01 Feb I Kill Ghosts
“So is Dozer your real name?” Kevin, my latest referral, said from the safety of his suit.
“No.” I could’ve explained the origins of the ridiculous nickname ‘Bulldozer’ but over the years I’ve found it useful to maintain an air of mystery and danger when dealing with possible clients.
Kevin stared me down in an attempt to make me uncomfortable enough to continue talking. I recognized it as a business tactic common among people with too much money. Of course these same people weren’t used to trying this tactic against anyone tall enough to clearly see their bald spot.
Being 6 foot 10 had its privileges.
He broke first, “Michael told you what’s going on?”
I nodded, “The gist. I need to hear it in your words though.”
I didn’t, in all actuality, as most jobs end up being pretty simple. I go in, I find the offending spirit, and I stab it until it disappears. But too many cranks requesting my services has taught me to be careful in the screening process for potential clientele. Even with the fancy suit Kevin could still turn out to be an idiot who didn’t know a spirit from a shaky AC vent.
He stayed silent for another ten seconds before answering, “This is going to sound crazy…”
The way the words trailed off were an obvious indicator that he didn’t want to talk about whatever ‘this’ was. That was definitely a point in the believability column for him.
He continued when I moved my finger in a circular ‘keep going’ motion, “My wife died three years ago. Brain cancer. The treatments that almost bankrupted us did nothing as she wasted away in that goddamn hospital bed.”
I saw a single tear drip from his eye. Two points in the believable column.
“Nine months was all it took to take a healthy woman in her thirties from the peak of health to a skeleton with skin laying in a hospital bed…” He wiped away the second tear that had formed under his eye, “Three years is long enough to wait, right?”
I wasn’t a fan of his begging for an answer but he wasn’t going to divulge anything useful if this didn’t move along, “Long enough for what?”
He set his Starbucks cup on the coffee table and looked at it. It was obvious by the discoloration on the ring finger that the removal of his wedding ring was recent, “I’ve been dating again. I thought she would’ve wanted me to move on. But…”
And there’s a piece of relevant information, “She’s still in the house?”
“I’ve never seen her, but I can just feel her, you know? It’s like all of the ghost shows say. Cold spots. Random noises that don’t seem to make much sense,” I was about to walk out of the coffee house at this point as using ghost hunting TV as evidence is a clear sign that I was dealing with a faker or someone with a carbon monoxide leak. However what he said next convinced me that something real was going on, “And I think she tried to attack Megan.”
I raised my eyebrow in response.
“My girlfriend. We’ve been staying at her place a lot. I just didn’t want to bring her to the place that my wife died, you know?” He went silent for a few seconds before finishing, “It’s been three years, you know? I know where I put everything in that house. And those cups didn’t fall out of those cabinets by themselves. And despite what Megan says I know she didn’t slip on the tile floor of the bathroom. It just felt…”
“Like jealousy?” I finished. When a ghost, a true ghost, hangs around somewhere even a normal person can feel the strong emotions floating around in the air. The stronger the emotions, the stronger the feeling. And jealousy was definitely on that list. Strong enough that she could affect the physical world. And if she could do that than she was a danger.
I thought in my head for a moment, taking in the suit Kevin wore and the desperation in his voice, before offering my services, “Five thousand upfront. Another ten once the job is finished. And I’m not liable for any damage done to the house.”
He gave me a quizzical look in response.
“Hopefully you won’t have to find out why they call me Dozer.”
For someone who was going broke just three years ago his house was a lot fancier than I expected. A brick driveway with a bigger square footage than my apartment led the way to a single story monstrosity of newly built house on ground artificially inflated by crooked real estate developers. Considering the fact that the house was built less than five years ago it was surprising to think that it even had enough history for a spirit to possess the place.
But of course Kevin’s wife would rather die at home than on a hospital bed. I shouldn’t blame the guy too much since his actions led to the fact that he needed to hire me in the first place.
And him paying me a five thousand dollar deposit, of course.
“A bit ostentatious.” The front door was a monstrosity of fake rustic metal large enough that even I could fit through it without ducking my head. It opened on creakless hinges to a solid wood floor with various pieces of expensive looking furniture that circled around a glass coffee table with a laptop laying open on it. Looks like he wasn’t kidding when he said he left the house in a hurry.
I closed the laptop quietly and looked at the large windows that faced the mountainside. Looking down at the valley with the lights of the city glowing in the distance I could understand the appeal of spending so much money to live up here.
I turned quickly. The quiet voice had come from the kitchen.
“Kevin?” The quiet voice came again. It didn’t pay to dilly-dally so I stepped from the hardwood floor of the living room to the travertine tile of the kitchen.
The transparent blue form of a skeletal woman shuffled slowly around the island in the middle of the kitchen.
“Kevin?” The ghost continued to chant quietly as it made another quarter circle around the island. As it did the transparent face came into full view to show the tight skin clinging to her face and the loose fitting hospital gown that she had brought with her to the afterlife.
Despite what all the ghost hunting shows would tell you, spirits that can actually affect the physical world are rare. And when I say affect I mean in any form. If you can actually hear or see a ghost, and it doesn’t turn out to be carbon monoxide poisoning, then the best thing you can do is run away as fast as you can and call someone who can do what I can. Because there’s only one thing that lets a ghost do anything besides float around peacefully and ignore the living.
And that’s when they’re pissed.
“Kevin?” The transparent form said as it’s face moved up to meet mine and stopped moving.
“Is there any chance you’re going to make this easy on me and pass on? Or whatever it is you do when you stop being around us?”
The transparent face cocked it’s head. This may seem like a stupid question to ask a thing that barely has consciousness but you would be surprised how many times just asking them nicely works.
“Where is Kevin?” The face, which had only shown the ravages of mortal disease before, started extending it’s jaw past the point that any physical jaw should be able to.
“Where is Kevin!” It screamed before rushing towards me in a blue blur. Without a chance to pull the best chance of taking the thing out I threw up my arms and locked my legs in my best defensive stance in an attempt to not get knocked down on my ass.
As the dead can ignore such paltry laws as gravity and momentum the entire force of her rage hit me squarely in the chest and sent me flying backwards into a cabinet which splintered on impact.
That’s going to hurt tomorrow.
She reformed into a solid figure before I could even get off the ground and screamed through inhuman facial proportions a inch away from my face, “Where is Kevin!”
I groaned, happy that most of the pain was dulled by shock, and answered, “Kevin sent me to talk to you.”
The transparent figure stared at me with unblinking eyes and pressed me into the countertop with bony fingers that felt more like claws.
I decided to press the lapse in her anger and continued, “Kevin is wondering why you’re still here. What unfinished business you have. What we can do to help you move on.”
The transparent face’s contorted features slipped back to normal, the claws holding me down softening as the fingers pulled back to a normal shape, “Kevin…”
This lapse wouldn’t last long so I reached behind my back as quietly as I could and grabbed the handle of the knife that was currently sitting inside of the silver sheath on my side. I winced as I grabbed what felt like dry ice.
“LIAR!” The face contorted again as she caught sight of my face wincing and tracked my hand movements. The transparent hand closed around my throat and I felt the icy grip of ghost flesh around my neck.
I gripped my hand around the knife in my sheath and plunged the transparent into the side of the screaming figure about to choke me into unconsciousness. The figure immediately let go and backed off while grabbing at its side where the ghost blade had plunged into its side. I coughed as I gulped fresh air into my lungs and attempted to ignore the icy cold feeling around my throat. Unfortunately I couldn’t ignore that same feeling in my hand as I still held the ghost blade in my hand. Even with the immense amount of pain it was feeling I knew I couldn’t let go of the transparent knife as it was the only thing that could truly hurt the dead.
The banshee wailed as she held the wound closed with one hand, small bits of ephemeral blue wisps drifting between the ghost’s fingers, and made another dash towards me with her free hand extended outwards. I attempted to sidestep the grab as I didn’t feel like having dry ice on my throat again. I underestimated how fast she was and as I did she backhanded me with the free hand.
The force of the blow sent me from the entryway of the kitchen and into the living room where I landed on the glass coffee table. Turns out the glass was a lot stronger and I didn’t end up crashing through it. I did hear a couple of cracks as I felt the impact of the closed laptop in my back.
“Give me Kevin!” I didn’t have time to recover as the blue transparent form rushed from the kitchen towards my current position on the coffee table, both hands flailing in anger towards me with any thought of the blue mist leaking from its side forgotten.
An unfortunate side effect of the fact that I can see, hear, and touch ghosts is the fact that they can touch me back. And unlike the flesh bodies we inhabit they don’t seem bound by any of the laws of physics our meatsuits are forced to endure so they can do a ridiculous amount of damage to me. It would be pretty easy that a ghost with full access to myself as a punching bag could easily send me to an early grave.
And from personal experience, trying to punch a ghost to death is impossible. It should be noted however that while it can’t kill them, they can’t pass through or touch silver. A nifty little fact when you find something of a ghostly nature that you can use in a fight with them.
Like a blue transparent butcher knife.
As the leaking figure leaped on me I brought my hand holding the butcher knife up in an arc. It looks like I calculated her speed correctly as I saw the ghostly knife slide into her transparent neck.
There was no screaming this time as her throat filled up with the blue stuff that I can only assume is ghost blood. By the time she came to full rest on me the ghost that had previously drained all of the heat in my neck with a touch was only a cool mist. Another five seconds and what had been her body was a blue mist that dissipated to nothingness by the time I had picked myself up from the glass coffee table.
I put the knife back in it’s silver sheath, glad to be finally getting the feeling back in the hand that had been holding it.
A broken kitchen cabinet, a cracked glass table, and a broken laptop. A couple of prods to the various parts of my body showed me that it was only bad bruises. All in all it was actually a smaller amount of damage than I was used to in my escapades, both to myself and to other people’s property.
I took out my phone from my front pocket, a sturdy little flip phone that’s somehow lasted through who knows how many encounters, and I texted Kevin.
They call me Dozer.
I kill ghosts.