A continuation from my last blog: The Skull for VampLit #FridayFlash topic: Death. This is work-in-progress – working title. The Undead Muse: biography of a ghost.
Monique: The biography of a ghost.
“Oh… hello Monique.” I answered without turning my head from the computer screen.
Are you not pleased to see me?
“I would have been an hour and half ago. You’re late.”
She giggled. “The late Monique Patrise. Sorry, something came up.”
“What could possibly come up? You’re dead for heaven’s sake. What were you doing? Having sex and forgot the time?”
The phantom hissed at me. “I should be so lucky,” she continued. “If you think being a ghost is easy, you should try it.”
Acutely aware of the sudden drop in temperature, I turned to face the spectral form. “And if you think sitting here in summer wearing three sweaters waiting for a ghost that doesn’t show is fun…”
An overwhelming sense of sadness brought a lump into my throat. “Stop that!” I said. “You know you have an unfair advantage putting emotions directly into my head.”
“Awww!” the mood in the room brightened. “Kiss and make up?” she added.
“Okay.” I shut my eyes and grimaced as I felt the icy touch of dead lips press against my cheek.
“Friends?” she asked.
“Friends,” I confirmed. “So, tell me, what came up to delay you.”
“Well, nothing really. It’s just that time passes differently when you’re dead.”
“How do you mean? Is haunting so time-consuming?”
“No, I guess not. Not like that, anyway.”
“Well, it’s like being in limbo. You understand what limbo is?”
“I believe it’s supposed to be like a waiting area between this world and the next isn’t it?”
“Waiting is a good analogy,” she answered. “It always feels like I’m waiting for something, but I don’t know what. I’m trying to look through a swirling grey mist into the world I left behind. A fading black-and-white film that won’t run at a constant speed. Sometimes the projector runs so slow I think it has stopped, other times it flashes images so quickly I can’t keep up. It’s impossible to know the time, to keep an appointment. I thought I’d be closer to the time you arranged than an hour and half though.”
I looked at the clock on the computer screen. “Actually, you’re just over an hour late. I guess time is only important to those still living. Do you have an awareness that forty-two years have passed since your death?”
“It feels more like eternity. I still remember my life leading up to my death with vivid clarity, but it feels like I’ve been in this limbo for ever.”
“Can you tell me what it’s like to die?”
“I can, if you are sure you want to hear. My death was horrific. I don’t know if every death is as bad.”
“You told me the events leading up to your murder. I’m more interested to hear how you realized you were dead.”
“At first I didn’t. Pain in my chest, the terror from being unable to breathe was totally overwhelming. I felt dizzy as if my head was spinning. I think that was when I began to lose awareness of time. The pain and terror seems to stay in my memory forever. I can still experience it now if I think about it. At some point the pain stopped, a bit like waking up from a bad nightmare. I was aware of lying on the ground listening to the two men talking. They were arguing; blaming each other for killing me. I wanted to get up, tell them I wasn’t dead, but it felt too much trouble. Let them blame each other, get themselves worked up about it I thought. I wanted them to suffer as I had.
“After a bit they calmed down. They got some equipment from their van. The night was dark. I remember seeing a quarter moon through tree branches. I watched them working for some time before I understood they were digging me a grave. Not wanting to be buried alive, I called out to them, not too loudly at first, ‘Hey, I’m not dead.’ They took no notice, so I started calling louder and louder. Still they ignored me. This was when I thought they were ignoring me on purpose just to scare me. I tried to stand, but was unable to move. There was no sensation, no feeling in my body, no sensation of damp grass or cold air on my skin. It was like being paralysed, I guessed, maybe through severe injury to my back? I could still hear the thuds of their shovels and the occasional words they spoke.
“Eventually, they stopped digging. One of them took my arms and the other my feet. Although I felt nothing, I knew from the movement of tree branches they had lifted me. I screamed. I heard their strained breathing, I heard my scream, but they appeared not to.
“There was a thud as they dropped me into the ground. I could still see them silhouetted above me. One of the men lowered the sharp edge of a spade slowly as if getting it into position. Then he kicked down sharply with his foot. There was a crunch and a jolt and I was suddenly able to sit up.
“Earth and stones rained down from their shovels as I climbed out of the grave. It was shallow, no more than a metre deep, so I had no problem. I looked down and saw my naked body. My head was turned away to the side, unnaturally twisted, and I could see where he used the spade to sever it from my neck. That was the point I knew I was dead. I sat on the grass bank and wept. They didn’t see me; just threw the stuff in their van and drove away.”
© 2011 Robert A. Read
Word count – 997