The StrangerMature

A ghost story, as experienced by the ghost.

What? was the only complete thought he could muster. Flashes of places he didn’t know or couldn’t remember were all he could see. He could hear nothing, and it had a sound. It sounded like black. All he could feel was everything; every nerve in his body exploded with electric sensation. The scent of mud and sodden trash mingled with the rest of it, and behind it all, the quivering reality that this wasn’t really real was swept quickly away.

There was a boat, and here was a marketplace. One of them was a woman. Somewhere nearby the mud and garbage exhaled its fetid breath.

He knew the woman, but from where? The University? Which one? He might have seen her on the bridge. That bridge that so many people cross, going nowhere really. Traffic of all kinds, but not trafficking. Not trafficking because he didn’t sell drugs, but did he buy them like he bought toilet paper and life insurance? She would be rich now. But who? Who would be? Not the girl and the young man below him. They were too busy enjoying each other’s bodies, and unlike everything else, they didn’t roll away from perception before he had been given the opportunity to perceive them.

Somehow, he was inside a small apartment. From here he could see the kitchen because the couple beneath him hadn’t closed the accordion door that separated this room from the rest. It was a bachelor suite, but one he couldn’t place.

He didn’t know the woman and couldn’t see the man’s face, but he hated them anyway. He couldn’t think of why, and he hated that, too.

A high whine became audible and a moment later he could hear the sounds of the couple below him through it. Slow panting and the occasional gasp, mostly. Now and again something like a chuckle, but he could be wrong about that.

A dim bedside lamp cast shadows on the young man’s muscular back and there was nothing else in the order of light but a soft green glow in the kitchen. Not enough light, in other words, to be sure he’d never been here before.

Was he on the ceiling? It was hard to tell because he couldn’t turn his head to see. In any case, he was above their bed, a bit closer now than at first, and dropping slowly as if drowning in sap.

His growing hatred buried the guilt he felt at watching them, at being a secret observer.

The electric sensation dulled, the couple's vocalizations became louder, nearer, and he was drooping ever closer to them. “Dan,” she moaned. Oh, how he hated them! He wanted to scream and holler and pound his fists but was unable to. He was unable to do anything. The ability to breathe was not excluded and that bit was okay, because he didn’t feel he had to.

Nothing else was okay. Furious, a swell of unexplainable, stray rage grew inside until it burst from him in one hysterical surge. That he was unable to move any part of himself only meant he had to settle for imagining to kill them. His body would not work but his mind would, to a limited extent, and in it he ripped the couple to pieces. Used the body parts of each to beat the other to death. It just seemed right.

He wondered, just briefly, if this couple could sense his lethargic approach—close enough to feel their body heat now if he could feel anything at all—if they could sense the sharing of their most private of moments with a stranger and his all-encompassing hatred. His answer came as the young woman peeked over the shoulder of her lover, and she murmured something into his ear. The young man immediately stopped and turned his face upward and suddenly the bedroom was gone.

The End

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