Echoes of Death

Halloween is a great tradition for Santa Ville’s people. It’s connected to their past, which they worship. However, some say this year’s Halloween will be different. Easton Crosswell is a lazy detective, who abandoned his past and detests Halloween. He thought he’ll never again deal with spooks, but when his childhood friend begs for his help, Easton can’t refuse. Well, there is a huge sum of money as a reward after all. (Story for Halloween Competition)

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1. Spooky Crook

“Have you heard that? It’s known throughout the neighborhood. They call it TV Ghost. You can laugh, but it really happened. It’s similar to Bloody Mary’s legend: if you call the ghost three times, it’ll appear. But not in the mirror, but TV screen. Ghost’s name? Spooky Crook. It can make your wish come true, but only if you wish to die.

When you call him, the switched off TV will be switched on and you see a white screen. Without any sound. Without any image. The same silence scares you. After sitting and staring at the white screen for a few minutes, you give up and call this stupid. Then you go to sleep, as if nothing happened. You’re the typical man of twenty-one century, so you sleep in the room with TV.

You fall asleep, but in the middle of the night you’re awake because of a strange noise. You sit on your bed and switch on bedside lamp. The noise disappears. You think it was your imagination and go back to sleep. But you barely switch off the lamp and lie down, the noise comes back. You sit again, this time a little irritated, switch on the lamp, looking for the source of this noise. But it disappears once more. You decide to check something and you switch off the light, but don’t lie down. You wait for the sound to appear and it finally appears. It’s some kind of zipping sound. It resembles... a signal when the call comes? You frown and get up to check the source. It turns out the noise was coming from the TV. You disconnect the TV from the wall socket and satisfied go back to the bed, but as soon as you turn around, the sound comes back.

You froze. What the heck, you’re thinking. You want to turn around to the TV, but you see a slight light. The TV was switched on. You’re excited, but also afraid to turn around now. Did the calling worked?

Suddenly the noise disappear, though the white screen remains. Then the other sound appears. Rhythmical tapping on the glass. You look at the window. No, it’s not... It sounds like the glass is thicker –!

You gasp and turn around. But no one is beside the TV, tapping on the screen. You sigh and turn to the bed. But you see a pale man with no face.

You scream shocked and sit down, rubbing your eyes. You open them again and see nothing. You turn to the TV. There is no one there too. You come closer to the screen, out of curiosity. You want to tap with your fingernail to check if the sound will be similar. But as you get next to the screen, suddenly a hand appears, hitting the screen from the TV’s inside.

You move back terrified. When you want to run, you feel a cold breath on your neck and you froze. Tell me your wish, you hear. It’s the Spooky Crook, you think with fear. In a moment you remember your wish and open your mouth, but Spooky Crook speaks again:

When you want your wish?

You frown. What’s that supposed to mean?

The cold breath is closer and closer to your neck. It was just next to your ear, when you hear:

When you want to die?

You look around terrified and –”

“Okay, that’s enough! Are you having fun, old man?”

Old neighbor gasped and grabbed detective’s coat. “I didn’t finish it!” he said. “It’s very important!”

“It’s bullshit,” the detective snorted and left the old man alone. “We have nothing more, Cross,” he said to the man leaning against the wall of the corridor. “What should we do?”

Easton Crosswell – better known as Cross – didn’t move an inch. He was staring at the old man, who was looking around, as if something was to jump at him.

“Don’t tell me you believe this old crook,” the detective, Cross’s assistant, said with disbelief.

“’Believe’ is a strong word,” Cross said. “I just found the story interesting. That’s all.”

“Whatever. Let’s finish this here. I’m really hungry and my wife isn’t someone patient...”

But Cross didn’t listen to him anymore. To be honest, he didn’t like old man’s story and didn’t find it interesting at all. He hated ghosts, and other spooks more than his family. He already abandoned his past, so working as an ordinary detective was the best choice for him: doing practically nothing and getting the money. He just had to go to the crime scene, do some research around the neighborhood, and send suspects for questioning, or clues to the laboratory. He could finish this quickly, as usual, until they asked the old man about the victim.

“He’s thinking this woman died because of the Spooky Crook!” Cross’s assistant said, shaking his head in disapproval. “What a load of crap!”

“Shh!” Cross put a finger up. “Don’t curse on it. It’s not good.”

“Yes, yes. You’re really weird, you know? You hate those things, yet you’re so careful with them, as if they were real.”

Cross smiled slightly. “You never know,” he whispered.

The assistant shivered and walked away. Cross came closer to the TV, where the victim was supposed to call out Spooky Crook. Cross touched the screen and tapped on it with his fingernail. Was that the sound? Then he put his hand on the screen. Here she should have seen the palm.

Suddenly Cross heard a similar tapping, but from the other side of the screen. He frowned. Then he felt a breath on his neck and heard:

“Tell me your wish.”

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