Christian Carter-Stephenson





Am I a ghost? That is a question I have asked myself many times and I have yet to find a satisfactory answer. I can't deny that in many ways I do indeed fit the traditional definition of a ghost. I do not have a body as such and I can only be seen when I wish to be. I am able to pass through solid objects with relative ease and need to focus my mind completely in order to touch things. A ghost, however, is supposedly a spirit that can't rest in peace and is confined to re-enacting its death. Nobody could say that my death wasn't unfair, but I am certainly not constrained to playing it out.

I spend the majority of my time longing for eternal peace. All I want is to go to heaven. Even hell would be better than this bodiless existence, which is more than anyone should have to put up with. Then again, maybe I am already in hell; maybe hell is being denied entry to heaven.
I have powers far beyond those of mortal men - I can look into the future, or travel to the other side of the world in the twinkling of an eye - but in no way does this compensate for the terrible loneliness I have to endure. Perhaps I am being punished for the sins I committed during my life, who can say? The only thing I know for certain is that I am dead, at least in the way most people understand the word. This is the way it happened.

It seems like an eternity ago, though in reality it is probably no more than a few years. When I look back on it now, I find it hard to believe that I was so foolish and naive; but how could I have foreseen the tragedy that lay in store for me? That night I was still young and innocent. What happened ensured that I would never be so again.

I had read somewhere that a rock band called Bane were playing at a nightclub in a town relatively near my home. It would never usually have occurred to me to go and see them, as I am not into that kind of music, but my friend Louise phoned me up and asked whether I would
go with her, so I began to consider it. Apparently Louise had heard them play before and had been extremely impressed by their musical talent - not to mention the lead singer's good looks. I had no other plans for the evening, so it wasn't long before I agreed. Would to God I had decided to spend a quiet night in front of the television. Anything rather than accompanying Louise to that accursed nightclub. Still, there is no point crying over spilt milk, as the saying goes. What's done is done and can never be undone. Louise picked me up at half past seven and we drove to the club. She parked her car in the car park at the back and we joined the jostling crowd of people impatiently waiting in line outside. The queue moved surprisingly quickly - I suppose the owners of the club were more concerned about making money by cramming as many people in as possible, than about refusing entry to any but the most undesirable - and it was not very long before Louise and I found ourselves at the front. After a curt "Good evening," and a rudimentary search, the burly bouncer stepped aside to allow us into the bustling nightclub.

Once we had paid the entrance fee and handed in our coats, Louise and I made our way quickly over to the nearest bar. Louise had arranged to meet a few of her friends inside and she searched the room with her eyes in a vain attempt to locate them. I left Louise at the bar, while I went off to the toilet. When I returned, she informed me triumphantly that she had managed to spot her friends. They were standing in front of the makeshift wooden stage that had been set up for Bane to perform on, talking amongst themselves and listening to the rather dubious warm-up band. I bought Louise a drink and then we made our way over to join them. I didn't know any of them very well and after exchanging pleasantries with them, I withdrew from the conversation. I had absolutely no desire to listen to their meaningless chatter about their love lives; I had still not got over my last boyfriend. We had broken up a few weeks before, after I called round his house to discuss our holiday arrangements and found him in bed with my best friend. I was more than a little bitter at the time - after all, I had thought he was so wonderful -but when I think about it now, his lechery seems so trivial. Perhaps he was actually the best of men.

Nobody really noticed when the warm-up band left the stage, least of all Louise, who was busy telling her friends how incredible Bane were. She had described the lead singer to me in vivid detail over the phone. I had automatically assumed that she had been exaggerating about how handsome he was, as she had done so often in the past, in similar situations. When he and his fellow musicians made their appearance, however, I saw that if anything, her description didn't do him justice. He is the only man I have ever seen who I would really describe as beautiful. His skin was ivory coloured and absolutely flawless. He had long ebony hair that shone healthily in the soft light of the club and deep brown eyes, framed by stunning eyelashes. There was something so vulnerable about his delicate face that it made you want to take him in your arms and protect him from the horrors of the world. He was dressed in an elegant black leather overcoat, which seemed like it had been styled to resemble the clothes of another age, and tight leather trousers. His smooth chest was exposed for all the world to see and its athletic appearance would have made Adonis proud - something that can rarely be said for men who see fit to show off their pecs.

As soon as the band strode onto the stage, an expectant silence descended over the teeming nightclub. Even Louise and her friends stopped gossiping, and waited in anticipation for the band to start playing. I have already described how utterly gorgeous the lead singer was and there was not a girl in that club who was not now gazing adoringly at him Unfortunately, it's true what they say, beauty is only skin-deep, though I didn't know it at the time. The band members grasped their instruments (which had been set up for them just after the support act's departure), the singer adjusted his microphone and then Bane launched into their first song.
I had never heard anything like it before. Dark stirring guitars and sensuous drums filled the room and swept away all thought of anything else. I can't even begin to describe how powerful the music was. Everyone in the nightclub was completely absorbed by it. It only remained to he seen whether the beautiful singer had a voice that could do the rest justice. I did not see how this could possibly be the case, until he opened his mouth and I heard him sing. His voice was so deep and resonant that it brought tears to my eyes. I stood perfectly still and listened in amazement to the haunting melody, hardly even allowing myself to breathe, in case I should miss anything.

At the time, I thought that the band's first song would probably be a one off and the rest of the set would be a complete let down. This was not to be the case. Every song they played was just as moving as the first. Listening to them play was the most moving experience I have ever had - I spent the whole time on the verge of tears at the magnificence of it all. It was as though the music was in some way connected to my soul and its every modulation had a direct effect on my deepest emotional seat.

About halfway through the set, the lead singer did an elegant stage dive out into the crowd and let himself be carried across the room on a wave of enthusiastic hands. He passed almost directly over my head and I eagerly raised my arms to help him on his way. As I did so, a small slip of paper seemed to drop out of his back pocket and flutter to the floor just by my feet. Intrigued, I stooped to retrieve the vagrant piece of paper. My initial feeling as I looked down at it, was one of surprise. Written neatly across the slip of paper in black ink were the words, "MEET ME IN THE CAR PARK AFTER THE SHOW." My astonishment at this message quickly turned into delight - the divine lead singer was actually interested in me! Or was he? After all, that note could have been meant for anyone. Was it pure coincidence that it had landed near me, or had he planned it somehow? Either way, I was going to wait for him in the car park after the gig had finished.

Louise and her friends were too absorbed in listening to the band to notice me staring down at the piece of paper in my hands and I certainly wasn't going to tell them about it. I did my best to try and enjoy the rest of the show without giving anything away, but the sense of anticipation building up inside me was almost unbearable. The music was every bit as wonderful as it had been right from the start, but I could no longer give it the attention it deserved. I was just too involved in considering how my rendezvous with the singer would turn out. To be honest, I spent the remainder of the evening willing the gig to come to an end. Finally it did, and Louise and I said goodbye to the others. "Shall we collect our coats, and get out of here?" asked Louise when they had gone.

"Actually I've arranged to drop in on a friend of mine here in town before I go home," I replied, having already racked my brain for a plausible excuse why I wasn't catching a lift back home with her.

"Well then, I guess this is goodbye," said Louise. "Call me sometime, okay. I don't like the thought of you moping around at home, dwelling on the past." She put her arms around me briefly, then turned briskly around and walked away.
"See you around, Louise," I called after her. She gave me a parting wave and then disappeared into the crowd.

I waited until I was sure she must have left the club, then I made my way swiftly to the toilet. Once there, I adjusted my hair and reapplied my lipstick. When I was quite satisfied
with my appearance, I went to pick up my coat. It was not very long after this that I found myself waiting for the singer outside in the car park. It was a cold night, but I hardly even noticed - I was too excited.

I leant casually against the wall that surrounded the small car park and watched a small troupe of nightclub patrons returning to their cars. Eventually they were gone and I was left alone with only my thoughts for company. At first all I could think about was the man I had come here to meet and what I imagined he might say to me when he arrived, but then I finally began to consider how stupid I was being. Here I was waiting for a man I knew absolutely nothing about in a deserted car park in the dead of night. It was possibly the most dangerous thing I had ever done.

As I thought about this, I began to see hidden assailants in every shadow, and I started to remember dire stories about young women who had been attacked under similar circumstances, with no one to hear their screams as they died in horrific ways. In the end, I couldn't decide whether I was looking forward to the singer's arrival - assuming he did actually show up at all - or dreading it. At least he would be some company He might even turn out to be Mr. Right. Then again, he might turn out to be a psychotic killer, or worse.

The darkness seemed to close in around me, stifling me with its eerie silence. There was a sound behind me and because my nerves were so on edge, I almost screamed. When I swung around, I saw to my relief that it was just a large ginger tomcat out for a stroll along the wall. I stroked the cat a few times, feeling strangely comforted by its presence and when I turned around again, the prodigious singer was standing in front of me. I had no idea how long he'd been standing there for; I hadn't heard him approach. His silent arrival should probably have scared me, but it only made me all the more attracted to him. After all, the most romantic men are always a little mysterious.

The singer was as gorgeous up close as he had been from a distance. There really were no blemishes of any kind to mar his perfect face and his brown eyes really were like fathomless pools of forbidden knowledge. The sight of him left me speechless. I suppose in my heart of hearts I had already accepted that he wasn't going to show up and now here he was! He was dressed in the same way he had been on stage, with his wonderful chest bared to the elements. He didn't seem to notice how cold it was. "I wasn’t sure whether you would come," he said after a moment, his deep melodious voice making me feel completely unworthy of his divine presence.

I managed to find my voice and reply candidly, "I wouldn't have missed it for the world."
He smiled and said jokingly, "I only hope you do not feel differently before the night is over." I can't tell you how bitterly ironic those words seem now.

"I couldn't make up my mind whether the message was for me," I told him.

"It was for you," he replied ardently. "I have had my eye on you for some time. Do you know that you are quite probably the loveliest woman I have ever seen?"

From anyone else it would have sounded corny, but coming from him, it sounded wholly sincere. I felt myself blush - it was a long time since I had been told anything like that. "Thank you, it's nice of you to say so," I said. "I would say something flattering about you, but I'm sure you don't need me to tell you how beautiful you are."

"Do you really think I'm beautiful?" he asked doubtfully.

"Of course you are," I assured him, somewhat surprised by this open display of insecurity.
"It’s refreshing to hear somebody say so, even if it isn’t the truth," said the singer, in a sad voice that sounded absolutely genuine.

I was astounded. I had never met any man even moderately good-looking before who didn't know it and assume it made him superior to everyone else. Either he really didn't know how attractive he was, or he was too modest to admit it. "So what do we do now?" I asked after a moment.

"I thought we might go for a walk," he replied.

"Oh really," I said thoughtfully. "Where to exactly?"

"There is a picturesque little park nearby," he told me. "It is the perfect place to take a moonlight stroll." He took my hand and together we left the car park. I had been wrong about him not feeling the cold - his hand was absolutely freezing.

We walked slowly down the street, talking about all sorts of things. It was amazing how interesting the singer was to listen to. Most men spout all kinds of rubbish when they are trying to pick up girls. His conversation was so deep and profound that I knew at once he was somebody out of the ordinary. I can't deny that I was starting to fall for him in a big way.
I was too absorbed in listening to my companion to notice which way we walked. I can remember passing through a dimly lit subway and then the next thing I knew, we were standing in front of the wrought-iron gates that led into the park. A notice by the entrance clearly announced that the park had closed at nine o'clock, but for some reason the gate had not been locked. The singer flippantly pushed it open and we stepped through.

The park was bathed in pale moonlight and looked almost celestial. I gazed around me, savouring the unworldly beauty. "I told you it was picturesque," said the singer, somewhat amused by my silent admiration of the incandescent scene.

"That's an understatement! It's absolutely stunning," I replied. "It's just a shame that it's so cold." I pulled my coat tighter around me.

The singer silently encircled me with his arm and I smiled gratefully. Not that it made me any warmer (if anything he was colder than I was), but it felt good to know that someone actually wanted to put their arm around me. Ever since my previous romance had reached its unpleasant conclusion, I had been quite certain that nobody would ever want me again. It was wonderful to be proved wrong.

We made our way along a narrow path, past a whole host of pretty flower beds and a vast lake that glimmered mysteriously in the ghostly moonlight. Eventually, we came to a large grove of trees. The singer's intentions should have been perfectly clear to me by this time, but I was too enraptured by him to realise what they were. Without a word of protest, I allowed him to lead me into the grove.

The trees around the edge of the copse were crowded close together, but they thinned out considerably as we neared the centre. We arrived at a small clearing. I remember thinking at the time what a romantic place it was. Narrow beams of moonlight filtered through the leaves overhead, creating a deliciously melancholy atmosphere. The singer sat down on a fallen tree and drew me down next to him. We sat in the midst of an unearthly quiet and he gazed at me with his hypnotic brown eyes. Suddenly it occurred to me that he hadn't even told me his name and although it felt almost sacrilegious breaking the silence, I ventured to ask him to correct this oversight.

"My name is not important. What is it they say - the wind lasts longer than any name!" he replied. "Has anyone ever told you that you have the most wonderful eyes?"
I would have thanked him for the compliment, but before I knew what was happening my lips were locked with his, in the most passionate kiss it has ever been my pleasure to experience. If only I had known then that it was to be the kiss of death.

His cold hands glided tenderly over my body as we kissed. I ran my own hands through his long hair and over his gorgeous chest, beginning to lose myself in the heat of the moment. The singer let his caresses drop to my breasts and then to my crotch. I can't say I didn't find his touch extremely arousing, but I wasn't ready for a sexual encounter, so I moved his hand gently but firmly away. To my enormous shock, he forcefully replaced it. I pulled away from him. "What do you think you're doing?" I demanded.

"What a stupid question," he said scornfully. "What does it look like I’m doing?"
"I don't feel that I know you well enough for that yet," I told him.

"Don’t try and tell me that you aren’t aware of why I brought you here," he replied.

"Listen," I said, "I like you a lot and if things carry on as they are, then I may eventually want you to make love to me, but this isn't the time. I'm not over my last relationship properly."

"You are going to have sex with me tonight, whether you like it or not!" he said in a menacing voice.

"Sure," I said sarcastically, standing up to leave. The singer grasped me harshly by the wrist and yanked me back down. In the next instant, he had ripped my blouse open. Ignoring my slapping hands, he threw me to the ground. I screamed in terror as he sat astride me, reached
up my skirt and pulled off my knickers. The ground was hard and stony beneath me. I searched frantically around with my hands for some kind of weapon and almost cried out in triumph when my fingers closed around a thick stick. I swung the stick heavily into the back of the singer's head. He fell across me and I struggled out from under him. I watched in horror as he rolled awkwardly onto his hands and knees, and began to clamber to his feet; then I dropped the stick and fled.

I ran through the trees in a blind panic, with branches whipping at my face and my ruined blouse gusting uselessly about me under my coat. As I ran, I began to think about something a friend of mine had asked me once: "Why do the most attractive men always turn out to be the psychos?" To say that I now knew what she meant would be the understatement of the century.

Finally I summoned up enough courage to glance behind me. The singer was nowhere to be seen, so I plunged headlong into a thick bush to hide. I sank to my knees, quite out of breath from my wild flight. For a long time all I could hear was my own panting. Then, all of a sudden, I heard a twig break in the distance. Somebody was coming! Every shadow seemed to take on the shape of the singer. I held my breath and tried in vain to still my pounding heart. I heard more twigs breaking and then I saw a dark figure stumbling down the path towards me. I was absolutely terrified. I simply didn't know what to do for the best. If I stayed hidden, I was a sitting duck, but he might not notice me. If I made a run for it, I would have a chance of getting away, but he would see me for sure. In the end fear made the decision for me - I found I was rooted to the spot in abject terror. The figure was getting closer. Any minute now, whoever it was would be on top of me.

I closed my eyes, preparing for the worst. When I opened them again, I let out a long sigh of relief. The figure that had emerged from the darkness was not the singer, but a drunken old tramp. The tramp, dressed in a tattered black mackintosh, was singing softly to himself as he stumbled along the path. I almost appealed to him for help, but the empty vodka bottle clutched in his hand told me that he would offer little protection against the singer. In spite of his intoxication, however, his presence was a comfort and I felt thoroughly desolate when he had disappeared back into the darkness.

For a long time, everything was as quiet as the grave. I began to think that the singer had given up searching and was just about to come out of my hiding place, when I saw him in the distance, walking swiftly away from me. It was too dark to make out any of his features, but somehow I knew it was him. I waited until I was quite sure that he was gone, then I crept out from the bush and started off in the opposite direction from the one he had taken. It was not long before I emerged from the trees and saw the exit to the park up ahead of me. I was about to break into a run, when I felt someone clamp a cold hand over my mouth. I didn't have to look to know it was the singer. He dragged me back into the trees, not seeming to notice my desperate struggles, then grabbed a clump of my hair and wrenched my head back. I felt the breath rush out of my body as he planted a powerful knee in my back and I crumpled to my knees.

Before I knew what was happening, something hard struck my head and I fell forward onto my face. The singer pinned me to the floor with his foot. I twisted my head around to look up at him. Something in his hand glinted in the moonlight. To my horror I realised that it was a knife. I redoubled my efforts to escape, but it was useless - he was too strong for me.

He met my terrified gaze with eyes full of contempt. "If you had done as you were told, I could have shown you a level of ecstasy such as you never dreamed possible," he said, running his hand menacingly along the gleaming knife-blade. "As it is, I am going to have to kill you!"

"Please don't kill me," I pleaded. "I'll do anything you want, just don't kill me."

He sneered cruelly, "It’s too late for that now. You had your chance to live and you relinquished it."

The singer sat down astride my back and ran the flat edge of his knife gently across my cheek. At this point, I must have lost control of my bladder, because the front of my skirt was suddenly soaking wet. "I don't want to die!" I screamed.

"We all die sooner or later, that is the way of things," said the singer. "Look at it this way - I am saving you the pain of growing old." He pulled my head roughly back, lowered the knife to my throat and whispered in my ear, "Parting is such sweet sorrow."

Then pain lashed through my body as the knife sank into my throat. For a moment I felt my lifeblood gushing out and then the pain was gone, replaced by a blissful feeling of emptiness. I stood up and looked around me in surprise. I was suddenly as light as a feather. It was as if a great weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I was also abruptly aware of how bitterly cold I was.

I turned around to look at the cold-blooded singer. For a moment all I could do was stare in shocked amazement. Lying on the floor, in a pool of blood and urine, was what I took to be my own lifeless body.

I was dead! The thought of it blanked out everything else. The very world seemed to fade from existence as the terrible truth dawned on me. My life was over and what happened next was anybody’s guess. As the seconds marched on, though I began to be aware again of how free I felt. It’s amazing how many aches and pains we endure daily without realising it. Those were all behind me now - they had died with my body. All at once I was acutely conscious of things I had never been conscious of before. I felt as if I had just awoken from a deep sleep.

Moments later my mind was back in the park and I was staring at the man who had murdered me. I watched him casually fling his knife aside and stroll away from my bloody corpse. Overcome by a rush of emotion, I threw myself at the callous killer - only to fall straight through him. I tried again and again, but the result was always the same. I couldn't touch the singer, let alone cause him any harm. It looked as though he couldn't even see me. As far as he was concerned I had departed from the world the moment he slit my throat. I followed the singer as far as the gate out of the park, then gave up trying to attack him and returned to where my mortal remains lay.

I knelt down beside my body, not really knowing what to do next and as I did so, despair flooded over me, drowning out all other thought. It was such a pitiful sight. Even the terrible grief I had felt when my mother died years earlier seemed to pale in comparison to this. No words can come close to describing how desolate I felt. Oblivious to everything except my own overwhelming sorrow, I gently picked up my body's limp wrist. I don't think spirits can cry, otherwise I would still be crying now.

Suddenly realisation as to what I had just done hit me; I had somehow managed to touch myself. I had not been able to touch the singer moments before and yet I had succeeded in lifting my own wrist. What made the two circumstances different? Two possibilities occurred to me. The first was that I could touch my lifeless body because it had been such an integral part of me before I died. The second was that I had been able to pick up my wrist for the simple reason that my mind had been completely focused on doing it. Before I had even had a chance to think these ideas through, I knew that my second explanation was the correct one. This line of thought helped take my mind off the terrible sadness I was experiencing for a few precious moments, but it faded into insignificance almost as soon as it arrived.

I wouldn't like to say how long I stayed in the park, drowning in despair. I know that I was still there the following day, when a middle-aged man out jogging discovered my festering remains. I remember that particular event as if it happened only yesterday - he looked so happy jogging along with his headphones on, lost in a world of his own. He almost tripped over my body before he saw it. His initial reaction was to cry out in horror and throw up everywhere. After this, he ran to a phone box and called the police.

It was strange watching the police ponder my body. They took photographs and scribbled furiously in notebooks, but didn't seem to hold out much hope of finding my killer. This was very upsetting to me. All I had been able to think about since my death was how awful it was that my mortal life had been cut short and hearing the police candidly discussing it made it even worse. To them I was just another statistic. As I listened to them saying that my death would probably end up as another unsolved mystery, I grew increasingly depressed. Was the singer really to go unpunished?

Then my sadness was replaced by something else - an overwhelming need to have revenge on the man who had murdered me. I felt anger surging up inside me - anger at the unfairness of my death, anger at the words of the police and most of all anger at the man who had done this to me. My tortured mind made me relive my tragic death over and over again, and I forced myself to concentrate on the terrible images of the singer that filled my head, pushing away everything else. I saw every feature of his beautiful face so vividly that it could have been right in front of me. All other thought evaporated - as far as I was concerned the singer was the only thing that was important.

Suddenly the world around me shifted - the park faded away and I was back in the crowded nightclub where I had seen Bane play the night before. Posters on the wall announced that the band were back to play another gig, because of the success of their previous one. Here was my chance for vengeance!

As of yet, the stage was empty, but the air of anticipation in the club told me that it wouldn't be long before Bane began to play. I let my gaze wander - people had been packed into the nightclub like sardines the night before, but that was nothing compared to how busy it was tonight. I saw Louise and her friends standing near the stage, chatting happily about this and that. Obviously they had been so impressed by last night's show that they were back for more. I couldn't really blame them; the music we had heard was almost hypnotic. As I watched them, I felt despair wash over me once more. Never again would I be able to stand around gossiping in the carefree way they were doing.

Forcing myself to concentrate on the task in hand, I shifted my gaze elsewhere. A blanket of cigarette smoke hung over the whole club. In my opinion, everyone there should have been choking to death on this, but nobody even seemed to notice it. Perhaps I was the only one who could see it so clearly. Now that I was a disembodied spirit, I could see lots of things that I had never been able to see before.

My thoughts were interrupted by the thunderous applause of the crowd as Bane arrived on stage. I made my way to the front (this would have been impossible for most people in that club, but for someone who could float through anyone that got in her way, it was the easiest thing in the world). I looked up at the band, who were just picking up their instruments. The lead singer looked completely composed - there was nothing about him to suggest that he was actually a cruel killer. He was dressed in the same outfit as he had been the previous night and looked more gorgeous than ever. My feelings of anger and hatred towards the man helped me centre my concentration completely on him. I was unaware of anyone else in the club; there was only the singer and myself. Having focused all of my attention on him, I then willed him to see me. Somehow I knew that if I concentrated hard enough, I could make myself visible to him.

The startled look of recognition on the singer's face told me that it had worked. I stood staring at him for a few minutes, then slipped back into the crowd. When I was sure that I was hidden from the singer's view by the people around me, I made myself invisible again. He didn't look quite as calm anymore. In fact, he looked positively stricken. I watched with satisfaction as he clambered down from the stage and began fervently searching through the crowd for me, completely insensible to the protests of his fellow band members.

I made my way to the other side of the dance floor, being careful to take my time (I wanted to savour every delicious moment of this). Then I let the singer have another glimpse of me - it was easy now that I knew exactly what to do. Almost before I had made myself visible, the singer started purposefully towards me, pushing people roughly aside in his haste. It was wonderful to see how frantic he looked. The expression on his face was a bizarre combination of shock, fear and rage. I walked slowly away from him towards the exit to the nightclub, allowing the crowd to envelop me again. I faded myself out of sight and when I reappeared I was just heading out of the door. I made a point to make sure the singer saw me leave.
He rushed out of the club, only to see me disappearing around a corner at the end of the street. When he reached that corner, I was just rounding the next one and so it went on. I was always just far enough ahead for him to catch sight of me, but not to see me clearly enough to
identify me as the woman he had murdered. I liked the thought of him chasing after me, desperate to find out if I really was a ghost come back to haunt him.

We continued in much the same vein all the way to the park. As I have already said, I wasn't paying attention when we walked there the night before, but for some reason, I didn't have any problem finding my way back. I suppose that through my death I had become irrevocably linked with the place in some way. I was now a part of the park and it was a part of me.
Whoever it was that had left the gate open the night before, had obviously been more vigilant this time, as it was firmly locked. I found myself hoping that he or she had gotten into a lot of trouble for leaving it open. If they'd been more careful, I might still be alive. I checked behind me - the singer was just on his way through the subway that I had left moments before. I willed the padlock on the gate to fall open and then let the singer see me vanish into the park.

I led the singer through the silent park, flitting in and out of sight. I was actually enjoying playing with him; it felt good to be in control. Eventually we came to the scene of my murder. I smiled at the panic on the singer's face as he realised where he was. I don't think either of us could ever forget that spot.

The police had now taken away my body and cleaned up the bloody mess. I could somehow sense that they hadn't found the knife, however. As soon as I set foot in that place, I felt it calling out to me from the depths of a nearby bush. I went over to the bush and stooped to retrieve it.

To my great annoyance, my hand went straight through the bloodstained knife. Clearly my mind wasn't focused enough on what I was doing. I banished all other thought, until
the knife and what I wanted to do with it, were all that was left. Suddenly I noticed that the singer was looking right at me! Surely he couldn't see me - I was still invisible.

"What are you going to do now?" he asked, taking a step towards me.

I reached out to take the knife, but once again I couldn't touch it. The singer had taken another step towards me. He had a menacing grin on his face. My frustration at not being able to pick up the knife was matched only by my confusion at how the singer was able to see me. I put it down to the fact that he must be extremely sensitive to the supernatural.

Things were not working out the way I had planned at all. When I set out to have my revenge on the singer, I had been confident that he could do me no more harm. Now I wasn't so sure. He was getting closer all the time. I had to pick up the knife - it was my only chance!
I felt rage surge up inside me, until it threatened to consume my very being. This was the man who had killed me and I couldn't even lift a hand against him. Awash with my own fury, I was only vaguely aware of my hand clutching hold of the elusive knife. The singer was now within easy reach. I raised the knife high above my head.

Then I struck, not just for myself, but in the name of everyone who has ever been a victim... and the blade passed straight through him. He flung back his head and laughed - a terrible mocking laugh that was quite at odds with the harmonious way he spoke. "You and I are the same, now," he said with a sneer. "The only difference is that I have learnt to solidify myself. It’s a state I maintain most of the time now, except, of course, when vengeful spirits are trying to stab me. Farewell. Parting is such sweet sorrow." Then he vanished into thin air and I was left alone. All my efforts to find him have proved fruitless and so it was that I was deprived of my vengeance.



The right of C. J. Carter-Stephenson to be identified as the author of this story has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or otherwise, without the prior permission of the author, or a license permitting restricted copying. Any breach of copyright will result in legal action. Wherever you are, there is no escaping the long arm of the law.


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