Ambulance Chaser

Pain.  Fire.  I’m burning.  Katherine, I’m burning.  Katherine!

* * *

The phantom became aware of the tremors that it knew was mortal suffering, and so crossed over.  It followed the tremors like a scent.  Then it settled down to wait, as it had always done.

* * *

All had been pain and flame.  Now nothing.  No more fire.  No more panic.  No more feeling.  Nothing; not even time.  A moment, an eternity … the same.  Void.  Yet, a word lingers.


Shapes flicker, luminescent in the Void.  No, not in the Void.  Beyond.  Where?  They vanish.


Does it have meaning?

Nothingness gives way in gradual measures.  Shapes … those misted shapes of grey muted colors.  So many shapes.  Where are they?  Not here.  There is no here.  Void is nothing.


Why is the word remembered?  Why was it forgotten?

Looming shapes now.  Clearer.  Large, geometric objects with dimensions.  Brighter now.  A pale spot of light.

It is a name.  Yes, of course … a name.


Everything flashes.  Darkness, then light, darkness, light, and darkness once more.  Then only light.  Blinding.  He can feel it.  No.  He senses it.  The radiation passes through him.

Then the blinding dissipates.  He is somewhere now.  He can sense it.  Volume.  Matter.  Form.  A breeze on him.  No, through him.  Awareness of every particle carried through his being.

What am I?

He has no volume or form.  Like the Void.  He observes surroundings.  No.  Not observes … he becomes aware.  He does not look.  He focuses awareness.  He perceives all that surrounds him at once.

The circle of light is the moon.  The large shapes are houses.  Cool grass below.  Cool?  Yes.  He is aware it is cool.

I died.  Now I know.  I’m dead.  I remember before the Void … pain.  Pain, and fire.  I burned.  No.  My body burned.  It died in a fire.

He has no judgments about his flesh burning to death.  But feels somehow he should.  What was the name?  The only thing that remained of cognizance in the Void was a name.


Recollection wakes from slumber.

Katherine.  My wife.  My love.

He is aware now that the house he lingers near is familiar.  The second floor is burnt out.  He knows this place.

Our home.  Mine and Katherine’s.

Air passes through his being as he moves; every particle creates sensation.

He commands a limb that does not exist to open the door.  Confused a half-moment as he passes through instead, aware of the distinct difference between the grains of wood and the fibers of metal.


She must be alive still.  If not, where is she?  Why not with him?

Memories flood him as he enters the home he had in life.  Yes.  Katherine was his angel.  He had loved her always.  Childhood sweethearts.  A family?  Yes.  He remembers, and must find her now.

Katherine was pregnant.


Something emerges from the shadows.  His awareness focuses on the movement.

It is not Katherine.

The phantom appears to him like an enormous dust mite with thousands of thin tentacles on its back. Tiny bursts of electricity, like lightning in a dark storm cloud, flash throughout its interior, giving it a spectral luminescence.

He doesn’t feel afraid.  He only wonders why it is in his house.

The tentacles stretch out, and catch him as the spirit hunter advances.

How can it touch me?  I’m not here.

Now he is afraid, as the tentacles pull him inside the phantom.  The mini-lightning storms hurt.  Not pain.  Simply a detached awareness that each one damages his being.

He tries to struggle, but doesn’t know how.  He’s only been here a short while.  He doesn’t know what to do.  It’s clear now that the thing is going to devour him somehow.  The lightning, burst-by-burst, is destroying him, as the phantom drains away his very existence.

How did this happen?  Why was he even here?

I came for Katherine.  But why here?  Why would she be here?  Where is this place?  Would she..?  Who is she?  I knew.  I know I did, but…  Why am I..?  Who am I?  I can’t…

Awareness, memories, everything that is him fades as he’s consumed


—then is no more.

The phantom returns to the Void.  It knew a spirit would come back to haunt the place they had died.  One always comes back.






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  1. A haunting love. I don’t really know how to feel afterwards. A love so strong the dead reach for it in a void of nothingness. The only embrace remembered in the end. Heart-rending and loving it is. Yet, the soul is done in the end. The phantom swallows the void, the love, the last remaining memory of hope…Thought-provoking indeed! Great write!

    • Christopher Shawbell

       /  February 1, 2013

      Thank you so much, Daydreamer. I wrote it for flash fiction entry for ghost stories only. The never posted it. Yes, it is very sad. I didn’t realize how much so until after a few reads, so absorbed in his transition. Thank you again. I will be visiting more.

  2. saltinurwounds

     /  January 3, 2013

    That was chilling. Excellent. Going with him through the Void & then coming back and trying to remember what he was before, made me forget about the phantom. Very well done.



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