My wife, now she’s another story. Martha’s the kind of person who looks for the Virgin Mary in her French toast. There’s nothing that woman won’t believe. She consults a psychic every week—some fraud who sees the future and helps floundering souls. Martha thinks I don’t know about it, but hey, I’m the one who pays the credit card.
I don’t say nothing though. Everyone needs a hobby, right? No harm done and it keeps her out of my hair. But lately…hell. Lately Martha’s been acting weird. Take right now, for example. She’s in the kitchen, all agitated on the phone. I can hardly hear the game over her caterwauling.
“I’m telling you Madame, the house is haunted! Things don’t stay where I put them. Food disappears from the refrigerator. I lock doors and then find them open! The radio and the TV, they—” A pause. Then, “It started after— Yes. Yes, of course. I’ll wait right here.”
What’s she talking about? The house is fine. Everything works and nothing’s gone missing far as I know. She’s gotta be dreaming. Or maybe…
A shiver of dread runs through me. Alzheimer’s? I feel sick. Martha’s mother died of that crap disease.
My wife’s pacing the kitchen, passing the doorway every few seconds. My stomach churns. Should I say something? Talk’s not my strong point—Martha’d be the first to tell you that. What if she gets upset? What if she starts crying?
The doctor. That’s it. I’ll call the doctor, first thing tomorrow morning. Maybe…maybe it’s just hormones.
The doorbell rings and Martha rushes into the foyer. “Oh, thank God,” she says. “Come in, Madame Zohar, come in.”
This Madame person breezes into my living room dressed like some Hollywood hack’s idea of a gypsy. Her black hair’s all piled up on top of her head and she’s wearing a good ten pounds of cheap, glittery jewelry. She got a black bag in hand, like some kind of witch doctor on a house call.
She stops dead in the center of the carpet and just stands there a minute with her eyes closed. Her breathing’s deep and loud and raspy. Sounds like a two-man crosscut saw.
I snort and her eyes fly open. She sends a sharp, narrow look in my direction. I give a little huff.
She turns away. “Eet ees happening sometime,” she tells my wife. “Ze soul…eet does not wish to make ze final journey.” The woman should be shot for that fake accent. “We must urge ze reluctant departed. Guide heem home.” She flutters her hands skyward, as if shooing a hapless spirit toward Heaven.
Jesus. What an idiot. With a shake of my head, I turn back to the television. Steelers up by seven, but they just gave up the ball.
Madame Zohar opens her bag and lifts out a crystal ball. Honest to God, an actual crystal ball. I chuckle under my breath. Thought those things only existed in cartoons and movies.
She sets the sphere on the coffee table and sinks down on the couch. My wife takes the chair opposite. Madame waves her hands in what I guess is supposed to be a mystical manner. Rings flash and the dozen bracelets on each arm jangle.
“Hey,” I say. “Ladies, come on. I’m trying to watch the game here. Can’t you do your woo-woo stuff in the kitchen?”
They ignore me. I think about standing up and giving them what for, but just then the Steelers make an interception and run the ball down to the ten. Yes! The boys are going all the way again this year. I can feel it.
Madame Zohar begins a low, whispering chant. Despite myself, despite the action on the field, I strain my ears to make out the words.
“Ashes to ashes… Dust to dust… A time for all things… All things een their time.”
A cheer goes up from the stadium. Touchdown! Quarterback fake and a run right up the center. Goddamn it, that was beautiful. Just beautiful.
Madame’s whispering voice invades my elation.
“Unwilling spirit… Your time here, eet ees finished…”
The extra point’s blocked—at least, I think it was. Hard to tell, with the picture flickering in and out. Damn cable. They charge me an arm and a leg for this bullshit? Time to look into satellite.
“Wandering spirit, your home awaits. Spiritus revertatur…”
Now the fake gypsy’s spouting Latin? I snort.
The cable cuts out entirely, leaving the screen black. At the same time, my chest contracts. Painfully. Damn. Feels like someone’s plunged a cold hand into my rib cage and squeezed.
Heart attack? Has to be! Panicked, I shove to my feet, then immediately wish I hadn’t. The room whirls around my head.
Martha. Got to get to Martha…
My wife’s bent over that goddamned crystal ball. She doesn’t see me. I open my mouth to call to her. Nothing come out.
Madame Zohar’s eyes lock with mine. I see a hard glint of something that looks like satisfaction. She raises her arms and her voice rings out.
“Spiritus revertatur ad interitum!”
Her palms strike together above her head. The sound’s a thunderclap inside my brain. I try to move. My feet don’t work. I’m going to fall. I reach out to grab the television stand.
Something’s wrong. My hand. It’s…transparent. When I clutch the table, my fingers plunge right through the wood.
The room fades and I’m falling. Tumbling, tumbling into brilliant nothingness. I try to stop. Try to stay. Try to hold on to what I know.
The last thing I hear is Madame’s voice. “Go een peace, brother. Go een peace.”
Then I’m gone.
Thanks for reading my Paranormal Flash Fiction!
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