Hereafter

Hereafter

A Story by Aianarie (INACTIVE)
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'His aura traps me here. I am bound to him. Until he moves on, I will remain here forever.'

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Knock. Knock. Knock.

                I looked up from my sketch of a rose.  “Mmm?”

                Dad poked his head in.  “Hey.  Whatcha doing?”

                “Just drawing.”

                “Shouldn’t you be unpacking?”

                I shrugged.

                He opened the door a little more and leaned against the knob.  “I’m thinking of going into town and getting Chinese food for a late dinner.  What do you think?”

                “Sounds good.”  I said, not looking at him.  I added some thorns to the rose’s stem.

                “You’re okay with staying here by yourself for a little while?”

                I looked at him then.  “Yeah, I’ll be fine.”

                “Hey, it’s a big, not-so-empty house on the top of a lonely hill, it’s dark out and looks like a storm might me coming on, and you’re only sixteen--“

                “Dad.”  I said, laughing.  “I’ll be fine.”

                He smiled at me and nodded.  “Of course you will.  See you in a bit.  Don’t get lost if you decide to do some exploring.”  He winked at me.  And with that, he shut the door.

                I added some details to the rose’s leaves.  Then I added some soil underneath the flower.  Then there was nothing else I could add.  I looked up, staring at the blank wall.  It was this weird light brown color.  I kind of liked it.

                Setting my sketchbook on the nightstand, I got up and wandered to the window.  It was very dark outside, and I could hear a sprinkle of rain against the roof.  I leaned my forehead against the glass and sighed. 

                I was glad that we had moved.  It was exciting.  I hated my school.  Nobody liked me.  I was too weird.  And our previous home held to many painful memories.  My father and I were the type to just let go and move on.

                But I couldn’t help but feel this emptiness in my heart.  I didn’t know if I was missing something, or if it was a spot that was never filled.  It wasn’t Mom.  Mom would always be with me.

                Then what was it?

                There I went again--thinking too much.  I was tired, but I didn’t feel like sleeping.  I left my room and meandered through the halls.  The house was naturally dark, even during the day, due to the way it was built.  And there weren’t enough lamps, either.  It was quiet too.  You could hear a pin drop from anywhere in the house.  Dad was talking about putting carpet in the bedrooms and the library.

                The library.  I decided to go check that out first.  The stairs were very creaky.  I would never be able to get away with a midnight snack.

                The library was not as large as I was expecting, but it was nice.  It had a fireplace, two armchairs, a soft rug, a mahogany baby grand, and forty shelves on either side of the room stuffed with books.  I scanned the spines with my eyes.

                Phantom of the Opera.  Crime and Punishment.  Jane Eyre.  It was mostly classic literature, although there were a few music and history books.  I wish I would’ve known my grandfather before he got sick.  He seemed like an interesting conversationalist.

                I grabbed Spenser’s Faerie Queene off the shelf and made myself comfy in one of the chairs.  I wished Dad had been there to start a fire.  I opened the book to a random page and read aloud--


Where griesly Night, with visage deadly sad, 
That Phoebus chearefull face durst never view, 
And in a foule blacke pitchie face durst never vew, 
She findes forth comming from her darkesome mew, 
Where she all day did hide her hated hew.


                A crash of lighting resounded outside, as if to respond to my chanting.  I found this occurrence quite interesting.  A tumult of thunder followed.

                Before I could read another line, I heard a noise from somewhere behind me.  I turned.  Nothing.  It was an odd sound.  Not the sort that an old home would typically make.  I ignored it and returned my attention to my book.

                Then I heard whispering.  Now, I wasn’t the type that was easily spooked, but random whispering was definitely not okay with me.  I stood up and moved to the center of the room.

                “Hello?  Who’s there?”

                “Hush!  He is out there!”  said a disembodied voice.  It sounded young and masculine, and seemed to have come from right in front of me.

                I staggered backwards and looked around.  “W-what?  Where are you?”

                I heard a sigh, and the echoing quality of it sent a shiver up my spine.

                “Are you afraid?”  the voice asked.

                I shook my head.  “No.  Just curious.”  Was this boy a ghost?

                “Promise me you won’t scream.”  he said.

                “I promise.”

                I felt the air in front of me go cold, like standing in front of an open refrigerator.  I kept my eyes forward.  In a matter of seconds, the cold materialized into a nose, a pair of eyes, a mouth--a face.  Curly hair and a body clothed in Victorian era fashion.

                I should have screamed, maybe.  I should have run away and never returned to this house again.  But I didn’t.  I was fascinated.  Transfixed in those blue eyes that were so human and so there.

                “Hello.”  he said.

                “Hi.”  I said, quietly.

                “What’s your name?”

                “Rue.  Rue Philipps.”

                “Philipps?  Are you related to Geoffrey?”

                I nodded.  “Yeah.  He’s my grandfather.   Or…he was.”

                The ghost frowned.  “Was?”

                “Yeah.  He died this past Sunday.”  Did ghosts have any notion of time?  I didn’t know.  “A week ago.”

                The ghost put his hand over his eyes for a moment.  The air made a slight woosh sound whenever he moved.

                Clearly my grandfather meant a lot to him.

                “So…what is your name?”  I asked.

                He dropped his hand and sighed.  “Tristan.  Tristan de Mallerais.”

                “So you’re a ghost.”  I said.  It wasn’t a question.

                “Yes.”  He glanced at me after saying it. “Does that bother you?”

                “No.  And what did you mean when you said ‘he is out there’?”

                Suddenly he looked very weary.  “Nothing slips pass you, does it?  He is a phantom whom Geoffrey--your grandfather--named Dark.  He isn’t…pleasant.  And he doesn’t like it that you’re here.”

                I swallowed a lump in my throat.  “What do you mean?”

                Tristan looked uncomfortable.  He started walking around in a way that only a ghost could.  “Since Geoffrey left, Dark has become very restless.  Sinister, even.  Well, even more than usual.  He…”

                I waited expectantly.

                “He…just isn’t happy that you and your father are here.”

                My heart was beating very fast and very heavy in my chest.  “I--should call my dad.”

                “Now wait a minute.  Is your father quite practical?”

                “What do you mean?”

                “Would he believe you if you told him?”

                “Yes.”  I said, crossing my arms.  “He’s a writer.”

                Tristan stared at me.  Suddenly, a crash rang out from the dining room area.  My first instinct was to cling to Tristan’s sleeve, but luckily, I caught myself before I attempted to do so.  Tristan looked back at me and put a finger to his lips.

                “I’ll go look.”  he whispered.  “Stay here and be quiet.”  He vanished, and I panicked a little.  I listened.  I could hear absolutely nothing except the storm outside.

                I felt coolness behind me.  It was Tristan.

                “Well?”  I said.

                He shook his head.  “A window is open in the dining room.  The wind blew a lamp over.”  I went into the dining room to close the window.  Tristan followed me.  I had rather gotten used to having him around already, but the idea still weirded me out a bit.

                “So…um…are you just going to follow me around everywhere?”  I asked.  It wasn’t exactly what I was trying to ask, but oh well.

                He laughed and winked at me.  “If you want me to.”

                I couldn’t hold back a laugh.  “Naughty naughty, Master de Mallerais.” I said, sitting down at the dining table and folding my hands on the table top, “Sit down, if you please.”

                “Well, I can’t really sit, but…” he said, laughing.  He motioned to the chair across from me.  He managed to make it look like he was sitting.

                “Why are you here?”  I asked.

                He thought for a moment.  “What do you mean?”

                “From what I know about ghosts, they only remain in this world because they are attached to something…“

                He hesitated before he spoke.  “Or trapped.”

                I swallowed.  “Trapped?”

                Tristan looked very sad now.  “Yes.  I am trapped here.”

                “Why?”

                “Dark’s aura traps me here.  I am bound to him.  Until he moves on, I will remain here forever.”

                “How does that work?”

                “I’m not sure.  All I know is that Dark is much stronger than me.”  he said, lowering his eyes.  I reached across the table top and put my hand over his.  It went straight through.  All I could feel was a slight decrease in temperature.

                “How long have you been trapped here?”

                “Almost a hundred years.”

                “I’m…I’m so sorry.”

                He looked up at me, trying to smile.

                “Where is Dark?”

                “Here.  Everywhere.  I would be careful.  If you see or hear anything suspicious, let me know.  And if I can’t be found, run away.  Far away.  Dark’s soul is attached to this house.  He cannot leave.”

                “W-what do you mean, if you can’t be found?”

                “I have to go, Rue.  See you later.” he said.  I wanted to yell out Wait!, but he instantly vanished.


 

I felt empty and lonely after he left.  I wandered around the house.   Looking for him, maybe.  I refrained from calling Dad.  I didn’t have the desire nor the energy to explain everything to him right then.  Instead, I explored the kitchen, the living room, and a few of the other bedrooms on the second floor.  The house was really beautiful.  I understood why Dad didn’t want to sell it.  This house meant a lot to my grandfather.  Apparently it had been in our family for generations.

                I wondered to myself if Tristan was a distant relative of mine.

                Two doors down from the room that I had dubbed mine, was a small room stuffed to the brim with boxes and old looking furniture.  I had to use all my weight against the door to get it open.  When it finally gave, I fell in and unto the floor, dust flying everywhere.  I coughed and coughed for a while.

                I got up and shut the door behind me.  To keep Dark out.  I realized not long after that a door wouldn’t stop a ghost.  My idiocy annoyed me sometimes.

                The boxes were full of random papers.  Recipes, letters, sheet music.  Lots of sheet music.  Some were really old sheets of parchment covered in narrow calligraphy that I couldn’t read.  As I dug deeper into the mountain of clutter, I found boxes containing photographs.  All of the photos were black and white and of people that I had never seen before in my life.  None of them looked familiar, either.  There were other things in these boxes, old things.  A matching hairbrush and mirror, some small statues, a tea set.  I subconsciously wondered how much these things would be worth on the internet.

                While paging through a journal of the same illegible handwriting, a looked up and noticed an odd looking panel on the wall, now visible since I had moved the tower of boxes that was in front of it.  I got up, dusting my hands off on my jeans.  The panel was a shade darker green than the rest of the room, and fit into the walls like a puzzle piece.

                I pushed and pulled on it.  I tried to slide it like a Japanese door.  Nothing happened.  I guess I was thinking that it might somehow open, to reveal a secret passageway.  Not going to lie, I was really excited for that.

                I stood there, arms crossed, feeling disappointed that it wasn’t.  Then I started looking around for a trigger of some sort.  I moved more boxes around.  One was very heavy and I dropped it; several stacks of glass dishes fell out, some shattering across the floor.  The sound pierced the silence of the room and made my heart stop.  I hoped that Dark hadn’t heard that.

                There was an old bedframe in this corner of the room.  Many smaller boxes were stacked on top of it.  I got on my hands and knees and looked underneath.    Sure enough, I found a lever.  My heart skipped a beat.

                I let my hand rest on the lever for a moment.  Oh, how I hoped that it did something.

                I pulled the lever, and panel slid into the wall, almost soundlessly.  A puff of dust clouded my vision, and I had another coughing fit.  When the air cleared, I stepped into the new room.  It was tiny, just big enough to fit a spiraling staircase into.  I looked up.  It was completely dark.  I whistled.  The sound didn’t go very far.  Reaching into the pocket of my jacket, I found my keys.  I switched on my mini flashlight and shined it up into the darkness.  The staircase led to an attic door of some sort on the ceiling.

                Attics were not my favorite things in the world.  Against my better judgment, I began to ascend the stairs.  When I reached about the halfway point, the sliding door shut below me, seemingly on its own.  I started to freak out a bit.  The lamp light from the room was gone, leaving only the light from my tiny flashlight keychain.

                “Crap.”  I said aloud.  My voice sounded weird in that little space.  “Crap, crap, crap.”  Thunder roared outside in response.

                I continued.  When I reached the attic door, I held my flashlight in my mouth while I tried to shove the door open with my forearms.   Something was on top of the door.  Probably a box filled with more crap.

                I didn’t come this far for nothing.  I thought.  I took a breath and shoved as much of my body weight as I could up into the door.  It flew open with a loud crash.  After my arm stopped throbbing I climbed up, and found that a small trunk had been on top of the door.  It had fallen over, spilling its contents across the attic floor.  Just as I thought.  Crap--excuse me, junk.

                There really wasn’t much to see up there.  It was a large attic, but there wasn’t much in it.  Lots of boxes.  An armoire.  A few old lamps and paintings.

                What had I been expecting?  Some sort of treasure?

                I sat down, feeling more than a little let down.  The storm outside seemed to grow louder and louder, until it suddenly stopped.  The house was silent again.

                “You shouldn’t be up here.”  said a voice from somewhere in the room.  I stood up and looked around, flitting my flashlight back and forth.

                “Who’s there?  Show yourself!”  I said.  My voice came out really shaky.  I didn’t sound resilient at all.

                The voice laughed--I recognized that laugh.

                “Tristan!”  I cried.  “Don’t do that!”  I sat back down on the floor with a loud thud. Tears had started in my eyes, and I honestly hadn’t any idea why.  I wiped them away.

                Tristan materialized in front of me, in the same manner as before.  He had a sincerely penitent look to his face.  He knelt (sort of) in front of me.

                “I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to frighten you.  I was only joking.”

                I shook my head.  “No, don’t be sorry.  I’m fine.”  I tried to laugh, but it came out as a jagged sob.  “I’ve had a long day.”

                “No kidding.”  said Tristan, smiling now. 

“Why did you disappear so suddenly…earlier?”  I asked.

“I had to.  It’s kind of weird.  Hard to explain.  Sometimes I just have to leave…you know?”

I shook my head again.  “No.  Not really.”  I found myself staring at his hands.  His hands.  White as sheets.  Transparent.  Fuzzy and ice-blue around the edges, like in movies.

“I wish I could feel you.”  I said, reaching out to touch his hands.  Of course, my fingers went right through him.  “I want to believe that you’re real and I’m not just dreaming.  Or crazy.  I want to believe that you’re the only friend I’ve ever had.”

Tristan looked at me then, really looked at me.  I stared back.

I pinched myself, hard.  I wasn’t dreaming.  He was right there.  And he was real.

He raised his hand and turned it so that he was looking straight into his palm.  He frowned.  It was like he was trying to somehow turn his hand into flesh and bone with his mind.  I watched his hand.  Nothing changed at first, until his hand seemed to glow a little brighter.  A little more human.

He reached out his hand to me, and I met it with mine.  It was such an odd sensation.  The air was denser where his hand was, and much colder.  I closed my fingers and imagined that I was holding his hand, and it seemed to work.  I smiled at Tristan, who smiled back.

“That’s amazing.”  I whispered.  We dropped our hands and sat in silence for a moment.  The storm had picked up a little outside.

“Tristan.”  I said.  He looked up at me.  “Why are you still here?  I mean, why are you trapped here?”

He didn’t hesitate this time.  “I told you before.  It’s Dark.  I’m trapped here with him.”

“But why?”

He cocked his head to the side, as if he found my curiosity cute.  I narrowed my eyes at him.  “Sir Derrick--Dark--loved many things when he was alive.  Art, literature, music.”  he said.  “This was his house.  I believe he was your great-great-great uncle.  Now your uncle knew how to play many instruments.  His favorite was the violin.  He was also a piano teacher.  I was his student.  Nay, I wasn’t just his student.  I was his protégé.  I came here almost every day to practice for recitals and such.  He told me that I was like a son to him.  He and I shared a very special relationship.”  He paused, and I noticed that he was smiling at the floor.  I felt immensely sorry for him.

“As the years passed, however, we seemed to grow farther and farther apart.  I still wanted to learn piano, but he refused me on a regular basis.  Soon I graduated from grade school and was to move on to further studies in Europe.  It had been months since I had seen him last.”  he continued, looking very distressed,  “I found out, one day, that Sir Derrick had been involved in the pinching of several very valuable paintings from Paris.  So I paid him a visit.  I confronted him on this matter, and he got very angry with me.  He said that it was none of my business.  I threatened to report him to the police, and before I could say another word, he--“

“Killed you.”  I said, my whole being trembling.

“Yes.  He pulled out his pistol and shot me dead right then and there.”

“What happened to him?  Sir Derrick?”

“He shot himself, of course.”

I covered my face with my hands.  “That’s terrible.  Who would know that this building holds such things?”

“There are many in the world like this, I imagine.”  Tristan said.  “…And now, we are both stuck here.  Sir Derrick and I.  The house was abandoned for a long while, until your grandfather moved in.  He kept me company.  I very much liked him.  And Dark seemed calmer when he was around.”

A thought occurred to my mind.  “If you’re bound to Sir Derrick, what is Sir Derrick bound to?”

“I don’t know.”  said Tristan, looking disinterested now.  “My guess would be the house.”

I nearly had a heart attack.  “No.  I know what it is!”  I cried.  “Follow me, Tristan, if you can.”

I left the attic and went down the stairs.  I was very, very relieved when I found that there was another lever on the inside of the secret door.  I exited and went into my room. 

 I stared at it, sitting on top of the dresser.  It was a beautiful, ornately carved violin, resting on its pedestal.  It had to be it.  Sir Derrick’s most prized possession.

“Tristan?”  I called out, but he didn’t answer.  “Tristan?  Tristan!”  I heard the crash of something like a chandelier falling in the living room.  The storm outside was very angry.  I heard many things falling and breaking.

Dark.  Said my mind.  Dark.  I ran across my room and picked up the violin with the intention of crashing it onto the edge of the dresser.  But something swept me off of my feet and unto the bed, leaving me shocked and out of breath.  I had dropped the violin on the floor.  I got up as quickly as I could and leaped to retrieve the violin, but some invisible air current swept it away from me and out the door. 

I didn’t have time to think about it.  I followed the violin down the hallway, running as fast as I could.  I chased it down the stairs and into the foyer--

All along the way, I heard Sir Derrick’s voice hissing things at me.   Leave.  Go home.  You do not belong here.  Leave.

--I completely forgot that there was a huge hole in the center of the foyer, where the floor had caved into the basement.  Dad said that was caused by molding wood and termites under the house.  He had talked about patching it up before Christmas. 

All I saw was the violin, floating in the air above the hole.  I jumped, grabbed it, and held onto it.  I would not let it go.

I fell.

Fell. 

My head hit something very sharp and my vision darkened immediately.  I heard terrible shrieking sounds from somewhere above.  With all the strength I had left, I looked at what remained of the violin in my bloody hand.  A splintered neck, attached to half of the violin’s body.  It was broken.

I thought about Dad, and how angry he would be at me.  I thought about the Chinese food he was bringing for dinner.  Wow…he was sure late.  I was starving.

But those thoughts soon faded.

I love you, Daddy. 

I thought of Jesus and Mary and the saints.  I thought of Mom, who was surely in Heaven with them.  I wondered if my grandfather was up there too.

Suddenly, all of my pain disappeared.

Tristan.  I thought.  You are free.

I gave myself up to the black.

 


The last thing I remembered, or rather, the last thing that I can describe in this humanly means, was a very bright light.  I discovered that this bright light was Tristan.  He was so beautiful and so real.  It seemed to me that he wanted to say something, but then he made this apologetic face, as if he had just remembered that he couldn’t. 

He took me by the wrist, and we went up.

© 2012 Aianarie (INACTIVE)


Author's Note

Aianarie (INACTIVE)
A little ghost story I wrote as my entry for Figment's "Defy the Dark" contest. I wrote this extremely last minute, but managed to squeeze it in! The only criteria for the contest was the story had to take place in the darkness or at night, and had to be between 2,000 and 4,000 words. I've edited it a little bit more for all of you. Enjoy. :-)

My Review

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Featured Review

I love how you didn't have Rue scream or anything when she first met Tristan, to me that makes it more real and practical. In every other supernatural story that is what people do, and I liked that this time it was finally something different.
The story was great, I felt there was a strong relationship between Rue and her father despite that he was only there for a very tiny portion of the story.

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Aianarie (INACTIVE)

7 Years Ago

Yes, I have to agree about the screaming thing. If I met an intelligent ghost I would be curious, an.. read more
Sylvana

7 Years Ago

Good thing I'm not the only one then, haha


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Reviews

Dear Aianarie,

Interesting story. I found it appealing to see that Rue was intrigued instead of spooked by the ghost while also making her sometimes chilled by Tristan's presence. It was really romantic that the protagonist would sacrifice her life to have Tristan free, quite touching.

Thanks for sharing.

Sincerely Victorious

God bless

Posted 7 Years Ago


I really enjoyed this story! will there be more?? Great write 100%

Posted 7 Years Ago


I loved it!!! seriously. I did. the whole idea of Dark being attached to the violin was brilliant, yet saddening. I really enjoyed this story! :)

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I love how you didn't have Rue scream or anything when she first met Tristan, to me that makes it more real and practical. In every other supernatural story that is what people do, and I liked that this time it was finally something different.
The story was great, I felt there was a strong relationship between Rue and her father despite that he was only there for a very tiny portion of the story.

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Aianarie (INACTIVE)

7 Years Ago

Yes, I have to agree about the screaming thing. If I met an intelligent ghost I would be curious, an.. read more
Sylvana

7 Years Ago

Good thing I'm not the only one then, haha
I enjoyed the complete story. I like the lead in to the meeting of the ghost. I like the friendship create and the good conversation. The story got better with each set of lines. I like the ending to the excellent story.
Coyote

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Wow wow wow!!!! Amazing, captivating, I adore it! Sad she dies though :(

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Oh my I love this. Very eerie and creepy. I love a good ghost story. I ove the dialogue it is realistic and enjoyable and really adds a creepy effect. Nice job :D

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Wow, that was an incredible work. Amazing story. I still wish they would let me rate more than 100 points out of 100. Are you going to expand on it eventually? I think it would be really cool.

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

This comment has been deleted by the poster.
Aianarie (INACTIVE)

8 Years Ago

Thank you very much! :-) This story was meant to be a short novel, but I adapted it for the contest... read more
zachf

8 Years Ago

I will totally be looking forward to that!
Your work rocks the mike. At first my mind thought this is something you hear as a story before bed time, other parts screamed "This has stage presence" So I am torn in begging you keep this as a story and maybe this should be a one act three scene play.

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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Added on September 11, 2012
Last Updated on September 11, 2012
Tags: short story, paranormal, YA, ghosts, spirit, haunted house, first person

Author

Aianarie (INACTIVE)
Aianarie (INACTIVE)

Eugene, OR



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