Philip Nathan Deblanc did not believe in an afterlife but he knew that there were plenty of ghosts living between the ears of all of his friends. He had this little game he’d play back in college to prove it. To try and explain how he came up with it or why he did it in the first place would be as frustrating as trying to explain anything that he or anyone else did in college. It just seemed funny at the time.
He would get flour and put a big circle around a candle. Then he would add a few ancient-looking symbols inside the circle to give the whole thing a little credibility. Add a quick pre-game speech about his abilities to communicate with the dead and you had the makings of a great séance.
Then there was this one time …
The séance worked like this; he would tell everyone to stare at the candle as he started humming to himself and giving them instructions on how to visualize a dead relative. Obviously all the lights were off and the doors locked. As you stare at a candle it is natural that a little strip of light starts to stab towards your eyes. He would talk them through the fact that this was their relative getting closer. The harder they tried to picture the deceased the stronger the link would be. Once the little path of light had reached them they were allowed to ask one question and they would immediately know the answer.
There would be nervous laughter and people shushing each other and it was always fun and everyone would talk afterwards about who they wanted to see and what they were going to ask them. Sometimes people even claimed that they got an answer and that’s why Phil knew that ghosts exists despite the fact that they don’t. Great entertainment value.
Until the time Dylan screamed and ran out of the room.
He lived on the floor beneath Phil and had always seemed like a pretty down-to-earth guy. His scream seemed as genuine as the fact that nobody saw him for the next few days.
Feeling somewhat responsible Phil had tracked him down. He had left school and gone home. As he only lived about 45 minutes away Phil borrowed his friend’s car and went to see him. As a side note, this was the only time he’d borrowed his friend’s car that didn’t involve getting laid. You see, the car was bright pink so the only possible way anyone would be caught dead in it was if there was a possibility of sex. Take out that possibility and a male in the middle of a heart attack would rather walk ten miles to the ER than drive there in this car.
So you know that Phil was concerned.
Dylan had gone home to ask what the note said. The note left by his Grandmother who had committed suicide in his house when he was a little kid. His parents had never offered to share it with him and he’d never asked.
He’d gone home to ask.
He showed Phil the room she did it in and told him that ever since when he was alone in the house he would always expect to see her standing at the top of the stairs outside her room. He had loved his Grandmother but since she died she scared the hell out him and he was never sure why. Perhaps it was the violent way she chose to slip the mortal coil.
So when the little path of light from the candle had reached his eyes he had pictured her clearly in his head and asked one simple question: “Why?”
And all the flesh had melted off her face, leaving a grinning skull that seemed livid at his asking.
He was embarrassed at screaming and he realized that he could never explain it to everyone so he left and didn’t stop until he was back in the house where it took place.
That was three days ago.
His first night back, without explaining why, he asked his parents to see the note she left. His mother got upset and wanted to know why all of a sudden, seemingly out of the blue, he had come home with such a request. His mom admitted she didn’t know what adjective to put in front of request. It wasn’t an odd request nor was it difficult. It was just unexpected. He told them that he’d been dreaming about her lately and this seemed to upset his mom all the more.
Eventually his dad brought down the note. Written on a piece of lined paper, it had been years since Dylan had even seen a sheet of the kind of paper that at one time was all anyone used, was a short note written in crisp black lettering. It read “Is anybody there? Will anybody care? Will anybody wish me sweet dreams?”
Dylan folded it back up and handed it back.
His favorite memory of his grandmother was the fact that when he was little she would walk him down to the corner store once a week to buy him a pack of baseball cards. The realization that these cards would probably be worth a lot today had he kept them was not lost on him. He closed his eyes and the smell of that little strip of fossilized pink gum that came in the pack filled his nostrils.
And for the next three nights his grandmother had come into his dreams uninvited. No matter what the dream was about she would enter as if getting up from the audience and walking on stage uninvited in the middle of the play. Comedy, tragedy, musical, it made no difference she would crash right in. Then she would be at the top of the stairs and he would wake with a start.
Phil tried in vain to talk some sense into him. He explained the candle thing was a joke. A goof. There was nothing to it. He pointed out that Dylan had been buzzed at the time and the brain does funny things when there are drugs and alcohol involved.
Dylan just smiled a haunted smile.
Which is why Phil didn’t need to ask him what his grandmother looked like the next morning. She had been in his dreams that night. In the background but he knew it was her. Watching him. Then hanging there with her cold eyes on him.
Then at the top of the stairs saying “Sweet dreams.”
As it turned out they had recently been discussing René Descartes in his philosophy class. Cogito ergo sum. He wondered if the same applied to the thoughts themselves.
I dream therefore there’re ghosts.