Wednesday, October 30, 2013

#622. Write...Edit...Publish: Haunting

Denise Covey's Write...Edit...Publish is rolling around again, which means it's story time!  This month's is celebrating Halloween, which is tomorrow (just in case you are a ghost). Without further adieu, here's my story, which clocks in at 1,194 words:

The Other Side

For convenience sake, we will identify our subject today as Le Novo.  He once had a different name, but that was when he was still among the living, as the living.  Then he died and came into the rest of it. 
We're not concerned with Le Novo's life before his death, because as far as this story is concerned Le Novo was only concerned about his life after death.  It would be so much simpler if this weren't the case. 
My name is Pilot, which is to say that it is my name now, much as Le Novo's name is Le Novo now rather than before. 
 It's the name I have come to adopt.  Names don't mean as much here as they did on the other side.  You'll get used to it.
It was my task, as you might imagine, to shepherd the young Le Novo, as it were, into our way of things.  I'm afraid I made a mess of things, but in my defense my subject made it extremely difficult.  It happens, more than you'd think. 
The problem Le Novo had was that it was not as easy for him as it is for others to let go of his life before death.  Life on that side is spent entirely consumed with the fear of life on this side.  Sometimes this leads to extreme trauma in the transition.  It's not a matter of letting go, because death will do that to you, but of the few times when the transition of memory doesn't work as well as it should. 
Le Novo was still very much attached to his life before death.  He was attached to his family most of all, and all the things he'd known so well in life, the mundane things like where he used to enjoy sitting, or the bed he found so comfortable. 
Sometimes when this happens, this flaw in the transition of memory, it's because of the way death occurred, an imprint violently committed to the mind regardless of which side the individual is on. 
As far as I was ever able to tell, Le Novo died peacefully in every sense. 
And yet he could not tear himself away from his desire for the other side.  Some people, even the ones who fear this one so fiercely, live their lives on the other side with as intense a desire for this one as Le Novo had for that one. 
I'm telling you all this because of course Le Novo found the loophole back there.  He went back to the other side.
This is always a bad idea.  It's the basic truth of our existence.  It's our one rule, you might say.  You break it at your peril, not because of any punishment that will be inflicted upon you, but because of what it will do to you, without fail.  It's the dire inevitability, like death is on the other side. 
But try as I might to convince Le Novo of this, he would not listen.  What else could I do, then, but grant him his wish? 
It will never be the same, going back.  Only once every third millennium does someone experience an authentic resurrection.  Anything else is exactly what I'm about to tell you about Le Novo now. 
He went straight for his family.  Because he was intangible, this was as fruitless as you might expect.  You can see the other side from this one just fine.  Most of the time this is good enough.  You watch life the way they watch television.  It's the same thing.  For the desperate, for those like Le Novo, they believe they can have something more.  And yet it's impossible. 
Le Novo spents months trying to convince himself otherwise.  He learned to manipulate material objects again.  Never organic.  That's the loss from the event of death.  Once sundered from the body you lose all contact with it, all its most treasured sensations.  When a cup or a set of keys or some homework turned out to be somewhere unexpected, that was le Novo's doing. 
His despair grew.  How couldn't it?  He became frutrated.  The family moved away.  He couldn't follow.  He remained anchored to the house.  It's familiarity that makes the whole thing possible.  You can't form new attachments, from this side to that, even if you go back.  That's no longer the point of your existence.  There are greater wonders. 
Years, decades passed.  Le Novo stayed in the house.  He could no longer bring himself to move on.  He had to believe his family would return.  It only felt right.  They wouldn't abandon him like that, his memory.  How could they?  Didn't they know what he'd done for them? 
They would be back.  He wouldn't leave.  He couldn't. 
Except they never did.  He wife died.  His children died.  His grandchildren died.  None ever came back.  And yet Le Novo never left the house.  How could he? 
There were new occupants, new families.  None of them familiar.  They all caused Le Novo considerable agitation, and he was not shy to show it. 
He couldn't communicate with any of them.  He couldn't communicate with his own family.  Why should he bother now? 
One day, however, a medium was brought to him, someone who could bridge the gap between sides, at least for a little while.  Callard Bowser was the last hope of the current occupants.  They had consulted plenty of charlatans.  Bowser was real.  She told them Le Novo's real name, when he'd lived there, how long he'd been since he returned. 
She helped them talk together.  or rather, she talked to Le Novo and then relayed what she heard. 
Le Novo explained his heartbreak.  He told Bowser how he appreciated the brief moments where he found something familiar.  He explained how he understood that it wasn't the new occupants' fault.  But he couldn't help himself.  That was no longer under his control. 
And it wasn't under Callard Bowser's, either. 
This was about the point where I thought it was stepping in again.  There are too many like Le Novo, too many who fall into this trap.  Some of them are more unreasonable about it than he was.  I talked him out of this loop.  I had to occupy a living soul in order to do it.  Thankfully, because I have experience with these things, and am not nasty about it, it's a mutually beneficial relationship, one I can employ when necessary.  Sometimes the living soul is aware of it, and sometimes it isn't. 
As gently as I could, I discussed with Le Novo the possibility of coming back.  It was always an option, I said, as long as Le Novo himself embraced it, the way he'd stepped back to the other side in the first place. 
Of course, there's an entirely different version of this story that would send chills down your very bones, but then, you no longer have any. 
And that's exactly why I tell you about Le Novo now.  As a cautionary tale, a reminder of things you already know.  And a warning not to do it yourself. 
It's better for all involved.


Beverly Fox said...

How interesting! It seemed almost like a clinical case study- the matter-of-fact way you describe it. The "Other Side" of a haunting, indeed! So Imaginiative and original!

Tony Laplume said...


Claudia H. Blanton said...

nicely done! Happy Halloween!


Loved this Tony!
You could make this a series.

Raquel Byrnes said...

That was great...therapy for ghosts. Great entry! :)

Chrys Fey said...

I always love a story about ghosts and the after life, so I really enjoyed your post! :)

Lisa said...

I loved this! And I loved the end, thought that might end up being the case. Very well done and easy to read. Thanks for posting it.

Suze said...

I like the tone you're using here very much. It's perfect for the content, I can almost see the narrator wearing all black.

M Pax said...

It certainly is better for us all. Loved the voice in this piece.

The Armchair Squid said...

Nice work, Tony. This really takes "you can't go home again" to a new level entirely.

Jenny Brigalow said...

This is really quirky. Love the narration style. Happy Halloween!

Donna Hole said...

Death lessons from beyond. A warning tale. Well told.


Shannon Lawrence said...

I love how you addressed this to us as if we're spirits entering into this situation and needing a warning.

Shannon at The Warrior Muse

Francine Howarth: UK said...

Happy Hallowe'en!

Intriguing take on stepping from the "other side": the narrator seemingly obsessed with conjuring reasons to stay right where he was. Maybe the fee to haunt didn't match up to his mercenary spirit! ;)


Tony Laplume said...

Thanks for all the kind words, folks!

Jen Chandler said...

Oh this is such a tease! That little glimpse that there's another, even creepier side to this story is enough to make me ever more curious! Well done. I really enjoyed the analytical way in which Pilot explains Le Novo's plight. Great names, by the way, for all the characters.


Tony Laplume said...

You people almost have me wanting to write more about these matters...

Sally said...

What an intriguing take on the subject, I've never thought of the other point of view before. I enjoyed reading it.

N. R. Williams said...

That was fun. I wonder if Le Nova returned or continued to haunt the house?

Yolanda Renee said...

"Le Novo was still very much attached to his life before death"

That statement says it all! Because aren't we all so attached! Great perspective!

Trick or Treat and Happy Halloween!

Li said...

You know, that's probably the most logical explanation for ghosts. You've captured the utter sadness and despair a "spirit" must feel in trying to reclaim its former life. You can never go home again. Well, you can, but it will never be as it was.

Anna Nordeman said...

This was unusual. A ghost-story from a ghost's point of view!
Best wishes,
Anna's WEP challenge for October Haunting

Anna Nordeman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.


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