A/N: I'm finally updating this. It's taken a back seat to my other story, Defy and Comply. When I get done writing it, I'll probably update this more frequently but it depends on my inspiration for it. I will get this done; it's just that the chapters literally drain me of mental energy. I think I might bump this back to monthly updates or something until I can finish my current project at hand.
For now, please enjoy my little update.
Chapter 4: To Rest
Rika slowly looked to her paranormal companion and leveled him with a void stare. "This is the part where I question you."
If the ghost's smile could have grown, it would have. It was almost as if he was amused. "Are you paranoid?"
Glancing back towards the direction that the girl headed off in, her eyes stayed transfixed on the dismal horizon. "I'm curious. Maybe that spirit abducted Pumice. Maybe it had something to do with six-one-six. I think that we should investigate it." Even if it was a long shot, and the events weren't connected, gaining knowledge on it was important. Rika had a feeling that the two incidents might be connected. However, if they were, then she feared what might have happened to her friend.
If this same being was responsible for her disappearance…then she might be dead.
Her dire expression hardened.
"Perhaps you should go to that girl's house. If she's telling you the truth then the tombstone would be in her front yard." What better proof was there to determine that factor than what was presented in the very story itself?
However, Rika knew that such a thing could also just be a product of the girl's imagination or mental deterioration. Her eyes narrowed. "There are a lot of crazy people in Conversion Town, so her story may be a fabrication. On the other hand, I can't let it slip through my grasp. If that ghost has Pumice, I would like to get her away from it before she's driven mad."
…or worse, before she was killed and ended up a monument of mourning like that girl's supposed family member.
"Then we'll check out the apparition first. Do you know where she lives?" The ghost asked, looking at her with that same, unchanging smiley face. There was no question to it, merely a pleasant smile that remained unchanging, as if his face was stuck that way. It was very peculiar.
"Conversion Town is small, and there are few abandon houses. You can fly up high and spot a tombstone, can't you?" The ghost had many abilities that she did not. If he flew up, he could see the whole town, even through dense fog he could find out if they would just be wasting their time by going there.
There wasn't a point in her going there when she had other, more effective means to get the information that she sought. If the tombstone was there, then they would make the effort to go to the girl's place of residence to investigate.
"Yes, I can," the ghost flew up, into the dense layer of low-laying fog. Eyeing the running girl, he took off after her and followed her as she turned at a junction in the road and ran into a large apartment complex.
Like most buildings in Conversion Town, it was drab and downtrodden in appearance. The parking lot was void of most cars and the building gave off a derelict feeling, even though it was inhabitable. Looking around, his hollowed, white eyes lay sight to the very tombstone that the girl had mentioned. The ghost's smile widened a little.
So, it was true after all.
Rika glanced up to the apparition floating above her head. "Well, what do you see?"
"A good sign," the ghost's words were vague as they tended to be.
A black eyebrow was arched in question as she cocked her head. "What does that mean?"
He floated around her a couple of times, spiraling to the ground as lavender eyes followed his movements. As the ghost circled her, he explained the meaning behind his words. "That the girl you encountered lives in an apartment complex a block from here. There is a tombstone located on the front lawn. It's exactly as she claims."
"So...she's not crazy." That was a first, considering Conversion Town had an oddly large population of unstable people, due to the asylum that was located on the outskirts of town. Rika had initially thought that the girl might have been someone from the mental facility, or possibly someone who had escaped.
Ghost stopped and gazed at her with those hollow-half-moon eyes. "Shall we go?"
Rika nodded as they made their way towards the apartment. They ventured down the road and walked through the fog that littered the town. It wasn't as thick as it usually was on other given days, which was a blessing all on its own. The black-haired girl noticed that Ghost was fond of floating in all of the places where the fog was most dense, more than likely he was trying to conceal himself from the supposed mediums and psychics who roamed the streets, searching for victims to prey on with their false readings and supposed clairvoyance.
Soon, the building came into view. It was large and rectangular, a dingy tope color with a faded, burnt umber roof. It looked as if it should have been condemned a long time ago; however, most of the buildings in Conversion Town were drab in coloration and seemed to look derelict in general. Before they got to the building, Rika noticed that there were two signs on the corner of the block. They were vintage and wooden, swinging from dingy, black chains. It was only after she read them did she stop dead in her tracks.
"What the hell is this? That sign never said that before," her face hardened as her eyes scanned over the sign for a second time, making sure that the fog wasn't playing tricks on her.
The signs read: Get Out! Now!
"Do you think the ghost is at fault?" Ghost wondered as he too, gazed upon the signs. The odd thing about them was that they didn't even look painted over or anything, they simply looked as if they had held those black, bold words all along. They showed no signs of being new or freshly painted.
"It's not about thinking. I know it is," Rika's voice was filled with a new sense of strength as her pace quickened. She marched at a quick pace over to the apartment. As the fog cleared, they laid sight on the familiar landmark: that tombstone. Walking up to the weathered grave market, Rika read over the words that were engraved into it.
Cause of Death: Suicide
"Do you think that entity is still around here? You can sense other ghosts, can't you?" It would only be logical if he could. Rika knew that ghosts were a lot like people in the sense that they had the ability to acknowledge and communicate with each other.
"I can sense all of the paranormal entities in Conversion Town. They all leave intricate energy trails that are unique and different. There are many types of spiritual entities, as you know; ectoplasm, orbs, poltergeists, ghosts and vortexes...for some reason this apartment has a high reading." Everything had its own energy, even human beings and all were easily detected by something otherworldly. It was easy for Ghost to act as the girl's guide due to that fact. In all reality, he was doing the girl a favor by taking her on this trip. He doubted that she would have been able to go through with the plans herself or get as far as she did without his help. Rika was the perfect traveling partner and he would be sure to utilize it in any way he saw fit.
Rika's muscles tensed and she felt a chill wash over her body. Every muscle burned from the sudden temperature drop. Her head was swarming, like something horrible was in the air. The girl felt woozy and ill because the presence was so strong. She could barely understand how Ghost didn't feel the same way...then again, Ghost was dead. "I sense conflicting energies. Ghost do you think there is a vortex here?" Areas with concentrated energy like this could have only been vortexes, or openings that allowed paranormal entities to travel between worlds. They typically consisted of large walls of energy and gave off powerful vibes due to the amount of traffic that traveled through them.
"If there is, it would be inside." There were no vortexes outside. In fact, Ghost knew of their exact location, but he wanted the girl to figure it out for herself. She claimed to come from a powerful family of paranormal investigators so this would put her abilities to the test.
"Then we should at least walk the hallways. If I remember correctly, these apartments are upscale. They have an elevator." Whatever it was had to be in there.
"What are we waiting for?" Ghost seemed eager, either that or he wanted to get this over with.
Rika blinked a little, then looked at him in question. There was one problem with just walking in like you owned the place. "What about security?"
"I don't think that it'll be a problem." It was as if the black apparition had a plan of his very own. Rika wondered what exactly when through his head...or whatever it was that he had that acted as a head.
"Go in and see," Ghost didn't see that there was anything to worry about. Rika was suspicious as to why. What did the apparition see that she could not? As weary as she was, the girl surprisingly felt the need to trust this wayward spirit.
The black-haired girl pushed open the doors and proceeded to walk inside of the dingy-looking apartment building. Her senses were filled with stagnant air that had a hint of rain washed fragrance to it. All around her, there were white lights and the walls were a faded mint green with white trim. Before her, there was a series of tombstones that were spread around haphazardly. They looked to be put there where people have died.
Two of them stuck out in particular to the girl. One of them was right in the middle of the hallway, and the other was a little to one side. She walked towards the gravestones, trying to make her way down towards the elevator at the end of the hallway. Lavender eyes narrowed as she read the gravestone's text. It was nearly the same as the one in the front yard, but the names were different and the cause of death was listed as murder. "There's no doubt it's been here."
The two walked towards the elevator. Rika could hear the electronic sound of the doors opening. Inside of the elevator was a tombstone and what looked like an old video camera at her feet. Upon examining the equipment, it appeared that there was impact damage, as if it had been dropped. She picked it up as the doors closed behind her. "Someone was videotaping. Do you think there's any footage of this ghost on here? They've been known to appear on camera footage."
There could be a possibility, even if it was an uncommon one.
"Do you believe whoever owned this camera was filming their last moments on the mortal plane?" That's what it seemed like the girl was suggesting, at least. What a morbid mind she had.
Upon further inspection, Rika noticed that the light was still on. The little, red beacon shown at her as a glaring reminder of the haunting situation she had walked in on. "It's still recording. Does that answer your question?" She arched an eyebrow and frowned at the ghost. It had to know something, but the only question was what? "I think it's worth looking into."
"Should we look around more here or have you found what you're looking for?" Rika had wanted evidence and now she had something that could have very well have been possible evidence. That would mean that she no longer needed to explore.
"I have a feeling we shouldn't prod further until we witness the contents on this video. There's obviously a disturbed spirit here. Whatever it is, it has a power far beyond that of any normal ghost. This may just be one of the folklore legends of Conversion Town that end up being true." The more she looked in the apartments, the more she felt a horrible presence grow stronger and stronger. The more her muscles tightened, and the girl felt her illness growing. Usually, that was the sign of an angry evil spirit and prodding it further would only make things worse. It could cause the spirit to haunt her, and that wasn't anything she was searching to have happen. She already had one ghost, she didn't need more.
Rika then faced the ghost and gave him instructions to meet back up at her house. She didn't want him following her inside. It was much easier for him to phase through her bedroom wall on the south end of her home. Rika would show him where when she got inside. She didn't want her mother, who was a psychic medium, to sense him because then she was sure to get questioned.
With that, she packed up her camera and the two headed out of the apartment.
Rika stood in the middle of her room, positioned in the middle of a small, oval rug that had layers of different shades of purple. The video camera was cold against her hands as the ghost materialized in front of her, greeting her with that same, wide smile. No matter what, he always seemed happy and always spoke with a sly or amused voice. What kind of spirit was he, anyway?
He took the cassette tape from the video camera and inserted it into her VCR, rewinding the tape until she hit the stopping point. Hitting the play button, the girl backed away from her television. "Now, let's see what's on here."
The television screen was completely black, but she could hear some kind of feed from the camera for a few moments. Then the sound of grass crunching as someone was walking faded in. The camera then cut scened to a very blurry and out of focus street with several lights and a few houses and businesses. It was strange, because unlike the normal nights in Conversion Town, this one nearly lacked fog entirely.
There were a couple of benches and tall street lamps that bathed the pavement with milky light. The camera came into focus on a tall, lanky-looking guy with short, brown hair. He was dressed in baggy blue jeans with holes in them and a blue t-shirt. The camera then slowly panned over to show a skateboarder who was wearing a sock hat and had shoulder-length blonde hair and jean shorts. The skate boarder looked up as the camera got closer and closer, shaking with each step the camera man took.
"I've been waiting for you for ten minutes," the skateboarder said with a disgruntled tone.
"Look what I get. I told you I got that new camera," the cameraman's voice sounded old, as if he were in his late teens, much like the other two guys that he was hanging out with. So far, it looked as if they were just a bunch of normal kids walking around at night with nothing else better to do than cause trouble.
The camera was then directed at the guy sitting on the bench, who quickly covered his face. "Don't record me!" Just then, the camera violently shook as the picture blurred and created fast-paced motion streaks. Rustles and the phrase 'let me see it' were heard.
After the jolting, the camera seemed to regain hands as it panned around what looked like a park with rolling hills and trees. There was a swing set and a seesaw, a stone bridge that went over a small creek and a long, concrete walkway that wound around the park.
"Look at the zoom on this thing," the cameraman was amazed with his new gift as the camera zoomed in on a tree in the far-off distance. It was brought front and center and it was so close that it looked as if they were standing before it.
"That's awesome," the blonde replied as the camera zoomed out, then zoomed in on his face as he stood there, unaware that he was being recorded. After a few moments, his expression changed to one of perplexion. "Are you recording now?" Then, his expression morphed into irritation as he shoved the camera away. "Stop recording me!"
The camera then went to his short-haired friend. "Hey, let's shoot something."
"Let's go to the Crescendo Apartments," the camera man decided and his friends both agreed.
The camera cut off, then cut back on in front of the apartments they had just visited. They were filming what looked like a large parking lot with a few cars parked in some of the spaces.
The skate boarder came into view with a mischievous grin on his face and pointed to one of the restaurants, where an old man with a bottle of liquor was. "Look at that old guy walking down the street."
Zooming in, the old man walked with his back turned away, holding his bottle of liquor. Just then, the short-haired guy ran by and stuck out his tongue, crossing his eyes to make a strange face.
"Hey, look at that weird tombstone," the skater pointed over to the tombstone in the front yard. The camera zoomed in to see the old stone with a black ball of something forming beside of it.
"Look at that weird thing by it," the camera man was clearly freaked out as the black, blurry patch of distortion floated haphazardly around the stone, circling it in a looming fashion. "It's just staying there."
His friend whistled, calling out to it as if trying to get its attention.
"Let's just go," the blonde's voice was uneasy. He clearly didn't want anything to do with it. The apparition stayed by the tombstone, unmoving and it stopped its circular patterns.
"What's it doing?" The camera man was confused that it had stopped it's movements.
"Let's go!" The short-haired guy called out. Then rustling noises were made and the camera cut off.
When it cut back on, there was a shaking view of the ground and panting, accompanied by the chattering of the males. They all sounded scared out of their minds and it was as if they had been running from the strange creature they had encountered. The view was placed back up, to show a street with a sidewalk, adorned with street lamps that were spaced equally apart. There was a cement circle drive. The blonde skated around on his skateboard. He did a grind on one of the bicycle racks with success, but then he tried to do another trick, jumping up on the railing, but he fell backwards and his feet let go of the skateboard sending it clattering to the ground. Getting up, he attempted the trick a second time, only to fall on his back for a second time. The boy holding the camera laughed at him as he sat on the ground, scratching his head.
Just then, his short-haired friend had a look of horror as he pointed. "Look at that thing!"
"Is that?" The camera man zoomed in on the same black apparition they saw at the tombstone, slowly floating towards them.
"The thing at the grave," the skateboarder got up and clutched his skateboard, walking towards it. "It's a ghost. Hey! What's up?" He waved at the apparition, who had no response. It only continued to loom after him. The blonde then turned and walked towards the camera.
"Let's," his friend tried to say something but fear cut him off.
"Look at it," the camera man sounded afraid and amused at the same time and kept recording it.
"I don't know. Let's throw a rock at it. Throw a rock at it or something," the blonde friend wanted to see if they could get a reaction out of the spirit.
"What the hell?" The camera man said as skateboarder looked over his shoulder, noticing that it was actually following him.
"So...Let's go. Eh...let's just go now," his friend was ready to just get out of there. Out of all of the boys, Rika thought that he had the most sense. He was the smart friend out of the group.
"Fuck! Run!" The skateboarder called out.
Another voice said run at the boys took off running.
"Did you see his face?"
"Of course I saw his face."
"I don't understand."
The voices became a conglomerate of conversation as the camera cut off.
The camera cut on again, and they were on yet another street. This street had no concrete sidewalks and they boys were gathered in the middle of it, beneath a street light that bathed them all in a luminescent glow.
"Okay, why did we run? Let's go back and post it on the internet or something," the skater was intent on letting the world see this thing. He was also intent on antagonizing it further. His ignorant display made Rika want to sigh to herself in exasperation. What an idiot.
"No way, man. He was charging at us. I am not going back." Finally, the friend with sense was trying to be logical once again.
"It was just a ghost with a weird face," the blonde tried to reason with his friend as they started walking down the street. Coming the opposite way was a mass of round, black fog. The boys stopped in their tracks.
"Wait, is that him?" The blonde asked.
"How did he get there?" The logical one was pretty freaked out at this point. The camera blurred, then cut off for a few moments, then it flashed back on with a clear shot of the apparition.
"Record him this time. Don't run," the skateboarder instructed.
"What's he doing?"
"Heh, I don't know," the camera man was confused as the ghost came closer and closer to him. After a few moments of silence, he finally spoke up. "Are you alright?"
"Do you need help?" The blonde questioned, by now the ghost was right up on them. They were so close they could touch it. The boys took off running again and the camera cut to black.
When it cut back in, the three were in a neighborhood of the same types of discolored, old-looking houses. They walked through different people's yards.
"Hey," one of the male's voices cut in.
"What the hell? We ran again," the skateboarder was very displeased with his friend's actions about now.
"Just go back to the apartment. I want to go home," the friend with logic was still trying to tell his buddies that what they were doing was clearly a bad idea. The camera cut off after that conversation.
It cut back on as they opened the apartment door and walked down the same, mint-green hall that Rika and Ghost had been down. The hall was empty and it was dead silent. The only sounds that could be heard were their footsteps. As they went in the door, Rika couldn't help notice that the sign said 'get out' in all caps text.
"Creepy," the skateboarder said, breaking the silence.
"Which floor?" The camera man asked as he stood in front of the elevator.
"Two," the other male replied as the camera man pushed the button. The doors open and the apparition was there for a split second as the boys scream and the camera falls to the floor, shooting the elevator. No sounds were heard after that, no running or further screaming. It was just eerily silent.
"I assume they were killed. This only confirms that many of the stories deemed folklore about ghosts killing people could possibly be true," Rika continued to watch the film, concentrated on the elevator floor as her expression hardened with perplexion. "That girl was right...about everything, but is this the ghost that was in the room with Pumice? Could it have killed her?"
This rose new questions. However, one thing stuck out to her about these cases that differed in her friend's case.
"It can't be true, because there was no tombstone."
"You've only cleared one mystery," Ghost could see that this required further details. This would surely be an interesting case indeed. Would Rika be able to solve it, or would she simply fail and be caught up in whatever nefarious web the ghost had began to weave?
"No, I made a revelation. I've managed to find the source of every murder of that type. That apparition I saw, it was the source of the tombstone murders that have been happening around Conversion Town. My only question is why? Why would an unnamed ghost by killing people? What reason would it have?" Ghosts never acted like this unless they had reasoning. No vengeful spirit didn't still have a purpose to fulfill. This poltergeist stuck out. It acted on its own and would use whatever powers it was blessed with after its death to drag others into its world. What was it trying to accomplish?
"Is that what you would like to find out?" Did the girl really want to involve herself in such affairs? It was dangerous to get involved with anything that had to do with the paranormal.
Rika turned to the ghost, who hovered above her with his ever present smile. "Are you saying that you know about that ghost?" After all, he did state that he could identify other paranormal entities.
"I've told you before, I know many things. I lurk in dreams, hiding in the darkness. I lurk in rooms, watching the activities of others. I watch the ghosts, floating down the streets. I am right behind them. I watch, wait and take note. They all turn around but never see me. They can feel my presence looming and they can recognize that I am there permanently," Ghost lowered himself, inching a little closer to Rika. "I have all of the knowledge of the living and the dead, but until you I have had no way of sharing it. I know the answers to life and the hereafter. What will happen and what already has. Where things form from and where they will come from. Tell me, what do you think it would feel like? To know these things and be stuck with them? To be considered a questionable phenomenon by society? What if I told you I was one of them and I figured out how to communicate with the living?"
Things made a little more sense now to the black-haired girl. She stared into those hollow eyes; her mind was immersed in deep thoughts at the ghost's words. "Is that why you made me your offer?"
"I can present you with the same knowledge I possess. You will come to know about the paranormal world and it's relevance to the mortal plane." It was the offer of a lifetime. It was the very thing that would put Rika far above her mother and make her the best paranormal investigator in all of Conversion Town.
"If that's the case, after I find Pumice I want to know about that ghost and why it's turning people into tombstones and killing them off."
"Your mind thirsts for knowledge most fear to obtain. Just remember what they say about knowledge," Ghost wasn't without posting warning with his offers.
"That knowing too much can be dangerous?" Rika had heard the quote somewhere before.
"That's their claim," Ghost would remain complex. It was as if he was daring her to accept, making her want to pursue knowing what he knew, despite the dangers behind it. There was no guarantee that he wasn't just trying to mind fuck her. There was no guarantee that he secretly knew now more than she did, but all the same, she trusted him. There was something about him that fascinated her and she couldn't help but be drawn to his luring offer.
"I want to make my own claims. Are there any other leads on Pumice?" If they were paranormal, then the ghost would know of them.
"There is a cave through the woods. She could be there. After all, we haven't seen her in Conversion Town. There is also another mystery you're overlooking." Lest she not forget about what happened to her prior to this incident.
"Who or what send you to the Nether."
"You think whoever it was lives in the cave?" Was that what he was getting at? Ghost seemed to know something.
"I don't think we should abandon it as a possibility." That would simply be shoddy detective work. Every bit of information should be thoroughly investigated or the case would only end in regret.
"You want to go there for a reason, so you must know something," Rika didn't truly think that this was just about ghost bringing up simple theories. There was no way in hell that could be a possibility. The ghost knew something, and she couldn't ignore that speech he just gave about finding someone he could talk with and share his knowledge with.
"There are reasons I bring topics up," she was catching on easier than he thought. This was wonderful. What a perceptive girl.
"I've taken notice to that. Let's go and check out that cave. I'll bring some equipment just in case I find anything I may want to document." If one of the urban legends existed, there were others that possibly could. It was best to catch them all on document so that Rika could have solid proof.
As Pumice sat there and reveled in thought, she noticed how eerily quiet it had become. She looked over her shoulder and saw rock walls all around her. There were sounds of faint conversations but she couldn't make any of them out. She began to realize that she was in a deep state of thought, deep enough to where she lost all sense of hearing.
"Hey, who's there? Hello?" She talked louder and louder but no one heard. She began screaming, then she thought to herself.
'Am I trapped in silence? Is it possible to be here forever? Am I truly trapped screaming here? It is true. I'm stuck in this dark void I call deep thought.'
Everything blackens to where the rock walls are no longer distinguishable. Hours go by and nothing happens. Pumice began to take notice of a small but bright light that shone through the hall of the cave. She walked closer to it as it expanded.
"Where am I?" She asked but nothing came out. The light was comforting but it disappeared at the end of the cave, revealing a forest before her. It was only confirmation that she was now completely alone.
Again, she was left alone in her sickening silence. As she started to lose hope, a figure with a long, handle-bar mustache and large, pointed, fox like ears appeared before her. She looked towards the figure as he slowly walked towards her, and when they were a few feet away he greeted her with a smile.
As soon as he was close, the smile twisted as he pulled out a rope and knocked her out. The lime-haired girl fell to her knees, leaves from the trees bending and breaking beneath her form as she realized that she was finally able to get away from the maddening silence. A small smile adorned her face before the light faded and she was gone.
...To Be Continued
A/N: I have no idea when I'm going to be inspired to write this again but it might be soon. I just want to get finished with a story I'm writing called Trapped in Purgatory. In the mean time, feel free to read Defy and Comply or hop on my Melissa Norvell profile and read some of my works there.
Review and it shall be returned.