Part 6 of 6 and the conclusion of this ghostly story.

AURA OF A GHOST EATER

The next morning, Mandy woke up to brilliant sunshine streaming in through the bay window. Ric wasn’t in his sleeping bag any longer. She could hear him in the bathroom brushing his teeth.

She stretched her body, relieved that she was able to move again. The frightening event, the strange paralysis and the horrible, threatening voice all came back to her.

“Ric,” she called out. It came out like a squeak. Her throat and neck were terribly sore. Mandy did her best to clear her throat and called his name again, louder. He was still splashing in the bathroom. Mandy began to push herself upright on the floor, and as she did, she yelled his name. Her urgency echoed through the apartment.

“What?” Ric came rushing out the bathroom, still holding a towel. He saw her on the floor, ruffled looking but otherwise fine. “What happened?” He finished wiping his face dry. “I thought you were being attacked.”

“I was attacked,” she croaked. “Last night.” She told him what happened, every detail. 

“Get up,” he said. Mandy looked up at him, quizzical. “I need you to be standing up, on your feet.”

Mandy pulled herself up and stood in front of Ric, waiting.

“Breathe in and out, let yourself be calm again.”

She complied.

“Close your eyes, and do it again.”

She did.

“Once more. Breathe in and then out. Now open your eyes.”

Mandy opened her eyes. She did feel somewhat better, but only because she sensed that Ric had an idea of what to do next.

“Let your senses open now. I want you to tell me where he is.”

“You mean the ghost?”

“That’s right. Can you sense him? Maybe a general direction?”

“How should I sense him?”

“He’s bad news. Where do you sense a negative energy, where in the apartment do you not want to be right now?”

“Kitchen.” She didn’t even have to think about it. There was something about that corner of the place that made her not want to go in there. 

“Then that’s where we need to go.“

She didn‘t want to go. Mandy shook her head back and forth, fear contorted her face. Ric recognized that she wanted to leave, she wanted to run right out the front door and never come back.

“You and I, together. Come on.” His voice was calm and sure, certain. Ric held has hand out to Mandy, and she took it. It was warm and strong. She let him lead her into the kitchen. She imagined that in another time or another reality, she would happily stand in that kitchen and cook him an omelette. As it was, she was frightened. She gripped his hand tighter.

“Do you still sense it here?” 

“Yes, I do. But it’s sort of that way, to the left.”

“Could it be in the pantry there?”

“Maybe.”

“Do you know what’s in there?”

Mandy shook her head. “I’ve never opened that door before.” She was suddenly deeply afraid. There could be a dead body in there. There could be a weapon dripping with blood. Maybe a dead animal. Whatever it was, it was bad, very bad. Mandy didn’t want to know. She was frightened of that door, frightened of what was just behind that door.

Then she saw something she had never before been able to see. It was Ric, but she could see his aura. It wasn’t a smooth and shiny thing, nothing like what she had ever heard or read about anywhere. It was spiked. He looked formidable, and large, and extremely strong. His aura was that of a monster, but his body looked exactly as it always had. Mandy saw that he flexed his muscles, readying himself.

“I’m going in there,” he said. His look was determined, focused. He didn’t look at Mandy, just the door, the door that he was about to open.

“Should I do anything?” Mandy felt absolutely helpless.

“No. Just stay here. Keep your eyes open. If he escapes, I need you to tell me where he goes.” He took a step forward, his back to Mandy. He flexed his right arm and she could suddenly see that he was holding a large mace. Not one of metal, not a physical mace. It was part of his aura. “You ready?”

“Yes. I’m ready.” She had no idea what she could do to help, but she did know how to dial for an ambulance, should it come to that. 

Ric opened the pantry door, swift.

Mandy closed her eyes shut, tight. “Do you see anything?”

Ric glanced over to her, saw that her eyes were closed. “Why don’t you take a look?”

Mandy shook her head. “Tell me there isn’t a dead something in there first. I can’t handle a dead body right now. Not before coffee.”

Ric smirked. “You don’t need to worry. There’s just a broom in here. Open your eyes, Mandy.”

She did. There was no dead body, no blood, just some empty shelves and a broom.

“Do you still sense it in there?”

She opened her eyes wide and nodded. Her voice was urgent, tight. “Close the door, close the door, it’s in there. The ghost. He’s really in there. Quick!”

Ric went inside and closed the door behind him. For a moment, Mandy could hear nothing at all. Then she heard Ric breathing, hard. He started growling. 

It sounded like a wild animal feeding on something.

The pantry door flew open and banged against the kitchen wall. 

Mandy saw the horrible ghostly face, scowling at her, and she knew it was Don Leightonan. He appeared as a tangible shadow, but only his head. Black streaks followed behind him as he snarled at Mandy. His teeth were jagged, his nose bent like the edge of an anvil. His dead eyes were two round orbs, blacker than coal.

This can’t be real, she thought. She didn’t dare blink. She stared at the form she couldn’t believe was there. It can’t-.

His mouth did not move at all, but she could hear his scratchy voice echo all around her, as if it hit the sides of the universe to return in full force, “This isn’t over. I’ll get you.” Ric growled and made another chomping noise from the pantry and the ghost turned and sped away, streaming out the back of the kitchen, out of the house. The trail of blackness behind him was jagged with tooth marks, shredded.

Ric stumbled out of the pantry, wide eyed and shaking. He leaned against the doorframe. His aura was different, swollen and heavy. No more spikes, no more mace.

“I think it’s gone,” Ric panted.

“I think so too,” said Mandy. “I saw it, or part of it, fly right past me and go out the back door. He threatened me again.”

Ric scowled. “What did he say?”

“Didn’t you hear it? It was so loud. Booming.”

Ric shook his head.

“He said it isn’t over and he’s going to get me. The usual, I suppose.”

“No idea,” Ric combed fingers through his sandy hair and straightened his shirt.

Mandy squinted in thought. “You can’t actually see them.”

He shook his head.

“And you didn’t hear his voice? Not at all?”

Again, Ric shook his head.

“If you can’t see or hear them, how is it you ever believed ghosts exist?”

Ric shrugged. “They don’t haunt me. I hunt them. They never show and tell with me.” 

“I see,” Mandy breathed. She was still a little shaky. “When was your first hunt?”

“I was a kid. I’m not sure how young, but young. It felt natural, just something to do.” 

“Do you think he’ll come back? Like he said?”

“Maybe,” Ric shrugged. “But as long as I’m around, I doubt he’ll bother you.”

Mandy rather liked his smirk. It was obvious he tried not to be cocky about it, what he could do. But he was cocky, just a little bit. She decided it was warranted.

Mandy looked down at her feet and wiggled her toes. She looked out the kitchen window. There was no trail of black, no sign that the ghost had ever been there. Just the pile of bills she’d had to pay for repairs to the place. Proof of the haunting, all along. Don Leightonan was gone. She could sense it. Mandy no longer feared any corner of the house.

She looked back at Ric, the ghost eater. She could see his aura plainly, throbbing around his form, something that had been invisible to her before the ghost. Ric looked rather sated, so his next words made her laugh. 

“I’m starving. Let’s go out for breakfast.”

Ric could not fathom what was so hilarious about that, and the look on his face made Mandy laugh all over again.

Mandy’s laughter died down. “It looks so plump after that,” her words were spoken soft and quiet; Ric wasn’t sure Mandy meant to say them aloud. 

Mandy shifted her weight. She looked at Ric’s aura and wondered if she would always be able to see those sorts of things, and then she wondered what sorts of things might be listed amongst auras and ghosts. Mandy realized she couldn’t claim to know what was really out there, but her estimation of tenants went up several notches.

Ric could see her wheels turning. “You’re thinking about whether or not you want to risk it. You’re thinking about whether or not you want to buy this place.”

Mandy shook her head. “I’ve already decided. I was thinking you could take the flat right above mine. Want to go see?”

Ric looked uncertain.

“And then breakfast,” Mandy added.

Ric smiled. 

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Disastrous Haunting by KC Hill

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