“Holy shit!” Mark shouted from behind.
Rogan snapped his attention back to Mark who had his arms up in a defensive stance and had fallen back even farther. “What’s wrong?”
He glanced up from his raised arms. “I… I saw… oh God.” He gulped lowering his arms as he glanced at Rogan. “I saw… someone standing behind you.”
Rogan jerked around to see behind himself. But there was nothing. “Are you kidding me?”
Mark darted his gaze around the hallway, terror evident in his eyes. “It’s gone. Shit! It disappeared. I swear. I… I know it sounds crazy, but I saw it.” He peered up at Rogan. “A… a ghost… Fuck! I don’t know,” he stressed as he gazed down the hallway again, shuffling his feet and hugging himself. “But I saw… oh God, something…”
Ghost? There had been that shimmer… “Where did it go?”
Mark jerked his head up to gape at Rogan. “You believe me?”
“Yes. I do. Where did it go?” Rogan stressed a little louder.
Mark shook his head. “I don’t know. Like I said, he disappeared.”
“I…” Mark narrowed his eyes. “I think so.” Mark was shaking. “Like a ghost.”
“What do you mean?”
“It was kind of a whitish gray. Foggy, I guess. Just the way they always say ghosts look like.” Mark took a ragged breath, turning as white as a ghost himself.
“Go on,” Rogan encouraged as he pulled the smaller man into his arms. Just as he figured, wrapping his arms around Mark seemed to calm him.
Mark sighed. “It had a head and shoulders like a man. The rest of it a swirl of smoke…”
“It had… it had sharp teeth and claws,” he whispered.
Rogan grabbed Mark’s shoulders and pushed him back enough to peer into his face. “Say that again?”
“It had sharp teeth and claws! I swear it. And it didn’t have any eyes! It lunged at me, and I think it was going to… going to…”
“What was it going to do, Mark?”
“Kill me! It was angry… I think.”
Rogan pulled Mark back into a hug, his own heart hammering, as he rubbed Mark’s back. He hadn’t dealt with this kind of negative energy in a long time. “It’s okay. It couldn’t have hurt you.” But could it have? Was that why Rogan’s hackles rose? “What happened then.”
“I looked at it… him. He… I swear he snarled at me before it lunged… then disappeared.”
“Can you tell me what he looked like? He obviously had a face to make you think it was a man.”
“Yeah, I guess, but… oh God, black holes where the eyes should have been.” Mark pushed out of Mark’s arms. “Let’s get out of this hallway. It’s giving me the creeps.”
“Yes. Good idea.” Rogan quickly picked up one end of the TV and Mark picked up the other and they hauled it inside. “Let’s leave it here against the wall and go get the food. I want you with me. Okay?”
But there was no other incident. Even so they hurried into the apartment after retrieving the food bags, Mark shutting and locking the door as if that would keep a ghost out. Or anything else, for that matter. Rogan would have to fix that flimsy door somehow. Mark’s security here sucked. He set the bags down on Mark’s tiny plastic table and began to unpack all the containers, while Mark went to his cupboard for plates.
“So, tell me more about what the ghost looked like.” Rogan was beginning to form a theory, a very bad theory, but he needed more information.
Mark stiffened behind him. “I… I don’t know. I really didn’t see any features other than the no eyes thing. I just saw― you know― teeth and that it glared at me.”
“Glared at you? Without eyes?”
“Yeah! Glared! I felt it. Like it… hated me.”
“Hated you? What makes you think that?”
Mark turned to Rogan, a frantic but exasperated expression on his face. “I don’t know, maybe because it hissed at me and was going to fucking bite me! Why are we talking about this like it’s an everyday occurrence for you? I am freaking out and you’re acting like it’s as normal as traffic and taxes. Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad you believe me. Personally, I wouldn’t if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes.”
“Well…” Rogan began, then he sighed. “I just happen to believe in the paranormal.”
“Paranormal? Like in all those stupid movies?”
Rogan tipped his head to the side and shrugged. “Kind of. Paranormal is just a generic word that’s used for anything that isn’t considered normal with what science knows today. Listen. Ghosts, spirits, poltergeists, paranormal energy, it all exists. To tell you the truth, I felt ― a jolt of some kind, right before you saw the apparition. That’s why it’s easy to believe you.”
“What do you mean a jolt?”
“Like electric energy running through me. Maybe through the hallway itself. It made me know something was there.”
“You said it wouldn’t hurt me? How do you know?”
“I ― I guess I don’t really know.” In his experience, random bundles of energy had no real agenda or ability to conduct organized activity. Like an attack. But it was rare that such a thing took on a recognizable shape for most people, either. Normally it was simply a nuisance that knocked things over or mist that seemed to take the form of a human. But that could usually be explained as a trick of the brain making sense of chaos. However, Mark had been pretty specific about this particular ghost’s features. Just like five years ago which sent a tremor through Rogan. Could he be facing another showdown?
Impossible. That energy had been bound to the warehouse. Right?
“From what I understand,” Rogan continued. “Paranormal activity is usually harmless. Scares us more than anything else.”
“Well, it accomplished the fuck out of that.”
“I totally understand.” Five years ago, it scared the fuck out of him and Anna.
“You still seem too calm. But then you didn’t see the damn thing.”
“I’ve seen my share of things that go bump in the night, believe me. I’ll tell you all about it someday. But honestly, I don’t think it’s anything to be worried about. Old buildings like this have tons of pent-up energy and occasionally it overflows into something some of us are able to see or hear.” Yes. That had to be it. Old building. Very old building.
“You mean that was just some pissed off dead tenant thinking I might be the landlord coming to collect the overdue rent?” Mark chuckled. It was good to see him relaxing again which seemed to generate something calming in Rogan too.
“Maybe.” Rogan gently ruffled Mark’s hair. “But that’s enough of that for now.” He was going to need to discuss this with Anna. Let her know what Mark saw. Maybe she would have some answers. “We’ll talk about it later. I promise. Come. Let’s eat.”