Clang, clang, thump. Clang, clang, thump.
The familiar rhythm of my machines played in the background as I got up from my seat. There he stood, fingers interlocked so tightly together they were turning white. He was scared, so scared I would fire him.
“Do you know what this is?” I asked, as I waved the article he wrote in my hand.
“I’ll write another one, Mr Trots,” he quickly replied.
“This is rubbish. A useless piece of rubbish!” I shouted, as I tore up the brown paper and threw it in his face.
“You’ll give me a piece worthy of my paper. No junk stories! Do you hear me?!”
He nodded his head vigorously.
“Clear this mess and get out of here!” I ordered.
He scrambled to gather the torn pieces of paper, but when he took too long I shouted for him to leave. I should have had him fired, but that wasn’t the day.
As I reclined in my armchair, I picked up my half smoked cigar and shut my eyes. The sound of my machines began to build up like an orchestra. The rotating of gears and the pressing of ink onto smooth brown paper was music to my ears.
Behind me was a wide glass panel that overlooked the machines. I made sure to have sight of them because they reminded me of my success. I started out as an amateur journalist, but I soon ran a news publication. I had hundreds of people under me, I owned a big house, I had my own driver, and I was well known throughout the city. I have never failed to remind people of my success, and they would do well not forgetting it.
The soothing clanging and thumping took me deeper into my thoughts. But when I was about to hit another climax, something sounded wrong.
Clang, clang, thump, THUD!
My eyes shot open. As I whirled my chair to face the machines, I noticed black smoke seeping out from the gears. I watched as it slithered towards the glass panel. All of a sudden, there was a loud thud and I nearly fell out of my chair.
Within a split second, the smoke shaped itself into the upper body of a human being and slammed its hands onto the glass panel.
It did not have much features, only blue eyes and a smoke tail below its waist. I stared at it in horror, unsure of what to do. The only moment my eyes looked away was when I heard a knock on my door, and by the time I turned back to the black ghost, it was gone.
That night, I had trouble sleeping. I lay in bed and watched the ceiling fan spin. The black ghost did not follow me home, but even though it was not visible I could still feel its presence.
What did it want from me? That was a question that kept hammering in my head even when morning arrived.
As I clocked into work the next morning, I pulled my office blinds up to look out at the empty desks outside. I was always early, and that day was no exception. The office was very quiet except for the young journalist typing away at his desk. He must have burned the midnight oil for the story I wanted, and just as I was thinking of him, I saw him rise from his desk and walk to my office.
“Mr Trots, I have written another story,” he said as he handed me the paper.
I immediately noticed the many correction marks beneath the different words. And that alone annoyed me.
“Do I not provide you with enough paper and ink? Or are you just too lazy to type it out again?”
Of course, I knew that making corrections took more work than retyping, being he used a typewriter, but I decided to overlook that fact.
“I, I just wanted…”
He could not continue, so I let him shut himself up and began reading the story. But while I was reading it, I saw him fidgeting at the corner of my eye. As I looked up to give him a glare, I saw something that widened my eyes instead.
Floating in front of him was the black ghost. He did not seem bothered by it as he continued staring at the ground, but when I opened my mouth to ask him about it, the black ghost entered his body.
Standing up, I demanded, “Did you see that?!”
He looked up at me and then at the paper in my hand. He swallowed hard and stopped fidgeting.
“Are you deaf? Answer me!” I began to panic.
“Mr Trots,” he paused and inhaled deeply before continuing, “I quit.”
“What?” His words caught me off guard.
“I quit. I don’t want to work for you anymore. You’re a prideful, egoistic tyrant and I’m sick and tired of your treatment. I quit and I will never come back!”
Before I could find the words to answer him, he stormed out the door. And just as he took a step out of my office, the black ghost seeped out from him and stayed behind.
It seemed as though the black ghost could not leave my office. And as it watched the young journalist pack up his things and leave, I watched it. After the man was gone, the black ghost simply vanished.
I was so certain the man was possessed. He would not have quit if not for the black ghost. What was the black ghost doing? Why was it bothering me? What was its plan? Whatever it was, I was not going to let it succeed.
To be continued…
This story was too long, so I decided to split it into two parts! You can read Part 2 here
Do let me know what you think of this story! Also, what do you personally think is the black ghost?
I would love to read your theories and your comments. So be sure to leave them below!
© 2013 Jeyna Grace
(For more short stories, click HERE)