Memories of ghosts – part II

The first time things started to go wrong, began on a cold midwinter night. I was bringing my ledger up to date; every gatherer is required to keep a record of their kills, so that it can be audited by the Emperor’s clerks at the end of the fiscal year.

The clock had struck twelve and I sat in my study, the ledger on the desk before me. I lifted the heavy cover, preparing to write down my latest gains and losses. My pen skittered across the parchment, as I bent to my task. Then suddenly the nib snagged and ink sputtered and splattered, like an arterial blood spray.

I swore and prepared to tear the page out, when the paper rippled, then rose up. It formed itself into a hand, with long, bony fingers. The nails were black and split. The “flesh” grey and scored with hacks and slashes, as though its owner had tried to defend itself against a knife attack.

I’m not often surprised, as you may guess from my profession, but this sudden apparition left me rigid with unaccustomed fear. The hand reached out towards me and grasped my throat with a strength I’d never encountered before. It squeezed the breath from me and no matter how I fought to free myself, it would not let go.

Realising the futility of fighting the hand itself, I seized the ledger’s heavy cover and with desperation fueling my desire to escape, slammed it shut. I leaned back in my chair, mouth agape as I strove to feed my lungs with air. I glanced around the candlelit room, the hairs on the back of my neck standing up. Apart from the flames in the hearth and the ticking of the great clock, nothing moved and all was silent.

With one last glance at the ledger, I forced myself to my feet. Nothing had happened, I’d imagined it all. My work had been hard and frequent of late and I was tired.

I went to lean on the mantlepiece, determined to resume my writings as soon as I’d calmed down. Imagination – that’s all it had been. I glanced up and when I met my own gaze in the mirror above the mantle, I froze.

The livid bruises on my throat gave the lie to my self-delusion…

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One Response to “Memories of ghosts – part II”

  1. Thanks Sophie. 😀

    Like

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