Fevered Dreams

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic

i said i wouldn't write anything to do with the present pandemic situation, but this story has buzzed around my head for a while now. Each loss is always an individual tragedy, but one that humans have faced since we first emerged as a species. Not for the first time I touch on the mystery of where we go after life is over and how we get there. I can't help coming back to the conclusion that it's not all bad.

Fevered Dreams.

 

Katrina felt under the weather. A strange colloquialism for not being well she thought, because are we not under some sort of weather all the time? Two weeks before this the lock down had started. Don't go out the authorities said, unless it is to buy food or go for medical treatment. We must stop the spread of the virus. Well Katrina didn't mind staying at home too much. A few weeks off with, it would seem full pay, didn't sound too awful. Then the 'under the weather' feeling came.

She was a little feverish and had a cough, but she was young and strong and had been responsible enough to contact all her friends and family to tell them to stay away until she was better. She had a supply of paracetamol, honey and lemon and night nurse. This combination had seen her through bad colds before. So long as she kept her fluids going in she would weather it she felt sure. Two days later she took to her bed, short of breath and all her muscles aching. Five days after that she felt better and on a sunny April morning got out of bed and went to the dressing table mirror. She looked very pale but she was ok.

As Katrina sat at the mirror she was startled to see the figure of a young woman behind her. The reflection was a girl about her own age dressed in a silk dress. She had very pretty jewellery on and elaborately curled hair. Katrina turned round to remonstrate with the intruder but was met with a sweet smile and a friendly voice.

“Katrina! Darling! Look at you. You're out of bed. That's marvellous! How are you feeling?”

“Who are you, and how did you get in?” Katrina replied.

“Oh sweetie, I know this is a teeny bit irregular....but I'm going to come straight out with it. My name is Ruth and I am a ghost. There! Boo!” the girl replied.

“Boo?” said Katrina back to her.

“Exactly! I lived here from 1898 to 1918. I was born and in fact died in this very room. The bed was over there though. You aren't on the exact spot. That would be creepy.”

“And this isn't?”

“Don't be scared of me or anything Katrina. There is nothing to be scared of. I mean I haven't got Old Nick at my heels or a legion of demons. No, it's just me, quite alone.”

The spectre gave a smile and shrugged her shoulders .

“I don't think I'm scared. I'm very open minded about the hereafter. Why are you here though?” Katrina was puzzled more than afraid. After three years in the flat there hadn't been so much as a bump in the night. No unexplained noises or glimpses of this other entity sharing her living space.

“Where is that nice boyfriend of yours Katrina? I haven't seen him for weeks.”

“It's during lock down Ruth. He can't come over.” she replied.

“Oh, has your father grounded you? I'm not surprised with you letting him stay all night. It's awfully liberated of you. Daddys though, always thinking of the family reputation.”

“No Ruth, the virus lock down. We're in the middle of a pandemic. None of us can go out except to get food or medicine. I'll put the news on so you can see.”

“Pandemic? Is it still going on? It can't have lasted since 1919!” the ghostly face looked alarmed now and she looked at the TV screen as Katrina found the rolling news channel. Ruth stared at the screen and watched the news cycle while sitting on Katrina's bed. Katrina reached for her hairbrush and listened to the news as she brushed her long hair into some kind of order. It was matted from being in bed so long. She wanted to take a bath. After five days of sweating it out in bed she definitely needed one. She told Ruth she was going to the bathroom. A soak in warm water and a hair wash would put some colour back in her cheeks.

When she returned to the bedroom Ruth looked sad as she watched the news. The pale face looked up.

“It's ghastly. It's happening all over again. A hundred years and nothing has changed. All that science in between and all the same questions are being asked. It makes you wonder if there is any such thing as progress at all.”

“I'm sorry Ruth. I guess you checked back in at a difficult moment, or have you been here all along?” Katrina asked.

“I come and go I suppose. It's a funny old existence in the world of spectres. You come and go at random. One minute there's nothing and the next you're back for no rhyme or reason. I've popped back to this house many times and seen many things I know that. Not all pleasant. There was a murder in the kitchen in 1942 and a suicide in the garden in the mid sixties. The exact date escapes me. I seem to be the witness to all the big events here. The births and weddings and deaths. Perhaps the emotion disturbs my ectoplasm or whatever it is. One little girl asked me if I was made of it like the ghosts in Ghostbusters. I think that was a movie?”

“So you have come back a lot?”

“A fair few times. Just keeping an eye on the place I suppose. Daddy bought the house when it was new. Of course we had all of it then. None of this dividing into flats business.”

“No, I suppose not.”

Katrina was now applying some make up and Ruth watched her in fascination.

“Oh my! Are you going to wear that really bright lipstick? You are so racey! With your boyfriend, and your bright red lips, you're so modern!”

“Well I need to go out for food I expect. I haven't been to the fridge yet but I expect the milk is sour after seven days.”

“Put some blusher on me, please do! I was never allowed to wear rouge. Daddy wouldn't hear of it.”

“Daddy needed to loosen up a bit by the sound of things.”

“He was strict, but he loved us. He was never a bully.”

Ruth knelt down in front of the dressing table so Katrina could apply the blusher to her face. She was white and translucent this close up. Her face was lit up from within somehow and when Katrina passed the make up brush over her skin the powder particles hung in suspension. They didn't seem to settle on the surface at all, but rather became part of her. Katrina wondered if the cosmetic would now be there for eternity. It couldn't be rubbed off and it would probably never fade. Ruth looked in the mirror. She smiled, pleased with the effect of her pink glowing cheeks.

“I didn't think ghosts had a reflection.” said Katrina.

“I think we are partly made of light. I'm not sure quite what else.”

“I think I need to make a move to the shops before they close. I don't feel hungry but I think I should eat something. Will you still be here when I get back?”

Ruth took Katrina's hand and looked at her kindly.

“The thing is Katrina, you don't feel hungry because you don't need to eat any more. You don't need to go shopping or worry about sour milk either. There is no easy way to put this darling. You are dead.”

“Don't be ridiculous. I'm up out of bed, washed and dressed. Of course I'm not dead!”

“Sweetie, look in your bed.”

With great trepidation Katrina walked across the room and what she had thought to be just a crumpled duvet and a mess of pillows proved to be more. She pulled back the cover and gasped at the sight of her own body, curled up as though fast asleep. The skin was quite blue but it looked as peaceful a passing as anyone could have.

“You passed yesterday. All I could do was wait for your spirit to break free from the ….mortal remains...you see I can't make myself heard on a telephone or anything. The living might catch the odd glimpse of me sometimes but to all intents and purposes I'm quite useless here. I think it was too late for a doctor when I arrived. You weren't alone at the end. I was with you and you were in such deep sleep you knew nothing.”

“So that's why you're here.”

Katrina covered up what had once been her body and turned to face Ruth.

“Where do we go from here then?”

“We can stay a while if you want. Watch some of the TV or something. Just sit quietly and get used to the idea. It took me a while to understand what had happened.”

“Are you here to help me? Are you a guide of some kind?”

“No, I think I'm just sort of half stuck here. I don't really understand why but I have done this a few times here. The house has lost a fair share of residents over the past century. You could almost say it's jinxed.”

With that the bedroom door opened and a figure of middle aged man in a smart suit was in the doorway.

“It's him!” Ruth exclaimed. “He is the one who comes for you.”

“Ladies, good day to you. Katrina, it's time to come with me now.”

Katrina hesitated as the man indicated to her to step through the doorway.

“What about Ruth? She has been here on her own for years. Hasn't she earned some peace for herself?”

“I think she has. Come through together. Ruth has always been afraid to do it on her own.”

Katrina turned to her.

“Is that why you are still here? You've been scared to go.”

“Yes. Terrified. I don't know what's through there.”

“None of us do.” said Katrina and took Ruth's hand.

The smart suited man ushered them through the door and followed pulling it shut behind him.

Ahead in the brightness he could hear the voice of two women laughing.

“Look Katrina! I told you we were part made from light!”

It was another seven days before the body was found, curled up under the duvet in the little flat.

Her family wept and her boyfriend was heartbroken. But she was lost in that weeks tsunami of terrible news. Just one woman in a pandemic, like Ruth had been in hers.

 

THE END.


Submitted: June 27, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Petula Mitchell . All rights reserved.

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Comments

hullabaloo22

This was an excellent story, and it really is amazing how some things haven't changed. I didn't expect the ending, so well done with that too.

Sat, June 27th, 2020 6:35pm

Author
Reply

Thanks very much. I like to try and incorporate a twist at the end. Not sure that it always works! Yes the same debates about social distancing, masks, lockdown and quarantine were all going on in the 'Spanish flu' pandemic. When you read up about it then some of the details are alarmingly familiar.
Stay safe and well xxx.

Sun, June 28th, 2020 12:38am

Vance Currie

A wonderful story, Petula. I have written a few ghost stories but never thought of having one stay earth-bound through fear of what might lie beyond.

Sat, June 27th, 2020 9:07pm

Author
Reply

Thanks Joe. I wondered what it must be like to make the final leap of faith, especially if you are alone. I'm sure we don't really have any choice when the time comes but it's interesting to play with the ideas in pieces of fiction for sure.

Sun, June 28th, 2020 12:41am

Rob73

A well written scary horror story.

Wed, July 1st, 2020 6:18am

Author
Reply

Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Wed, July 1st, 2020 3:26am

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