Sunday, January 20, 2008

Short Story - In the Trees  

As promised, here's the short story I whipped up last week - "In the Trees".

The contest that I wrote it for had a few rules:

1> The story had to involve a ghost as the main character.

2> The ghost's focus couldn't simply be on being dead.

3> Extra points would be awarded if there was sexual content.

4> The total length had to be 700 words or less.

As I mentioned in previous posts, the contest was suddenly canceled for unknown reasons, but I still had the story... I may work on it a little more and expand it, or maybe I'll look for another contest to enter it in, but for now, here's what I had...

In the Trees

It was about 9:15.

I knew because I could see the face of the clock in the town square from my vantage point on top of the hill.

It was also Thursday.

Ordinarily I can’t tell one day from the next, but I had seen Lester Jenkins driving his huge supply truck as he made all his regular stops earlier in the day, restocking the cold beer cases down in town in preparation for the inevitable Friday night festivities.

It wouldn’t be long now.


A pair of shining headlights made their way up from the dark burg below, the small clusters of houses and strip malls invisible except for the twinkling of porch lights and a few weakly-lit bits of neon.

The approaching vehicle ignited the tiniest spark of warmth at my core, the most I could muster on my own after being stuck here for decades. I could only recall vague glimpses of the night I lost my life on this hill, but enough time had passed since my last breath to allow hemlines to rise and morals to shift.

Some things never change, though. That’s why Laura Spinney was on her way up to my little secluded corner of the hilltop with whatever willing stranger she had hooked this time.


Laura and I had met just a few months ago.

At the time, it had been several years since anyone had spent more than a moment or two on the ground where I was bound, the last living people I could recall being a pair of roughnecks hunting deer as they passed through. I hadn’t even had had time to collect the bits of my essence that were floating amidst the treetops or lying dormant underground before they had moved on.

It was just as well. They probably would have killed themselves after I was done with them, and they didn’t seem the sort that would be good company for the rest of eternity.

That particular day, a quiet girl who had spent most of her time amidst the sorry stack of books that passed for the town library found her way up the hill and through the trees to me. I don’t quite know what was on her mind—reading thoughts wasn’t one of the gifts that came with my curse—but I like to tell myself that she had found a telling scrap of newspaper somewhere, or some dusty mention of the foul play that occurred in this very spot.

I like to think she knew I was here. After spending so long on this lonely ridge, it was comforting to imagine that someone cared enough to come looking for me.

As she drew closer, her energy brought me to life.

As she stepped over the gnarled roots and shifted the piles of dead leaves strewn about, the simple fact that she was breathing and present gave me the strength to manifest in a way that I hadn't ever done; feeling the pull and the warmth and given off by her innocent soul, I leapt inside her body and reveled in the feeling of flesh.

Laura could feel my loneliness, and the harsh, bitter cold of being trapped alone as my bones rotted where no one could see. Wrapped again in blood and skin, I filled her body with my own. My hands became her hands as her eyes gave me sight. I had forgotten the taste and smell of rich forest earth until I had sucked in breath through her lips.

Overwhelmed by the sensation of being alive again, I couldn’t control myself. Although we shared one body, I made love to her with the fierce desperation borne from being given the chance, and the thought that it might not come again.

But it did.


I was feeling much stronger these days, and not nearly so alone.

As her car’s headlights died, I glided through the forest in anticipation of what was to come. I could sense them drawing near, snapping twigs and tripping on the underbrush along the way.

As she laid down a thick woolen blanket, her head turned discreetly from side to side. She couldn’t break herself of the habit, though there was really nothing to see.

The man she had brought with her didn’t need much coaxing, though he might have reconsidered that she had told him what was about to happen. Or maybe not.

As his urges grew stronger and he tried in his awkward, crude male way to draw her close, I leapt inside of him and made his body my own. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever get used to the feeling of borrowing a stranger’s alien, hard stiffness when I had only ever had soft, gentle folds in life, but I made love to Laura again that night.

…And many nights after.

What next?

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