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The Lone Walker

The thumping began two weeks before the start of Chris Martley’s Christmas. Initially it would happen right over his headboard. The painting there of a perfect valley scenery, stretched on inside the dull blue frame, would rattle ever so slightly.
At eleven fifty-eight on the dot every night while Blake lay awake listening to the sounds of his own breathing, it would begin. Tonight he did that very same thing, almost afraid to brush the strand of hair off his forehead. He didn’t move, but waited for what he knew would come. A subtle knock could be felt now and also analogous to every night previous to this one; it beat faster and harder as the seconds passed by. Blake’s heart rate sped up without his permission but he shook his anxiety aside.
Tonight, he would catch whoever was playing this sick joke on him. He had had enough. And just as every other night, he knew the tapping would end just as his clock would blink midnight; then…nothing. So he didn’t have much time.
Blake jumped out from beneath the covers, grabbing a flashlight as he went in one big whoosh of quiet motion; his green boxers and chest exposed as he raced out onto his front lawn. He examined the perimeter all around his window, hoping and bursting with nervous energy to find the culprit.
He had an itching suspicion that it might be Tyler Wilt and his gang of brainless monkeys out to get him for not playing football this year. Blake’s social status had dropped immensely. The bright red motor scooter he was forced to drive to school every morning didn’t help much either. But as he turned the corner and found nothing, not even an unusual object left behind as-one might suspect -he felt his eyes go wide. His puffy breath came out in faster intervals in the cold winter air and he shivered.
Who could have been doing this?
Spinning around more than ready to be in the safety of his bed once more he saw something. Not just something but…someone. A small girl at least a head shorter than Blake’s six foot one stature stood right up next to him and tripping over his feet he slammed-not in- but through her he noticed with shocking surprise. He landed on the frosty grass with an umphh. Looking up he instantly recognized her.
“Well it’s about time you came out here.” On this cold night she wore a simple white tight fitted t-shirt and her dark eyes were narrowed. Blake still couldn’t believe his eyes.
Ashley Simms was a very well known cheerleader, not only recognized for her loud gum popping and the big pink bubbles that erupted our of her mouth at any given time but that fact that three and a half weeks prior she had been killed instantly in a car wreck. Blake felt his confusion was well put but Ashley was ready for business.
“You can close your mouth now. Don’t want it to get stuck like that,” she said slightly annoyed.
“Oh. Sure.” Doing as he was told, it closed with an audible snap.

“I need your help,” she continued quickly; her tone blunt. After all, she had already wasted a minute. It was funny to Ashley how time had become her worst enemy over these past few weeks; always moving too fast and just as she felt she was catching up, it sped away leaving her with nothing.
“But yo…your dead.” He whispered, incredulous.
“I had no idea,” she said dryly.
She walked past Blake, close enough to brush his shoulder. But he felt nothing, only a cool breeze.
“I am a ghost or lone walker,” Ashley explained. Blake laughed out loud and said:
“My dreams keep getting freakier and freakier , yet mildly entertaining I must admit… ”
“No really. I don’t have much time. I need to find my body.” She was proceeding up his front steps by this point, a slight hopefulness to her voice.
“Well,” he interjected, swiftly stepping in front of her, “I am most definitely not the guy for you.” His voice held a mocking tone Ashley was beginning to grow tired of.
“Actually you are. In fact… you’re the only guy. And I don’t have much time!” Blake’s eyebrows raised in response. He found this last statement ironic considering it had seemed her time was up three and a half weeks ago. But just as he conjured up a reply, an ear cracking pop whipped the air and Ashley Simms was gone.


When Blake arose from sleep the next morning he felt for his alarm, silencing the ringing noise immediately. His memory of last night’s dream hit him like a tidal wave, sending his mind reeling-something he felt unacceptable at such an early hour.
The thought that followed was coffee.
He smiled.

Still in a fog he shuffled to the kitchen, poured himself a cup of the priceless dark brown liquid and headed back into his room. His nostrils were perched to the side of the cup, sniffing in the rich sent. He had a moment of pure serenity before an electrified popping noise zinged through the air, causing him to the spill the scorching hot contents everywhere.
A bored looking Ashley leaned against his dresser examining her nails. Not bothering to acknowledge Blake, she said calmly, “Don’t scream.”
Blake screamed. But only for a moment and then under his breath he cursed with sad looking eyes at the mess resting at his feet.
“Didn’t know I looked that bad.” But as an afterthought she added, “But I am dead.” She pretended to ponder this as she scratched her chin.
Blake was now slowly backing away out the door, secretly praying that she wouldn’t notice but before he could take another step she was appearing behind him, blocking his only exit.
Another idea hit him and his eyes flew to the window.
“Don’t even think about it,” Ashley cautioned him.
Ignoring her advice he raced to the window and began undoing the lock, his fingers felt large and clumsy as he fidgeted. He tried several times but the lock would not budge. When she started for him he couldn’t make sense of anything. His body was paralyzed.
It came to a complete surprise to him how he did not understand how a girl so small could freeze and chill his bones, threatening to never feel the warmth of the sun again.
“Okay,” he exclaimed, his back bumping the wall as she neared him. “Your real! I believe you! What can I do?”
“Let me tell you of the night I died,” Ashley said with a twinkle in her eye.





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