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Something was moving in the shadows in the corner of the motel room. Rebecca Pender sat up in her bed and peered over, past her dad sleeping in the other bed, trying to see what was there.
No form, no shape, just a deeper shadow moving in the darkness of the corner, growing lighter suddenly, a gray wisp, then pulling back down into blackness. The energy was throbbing more thickly now, she could feel it, though she could see nothing. The room was illuminated by the light of the street lamps coming through the long window to her left. Her triquetra necklace on the nightstand gleamed brightly.
Rebecca scrambled across the bed, jumped off onto the floor, and hissed, “Get out of here! Whatever you are!”
Nothing moved in the room but she felt the energy, dark and deep, throbbing and growing stronger. From the far corner, in the shadows, near the bathroom door, a pale light broke from the darkness and, as she watched, it grew. The wall of the room dissolved and, through the sudden portal, the dead walked.
Rebecca stared as they came and then leaped back into her bed and quickly pulled the covers up over her head.
The room was silent and she slowly drew the blankets down from her face. A woman was at the bedside. Rebecca scrambled backwards off the bed toward the wall of the room.
“I can’t be dead! What happened to my life?”
Rebecca felt her teeth tightly together inside her mouth. The woman screamed – and then she was gone.
Suddenly there was a younger man standing in her place, maybe twenty years old, sandy hair, in a flannel shirt and jeans.
“What’s this place?”
“A motel room.”
“What happened to me?”
“I don’t know,” Rebecca said.
The young man looked down at the crumpled sheets and blankets of the bed in the dim light from the front window. He turned and, again, gazed around the room and Rebecca saw the back of his head was gone.
“There was a whole lot more I thought I’d do, ya know? And I wind up here? Tell me this ain’t heaven, please, just you gotta tell me that anyway.”
“It’s not heaven. It’s Florida. I don’t know where you’re going anymore than you do.”
“Well, that ain’t a whole lot of comfort to me, now, is it?”
He reached up as though about to scratch his head and then seemed to realize something was wrong.
“Where’s the blasted back of my head?”
She watched him move his fingers around the hole in his head.
“This ain’t no ways right at all!”
And then he was gone.
Rebecca was breathing heavily. She swallowed hard, looking around the room. The pulsing in the corner was quieter now and the room empty. Sitting down, she reached out and picked up the triquetra necklace by the lamp. Her dad had given it to her for her birthday back in February and she’d worn it ever since. She didn’t think it had ever acted as a ghost magnet before but it seemed to be doing a fine job of that tonight, she thought. Rebecca held it up before her face, looking at the silver pendant flash in the light from the front window.
Sudden movement to her left made her jump and there was a teenaged girl standing there, about her own age, she guessed. Through the light from the window Rebecca could see the dark rope burn deeply cut into the flesh around her throat.
“Could you just tell `em I’m sorry?” the girl said. “I didn’t mean to do it. I thought I did but, I swear, when the chair kicked out I didn’t want to go but it was too late.”
I can’t help you,” Rebecca hissed.
“You can, though,” the girl said. “I felt the energy in the room. We all did.”
“From this?” Rebecca said, holding up the triquetra.
The girl shook her head slowly.
“From you,” she said. “You’re the energy.”
Rebecca jumped up off the bed and yelled, “Get Out!”
The room was silent and still and, over by the bathroom door, the wall had resumed its natural shape and form.
Rebecca darlin’, what’s wrong?” her father said.
“You all right?”
“Fine,” she said. “Go back to sleep, okay?”
She sat down on her bed, the triquetra hanging from her fingers, and stared down at the carpet of the floor. Her heart was pounding all through her body. From the other bed she could hear her dad’s soft snoring.
Rebecca jumped up off the bed and hurried to the motel door, opening it slowly so as not to wake him. She stepped out onto the cool pavement of the sidewalk. Rebecca looked around and then saw a large potted palm tree. She quickly ran to it, dug down in the soft earth, and buried the necklace and then went back to the room.
Closing the door behind her, she sat down on the foot of her bed and stared at the far corner. There was nothing moving there now. Everything was still. She lay back down and felt her eyes, hot and heavy, closing on their own. She started to cry, her face pressed deeply into her pillow.
“I don’t want to be the energy,” she wept. “I don’t want to be the energy.”
Rebecca felt her eyes closing, blinked, and then felt the weight of the day descend all through her body. She lay in the bed, stared ahead at the red 3:30 of the digital clock. Her eyes fluttered again and she fell quietly asleep.
All through the night, across the landscape of her dreams, they walked. Again the wall of the room collapsed silently and, through the cavernous hole, the dead marched forth from their gray land toward her, endlessly, asking why, asking where, and asking, always, for one more day of life.
Joshua J. Mark is a freelance writer with over twenty years experience who has lived in Greece and Germany and, presently, lives in Staatsburg, NY with his wife, Betsy, and daughter, Emily. His published short fiction includes `To Memory’ through Edge Piece Magazine, `After the Funeral’ through Five Stop Story, `Beyond the Reach of Time and Circumstance’ through Earthbound Fiction, `Black Rose’ through Infective Ink Publishing and `When There Were Trees’ through Writes for All Magazine. Mark is also a Director and Editor for Ancient History Encyclopedia where he writes primarily on Mesopotamia, Greece, Egypt, and the Maya Civilization and is also a regular contributor to Celtic Guide and Ancient Planet Online Journal. He is a part-time teacher of philosophy and writing at Marist College.