I've often wondered what it would be like if ghost hunters didn't hunt ghosts. How would we interact with ghosts if they were friends of ours. As a side note, this story takes place in the same world where
A Traitor's Love takes place.
There was a man screaming behind my history teacher and he couldn't hear him. While normally that would have been amusing and vaguely disconcerting, it was the obvious bullet hole in the man's head that indicated all was not as it seemed.
Added to that, I was apparently the only one who could see him which turned out to be unfortunate.
The man stopped screaming and stared at me.
Mr. Norris was talking about some historic even from three centuries ago. It was boring, and I wanted to be out of class. I enjoyed history, but I preferred learning on my own because none of my teachers could teach anything beyond dates and important people.
I wanted to learn about the everyday people. The ones like me, not the kings and movers and shakers.
"You can see me, can't you, little girl?"
I stared in front of me trying to ignore him. His breath smelled sweetly rotten.
He twisted his head to look at me, angling it almost upside down. "Why aren't you answering me?"
"Because your breath stinks," a girl near my age greeted.
I was fourteen, but this girl looked to be a little older. She sat in the desk beside me. I noticed her a few times, but when no one else would talk with her, I figured she didn't want to be talked to. After all, she was always listening to something on her phone.
She always handed in her homework, but now that I thought about it, she was never called upon in class.
The man turned his attention onto the girl. "And you are?"
Whatever the name meant, shook the man. "No," he said. "You can't be. Not here."
Xaria shrugged. "Am, and are." She swung out of the desk and stood on it. "Now, as for you, mister screamer, we are trying to have class, and you are being a distraction."
"He's spreading horrible lies," the man complained, motioning to Mr. Norris. "No one listens to me."
"Go." Xaria shooed him out of the classroom.
After class finished, I tried to catch up with Xaria, but couldn’t find her anywhere. It wasn't until I started walking home that I found her talking with the man. Xaria sat on the edge of the bleachers swinging her feet in and out, while the man pouted beside her.
"Yo," Xaria greeted.
"Hi. Where did you run off too?"
"Another project." Xaria cocked her head. "So you can see us."
"Of course I can. You're right there."
"Am I?" She hopped off the bleacher and went to stand in front of a group of students walking towards us. None of them moved to walk around her.
I blinked, but waited until the students left. I was already weird, I didn't want to be any weirder at my new school. "What are you?"
"Ghost," the man said. "I lived through the war your teacher spoke about, and he lies."
"Yes, yes, we know," Xaria grumbled. "I'm Xaria."
"You a ghost as well?"
"Something like that. You must be Muriel."
"Muriel is such a new-fangled ..." the man began.
"Old-fashioned and elegant," Xaria corrected.
"Dumb," I clarified. "I prefer Riel."
"Fine, Riel," Xaria muttered. "Anyway, you can see us, but not everyone else can. Your uncle can."
"The very same."
"Well, that explains a lot."
We walked home, and as we walked, the man, Horatio Hughs, told me about the war from three centuries ago, and how he wanted to save people, but couldn't. It cost him his life, but from that day to this, he had spent trying to help people. "I had enough today when your teacher, once again, spread those false lies about the war. Every year, I try to tell him, but he doesn't listen."
"You know, it could be because you insist on writing tomes," Xaria concluded. "You are rather long-winded."
"And just how do you propose changing things?"
"Well, for one thing, Riel here is on the school newspaper."
"I can't interview a ghost!"
"No, not interview. You write. Tell his story." Xaria leaned in closer. "You've wanted to learn about the average people - now's the time." She motioned around us as hundreds of people ... no ghosts ... glowed into existence. Many of them I knew, and I waved to them, but I had never known they were ghosts.
"Just what am I supposed to do?"
"Talk with them. We liked being asked questions," Horatio said. "We're just like everyone else."
Back at home, I stared at my computer, the cursor blinking on and off.
My name is Muriel. I'm not a ghost hunter, but a ghost reporter.
Reporter. I always wanted to be a journalist. I could start now, I guess.
Outside my window, at the school, the battle had commenced. It was from last century when the town was the center of a major battle.
How was I supposed to interview anyone?
These are the stories I uncover as I interview ghosts.
Horatio was my first interviewee.
Welcome, to the Ghostly Times.