It was well into the night when most people were just starting to dream when Malcolm Moon found himself standing on a street corner. He blinked large brown eyes as he looked around at his surroundings. It was night time but that didn't explain all the muted colors around him. There was a kind of fuzzy feel to all the hard edges of buildings and nature alike. As he blinked to clear his sight he noticed something else that was weird. Everything was abnormally quiet, as if he heard everything from the end of a tunnel. Cars that passed by on the street made all but a whisper. A couple across the street talking sounded like they communicated by humming even as their mouths formed words.
Completely confused Malcolm focused on senses he didn't deem as important until just then when he found himself lacking. He couldn't feel the wind that made the tree branches sway in and out of shadows. He tried to smell the breeze that should have been brushing his face but couldn't. He knew he stood of the sidewalk, but he couldn't feel it, it was like his feet were numb, but without the accompanied tingling feeling. No, not just his feet, he couldn't feel any part of his body.
Malcolm quickly looked down at himself. He lifted his hands to study them and frowned as he saw the dark street through the transparency of his skin. This was defiantly odd, he concluded as he passed one of his hands through a street pole. He should have been thinking a million things, feeling a million and one emotions, but all he could do was wonder; Where was the white light?
This was what death was? He'd never honestly thought he'd haunt anything once he was gone. Maybe it was there was no where to go, no heaven or hell, just Earth and a whole new way of existing.
What does one do when one finds himself dead? Standing aimlessly on the street hadn't been very productive in life, and it didn't seem to be in death either. So Malcolm started walking with feet he couldn't feel but had to believe were there because every time he looked down his translucent sneakers led the way.
As Malcolm started to walk down the street he couldn't help but dart his head from side to side. In his peripheral vision he kept seeing something moving but as soon as he tried to focus on whatever it was it was gone. He got glimpses of faces, figures or clothing, but they were gone as quickly as he thought he'd seen them. Was this a ghost seeing ghosts? Malcolm wondered as he saw what used to be a familiar world in new and uncertain terms. As his unfelt feet took him down the street he came up with more questions than answers.
Needing to find out more, Malcolm discovered he could walk through walls. What he found were people, quiet and resting, fast asleep in the dead of the night. In the still of a small home Malcolm leaned over a sleeping woman and tried to speak but it seemed not even he could hear himself.
He left the slumbering woman to find her young sons room. What made Malcolm stop and take notice was not the boy curled under his covers but a figure seated beside him on the bed. It was an older woman, he observed by the hunch to her back and the paleness of her hair. She passed a wizen hand over the boy's peaceful face in an attempt to pet his hair away from his face but only ended with her long fingers disappearing into the pillow.
She was dead, Malcolm realized with a start. As if his thoughts attracted the other ghost's attention she turned towards him and he immediately stepped away. Her face was shrunken into the shadows of wrinkled translucent skin. Her eyes were large and empty, they were just two gaping holes that saw nothing but seemed to measure and weigh the newly dead young man before her with a blind glance. That was death, with the weight of suffering and pain in every crease of her faded face and Malcolm found he couldn't meet those empty eyes anymore.
He saw her opened her mouth and thin lips worked to form words Malcolm suddenly didn't want to hear. He knew he would hear her, it didn't matter than his ears barely registered the loudest of noises, he knew her words would ring clear and bring with them some awful, unavoidable truth he didn't want to know.
So he ran, his feet remembering how to carry him quickly away as the rest of him remember what fear felt like. The emotion hadn't changed from life to death; it still hollowed out his stomach while the back of his neck burned where he was sure the dead woman had watched him leave through her empty eye sockets.
Help! Save me! I don't want to be here! Malcolm wanted to scream but suddenly didn't have the strength to open his mouth. His sight, as foggy as it already was, began to dim. Through his faded vision he realized he had stopped in a small room that housed a bed and many, many boxes. A handsome young man leaned over one of the larger boxes, riffling through it in a distracted way.
Malcolm tilted his head and observed the play of light across the young man's face, how the becoming angles of his cheek bones were made dramatic even to his nearly unfocused eye. He was gorgeous! Malcolm thought as he took an involuntary step forward. He wanted to see the young man closer, to see the eyes hidden behind black rimmed glasses. With each step the room seemed to gain just a little more light, all the fuzzy edges gained defined lines and clarity.
As Malcolm watched the young man brushed long bangs aside in an absent but all together graceful gesture that revealed gorgeous eyes. Eyes that were tearing, Malcolm realized with a start. The young man stacked books from his open box onto an empty bookshelf as he ignored his tears and sniffed quietly to himself. Malcolm looked around the small room again, looking for someone or anything around to help the young man but they were alone it what Malcolm realized was a dorm room.
Why was he crying? Malcolm wondered desperately, feeling like he needed to do something to sooth the upset man before him. Malcolm caught a glimpse of swimming dark brown pools that were the others eyes and saw the pain, a pain he immediately identified with. There were only so many reasons someone would be up at this hour with a forsaken air about them, Malcolm knew because he felt he'd once been this young man. But why would this stunning creature be sad? Something tugged at Malcolm's heart strings and the want to smooth the unhappy lines from the handsome face before him was so strong he impulsively reached out a hand he knew would never touch anything again.
To both their surprise the young man cried out and jerked away when the unexpected image of fingers found themselves in front of him.
A young nurse was busily writing in a chart when the heart monitor beside her suddenly began beeping urgently. The green line on the monitor jumped erratically and she quickly set aside her clip board to put a stethoscope to the afflicted young man's chest.
A second nurse hurried into the room. "What's going on? Isn't this the coma patient?"
"Yes, his stats suddenly started dropping. I don't know what's going on." The first nurse responded nervously. It didn't say "In Training" on her name tag for nothing.
"I'll page the doctor. Give him oxygen." The Second nurse replied with the calmness that came with years of experience and served to calm the first nurse. The senior nurse picked up the chart and the phone and only had to wait a moment before someone picked up on the other end. "Doctor Kwan, the patient Malcolm Moon is becoming unstable. His heart rate and his breathing are dropping. Yes, doctor."
"What the –" The young man started to say when his whole face turned deathly pail and his mouth tried to form words that he didn't seem capable of speaking anymore.
"Oh, you can see me?" Malcolm said unnecessarily and was surprised when he discovered not only could he hear himself now, but so could this young man. He'd given up on trying speaking, he just nodded.
"I'd say something like 'Boo' but I'm pretty sure you've already shit yourself."
"What are you?" He spoke in a voice a few octaves too high. Malcolm found it cute despite the terrified look he received along with the words. Now that he could see the young man clearly he was appreciating just how hot he was when in focus.
"Dead. Last I checked the living have bodies and heart beats and other mundane things like that."
"Ghost? A ghost? But I have a test tomorrow!" How that had anything to do with Malcolm's new state of existence neither of them knew. Even though he was getting looked at with horror, Malcolm was happy to see the sadness banished from the young mans face. He suddenly wondered what he'd look like with a smile.
"What's your name?"
"Caleb." He squeaked then immediately seemed to regret it. "Wait! Why do you need to know my name? Are you death; am I on your check list?"
"No. At least I don't think so. Besides, why would I want something as good looking as you dead?" Malcolm tried for charming, he'd never quiet achieved it in life and wondered why he thought he could in death. Caleb's expression stopped being ashen as he blinked in surprised.
"Oh my, a ghost is hitting on me." He whispered. He turned to his desk and shuffled through his text books in a short of frenzied manner before standing with multiple note books held like loved ones against his chest. He started away from the desk, double back and opened his mouth to say something to only let out this odd high pitch sigh.
"I've had a nervous break down. This must be a record, I've been here a week and I've completely lost it." Caleb said to himself as he paced away, refusing to look at Malcolm.
"Well, I've been dead half and hour and I've already made someone loose it. I wonder if we're both making records." Malcolm couldn't help but add. He knew he shouldn't have been finding this as entertaining as he was, but freaked out Caleb was a much better sight than crying Caleb. Maybe he was only one step away from seeing that smile, Malcolm hoped.
"Ha, he makes jokes. Who knew my crazy subconscious could be clever?" Caleb took a big gulp of air before turning to Malcolm again with desperate eyes. "Are you real?! Did you die here, do you haunt the dorms? Don't haunt me, I really don't need it. Try two doors down, those guys seem like they could use a good scare!"
"Yeah, I'm real but I don't think I haunt the dorms. I wonder, am I going to get an assignment or if I can choose who and where I haunt?" Malcolm mused as Caleb clung to his notebooks like they were the only thing keeping his heart from beating itself out of his chest.
"Why haunt anything? Pass on, go towards the light, go in peace and let me study!"
"But… there wasn't any light."
"Really?" Caleb seemed genuinely intrigued by that admission so Malcolm went on.
"No, I was just suddenly like this. No pearly gates, no one is a black cloak carrying a scythe. I'm just here." He shrugged.
Caleb hesitantly laid his studies aside as he considered the other man's words. "A voice then? Didn't some heavenly voice come out of the clouds to tell you 'Do not be afraid, by the way you're a little dead.'"
Malcolm honestly thought a moment. "No, no voices."
"How about knowledge? Do you know things now, secrets the living don't or can't understand that you can?"
"I don't think so." Malcolm shook his head.
"Interesting." Caleb mused as he absently pushed his glasses up his nose; a gesture Malcolm never thought could be sexy until that moment. "Are there other ghosts around, someone who could explain things to you?"
Malcolm tried not to shutter as he remember the old woman from before. "No, I don't think that would be helpful."
"Do I look strange? Like… dead? Do I have eyes?" Malcolm asked quickly, realizing he might look like the only other ghost he's seen. He desperately hoped he didn't.
"You have eyes. You just look… pale. And I can see the other side of the room through you." Caleb quickly reassured and Malcolm let out a sigh of relief.
"How does it feel to be dead?" Caleb asked with round, curious eyes that glistened with intelligence.
Malcolm smiled at the question and shrugged. "Odd. Until I saw you, I could hardly see or feel anything but now I feel almost… normal." Malcolm considered his own words as soon as he said them. Why was it that as soon as Caleb caught his attention things became easier to see, feel, and understand? It was like the young man was some kind of anchor, a steady place to cling to in a disorienting storm that was now Malcolm's way of existing.
Caleb walked around the translucent young man to study him from all angles. Malcolm half expected him to start taking notes.
"How long have you been dead?" Caleb asked.
"What time is it?" Malcolm laughed and was rewarded with a surprised look.
"Wait, how did you die?"
Malcolm gave another shrug and looked about the cluttered dorm room. "I was sick."
"Oh. I'm sorry." Caleb answered quietly and got another shrug as a response.
"It's over now." Malcolm sighed and went to experimentally sit at Caleb's desk, just to see if he could. It took him a couple of tries before he could keep his ass from going right through the chair like he did the wall.
"What… what are you going to do now?" Caleb asked as he watched Malcolm curiously.
Malcolm blinked at Caleb's unexpected question. "I have no idea."