Graveyard Shift

Graveyard Shift

 

Miles works the graveyard shift. He enjoys the solitude, the quiet. What he doesn’t enjoy are the ghosts. Those things are chatty. Always trying to get him to sort things out for them. Some nights no one shows up. Miles sips his coffee, reads a book and makes notes in his journal about all the things he’d like to accomplish by the time he’s 25, 35, 45, 55 and so on.

On the nights the ghosts show up, it’s noisy and chaotic. Sometimes only two or three ghosts show up. Miles can handle two or three ghosts. He listens to their stories, their demands. He writes it down in his book. He makes no promises, but he says he’ll try.

Sometimes all a ghost wants is to say good-bye. Miles has delivered many letters from ghosts. He leaves them on doorsteps. He never hand delivers them because that raises too many questions.

On the nights when a bunch of ghosts show up, it’s not as easy. Ghosts aren’t good at waiting. Some of them have been waiting years for someone like Miles. They become impatient, demanding. He remains calm in these situations. Miles tries to get to every one who wants to talk to him. Some nights he can’t, but he knows the ghosts will return.

Miles doesn’t know what happens after he delivers the messages, but those ghost never return to him. He likes to think they’ve moved on to wherever we go when we die.

Some ghosts want revenge. Miles doesn’t like these ghosts. He tries to be understanding, but revenge won’t bring the ghosts back to life. In theory, it’ll just create more ghosts for Miles. Revenge ghosts aren’t evil. They’re confused and bitter, but mostly lost. The best thing for them is to simply listen. It could take Miles a whole night just for one revenge ghost to settle down long enough to tell him their story. Once the ghost does, it begins to change. Sometimes all one needs is for someone else to listen without judgement or fear.

Some nights the only ghost to show up is the one who works the graveyard shift. He waits for someone to listen to his story. He makes notes in his journal about all the things he’d like to accomplish in his life. Miles doesn’t like to admit it, but he has more in common with the ghosts who haunt him than the people who don’t see him.

 

©Danielle Tauscher, 2017

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Regret

James waited for Wendy by the Fallen Kings ruins. Anytime he received a request from her to meet, he felt both hesitant and eager. James figured one day it would be a trap, but he liked taking chances. Plus, given the opportunity, he was ready to kill Peter. James, or as the crew called him, Captain, was envious of Wendy’s travels with Peter. He wasn’t sure if it upset him more that she went with Peter or that he didn’t. Peter never trusted any of the other boys he brought to the island, especially after James betrayed him. But for Peter to put his trust in a girl was unthinkable.

But Wendy was different. She was kind, had a sense of purpose, and most importantly she never backed down from Peter. She challenged his every move, which no one would ever dare to do. Peter didn’t scare Wendy and that made her the scariest of them all.

It also made her someone James wanted on his side.

James heard careless footsteps crunching through the leaves and twigs of the forest floor. His body tensed as he silently drew his blade.

“Oh, put that thing away, Jamie, before you cut off your hand,” Wendy said, coming around a crumbled piece of stone. James sighed. He couldn’t stop himself from smiling at the sight of Wendy although he silently cursed himself for it. She was the only one allowed to call him Jamie. Even if he protested and demanded she call him James, she wouldn’t have listened to him. He secretly liked it. Made him feel like a boy again, innocent and full of adventure.

“Wendigo, why the summons?” James tried to play down his awkward smiling. This was Wendy. Not some one to get stupid over. Plus, he was a bloody captain of a pirate ship, not some love struck teenager. Get it together, James.

She frowned. Unlike James, she did not like the nickname he had given her. “Peter’s leaving for England at nightfall and I am to go with him. It’s a recruiting mission.”

Every few months, Peter returned to the other side and collected what he determined were unwanted boys. Most of those boys were orphans or runaways, but some had families. Wendy’s brothers John and Michael had parents who missed them. Peter claimed that the parents forgot their children and replaced them with new ones. Wendy knew the truth.

“And you want me to do what about it?” James asked.

“I want you to stop him,” she said. Wendy sat down in the rubble of crushed stone and debris. She crossed her legs under her. Her brown hair was tied loosely in a braid down her back. She looked tired. Older.

James sat next to her. His knee touched hers. “Why don’t you tell him not to go? He listens to you,” he said.

She sighed, looking down at her hands before she turned her face towards James. He hadn’t noticed the sadness living inside her eyes. Had it always been there? She looked broken. “Not this time,” she said. “He’s sending me home, James.”

“What does that mean? This is your home. You belong here,” James said. His chest tightened. Peter must have found out about their friendship. He was punishing Wendy for it or punishing James or both. It didn’t matter. It wasn’t going to happen. “I’ll stop him, Wendigo.” James meant it with everything he was. He would kill Peter if that’s what it took.

“Please do, Jamie. I can’t stay there,” Wendy said. She stood up and turned to go as James got to his feet. He grabbed her hand, stopping her, “I promise.” He held her hand longer than necessary, searching her face for something. She smiled, softly, at him.

James watched as she disappeared between the ruins.

James needed to get back to his ship and gather his crew. He needed a solid plan to stop Peter this time. No more child’s play. Peter was sending home the only real friend James had. He was not going to let that happen.

“That was sweet,” a voice said from behind James. He knew that voice. He would recognize it anywhere. Peter. There was no point in pulling out his blade. James gritted his teeth and turned to face him.

“You are capable of making it so that someone feels regret, Peter. Why are you so miserable that you need to destroy everyone around you? You love her. You need her. Why are you doing this to her?” James asked.

“Isn’t it obvious?” Peter asked. He tilted his head slightly like a bird, looking at James with unnatural mossy green eyes.

“No, Peter. It’s not,” James said. “Everything’s a game to you and no one knows they’re playing.”

Peter chuckled. “You’re no fun, James. You went and grew up. You fell in love. You ruined everything,” Peter said. He stepped closer to James. He circled him like an animal about to attack its prey. James rested his hand on the handle of his blade ready for the attack.

Peter stopped a breath away from James’ ear and whispered, “And I don’t like sharing.”

 

©Danielle Tauscher, 2017

*writing prompt from: terribleminds

July 23: Writing Prompt

I’m cheating this week.

I’m following Chuck Wendig’s lead and using InspiroBot for this week’s prompt.

Do yourself a favor a click the link. Whatever prompt you get, write about it (or keep generating until you find one you like). Some of them are hilariously weird.

Don’t forget to share your story!

Go forth and write!