The tale of the phantom deepens when Jess finds herself back at her friend’s lonely ranch house. There she learns more about the ghost that haunts her, and maybe finds his true intentions toward her.
Brent broke his promise. Badly. Thirty minutes later I was still sitting in the car, alone and frightened. My eyes were glued on the rickety metal gate, but they should have been glued onto the sky. The sunny day changed fast into a cloudy one. I didn’t think to look up until the distant boom of thunder told me more trouble was coming. I glanced down the road at the open sky and cringed back. A thick head of clouds were building up on the horizon toward town, and the breeze was blowing them toward me.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw movement. My head swiveled around toward the gate, but the road was empty. A flurry of leaves wisped by the car, but I knew I’d seen something other than foliage. I glanced at my watch again. Thirty-five minutes. The weather grew worse as the clouds blew their way toward me. If we didn’t leave soon we’d be caught in the middle of the storm.
I swallowed some of my fear and stepped out of the car.
My hope for Brent's quick arrival grew dimmer with each second that passed by. “Brent? Brent!” I called out. No answer.
I shut the car door and wandered up toward the metal gate. The shadows lengthened as the sun sped along its way toward the ominous clouds. I wrapped my coat tight around me and leaned over the bars that blocked the cemetery from the outside world. A quick thought passed through my mind. They weren’t meant to keep vandals or stupid people like myself inside. They were meant to keep him, the phantom, from getting out. But he had come out, at least for me.
I heard a noise. It was the same as before; a sharp crack of a stick. I wondered if it wasn’t him dragging his dry bones out of his mausoleum toward me. My heart skipped a beat. Then another. A boom overhead warned me that danger was approaching from the skies as well as from the ground. I backed up from the gate and cupped my hands to my mouth. “Brent! Brent!”
No reply but the storm and the silence. I turned and fled from the gate back to the car, but the minute I sat myself down I felt an inexplicable cold wash over me. My head swiveled this way and that in search of the reason, but nothing was seen. The door was still open and I smelled the rain that was promised with the thunder and lightning. The feeling of danger swept over me and all the hairs on my body stood on end.
That’s when a horrible realization passed over me. Brent wasn’t going to come back, and if he did I wouldn’t want to see him. I had only two choices, the road back to town or the direction of Ashley’s house. Ashley’s was closer, so I got out and dashed away from the storm and that cursed cemetery. My feet pounded the hard dirt and the trees flashed by with my arms pumping at my sides, but it wasn’t enough to outrun the wind and the clouds. Ashley’s house was a good two miles away and both came down on me when I was only halfway there.
The rain came with them, and it was like the clouds poured a bucket down on top of me. I was drenched in a minute and chilled from the wind. The sky and air around me grew dark and cold. I could barely see the road, and worse yet a heavy fog rose up from the warm ground and covered everything around me in that soft, ghoulish blanket. My legs felt like heavy weights and each step was like a mile. I looked for shelter, anything to stand under and wait for the worst of the storm to pass. Then I’d move on to Ashley’s house for a warm welcome and an even warmer mug of cocoa.
Out of the corner of my eyes I caught a light of sorts. I turned my head and stiffened when I saw some sort of bright, hovering orb of light, like those will-o-the-wisps in old stories. They were said to be souls of the dead, but right now it was a comforting beacon in the darkness of the storm. If I hadn’t been so tired and miserable I might have been scared, but the light was soft and friendly. It floated beneath a large pine tree not too far off the road. Its dry roots were inviting and I veered off toward it. I ducked beneath its wide, full branches that fanned out to create an umbrella of comfort. In ducking my head I lost sight of the orb for a moment, and when I looked back the light was gone.
I didn’t mind the lack of company, though. One ghost at a time was all I could handle. My body was so tired and aching that I collapsed down against the trunk. Beyond the branches I watched the rain ruthlessly pelt the ground. The untamed wind bent and broke the smaller trees and branches, but I was on the side of the trunk away from the cold gusts.
I snuggled down and leaned back my head. The rough bark didn’t bother me a bit, not after being out in such a storm. I sighed when a warmth filled my body and my muscles relaxed. My eyes closed and the pounding of the rain melted into the background. There was only a soft trickling of noise and the heat building up in my body. My clothes felt tight, uncomfortable. I frowned and yanked at my coat. The zipper pulled down and I sighed when a hint of cool air brushed against my thin shirt. My relief didn’t last long, though, as the heat inside of me pushed back the stormy air.
And then there was him.