Originally posted on r/nosleep.
“Please, ask him if he’s doing alright,” the teary-eyed widow across from me said, her face splotchy from crying.
I looked beside her and gulped. The man beside her no longer cared for his wife, he had his attention focused on me.
His soulless eyes bore into mine. His face was blown out on the upper side, parts of skin hanging off, muscle tissue exposed.
“Why don’t you tell her how I died,” he spat. “Tell her how I begged for my life, even with a goddamn gun in my mouth! I was accused for something I didn’t do, and I had to be punished.” He began to walk closer, “tell her how I suffered in my death, and now in this place – this God forsaken middle ground. Tell her, you coward!”
He rushed in front of my face, inches away. A cold damp air hung above us, looming over my head, like death.
I mustered a tight smile, and looked past him, at his widow.
“He’s doing fine, ma’am.”
“Bullshit!” The man roared, trying to put his hands on me.
The sound of the alarm on my phone startled me, and I could feel my heart racing, convinced it would pop out from my chest, and land on the ground at our feet.
“That’s all for now. Our time is up.”
I escorted her out the door, and let out a deep sigh.
This is what I do for a living – I talk to the dead. I’m helping those who have lost their loved ones find closure by communicating with them. Many people believe mediums are a scam. I don’t blame them: the theatrics, the shotgun vague statements, and hell, even getting a client to give information without them knowingly doing so.
I will admit one thing, though. If I cannot establish a strong connection with the Other Side, I will use cheap gimmicks and parlor tricks to pay the bills at the end of the day. There are many spirits I cannot see, and thus, my imagination tends to get the best of me.
To understand a bit more about mediums, I’ll give you the only breakdown you need: energy vibrates at different frequencies. Positive energy has a very high frequency, and negative energy has a lower frequency. A couple of years ago, I developed my extrasensory perceptions to the point where I was able to tune into energy — similar to radio tunes into various frequencies depending on which station you select. Unfortunately for me, the negative energy came through more often than not, despite its lower frequency.
It’s exhausting — and often times, I feel like it takes over my life. My method of coping was spending years moving from town to town, befriending the locals, and working odd jobs on the side for extra cash.
The first time my senses were heightened to its maximum capability was the night after the mining accident. There had been fourteen of us down there — only two survived, including me. They called it a freak accident, but I knew better.
I relied on the bottle of bourbon by my bed to put me to sleep that night. I couldn’t differentiate from reality or dreams. I saw twelve of my coworkers in different stages of their life. At fifteen, Bobby was kicked out of his house — which was a good thing for him, he came from a very troubled home. At eighteen, Todd was asking Lisa to marry him — right there on the high school football field, where they had first met. At twenty-one Stan purchased his first home, and framed his biggest paycheque from his sales job — which he lost three years later, resulting in him working in the mines. At thirty, Doug was promoted to lead manager, showing all the newbies the ropes.
Flashes of their lives bombarded me in my sleep, and when I thought it was over — the messages came. “Send my love to Lisa,” Todd would say. And the others: “Tell my children I love them,” “Tell my wife she’s going to get through this,” “Tell my parents I’ll be with them soon”.
It wasn’t that I didn’t know how to help them pass through to the Other Side – I just simply did not have the energy to. I was in bed for three days; I could barely leave to go to the washroom.
Eventually, with time, I grew used to it. Each town I moved to, a freak accident would occur months later. Was I cursed, or was it a mere coincidence? The locals would whisper amongst themselves, but they wouldn’t dare point the blame at anyone.
After telling the sobbing widow goodbye, I shut the door behind me and let out a deep sigh. I felt lightheaded, and despite it being eleven in the afternoon, I wanted nothing more than a drink. I was about to step away from the door when I heard the two knocks on the other side of the door.
I figured it was the widow and that she forgot something of hers. I turned around, my hand on the doorknob and peered out through the peephole. Nobody was there. I released my hand once I heard the knocking again.
Once again, I peered through the peephole and nobody was there. I opened the door, not expecting to see someone. But, I stood corrected. I was almost awestruck by her beauty — her wispy blonde hair stopped at her shoulders, the waves in her hair framing her face. Her blue eyes were round and big, but not disproportionate to the rest of her face. Her cheeks were flushed as if she had been running, and her lips formed the perfect pout. I could almost feel my knees go weak.
“Hi, I’m sorry to be a bother. I’m looking for a Matthew Smithson?”
My voice almost caught in my throat.
“That’s me, what can I do for you?”
She smiled politely, her lips parted, showing a row of perfect white teeth.
“My name is Emma. Stella Mitchell down at The Coffee Mill said you have an extraordinary gift. I don’t want to intrude, but someone very dear to me passed away three days ago, and I was hoping to get some answers.”
I furrowed my brows; she didn’t look like someone who was mourning. But then again, each person dealt with grief in his or her own way. I nodded, opening the door wide, and invited her in.
I led her to the small table in the living room where I do most of my work from and sat across from her.
“Who is it you would like me to reach?”
I took her hand in mine and noticed how cold it was compared to mine. The next thing I noticed was the low frequency that came through — that meant it was negative. I braced myself for what was to come. Emma kept her eyes closed, I didn’t recognize her — but then again, I’d only lived here for eight months, and remained pretty nocturnal. Unless she was frequenting the local bars, I wouldn’t have run into her.
I felt the spirit in the room, and my eyes darted around, finally landing on a young man — he was the spitting image of Emma. They’re twins, I thought, dreading the strong connection they had established since birth.
“He’s here,” I said. Her eyes did not light up like many of my other client’s, instead, they remained fixed on the wall behind me — opposite of where her brother was standing.
“Hi Brandon,” she whispered.
I took a deep breath, but something was caught in my throat as if invisible hands were tightening my vocal cords. My eyes bulged, and I mustered up enough strength to cough, which released the pressure in my throat. I looked up to see Brandon grinning down at me.
“Look at me,” he hissed.
As I did, I could see flashes of memories from both Emma and Brandon. They were three; playing hide-and-seek in the new house they moved into. A shelf had come loose and fell onto Erica’s head — it was Brandon who got blamed for it. They were eleven, celebrating their birthday, laughing as the clown on the tricycle sped towards them, balloons tied to the seat. They were sixteen, sneaking back into their house during the early hours of the morning. They were nineteen, video calling each other from their dorm rooms across the state. And finally, Brandon at twenty, surprising Emma on Christmas break at home, telling her he dropped out of College to work for their family’s small business.
It played out like a movie: Brandon woke up early and took a small detour on the way to the family store. As an aspiring photographer, he took advantage of foggy mornings, and would often wander off into the way of traffic. At four in the morning, he thought he was safe – until a car hit him. The driver panicked, and disposed of the body in a nearby lake – coincidentally, one Brandon had just photographed.
Brandon nodded as if he was watching his death unfold with me. He let out a low laugh, and sped towards me, his ice colds hands pinning my arms against the chair. He flicked his tongue at me, like a snake watching its prey.
“Why don’t you tell my sissy here the whole truth? Don’t deceive a girl like her — she pretty, but she ain’t dumb.”
I gulped. I felt his breath on my neck; it was the same sensation as stepping out of a warm house and getting hit with a blast of cold wind in the dead of winter.
I closed my eyes, praying to God that he would disappear, that this would end. Finally, I could feel my arms loosen up, the temperature in the room no longer chilly. I looked up at Emma and shook my head.
“I’m sorry, he wasn’t ready to communicate with us.”
I watched as a single tear rolled down her cheek before she brushed it off with the tip of her finger.
I don’t want this life anymore – I am constantly haunted by my own guilt. I knew that ‘freak accident’ at the mine was going to be staged — the company was going down, the only thing to save them would be an insurance scam. As for Brandon? After another restless night, a quick drive led to many daydreams and distractions. The only time I snapped back into reality was when I heard the thump.
You see, the only spirits I can see clear as day are the ones I have killed.