Kathryn - A Ghost Story

Kathryn - A Ghost Story

A Story by Aaron M. Anderson
"

A ghost haunts Evan Wilkes, high school soccer champ. Now Evan and his gifted friends must unravel the mystery of Kathryn's ghost. This is the second edition of this work. See also "Watercolor Lover."

"


Kathryn - A Ghost Story


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By Aaron

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That summer's day had seemed to be the best of Evan Wilkes’ life. It was not yet half-past two in the afternoon, and the young man of sixteen had already been dubbed the greatest soccer player in the history of his high school. What a thrill it had been to play against the toughest opposing team in the heat of the day and to finally come out on top of all the rest! And Evan had been the one to score the final goal"along with many more before that.


The quiet, cozy atmosphere of Gordon’s Restaurant changed considerably as 2:30 rolled around and several of the soccer players and their friends arrived. They were all overflowing with excitement and energy; the exhausting toll of the heated game was quickly lost amidst the excitement of victory. But few of the other customers at Gordon’s seemed to mind that the kids were a little bit noisy and excitable, and the kids received cheerful service from nearly all of the workers waiting on them.


I think our waitress just winked at you,” Evan whispered to his best friend, Alonzo, who nearly choked on his deli sandwich trying not to giggle. Alonzo was also sixteen years of age, but one would not have guessed it by simply looking at him. He had shoulder-length black hair, brown eyes, and was rather small for his age. Although he was no soccer player, he frequented the games to watch Evan play.


“Hey, Alonzo!” The voice belonged to one of Evan’s soccer buddies from a nearby table.


“How do you say ‘spaghetti’ in Spanish?” Someone behind him snickered into a napkin. Alonzo was often teased like that. He made no reply.


“You don’t,” said the tall girl seated on Alonzo’s left. She was Jessica, another of Evan’s best friends. “And you should wipe it off your face before it dries.” He gave a scowl and turned back to his plate of noodles. Apparently, he had not believed her.


“Evan was amazing out there, wasn’t he?” said Alonzo, with pride. “You wouldn’t let them have the ball for a second!”

“Oh, and did you see the look on that goalie’s face?” Jessica asked with a sly grin.


“Nearly wet himself waiting for the ball to come flying.” She laughed. “I swear I thought he jumped away from the ball more than once to avoid getting hit!”


It was true. Evan was the team’s secret weapon--their most valuable asset. He thought he could never forget the way they had picked him up and carried him on their shoulders at the end.


“It’s that powerful right kick of yours,” Jessica added, taking a quick sip of soda before she continued. “I’ve never seen one like it!”


The waitress returned to refill their drinks, relieving Evan from the embarrassment of fame for a moment. He glanced to his left, at Alonzo, who had become unusually quiet and still. He was staring down at his empty plate, seemingly lost in thought. His long, black hair partially covered his eyes.


“Hey… you okay?” Evan whispered. Alonzo slowly lifted his gaze to meet Evan’s. His breathing was erratic, in soft, tearless sobs.


This one’s for you, Evan,” he breathed.


Evan went pale. Every so often, Alonzo would have visions or dreams of the future that usually came true: test scores he would make, an unfamiliar place he would visit, and sometimes even people that would soon pass away. Evan recognized the trance-like symptoms immediately.


“Do you want to talk about it?” Evan asked warily.


“I think I should,” Alonzo replied. “I’ve seen this one before…” He looked up at Evan with a somber expression. “…And you’re in it.”


“What about me?” Jessica asked quietly, unconsciously setting her soda down on her empty plate.


“There is a girl, but she’s not like you, Jessie… she’s very different. I think she likes Evan a lot.”


“That’s one big difference,” Jessica quipped, giving Evan a playful sideways glace.


“This is not the good kind of ‘liking’… It’s not a healthy kind…”


“An obsession, perhaps?” Jessica offered.


“Yeah, obsession, I guess… And there was a cross of wood"you were sitting under it, Evan"very tall and blurry. It may not have been a cross, really… I’m not sure.


“What did the girl look like?” Evan asked.


“She wasn’t like us at all,” Alonzo whispered, closing his eyes. “She was pale, and her face was not easy to see…” He shuddered. “I also saw a person’s arm"sitting on a table… separated.”


“Separated?” Jessica asked. “You mean hacked off?”


“Yes.”


“Whose was it?”


“Not sure…” Alonzo replied. The three of them sat in silence as the waitress returned and took their dishes. Evan’s boisterous teammates continued their celebration in earnest, but he had lost his will to celebrate. He felt it was time to leave.


It was the perfect day for a speedy convertible ride through the city, and Jessica’s shiny black Mustang Convertible was more than willing to transport. Jessica, of course, was driving, and Evan, who was seated on the passenger side was only sorry that they were not all piled into his own convertible car"a green ’89 Mazda Miata, newly revamped. His uncle had passed it down to him for his sixteenth birthday, and he was just aching for the chance to give it a spin.


“So when does your car come out of the shop?” Jessica asked as she flipped on the car radio from her seat behind the wheel. The familiar steely sounds of Eighties music adding a nostalgic appeal to the refreshing feeling of the wind that played with the ends of their hair.


“It’s back at the house already,” Evan replied. “I’ve just gotta add a few more uh… custom details…”

Jessica laughed. “What’s left to work on?” She had always seemed interested in the car.


“I’d love to get it reupholstered…”


“Oh! Get all-black leather interior!”


“Maybe… It doesn’t have a CD player yet, either.”


“Hah! You gotta fix that!” said Alonzo cheerfully from the backseat.


“Speaking of which…” Jessica began, “…I still have your AC/DC album, don’t I, Evan?”


He smiled. “Yeah, I think so… ‘Back In Black’, right?”


“Yeah, sorry I’ve kept it for so long.”


“I think black leather would look great in Kevin’s car… right, Jessica?”

She smiled but did not say a word.


* * *


Evan’s beautiful green car was resting in his driveway, covered by a thick, white sheet, not yet ready for revelation to his friends.


“Why can’t I take a peek?” Jessica begged. “I can hardly stand it!”


This made Evan smile, but he remained stubborn. “Why don’t I take the both of you for a little spin downtown one weekend? It won’t be too long from now…”


“It’ll be half a year from now…” Jessica mumbled. “You won’t have it ready ‘till December…”


“We’ll be driving in the snow!” Alonzo cried.


“Snow… in southern Texas? Ha! How long have you lived here, Alonzo?”


“Eleven years…”


“That’s longer than me,” Jessica replied. “But I saw enough snow in New York to last me the rest of my life, and I’ll tell you, Alonzo, I…”


“Well I haven’t seen any! Ever. But I know this will be the year!”


“Thanks for the ride, Jessica,” Evan said.


“No problem.”


Evan and Alonzo got out at the curb and waved one last goodbye to Jessica, who asked that they keep in touch with her.

Evan unlocked his side door and led Alonzo in through the kitchen. The sound of loud music reached them from the other side of the house.


“I can’t stay long, Evan.” Alonzo said. “Mom will be expecting me home soon.”


“Oh, all right,” said Evan, a little disappointed.


Evan, is that you?” called Evan’s mother, Elaine, from down the hall.


“Yeah, mom! Alonzo’s here, too!”


They came to the noisy living room, a well-furnished workout zone for Ms. Elaine Wilkes, who was stretching in time with the women on her cheesy workout DVD. Elaine herself was a thin woman of thirty-nine with bright, fiery red hair. She turned in the middle of a stretch and stumbled towards Evan with an excited yelp that became a giggle halfway through. She jumped up and wrapped her son in an enormous hug.


“Oh, my boy!” She squealed, nearly spitting out her piece of chewing gum. “You were absolutely wonderful out there today! As soon as I came home I called everyone that came to mind (including your father), and told them how simply marvelous you were!”


“Thanks, mom…” Evan mumbled.


“Oh!” Ms. Elaine squealed, apparently noticing Alonzo for the first time. “¡Como estas, Alonzo!”


Alonzo blushed and replied, ”Muy bien, Señorita Elaine. ¿Y tú?”


Elaine tilted her head to the right and chewed harder on the piece of gum, as if somehow it would help her understand. “Oh,” she said. “That’s nice!”

It was Evan’s turn to blush. Alonzo took it all in stride. The forgotten workout video played on as Elaine rolled up her mat and set it aside. “I feel like a snack!” she exclaimed suddenly. “Who wants some beef taquitos?”


“Mom, we just a-”


“I’d like some, thank you, ma’am!” Alonzo replied hurriedly. Elaine smiled delightedly and danced her way towards the kitchen, humming an unfamiliar tune as she went. Evan looked Alonzo in the eye. “Are you still hungry after all we ate for lunch?!”


Alonzo laughed. “I guess so,” he replied.


Evan shook his head and fell backwards onto the couch, sprawled out in a decidedly comfortable crash landing that it would be hard to peel him out of later. His eyes closed, and he thought he felt Alonzo sit down to his right.


“You sure you can’t spend the night?” Evan asked after a long pause.


“I’m sure,” was the hesitant reply.


* * *

Evan dreamed fitfully that night of a glowing white room, and a long table of sorts on which he lay. The images he saw were so real that he felt he was really there. The whole room pulsated with a constant, drum-like pulse, making Evan’s vision seem to swell and cloud over with each heavy beat. He tried not to look directly at the blinding light that shone from above the place where he lay.

Evan gave a start when he noticed the binds. He appeared to be entangled in a web of tightly attached threads. He struggled, but found himself unable to wrestle himself free.


His movements seemed to attract the attention of a dark, indistinct figure in the far corner of the room. It turned to look upon him with interest, and with a motion much akin to gathering its tall body up into a single mass"as if it were made of a thick, black vapor"it lifted itself from its perch and floated swiftly towards him.


Evan pulled harder on the cords that bound him, writhing in agony as they tightened their grip.


A pale face began to materialize atop the black mass of billowing vapor. Its features were cold and rigid"it had a deathly pallor. Its gaping mouth was hideous and unnaturally wide. It reached out a wickedly long, pale hand towards Evan’s brow and stretched its mouth into a grin…


Evan awoke from the dream with a gasp, doused in sweat. His dark bedroom did little to ease the senseless apprehension he felt after the dream, but staring at the ceiling helped him clear his head. His mind wandered to Alonzo’s premonitions from earlier that day.


It was when he had completely relaxed that his vision was obscured by a cold, bony hand that gently caressed his warm forehead.


With a cry, Evan bounded out of bed and onto the floor, collapsing into a heap and knocking over a bedside table and his steel guitar. He was frozen with utter shock and horror, his eyes trying madly to focus in the dark.


It had found him.


The intruder’s appearance was not too hard to make out in the dark. It was the same ghostly figure from his dream"the black smoky body was even darker than the night itself, and its pale face stood out like a glowing mask. In the space directly surrounding the ghost, objects seemed to melt like wax, as if its presence were destructive to objects in the world of the living. The side of 

Evan’s bed was sinking into the floor, and the bookshelf behind the ghost was bending over, spilling its melting contents and spattering the floor with runny, many-colored blobs.


Evan’s instincts grabbed onto him violently, seemingly picking him up by the collar of his undershirt and shaking him to his senses. He stumbled out of his bedroom door and sprinted towards the front of the house. The ghost followed close behind, turning over chairs and shattering glass picture frames on the walls as it passed. Evan’s heart leaped into his throat as he scrambled to unlock the front door. He had to get the ghost out of his house"away from his mom. Perhaps there would be some sort of weapon outside"a shovel or garden tool, perhaps, which could stop it or slow it down. Chopping it to pieces wouldn’t be half bad, either.


Evan burst into the cold night air with the ghost on his heels. It was not floating, as it had in his dream"it was scrambling across the damp grass with what appeared to be scores of thin, spindly stalks that looked like enlarged cricket legs. They protruded from its dark body from all angles, and the creature was using them to swing itself towards a horror-stricken Evan, using trees and gravel as its anchors. It was herding him towards the street, of that Evan was sure. There was no room to double back towards the garage or the shed. That meant Evan was defenseless. He swore loudly.


The neighborhood seemed lifeless; no cars drove down the dark streets at this early-morning hour"no one was there to see Evan or his pursuer.


The ghost had nearly reached him, and Evan's bare feet were blistering on the worn, rocky asphalt. It was when Evan thought he could stand it no longer that he saw the bicycle laying next to the side door of an unfamiliar house. It was a bit smaller than Evan's bike, but it was his only alternative to running barefoot across the streets. Evan turned sharply and dashed towards the house.

It was a mistake.


The ghost vaulted over the fence and cut across the yard ahead of Evan. It reached the bike first. Evan watched, horrified, as the bike melted into a glistening silver puddle that trickled down the driveway.


Evan sprinted towards the street again. He was now positive that the ghost was quick enough to overtake him at any time--the swiftness with which it had reached the bike before he had showed its incredible speed and agility. It was pushing Evan towards an unknown destination.


Evan came to a crossroads and tried immediately to cut corners and turn left, but the ghost had other plans. A thick web of appendages shot out from its body like jets of black water, forming a liquid fence that blocked Evan's path.

There was no other choice but to continue going straight. He was not about to let the ghost catch up with him, no matter where it was leading him. To his right was an old, worn-out sign that read "City Limits" in fading black letters.

Straight ahead was the reason why the ghost had chased Evan down that old abandoned road. It was a dead end. 


About ten yards ahead, the road would break off and become a narrow dirt path. A few yards beyond that was the great, barren wasteland of a valley. The side of the dirt road ended at the edge of a sandy cliff, and there was no way for him to turn back or change directions. In a few more seconds, he would reach the edge and tumble a few hundred feet to his death.

The ghost was trying to kill him.


"EVAN!" The sudden cry came from behind Evan. He turned around to see the hazy silhouette of Alonzo, about twenty yards down the road, charging towards him. A surge of hope rose up in him as he remembered that he was near Alonzo's neighborhood.


The ghost had noticed Alonzo, too, and it did a rather shocking thing. With a banshee's wail, it began to writhe and contort its many appendages in pain, withdrawing them back into its smoky shell. It then reached out a more human-like arm and shielded its eyes from the sight of Alonzo, who continued to advance. The ghost shrunk past Evan towards the cliff's edge.


"Evan! Are you okay?"


Evan nodded vigorously, his eyes still fixed on the retreating specter. "I think so," he gasped. With a final wail of anguish, the ghost lifted off the edge of the precipice and floated towards the horizon.


Alonzo reached Evan breathless and with tears in his eyes. He bent down, resting his palms on his knees, staring at the ground.


"What did you do?" Evan asked. He could not keep the fear out of his voice. 


"What was that?"


"Evan, I came as fast as I could run! I dreamed it... I dreamed every bit of this! I knew it would happen, so I prayed."


Alonzo fell on his knees and began to sob. Evan had never seen him so upset.


"I prayed as I ran on the way, and I prayed when I saw it... oh, God I prayed for you, Evan!"


"Then that's what sent it away?"


"It won't be coming back tonight, but... Evan, it wants you so bad! It would kill to get you, I know it! And I think I know its name... her name. The pale girl, I mean. It's Kathryn."


Evan looked up at Alonzo's tear-streaked face. "What did you say?" he whispered.


"Kathryn. I've seen her in my dreams."


Dawn had come, and the first few rays of sunlight could be seen from across the valley. Evan walked to the edge of the precipice and looked down into the valley. It was no simple fall to the ground far below; if a person were to fall over the edge unwittingly, they would skid across the clay and rock with various stones and bushes snatching at their flesh and clothing as they made the long fall to the bottom.


"Look, Evan." He turned.


"A telephone pole?" Evan asked, because at first it had looked completely natural. But as he had examined it a bit more closely, it had begun to take the shape of a great cross casting a shadow on the face of the cliff. It reminded Evan of a grave marker.


"It's the cross from your dream..."


"Yes," Alonzo replied quietly. "This place is... important to Kathryn."


Evan sat down on the edge, letting his feet dangle off the side of the cliff. Alonzo sat down next to him.


"Thanks, Alonzo," Evan whispered. "I don't know what it was you did, but you did it right..."


"You did the same for me. Remember?"


As they watched the horizon begin to glow with the break of dawn, Evan began to recall the memories of his first day in high school--the day he had met Alonzo. There was that punk with the red hair... Evan had knocked him out flat for what he had done... for what he had tried to do. Evan was not about to let anyone get roughed up for being...


...For being just like me...


Evan jumped, startled by the gentle weight of Alonzo's head on his right shoulder. He let it rest there for a few moments. Evan's hand brushed up against Alonso's.


Alonzo looked up, embarrassed. "Oh, I'm sorry, Evan. I didn't... I mean, I think I dozed off..." His eyes were irritated and half-closed.


"Don't worry about it. C'mon, let's get you home..." They took one last look at the rising sun, who smiled down on them all the way home.


* * *


The damage to Evan's room was not quite as bad as he had imagined, or at least it was decent enough to live with. The objects that had "melted" in Kathryn's presence had solidified in their grotesque shapes, and there were unnatural dips in the floor where she had stood and a dent in the edge of the bed where she had touched it. The bookshelf was a mess. Most of the books lay in puddle-shaped masses on the floor. Strangely enough, they were still papery, as if they had been molded into strange shapes during the printing process. And those books that were still in their proper shapes were not readable--every letter on every page was out of place--some were massed in the corners like angry ants frozen in place. Others seemed ready to drip off the page.


Evan was thankful that Kathryn's touch had not damaged him in any way. He spent nearly twenty minutes rubbing his forehead in front of the mirror, making sure there were no dents or masses of any kind where her chilly hand had touched him. He slept for two hours after that.


It was 8:49 when he woke from his nap, and the sky had become cloudy"threatening to rain. After quickly cleaning up most of the mess and throwing out the irreparable things, Evan went to the kitchen to get some breakfast. His mom had left a note on the table:


I'm off to church

Don't forget to go to Mass with Alonzo

See you later honey!

XOXO


Evan was surprised and relieved that she had not mentioned anything regarding the ghost’s wave of destruction. Perhaps she had not noticed it at all! But it was going to be hard to explain the large ditches in the bedroom floor and the dent in the side of the bed.


It was already too late to catch a ride to church with Alonzo, but Evan still intended to go"it was probably the safest place to hide from Kathryn. Evan had finished his bowl of cereal and was heading out the door when the kitchen phone rang.


“Hello?”


“Evan! Are you okay? What happened?” It was Jessica. Evan tried as best as he could to describe the events of that morning.


Jessica swore softly when he had finished. “You need some help, for sure. Alonzo called me earlier and told me what he saw. It’s hard to believe, I’ll admit, but at least now I know that the both of you are nuts…” Evan laughed.


Thanks, Jessie.


“Alonzo said he thinks Kathryn is a vengeful spirit or something. I agree. We’re both gonna keep a closer eye on you until we can figure out a better way to protect you.”


“I appreciate it, really, but you shouldn’t get involved in this…”


“Shut up! Don’t give me that mess! You know we’re not gonna le"”


There was a long pause. “Hmm? Not what?” Evan inquired.

Silence.


“Jessica? You still there?” His first thought was that her phone had gone dead and cut her off, but Evan could get no dial tone on his end. He placed the phone back on the receiver and followed the phone cord to its wall jack in the living room. There appeared to be no problem"it should have been working just fine. 


Then he realized that the refrigerator had stopped humming, and the digital 

clock in the living room was dead.


A sudden movement from outside the living room window caught his eye.

His heart skipped. The telephone pole by the street was melting like hot butter before his eyes. Evan watched as a crooked hand reached out from behind the pole and gripped its edge, pushing the ruined pole aside to reveal Kathryn’s crooked grin.


Evan dashed through the kitchen towards the garage, flipping out his cell phone as he ran. In the time it took to reach his bicycle, he had sent a brief text-message to Jessica. He mounted the bike and shoved the phone in his pocket, slamming his hand on the garage door switch as he sailed by.


He would be ready this time. He would fight.


He flew out of the half-opened garage door, down the driveway, past his car and into the street. Kathryn gave chase at once, leaving the remains of the pole, which had become a thick puddle, to dry. The sound of her many clicking legs against the gravel was maddening.


Evan took a left this time, intent on staying as far away as possible from the deadly cliff. But Kathryn had planned ahead this time.


Evan turned the corner and was forced to a dead halt. There was a great chasm stretched from one side of the road to the other, and there was no way to cross it. He turned sharply to the left and cut through a neighbor’s yard, trying not to panic.


Kathryn was already there, waiting for him. He barely missed her as he turned away. He cried out in pain as several of her thin, bony arms raked across his face and deep into his left shoulder, drawing blood. He spiraled wildly, losing balance, but he continued to pedal, finally regaining enough control to reach the road again. He was determined to get away this time.


Oh, God." he prayed, "Get me out of here!"


Evan realized that he was heading towards the valley again. No, he thought, I can’t go anywhere near there! That was just where Kathryn wanted him to be.

They were nearing the crossroads. Soon Evan would have no chance to avoid the dead end. He swerved away from the path that led to the cliff and turned to the left. Hope filled his chest with excitement"he was headed towards the highway. He could hear several of the louder vehicles already. Surely someone would notice Kathryn. Perhaps a truck would hit her, Evan hoped.


But the road was not as busy as he had imagined. In fact, it was quite empty. He panicked at the sound of Kathryn’s piercing wail from behind. Evan slowed his bike and turned to look towards the forest. What had happened? He could no longer see her approaching through the trees. Why had she stopped?


No problem, thought Evan. He was not about to go back and check. He pedaled out onto the highway past some orange cones and to the left, facing any oncoming traffic that might appear.


It did not take Evan too long to discover why the road was so empty, and it appeared that he had not imagined the sounds of motor vehicles after all.

Another great chasm separated the highway, and this one was not empty.


Many cars and trucks had fallen into the rift. They had melted quickly"the rift appeared to be fairly new, and the edges drew farther apart with each passing second. The various colors of the vehicles were fusing together like candle wax. There was a large eighteen-wheeler that lay dissolving directly below Evan"a gasoline carrier from the looks of the liquid it was bleeding.


A car was coming. Evan prayed that the driver would see the chasm in time to put on the breaks. And they did. Even more relieving was the fact that the car was a black Mustang.


"Jessica!"


Jessica parked the car in the grass beside the rift and got out. Alonzo was with her. Jessica’s attention was fixed on the rift.


“How can we get across?” Alonzo shouted.


“Don’t know… Kathryn’s near your neighborhood, Alonzo! Don’t get stuck near my house. There’s another big ravine like that one.”


Jessica had already started tracing the edge of the rift into the woods.


“Do you see a way across?” Evan called.


“A little further down, maybe!” she replied.


“Be careful, Alonzo, okay?”


“Sure w-… Evan! Look out!”


Evan whipped his head around and was belted from the side. He crumpled to the ground in a daze, unable to see that Kathryn now loomed over him. Kathryn's many limbs wrapped themselves around him and began to pull.


“Evan!”


Kathryn dragged him quickly towards the crossroads. He struggled and kicked as hard as he could, but the blow to his head had left him stunned and powerless. His bleeding arms and legs put up little resistance against her unnatural death-grip. She quickened her pace as the shouts of Evan’s friends drew near.


After an agonizing trip, Kathryn and Evan had finally reached the edge of the cliff. Kathryn dropped Evan in the dirt, taking a moment to peer down at his face through the fog that masked her own. Thin wisps of smoke floated like strands of water droplets down to his face, settling on his bruised cheek and running down in rivulets.


Are those tears?


No, they could not have been. Evan could still see her wretched smile through the pale fog that enshrouded her. Kathryn twisted her head to the left, as if to peer at him more closely. If Evan's throat had not been parched, he would have spit in her face.


The wait was over. Kathryn picked Evan up, carried him to the edge, and began to climb slowly down the side of the cliff.


"Evan!"


Kathryn gave a cry and let go of Evan, shrinking down towards the base of the cliff. For a moment, Evan was free. He struggled to grab onto the cliff's edge, shouting desperately for his friends to save him.


Jessica and Alonzo reached the edge a moment too late.


Evan's grip weakened, and he slipped down into the dry clay. Kathryn was quick to scoop him up with her many arms. She began her laborious descent once more, certain that his friends would not try to follow.


That was Kathryn's one shortcoming. Alonzo leaped off the edge and slid masterfully down towards a second outcropping several feet below.


Evan was nearly to the point of no return. Soon the side of the cliff would level out vertically into a frightening drop. Even if Kathryn did not kill Evan herself, the fall surely would.


Kathryn recoiled from Alonzo as he approached once more. Evan took the chance, wrenched himself from her grasp, and leaped upwards, kicking his assailant to boost himself up towards the last handhold that could possibly save him. Evan felt two hands reach down and grabbed onto his right arm, pulling him slowly towards freedom. To his surprise, a third and fourth arm took hold as well. He looked up to see Jessica's face alongside Alonzo's. They were both struggling for balance as well, and they were all only inches from falling to their deaths.


And then something unexpected happened.


A warm hand grabbed onto Evan's left leg from below, pulling him firmly, but gently, over the edge. He looked down.


"Oh, Evan..." Kathryn sobbed. The glittering tears rolled from her bright blue eyes down each glowing cheek. The wind whipped through her auburn hair as his name escaped her lips once more. The clouds had dispersed. Her face shone like the sun after a summer storm.


The pain in Evan's right arm was terrible. The four skeletal hands that clasped his right arm were digging their claws into his flesh. His own blood soaked the sleeve of his shirt. The bodies of Alonzo and Jessica were hellish, gruesome sights; strings of soft, shrunken tissue clung to bones blackened by the fires of sin. Two withered faces peered down at him greedily with eyeless sockets, their gaping mouths held together with threads of wasting muscle. Evan screamed in horror, but held on with all his might.


"Alonzo!" Evan cried, and with a final burst of strength, he kicked his attacker below. A muffled cry was followed by the sound of soft earth giving way. Kathryn released her grip, and her thin frame plummeted off the side of the cliff. She did not float on air as she had before. Mounds of soft earth rained all around her as she fell.


Evan felt them tugging again at his arms.


"C'mon, Evan, you gotta help us out," said the boy.


Evan clawed at the soft earth and raised himself up high enough for his friends to lift him up the rest of the way.


"Just one more time, Evan," said the girl.


He dug his arms again into the clay and dirt, pulling and pulling, until at last, he lay at the top of the precipice, gasping for air.


He opened his eyes.


The smiling faces of Alonzo and Jessica met his weary gaze, and he smiled back, filled with joy at their success.


"It's over, Evan," Jessica said. "She'll never come back again, I know it!"


"Yeah, I can feel it too..." Evan replied. "She can't bother us any more." He cradled his bleeding right arm, staring down at it in shock.


"Not all parts of the dreams came true, did they?" Alonzo asked. He was staring 

at Evan's right arm, too.


"No, they didn't," Evan said. "Thanks God..." His voice lacked the enthusiasm he knew he should have felt. The demonic images he had seen were

still fresh in his mind, and some of his questions still had not been answered...


"Leave them that way," Jessica said coldly. Evan looked up at her in surprise. She broke into a gentle smile. "The dreams, I mean..."


"Not all dreams are important, are they, Evan?" Alonzo asked. "Not yours or mine. I guess we'll never really know who or what Kathryn was..."


"Alonzo, I had a dream of a white r-"


"...Or where she came from." Alonzo's gaze was piercing. Evan shifted uneasily.


"But enough about that..." Jessica said. "...We're together now, and nothing can separate us ever again."


A sudden, unexplainable feeling of warmth and security washed over Evan like a wave. Both of his friends put their arms around him. They sat there for a little while longer until Alonzo finally said, "We'd better go now. There's a lot that needs to be set straight."


They helped Evan to his feet. He brushed himself off and turned to give the cliff one last look. It was then that Evan noticed the small, shiny object close to the edge. He was sure he hadn't seen it there before. He picked it up to examine it more closely.


It was a beautiful golden ring. One side of it was cut into the shape of an exquisite rose embedded with a glistening diamond stone. It seemed wondrous, expensive, and somehow hauntingly familiar to Evan. He slipped it into his pocket beside his cell phone and caught up with his friends as they set off towards home.


* * *


It had been two whole weeks since the terrible auto accident. The middle-aged driver of the pickup truck was dead. He had been drunk. It was a miracle that the boy in the small green sports car had survived. The older man’s death had been quick and relatively painless--the distance that he had been thrown from his vehicle was staggering. 


The boy's suffering was, however, another story entirely. His sports car was completely demolished and was nearly unrecognizable. The boy himself had been extracted from the wreckage with care, but he was expected to die within the hour.


His quick recovery was nothing short of a miracle, his family and friends had agreed. But he would never be the same again. His right arm and leg--crushed beyond repair--had already been amputated. He remained on life support for nearly two weeks. The doctors were just now beginning to allow friends outside of the family to visit him, but not many would come.


Comatose patients like Evan Wilkes tend to keep to themselves.


It was late when Kathryn Lewis arrived at Bradbury-Johnson Memorial Hospital. The kind receptionist at the front desk said that her boyfriend had just been moved to room 611 earlier that day.


Perhaps she was hoping that she would be the one to watch him awaken from the coma. Perhaps she thought that her kiss could somehow break the spell.


Is that why I thought I just saw him stir? she asked herself, staring intently at his bruised face.


"Oh, Evan... Evan..."


Kathryn leaned forward and kissed her boyfriend's livid cheek. He did not, could not reply. She felt his forehead--the fever had graciously

subsided.


She was almost sure that she had seen his eyes open just minutes before, when she had been sitting in the far corner of the room by the open window. She had flown to his side in an instant, but he had remained still and silent.

She wondered vaguely if Evan were dreaming. "I hope you're happy, wherever you are," she whispered softly as she sat by his side. Tears stung her eyes. Evan looked so out-of-place wearing that rough, blue hospital gown in this pale hospital room. The many cords, tubes and I.V. insertions that surrounded his body were frightening reminders of Evan's dependence on these machines and medicines to keep his condition stable.


Kathryn looked away and tried to recall her last conversation with Evan. It had been a while. "So, how do you like living in Wisconsin?" she had asked him. "Or have you been here long enough to tell yet?"


"I like it well enough... Can't help missing my old school though, my old friends in Texas..."


"Would you rather be there than here?" He had not answered right away.


"If I had stayed, I'd never have met you..." he had said.


"I'm glad you did," she said aloud to the sleeping boy. "Even though we never got to know each other like we should have...


"...And we still have time." The tears came more quickly and easily this time.


Kathryn thought of her once-busy schedule and how it was not so hectic anymore. Now she had all the time she wanted to spend visiting with Evan. She leaned closer, her lips hovering over his.


"And now you have time for me," she whispered. She was close enough to feel the steady drum-like beat of his heart. She gently kissed his cheek once more.


It's cold.


The window was open. She was surprised at how easily she was able to shut it. She picked up her purse and took one last look around the room. Multiple get-well-soon cards and bouquets decorated every inch of space on the tables. She wondered if the nurses found it difficult to work around them.


"Good night, Evan..." she said, folding her hands behind her back out of habit.


That was when she realized that her ring was missing. The gold ring, the one with the special inscription that Evan had given to her, was gone.

She frantically searched the room--every table, every chair, the window, even around Evan's bed, but it was nowhere to be found. 


Oh, come on! she thought. It must have slipped off somewhere in here. She double-checked every inch of the room, but it still did not show up. She gave up after a few minutes, deciding that she would ask the nurses to keep a lookout for it.


She turned to Evan once more. She knew she could not bear to see him sick for much longer.


"We'll beat this thing together, Evan..." she promised. "...You and me... together."


But Evan did not hear her.


In a little city hundreds of miles south of where Kathryn lived, a celebration of sorts between three good friends was ready to begin.


The oldest of the three sat in the driver's seat of his newly refurbished car, nearly ready to start the engine. 


A tall girl wearing a black leather jacket sat in the back seat. She rattled on about music and the troubles of being an angsty teen in a capitalistic society. But underneath her boisterous demeanor, she was most excited for her two best friends, with whom she was beginning to celebrate a very important evening.


In the passenger's seat sat a very special young man, dressed up for an important occasion. He was flipping through the radio stations upon request of the girl behind him--trying to find one of her favorite stations. The golden ring on his finger glistened in the light of a streetlamp as he turned the knob, catching the attention of the driver. He had given the ring to his friend as a special gift, to commemorate a new stage in their relationship. He was proud to see him wearing it.


Perhaps if one had seen the younger man during the summer months of that year, they would have considered him a bit small for his age, but over the course of the year, he had grown considerably. In fact, his new partner had urged him to try out for the basketball team, and he had risen to the challenge. This young man was particularly excited on this chilly winter's evening, for the first few flakes of snow had begun to fall.


These three friends were heading downtown for the evening. It was a much-awaited outing that the young man in the driver's seat had promised to take his friends on, but had put off for far too long.


He started the ignition and stepped on the gas.

His right hand turned the wheel.

© 2011 Aaron M. Anderson


Author's Note

Aaron M. Anderson
Aaron
[email protected]
Photo "Ghostly lady" used courtesy of gorlitsa of deviantart.com.
A version of this story was copyrighted in 2007
TXu 1-581-387

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Featured Review

Had to keep working at this long, long story .. so many twists and turns, but so glad i did. It has exciting areas, scary scenes and even more. Evan's character seems to have various faces - victim, hero, lover, player, friend, dreamer, runner, chases and so on .. he has so many of the human strengths and weaknessesm he could be a walking metaphor for Mankind, tho not sure if that's your intention.

This is certainly a great story and very finely written .. could be developed too .. there could be so much more.

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

Oh, wow! Having just read Watercolour Lover, I was really pleased to have a sequel to follow on reading. Love the twists and turns.

Very moving, haunting and a great writing style you have. Fantastic!

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Wow! Your attention to detail is phenomenal. I was hooked within the first few sentences and the twists and turns kept me hooked right through to the end. I had to go back and read it again, simply because I enjoyed it so much.

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Had to keep working at this long, long story .. so many twists and turns, but so glad i did. It has exciting areas, scary scenes and even more. Evan's character seems to have various faces - victim, hero, lover, player, friend, dreamer, runner, chases and so on .. he has so many of the human strengths and weaknessesm he could be a walking metaphor for Mankind, tho not sure if that's your intention.

This is certainly a great story and very finely written .. could be developed too .. there could be so much more.

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I loved it, but I must admit it was weird reading about a monstery-thing with the same name as me xD Great twist at the end, and great work in general. Lovely read, well done :)

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

i absolutly love this story a true suprise ending is very hard to pull off cant wait to read more of your work

This review was written for a previous version of this writing

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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Added on July 3, 2011
Last Updated on July 18, 2011
Tags: action, adventure, ghost, romance, relationship, lies, dreams, reality, mind-bending, gay
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Aaron M. Anderson
Aaron M. Anderson

Raleigh, NC



About
I'm a young writer from North Carolina. I enjoy creating unique worlds for people to experience and enjoy through my stories and poems. Thank you for visiting my profile page. My favorite lyric.. more..

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