Hiya! This is just a story I wrote for a short story contest my school was having. The first paragraph is actually not my work, so if that first comma is in the wrong spot let me know. I only wrote it that way because it came from the school newspaper column where I found out about the contest from. It started with that thing, then had the "dot dot dot" at the end, and then it said to finish the story and send it in by 3:00 on October 14 to enter it into the contest. I did that, and now, on Friday, the day it was due, I have sent it in (did so yesterday) and am now posting it online for others to read as well. It ends a little suddenly, but if any of you can end it better without changing the basic events, prove it in a review. Enjoy!

The Forlorn Ghost

Jason knew that he shouldn't have accepted the dare but, he wasn't one to be known as a wimp. The air was brisk and he could feel the goose bumps beginning to rise on his arms. His knuckles were growing white as he clamped his flashlight. As he approached the abandoned Whitley Mansion he saw a bat streak across the midnight sky. The faded wooden steps creaked when he applied pressure with his feet. He cautiously made his way up to the ancient wooden door. As his fingers touched the rusted door knob a shiver ran down his spine. Suddenly he heard a sharp cry behind him. He jolted around to see…

"Rebecca? What are you doing here?"

Rebecca was the only girl he really got along with. She had just made that sharp cry because she had seen the bat and had ended up getting her shirt caught in a low-hanging tree branch as she was distracted. But why was she here of all places, especially at this time of night, and at the same time he was, too?

Rebecca untangled her shirt from the tree branch. "I'm here because I heard what happened. You don't have to do this," she told him, not sounding worried in the slightest.

Jason looked at her, thinking about what she'd just said, and then made his decision.

"Yes, I do have to do this. I accepted the dare, and now I must follow it. I can't stand being called a wimp anymore!"

Jason began to turn away from her, deciding her efforts were all for naught, then stopped as her hand grabbed his shoulder.

"Wait," she told him.

"What? Why?" Jason asked, confused.

"If that's the case," she paused for a moment, "then I'm going with you. I've always wanted to come in here, but could never convince myself to. Now I have a good reason."

Jason thought about this for a moment. He eventually came to a conclusion.

"All right, I guess they didn't say I couldn't bring someone along, so I see no harm in it. Plus, I could use the company, now that I think about it."

She grinned in approval, then turned and looked at the door. Jason did the same. At first they did nothing except look at it, preparing themselves for whatever may be behind it. Then, they nodded to each other as if silently saying "I'm ready," and Jason pushed open the door…

The first thing they saw was nothing. It was just that dark inside. Rebecca squinted to see if she could make out any shapes in the darkness, then gave up. Jason lifted up a flashlight, a large black Maglight, and looked at Rebecca with a brave yet scared-out-of-his-pants look on his face. Rebecca nodded and held up her own flashlight, a small red one made by the same company.

The sudden change in the room's lighting almost blinded them. The walls, ceiling, and floor were made entirely of wood. There was a pair of double doors at the opposite end of the room. Stairs on the left and right each climbed up to a separate second floor balcony with a door, and a chandelier hung from the ceiling in the middle of the room. There was junk piled in the corners under the steps or leaning against walls.

The pair walked inside, and Jason decided to shut the door before the ghosts did it and made the moment feel too cliché. When he stepped away from it, however, an axe fell and stuck into the floor where he had been standing just a moment before, causing him and Rebecca to jump. He shined the light in the direction the axe had come from, and was suddenly half-blinded as the light reflected off of a large yet strangely well-taken-care-of suit of armor, and another one on the opposite side of the door could be vaguely seen at the edge of the flashlight's beam. The wind caused by the door opening and closing must have caused the axe to fall off balance, Jason thought to himself.

"The wind caused by the door opening and closing must have caused the axe to fall off balance," Rebecca stated as if reading his mind.

"Yeah, I actually just thought that to myself," Jason told her, trying not to laugh at the irony for fear of waking up any supernatural things that may be haunting or living in the place.

"So where do you think we should go first?" Rebecca asked him.

"I say we go through the double doors first," Jason answered.

They walked over to the pair of double doors and opened them simultaneously. Then, they both shut them and headed back to where they had been standing, as the room beyond the doors had actually been a hallway full of suits of armor, each one holding a weapon of some sort. A few even seemed to be resting on horse statues as if yelling a war cry. They definitely didn't want to risk that room. What if the axes, swords, and other various weapons started falling? Or worse, what if the place really WAS haunted, and the horses came to life and tried to trample them? Both of them pushed that thought out of their heads, fearing what they'd think next if they didn't.

"Now what?" Rebecca asked.

"Now, I think we should head up the staircase on the left. The door at the top doesn't seem as…foreboding as the double," Jason answered.

"Well then why did you suggest the double in the first place?"

Jason though for a moment, then sighed. "I thought it would be the better choice because we wouldn't be risking the possibility of falling through the floor or anything."

Rebecca just shook her head in embarrassment, and then started walking toward the left staircase. Jason followed behind her. As they approached the stairs, they walked by a mirror. At first, Jason just walked by it as if it was nothing. Until he noticed his reflection didn't seem to move. He stopped, stepped back, and looked into the mirror. It seemed normal. He waved his hand, and his reflection did the same. He started to turn and walk away…but not the reflection. In fact, it just turned its head, as if watching him. He started to panic a little on the inside. He suddenly turned and ran back to Rebecca, who realized he was whimpering as he approached, and grabbed her arm.

"What's wrong with you?" she asked him as she tried to shake him off.

Jason turned his head to her, and she suddenly wanted to laugh. The look on his face was priceless.

"M-m-m-mi-mirror ha-has a-a-a m-mind of its o-o-o-ow-ow-own-n-n-n," he said, shivering out of fright.

Rebecca knew that shouldn't be possible, but she still found herself getting really freaked out at the thought, as she couldn't think of any other explanation for a mindful mirror. After all, people who "saw things" were usually drunks, drug addicts, or half insane by that point. They had only just started.

Rebecca decided to just keep walking, get away from that mirror, even if what Jason had said really WASN'T true. Jason, who was now scared out of his pants, decided she should take the lead, and followed behind. They reached the door at the top of the steps. When Rebecca tried to open it, however, it was locked.

"Great, it's locked, now we have to go passed that mirror again to try the door at the top of the other staircase," Jason said, shaking at the thought.

Rebecca just gave him a look of annoyance.

"Gosh, you are SUCH a scaredy-cat," she told him. Then she walked back a few steps and held out her hand to Jason.

"Give me the flashlight," she ordered.

"What? Why?" Jason answered back, not wanting to let go of his own light source.

"Just give it to me," Rebecca demanded again.

Jason did as she asked and reluctantly handed over the heavy Maglight.

"Now, stand to the side a bit," Rebecca told him, putting her own flashlight away.

Jason stepped towards the steps a little. Suddenly, Rebecca grabbed the flashlight with both hands, facing it so the butt was in front, and charged. When she was at just the right distance, she rammed the door as hard as she could with the butt of the flashlight. The door suddenly fell open as if it didn't have any hinges in the first place.

"How did you know that would work?" Jason asked.

"I knew the wood was old and rotting away, so I figured that if I could ram the door hard enough near the hinges, it would fall right out of the wall," she answered, suddenly looking really smart in Jason's eyes.

Rebecca gave the flashlight back to Jason, pulled her own back out, and walked into the room. A few rats scurried behind cover as the bright beams flashed around the large room. Rebecca shined her small light on the various types of furniture inside. Jason was more fascinated with the paintings hanging on the walls in their fancy frames. Most were of people, but a few were of extremely well-painted landscapes, some beautiful and almost captivating, others morbid and dark. Jason shined his light on one specific painting of a man who looked like he was probably in his sixties. He had blue eyes, graying black hair, and a short beard connecting with his sideburns and moustache. Jason decided to look at the small date in the corner of the picture, just to see when it was made. October 10, 1873. On second thought, considering the time period, the man was probably in his thirties.

Rebecca had realized by now that there was another door, probably the same one that leads out onto the other staircase. She also noticed that there were a ton of books in the large room, all arranged neatly into expensive-looking bookcases. Yep, this was the library. Most of the books were worn, but a few of them looked like they were still quite usable. Rebecca went over to the nearest bookshelf and found a particularly fancy one that said "Modern Politics" and pulled it out. After all, she did need to learn how to understand politics better. Unfortunately, when she opened it, she found that there were holes in some pages, whereas others were missing entirely, and what was described inside was information on politics as they were many years before. But she didn't focus on that. What she was focusing on was the fact that the book hadn't fallen apart yet. Most of the books here would probably crumble to dust after sitting and gathering it for so many years. Rebecca decided it was best to put it back, just to keep it preserved if anything. Right as she did so, however, she thought she could hear a strange creaking coming from around the corner, towards the back of the large room. Jason seemed to have heard it too, as he poked his head out from the other side of the bookcase. Rebecca found herself hoping she hadn't awoken or angered any lingering spirits. Both she and Jason began to walk slowly toward the back of the room. As they drew nearer, they could both tell that it was another reading area, complete with soft chairs and fancy wooden tables, just like the one at the front of the room. Eventually, a rather ornately carved rocking chair came into their view. As they approached it, they realized that it was rocking back and forth, and they slowed down a bit. Jason remembered his experience from earlier, and began whimpering again. Rebecca found that she was starting to sweat a little, betraying her actual emotions. Or rather, that WOULD be the case, if it weren't for the fact that Jason wasn't very observant when it came to those around him.

Soon, they were standing close enough to the chair that they could touch it if they reached far enough. Rebecca decided to be the brave one again.

"Excuse me, but who are you?" she asked whatever was supposedly sitting in the chair.

A ghost of an old-looking man suddenly materialized in the chair, causing their faces to pale and their blood to run cold. Jason realized this was the same man from the painting he'd seen, and calmed down a little in the hopes that he was friendly. After all, he did look like a pretty nice guy.

The ghost spoke. "I think I should be the one asking who YOU are. After all, you ARE intruders in my house. Explain yourselves."

Jason just clammed up and fainted, thinking the ghost really WAS angry at them and would try to kill them. Rebecca kept her composure.

"We're sorry, sir. Jason here had accepted a dare to enter the house, and I decided to join him. We had no idea any spirits were still living here. If you would like us to go, then we will do so without argument," she told him.

"That would be nice, although I suppose the company is appreciated somewhat. I mean, I can't exactly read any of these books any more, despite being able to pick them up, so it does get fairly lonely around here," the ghost told Rebecca. Then, he pointed a finger at Jason and said, "And by the way, is he alright?"

"Oh, he's fine. He just fainted, that's all. He's a HUGE scaredy-cat when it comes to this stuff. Referring to your loneliness, we'd also be happy to keep you company on occasion. I've never met a friendly ghost before. In fact, I've never met a ghost at all!" Rebecca told him, chuckling at the last part, "But sir, if we are to be your friends, then could you at least tell us who you are?"

Jason suddenly jumped up and said, "What'd I miss?" Then he saw the ghost and started to clam up again.

Rebecca grabbed his arm and calmly said, "It's okay, Jason, he's a friend."

The ghost, noticing that Jason was fine, began to introduce himself. "I am the Lord of this humble abode. My name is Doctor Elisha Gray, scientist and mathematician extraordinaire. I spent my time here reading textbooks and writing theories, sometimes not leaving this house for days. Some of the books on these shelves were written by yours truly. Unfortunately, they weren't very widespread, as most of what I had discovered had also been discovered by others at around the same time. In fact, credit for inventing the telephone would go to me, but the man you know as Alexander Graham Bell got his version patented just two hours before I did. As a result, I was unable to go down in history as one of the great scientists of my time. Now, I haunt the space inside these walls, reading everything I didn't have a chance too, making up my own pointless theories, thinking on what could have been…"

Rebecca and Jason found that they both felt sorry for the guy. He could have been famous? That must be terribly heartbreaking to have the ability to become famous, yet be kept from it by being just a little too late every time.

Rebecca decided to speak up. "I'm sorry, that must feel terrible. Well, we should probably go now, Mr. Gray, but we promise we'll be back on occasion. We'll try and aim for at least once a week."

Elisha nodded in agreement. "That would be delightful," he said.

The kids began to walk back toward the entrance, still feeling sorry for the guy, when Jason suddenly had a thought. "Wait, you DID go down in history!"

This caught both Elisha's and Rebecca's attention.

"What do you mean, young man?" Elisha asked Jason.

"Yeah, what DO you mean, Jason?" Rebecca repeated curiously.

Jason decided to explain his point. "You may not be known as well as Alexander Graham Bell, but you still made history! Some people know you as the guy who was just short of getting credit for making the telephone, and there are many who think you SHOULD have gotten the credit, even though Alexander got his version patented first. You've also been known as the father of the modern music synthesizer! That's a BIG thing nowadays!"

Elisha suddenly had a large grin on his face.

"Is it now?" he said.

Jason further made his point by saying, "Yeah, I have one at home! I use it all the time! It's not the same model you came up with, because mine is so much more advanced, but it's a heck of a toy to play with, if you know what I mean!"

Elisha suddenly seemed to light up with hope and joy. He stood up out of his chair.

"Kids…" he said.

"Yeah?" Rebecca and Jason both asked.

"I think that may have been just the thing to enlighten my spirits…" he answered.

"What do you mean, Mr. Gray?" Rebecca asked him. Did he mean he was departing?

"I think I can now, at last, rest in peace. Now that I know my lifelong dream has been fulfilled, I can rest my mind and soul, and go join my friends and relatives in the clouds…"

Rebecca began to get a little depressed. Going already? They had just met, and she'd already promised to visit every once in a while! "I-I guess it's goodbye, then?" she asked Elisha.

"I guess so my dear…" he said. He started to grow more transparent, and the kids realized he was actually disappearing. Then Jason remembered something.

"Wait, Mr. Gray! I have two things to ask you!"

"And what might that be, my boy?" Elisha asked him.

"First, I saw a painting of you that was dated October 10, 1873. How old were you then?"

Elisha continued to disappear, and didn't waste time on his answer. "About 38 years old!" he half-yelled back, as his voice was beginning to grow faint.

"And what was with that mirror downstairs?" Jason yelled back, caught up in the moment.

"Oh, that's just a trick mirror I invented after they came out with video cameras. I find it makes a great way to scare people!" Elisha answered.

"Oh. Well, that's it then. Goodbye!" Josh said.

"Goodbye!" Rebecca repeated.

An expression of great joy seemed to spread across Elisha's face as he said his final words. "Goodbye, children…and thank you…"

Just like that, he was gone.

Jason and Rebecca, now happy and sad at the same time, decided it was time they got home. As they were leaving, they realized the mirror wasn't so scary anymore. Nothing was. Holding hands, they went back outside with large grins on their faces, their spirits renewed.

So what did you think of this one? I told you the ending was a little sudden. Again, if you think you can do better, prove it in a PM or a review, but without changing the basic events of the end. Even if you can't, please review it anyway. I am quite proud of it, and would like to know what you guys think about it. I realized after finishing that not only do I write about death a lot, but I also write about ghosts a lot when I try to avoid talking about killing. Ironically, I just happened to include both. Technically, the ghost was basically a dead guy (death and ghosts) who experienced a "true death" in a sense when he passed on (death). See? Weird. I have one messed up mind. Again, please review!