Halloween Short Story
Written by: Nimika Bhatnagar, Christy Morley, Brittany Redd, Audrey Francis-Plante
Things started to get really interesting after I died.
There was pain. Pressing into my heart like a bed of thorns, but only briefly. Then I was in the middle of the woods, with the sun setting behind the trees. Orange and silky against the frozen branches.
I wasn’t cold, hungry, or afraid.
Even though someone was burying my corpse.
A woman I’d never seen before was throwing shovels of earth and snow without the use of a shovel. She just waved with her hands and the earth hovered and piled onto my body. Blood stained my shirt—on my corpse, not my ghost.
When she was done, she took an envelope out of her pocket, and read the piece of paper inside, kneeling. Her voice was just a whisper, so I couldn’t hear the words, but it sounded like a mysterious incantation.
Then she walked away with a little metal box in her hands. I followed.
She got into her car and I instinctively walked through the door, my ghost quietly taking place in the backseat. I don’t know how long it took to get to her place. Time ceases to feel linear when you die. When she parked into a driveway, she took the little metal box and got into her house. I stayed in the wood-scented car.
I couldn’t bring myself to walk into that woman’s house.
She killed you, a voice in me screamed.
Why? a louder one.
My gaze was glued to the coat she’d left on her seat. I slipped my hand into its pocket, grabbed the envelope, and ran barefoot in the snow.
I found my way home.
Dominic didn’t welcome me as I stepped into the house, but that wasn’t out of the ordinary. I heard him grunting in the living room and braced myself for the state he’d be in—it usually alternated between angry drunk or sleepy drunk.
As I entered the living room, I saw he was with someone else. Her back was on me, but she had the same shade of dark skin as me, and her hair was in a purple bun, like I wore it myself.
“I think you had enough for one night,” she said, her voice shockingly familiar.
“Back off, Cel,” Dominic snapped.
I flinched. Because I was Celia, but none of them had seen me, and he was talking to her.
I walked around the couch to see her face. My face.
I looked into my own brown eyes, and stared at my own red mouth as it pursed, keeping whatever retort inside. But I found something was off about myself. The corpse had looked like the real me, not this woman.
“I’m dead,” I said.
They didn’t hear.
“I’ll let you sober up,” Fake Celia said. “I’ll come back later.”
She left, and Dominic got himself another beer.
“I’m dead,” I repeated to myself.
I balled the incantation in my fist and walked out. There was just one person I truly trusted to help me sort this out.
Jake walked into the apartment and sighed. He wandered over to the refrigerator to get a beer and paused. There was the picture of him and Celia. They were at the fair. She had taken this one and the bear he won for her was tucked under her arm.
Grabbing a beer, Jake walked over to the couch and flopped onto it. In front of him sat the plan. Their plan. The plan he was going to show Celia so that they could finally be together. He had everything figured out. She would leave that asshole Dominic and they would get back together the way they should be.
Jake flipped through the notebook, finally coming to the last page. He had read about the idea of a dream board and thought that a page in the notebook would be good enough. Scribbled over the page over and over was Celia’s name with his. The way it ought to be.
The way it would be.
She was a witch.
It was written all over her small, unlit house. In the thick smell of dried flowers and blood, in the shelves of oddly-shaped jars that I really didn’t want to know the contents of, and in the books.
Some listed spells of love and revenge. Others were sealed shut by a mysterious magic that stung my fingers when I tried to open them.
I could’ve spent the whole day exploring this place, but I was here for a reason: to gather clues about my death. I needed Jake to know there was a woman pretending to be me.
So I got to work.
Jake found the binding contract, the incantation, and the file titled Subject #13 on his bed. He frowned.
He didn’t know how that got there. He didn’t know what to make of it. Or that there was a ghost in his bedroom.
He looked at the documents for a long time; long enough to start fearing his plan was in danger. He felt the strong need to protect the precious love he shared with Celia, so he went to Dominic’s house.
The ghost followed.
Dominic’s blood didn’t stain my feet as it pooled around me. I looked at him for a long time, ashamed of my inability to feel true sorrow. I expected to see his ghost appear next to me, but there was just his corpse. Motionless and smelling of beer and the metallic tang of blood.
And then I looked at the only living person in the room: Jake.
My beautiful lover, wearing an ugly smile as he wiped the knife on his shirt. What had he done?
Jake took the clues I’d left at his apartment from his pocket and threw them in the fireplace. He watched them burn slowly. Then he called the police.
“My name is Jake,” he said, “and if you track this call it will lead you to the man I just killed.”
“Jake, what’s going on?” I asked, realizing I was crying.
He just walked to the bathroom, where he smiled at his reflection above the sink. And I screamed a lonely scream when his skin twitched and his features turned into mine.
He was Fake Celia.
“My heart has always been yours and now yours is mine,” he said, softly. “Just like we promised.” He touched the mirror with one hand, and his heart with the other. “Together forever.”
About the Authors
Nimika Bhatnagar: Nimika is a High School/Jr. College student juggling between Science and Literature in her day to day life and reading way too many books than she probably should. She’s a certified nerd. You can check out her content at wordhavenblog.
Christy Morley: Christy is a student nurse, mom, blogger and all around geek. Her life is about studying, indoctrinating her children into Doctor Who and devising new stories to occupy her time (if there’s any left). She blogs at momstartingover.
Brittany Redd: Brittany is a high school English teacher and fiction aficionado living near Istanbul, Turkey. When she’s not teaching, she enjoys traveling between worlds, both real and imaginary.
Audrey Francis-Plante: Audrey is a part-time traveller and a part-time writer who completed a Certificate in Creative Writing with the University of Toronto. She’s a Hufflepuff. Follow her at audreywritesabroad.