The Presence

“We should wait”, he said, with a hint of fear in his voice, but desperate to keep his calm in the face of horror. His friend, on the contrary, was not at all used to dealing with ghosts and other paranormal creatures. Jack, the former, was a professional ghost-buster, only now without his equipment, for finding ghosts was not a task for bare hands, to try and catch one seemed to take matters to an extreme. Finn, the latter, had a white-collar job at a multinational company, in control of several production facilities, but unable to control his fear now. The cemetery grew silent, even as the moon shone from the dark heavens.

It was the first time Jack had felt the presence of a ghost so near. The dark night closed in, making it impossible to discern anything. Finn grabbed Jack’s hand in terror, and assisted by his stretch of imagination and fear, began thinking of all creatures, dimly visible in the moonlight, to be werewolves, banshees, and heaven knew what else. Jack had to spend almost an hour reassuring him that a frog hardly qualifies as a werewolf, and the “wailing banshee” had just been a seemingly curious cat, who had actually cared to leave its peaceful place of rest to interest itself in the doings of these strangers. When the presence had approached, the temperature had abruptly dropped, but now it began to get warmer.

Jack, eager to get to the bottom of the case, left Finn after a round of violent protests from the latter. “C-c-cc-come b-back soon”, Finn said, nervously chewing his nails, looking hither and thither. The presence seemed to have altogether vanished. Jack could only see the feline species, staring at him with its bright green eyes, licking itself occasionally and purring, apparently bored. After having gone round in circles, a disgruntled Jack made his way back to his friend, and suggested that they should wait, for at least a few more moments, if only the ghost would show itself again. Jack sat down beside Finn, and lit a cigarette, and further blew out three complete smoke rings. Finn gave a silent clap, and said, “How do you do it every single time?” Jack didn’t answer, but smiled to himself, proud of his little feat.

“Good heavens, ten minutes to two!!”, Finn exclaimed, looking at his pocket watch, “Let’s get going Jack, the ghost got the better of us. The Mayor seems to have his head full of rubbish stories. I tell you not to go after stupid rumours, and you come all the same, dragging me along too…” As Finn grumbled, and proceeded to put his watch back, the chain came loose, and clanged on the ground. He registered that. Chains never clang on bare moist soil! Finn turned his head.

He saw no one. “J-J-Jjaa-Jack!? DID THE G-GHOST GET YOU? “, stuttered Finn, almost shouting, his limited courage fading away. “Au contraire, mon ami”, a wavy voice replied, composed of a thousand different pitches, resonating gently. Jack appeared, a white figure, his shirt white, his pants white, his cap white, even his shoes, spotless white. His feet didn’t touch the ground. “You? Ghost!?” Finn managed, unable to string a sentence, disbelieving his own eyes. “Ah, yes, sorry about that rumour. I am, what do they call it now…, a Homo-Spiritus, a kind of an awakened human being, conceived and created on realisation of the inner self. Well, now some idiot person went about spreading the rumour of me being a ghost. Do I look like a ghost?”, Jack enquired of his friend. Finn had an intense wish to answer in the affirmative, but decided not to hurt Jack’s sentiments.

”I can only project this form for 10 minutes. Beyond that, this world of bleakness and sorrow shrouds me.” Finn looked on enviously, not because his friend was a Homo-whatever, but because he could never get that sort of whiteness onto his shirt, try as he might. As the friends exited the graveyard, Jack resumed his former self, a disguise to be allowed to function in this world, to eliminate all other evil spirits. (He was a ghost buster, wasn’t he?

As they shut the gates behind them, the leaves of a nearby tree rustled in the wind. Few fell on the ground. The cat followed their curved path for an entire minute, then yawned and disappeared in a “Poof!”

© 2017, The Presence by Ritom Gupta. All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior written permission of the author.