Being a psychic, you would think talking to the dead was a walk in the park. However, it’s not always that simple. The hooded specter haunting me is one I’ve been dreaming about since I was a kid. One day, he appeared in my bedroom mirror. Good? Evil? I don’t know what his true intentions are.
Enter Jackson, ghost hunting show host extraordinaire – and my ex – to save me from the big bad ghost.
From there…well…it’s been a world wind of complications. My house burnt down. I’m being stalked by an ancient evil and gotten myself back into the world of being a ghost hunting psychic. Jackson dragged me, along with a few other psychics, to a ghost town wiped off the map called Death’s Dance.
From there things went from bad to worse.
The mist blanketed the ground and clung to everything it touched. The vapor was cold to pass through but not suffocating. Shadows lingered within the fog, but their forms remained too distant for me to ever make out. I wandered further into the haze determined to discover where I was. As I walked toward the figures, they hovered never getting any closer. The path was solid under my feet. I strained to see through the gray until my foot bumped into something protruding out of the ground. I tripped. The world shifted as I landed half on a patch of wet grass and half on something hard enough it send shockwaves of pain through my knees. It took a moment to catch my breath and orient myself. Before me was a gravestone carved from flaking slate, the name and epitaph had worn away by time.
I placed my hand on the stone only to find it tangible and sturdy beneath my fingertips. The air remained static as I stood, but the curtain of mist had drawn back, revealing where I had ended up. A cemetery. This dream had transported me back to the burial ground I had frequented for as long as I could remember. Its peaceful landscape soothed me. I took a deep breath, searching the overgrown boneyard for the one occupant that was always there, observing me.
The brume swirled before me into indistinguishing shapes. Some coalesced into hands, reaching out to clutch whatever passed in their vaporous fingers. The roiling air churned into the defined form of a tunnel. Faces materialized along the edges of the corridor, pressing against the thin fabric the air had woven. One of them screamed until it filled my ears. It tried to terrorize me into turning away from the forming tunnel. But nothing would deter me from my path. It was one I had walked so many times before. Something darted to my left, hiding behind one of the stone sentinels. It tried to get my attention, but I knew better.
Nature had taken back this place, reclaiming it for its own purposes. Ivy gripped the elaborate crypts holding the crumbling necropolises together. The stone footpaths between the gravestones had been repurposed by the grass with only glimpses of gravel peeking out from among the blades. Weeping willows overshadowed all and skimmed the top of my hair. One longer bough tickled the back of my neck. I brushed it away and walked toward the yawning mouth of the passageway. A cool blast of air rumbled down the way, trying to ward me off. Another shadow skittered between the markers. I ignored it and stepped into channel. Once I did, the mist cut me off so I had no way back. The road ahead cleared and at the end stood a cloaked figure, observing me. I ran my fingers over a marker and the slate flaked away into my hand. The silence helped to soothe my mind, but an uneasiness lingered in my thoughts.
Something was a little different about this dream. I couldn’t put my finger on. Tonight was the first time in a long while I hoped to see what he looked like. The passageway began to shrink around me. I stepped forward and he remained at the end, watching me. Every frustration I’d ever had picked at my mind because I was so close. A gust billowed his black cloak around him, but his face remained concealed as always. Maybe there was hope this time. Maybe I could get close enough to actually see some of him after all this time.
When I walked toward him, the haze whirled around me, obscuring my path. The smog grew thicker the more I tried to go to him. If that wasn’t a sign to stop, I didn’t know what was.
I chuckled and held up my hands. “I get it. You don’t want to reveal yourself right now. One of these years, you’re going to have to. You can’t keep pulling me here and not show yourself.”
An echo of laughter filtered through my dream before the mist completely enshrouded me.
The fog swallowed the boneyard and the tunnel collapsed around me. The heaviness of the air descended on my skin, leaving a blanket of dew all over me. When the grayness dissipated and the vapor evaporated, I stood in a field with a lone tree atop a knoll.
The tree was hundreds of years old. Even the smallest branch had the thickness of both my wrists put together. The boughs spread out, casting shadows over the land below, snatching those in its wake into the looming darkness. The oak was once grand and provided shelter for many living creatures. I could imagine the lush greenery that adorned this landmark. Now it was a skeletal thing that presided over death. A few dried up leaves clutched onto it, leeching the last vestiges of life from the husk. Even on the hill, it still spread a certain eeriness across the field. Gray clouds obscured the sun. It remained bright enough it cast the tree in shadow from my vantage point at the bottom of the tor. The grass brushed my waist. The cool breeze shivered the blades causing it to sound like the hollow wails of the dead. The sound pierced my soul and sent a tremor of fear through me. The wind blew harder and I caught the stench of death wafting through the meadow.
From the shadows, I knew something besides the limbs were moving. As I climbed the mound, the grass thinned. Fog wrapped around the bottom of the tree, reaching out its tentacles to lick at my feet. The breeze glided through the emaciated branches, swinging the frayed ropes that dangled from the boughs. Some nooses choked fresh occupants who the birds hadn’t picked clean. Below the swinging fruit were the bones and dust of those who had come before.
These poor souls were stuck here forced to relive their deaths over and over again in my dream. I stared at the dangling feet, hearing the wind rasp the old branches. Why had I been summoned to these particular places? They seemed so real.
In the graveyard, the cool stone was alive under my fingers. The whisper of the wind through the willows clattered the leaves as it tried to impart some forgotten message, but I never understood the meaning.
The mist twined its vaporous fingers around the darkened trunk and slithered through the piles of bones. The dead littered the ground and the tree took its nourishment from the remains. The stench of the rotting dead evaporated this close to the tree. Instead, the air had a stale taste to it like a room that had been closed up after a funeral. The heaviness of it sat on my tongue and always came back with me when I woke up.
A gust raked the branches and swung the corpses. A heavy clatter sounded on the other side of the oak. I jumped and turned. The breath caught in my throat. I tried to calm my racing heart, but this was out of the ordinary. Creeping slowly around the enormous trunk, I saw one of the ropes had broken, scattering bones along the roots. More sustenance for the ancient tree. The vapor slid over my shoes, and soon claimed the bones. The mist had a mind of its own. If there was someone controlling it, I had not seen his face yet.
To soothe my nerves, I stood a second with my back against the trunk. The rough bark dug through my shirt and poked me in the back. I closed my eyes. This dreamscape was devoid of any life. All was quiet. When I opened my eyes once more, the column of smog had appeared once more. A smile crept up on my lips because at the end of the corridor was my dark figure.
His face was covered by a long, black hood and his body hidden in a voluminous cloak. The haze whirled around him. This time he reached out to me. He never frightened me no matter how many times I saw him. I assumed many things about my nighttime visitor. Maybe he was a tacit watcher who took a particular penchant to me. Or maybe he was a demon come to claim me. Maybe he was something else altogether. Whatever he was, unquiet spirit or wraith, he had been with me through the years.
At this moment, the silence between us was better than words. I walked toward him away from the tree. The death around us was part of the landscape either by the hanging tree or in the graveyard. As I got closer, this time he didn’t move further away. He offered me no disapproval or reproach. He just—was. My visitor would never accuse me of being a witch one moment and the next be banging on my door, begging for assistance in matters of the occult.
The fog grew heavier on my skin. It roiled around my feet, shooting tentacles around my legs until I could no longer move. I glanced at the ground and then back at him. This was as far as I was going to get. A heavy moan rolled through me. I looked up at him once more. Tendrils of his cloak billowed around him, reaching outward.
“Really? Twice in one night. Come on. I get trying to remain mysterious, but this is ridiculous,” I said to him.
I swore I saw him nod, but if he did, it was only the slightest movement of his head, the shake of the fabric of his hood. I sighed. The fog wrapped around the both of us, fading away and the real world called. No matter how much I wished to remain and learn more about him, I was waking up. Maybe one day I would discover his name.
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