F-bomb dropped twice in this chapter, just warning ya :3
I swallowed, staring up at the man standing over me. I wasn’t sure I heard right. Surely he had said ‘I’m going to finish you’ or something. But then he said, “Finish the song, ghost.”
I looked down at the keys, my hands shaking so much I wasn’t sure if I could even play. I considered going not solid and throwing myself down through the floorboards but I had no idea how quick he was. And plus he seemed to be able to read minds because he said, “And don’t even think of escaping. You’ll be sucked into the Nether before you can even get down through that piano bench. Finish. The. Song.”
I swallowed again and pressed a key, wincing as it was the wrong key. I felt that gun thing push more against my head. Calmcalmcalm. I began playing, starting the song over from the beginning to give me more time to think. Maybe throw myself back through him? What if I fling myself forward? What sort of range is the gun? My fingers flew across the keys, playing the song by Liszt. Unfortunately it wasn’t a very long song and I loved it too much to play it very slow. So before I could think of a way to escape, I finished it.
Slowly I lifted my hands and stood up. The gun stayed on me, the hunter’s eyes narrowed behind his goggles. “Please…” My voice was so weak I wasn’t sure he could even hear me. “Please d-don’t kill me… please… I don’t w-want to die… please…”
“You’re a ghost. You’re already dead.”
“N-no… I know… I m-mean I w-w-w-want to stay… here… and not go to th-the Nether…world… please…” I looked up at him, tears dripping down my cheeks. I lowered myself to my knees, pressing my hands together, staring up at his face. “Please! I never both–bother anyone! I’m good! I’m–I’m–please–don’t–kill–me!”
“How can you play the piano so clearly? And still see me?” he demanded.
“Uh–wh–what?” I sniveled. “Wh–what do you m-mean?”
“You’re either a residual ghost, or an intelligent ghost.”
“Um–w-w-well–I’m not–that–smart,” I said and his face twisted up into obvious confusion. “So–I g-guess–residual… wh-whatever that is.”
“You are interacting with me, it is impossible for you to be a residual haunting, therefore you are an intelligent haunting. I see you are male. I assume you are John Miller, therefore…” He pressed the gun against my head again and more tears came down. I realized now that some of the sicky-weird feeling when I had returned was not JUST from my emotions but also from the little warning I sometimes got when someone was here… and I had just ignored it not realizing that that’s what it was, and now I was gonna die for it. “You are going into the Netherworld.”
“NO!” I grabbed his arm and began sobbing. “PLEASE! I’m n-n-n-n-not John! M-my name is Chance! N-not John!”
But he was just staring now, staring at my hand on his wrist. Slowly he began jerking his arm until he got free from my hold. “You touched me,” he whispered.
“I’m s-s-s-sorry! It w-w-won’t happen a–“
“How the hell can you–touch me so fully? Seeing your interaction with the piano, you have some semblance of solidity but–to such an extent is unheard of.” He was now inspecting his arm where I had touched, poking at his wrist with his other gloved hand.
“Sir, please…” I linked my fingers together, squeezing my hands tight, pressing them against my chin, staring up at this hunter with tearful eyes. “Sir. Please. I’m a g-g-good ghost… I s-swear… I’m n-not bad… I don’t d-d-do bad things… w-well once I p-pulled the hair of s-someone who was here but–I didn’t hurt them… I haven’t h-hurt anyone… Sir…”
Now he was staring at me again. I could see the bewilderment in his face and before I could react, his hand jerked out and grabbed one of my wrists. I yelped, but didn’t try to pull away. I worried if I tried to fight he might kill me… but since he hadn’t yet… maybe I could convince him to let me go.”I can touch you,” he said.”How… this isn’t… Okay. Maybe my… equipment is malfunctioning somehow…” He began inspecting his suit again and then pushed up his goggles, fixing a small flashlight on the arm of his suit. Then he froze then stared down at me. His eyes were enormous and his jaw dropped. “I can see you.”
“Y… yes… you… c-could before…” I wasn’t sure what he was blabbing on about.
He let go of my arm then put his goggles back on, then took them off, then put them on, then took them off. “I can see you!” Then he reached into his ear and pulled out a little electronic-y looking thing. “Speak!” he snarled in a very commanding tone.
“Uhhhh–woof, woof?!” I yelped, panicked completely.
“I can hear you.” He pulled a matching electronic-y looking thing out of his other ear and put them in his pocket, then put his goggles in the pocket, and then slowly removed one glove. “Don’t move, ghost.” As soon as he poked my forehead with his finger, he gave a startled cry and leaped back. “WHAT–THE–FUCK?!”
I stayed where I was, not sure why he was freaking out so much. “Sir–“
“SHUT UP!” He was examining his finger now, as if expecting it to look different. I kept my mouth closed and still remained kneeling on the floor. “I can see you, without the goggles. I can hear you, without the mics. I can touch you… how is… how the… that’s not… That’s not normal.” He eyed me all suspiciously now. “What are you? You’re not an abnormal coloring. Perhaps if you had been killed in a supernatural way I might believe what is going on but you’re just one of the deaths by cancer or something.”
“I–I’m just… me…” I whimpered. “I’m not–I don’t–I’m n-not sure how to…” I breathed in and out slowly, for the calming effect. “I w-was born a ghost… my d-dad was a ghost… and he and my mom… had me… and I w-w-was like this, I’ve always b-b-been like this.”
“Impossible.” His eyes narrowed more and he leaned forward, inspecting me from a few inches away. Not touching me. “My father told me there was a ghost or two who had undergone experimentation and therefore were different. Are you one of them?”
“N–no! I’m not an ex-experiment. My dad… died. A long, long t-time ago. And then was b-brought back. By genies, I think. And time traveled with a detective. And then married my mom. And then had my sister. And th–oh, she’s a living normal person. And then they had me. And… and… I’m l-like this…”
He stared at me with the most disbelieving look I had ever seen in my life. “Genies,” he said flatly. “Time travel. Right.”
“I should just kill you,” he said, and raised the gun again.
I flinched back. “No! P-please, sir, please! I–I want to live–or–whatever it is I’m d-doing! I won’t be a bother! I’m–I’m–please–please!”
He looked into my tear-stained face and slowly lowered the gun. “Hmph. I suppose… instead… I should… figure out… why you’re different.”
“Shut up.” He ran his still-gloved hand through his hair then began stroking his beard. “I don’t like this at all. This…” He then made a strangled, pained cry.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
“What?! Yes! Why?”
“You sounded in pain.”
“I’m trying to think.”
“Oh. Does thinking cause you pain? Sometimes it does me.”
He gave me a strange look at that then growled, “First off, ghosts can’t feel pain. Second–“
“Oh, but I can.”
“I can feel pain.” I slowly stood up, hands up a bit in a surrendering style. “I feel loads of things. Sadness and joy and love and pain and heartache and–“
“No. Ghosts cannot feel such things,” he said heatedly.
“You’ve admitted I’m not a normal ghost,” I reminded him quietly. “But even normal ghosts can feel emotions. I’ve been around a lot. Trust me. There’s a lot of emotion there. Have you ever sat down to talk to a ghost? Oh, I suppose not since you can’t really see or hear them…”
“I can see them… and hear them. With my equipment,” he said, patting the pocket where the ear thingies and goggles went. “That is not the point though. The point is… what am I going to do? I was sent here to get rid of the angry ghost.”
“John Miller?” I asked curiously. “I haven’t seen any other ghosts around here. Oh, but…” Even in the dim light I could tell by his face I was annoying him, so I decided not to say anything about the strange sounds I sometimes heard.
“In any case, you’re the ghost I found. I’m supposed to send you to the Netherworld. The owner of this place…” He trailed off and rubbed his beard again. “Except you are not normal. I should take you to the labs and have you studied.”
“N–no!” I gasped. “Please d-don’t! I don’t wanna be all… E.T.! Or something. I’m not a living human being but I’m still h-human and you sh-shouldn’t do–“
“Shut up!” he snapped and I went silent. “However… I can’t just bring you in like this. I don’t even know if my boss would want to. I might just get yelled at for not zapping you right away.” He squinted at me, frowning hard behind his beard. “If I leave you here, you might leave or… no. I cannot leave you here. Well, there’s nothing to it. You’re coming with me, then.”
“NO!” I backed up a bit, hands trembling. “Please! I don’t w-want to be experimented on!”
“No, to my house,” he said, sounding very exasperated. “I’ll keep you there a few days. I’ll tell my boss I cleared this place of the ghost (besides, I haven’t found any other indication of a major haunting other than you) and then get a feel of whether I should bring you in. Yes. And if not, I’ll send you to the Netherworld.”
“N-no… no!” I shook my head, backing up slightly. “No. I’m n-n-not going to g-go just to be either an ex-experiment or–sent to d-death!”
“You do not have a choice,” he said. The he moved so fast I didn’t have time to react. He pulled something out of another pocket and something snapped around my wrist. I lifted my arm, staring at the handcuff. I looked at the hunter then scowled, making my arm go all not-solid, expecting to hear a clank as it fell to the floor… but it didn’t fall. The hunter smirked, and I raised my arm again. The handcuff was still there despite me being not solid. I concentrated harder, but nothing happened.
“Whaaaa? How…? Whuhh?” I began flailing my arm wildly then tried to push the handcuff off but it wouldn’t slide past my hand. I pushed harder, giving the hunter a desperate look. He gave me a very strange look. Kinda upset, it almost seemed like, and very confused. “L-l-l-l-let me go… please… please.”
I made a decision, and went completely un-solid then slid down through the floor quickly. I went down fine–until the handcuff hit the floor. It refused to go through the floor but it wouldn’t come off my wrist, so I was left dangling through the ceiling of the second floor. The hunter grasped the handcuff and hauled me back up to where he was. I was standing close to him now, his fingers going through my wrist. “Plea–“
“Shut up.” He pulled a chain out of his pocket and connected it to the handcuff. “You fight too much maybe I’ll just throw you into the Nether. Now, come on.” He began dragging me. I dug my now-solid heels into the floor but he was much stronger than me. Then I put my legs through the floor and made them all solid but all that happened was I was being pulled in two different directions. The hunter gave me an annoyed look, tugged at the chain, then headed down the stairs. I went not-solid and numbly followed him.
Watcher-Reaper-nonononono, I thought, tears falling to the floor. Experimented on, like an alien or something in the movies–or killed. My only two options… I don’t want to die! I don’t want to be experimented on! Maybe I could convince him to free me… maybe I could escape. I sniffled loudly then began sobbing again. The hunter jerked the chain and told me I better stop crying. I tried, but it wasn’t easy. “I d-d-d-don’t want to die,” I choked out. “Please. Just let me g-g-go!”
He yanked the chain and spun me close to him, so we were practically nose-to-nose. “Look here, ghost. You don’t have any choice in this matter. You’re dead anyway.”
“I’m–not!” I began struggling violently and the moment my body pushed against his he backed up. “Look! I just want–I want to–I’m not a real ghost, I am not a living person but I am not a normal ghost, you’ve admitted it and–please!! LET ME GO!”
For a split-second I thought maybe he would. He stared straight into my eyes and my non-existent heart skipped a beat… (or something) but then he shook head head, and kept pulling me along. He dragged me outside and into a van which had a little logo on the side declaring it to be ‘EGHB’. There was something familiar about that… something somewhere in the dark… distant parts of my brain. Something that had been said a long, long time ago. But I just couldn’t remember. The back of the van was opened and he pushed me in, attaching the chain to part of the interior.
Then, the trip. I tried hard to get away but every little part of the van I touched I couldn’t go through. It must’ve been made of the same stuff my handcuffs were made out of. So after an hour or something like that, I curled up on my side and sobbed. The hunter could hear me since the thing between the front seat and the back was slightly open. I could hear the music he was playing. He played some weird music for a while but then switched over to something I knew to be Chopin. I stared bleakly at the back of the hunter’s head. How come someone could listen to something so beautiful but be so horrible?
I cried for a very, very long time and then wound up falling asleep. I woke up when the van stopped. The hunter woke me up and told me if I didn’t stay silent, I would be in a lot of trouble. He pulled the chain, dragging me outside into the cold night air.
I blinked, looking around. I had no idea where we were but that didn’t surprise me. What did surprise me was that the building we were in front of looked more like a house than… a ghost hunting headquarters. I turned my head but the only other building nearby was a bit aways and was another house. “Wh–” I started but he jerked the chain, hissing slightly.
“I said be quiet. I don’t want her to wake up.” Who? I wondered. His wife? I was dragged not to the front door but to the stairs that let to a small second floor porch and a door. The hunter unlocked this door then stepped in. I tried to follow but the moment I went through the door I felt a zappy sort of feeling that made me all weak. I fell to the porch, gasping and moaning. “Be quiet!” he said. “I haven’t turned the anti-ghost perimeters off, idiot.” I heard him doing something that made beepy sounds. I tried to move but could not move any part of my body. “There. Oh Reaper.” I felt myself being dragged by the chain through the doorway and into the house. Then the door shut, and he did the beepy-noises-thing once more. There was a humming sound that faded.
“Ahhhh…” I began to get the feeling back in my body. The hunter just watched me as I pushed myself up to my feet. I rubbed my head then glowered at him. “You could have warned me, you know.”
He turned on the lights and I finally got a good view of him. He was a lot younger than I originally thought, maybe only a few years older than me. Except he had this full beard that I wanted to touch. It looked so fuzzy…
So I liked facial hair.
It was one of the things I liked about William, the feel of his stubble against my cheeks. And this beard was like… fifty zillion times more. The hunter’s jaw tightened under the hair. “What the hell are you staring at, ghost?”
“Your beard,” I replied honestly.
“My–what? Why?!” His entire body tensed up now and he looked angry.
I shivered and moved back. “Uh–s-sorry! I… I just… think it looks… awesome.”
He didn’t move for quite some time and then I noticed he was relaxing a bit. “Yes,” he finally said. “It is. Now come here.” He didn’t even wait for me to respond, he just grabbed my arm and unhooked the handcuff. “Don’t even try to–” He didn’t finish. I just went un-solid and tried to sink down through the floor. But I couldn’t. I went down just maybe a quarter of an inch then stopped. The hunter snorted and turned away from me, heading farther into the apartment. “Tried to tell you,” he muttered.
“So this is the place I’m going to be experimented in?” I asked, peering curiously around at all the furniture.
“No. Reaper, you are an idiot, aren’t you?” He folded his arms and stared me down. “You’re staying at my place until I get a feel from my boss whether or not experiments would be happening. If not, I don’t want to waltz in there with you saying ‘Oh look I didn’t do my job’.”
“So I wait here until you or someone else decides what to do with me.” I folded my arms as well, and tried staring him down but he was a much more intimidating person than I was. “And I get no say in this at all.”
“You’re a ghost.”
“So you keep saying but you want to experiment on me cause I’m not a normal ghost, and don’t you think because I’m not a normal ghost I deserve better treatment? And my own say in things?” I switched from the glare to a wide-eyed innocent look. I was pleased that it seemed to make him slightly uncomfortable. “I have my own thoughts and feelings and everything… I’m my own person… I–I’ve gone through a lot of things! Happy times and sad times and good times and bad times and love and heartache… just because my heart’s not like yours doesn’t mean… doesn’t…” But I stopped since I realized it was stupid to keep going on like this. I wasn’t going to convince him.
“Regardless of all that,” he said when I stopped talking, “you’re still a ghost. You are the memories of one who has died long ago, and are nothing more than that. Perhaps you were a supernatural being?” He looked at me and I just pouted. “But no matter what… you are still not what you once were. Memories. No more. Removing you from this world is nothing more than burying the corpse. Now then. A few rules. One, don’t touch anything. I want as little spiritual residue on my things as possible. Two….” He ran his fingers through his hair, pushing back some of his hair which just fell back into place. “Actually. That’s it. No touching anything. Got it?”
“Yes sir,” I said meekly then frowned. “But um one thing… I’m touching the floor… aren’t I? Am I supposed to just float? And whether I do that or not… I’m touching the air… right? So… I mean, should I… not…? But how can I not? I suppose I could go all not-solid but then would I still be touching something I mean, with all the little mini-micro-orby things in the air floating through me and besides I was all over the floor when you hauled me through the doorway and I touched that handcuff thing cause it was on my wrist… and I touched you earlier, and you touched me and–“
“Are you ever quiet?!” he yelped.
We stared at one another and then he sighed. “Okay so no touching anything other than… air… and… floor, whatever.”
“Where am I sleeping?” I followed him through the living room, eying the TV with interest.
“You don’t sleep,” he said as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. “You… you’re a ghost. Ghosts don’t sleep.”
“I like to sleep though. It’s all cozy. Except when I have nightmares.”
“Ghosts don’t have nightmares–WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING?!” He stared at me with horror as I curled up on the couch.
“This couch is comfy.”
“I JUST TOLD YOU NOT TO TOUCH ANYTHING!! OUT! OFF! GET OFF!” He pointed at the floor and I slid off the couch, mumbling an apology. “REAPER you’re like a PUPPY or something!”
“Puppies are cute,” I said and his eyes bugged out of his head.
“No. I hate puppies.”
“Oh. Well. Kitties are cute too.”
I think he wanted to strangle me or something. “I don’t like kitties either.”
“Oh. Do you like anything?”
I really couldn’t figure out the look on his face but it was kinda amusing. “What I like,” he said slowly, “is none of your business. What I like… is for you… not to touch… anything.”
“Oh. Um. So… wait… I’m confused… it’s none of my business but you told me and–errr, s-sorry,” I squeaked when I saw he went back to looking like he was going to strangle me. “So, um, wh-what about the TV? Can I… w-watch TV…?”
“No that would require touching it, or the remote. I’m going to bed. I don’t want to hear a peep from you, got it?” I nodded and watched him go through a door. As soon as it shut, I whispered, “Peep.” I didn’t think he’d hear me but the door was flung open and he stormed back in, hands in the air like he was gonna go for my throat. I threw myself back, going through the couch and kneeling on the other side of it, eyes huge as I stared up at him. He took in deep breaths then slowly lowered his arms. He opened his mouth then shut it, not saying a word. Just giving me a look. Then he went back to his room and slammed the door shut, leaving me on my own in this prison.