This story was written for the Light and Shade Challenge – 500 words, inspired by the phrase
“Some ghosts are so quiet you would hardly know they were there.”
― Bernie Mcgill, The Butterfly Cabinet
This one rolls in at 462 words. Good? Bad? Suggestions or criticisms? Let me know in the comments, and thanks.
There would be paperwork…reports…interviews. It was always the same drill – every time a weapon was discharged in the line of duty, the dog and pony show commenced.
Ralph Emerson knew he had nothing to worry about. It was a clean shoot. And no one would shed any tears for the body he’d left in the small apartment, its blood and guts oozing into the filth that surrounded it.
Ralph sat down on the stoop, exhausted as he recreated the scene in his head for his report…
“Jack Wilson, open up” he bellowed, banging on the door. “This is the police. We know you’re in there.”
Ralph and his partner stood on either side of the door – along the wall – waiting for an answer. There was a loud click, and Jack replied with three shotgun blasts through the center of the door. Ralph and his partner dropped flat on the floor.
“Son of a…” Ralph rolled to one knee in front of the door, and returned two shots. Still moving, he sprang to his feet, erupting through the shattered remains of the door.
Jack was inside, shotgun in one hand, a plastic garbage bag in the other.
“FREEZE” shouted Ralph.
Everything seemed to slow down…Jack turned to Ralph…Ralph crouched, gun aimed at Jack’s center of mass…Jack bringing up the shotgun, steadying it with the garbage bag holding hand…Ralph saying “Don’t do it!”…Jack still moving…Ralph gently squeezing the trigger…and…BANG!
Time resumed as Jack stared at the spreading bloom of red on his chest, followed by a look at Ralph as Jack crumpled to the floor, the bag spilling from his hand.
The voices in Ralph’s head got louder and louder, clamoring to be heard as he neared the bag. He upended it as the voices reached a crescendo, then, silence.
The pile of teddy bears spilled out. Some stared blankly into space. Others fell out hugging each other. And a few landed staring right at Ralph, their button eyes and perpetual smiles penetrating right to his brain.
“What the hell?” asked his partner in a horrified tone.
Ralph didn’t answer. He was watching something, staring at a sight no one else could see. Wisps, ethereal clouds, all vaguely shaped like children of assorted ages, walked through the room clutching at the pile of bears, drawing the…spirit? of one, then moving on and dissolving again into transparency as if they’d never been.
The last clutched his teddy bear in his four year old arms, and turned to smile a wide innocent grin at Ralph before he too disappeared.
Ralph didn’t even realize a tear was rolling down his cheek as he rolled his shoulders and felt the exhaustion he’d been fighting for weeks settle on him. At least tonight, his ghosts would let him sleep.