Ghost Town

Finishing our third game of Dominion Intrigue at 12:19am Sunday morning. My head still sneezing for three-hours now, the sinuses clogging with clear fluids as my nose slowly gets worse. Standing up we go in search of a medicine cabinet. My wife begins digging and reading labels in her parents bathroom seeking out cold and sinus medication while I continue the search in another room.

Hey come in here,” I heard from the main floor bathroom, “I’ve located a box of Advil cold and sinus plus,” she hands me six pills and I toss back 2 into my gullet. Down the stairs we travel to our hibernation quarters for the night. I’m the first one to lye down and begin tucking into the pillowtop mattress to warm the bed. She follows closely behind me and shuts off the overhead lights. 

12:39am and my cranium is on fire, I’ve moved the tissue box and wastebasket to my side of the bed in case a sneaky sneeze attack while sleeping. We begin with our regular goodnight pillow talk as our bodies finish warming the bed. Eventually our conversation is irritating the crap out of me. I say this to her and we wrap up the pillow talk. Eyes blink, blink and within 45-seconds sleep takes over. 

I’m asleep for several minutes maybe longer then my eyes twitch and I notice my feet have on blue sneakers with a white stripe on them and I am walking down a cobbled-grey sidewalk beneath gloomy orange-yellow street lamps. Looking around I see a string of old brick buildings there windows shattered from some unknown force. I think I have been here before? It’s just the details are fuzzy. I think its a ghost town from the 1930s, the historical society says it is haunted by ghosts. I’m not sure if this is true? Or if the people in the nearby town of Wabasca are deceitful? My hands tingle as I near the town’s bank.

I look down at my right hand, it’s grip is tense holding a wooden oak handled black machete with dark red blood dripping off of it. I am not surprised to see the blood or the machete and I feel almost relieved to see the blood. Turning right at the next corner the bank is across the street, its glass on the front doors is cracked but not broken through. Without thinking, my mouth and voice operate independently repeating “ormata hiss shama, ormata hiss shama, ormata hiss shama.” I move through the doorway into the bank and my left hand begins to swing backward and forward. It’s holding a chain, and at the base of it is a silver box with ornate scripture on the sides and a pile of smoke coming out. The herbal incense is a mixture of old Mediterranean coastal herbs. The herbs are supposed to attract the negative-ghosts out of their hiding places.

Slowly creeping forward on my toes the sneakers finding solid ground the farther into the bank I step. I can hear strange noises off to my left, and a handful directly above. I stopped three-quarters of the way into the lobby to let my eyes adjust to the dim light. I know precisely where I am standing because yesterday I spent countless hours reviewing old historical blueprints and photographs at the Wabasca Historical Museum, to organize my plan of attack. 

The noises directly above shake me out of my reverie and I steady the machete. The first negative-ghost approaches the old coastal incense, and my voice begins to  speak “assara ore nassata? Assara ore nassato?” the questions are to decipher friend or foe. My right hand raises the weapon awaiting its reply. It moves too close to the smoke and is stunned by the coastal herbs. It’s response is lucid, “nassato (foe).” The machete comes down hard across the collarbone and pushes through his non-existent heart exploding into a million pieces blood spurting everywhere. The first negative-ghosts’ body falls to the floor and disintegrates.

As I survey the room the second negative-ghost attacks from the left and I quickly jump right ducking then slicing upward into thin air. This negative-ghost is trying to set up a trap. My voice repeats the questions “assara ore nassata? Assara ore nassato?” This beast knows better than the last and nearly spouts the correct answer “nassatiao (foe).” My blade goes straight out from my hip nicking its flesh along the shoulder. It was nearly inside the coastal incense as I fall backwards tripping over a box. I roll to the right landing with a squeak of the sneakers, like its a basketball floor. Back on my feet, I pop-up behind the negative-ghost when it moves left, we are in an attacker-prey’s dance. The negative-ghost slashes out its sharp clawed hand catching my upper torso. It cuts deep into my flesh and my clothing soaks with blood. The beast thinks it is getting away and moves to his right. I swing the incense pot towards his departure area, a huge puff of smoke releases and stuns it. My right hand without thinking slides the machete through its stomach driving it hard up into the heart. It explodes a brilliant crimson across the floor.

Breathing heavily I fall to my knees thinking this is the end: No. You are a fighter. Get up. Get back to your motorbike. Your first aid kit has the herbal rub. It will stop the poison from reaching your heart. I try to stand and fall back down. I begin to crawl on my hands and knees towards the front door. My knees scratching the floorboards, splinters catching into my palms and knees. I am half way out of the front door when I collapse onto my chest the pain surges through my body. All I can smell is the birch and poplar trees lining the streets. My face against the sidewalk, I cannot see anything, my eyes blink, blink and close as I hear a native tongue. I try communicating with the soft figure, it all seems to surreal, “I need the medical kit off my motorbike. The bike is behind the general store.”

There is no response. “Dammit!”, I think. I am hallucinating this being. I don’t have enough time explain what I need again, as I am dying. And I am seeing positive-ghosts walking down the middle of the street. There are many of these spirits. “Why are they not helping me? HELP ME!” My mind shouts. A man with a feather sticking out of his ponytail kneels before me touching my arm. It’s my final attempt to communicate what I need to survive, “Please. The medical kit. On my bike.” My eyes close in pain and I black out.

~ James Curtis

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