Monday, August 29, 2011

The Visitors

A Haunted Soul  Episode 6

Wandering around the grounds of an old abandoned castle is no way to spend eternity. That's exactly what the ghost of the castle lord was thinking. How long had it been? The ghost imagined that he must have been dead now for close to two hundred very long years, but he was not at all sure about that. He had no idea why he had been stranded out here; he just wanted to find a way out.

He was prepared for another night of his long search for a possible gateway to a Heaven he wasn't sure existed anymore when he heard a commotion in the distance behind him. The ghost turned to the direction of the entrance road to see a sight he hadn't seen since before his death. A small wagon pulled by two horses was coming out of the forest along the castle road. Visitors!

The ghost excitedly waved and called out to them, "Hello!" But then he remembered that nobody could see or hear him; he was a ghost now. Even as the realization of that hit him, he decided it didn't matter at all right now. There were not only people here; they were awake in the middle of the night. He could see and hear them. He now had a reprieve from his long suffered loneliness!

There was no time to waste. The ghost began running towards the distantly approaching wagon so he could get a better look at these wonderful people. As he got closer he could make out two men in the front and a man and a woman in the back of the wagon. For some reason the wagon began slowing down well before the turn in the road though. They were stopping too soon. Would they turn around and leave right after their arrival?

He had to get a closer look before they left! The lonely ghost needed to see some actual living breathing people! He felt as if this was maybe his last chance at maintaining his slipping sanity. As he got closer he realized that the wagon wasn't turning to leave. It was stopping! This was becoming a very curious situation. And the ghost was completely ecstatic.

As the ghost got closer, the four people were getting down from the wagon. The ghost never wanted this night to end. He finally had company! He heard them speaking to each other. "...sure is a lot farther to get here than those townspeople said it would be, Arnaud," said one man. The one named Arnaud turned to the other as he was taking some supplies down from the cart, "Well, the town used to be closer, and to the north of here. Old habits don't die easily, even if they are a few hundred years old."

The ghost thought about that one. His town! It had actually moved to a new place! And he now had confirmation that he had been here more than two hundred years! He found it all so very hard to comprehend, but he had to believe this because the thought of it was all he had now. The ghost wondered what else these four people might have to say.

Arnaud turned to the third man, who had been keeping to himself this whole time, and said, "Corbin, have you sensed him out here at all yet?" The ghost had no idea what they meant by that.

"No, they told me that he haunts out here on the castle grounds, so I know we're in the right place. If the old ghost is out here anywhere I'm sure I'll find something by the end of the night," said Corbin.

"What about inside the castle," said man number two.

Corbin looked at him and said, "The townspeople specifically said that he has never been seen in there. If you want to go in and look, then go ahead. But I'm staying out here where the ghost is sure to be."

The ghost had now heard another revelation! They knew he was here! He now thought that maybe he wasn't so alone after all. He hurried over to Corbin and reached out in an attempt to touch him, but as he guessed, his hands passed right through him. He waved his hands in Corbin's face, and then shouted to him over and over again, "Corbin! Corbin! I am right here!" But Corbin gave no reaction to him at all. His hopes were dashed, but he at least he still had this moment with these people.

The ghost watched as they slowly finished unpacking the wagon and setting up their little camp. The woman made a fire and began cooking something over it. The ghost didn't care what it was. The four people talked throughout the night of similar things, and a few other things. They thought Corbin would somehow sense his presence, but he never did. It was like this for the rest of the night.

It seemed to the ghost as if only a very little time had passed when he realized the night was growing short. He wished he could stay here with these people forever like this, but he knew that even this would grow tiring eventually because they couldn't see or hear him. Soon after this thought the ghost lifted up his arm and noticed something he had never bothered with before.

As he was looking at his hand, he saw it begin to fade away. He was disappearing along with the night once again. His hand disappeared, then his arm, and up and up it went until the ghost faded away altogether. Daylight was coming, and it was time for the ghost to be gone until next time.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Lonely In The Fog

A Haunted Soul  Episode 5

How could this have happened to me? I did the things I was supposed to do in my life. Then I was murdered and left stranded here in this horrible limbo of searching outside the castle each night after night, after night. This is just not fair! The nights, years, and decades that have now passed since this first happened have been long and agonizing. And yet I'm still stranded here in this horrible place I once called home!

Each long night is the same as the one before, and the one before that! My time has consisted solely of this endless searching for some way out of this. How long has it been? I'm not really sure anymore. My time here has been so long. I know it has now been several generations, but I'm just not sure how many. I suspect my sanity may have slipped away from me long ago because of this horrible lonely searching, but who am I to say?

And now on top of it all, the night is miserably foggy once again. I never used to care about bad weather, but that was before I had to wander around outside at night in the middle of the fog so many many times. Even though I am now just a disembodied spirit I still feel the cold, and I feel the damp clammy air. I can't see the sky and the stars, and I can barely see my arms out in front of me. I hate this!

I do know it has been a very long time now that I've been out here searching for any sign that might lead me to Heaven. I paid attention to events around me for the first several years, but it soon became tiresome. Nothing significant ever really changed for me. The only thing that changed were the people in the castle, and they didn't even know I was here.

The few friends and family I had have now long since died of old age. I didn't really know my family very well anyway, but a few of my servants were very dear to me. I have always suspected though that it was a family member who had me assassinated. But now even that doesn't matter because that person, whoever they might have been, is long since dead and gone. And none of them are out here with me!

Even the castle is empty now. Apparently the last of my murderer's heirs have died out. Either that or no heir thought my castle was good enough for them. The whole bunch have no honor anyway. Who will take care of the town now? I wonder what has become of it. Maybe one of these nights somebody will come back to the castle. And wouldn't it be wonderful if somebody could see me? I know that will never happen though. I wish it could.

I haven't had anyone to talk to since before my death. I'm not even sure anymore what I might say to someone. "Hello, I'm a miserable ghost. What about you?" I guess I always have myself to talk to, but all I have for myself are questions. It took many years, but I began asking myself if I did something to deserve this foul imprisonment.

I wondered if maybe I had been a bad person in life. I always felt as if I did the things I was supposed to do, but what if I didn't? Was I a cruel master to my people? I never thought I was, but what did the people think? The town was always prosperous under my rule. The people never went hungry or needed anything more. I always made it a point to visit them at least once a month to check.

One thing I liked to do was to pick a townsman to go hunting with me. There I would always treat him as an equal, and we would have the best time both of us had ever had before. I did this for two reasons. One was to show the people what kind of person I was. Two was to find out personally how my people were doing. But there was another reason. I was lonely, and I wanted a friend. That old loneliness was nothing compared to this hell that I now exist in.

I wish I could visit my town now and check on the people. I worry about them still, even though I must admit that my search is my overwhelmingly primary worry. But it's not as if I'm going anywhere. Out in this fog I'd get lost if I tried. I hate fog. I can't see the sky. I want to look up and see the shining stars, but this horrible fog is clinging to everything, even my lonely lost soul. This is a bad night!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Endless Searching

A Haunted Soul  Episode 4

The ghost found himself sitting on the same boulder where he appeared at the beginning of each night since his death. It never mattered where he was at the end of the night before when he disappeared. He always reappeared at this same spot every time. He was sure now that this must be a definite sign that his search for the afterlife must be here outside the castle.

He began to look around him for a clue to a possible gateway or something that might lead him to the promised great beyond. From his perch on the boulder in front of the castle he examined the cobblestone road leading straight from the castle doors and out towards the lake in the distant front. At the lake the road made an abrupt turn to the right and went on out through the forest at the side.

On each side of the grounds was the edge of the forest, which had a neatly lined border of trees. When he was alive the ghost would go through the forest to the left to get to the place where he would go fishing and hunting. Those were his two favorite pastimes. He would usually go hunting with a group of men he would choose for each trip. That would include a few of his favorite servants and a randomly chosen man from the town. He did this so he might get to know some of these people better.

But fishing. Fishing was his, and his alone. He remembered how he loved to go out to the small river that emptied into the lake and just sit there alone for a whole day by himself. That seemed like heaven to him. All of his cares and worries were left behind. He would go there whenever he wasn't busy... Wait! Heaven?

That could be it! Maybe the gateway to Heaven was in his favorite place! That must be it! The ghost laughed out loud with joy. It made so much sense that his favorite place would be where he would find the passageway to the afterlife. He immediately hopped down off the big rock and ran to the small pathway that lead into the forest on the left. He just knew that he was finally going to leave this state of limbo behind!

As he got to the edge of the forest, the ghost ran right into something soft and invisible, and he fell down backwards. He decided that he must have hit a tree branch or something. He stood back up and cautiously walked back towards the forest edge, this time holding his arms out to feel for anything that might be in his way. When he got back to the edge he felt something soft in the air once again. This was no tree branch.

The ghost felt something like a soft cushion right in midair. It felt as if the air had turned thick. He pushed further and the resistance slowly increased. The further he went, the stronger it got. It was some sort of invisible barrier. He quickly realized that he could not push through this barrier. The path was barred to him.

He thought the solution to this would be easy. He would just step aside and get to the path from a few paces to the side. He began to step, feeling for the edge of the barrier. He thought it should stop here any time now. But it didn't. He soon realized that the barrier was completely barring his way.

The ghost looked up to the sky and howled, "No!!! There must be a way! I have to get out of here! I don't deserve this!" He turned and quickly ran up and down the line of the forest, looking for a place where the barrier would end. But it went on for the whole distance of the castle grounds.

The barrier was also on the other side where the road went out through the forest. There was no way out for him. The lake bordered the front of the castle grounds, so there was no way out that way either. He had been worried before, but now the ghost was very upset and afraid. He had waited patiently for some sign of Heaven, but there was nothing. He was stranded here in this state of limbo and he didn't know why. Now he just wanted to get out. He felt as if his salvation depended upon his escape. He had to keep searching.