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The Silent Ghost

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Four was sitting in his room, listening to the ticking of his clock and screams of the young woman in the corner. She had been following him for at least a week now and he was getting very frustrated with her constantly being here. He wished one of his siblings would come in to talk or play with him or something. Eventually, dinner came and Four got up to go, the woman, who seemed to have given up, following silently behind.

 

As Four went more ghosts built up behind him, wailing for him visit this friend or this relative. A familiar ache built in the back of his mind, but he ignored it. When he walked into the dining room he was aware that he was flinching anytime one of the ghosts got to close, but at this point Four honestly didn't care. Four caught the concerned looks from Two, Six, Three, and Seven. He also caught the strange looks from One and Five, who didn't seem to really take in the full scene before going back to the book he was currently reading. Before anyone could say anything, their father (read: tormentor) walked in. Four didn't mind, it's not like his siblings would understand the pain of having ghosts yelling at them at all hours of the day.

 

Dinner that night was delicious parmesan chicken, but Four couldn't enjoy it with these stupid ghosts yelling at him from every square inch of the room, a few standing in his siblings or each other. He did happen to spot one ghost that seemed to be in thought, though. Four was worried about this one, worried he might start yelling soon. When they finished their father told them to clean up before promptly leaving, probably to dream up new ways to torture them.... One took charge and gave them their usual jobs, his being wiping everything down. Four started with the table, keeping the silent ghost in sight because just then he started yelling. Oh, great, he thought. Here it comes.

 

“Guys, c’mon he’s just a kid stop yelling at him!” That was not what he was expecting. He froze in place.

 

“Are you alright, Four? You’re looking a bit more distracted than usual,” Six asked him, very concerned now. He nodded dumbly, still shocked by what he just heard. He quickly resumed his task.

 

When done, he left alone. He normally left with Six who would sit at the foot of his bed drawing or reading, but right now he needed to be able to talk to the ghosts without getting strange looks. As he walked out, he flinched inwardly at Six’s hurt expression. I'll apologize later, he resolved. Right now he had to speak with this ghost.

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     Four retreated to his room and closed the door behind him. He didn’t anyone to bother and they usually didn’t this way. He sits down on his bed then looks at the strange ghost.

 

     “Who are you?” Is the first thing out of his mouth.

 

     A pained expression passes over the man’s face. It looked like the pain of a wound that’s been reopened. Then he responds, distracting Four, “Dave.”

 

     “Okay then… Dave. Why’d you defend me?”

 

     “I know- knew- someone like you once. I wanted to help you where I couldn’t help them.”

 

     “Oh,” Four paused, stunned. Then, feeling this was right, asked, “What was their name?”

 

     “His name was Klaus.”

 

     “…Maybe talking about him would help. Would you like to tell me?” He’d been told that he tended to be very “loud” and “out there”, mostly from his father, so he was trying a nicer approach than demanding answers. “Dave?”

 

     The way Dave was looking at the desk beside the bed gave him enough information. It was an empty, haunted stare that pleaded for someone to help. Four had seen it many other ghosts. That was the look of someone remembering how they died, the people they left.

 

     He quickly decided to distract the man, he said, “So, could you tell me about him? If you don’t want to, I understand, if I died and came back as a ghost and had a kid asking me questions I wouldn’t talk either. How ‘bout I tell you about my fam-“

 

     “Hey- hey, kid, it’s okay. I think it actually would help.” Dave had stopped looking around and was looking directly at Four, who could see the sincerity in his eyes. “Klaus… he was… my boyfriend, fiancé really, during our time together. We were gonna get married soon. Then I died in the war and he lived. I guess I should mention we met in Vietnam, war isn’t the best for love, I guess.”

 

     Four tried to remember what he could on the Vietnam War and America at that time. “I’m sorry if this sounds rude, but isn’t gay marriage illegal?”

 

     “Yeah, but we found a priest that would do the ceremony and had some friends for witness. Can I continue?” Four nodded.

 

     Dave then told him of this mysterious man who arrived with a flash of light in his barracks one night. About this man with curly black hair and this smile that lit up entire rooms, no matter the size. About this junkie with siblings who always thought the worst about him.

 

     This man who was an amazing guy with a terrible past. Who loved people unconditionally, even as they pushed him away. Who got high to escape his demons. Dave told of this man who just needed love.

 

     The way Dave described Klaus… It sounded like he hung the stars, created planets. Like he was the only thing Dave lived for. After hearing of this man, Four wanted to be him. If it meant having people care for him, love him even, he would go through anything to be him.

 

     “He sounds…,” Four searched for the right word. “Amazing.” He’s not sure what else he can say.

 

     “He was. He really, really was,” Dave murmured. “You know, Four, I would go through it all again, boot camp, the war, dying, just for him. It’s crazy, isn’t it?”

     

At this point, Four had started feeling uncomfortable. There’s only so long a ten-year-old can listen to this lovey-dovey stuff before feeling sick.

 

     “I’d bet anything you’re feeling weird. Probably think I’m dumb too, huh? For saying all this sweet stuff.” By now, Four was fairly sure Dave could read his mind.

 

     “Um… Yeah, actually, but Dad says that’s rude so I wasn’t gonna say anything. I, uh, was actually wondering how you died because I can’t really see any wound or anything and well- you know?” Four realized how horrible that sounded as soon as it came out of his mouth.

 

      Oh, how he wished for the ground to swallow him up.

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     The door opened suddenly. Reginald was standing in the doorway. Four’s first thought was, Shoot! Then, Traitor! Because standing behind his father was Number One. He had a stubborn expression on his face, like he wasn’t planning on apologizing. Well, that’s quite all right. Four wasn’t going to ask anyway.

 

     He was barely aware of anything past what was in front of him. Which means he didn’t notice that his heart started beating rapidly or that he had started trembling.

     “Number Four, who are you talking to?” Four was nearly full on panicking at this point, Dave was trying to help. Key word, trying.

 

     “Hey, hey, Four calm down. Kid, listen it’s okay.” Dave was not helping. Not one bit.

 

     Four spoke before he thought, that’s who he is. Now, though? He wishes he thought more. He responded. “No. No! It’s not, Dave, it’s NOT OKAY!” That’s when he remembered the company that they were currently keeping. God, he thought, if it was bad before…

 

    “Who is Dave?” His father crossed through the doorway. Didn’t even hesitate at the line of salt Six had jokingly put there (“It’ll keep Father out, y’know, cause he’s a demon,” Six had giggled).

 

     One was giving him a wide-eyed, confused look as he stifled a giggle at the memory. It made him feel kind of like a zoo animal, the way One was staring at him. He suddenly had a lot more respect for them.

 

    Their father snapped his fingers, once again gaining Four’s attention, “Who is Dave, Number Four?”

 

     “No one, sir,” Four knew it was a weak lie, but maybe it would work? Reginald did not look convinced.

 

    “I will ask once more. Number Four,” his father’s tone was low and threatening, “Who. Is. Dave?”

 

     “A ghost, sir. A nice one, he doesn’t yell or anything,” Four immediately realized his mistake. It was more obvious when his father went from open hostility to detached curiosity.

 

     “Number One, leave us. Number Four and I need to discuss something privately.” One, who had been standing there awkwardly, ran off immediately. For some reason, Four missed the larger boy’s presence. He felt himself begin to tremble as Reginald strode farther into the room, setting himself on the desk chair. Four heard more than saw Dave shift closer.

 

     “So, Number Four, you have been lying to me? You told me they don’t listen to you, yet you are openly conversing with one. Obviously, you are able to control them,” his father said rather harshly. Dave made a small noise that sounded extremely disappointed.

 

     Four was proven right when Dave muttered, “I do not approve of this guy’s existence. Can I end it?”

 

     He had to hold back the laugh threatening to break through at that question. Instead, he answered his father, “I do not control any of them.  They control themselves, sir.”

 

     “Right, you ‘don’t control them.’ But you control it, this Dave you were talking to.” Four hated the way his father said Dave’s name, it made him sound like a pest. Of course, maybe he was just biased.

 

    “Dave is not an it. Sir, I’m feeling ill, may I go to bed early tonight?” This was a lie. He felt perfectly okay and he probably wasn’t getting any sleep tonight.

 

     “Of course, Number Four. Feel better, tomorrow you have individual training.” His father left the room, leaving the door open a crack.

 

     Now Four did feel sick.

 

     “Good night, Dave.” Four’s voice sounded infinitely quieter than usual.

 

     “Sweet dreams, kid.”

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     Four woke up with something warm pressed up against his side. He looked down and saw Six, curled up asleep with his hair sticking up everywhere. As he looked up he saw Dave reading in the desk chair and somehow the scarf he had been knitting was sitting on the desk.

 

      Four carefully extracted himself from his brother, making enough noise to catch Dave’s attention. He looked up from his book (Catch-22) just long enough to say good morning.

 

     “’Morning, Dave. When’d he get here?”

 

    Dave glanced up, “Last night.” He looked back down to signal he didn’t want to talk anymore. The problem was, Four didn’t watch for these signals.

 

     Four rolled his eyes. “Yes, I got that. When last night?”

 

     Dave took a second to answer. When he did it sounded much too forced, “I’m not sure, Four.”

 

     “Oh,” Four recognized it this time. “Okay.”

 

     He went back to the bed and started shaking Six’s shoulder gently.

 

     “Hey, Six, you want to get up and grab some breakfast. I have individual training today, so if you wanna hang out it’s now or never.” Six groaned at slapped his hand away, rather hard he thought. He started shaking his shoulder vigorously. “Come on, buddy. Time to get up, Mom’s making French toast today.”

 

     That got Six up. Four noticed Dave had put his book down and was standing at the door, chuckling.

 

     As they started walking Four asked, “Why’re you laughing Dave?”

 

     Dave said, “No reason.” At the same time, Six asked, “Who the heck is Dave?”

 

     “Ah, dear brother, have I truly forgotten to introduce you to Dave?” Four looked between the two next to him. “Well, Number Six, Dave is this amazing ghost I met just last night. He’s from the Vietnam War and he doesn’t scream his head off at me.”

 

      “What time is it?” Four was perplexed, but told him it was about 7:40 a.m. (he found out from Dave). Six continued, “Cool, cool. It’s too early for this, get back to me later.”

 

      Dave full on laughed, along with Four. Six had his quiet little smirk.

 

     When they walked in, Grace smiled and greeted her children. The other five kids were eating already and gave them quizzical looks. They’re probably wondering why we’re so happy, Four thought. He motioned for everyone to go back to what they were doing, he thought it looked royal.

 

     Everyone went back to their conversations. Four sat down as Five pointed to a bruised apple on Two’s plate.

 

     “Oh, that’s the abused apple, don’t mind him.” Four looked over curiously, finding the bruised on immediately. It was fourth in the row of seven apple slices. Five let out an amused snort, surprising everyone including himself. Four didn’t find it as funny.

 

     He turned to Six, who had sat next to him, to talk to, but found he had opened a book. They already think I’m crazy, he thought, turning to Dave.

 

      “So what’s your book about?” As Dave explained the book, Four zoned out to watch his siblings. Dave had a voice that worked as good background noise.

 

     Four wondered what the day had in store for him as he listened to his siblings and Dave talk.

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     He started paying attention again when someone clapped. Directly In front of his face, making him flinch backwards. The other six children bolted upright at the screeching sound of his chair. That’s when Four realized that Dave was the one who clapped. Which meant no one heard it except him and the howling ghosts around them, or in them in Two’s case.

 

     He ignored his siblings, which probably concerned them more, and looked questioningly at Dave.

 

     “Your father’s coming,” Dave explained.

 

     Four nodded in understanding and turned to his siblings. He relayed the information, not telling how he knew. They responded by sitting down, albeit a little tensely, and continued eating.

     Their father walked in a few minutes after Dave’s warning, surprising a total of zero out of seven children.

 

      What did surprise them was when he simply said, “Number Four, I do hope you’re feeling better. It’s time for your training.” Then, Turned and walked out of the room without checking that Four was following him and ignoring the others completely. Before he left, Four glanced at his siblings. Only Six looked sympathetic. Everyone else were staring with undisguised jealousy. Dave had already stood up and was beckoning to him from the doorway.

 

      “The quicker it’s started,” Dave told him, “the quicker it’s over.” Four hadn’t gone into details about his individual training, figuring his ghostly companion would see it for himself.

 

     Four looked at his siblings (read: Six) one last time before standing and following after Reginald. He hung his head, knowing he looked miserable. He couldn’t find it in himself to care.

 

     His father had him sit in the back seat, like usual, and went to the front to drive. The short drive was filled with Dave’s voice. It was pretty soothing to the child, sort of smooth and deep. One reason Four enjoys car rides is because, unless he allows them (like Dave), ghosts couldn’t keep up or get inside. Usually, he would jump in the car as quickly as possible. With Dave here he waited for Dave to get in before hopping in and closing the door as fast as is physically possible.

___   ___   ___   ___   ___

 

     They got to the mausoleum and Reginald opened the door for Four. Four resisted as much as possible, but eventually his father grabbed his forearm dragged him into the chamber.

 

     Dave watched in silent horror as the man physically threw his child into the dark place filled with ghosts.

 

     Dave barely made it in before the door closed, sealing them inside.

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Hey, guys. Sorry for not updating, I'm not good at writing people in pain and terrified (I'm not good with feelings) and i'm trying to make it to the best of my ability. Really sorry for the long wait!

Quote: Are we really having an 'I'm more unhealthy than you' contest?

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     Immediately, Four got up and ran to the door as the ghosts turned to face him. As one they started screaming, Dave could tell why Four dreaded this.

 

     It sounded like the wailing of a million banshees. Ghosts lunged towards Four, who cowered away. He fell to the floor, curling into a ball in the process. Dave scrambled through the hoard to Four's side.

 

   "Leave him alone!" Dave yelled, quite bravely, though his words got lost in the waves of noise echoing throughout the chamber. He turned, deciding to comfort the child instead of continuing his useless protests.

 

     He quickly dropped to the cold stone floor, reaching for the boy's arms while moving into his line of sight. He realized his mistake when his hands went through Four's arms, making him pull even farther into himself.

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     Four curled further into himself when something went through him. Two ghosts- one on each side- by the feel of it were trying to grab his arms. His tormentors were pulled away, probably by the multitude of ghosts around him.

 

     Once he felt the hands leave he pulled back mentally. He drifted away from the mausoleum.

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     When the kid's eyes glazed over, Dave lost it. The sight of those beautiful, happy, caring eyes so empty killed him.

 

     He doesn't remember how, but a few minutes later there was a ragged circle surrounding them. He'd managed to shut them all up and move them all back a few feet. Looking over at Four, he knew that was a good thing. No need for him to panic, right?

 

     Wrong. They were in the mausoleum after all.