed and the estate fell to him, no money, no artifacts, just the house.

The man was getting on in years himself and he had been to too many funerals that death was something he had to consider more than he wanted to. This venture provided him with what he hoped would be a bit of a peaceful holiday. He had come across the county to see the place and evaluate its use. It would be a few days till the power would be turned on as the paper work went through but an opportunity presented itself to go and view the site so he took it. He didn’t realize the trip was as far as this. The sun was already going down when he arrived.  “Good thing I have the lantern in the trunk.”

The vast yard and driveway were a sight to behold, but the place looked mostly in disrepair. Aunt Mar had not been here for decades. The entryway was grand in its day but now the weather-beaten door was less impressive. He passed through the whole first floor with no incident, only the light of his lantern to shine the way. Very little furniture, the walls covered with old paper, and the floors as creaky as expected. The kitchen largely empty, no antiques to be found. The vast foyer, surely considered a vision at one point in the past but now the sand of time were all over the floor. He ascended the stairs and entered the dark parlor searching for anything of interest.

Passing thought the doorway the man slightly taken aback at the introduction, nearly dropping his lantern…

“I said hello” repeated the apparition.

The man trying to determine what his eyes were telling him. If he had glasses he would have cleaned them now to better assess the being before him. A man of light? No tentacles, no drool, no blood, no disfigurement in the slightest, no guttural sounds, no claws or fangs to see…no threat? The figure lacking the normal qualities that would frighten allowed the man to compose himself a little. “Um, hello…?” The man still could not shake the shake from his voice even with a subtle visible confirmation of safety.

He moved the lantern forward in hopes to help with his interpretation, but the light actually made it harder to see, so he lowered it again.

“It is nice to see you have not simply scampered off.” The ghost-thing appeared to smile. The old man again looked at what appeared to be a beautiful mouth of pearly whites.

“That would be a quite rational reaction I would suppose.” Said the man as if he was given a lecture, trying to use logic to calm himself but trailing off as he considered his words. That was the right answer but this was not the right situation. The ghost-like-thing simply nodded fixing his gaze. The man once more looked to see if he was perhaps missing some sort of trick, but not wanting to be rude he did not simply scan the room wanting to keep a semblance of eye contact. He looked the figure over, normal looking face, straight black hair, deep colorless eyes, almost handsome as he could figure, wearing what seemed to be a finely pressed suit but from what era or country he could not place. It was the subtle but distinctive emanating white light that gave it the ghostly qualities, that and he was slightly 6 inches off the floor, with little to no feet visible.

The man growing concerned that the vision had not continued his conversation and wanting to fill the awkward void he said. “So a ghost is it?” The man continued trying to muster some courage in his voice which still had a bit of a vibration but less so than before, this time attempting to locate the wires that fixed this joke in place; his mind would not let him leave this unanswered. At this the ghostly man did speak.

“Still don’t believe?” The phantom crossed his ethereal arms and switching into what would have been a stance with foot tapping, if any were present to tap.

The man continually calming himself and getting a hold of his senses, deciding that this was in fact a trick as the room was darkly lit and surely that any type of hoisting apparatus could be present in the blackness of the room. It was a spacious room. Trying to be cute and lighten the mood of his mind. “Well, It is all a bit much. I would think any normal chap would agree?” He wanted to sound skeptical while simultaneously trying to nail down what his suspicions were. He found that it gave him small command of the situation or at least his nerves.

The house was supposed to empty that much he knew, inheritances are only intact after the deceased have moved on, literally. His mind raced over who would be up to this kind of prank and to what end. Henry would not have the energy to muster quite a spectacle? 

Seeing that the man was trying to reason his own answer the figure of light spoke again. “No it was not Henry who set this up.”At this the man did roll back on his heels.

“You, yu…ha he…heard my thoughts?” The vibration had returned.

“I want you to trust what you eyes are telling you.” The apparition gave a smile this time that was not as friendly as the previous one. But it quickly changed and became somewhat similar to the first, but the seed was planted.

“Come-now, um…ghost man, if that is what you are?” The ghost-man merely smiled. “Why are you here, why now?” The ghost man remained silent letting the man reason aloud. “I have waited weeks before I came to check out the estate and here you are, now? How, why, who are you?” The man struggling to attach reason to this whole scenario. He forced a laugh to himself starting to visibly relax at the sound of his purpose in reviewing the property given by his late aunt. It was the only thing to fix on really.

“Who says I haven’t always been here?” The ghost said flatly putting his arms up at the possibility.

“Ah…so it is about the house then. A haunting?” The man thinking. “You want it? You making claim? Are you a late relative then?” The man’s mind racing through his massive family and who would possibly have desired the property. This made him grow impatient as he would have as if he was getting into an argument with a late relative. His sister wanted nothing to do with the property and he was surprised at how much emotion the plot was invoking. “The lot fell to me, no one else wanted this…” He realized no one else would have wanted it but the man realized that this was the only thing he truly had that was his own at this point in his long life.

“It is not for the estate that I am here.” The ghost man interrupted.

“Then what is it?” The man nearly shouting annoyed with himself at the realization of his own loneliness but still communicating as if he was indeed a late relative. “Is this supposed to be a bit of a scare?” The thing smiled again at this one.

“No sir, if that were the case, well…that would be evident by now.” That smile again…

“Then out with it, Mr. ghost” He said sheepishly. “I have a survey to conduct, this was not supposed to be a haunted house.” The man surprised at his rudeness to a stranger, but this stranger was stranger than most. He was trying to renew his confidence at the realization that he was so invested in a property that no one cared about.

“You are a particular one” The ghost said. “Well since you are so interested in my purpose let’s discuss it as the pleasantries are clearly aside at this point.” The man held his tongue a bit embarrassed at that remark. He was not a rude person, but the emotions invoked were clearly something he needed to think about.

The ghost switching to a sitting position still quite suspended in the air. “I am here simply to discuss…only, what you believe.”

“What I believe?” The man’s mind again went back to a conversation he had with Henry at the funeral about ghosts and the afterlife… “It seems this topic keeps coming up of late.” The man said still in reflection scratching his beard truly thinking, the old man was always up for a deep conversation.

“That is why I am here, it is of course always a topic that comes about with a funeral it seems.” The figure of light suddenly having a cup of tea in his hand taking a sip.

“I see.” said the man completely relaxed now, almost smiling. “I told Henry that I don’t believe in ghosts and he put you up to some mischief to get me to, seems like an awful fuss if you ask me…but I will grant this is quite a performance.” The man now fully convinced this was a trick let the snark flow freely. “Still, the cuppa was a nice touch…got any to share?” The man was quite pleased with himself.

“Quite true, now it is I being rude” Said the poltergeist. “Here.” With that a kettle appeared in his hand and he began pouring tea in an ethereal floating mug which he then handed out to the man.

The man now a bit stirred at the spectacle reached for the mug but his hand passed right through it. With a small yelp the man was very impressed and quite defeated in his logic, also a bit sad there would be no tea. “Blimey, my hand passes right through…” The man continued to paw at the mug but his hand simply would not make contact.

“I must apologize.” The wraith continued leaning back into himself. “While not a prank this performance did contain a subversion after-all, ha ha.” He paused for effect and the man’s mouth was agape at having letting some things be settled. “Now that I have your attention may we continue?”

“Sure…” Was all the man could muster the snark gone.

“As you now know, I am here because you do not believe in ghosts. Hopefully you now have adopted a view more like Henry’s?” The ghost-man stood looking down on the man returning to the sightless foot tapping, then starring to side, seemingly waiting the inevitable acceptance.

“Well I will admit that this is quite a scene to say the least, but I still want to know why you would care what I believe in such matters?” The man said now while scanning the room for a seat, enjoying a good discussion.The ghosts’ faced twisted in slight irritation at the rebuff.

“Come now sir, surely you are missing the point, you do not believe in ghosts and now one stands before you, have nothing to say?” The ghost visibly annoyed with the man’s failure to impress.

Recognizing that his viewpoint was the bargaining chip the old man held out on the stubborn front. He paused while finding an old chair behind the door with most of the padding rotted away and dragged it over before he responded.

“Well, there still stands numerous possible explanations of which I do not have proper time nor equipment to analyze.” He said sitting in the chair and placing the lantern down on the ground. “This could be a trick of light and projection, or perhaps a clever act that was prepared well before I arrived in this house… Obviously I do not have an answer but nor do I have all the information yet.” The man reached into his jacket and produced a pipe that he proceeded to light as he spoke, pausing to take a deep puff.

The specter in incredulity continued “So you are the analytical sort?” The ghost man shifted into a sitting position as well. “Well then let’s analyse, did I not read your thoughts earlier?” The ghost switched into a rocking motion on a chair that was not made for such motion.

“Well now that I think about it, that conversation did get a bit bigger than such topics ought, it was a known and quite embarrassing point of contention for my sister actually, ha ha.” The man took another puff given the time, seemingly enjoying the reminder of upsetting his sister.

“My knowledge was not hearsay, good sir” The words dragging from his white lips. “Does not the cup of tea convince?” The speed of the rocking sped up slightly of which the man took note.

“I do wish that the cup of tea was real, that is for sure, but that makes this yet another reason to be just a light show. My hand passed right through.” The man was beginning to enjoy himself.

“A light show?” At this the revenent stopped rocking. “Look!” He said and a sword appeared in his hand. He swung it low and around the room and then pointed it at the man. “Still confident?” The man was impressed by the sound of it cutting the wind as a real sword would. The man a bit spooked at first but then he remembered the tea and how he wasn’t enjoying any. So the man was still at an impasse.

“The sword is a grand feat, good sir, but the weightlessness of the blade doesn’t cause quite the same reaction as an actual rapier at my throat.” He said swallowing hard and pushing his hand quite through the other realm-ly blade making no contact at all. “There is much hidden in the darkness that I can’t ascertain. If I could have had the electricity turned on previous, perhaps this ruse would be revealed, it is most dark in here.”

“Ruse?!” At this the Phantasm stood up, the chair vanishing. “Sir this is no RUSE, your eyes and ears tell you that an apparition stands before you and you do not react, you are either a fool or stubborn as a bull-ox!”

“Well, my late wife would agree with the bull-ox comparison ha ha, but if I may, once again good Sir, Mr. ghost? If that is the name you wish to go by?…, I have acknowledged your presence with the conversation, but as to your true nature, I do not yet know.” He was honestly shrugging but thinking it through bidding his time.

“Let me help you then!” At this the ghost-thingy rose even higher in the room and the face twisted into such a vile creature that the man did visibly cry out. The teeth did produce fangs, the hands did grow claws and the arms grew longer than humanly possible, and the feet, the feet were still missing but the sound of his voice was the most frightening. The deep guttural echo that seemed to have difficulty speaking over the vile drool pouring from its mouth disappearing as it approached the actual ground. “YOU sss-aid that ghOsts coulD not-tt EXSIST becauSe tHe soul pasSes onto j-jjudgment, WELLLL…?”

The man curling aback at the scene, but somehow was also pricked at how the scene was more or less what he expected of a ghost, if it was indeed a scary one. “W-well…Ma, Mr. ghost.” Gathering his wits and picking himself and his pipe back off the floor. “As frightful as that was, I should still wonder what the purpose of this visit is, why does my belief count for anything among such a figure? Surely my belief does not alter your presence here now?”

The phantom slowly descending and changing into his former image, but looking more angrier than he had previously had. “Your belief is on trial here sir, you claim that ghosts do not exist and I am here to undue that folly.”

“I suppose I will put aside the obvious ‘why’ question then, for now, and simply say there are many kinds of spirits, as you hinted at in my original dialog?” The man searching for the dignity to reason. The Shade merely holding his gaze. “A human soul goes to judgment after passing on from this realm, but neither does a human soul represent that horrific picture you just shared.” The man averting his gaze so that he could continue.

“Since my belief is what is on trial here I will say that I do believe that human souls, which are what ghosts are supposed to be, they do not posses the freedom of trespass to jolly back into the human world to do as they please.”

“Ridiculous MAN!, Surely my presence here now, must mean that you rethink that position?!” The ghost returned to the rocking chair with what would have been a stomping sound if there was floor underneath and feet to stamp with.

“Well good Mr. ghost I will not debate your ability to scare, I freely admit that.” The man said dabbing his brow trying to emphasize good. “But your presence here simply to win a debate strikes me as well… queer, and that does affect my belief.” He wasn’t prepared to concede anything yet.

“Perhaps, I am the ghost of a politician or a lawyer.” Mr. ghost forced a smiled yet again, but more wraith-like than Casper.

“Simply for the rush of debate then?” The man sat back in his chair at this. “Well why would you want to debate a deeply held belief that another holds dearly or…what if, I were to simply say that you were a ghost? Would I be able to leave then?”

“Surely the truth matters to one such as yourself?” The ghost getting back into a familiar rocking motion in his chair which now had the added effect of wood creaking. It was true, the mystery was what was keeping the man.

“Well you got me there, Mr. ghost, I do care about the truth, but it is the very reason I hold the view I do.” The man no longer interested in discovering the trick, but standing for his beliefs, took out some more tobacco to refill his pipe which had spilled on his unfortunate meeting with the floor at the apparitions change.

“My very presence should suffice as evidence at a more excellent truth than your belief.” The ghost-wraith continued rocking with another cup of tea in his hand now.

“Well again Mr. ghost your presence is undeniable, but the good book teaches that after death comes the judgment as you quoted me saying.” The man held out his pipe as if it was an object lesson sticking to his guns.

“Ah, and it comes out doesn’t it, the good book?” Mr. Ghost clapped his hands with a sound effect ringing sightly off time. “Does it still stand under this scrutiny? Here beholden of you, a ghost clearly not held in judgment!” The rocking continued and the smile grew almost too big for the face.

The man taking a long puff before continuing. “Well since I do not doubt the good book.” The ghost gave an unfamiliar twisting of his face at this. “I do not believe your story that you are a ghost of a lawyer or a politician. Because what would that have to do with me here now, and further what does that say about you. Is the after life so droll that you merely want to torment and persuade decent fellows?” The man staring more at his pipe now that it’s warmth was filling the room.

“Motives, you want motives about an inquiry while still denying the very truth in front of you?” The ghost spat as if he was working on some tobacco of his own.

The man shifted in his seat once again attempting to find the comfort there between the springs before answering. “The point here as I see it, good Mr. ghost, is that you have revealed that my belief is of more import rather than explaining yourself to me, which makes your motives all the more interesting indeed. Furthermore this leads me to suspect that the nature of your hidden motive grants me passage to the exact nature of your being.” If the ghost could have coughed he would have at this point, but he simply stared in wonder at the insight.

The man continued, looking through the smoke filling the room. “The question why a being cares about someone’s belief gives insight to his most cloaked nature. It is not my belief that is on trial here but your motives which have given way to your essence.” The man wished he also was in a rocking chair at which point he would have begun rocking happily himself. Instead he just smiled blowing more smoke.

“You still want to know what I am while ignoring all the sign-posts? Well I suppose if you ignore the facts my nature might yet seem a thing for searching, but then that might also make me think that you are too simple to read whats been given him.” The spirit began tapping his fingers together in succession as if quite pleased with himself.

“If we are all the way to the bottom already that insults are what we are exchanging, then I suppose…” He paused eyeing him intently. “A simple mind is what we are dealing with indeed, pity I thought you more…” At this the Spirit once again flew up into the air quite enraged indeed. The formal transformation took place again and with all the bile he could muster in a non-physical sense, he said:

“You LITTLE man, you know nothing of the afterlife and yet you think to outwit ME? I…I shall not be deterred by your own SiMple testings. For Henry’s belief is true and you are a foolish man who holds to fairy tales rather than recognize the deeper reality to this world. Ghosts are real and they are too be HEEDED!” The threat trailed off in the end as the ghost descended once again.

The hairs again stood up on his neck but the man had settled some things. “So we are further down to threats is it?” His mind was gaining knowledge but his body was quite shaken. He used his words to comfort his fright. “Just as impressive as the first time.” He said. “But I think I am quite satiated with my knowledge, especially after that ghoulish outburst.”

“How so?…” The Ghost fumed echoing the room.

“A ghost would not have such convictions over the fairy tales that I believe in, the good book would not have such impact on an ethereal lawyer, because a lawyer that passed on would be stuck in judgment as I said, not free to traipse the countryside.”

The ghost was getting angry again.

“You have revealed your nature, and it is not in the least bit ghostly.”

“THeN Tell ME what stands BEfoRe yoU!” The rage coming through, while he continued floating for emphasis.

“It was the heeding that confirmed it, you are a demon!” The man said with some concern returning to his features.

“A demon?” The ghost regained his composure, returning to his seat. “More of this good book nonsense?” It was forced now, the man could tell.

“Yes.” The man replied as a matter of fact.

The demon-ghost giggled, switching tactics. “Do tell.”

“You have revealed knowledge of my previous conversation, which as I have hinted at would be of no import to a friendly spirit, but a non-friendly one? A demon, well they have a vested interest in what mankind believes.” The demon tried to respond but the man cut him off. “A demon hates that man believes in God, but would not want to reveal his own existence as such because it would point to their most feared enemy: God himself!”

The demon winced at the mention of God but tried to play it off, slowly losing ground.

“A ghost would have no afterlife significance, except to undermine that very idea that souls have a responsibility to answer to God!” The demon recognized his mistake.

“Furthermore, as I said to our dear Henry. The kind of belief you are trying to birth in me, has resulted in Henry with nothing but distraction.” The demon frowned at this fact and his folly.

Crossing his legs the man continued. “Henry is so obsessed with that kind of afterlife that he does not take the good book seriously or take the time to learn basic doctrine as any good Christian ought. That desired result would not be the cause of a ghost, but of a demon. And with that, I can no longer call you good.”

“A demon then.” It said. “But why not good, can I not share with you earthy wonders and wonders beyond? Would that not interest one so astute as yourself?” But the confidence from his voice was gone.

“No it would not. I admit, it does peek a curiosity as it does with our dear Henry but my allegiance lies elsewhere. My hope is elsewhere, my truth is elsewhere. So begone spirit I have work to do here!” At this the demon rose up again taking his other form.

“yOUR confiDENCE does NOT shAKe me, mere MORTAL! YOur RAce wiLL FAll. IF not YOu? then THe MANY like HENRY will coNTINUE to distracTION!” The demon rising to its full height in his hideous facade once again, but it lacked the threat that was contained in its words.

Drawing from an other worldly strength himself the man said. “Begone Devil , I know that my redeemer lives! There is no other name than Jesus that man must be saved and Henry will continue to hear that from me!” The apparition vanished with something of a wail and the room was once again left to the darkness except that of the lantern which he had brought and the smoke he had made.

The man decided to end his survey for a brighter morning and began descending the stairs to the lobby again dabbing his brow. “I really need that cup of tea now.”

3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough…

14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. (2 Cor 11)

The man recalling the Pastor’s sermon at the funeral muttered to himself know what you believe and why…Thank you Jesus.

thanks

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