A Ghastly Brat

by Dice

"WHO DARES TO TRESPASS ON THIS CONDEMNED SOIL?" the booming voice sent shivers down my back and I fell through the wall and through a tall bookcase filled with mouldy old Shakespearean works.

It might've hurt, but of course it didn't. What the hell was that voice?! I looked around, forgetting to move my body along with my head, I got a bit woozy, like every time I did that. A small sob escaped me and I started chewing my nails; old habits die hard - in fact they don't seem to die at all.

What if that voice was a ghost? This house was really befitting of a ghost actually. It was completely abandoned and run down, the cobwebs collecting in the corners and the windows rattling in the chilly October winds. The stairs creaked even though no one walked up them and there were eerie sounds everywhere.

Maybe this house really was haunted! Maybe there was some troubled spirit lingering here prepared to avenge itself on some lost soul like myself... I backed up against the fireplace, pressing into the corner and found myself standing in the kitchen. Damn! I'd never get the hang of this!

Steps in the hallway! I started to shake. The ghost was outside! It'd come in here any moment!! I closed my eyes and backed away from the door.

"WHO DARES TO TRESPASS on this... this... hrm... er..." the voice trailed off and I peeked up. By the closed door stood an imposing figure in 17th century clothing, coat, feathered hat and all. I gasped. It *was* a ghost!!

A horrible, dreadful, fearsome ghost!!

Well, a faintly amused ghost actually, when I looked closer.

He was smiling at me. No, I corrected myself, he was trying not to laugh at me.

"What?" I asked, slightly indignant suddenly.

"Oh, nothing, my lad... except that you're standing in the table..." his eyes twinkled and he covered his mouth slightly with the ruffles on his sleeve.

I looked down and though I wasn't sure I could still blush I really felt like doing so. My waist was sticking right out of the table top and my legs were somewhere beneath it. I put my nose up and walked out of the table.

I glanced at him, suspiciously and declared:

"You're a ghost!"

"Aye," he replied gently. "And it appears that you are as well."

We stood looking at each other in the middle of the dusty kitchen. I didn't like to think about it, but I knew he was probably right. People didn't walk through walls and furniture - in fact, wasn't that kind of a ghost trademark?

He seemed to have forgotten all about his intimidating speech and though I wasn't about to remind him, we were left with quite an awkward moment.

"So..." he said at length. "What are you doing here, lad?"

"I dunno," I muttered. I didn't really. I'd passed by the house and for some reason it had seemed like a good idea to go inside.

"It's not really polite to try to haunt someone else's shack, you know..." he chided and I stared at him.

"I wasn't doing no haunting! Honest!" I objected fiercely.

"That so now?" he said, looking a bit like Mr. Bell used to when I said my dog ate my homework.

"I'm not even a real ghost!" I pointed out, annoyed and slightly worried as to what happened to people who haunted other people's shacks.

He started laughing. A loud, boisterous laugh that echoed in the empty house filling the forsaken rooms with mirth.

"You fucker!! Don't you laugh at me!" I lashed out heatedly. "You fucking bastard! I never asked to end up in your dirty old piss hole!"

The laughter evaporated like mist and his eyes pierced mine with blazing fury. I swallowed hard and tried to hide behind the pantry. Naturally I ended up back in the library again. He followed me in there and I glared at him for getting me to make a fool of myself again.

His threatening presence made me tremble though and in a sudden fit of defiance I threw a load of vile curses at him. He reached out a hand to grab me by the collar. I shirked his grasp and slapped away his hand.

Then I found myself staring at him in awe - I could touch him! For so long now I hadn't been able to touch anything at all except for my own body.

"You... I..." I stuttered and gestured wildly. He shook his head looking at me grimly.

"You fool of a boy, you don't know the trouble you're in!" to my great distress he pounced on me and before I could fall through the bookcase and into the hallway he had locked one arm around my waist and was half carrying, half dragging me over to the big tattered armchair. And before I knew it he'd pulled me down across his lap.

I was too astonished to even flinch when the first smack landed, but then I realised that I felt pain. Actual, acute pain! I yelped. He let me have it again, and again I yelped in pain. He spanked with a callous hand and didn't let up though I began sobbing violently after a while.

Harder and harder he spanked, until my back was aching and my bottom was on fire. I thought I'd die - though that could hardly happen.

He let go of me finally with a light shove and stood up.

"You can't do that! You don't have any right! There are laws you know!" to my chagrin he began laughing again, but a low chuckle that was almost warm.

"Good grief, lad, how long have you been dead?" I flinched at his words and a chill settled in my chest.

I turned away from him, huddled on the floor. My arms came up and I held myself as if I would fall apart if I didn't. I usually hid that memory somewhere deep and tried not to think along those lines, even though I knew it was true. I knew I wasn't alive anymore.

"I... I don't know... a year, more... it was winter," I saw the dark road in front of me and the swirling snowflakes. "We were going to my grandparents... dad was driving..." I remembered how the truck had come out of nowhere. "... there was this flash and then... then the car was tumbling through the air... and everything went dark..."

"I woke up in the hospital, only everyone was crying and... and they didn't see me... I tried to talk to my mum, but she just kept crying and praying..."

And then the doctor had come into the room and said there was nothing more they could do, Stephen was dead. Me, I was dead. I'd followed them from the hospital, I'd been there when they buried me and I'd seen my mother give birth to my baby sister. She who took my place in their hearts. I'd seen them get on with life and forget about me.

"You didn't move on?" he asked slowly and I shook my head.

"I didn't know you were supposed to, I don't know how it's done!" I looked at him pleadingly. "I don't know where to go next!"

"Neither do I, my lad, or I wouldn't have stayed in this piss hole for over two hundred years," he smiled a little.

He didn't look so scary when he wasn't angry. I sniffed a little and rubbed my bottom. I hadn't been spanked in my entire life! I ducked away as he tried to ruffle my hair and he sat down in the big armchair again.

"How come you can sit in that?" I asked sullenly.

"Expectations, lad, expectations... you expect something to work and it will... how do you think you can sit there on the floor? Took me a hundred years or so to understand that, though," he chuckled a little. "I can just about taste apples now or smell the cornflowers in the summer..."

"I miss those things," I said and his eyes grew a little sad, as if he pitied me.

We sat in silence in the dreary library and listened to the storm beginning outside. I could almost feel the cold in the room, but not quite. I guessed I was rather shuddering on the inside than from the draught.

"I guess I should leave you your shack then..." I mumbled and rose from the floor, brushing nonexistent dust from my torn jeans.

"Hrm..." he was lighting a pipe, his eyes never turning towards me as I walked to the door. "It gets a tad lonely... on nights like these, you know..." he said then, thoughtfully.

I turned around, he was looking out the window, blowing rings of smoke into the dusk.

"Perhaps..." he sounded indifferent, "perhaps, you wouldn't mind staying the night..." he glanced at me - I couldn't read his eyes in the shadows.

"I wouldn't want to impose..."

"Ah, well, two hundred years is a long time with none but the stray cats to talk to, after all..." there was a smile in his voice. "Let's have some light, shall we?" the fireplace flickered to life and flames licked the inside of a gas lamp on the windowsill.

He picked up a book and turned over a few pages.

"I miss reading..." I whispered.

The smile became visible and he patted his lap. I was a bit embarrassed at that invite, but I found myself drawn to him. I settled on his lap, his arm coming around my waist so he could hold the book in both hands.

"Canterville Chase was an old country house..."

~ Dice

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