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The Odd Dream of 1864

Ghost: the disembodied spirit of a dead person, according to folklore. Skeptics chalk it up to a trick of the light, a figment of our imagination. “I won’t believe it ‘till I see it-with my own two eyes”, they say. But what if they did see one? What would they say? Would they still scorn the idea? Or would they finally accept the harsh reality, that ghosts are real?
A large, metallic crash from downstairs caused me to shoot straight up in bed. “Wha-what?” Even in my sluggish state I knew my four sisters didn’t make that much noise. “It’s just my…my imagination…” I yawned and rolled over, tucking in the flannel sheets around me. Eyelids heavy, I drifted back to sleep; that is, until another thunderous smash from the main level yanked me out of my dreams. Stumbling down the hallway I muttered, “Remind me to kill them when I’m less tired…” Eyeing the dark stairwell apprehensively and clutching the wooden railing, I could feel the shadows closing in like a python onto its prey, suffocating me. Now is the time to face your fear, I told myself, slowly placing a sock monkey-slippered foot onto the next step. Do it. Don’t be a wimp. “I’ll just close my eyes,” I whispered to myself, doing just that and practically running down. As I dashed to the bottom of the set of steps, I had one last fleeting thought: please tell me the girls picked up their stuff off the stairs. Somehow I it made to the main level safely, flicking on all the lights within a 50-foot radius. Smiling briefly, I plopped into the cushiony chair. “Just like the daytime. No murderers or creepy psycho guys. It’s all good.” I must have dozed off or something, because when I opened my eyes again there was a man standing in front of me.
He was wearing a worn, wrinkled dark blue jacket, frayed on the ends with a bullet hole in his lower abdomen. Sunken, sallow cheeks and a manicured mustache dominated half of his face, the other half shaded by the navy and gold hat he wore on his head. An old musket was slung over his shoulder by a leather strap and brass buttons adorned his smart Union soldier attire. Faintly you could hear the sounds of a battle, cannons exploding, and muskets firing. A fog made of gun smoke drifted into my living room. The soldier seemed faded, like he was in a black and white photograph, badly restored to color.
“Are you hurt?” he asked urgently, his head facing me directly. When I didn’t respond he asked it again. “Are you okay?” The words sounded foreign on his tongue, being from a whole different time period all together.
“Um…Yeah, I’m fine, but, um… why are you in my house?” The soldier seemed to relax before spinning to face the TV, giving no indication of hearing me. Suddenly he jerked back, holding his stomach as if…as if he had been shot. The man fell to floor, convulsing and thrashing about before laying still and slowly disapearing, along with the sounds of battle and the fog. The whole time I sat, frozen in my spot on the chair, convinced I was seeing things. “It was just a dream,” I chanted, holding my face in my hands. “It was just a dream, none of that was real; it was just a dream…” Somehow I managed to drift back to sleep, the mindless world a welcome distraction.
When I woke up in the morning I was back in my bed, just like I had been before the hallucination. “Huh, I had the weirdest dream last night,” I said aloud, standing up and putting on my robe before going down the now brightly-lit stairs. All the hall lights were off, and there was no gun smoke or Civil War soldier on the main floor. “Glad it was just a dream.” As I searched for the remote to the TV, I stopped in my tracks, mouth moving but no words coming out. There, right in front of the chair, were two muddy yet faded boot prints, right in the same spot as the soldier had been standing. They definitely had not been there yesterday.




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