Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2091570
Nothing seems amiss...just empty sets of glass panes, no faces staring back at me
|Word Count 830|
The house stands quietly, as it has for years now. It’s over a hundred years old and to my knowledge, no one has lived there in nearly a decade, but still it’s cared for—the lawn’s never long and the paint never peels. I don’t know who does it, but obviously someone loves this place.
I stand at the edge of the sidewalk, wanting to go further, but somehow fearing I’ll be caught trespassing. In truth, this road isn’t frequented by a lot of drivers to begin with and if someone were to pass, it almost certainly wouldn’t be the owner. But still I stand.
I’m not going in, for that would warrant a criminal record and that’s certainly not me. But I’m curious. I’ve been watching those ghost hunting shows on television and eventually got around to downloading several ‘ghost identifying’ apps. I tried them at home, but had no idea if they were working. One seemed to bring up nothing, another only sporadic ‘data’ that told me nothing, and still another two were deleted when I found them to be obviously bogus. And I stand.
I search the windows for a sign that someone is home—otherworldly or not. There seems to be nothing amiss…just empty sets of glass panes, no faces staring back at me. I’m relieved…or not. I’m not sure. A face would indicate either an owner or a ghost and both would dictate that I return to my own home. But I have no excuse.
I pull up my cell phone and click to one of the apps. It randomly (or not) generates words, but nothing is coming up. At home, there were only the occasional words, but they didn’t tend to meet with answers to my questions.
“Is anyone here?” Pause. “Hello. Can you hear me?” Pause.
Nothing fills the screen. I take a tentative step forward. Nothing happens and I decide I’m being ridiculous. If I want to know if these apps really work, I should get close enough that the ghosts can hear me. I make my way half way to the house. Still, nothing, or no one, stares back at me from the windows. No branch from a nearby tree comes crashing down to block my advancement.
“Are these ghost apps real?”
Again, I wait and nothing happens. I move up the stairs of the porch and notice the slightest movement from the porch swing. I wonder if that’s from me or a ghost. My stomach rumbles, startling my nerves. I smile to myself, realizing it was a mistake to miss breakfast.
“Hello. I just wanted to test out my ghost apps here. I hope you don’t mind.”
Suddenly “HUNGRY” appears on the screen. My blood chills. Was this coincidence? Or is there a spirit of some sort nearby. And I certainly hope that word referenced my grumbling stomach and not his intent to eat me.
“Yes, I’m hungry. I missed breakfast.”
“IMPORTANT” appears. I’m sure what that means. What is important?
“What’s important?” I ask.
“Yes, food is certainly important. And breakfast is the most important meal of the day, or so they say.” I chuckle at my joke. The ghosts probably hadn’t seen the many advertisements teaching us this.
“Who are you?”
There’s a long pause before a name fills the screen. “ROBERT.”
“You’re Robert? Nice to meet you. I’m Angela.”
I hadn’t asked a question, but “MICHAEL” appears on the screen.
For a moment I’m confused. Then I ask, “Are there more than one of you?” Or perhaps it was the ghost’s middle name. This whole thing, though fascinating, certainly wasn’t as simple as a phone call.
A breeze starts to blow and a chill runs through me. How could I be in the presence of so many entities and not have any idea? The thought creeps me out. What else don’t I know?
“Are you all nice?”
I chastise myself for forgetting. The machine can’t answer yes/no questions.
My adrenaline begins filling my bloodstream. Even my unshaven leg hair seems to be pressing against my clothing in an effort to escape. I tell myself I’m being silly and try to formulate another question to help the spirits move on to another topic.
“Are you all the owners of the house or the slaves?”
Thoroughly scared now, I’m sure the ghosts are having a big laugh at my expense, until the final word appeared on the screen.
I get annoyed whenever I get call from someone I don’t know, but it’s becoming less frequent now that I’ve gotten in contact with most of my old friends and I’ve put their numbers in my new phone. By the way, it turns out sometimes people do drive down that old road. The coach of the local track team asked me if I was interested in joining. But I never did answer him. I was a little busy at the time.