After dinner, Layla shifted through various channels, paying no mind to whatever on the screen. She couldn't come up with a good way to talk to the annoying ghost. She wanted to find out what was holding him back from crossing over.
"How can you follow anything if you keep switching channels like that?"
Layla jumped and turned to see the ghost sitting right next to her on her sofa.
"Did I scare you? I thought medium wasn't scared of ghost?"
"I don't bump into ghost everywhere I go. And it's called startled, not scared."
"I don't think any medium can physically bump into any ghost."
"Wow, is that a joke?"
"Not a very good one, since you didn't laugh."
Layla laughed heartily and her not-so-annoying-anymore ghost smiled.
"So, do you have any preference about channel, Vincent?"
"Call me Vin. And not really, watching humans do stupid things was mostly the former home owner saw. It bored me."
"Vin? Don't want me to be a lady with proper calling?"
"Vin is a proper calling, considering you can see and talk to me and that we'll be seeing each other often."
"You want to see me everyday?"
"Well, not many can see me, much less talk to me. After awhile, it gets boring and lonely mulling around all by myself."
Layla laughed. "You have a good humor."
"If you think so."
"Not trying to tell you anything but just curious, have you ever thought about crossing over?"
"To the other side, light at the other end? Heaven or hell?"
"Are you afraid of going to hell?"
"Can it be worse than being stuck here, invisible 99% of the time?"
"I don't know."
"I tried but couldn't."
"What's holding you back?"
"A wish, a longing unfulfilled."
Layla wanted to ask but he didn't seem to be forthcoming. Perhaps baby steps were better, they just knew each other. She tuned in to the TV and felt her eyelids drooping.
"Hey, hey, Layla." Vincent called.
"Go to bed. You're falling asleep on the sofa."
"Oh...you're right. I'm tired. I'm going to bed. I'll talk to you later."
"Sleep tight." Vin nodded.
Layla dragged herself upstairs and fell asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow.
"Layla, help me." The girl in bloody dragged white robe called to her.
"What happened to you?"
"Don't listen to her, Layla." A lower voice came from a vomitting fragile girl on the floor.
"Layla, I need your help." Another girl with a knife in the chest called out.
This was madness. This was the house of terror. Layla ran to Chelsea, the birthday girl hosting her party. "Chelsea, I have to go."
"What do you mean, Layla? You just got here."
"I mean, Chelsea, you have to be careful. I think your house is haunted."
"Really? By what?" Chelsea turned pale and squeaked.
"You don't really want to know. Enjoy your party. I really want to get out of here."
"Hey, this is my house. You're acting like my house has evil or something." Chelsea held her back.
The girl in bloody robe came up and grabbed Layla's arm. "Why did you run away?"
"Let me go." Layla screamed.
"You don't want to help us?" The stabbed girl grabbed Layla's leg.
"What are you talking about, Layla?" Chelsea shook Layla's arm.
"The ghosts, one on my other arm and one on my leg. They're holding me." Layla struggled to get free but Chelsea tightened her grip and laughed.
"You think Jane and Mary are ghosts?" Her laughter was joined by the other fake ghosts.
"So now, you're admitting you can see ghosts?" The girl on her leg asked.
"Do you do drugs, Layla? It might be a delusion." The one on her arm laughed.
Layla jerked herself free furiously. "That's enough. That's not funny."
"Oh, I think it's really funny."
"Leave her alone." The vomitting fragile girl yelled in high pitch and the bulb light flashed. Layla angrily turned to the girl and warned her. "That's enough, I don't fall for it the second time."
"I'm not deceiving you. I am dead." The girl said sadly.
Layla snorted and walked up to her to grab her hand. Layla's hand went through cool air and grabbed nothing solid. Realizing everybody was watching her making this grave mistake, Layla turned around to face reality with cold sweat. Chelsea, Mary and Jane, and the rest of the household guests stared at her in stunned silence and digust.
"Who were you talking to, Layla?" Chelsea asked.
"Is that so? Are you delusional or you're just a freak?"
"I am neither. I'm going home now."
"I can't believe I invite a freak in my house. Tell me, what did you see?"
"A vomitting girl comes here to haunt you." Layla spat and hurriedly retrieved her purse on the sofa.
"You can't scare me, you freak." Chelsea squeaked and pushed Layla on the floor.
Everything else happened so fast. Layla could only saw shadows and heared them calling her disgusting.
"Layla, wake up! LAYLA!"
Layla felt suddenly cold and she jerked awake on a shaking bed. Her heart wanted to jump out of her rib cage and she choked on her fearful scream.
"It's okay. It's only me." The bed stopped shaking and Vincent was sitting on the floor, leaning against the wall, looking more transparent than ever.
"Are you all right?"
"Yeah...Just a bad dream."
"Are you all right? You looked really drained."
"I am. Your bed isn't light and you're clutching your blanket tightly."
"Thank you for waking me up. I don't want to stay in that dream."
"Do you dream, Vin?"
"No after I died."
"That's great, you don't have nightmare."
"No but bad memories can serve the same purpose."
"You were murdered?"
"More like ambushed."
"Only you? You must hold a high position."
"Not quite, my troop abandonned me."
"And you? Was that a nightmare or bad memory?"
"Little of both. I remembered my teenage years."
"Must be rough."
"I went to a birthday party. Some girls dressed up as if they were murdered and there was also a girl that kept vomitting. I couldn't distinguish who was real and who was a ghost until I touched them."
"And people discovered your secret."
"They didn't take it well."
"No, people are usually scared of something different."
Layla sighed. How true! She meant no one harm. "And you, is your wish to have revenge on your enemy?"
"It was a war. We were all on one side or the other."
"Revenge on your troop then."
"No, it's human nature to be scared of death. I can't blame them."
"It's the nature of war. I went to enough wars to understand many aspects of it."
"Then, maybe you wish to see your family."
"I have no family."
"None at all."
"How to recharge you?" Layla changed the subject.
"What?" Vin laughed. "Worry about me? Just some time. And I have a lot of time."
"Don't you get tired of it?"
"Often. Many times, I wish to be able to leave but the unfufilled longing is too strong. It holds me captive forever in its grip. I can get no contentment to let it go."
"What do you long for?"
"A simple and not so simple longing that everyone has."
Layla sighed. She picked up her fallen blanket and looked at her poor ghost on the floor.
"Do you want to sit on my bed?"
"It doesn't make a difference to me. I can't feel the material differences." Vin stated then raised an eyebrow. "Why suddenly the concern? I'm already dead."
"I...I feel less scared going back to sleep if you sit next me."
"I prefer lying next to you. It's not fair for me sitting and you're lying down."
Layla laughed. "I thought it wouldn't make a difference."
Vin floated on top of her bed. "Eye level makes a difference!"
Layla smiled. "Thanks."
"Go back to sleep. I'll be here."
Layla slid back into her blanket and watched as Vin lay on her bed like a floating cloud. Staring back at her, he made funny faces and she laughed.
"Don't worry, you won't feel it if I toss and turn." Vin winked.
Layla wanted to hug him but knowing it was impossible, she smiled at him and closed her eyes. Snuggling in her blanket, she drifted toward a restful sleep.