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This Party Tip submitted by BizGirl - Aug 25th, 2008

    • Scary as Hell Ghost Stories 3

    • True Colors By Pamela Jean Herber

      Go Back to Scary as Hell Ghost Stories

      Elissa wound up her voice and forced it out in long even breaths to match the high pitched wail of the braking freight train. Ever since she could remember, the eerie sounds of the freight yard had called her out here to sit next to the tracks. She was far enough away from Maryanne and the other elders to not be noticed - for her voice to blend in with the real scene in this human place.
      She was waiting for Jake. He had been coming here regularly since he moved to the shelter home a few blocks away. Every day he moved a little closer to the tracks and every day he stayed a little longer. Elissa knew his day was coming. Her day was coming. She had first noticed him before he even arrived at her spot among the daisies. His voice had carried out over the dusty gravel street and across the litter-filled vacant lot to her ears.
      As Jake had walked closer, his voice had grown bigger and turned into the shape of a song. “I do believe I’m coming back again,” he sang. Elissa’s ears stood at attention. Another sound to harmonize with. Even though Jake’s voice was deeper and rougher than hers, she could pull it off. If she was subtle enough. That first attempt and then all during her first meeting with Jake, she whispered the words, the individual sounds barely distinguishable as song. None of the elders had marched down to scold her. Maryanne had not stirred from her sleep. Each day, her voice claimed more of the song. Each day, Jake’s voice softened almost imperceptibly.
      Today she noticed that Jake was turning gray and translucent. The first day he had dragged himself out here, there had been color in him. Elissa had seen it and had fantasized about taking it home with her; about pulling all the color out of his sick old body and wrapping it into a compact bundle. If she folded it into just the right shape and fastened it to her being securely, she might get away with it. She still had plenty of Wite-Out to blend it in. Maryanne seemed to be more than willing to give her as much of the stuff as she asked for. Even more, sometimes, than she needed. Maryanne was happy with Elissa as long as all that showed of her was white.
      Elissa tugged at her lip until it threatened to crack. A hint of pink revealed the existence of the blood that flowed beneath. She had better get back before Maryanne woke from her midday nap.

      Maryanne was flowing white silk over ice. Sometimes her knees stuck involuntarily together on her way from her bleached velour sofa to the refrigerator for a glass of skim milk. A few weeks ago, Elissa had interrupted her on one of those journeys to the kitchen.
      “Maryanne? Today, when I was chipping at my nail polish, instead of ordinary white, I found the palest blue and even a little purple underneath.” What Elissa hadn’t said was that sometimes light flashed from the under-layer like a diamond just caught by the sun. Most of the time, she only found pink flesh. But even pastel pink was not white. Maryanne had pulled a little bottle of Wite-Out from under her sleeve and slipped it secretively to Elissa. From that day, if a little color showed through, Maryanne would gently remind her to add another coat of Wite-Out. But, oh my god, if the sapphire blue caught her eye, a look of panic would attack Maryanne’s whole body and her bright white would turn stark against a suddenly black room. Elissa would blot the frightful patch of color with racing hands and stand with a quivering lip until she had flooded the spot, the eyesore, the defect, with enough of the stuff to drown a small dog.
      The sapphire and the amethyst hadn’t shown themselves in quite some time. Elissa never knew quite where they might be floating around inside, unless they moved. She listened very carefully for those inner journeys and recorded where they stopped. An extra coat of Wite-Out would do the trick as long as she didn’t miss the next motion. Sometimes she felt like a patchwork quilt that no one could recognize as such. She wondered if any of the others felt like that; little pieces all stitched together to hold the stuffing in. Some pieces getting old and dry and cracking and others still wet and new.
      Maryanne had warned Elissa about the colors sapphire and amethyst.
      She said, “Those colors are lies. They are only temptations fabricated by the grays to make us weak and to convince us to fall. They want us to become like them. The beaten.”
      “But Maryanne, they aren’t beaten. They keep coming back. All we do is sit around and watch them until they run out of gas,” Elissa said.
      “I didn’t hear you say that, young lady. Do you understand? You never said anything of the kind. Our conversation is over.”
      “But . . .” She wanted to tell Maryanne about the day she saw the boy on the river. That day, the boy had looked like a Raggedy Andy doll as his body bounced along the rocks down the rapids. Elissa’s terror had torn free and turned into a scream. “Don’t die! Please don’t die!” The boy finally came to rest along the shore where the river spread out and deepened. Elissa ran down to him. She pulled his broken body up onto the grass. He looked to be fifteen or sixteen years old. Elissa’s age. Blood trickled from a gash above his left eye and down past his ear. It matted into his sandy-colored hair. What looked like bone was jutting out from his shredded jeans. The ot moaned a little and then all of the colors rushed out of him. Fiery blood turned blue and then to charcoal. His yellow shirt turned the color of wet sand. His face threatened to disappear completely.
      “Who are you?” he said. “An angel. I’m sure of it!” He smiled as the last of the green in his eyes twinkled her way. “It’s OK, you know,” he said.
      “You hear me. You see me.” Elissa stopped and then started again. “My, uh, name, uh, is Elissa . . . Are you dead?”
      Elissa hadn’t seen the cloud of grays approaching. The group overtook the both of them with the smell of honey and the warmth of a bowl of chicken soup. The individual grays were hard to make out, each one blending in with the other. Some more defined than others. Somewhere in the middle and getting closer was a gray with arms and legs and hair. As he came nearer, Elissa could see that his hair was red and his eyes blue. Color! She thought he was coming to greet her but he passed right by her to the dying boy. All that was left of the boy now was a fine mist and an outline. The red-headed gray reached out and mixed his hands with where the boy’s had been.
      He said, “Welcome home. May you find the strength and the healing that I have found here.” He lay down where that boy had been. Then the grays left with the boy and drifted back to their side of the river.
      “Goodbye.” Elissa said. She had no longer been able to distinguish the broken boy from any of the other gray figures. So, she had just waved at no one in particular in the direction of the group.

      The minute hand on Elissa’a wristwatch moved forward as the second-hand clicked past twelve. Ten-forty a.m. Would she ever get out of here? Maryanne was sitting much too close to her on the sofa. Elissa pulled away a few inches, trying not to appear rude. Maryanne’s frosted lips closed in on Elissa’s face and she thought for a moment that Maryanne was going to kiss her. Instead, she glanced around the room and said, “I had a talk with a friend of mine who knows of these things. I never told you this, but I had a problem similar to yours when I was a girl. This friend of mine, she cured me. Look, I will show you.” She picked up a nail file off of the coffee table and sawed it into her forearm.
      “What are you doing?” Elissa grabbed the nail file. “What’s the matter with you!”
      Maryanne said, “I’m fine. It’s fine. . .Look . . . See?” Her arm looked like a piece of chalk with a chip out of it. Maryanne rubbed her hand over the wound until the chip blended in with the rest of her arm. “See. Not a speck of color to be found.”
      Elissa rubbed her eyes. Maybe, if she rubbed hard enough, what she had just seen would seem OK. “You’re going to do that to me?”
      “There’s no need to be affaid, dear. Believe me. It’s painless.”
      “When?” Elissa said.
      “I have arranged for my friend to be here at 11 o’clock.” Maryanne placed her icy fingers on Elissa’s arm. “In twenty minutes. You must never tell anyone.”
      Elissa scanned the room looking for an escape hatch. Twenty minutes. “What about your nap? Don’t you need your nap? You always take your nap at eleven o’clock.” And then, “I better go get ready. I better put on something special for the occasion. I’ll be right back.”
      “That’s a good girl. That’s my Elissa.” Maryanne smiled the biggest, hardest grin Elissa had ever seen on her.
      Elissa tried not to run to her bedroom and she tried not to slam the door. She failed at both. However, she was successful at opening the window without a sound. And she was successful at jumping out of it with the gentlest swoosh. But then she forgot to watch where her feet landed. As she came down, her foot slipped on a rock or a twig or something. She fell with a thud.
      “Damn!” The word jumped out before she could stop it. All she could do now was run. It was ten-fifty. Ten more minutes.
      Elissa stopped at her patch of daisies six feet from the railroad tracks. She took three deep breaths. She had to calm down. Jake would be here soon, but not soon enough. “What time is it?” she said aloud to a grasshopper poised on a nearby blossom. “Don’t fly away yet, Hoppy. Stay with me until Jake arrives. I heard that he is right on the edge; that he is scheduled to go over at 11 a.m. Right here. This morning. It’s coming around to 11 o’clock within a couple minutes now.” She looked back in the direction of the house. Maryanne was creaking out of the door. Thank God she was slow.
      Elissa spied Jake pacing toward the tracks. She could feel the heaviness in the air. Jake appeared to be measuring each step to exactly 30 inches. A group of grays floated towards him from the other side of the tracks. The determination and steadiness of Jake’s approach sharply contrasted the excited voices of the grays. Elissa stood waiting until Jake reached the piece of solid ground right next to her. A whistle blew down the track. It blew again and again, turning from a warning to a demand. Jake didn’t seem to hear it. As the train drew closer, Jake crouched, placing one leg behind the other for leverage. Elissa did the same thing. Now she could feel the weight of the train moving the earth. She could smell the metal and grease and power of the thing. Jake was looking straight into the eyes of the engineer. The engineer smiled.
      Elissa was so stunned by that smile that she almost didn’t see Jake push himself towards the train. He almost slipped through her hands. She wrapped her arms around his solid form just in time and tumbled down with him. She felt icicles latch onto her shoulders. Maryanne. Maryanne’s screams mimicked the train’s as it hit. They were all pounded onto the tracks and pushed a quarter of a mile before the train stopped. Jake’s body was ripped and bloody. Elissa had turned to purple mist. She couldn’t tell where Jake ended and she began.
      Maryanne’s screams crumbled in the air and blew off into the wind. They changed from howling coyotes to fluttering butterfly wings and then to silence. Her body was carried off as if by those butterfly wings. As she floated up and over Whitetown, Maryanne turned into a hologram. Just before the vision of her disappeared, it cracked and shattered, spreading shards of white into the air. The midday sun melted them into a rain that sprinkled down on the little community. Tiny droplets trickled onto the pale skin and long flowing gowns of the whites. Rays of color shone out from the tracks of the droplets.
      Elissa held onto Jake. She could feel his life changing places with hers. His body turning to mist and hers to a sturdy human form. “Jake. Stay with me. Show me how to do this. Teach me how to live.”
      “I can’t. I got to leave while I still can. See? My friends are here.”
      Elissa gripped his soul tighter and then let it go. The cloud of grays gathered around the two of them and then drifted away, carrying Jake. He was gone. She was alone at the side of the tracks. The sun burned red on her skin.
      And then, that familiar deep voice came drifting back.“I do believe I’m coming back again.”
      Elissa echoed with her own. Her voice carried the colors of rubies and emeralds and sapphires. “I do believe I’m coming back again.”

      Go Back to Scary as Hell Ghost Stories

    • Tags: halloween scary ghost stories hell
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