Monday, October 6, 2014

Flash Fiction: Angry Ghost

Warning: NSFW for language.          

           The worst part about being dead wasn’t that every day was the same.  That might have been bearable.  Reliving a whole day would have provided plenty of experiences to savor, from the Denny’s All-American Slam breakfast (toast subbed for pancakes, as usual) to the last frame of So You Think You Can Dance before bed (all that athletic flesh trapped in skintight spandex).  If that had been his afterlife, he would have had no complaints.
           Instead, he just kept re-experiencing the last fifteen minutes.  The strange car parked outside.  Pulling into the driveway.  Getting into the house.  Gladys and some kid half her age, fucking on the couch like they were trying out for Vivid Video’s Anal Invaders #37.  The agony in his chest and left arm.  The EMT’s concerned face.  Blackness.
           And again.
           And again.
           He’d lost count once the repetitions reached the quadruple digits.
           Oh, at first he’d tried to change things, to break the cycle.  Flip the script.  Think outside the box.  Jump off the merry-go-round.
           It was impossible. 
           He was locked in.  No matter how loud his mental shouting, how hard he tried to just twitch a muscle, blink an eye, do something different, he couldn’t.  Everything remained exactly the same, from Gladys’s sweaty, shocked face to the horrible gasping noise that served as his last words (meant to be “You whore,” but sounding more like, “oohhrrrchhhuhh” in the extremity of his myocardial infarction).  There was no changing the past.  If this was Hell, the Devil had incredible attention to detail.  
           Eventually, he started to get angry.
           Very angry.
           No white light at the end of a tunnel of darkness for him.  Why not?  Why did he just get the darkness?  She was the one cheating on him!  This endless Hell was unjust. 
           The unfairness of it swelled his anger to fury. 
           And it absolutely did not stop.  Unconsciousness required a brain; his had died long ago.
           His shrieks went unanswered.
           His pleas fell on deaf ears.
           His fury spiraled.
           He spent years screaming, a ceaseless roar of rage, and despite the same scene playing itself over and over and over and over throughout, he finally felt something different.  An infinitesimal change, but it was as welcome as water in the Gobi. 
           Through the humiliation of seeing his wife being pleasured on all fours by another man, the pain of the heart attack, and the taste of blood in his mouth from biting his tongue halfway through, he experienced an odd sensation of movement, as though he’d tried to shove something but was pushed back instead.
            This was it!  He eagerly capitalized on it, duplicated it, multiplied it.  This was his ticket to escape, and after that, revenge.  The cheating, faithless bitch who’d killed him, who’d made his last moments of life such hell, would pay for it.  Somehow.
           More movement.  It was working.
           And more humiliation, of course: just because he felt a change, even the tiniest bit, it didn’t mean he was actually free.  He could still see Gladys’s young lover’s straining buttocks, hear her gasps and groans, smell their frenzied sex.  The cycle didn’t end. 
           But now there was more.
           Focusing every last iota of anger, he sought form, and with form, solidity.  Whatever it took, he would do it.
           A year passed. 
           Another year. 
           The endless loop didn’t close: it just swelled to include this new experience.  In addition to the pain of one third of his heart rupturing in his ribcage, he felt an expansion of his will.  To betrayal was added hope.  To fury was achievement.
           His focus strengthened.  He gathered what he could to make his hatred tangible.  The dust motes floating in a sunbeam.  Loose carpet fibers from where he’d fallen to the floor, dying.  Even drifts of hair from Gladys’s cat, feline remnants stuck to the bottom of the sofa.  What did it matter if these things were all but insubstantial?  His fury was harder than titanium, sharper than steel.  It would suffice.
           But he had to wait. 
           The moment had to be right.
           No slamming doors and rearranging cupboards for him.  He was no poltergeist.  He was an avenging angel.  Vengeance personified. 
           A life for a life.  It was only fair.
           So he waited, using the never-ending fifteen minute cycle of his death as a spur to keep him together.  Literally.
           And when it was time, he would throw himself upon her like a sandstorm, scouring the skin from her bones with the force of his righteous anger.  But not before she learned who’d done it.  She had to know it was him.
           Soon, he began to look forward to the endless replay, those last minutes before death when he saw her face.  The surprise, the shock.  He hoped she’d have the same look before he blinded her.
           At long last, with his rage honed to the purest edge, he saw her.  No replay, this.  This wasn't Memorex: it was live.  She’d moved the sofa to clean behind it, wearing makeup she’d never worn for him at home.  How often had she been fucking that kid since he’d died?  Did they fuck in their marriage bed?  The kitchen?
           Screaming soundlessly, he launched himself at her, a whirling vortex of vengeful fury. 
           He was Death Incarnate, and in her last sight, she would—
           With a faint expression of distaste, Gladys lifted the vacuum cleaner’s wand to suck up the sudden puff of lint and cat hair that had drifted up. 
           She should’ve cleaned back there years ago.

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