Category Archives: Life After Death
Follow the lives of Zoey and Silas, two ordinary people with the extraordinary ability to see the dead.
No matter how many times it happens, you still feel surreal at the sight of yourself on the hospital bed.
But the feeling passes, and you turn your attention to the rest of the hospital. Your spirit drifts languidly. What’s the hurry? You have nowhere to go.
“Hi there. How can I help you?”
You turn to the voice, even if you know it can’t be directed at you. Except, the owner of the voice is the only one around, and he has his eyes focused on you.
“You can see me?” you check.
“Yes. Anything I can help you with?”
Your head tilts to one side.
“Do you have a message you would like to pass on? Or a place you want to go before you move on?”
“Move on? Oh. No. I’m not dead yet. My body’s still here.”
The man’s smile does not falter.
“Can you show me?”
You drift back to your room, following the pull on your spirit. It isn’t until you reach your room that you remember strangers can’t come in. You turn around, but the man is there. You think it strange, but let the thought go.
“Have you tried going back to your body?” the man asks.
“My friend did. Why not give it a try?”
“How?” you ask as you hover over yourself.
“Lie down. Fit your spiritual self with your physical self.”
You tentatively lie down, fingers to fingers, toes to toes.
Genre: fantasy, supernatural
That morning, Zoey took a different route to university that morning. Just because. And found the dead spirit of a boy wearing an outdated school uniform floating outside the school gate, eyes fixed on the classrooms inside.
She took a quick look around. Classes had already started, so the coast was clear.
“Hey,” she said.
The spirit looked at her.
“What’s keeping you here?” she asked.
“I want to go to school.”
“You can just go in.”
“You’re wearing a school uniform, so you must have been a student before. Maybe your body will remember,” she suggested.
“This uniform isn’t mine. I stole it. So the owner beat me until I died.”
One thing about dealing with the dead that she was still adjusting to. They could make things real awkward real fast.
“I… can bring you to my class?” Zoey offered.
The boy’s eyes widened with the first spark of life she’d seen from him. She turned away before the boy got too emotional.
“It’s this way,” she said.
The boy, despite his excitement, was silent. She could still see him fluttering around the classroom, but not enough to distract her from the tutorial. He left her alone, and she returned the favour.
In fact, he was so unobtrusive, that she didn’t noticed he had faded away until class ended.
Rest in peace, little guy.
Genre: supernatural, fantasy
Part of the Life After Death universe.
After 15 minutes of searching, they finally found his shoes high up in a rotting tree, precariously balanced on top of a hollow branch.
“How did your shoes go all the way up there?” his friends asked aloud as they clustered around the base of the tree.
Silas looked at two children out of the corner of his eye, keeping a straight face as they giggled out of normal hearing range behind their translucent hands.
“That’s what you get for ignoring us,” the older of the two spirits said.
While his friends’ attention were on his shoes, Silas muttered under his breath, “I already said we’ll talk later. The longer you keep us stuck here, the longer you’ll need to wait.”
“How do we know you’ll keep your promise?” the older one challenged with folded arms.
“You can always follow me back. My sister’s a spirit too.”
The children exchanged glances, then with the wave of a hand, his shoes tumbled off the branch.
The children complained, unheard by the rest of his group. Silas sighed and made a silent prayer for patience.
This was going to be a long day.
Genre: fantasy, supernatural
Inspired by the prompt tops, which I think registered in my mind as just ‘top’ when I was brainstorming ideas for the story.
Read more about Silas in Life After Death.
The family photo on the screen looked a few years old.
“That’s me with my parents. My mum runs her own business. My dad went missing six years ago,” her classmate said.
Zoey looked at the man on the presentation slide, then at the man floating by her classmate.
It was so hard to not blurt anything out, because there was no good way to tell a classmate his missing father was actually a dead father. But still. Still.
After the tutorial, she tapped her classmate on the shoulder.
“Sorry about your dad,” she said as they fell into their usual after-tutorial walk towards the student hub.
Her classmate’s lips tightened into a forced smile. “Thank you.”
“I don’t want to be rude but, which is worse? Waiting for someone who’s missing or knowing what happened? Even if it’s bad?”
He sighed. “It depends. Some days I want closure, some days I still want to hope he’ll come back.”
“If you had a choice, would you rather know or wonder forever?”
The laugh he gave her in response was bitter.
“If I had a choice, he wouldn’t have disappeared at all. But we don’t always get what we want.” He shook his head as if he could shook off his negative thoughts. “Sorry. That’s not what you’re asking. Right now, not knowing is worse, because it’s like a shadow that never leaves.”
“Thanks. And I’m sorry.”
Before they parted ways, she caught the spirit’s attention. The spirit left his son to join her as she put on her earphones and pretended to make a call. This, too, was part of their usual routine.
“So, uncle, your son thinks you’re missing,” she said.
“Yes,” said the spirit, who introduced himself as just Mr Tan in their first conversation earlier in the semester.
“If you want, I can tell him about you,” Zoey offered.
“I thought you wanted to keep your ability a secret?” Mr Tan said with a smile.
“I still do. I was thinking of somehow helping the police find your body. You know where it is right?”
“Then leave the rest to me.”
Zoey turned her attention to her phone to make a real call.
“Hello?” Silas picked up on the fourth ring.
“Hey Silas, how can I lead the police to a dead body without becoming a suspect?”
“By being very discreet and knowing the right people. You don’t have any classes left today right? Come to my place. I’ll take it from there.”
Zoey smiled. She could always count on Silas.
“We’re on our way.”
By the time they arrived, Silas had his laptop ready. It didn’t take them long to pinpoint the place where Mr Tan’s body had been dumped after a hit and run.
“Now, don’t say anything. I’m going to make a call,” Silas warned before he put his phone on speaker.
“Hey boss. I have a new tip for you.”
The week after, her classmate was absent from class. He was also absent the week after. The week after that was a holiday. It was only a month later that she saw him again.
Unseen by everyone else, Mr Tan waved.
“I won’t stay for long,” Mr Tan said after the tutorial, “Just wanted to say goodbye before I left. It was a pleasure to meet you, Zoey.”
Mr Tan smiled. Then he was gone.
Only then did she cry.
~You See But Do Not Observe~
Zoey’s science teacher liked to tell them, “You see but do not observe.”
She was pretty sure this wasn’t what he meant.
Unseen by the normal eye, a spirit struggled to push a teacup off the table.
To be fair, the cup was moving so slowly it didn’t look like it was going anywhere. The only reason she noticed at all was because of the spirit groaning and straining next to it. The couple at the table certainly wasn’t going to notice. Not when they were off in their own world together.
The spirit looked harmless, so Zoey left him alone. She wasn’t Silas. If it wasn’t an issue, she was not butting her nose into it.
Except… the spirit got angry and in a fit of rage cracked the wine cabinet next to them.
The couple didn’t notice.
But Zoey did, and as much as she wanted to, she couldn’t turn a blind eye any longer.
In the confusion over the sudden crack, Zoey captured the spirit’s attention and led him out of sight. Silas was better at helping spirits move on, but he wasn’t here, so the spirit would just have to settle with her.
Zoey braced herself.
“So, what was that about?”
Genre: slice of life
It was a sunny day, perfect for a stroll, a nap, a photo, a lot of things.
Yet here she was, armed and weighted down by a bunch of protective equipment.
“You look like you’re about to jump into a pool of poop,” Silas said with a wry smile, “It’s not that bad.”
“People are going to shoot at me for fun. How is that not bad?” Zoey grumbled.
“You get to shoot back.”
A buzz cut through the air, signalling the start of their capture the flag game.
He faced forward, turning his back to her. For a moment, she entertained the thought of shooting that deliciously unprotected back. An almost literal backstab.
Depending on how petty Silas was feeling that day, that would just make the already unbearable game even worse.
Instead, she curbed her cravings by jabbing him in the back with her gun.
“What are you going?”
One believed in ghosts, the other didn’t, but they bought the haunted house anyway.
“But it was dirt cheap.”
To be fair, many of their problems were mundane. The house had been left empty for so long that there were 101 things that were broken, were breaking, or would break soon. They could handle that. They had the funds and passion to slowly restore the house.
What they couldn’t handle was the random ghost floating around in the most inconvenient places as they went about their daily business.
So they hired him to do something about it.
“I don’t want to leave,” the ghost said.
“Why not?” Silas asked.
“I’m afraid God will reject me.”
“Is it because you rejected him?”
“No. I believed in him when I was alive. Still do.”
“What’s holding you back?”
“I did a lot of bad things. Especially towards the end.”
“That doesn’t matter. If you declare with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Did you do that?”
“Then there’s nothing to fear. Go home.”
“Home.” The ghost smiled and faded with a sigh.
Silas said quietly into the empty space, “Rest in peace.”
Then he turned and headed back towards the living.
Check out more stories about Silas in Life After Death.
My response to the prompt ‘jump‘.
Genre: supernatural, spiritual
~Spiritual Self Defense~
Zoey couldn’t reach the switch. Not even after stacking all the boxes she could find and jumping off them.
Silas was taller. He should be the one doing this. Bus Silas was unconscious and fighting his own battle with a very bad-mannered spirit.
So what if the spirit died on his birthday. People died on all kinds of important days all the time. Like the guy who died on his way to his own wedding. Now that was depressing. But even then, it wasn’t a good enough excuse to trap them in a basement-turned-freezer and change the doorknob into a switch on the ceiling.
She frowned and jumped again. Her fingers grazed the switch, but couldn’t press it before she crashed back onto the boxes. The box tower wobbled dangerously but stayed in place.
This wasn’t working.
Time for Plan E.
She stepped over Silas and slapped the spirit. Her hand passed the incorporeal body without dealing any damage, but it was enough to draw the spirit’s attention away from Silas to her.
Brown eyes narrowed at her and the floor rushed up to swallow her. Arms grabbed, tugged, and twisted her as the spirit howled all around her.
“Bring me back. I’m not ready to die. I’m too young to die.”
She writhed under the onslaught but couldn’t break away. Where could she go when he was everywhere?
Silas’ voice cut through the spirit’s moaning.
“… command you to get out. Out!”
Her eyes snapped open to a grey ceiling. She found her body flat on the floor with Silas staring fiercely at the now-open door.
“What did you do?” she asked.
For the first time since she knew him, Silas fidgeted and his gaze ran away from hers.
She pulled his arm before he ran away. Not that he was the kind of person who would run from a problem, but he wasn’t the kind of person who fidgeted either.
“What?” she repeated.
Silas finally finished his internal debate with himself and faced her.
“I don’t like telling people this, because people tend to get angry or awkward.”
“I’ll try try not to.”
“But you need to know how to defend yourself.”
“I’m just telling you what works for me. I’m not saying it’s the only way.”
She narrowed her eyes. “Are you telling me or not?”
“I’m getting there.”
“Get there faster.”
“I use Jesus,” he blurted out. Then he frowned. “That didn’t come out right.”
“What about him?” she asked before he got sidetracked.
“Well, in the Bible, people could cast out demons in his name. So I tried that, and it worked. I’m not saying that my way is the only way, but I know it works for me. I mean, do whatever works for you. Just don’t summon a demon to be your bodyguard. That’s not very safe. And-”
She flicked his forehead before he rambled until the next day.
“I get it,” she said.
“Oh. Yes. That’s good. So, make sure you find a way to protect yourself. Not every spirit is friendly, as you just saw.”
“I’ll do my best.”
“Good. Now let’s go.”
He pulled her to her feet and they left the basement before the spirit came back.
Read more about Zoey and Silas here.
My response to the prompt ‘sidewalk‘.
How did Zoey feel about her ability to see the dead?
On good days, it was the lens that let her see into a whole new world.
On bad days, it was the giant spoon that scooped her out of her life into a bowl filled with other people’s issues.
Today was somewhere in the middle. Read the rest of this entry
~A Dangerous Temper Tantrum~
Zoey thought almost dying would be a life changing event. (Which it was. Being able to see dead people was a hard change to miss.) But for a life changing event, it didn’t have much of a presence. This, however, was shooting up the ranks of ‘memorable moments’ like students gushing out of class at the final school bell.
Earlier that day, a dead waiter ambushed her on her way home. The last time they met, the ex-waiter wanted her help with some unfinished business. She planned to help him over the weekend when Silas came over, but it seemed that the ghost never learnt the value of patience, and she was now paying the price.
The ex-waiter couldn’t interact physically with the world, but he was extraordinarily talented at leaching out all the heat around him, especially body heat. So his version of a temper tantrum was to leach out all the heat from her, resulting in a very cold Zoey, frozen stiff on the ground despite the sunny weather.
How would freezing her help him? She couldn’t ask. Her teeth chattered too much for speech. Even later, when the chatter died down, she didn’t ask. Or maybe she did. Things got a bit confusing towards the end. She couldn’t remember much between freezing on the ground and waking up back home.
“Do you want a nickname? At the rate you’re going, we can call you ‘the girl who keeps dying but doesn’t stay dead’,” Silas’ voice greeted her return to consciousness.
Zoey frowned. “Aren’t nicknames supposed to be shorter?”
“Aren’t you supposed to stay alive?”
“I didn’t die… did I?” Zoey reached out and pinched Silas’ arm. His skin reddened obediently under her fingers. “Yeah. Still alive.”
Silas pulled his abused skin free. “Because of me. You’re welcome.”
“I called him with your phone!” Evan popped his head in through the wall.
Wait. Evan? Didn’t they already send him off to the afterlife last week?
“Thanks.” Better check to see if her phone was still usable after this.
She endured Silas’ lecture on being careful and just because they could see dead people didn’t mean they should join them, etc.. Well, not everyone could have a dead sister watching out for him and a family who could hear dead people. Her closest help was Silas, and they didn’t live in the same area. Anyway, he was the one who pushed her into this. She was perfectly fine pretending she couldn’t see anything unusual.
Finally, Silas ran out of things to repeat, and she was free to leave her bed and walk out like a non-invalid. A few steps towards the door brought her into the path of a block of light from the open window. Usually, she shied away from sunlight, but her body still remembered the chill it felt just a few hours earlier, and the warmth on her skin stopped her feet.
Until Silas made a joke about her trying to be a sun-dried tomato.
She left the block of warmth and whacked his face with a cushion.