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Specters of a life

Forever trapped

By Abel GreenPublished 6 months ago 17 min read

It was a cold, dreary day in Raven’s Break. The sky was overcast with ominous clouds that hung low, casting a gloomy pall over everything. There was no rain, but the air was thick with humidity that seemed to hang like a wet blanket over the town, forbidding a rainy afternoon.

Mary trudged through the quiet streets, her footsteps echoing against the pavement. She was on her way to school, but her heart wasn't in it. She had no interest in the mundane routine of the classroom, the droning lectures and the endless worksheets, not to mention the constant need to fend off her classmate’s jokes and bullying. She longed for the day she would finally be allowed to work, then she would be able to leave the neighborhood and its depressing atmosphere.

As she walked, she passed by the local stores and the bustling marketplace. But even the colorful displays of goods and the lively chatter of the vendors couldn't lift her spirits. She felt a sense of melancholy weighing down upon her, like a heavy stone.

She glanced over at the local guards, who stood dejectedly in the corners of the street, their faces mostly covered by their hats. They seemed to be ignored by the rest of the neighbors, as if they were mere shadows blending into the background.

Mary walked past them and turned a corner coming face to face with a fence twisted and bent in places, with sharp edges that caught the few sunrays that managed to escape the broody clouds to glint menacingly. It seemed to be a stark warning to all who entered the premises.

She shivered as she approached the twisted fence, the sharp edges and bent metal seemed to loom over her, casting an eerie shadow on the already dimly lit hallway. She couldn't shake the feeling that the fence was somehow alive, watching her every move with its sharp, piercing eyes.

Turning the corner, Mary found herself face to face with the entrance to her classroom. The bars on the window seemed to taunt her, as if daring her to come closer. The fluorescent lamps flickered above, casting an eerie glow on the walls that were once painted a sickly shade of pink but with the years had turned more gray than any other color.

As Mary entered the classroom, the slightly acrid scent of her classmates and musty air filled her nostrils. The desks were slightly vandalized, with scratches and scribbles etched into their surfaces. The bars on the window seemed to trap her inside, as if she was a prisoner in her own classroom.

Mary let out a soft sigh as she took her usual seat in the middle of the classroom. It was the perfect place for her to be ignored, away from the popular students who sat in the back, but not so close to the front that she would attract the full attention of her bland, boring teacher.

As the class settled in, a hush fell over the room as the teacher entered, causing everyone to fall silent. He announced that they would be taking a break from math today, which elicited expressions of joy from the students, but that they would be focusing on history instead, causing a collective groan to echo throughout the room.

But then the teacher added something unexpected. They would be focusing on something very relevant to their neighborhood: the history of Raven's Point and the battle that took place there nearly a hundred years ago.

Mary's ears perked up at the mention of Raven's Point. She had always been fascinated by the history of her neighborhood, but had never been given the opportunity to learn more about it. As the teacher began to talk, she leaned forward in her seat, her eyes fixed on him as he recounted the events that took place so many years ago.

Her teacher, Old Thomas began by recounting the events of the Bilmic invasion in 1920. The city had prepared defenses to the north and east, expecting the attack to come from the plains. However, the Bilmics had secretly paid off a local sheepherder who betrayed their countrymen by guiding the enemy through secret mountain passes to attack from the west at Raven's point.

The area was being watched by a skeleton crew of 1,000 volunteers who were ill-equipped, untrained, and leaderless. Despite this, they chose to face the enemy, hoping to slow them down enough for runners to come back with reinforcements.

Unfortunately, the Bilmic army was 20 times larger than the Retner battalion, who were wiped out in less than three hours. In an attempt to surrender, some 200 Retner soldiers were captured and executed in cold blood.

Thoma then showed them a painting created by an eyewitness. The nightmarish image had captured the horror of the fateful battle. In it, a group of young men stood together, their backs against a towering cliff face with a jagged crest that looked like a crown. Their faces were etched with terror as they waited for what was to come. The men were clearly soldiers, with battered gray uniforms and bloodstained clothes with a dirty white piece of cloth laying amongst their feet.

The painting seemed to capture the very moment when the enemy peloton was about to fire upon them. The air was thick with tension, and one could almost hear the sound of the enemy approaching. It was as if time had stood still in that moment, and the soldiers were frozen in place, waiting for the inevitable.

The faces of the men in the painting were haunting, and it was clear that they were all very young. They had the look of innocence about them, which made the painting all the more tragic. One could only imagine what thoughts were running through their minds in that moment, as they faced their untimely demise.

To add insult to injury, the company’s sacrifice was in vain. They were unable to buy enough time for the rest of the army to get into a favorable position, resulting in a Retner defeat and allowing the Bilmic army to take the city. The Bilmics held the city for more than three months, and it took careful negotiation and many losses for them to finally release it.

Despite the loss, the battle was celebrated as proof of the brave heart that beats in every Retner’s chest, except for the 200 surrendered traitors.

Mary's mind was in disarray for the rest of the class and as she left the classroom for recess. The painting had struck a chord within her, leaving her feeling deeply perturbed. She couldn't quite put her finger on what it was that was bothering her so much, but she knew that something about the scene had stirred a realization that was just beyond her reach.

Desperate for some peace and quiet, Mary made her way to the western border of the school, a place where no one ever ventured. There, beneath the shade of a yew tree, she gazed up at the sky, lost in thought. As she tried to make sense of the painting's haunting imagery, she couldn't shake off the feeling that there was something important she was missing.

Her eyes wandered to one of the local guards, his uniform like all she had seen was in a pitiable state, with buttons missing and a large dark stain on the back. Mary's eyes followed him as he patrolled the cliff that marked the school's border. Bored, she then looked up to the cliff and noticed something peculiar. There, at the very top, was a rock that had been weathered by time, with a few chunks missing, but unmistakably shaped like a crown.

Suddenly, the realization hit her. The execution of the surrendered soldiers had not taken place in some unknown location. It had happened right before her eyes, on the very same cliff. Mary felt a shiver run down her spine as she contemplated the gravity of the event that had occurred on that very spot.

Mary's body shook with an unexplainable fear that she just couldn't shake. It was as if something beyond her understanding was trying to tell her something, something important. Despite the chilly breeze, she couldn't shake off the feeling of a cold hand tracing down her spine, and it only grew stronger as she spotted the crowned rock at the top of the cliff.

She averted her eyes from the rock and shifted her attention to the guard patrolling the area, his gray uniform seemed familiar. It was not just familiar… it was identical to the one she had seen in the painting.

Unable to resist her curiosity, Mary waited for the guard to turn his back on her and ran to hide in a nearby bush. She could hear her blood whooshing through her ears as her heart beating faster and faster waiting for the guard to turn around and face her. When he did, she was frozen in horror. She only saw it for a brief moment as the guard adjusted his jacket. A large bullet hole was right where his heart should be. The “spot” she had seen was not dirt, it was the man’s blood that had soaked the jacket after he had fallen to the earth during his execution. This was not a simple neighborhood guard, it was a ghost.

Mary's heart was pounding as she waited for the guard to turn, her mind racing with thoughts of what she had just witnessed. As soon as she had the chance, she bolted out of her hiding place, her legs carrying her as fast as they could go. She ran blindly through the labyrinthine halls of the school, not caring where she was going, only knowing that she needed to get away.

Eventually, she collapsed in a corner, her whole body shaking with fear and confusion. She curled up into a ball and began to cry, feeling utterly lost and alone. It was there, huddled in the darkness, that Mrs. Jane, the school janitor, found her a few hours later. Concerned and worried for the young girl, she took Mary to the administrator's office to seek help.

But even there, Mary was unable to get the story out, unable to put into words what she had seen and experienced. They called her mother to come and pick her up, hoping that she would be able to help her daughter make sense of the turmoil that was raging inside her.

With her mother there to help her keep calm, Mary attempted to recount the horrifying realization to the adults. She had hoped for some comfort, some validation that what she had seen was real. But instead, her mother and teachers laughed, dismissing her claims. They told her that there was no evidence of a battle ever taking place on the school grounds and that the school couldn't afford to have a guard patrolling the area.

Mary couldn't believe it. Had she imagined everything? Had the painting and her own mind played tricks on her? But the memory of the guard's burnt chest and missing temple was too vivid to be dismissed as mere imagination. She felt a lump form in her throat and tears prick at the corners of her eyes once again. Why couldn't anyone believe her?

As she was ushered out of the school, Mary couldn't shake off the feeling that something was terribly wrong. The school was hiding a dark secret beneath its walls. And she couldn't help but feel that she was the only one who knew about it.

Mary was heartbroken as she walked away from the school, her mother's hand clasped tightly in hers. She had been punished for disrupting the class, and now she was not allowed to attend the next day's lessons.Not like she even liked going to school. She hated it but if she wanted one day escape the neighborhood, she had to pass her qualifications. Otherwise there would be no employment offers. As they left the school's gates, the dark clouds that had been looming over them all day finally broke, and the rain started to pour down on them.

The people on the streets quickly scattered, seeking shelter from the rain, but Mary and her mother continued to walk, the rain soaking through their clothes and plastering their hair to their heads. They were not alone, however. The local guards remained at their posts, standing stoically in the rain as if it was nothing to them.

Mary couldn't help but feel envious of their unwavering dedication, even in the face of such terrible weather. She wondered what it would be like to be so committed to something that even the rain couldn't deter you. But then again, maybe it was better not to know.

Mary's mother looked at her with a mixture of concern and disbelief. "Mary, you need to calm down," she said gently. "There's no need to get worked up over a little rain."

But Mary was insistent. "No, look!" she said, pointing at the guards again. "Their uniforms are completely dry, even though it's pouring rain!"

Her mother sighed and shook her head. "I don't know what you're talking about, Mary. There’s no one there, they would have to be crazy to stand in this rain."

Mary was frustrated. The guards were right there! How could her mother not see them? Perhaps she was going mad, or hallucinating but despite her best efforts to ignore them, the ghostly soldiers were still there. She let her mother guide her home, unable to focus on where she put her feet. Somehow she ended up curled up in her bed looking at the ceiling.

She tried to distract herself by reading a book but found it impossible to focus. She tossed and turned in her bed, unable to sleep, until the first rays of sunlight peeked through the window. She spent the next 3 days alone in her room unwilling to leave or to receive anyone. Her mother left her food but it remained mostly untouched.

As Mary woke up on Monday, she struggled to shake off the eerie feeling that had gripped her since her encounter with the ghostly guards. She wanted to believe that it had all been a figment of her imagination, but the memory of the uniformed figures sent shivers down her spine.

Determined to face her fears, Mary left her house and headed towards the school, though she was still hesitant. Everything around her seemed normal at first, but as she walked, she couldn't help but feel like she was being watched. Suddenly, out of the corner of her eye, she caught a glimpse of a gray uniform. Her heart began to race as she realized the ghostly apparitions were still there, following her every move.

Mary's heart was pounding in her chest as she hurried towards school. The sight of the ghostly soldiers had shaken her to the core, but what was worse was the gruesome evidence of their deaths. As she walked, she noticed missing limbs and bullet holes on their bodies, details she couldn't believe she had missed before. Fear and confusion clouded her thoughts as she ran, bumping into bystanders along the way with her eyes tightly shut.

By the time she managed to get into her normal seat she was out of breath, her classmates looking at her confused and ready to mock her. She was only saved by the arrival of Old Thomas who immediately started his class.

As Old Thomas droned on about fractions, Mary couldn't help but feel a sense of unease. She kept glancing around the classroom, half-expecting to see the ghostly soldiers standing at attention in the corners. She couldn't shake off the feeling that they were still there, watching her every move.

Her classmates started passing around notes, giggling and whispering, but Mary couldn't even hear them. She was too preoccupied with her own thoughts. What did the soldiers want? Why were they haunting her?

Mary spent the rest of the day in a daze. Although she physically sat in her classes, her mind was far from the lessons. She struggled to focus, her thoughts constantly drifting to the ghostly apparitions she had seen earlier that morning. Every time a sudden noise interrupted her concentration, she jumped in her seat, her heart racing as she braced herself for another encounter with the soldiers. The rustling of leaves outside, the slam of a locker in the hallway, even the creaking of her own desk all made her nerves jangle. She was a bundle of nerves, unable to shake off the feeling of terror.

As the bell rang to signal the end of her classes, Mary's heart sank. She knew she had to cross the same gauntlet of terrifying specters on her way home. She couldn't rely on the same strategy she had used before, as it had been a miracle that she hadn't suffered an accident in the morning. Instead, she decided to keep her eyes down, fixated on the pavement. If she didn't look up, she wouldn't have to see the ghostly soldiers. The thought of them made her shiver, and she couldn't shake the feeling that they were watching her every move.

Mary's heart raced as she walked quickly, determined to get out of the area where she had seen the soldiers. She only stopped to look up and cross the streets. She felt relieved that she was doing it. She was almost there! Suddenly, she saw a piece of old gray cloth right in front of her. She braced herself for impact, but it never came. Instead, she felt a chilling sensation as if she had walked into a shower of frozen water. The feeling drained her, leaving her feeling purposeless and without any energy. She turned around to see what had happened and found herself face to face with another specter.

Her heart pounded in her chest as she stumbled backward, nearly losing her balance. She tried to scream, but her voice was caught in her throat. The ghostly soldier stared at her with hollow eyes, the bayonet protruding from his shoulder glinting in the fading light. She tried to back away, but her legs felt like jelly, barely able to support her weight.

As she tried to regain her composure, Mary's mind raced, trying to think of a way to escape. But before she could come up with a plan, the specter vanished into thin air. Mary stood there, panting and shaking, unsure of what to do next. She knew she couldn't stay there any longer, so she turned and ran as fast as she could in the opposite direction, her heart still racing with fear.

Eventually, Mary made it home, collapsing onto her bed with a deep sigh of relief. She knew she couldn't keep living like this, constantly looking over her shoulder and fearing for her life. Telling people about the specters had only led to her being punished for lying, and not looking at them had proven to be disastrous. She couldn't keep running away from them forever, so maybe she could try to live with them? Perhaps she could just get used to the constant presence of the apparitions and learn to ignore them. With this resolution in mind, Mary went to sleep, ready to face the next day with a newfound determination

Mary's resolution to ignore the specters proved futile as she faced their ghastly wounds. Despite her determination, she failed and was drenched in sweat by the time she reached her destination. The same scenario repeated itself day after day, causing her to lose her concentration and fear for her safety. Mary had never been a top student, but she was barely scraping by with enough grades to secure a job in the factories. However, with her constant distraction and fear, her grades slipped away, and by the time the end of the year arrived her grades were so mediocre that none would employ her. She was trapped as trapped as the cursed specters, unable to afford to move out and escape her torturers.


About the Creator

Abel Green

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