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Specters of the Night

6

Chapter 6: The Ghostly Reflection

4

 

 

How can I describe that expression? It was like the sinister, malicious smile of an anime villain.

 

The thought of Dylan's words haunted me. I panicked, wondering if he was right—would I really encounter ghosts wherever I went?

 

“Alex, what’s wrong?”

 

George’s voice snapped me back to reality. His hand on my shoulder made me jump, and I screamed, drawing the attention of everyone in the waiting room. Embarrassed, I quickly covered my mouth.

 

“Alex, what’s going on?”

 

“George, look at that shirtless man. Is there a little girl on his back?”

 

George adjusted his glasses and squinted at the man. “Oh, yes. That’s odd.”

 

I sighed in relief. If George could see the girl, maybe she wasn’t a ghost. But then, doubt crept in. The paper figurines and the old man in the hospital were seen by Aiden and me. Could it be that those close to me were now able to see these apparitions too?

 

The crowd’s interest in our exchange waned, shifting back to the quarreling men. I remembered that ghosts couldn’t reflect in mirrors. The bus station was full of cars, each with mirrors.

 

“Wait here,” I said

 

George followed, bewildered. I found a spot where I could see the reflection of the waiting hall through the coach’s windows. George stood beside me, his confusion growing.

 

I stared intently at the glass, trying to spot the little girl’s reflection. The crowd made it difficult to see clearly. “

 

Alex, what are you doing?”

 

“No big deal,” and glanced back at the window. What I saw chilled me to the bone.

 

Reflected in the coach window was my own image, clear and unmistakable. But beside me, where George should have been, there was nothing. Just the shadows of other cars. George was like air, invisible in the reflection.

 

“George… he’s actually a ghost!” I thought, paralyzed with fear.

 

My mind went blank, my body frozen. I couldn’t move, couldn’t speak.

 

George stepped forward, reaching to pat my shoulder again. I flinched away, his hand hovering in the air.

 

“What’s wrong with you?” he asked

 

I had no idea what George was trying to accomplish by acting so harmless, and I felt that my only option was to get as far away from him as possible.

 

My voice trembled as I spoke, “Brother George, you...you wait here for a moment. I need to make a call!”

 

Before he could respond, I bolted out of the waiting hall, glancing back to see him standing there, watching me with a puzzled expression.

 

Once outside, I fumbled in my pocket for my phone and the paper business card Dylan had given me. Thanking my lucky stars I hadn’t thrown it away, I tried to dial his number. My hands shook so badly it took me three tries to get it right.

 

The wait for the call to connect felt like an eternity.

 

“Who’s this?”

 

“Are you sleeping? I’m about to die here, and you’re still sleeping!”

 

To my surprise, he recognized my voice immediately. “It’s you. What’s going on? Have you seen a ghost?”

 

“Yes! I mean, yes.”

 

“Where are you?” he asked.

 

I gave him the address of my workplace, but he replied, “I can’t find that. Why don’t you come pick me up?”

 

Regret washed over me. How could I trust this unreliable guy? “If I had time to pick you up, I wouldn’t need your help! I’d be a super god already!”

 

Dylan made a noncommittal sound, which only fueled my frustration. Just as I was about to hang up, I saw George coming towards me. He spotted me and started running.

 

“Why are you chasing me?”

 

“Alex, what are you doing?”

 

I looked up to see Aiden’s car parked across the street. He waved me over, and relief flooded my veins. I sprinted to his car, yanking the door open.

 

“Drive! Now!”

 

Aiden started the car without questions. I collapsed into the seat, breathing heavily. Watching George fade into the distance, I finally felt a semblance of safety.

 

After a few blocks, Aiden glanced over. “Did you see something again?”

 

I nodded, unable to speak.

 

“What happened this time?” he pressed.

 

“It was George...you know, my colleague? You've met him a couple of times,” I said.

 

Aiden looked shocked. “Brother George died? When did that happen? You never mentioned it.”

 

I paused, realizing I had no idea when George had died. Was it while I was away, or had he always been a ghost? The latter seemed unlikely—surely someone at work would have noticed if he was a ghost.

 

“I don’t know. I just saw him today and...he’s not alive.”

 

I suddenly remembered the boss's vague remarks about bad things happening to employees. At the time, I assumed he was talking about me, but now it was clear he meant George.

 

I clutched my phone, intending to call a colleague for more information. To my surprise, the call with Dylan was still connected. His voice came through, sounding half-amused, “Are you still alive?”

 

“Even if you die, I won’t!” I snapped.

 

Aiden glanced over, puzzled. “Who are you talking to?”

 

“The son of Madam Kira,” I replied.

 

Aiden scoffed. “Why do you bother with those people?”

 

Before I could react, he snatched the phone, ended the call, and tossed it back to me. I didn’t bother arguing; it would be useless. Instead, I scrolled through my contacts and called a colleague I trusted.

 

“Hey, it’s Alex. Did something happen to George?” I asked.

 

Her voice was filled with surprise. “You didn’t know? He was robbed and stabbed to death a few nights ago. The killer hasn’t been caught. It’s tragic; he left behind a wife and kids.”

 

I thanked her and hung up, relaying the news to Aiden. He listened silently, and I asked, “Should I visit his family to pay my respects?”

 

“Are you crazy? You’ve already seen him. Going to his house could be dangerous.”

 

He had a point. I nodded, realizing it was safer to avoid any further encounters.

 

Aiden suggested grabbing dinner. “There’s a new place that just opened. The food’s great.”

 

“I’m not hungry,” I said. “I think it’s best if I head home. It feels safer there.”

 

Aiden’s face darkened. He remained silent for a moment before suddenly shouting,

 

“I’m not afraid of your so-called curse! Eating alone is boring. If I ditched you every time you had a problem, what kind of friend would I be?”

 

His words touched me. I appreciated his loyalty, but this wasn’t an ordinary problem. It wasn’t something we could fix with money or physical help. This was a battle with the supernatural.

 

“It’s not about being afraid,” I explained. “I don’t want to drag you into this. If something happens to you because of me, I’d never forgive myself. Just take me home. When this is all over, we’ll have dinner and drinks together.”

 

Aiden gripped the steering wheel, his jaw set stubbornly. He was silent for a while, then suddenly started the car and sped off. I quickly fastened my seatbelt, heart pounding.

 

“What are you doing?” I yelled.

 

“I’m taking you home. Stop talking,”

 

The drive was harrowing. Aiden sped through the city, narrowly avoiding collisions. It was the fastest I’d ever traveled in the city, and I was terrified. But we made it to my apartment building in one piece.

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