I’m sorry I didn’t make a post last Friday, and nearly didn’t post one today either. Work has been really busy lately requiring long hours and I just haven’t had any time to write. I’m just happy to have made my Monday and Wednesday deadlines (though my 2am bedtimes have been killing me). I decided I was going to take tonight off and stare blankly at the TV, but if you are a writer, then you know that sometimes when an idea hits you have to get it out right then or it will eat at you. I knew if I didn’t get it out tonight I’d have trouble sleeping, so yay for posting today (even if it is rather late).
I watched a movie on Netflix tonight called The Curse of Sleeping Beauty. It had a line in there that gave me the prompt I needed for today’s short story. The line was, “May the spirits be ever on your side.” It’s a great line, and there are other stories this conjured into my crazy imagination, but this one made it’s way past my fingers first.
Writing Prompt: Whisper’s Way
Two figures conversed at the edge of the graveyard. Heads close together, both wore long dark colored coats, black gloves, and matching scarves to keep the damp air at bay. The air fogged above their heads as they talked, looking around continuously the whole time.
“Could they look any more like cozzers?”
Violet ignored the question but stayed as still as the statue she perched on. At least nine feet high, three large angels surrounded a concrete pillar, their backs to it, wings spread. Viloet liked to sit at the top of the pillar and pretend the angels were warriors protecting her.
She had come to her favorite spot to watch the clouds roll across the city, chill, and listen to a mix of EDM her friend Spritz had made. The spirits also liked a good beat and would sometimes put on a show if they were in the mood.
But she had a feeling she wouldn’t get to see any dancing tonight. They do look like cops. She prayed her large grey hoodie would keep them from noticing her on this equally grey day.
Just then the taller of the two spotted her and pointed her out to his partner. The two immediately started towards her.
“Shit.” She sighed the word. She could never escape. They’d just track her down somewhere else.
“I could trip them up.”
Violet glanced over at the figure standing atop one stone wing, but didn’t respond. Instead she threw up her hood and turned the volume up on her phone letting the beat drown out reality for a few more seconds.
She couldn’t help the slight smile as the cops reached her and tried hailing her from the ground. She pointed at her earbuds and shrugged in exaggeration. “What?” She yelled. “I’m sorry I can’t hear you!”
Clearly annoyed, both cops kept talking at her, waving and pointing at the ground near them.
Rolling her eyes, she finally stopped the music and pulled her buds out, tucking them into the neck of her hoodie for easy access. Sighing loudly, she folded her arms across her middle and glared down at the two men. “What do you want?”
“You didn’t say she was a kid.” The taller of the two men, looked shocked as he took in her short purple hair and piercings.
She hated when people referred to her as a kid, but if she was honest with herself, she was very small and waif-like for her age. “I’m sixteen asshole. Of course, to two old men like yourselves, I guess everyone looks like a kid.”
“Christ, Robbins! Let me do the talking.” The other man spread his hands at his sides to show he meant no harm. “Look, we’re looking for a whisper by the name of Violet. Are you her?”
“Never heard of her.” The lie came so easy she wished it was true.
The figure next to her snorted and leapt to the the ground below to land directly in front of the men. They never took their eyes off her though.
“I’m Detective Mayburn, and this is Detective Robbins. We really need the help of a whisper and we heard you were the best.”
“Oh, you hear that Vi? They’ve heard you’re the best! Are you? Are you Vi? Because the way you ignore the everliving shit out of me, I had thought you were the worst of the lot!”
Violet struggled not to laugh at that. There was nothing living about Colton. Shit or otherwise.
Pressing her lips together, she refused to acknowledge the men any more than she would acknowledge the ghost currently miming them as they stood with their hands on their hips frowning up at her.
Detective Mayburn walked closer to the frozen angels and looked up at her, his expression revealing a kind of desperate pleading. “Look. Miss. You’ve heard of the Back Alley Killer, right?” He waited until she nodded hesitantly.
The killer had been on the news everywhere for having kidnapped, killed, and dumped three girls in back alleys throughout the city. So far he had been killing one girl a month. She guessed it was getting to be about time for a fresh news report.
Nodding back at her in return, the detective continued. “There’s a girl missing. Rebecca James. She’s nine, Violet. Nine. We’re hoping you can come to her last known location and tell us if anyone has seen anything.”
Violet tried not to let him inside. No. She tried not to let Rebecca James inside. The second you cared – the second you helped – everyone wanted more and more and more. Each time would take a piece of her that she could never get back until she was just a walking meat shell, hollow and slowly going insane. She refused to meet the same fate as so many other whispers… to meet the same fate as her mother.
Detective Robbins threw his hands up in frustration at her silence. “Give it up Mayburn! She’s not going to help. Probably crazy like all the rest anyway.” He whipped around and strode angrily away from them.
Uncharacteristically quiet, Colton crossed his arms over his chest and watched Robbins with a pensive look on his pale face.
Mayburn looked up at her for another long moment before finally sighing and stepping back. Reaching into his coat he pulled out a card and stretched it up to her. “Please. Just in case you change your mind. We could really use your help. Rebecca doesn’t have much time. A couple days at most.”
Unable to stop herself, Violet reached down and collected the card. It was still warm from his body heat.
He started to walk away but paused a couple feet away. Looking back up at her Mayburn suddenly looked very tired. As if he was hollowed out too. “We’ve tried three other whispers already. None of them could get anything and they all said you were the best shot at helping Rebecca. I hope you’ll reconsider.” Shoulders slumped he caught up to his waiting partner and they walked out of sight.
Violet felt her own shoulders slump as Colton floated up to sit cross-legged in front of her. She finally looked him in the eyes for the first time in several days. Like most ghosts he was pale and slightly see-through. He had sandy brown hair, blue eyes, and an easy smile. He had died while out joy riding on his eighteenth birthday… thirty years ago. Him and his friends had been drinking to celebrate, and then Colton stupidly got behind the wheel. He had been the only one that died that night – though one friend had been in a coma for almost a year before a whisper had been able to guide him back.
Arching one eyebrow at her direct eye contact, he otherwise refrained from commenting on her sudden acknowledgment of his existence. He had upset her a few days ago; and though she couldn’t stay away from the graveyard, she had been pointedly ignoring him the entire time. He now looked even sadder than he had during their last conversation. “Are you going to help?”
She looked down at the business card in her hands, making it flip back and forth between her fingers. “I don’t know. I mean… if other whispers have tried…”
“Yeah, but other whispers aren’t you.”
It was true. She wasn’t being egotistical, but she came from an ancient line of whispers, every single generation had a female whisper going back thirteen generations on paper, and even further back according to legend passed down through the family. Though the ability to see, speak, and interact with ghosts – and other things – was usually inherited, it was unheard of for it to manifest in every generation. Usually a family tree might only have two or three in the span of their history. Violet’s had twenty-two (known). Nearly every female born into the family had the ability, and each generation had been progressively stronger.
Violet was of the firm opinion that her family should stop breeding.
It wasn’t always bad being a whisper. You got to help a lot of people reconnect with loved ones. However, there always seemed to be someone living wanting to connect with a dead loved one, or a dead loved one wanting to connect with a living loved one. But though you could avoid the living for the most part, the dead were harder to ignore. And they were very pushy, and had no concept of AM/PM boundaries or personal space. Violet had woken up on more than one occasion to a spirit asking for help; and worse, in the shower by pleading souls.
And then there was the fact that there weren’t just ghosts on the spiritual plane. There were other things. Hungrier things.
As much as she hated it though, she found that similar to other whispers, she wanted to help. Something inside her needed to help the spirits. It was easier to say no to the living, but when a spirit asked directly she almost always found herself assisting. She hated that. She hated that she couldn’t just walk away.
If she went too long without spiritual contact she would have to forcefully fight the compulsion to seek them out. She had to see them, had to interact with them… and it was hard to not help someone once you started speaking to them. It wasn’t a choice, not really. She had turned down some, those that were clearly up to no good, but for the most part, if a spirit asked – or pestered her enough – she gave in and helped.
She had found that hanging out in the graveyard helped feed her need for contact without demanding too much of her soul. The spirits at the graveyard had pretty much made peace with their existence and simply liked her company. Though they could leave the cemetery, they rarely did, and so liked hearing of news from the outside world from her.
It was here that she had met Colton. He had jumped out at her from a stone gargoyle, hoping to scare her. But she had merely laughed and told him if he really wanted to scare her he should try making the gargoyle itself jump at her. That had certainly peaked his interest and he had been trying to animate objects ever since, all to no avail. It took a lot of energy to animate objects and though he could move some things, he couldn’t get them to act alive or possessed. He was actually quite sad that he hadn’t mastered it yet.
Colton reached over and placed one hand over hers. She could barely feel it, but she did feel something. Not all whispers could interact physically with spirits, but her family line was so powerful they could physically interact at will. And sometimes not at will. Once the mind started going, they sometimes lost control over the ability and a couple great aunts had actually been hurt by malevolent spirits. And, of course, not all spirits could manifest, but some could – like Colton. He could make himself known when he wanted, like when he tossed acorns at the deer who came to eat the flowers from the graves… or pelting them at teenagers when they came to make out on the graves.
However, she knew he wasn’t manifesting at the moment. She had let him try to comfort her.
“I’ll question any spirits in the area, but that’s all. Someone might have seen something and just be unwilling to talk for some reason.”
Colton nodded. It wasn’t unusual for a spirit not to want to get involved in the livings’ issues. It’s why the graveyard’s residents stayed to themselves. Ghosts sought out whispers for their own problems, not so much for anyone else’s. Because she could willfully make physical contact with them though, the spirits might be more willing to answer her questions. You’d be surprised how much a hug was worth to someone who couldn’t feel physical contact.
She pulled out her phone and stared at it for awhile. If she helped Detective Mayburn with this case she knew it wouldn’t end there. He would come to her again and again asking for help. But when he had mentioned Rebecca’s name she had felt that tug deep within. The need to help the girl was inside her. She knew that probably didn’t bode well for finding the poor girl alive, but it did mean that if Violet didn’t help then she’d be driven insane with the need anyway.
She dialed the number and then looked back into Colton’s eyes as she pressed send. “One case. That’s all.”
Just as Mayburn answered with a clipped, “Mayburn,” she wondered if she’d be able to keep that promise.
I hope you enjoyed this short story! Please feel free to leave comments below. I do welcome constructive criticism in the comments, but please give me more than, “I didn’t like it”. Don’t be afraid to tell me it sucked, but tell me why you think it sucked! And, of course, if you did like it, I would like to know that too.
And if you liked this writing prompt, and feel inspired to write a short story of your own, please feel free to shoot me an email and I’ll be happy to highlight your story in a post of it’s own!
Please don’t mind the mess.
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