Paranormal Blues, by Jack Adler
Photo by Steinar Engeland on Unsplash
I was suddenly conscious of a faintly grey presence only a few feet away from me that was sliding through the hallway as I sat at my desk. I stared in disbelief. I was about to speak as if the apparition could hear let alone respond, but then it disappeared. I say “it” as I sensed the figure was female. Why, I don’t know. Nothing like this had ever happened to be before. I thought paranormal occurrences were possible, but I didn’t believe they were common-or that I would ever be affected. Indeed, after a few moments of surprise, I resumed work on my computer.
The following day, around the same time in the morning, an even more astonishing thing happened. I saw the shape of a slightly familiar looking dog marching throughout the hallway. We’ve had several dogs as pets whose memories we treasured. He looked so real that I wanted to reach out and pet him or her. Unlike the other presence I didn’t have any sense of gender. But the immediate reality of the sight was even more striking than the human apparition.
I didn’t recognize the “woman” or the “dog.” But why did they appear? Did their presence reveal some momentous development? Was I being forewarned? Or had I become a way-station on some paranormal trail? But it was easy, I realized, to invent all sorts of theories and possibilities, one more absurd than another. Assuming I had been visited by paranormal beings, human and canine, how did I know that I wasn’t just a random instance of their appearance? Why was I special?
Against my better judgment I decided to relate these two visual experiences to my wife, Jane, and our 15 year old son, Ned.
I thought they’d share the mystery of these dual appearances with me. Not so.
“Did she have any expression on her face?” Jane asked, not unreasonably.
“Did she have a face?” Ned immediately cracked, bringing a smile to Jane’s face.
“Why are you making fun? I saw what I saw.”
Jane nodded. “Of course. But you’ve been working very hard. It could be just a …
I don’t know ...a ….”
“Figment of my imagination?” I reacted with indignation. My account, no matter how unusual or fantastic, should be treated with more respect. I taught history at a community college. I was busy marking papers and other activities, and I was a bit tired, especially my eyes. But I was hardly overworked. I was lucid, observant, and totally rational.
“Come on, Dad,” Ned argued, “a woman and a dog! She wasn’t walking the dog, was she?”
Ned laughed and Jane resisted a spreading smile.
“Well, I didn’t expect to be made fun of. I won’t bother you with any more spectral sightings.”
“Steve,” Jane said, “don’t be insulted. We believe you.”
“Sure, Dad. We were just joshing you.”
Joshing, indeed! But I smiled nonetheless, wondering if the figures, especially the woman, would reappear. And hoping they would.
But there was no return. I felt foolish staring at the hallway at the same times each morning the next few days and being disappointed on a daily basis. I was actually pining for a second paranormal experience. Naturally, I kept this bizarre lookout to myself to avoid any further embarrassment. I could easily envision such other questions as:
Do you think the figure is of a former girlfriend?
What do you think her name was?
What’s the position of her hands? Is she pleading?
Was the dog wagging his tail? Did he have a collar?
I’d be a target, a marked man even to my family, if I opened my mouth again. But there was no diminution of my belief in what I saw. I didn’t imagine anything. Even if these fleeting figures never reappeared visions of them were fixed in my mind.
We had some friends over for dinner on a Saturday night, two couples we knew well. Just a small gathering. I don’t know how the conversation turned from politics to exploration of space with all the ultra-powerful telescopes and then to what creatures might be found on planets yet to be seen.
“They could be composed of anything, not flesh and blood like us,” Jeff mused. He was an executive at an insurance company.
“Even invisible, like paranormal beings,” Eve, his wife, a part time interior decorator, conjectured.
I couldn’t help myself. My face, I knew, had turned one shade redder. Jane winced. Obviously, she had shared a confidence with Eve, one of her best friends. But it seemed Jeff, her husband, didn’t have a clue how her comment involved me. Nor did the other couple, Doug and Doris, who both worked in the entertainment field. But I still felt betrayed and embarrassed.
Suddenly, a feeling of strange calm came over me. My normal pallor returned. I glanced confidently at the others. There, before us all, was a slim, barely visible shape of a woman.
“Don’t go!” I shouted at the diaphanous body. I leaped forward as if I could actually put my hand on her. But hands on what? There was was nothing but air. Everyone was staring at me as if I were insane but I didn’t care. Whoever it was, and whatever it was, had returned. Perhaps willed to do so by my firm belief? Vouchsafing my perceptions, my very integrity. Could I summon a paranormal in this method? Was I so gifted? A discovery none too late at the age of 42.
But the gathering ended. Not my fault. After the others left, embarrassed at what they had seen and not knowing its significance, Jane came over and comforted me.
“The doctor will know what to do,” she said, touching my forehead as if mere fever could explain my stunning paranormal epiphany.
“So will I,” I said with supreme confidence.
Jack Adler is a Los Angeles-based author and editor.
Leave a Reply.
HalfHourToKill.Com is a literary website publishing authors of Flash Fiction and Short Stories in the genres of Fantasy, Horror and Noir. Feel free to submit your Fiction, Poetry and Non-Fiction work to us year round.
Site powered by Weebly. Managed by SiteGround