Ke’Shaun McCray is a young African American writer from East St. Louis, Illinois, who is currently seeking a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing at Full Sail University in Florida. McCray is a lover and scholar of history and horror. His favorite book is John Greene’s Looking for Alaska, his favorite television show is Game of Thrones, and his favorite movie is The Notebook. This is his first published work. If you want more from this author, please follow him on Twitter @mccray_ke.
Ghost at A Funeral
We walked into a familiar church. Everything was still the same. The old creaky wood floors. The long cushioned benches that lined either side of the carpeted aisle. The raised dais at the front of the room that harbored the pastor’s podium. We stood in the back near the entrance.
“I know this place. My mom started bringing me and my sister here after the divorce. We weren’t much of a churchgoing family before then, but I guess coming to this place made her feel less alone. I stopped coming after a while and my sister soon after. Mom kept coming though.”
“What are we doing here?” I said.
He said nothing. Instead, he nodded his head to a flock of people filing into the church. They were all dressed in mournful black and had faces full of grief. Wait I recognize these people. Aunt Linda, cousin Todd, my friends from college, Maddy — my ex-girlfriend. What is she doing here?
Strolling in last was my mom, dad, and sister, teary-eyed and dressed in black like all the others. I called out to them, but no one even flinched. They kept on to their seats.
“What’s going on? Why can’t they hear me? Why did no one tell me about the funeral?”
The strange man wasn’t saying anything, in fact, he was gone now. Where’d he go?
My mind raced with a million convoluted thoughts, but I figured he was gone now, so it must be over. I walked over and sat in the front row next to my sister. I hadn’t seen her since she left for college last year. She looked different, older more adult than I remembered. So did mom and pop next to her. Their age was starting to show. Mom had one long gray streak in her otherwise jet black hair and dad’s goatee was blotched with specks of gray.
“Hey Pops, it’s good to see you and mom in the same room together again,” I whispered so only they could hear me. But nothing. No reaction. Only blank stares at the pastor who spoke at the podium.
I cuffed my sister’s hand, which was rested in her lap and said, “It's been a while, hasn’t it. How have you been?” Again no reply.
Just then, everyone stood as the pastor concluded the eulogy and walked off stage. Two ushers wheeled in a casket and another one brought in a big picture of the deceased and situated it on a stand for the entire room to see. Alright, so which one of my alcoholic uncles drunk themselves to death this time?
My heart sank to my stomach when I saw that the picture was of me. What the hell is this? “Mom, Dad, what’s going on?”
Still no reply. Only tears streamed down their faces and my sister let out a sorrowful wail once they opened up the coffin. “Its okay. I'm fine. I’m right here,” I said in hopes of calming them down, yet somehow I knew that I was a ghost to them.
I ran to the casket to see for myself and there I was, dead. My lips were purple and the life had drained from my face and hands. “No! No! No!” were the only words I could mutter as I stumbled back from my corpse.
“Sorry you had to find out like this,” a devilish voice said from behind me. I turned to see the strange man standing there.
“What the fuck is this?” I didn’t know what was going on but I had a feeling that he was behind it.
“Well, we’re at your funeral of course.”
“What funeral? I'm not dead.” I insisted.
“Is that not your body lying there in that coffin? Are we not in your old family church? Are the disheartened people in this room not your family?”
“Yes, b-but h-how?”
“How did you die or how are we here?”
“Both I guess.”
He pulled a piece of rolled-up parchment from his arm sleeve and read, “CAUSE OF DEATH: Alcohol poisoning.” He rolled the parchment back up and placed it within his sleeve. “As for how we are here. Take a guess.”
Alcohol poisoning, really? “Umm...Are we ghosts?” I said.
“Correct. Well, half correct. You are a ghost. I am something else.” His voice trailed off.
“What are you?” I asked.
“Do you want to get your life back?” he said, blatantly ignoring my question.
“W-What do you mean?”
“I can restore your life if you like. For a price, of course, but a worthy gamble some might say.”
“How would you do that?”
“Do we have a deal or not?”
I laughed. “This is all a dream. I’m not really dead, am I? It’s all just some elaborate way of my subconscious trying to tell me to slow down on the alcohol. Alright, I hear you loud and clear, now wake up!”
“I said, WAKE UP!” I tried helplessly to wake myself up, opening and closing my eyes, but nothing worked. The strange man was still here and I was still a ghost at my own funeral.
“Are you done? This isn’t a dream and I’m not your subconscious,” he said.
“Then who are you?”
“Do we have a deal?”
“Deal? What deal?”
“I will bring you back to life. If you do me a favor.”
“You’ll know when the time comes.”
I looked around the room. It was a packed house. I didn’t know all of these people cared about me. I haven’t seen most of them in years, due to one fallout or another. But they were here now, at my funeral. That must count for something. I have never seen my parents this defeated. They lost their son, and my sister lost a brother. I can’t do this to them.
“I need an answer. Do we have a deal?”
I took one more look at my dead body and decided. “Yes,” I answered, “we have a deal.”
“Good,” he said, as a demonic smile crossed his face. He turned and made his way towards the exit.
I stopped him right before he made it to the door. “Wait, you haven’t told me who you are. What’s your name?”
He paused and looked over his shoulder. He gave me a wink, raising a maroon spindly hand — revealing black claws — and then, he snapped.