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Baghast ch. 1

Baghast ch. 1

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Published by Rachael Finley
A young man approaches a writer with a proposal she's can't help but be wary of; write about a experience he's had. It will be a ghost story
A young man approaches a writer with a proposal she's can't help but be wary of; write about a experience he's had. It will be a ghost story

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Published by: Rachael Finley on Apr 30, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Chapter One: This is Pelton
“Ms. Barnes?”Christ did that make me want to wince. The only people I knew that enjoyed being called thatwere old, and furthermore…Ms? Since when did I stop being age appropriate to be assumed a Miss? Iflatted the spine of my notebook against the table and cleared my throat before I offered to shake hishand.“Please, call me Odette.”He nodded eagerly, and without waiting for me to invite him, dropped into the seat oppositemine.“Odette. Great. Call me Pelton then.”I raised an eyebrow. He looked like someone who would be named Pelton; all messy blond hair done up in hasty spikes and wide blue eyes. Just looking at his bug eyed stare made my own contacts startto dry out in sympathy. How could anyone possibly look so perpetually freaked out naturally? Unless thiswas just a temporary thing and he was actually currently freaked. Either way, I didn’t really like it.“Cool…” I looked around the diner, making a note of the easiest way to escape should Peltonturn out to be a wacko. “Pelton what?”“James. Pelton James.”In a spare corner of my notebook I wrote this down. Should I end up stabbed to death in an alleyfollowing the meeting, let it be a cryptic clue for the police to follow. I was slightly concerned (and bythat I mean I thought about it for a second and then stopped caring) that he would be offended that I wrotedown his name, but Mr. Pelton James didn’t seem to care.“Nice to meet you, Pelton. Do you want a coffee or something?” My earlier ambivalence towardsthe waitress might have backfired; she was nowhere to be seen. Naturally, when I wanted a witness or afresh cup of coffee, there was none to be found. “My waitress is…somewhere.”“No, no,” he waved away my offer with a dopey grin. “I really don’t need it. I mean, I’ve had plenty today. Like five cups.”That much was obvious. He had the look of a chameleon about him; his eyes were everywhere.“Okay, well, great.” I wasted a few seconds shuffling my papers around and hoped he wouldn’t notice theshopping list mixed in among them. “So your ad said you were looking for a ghost writer?”He hesitated. “I’m actually looking for someone to write my book for me.”“That’s what a ghost writer does.”
“Oh,” he looked down at my notebook with embarrassment. “All I know about ghost writers isthat old PBS show.”The tidbit of nostalgia was endearing. How many people remembered that old show? I tried,hopefully successfully, to not look too eager. “So what kind of book are you looking to write? Amemoir?”Pelton glanced up, suddenly looking alarmingly grave and businesslike. “My life isn’t interestingenough for that. I want you to write about something that happened to me. It will be a ghost story.”My heart sank. Trying to find work on the internet was a crap shoot, and it was starting to look like I’d scored a miss. Never mind that Pelton didn’t seem as stable as I would have liked; the real problem was that a ghost story was out of my expertise. I don’t write fiction. Discreetly, I glanced aroundfor my waitress. I could have used a little more coffee. Or the check.“A ghost story? Well, that’s going to be a problem,” I explained, as professionally as I couldmanage. “I don’t write fiction. Only non-fiction and technical writing.”He rested his arms on the table and lowered his voice. “It’s not fiction. It’s a true story.”“Excuse me?”He leaned back and gestured, speaking with his hands as he grew more and more excited. “That’sright. It’s about this ghost in the hospital where I work. I don’t think the ghost has been there long, but it’sreally bad, because this ghost kills people.”I pushed my hair back behind my ear and thought before I spoke. My initial reaction was to callhim crazy or an idiot, but let’s face it. Laughing at the insane is a bad idea. “How do you know it kills people? I mean, you work in a hospital. People die there all the time for any number of reasons.”But it’s not killing sick people,” he insisted. “It’s killing healthy ones.”“Healthy people? In the hospital? Then why are they there?”“I mean like, visitors and stuff.”“Oh,” I scribbled a note that could more politely signed up as
“How many people hasthis…ghost killed?”Pelton hesitated and shifted. I could hear his legs unsticking from the seat. “Only one, I think.”I stared. “One?”“That I know of,” he quickly amended, lest he lose my interest. “There could be more.”“Right.” Beyond that I didn’t know what to say. His story reeked of delusion. “So what do youwant me to do? Shouldn’t you be talking to one of those paranormal investigation team things?”“They’d never believe me.”It took a lot to not admit out loud that I didn’t believe him either. “I still don’t know how I’msupposed to help.”
He straightened. “I want you to write the story of what happened. Then maybe people will believeit.”I wanted to be flattered, like my personally writing the story somehow made it legit, but I had mydoubts about whether I was right. I wouldn’t be sniffing through Craig’s list for work if I had made it big,after all. “Why would they believe me?”He looked confused. “Because you write non-fiction.”As though that was the most obvious answer in the world. The little non-fiction tag on the back of a book made it one-hundred percent credible.“But I’m not famous. I’m not even published,” I protested. Modestly, I might add, and not because I was trying to put him off easily. “Very few people would even read the book if I wrote it.”I could actually see his shoulders slump with disappointment, and I started to feel a little bad thatI’d let him down. It was an insane request with an even more insane story behind it, but he had justseemed so genuinely excited. At least he didn’t look like he wanted to murder me out of disappointment.“Then do you know how I can get it written and read? Because people are dying and people needto know.”“But only one person’s died so far.”He looked glum. “So far.”It was hard to know what to do with him. In my entire life I had never actually seen a person look like a kicked puppy, but there is was. All of the pathetic you could imagine, slumped in the booth and pouting. What little maternal instinct I possessed kicked in like an engine starting. Pelton had to be nuts, but I actually felt bad for having to tell him that. While he pouted, I avoided his eyes by staring down intomy coffee cup. A milky film had settled over the surface, and though it repulsed me, I really wanted todown the rest of it just so I could get a completely fresh cup. This meeting was not turning out the way Ihad hoped. I had been all for business, and if I was lucky, a totally lucrative writing gig.With a sigh I laid my pen in the spine of my notebook. “Look, do you have any proof that there’sa ghost in the hospital?”He started and stopped speaking a few times before answering. “Well that depends. What kind of  proof are you looking for? Like, photos? EVPs?”He sounded hopeful, and that was both reassuring and frightening. Not that I had any idea whathe was talking about. My experience with ghost hunting was woefully limited to say the least. “I don’teven know what those are.”“Photographs?”God help me. “No. EVP.”

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