Hello, this is my latest short story that I'm currently looking for feedback for. Anything, good or bad, or just thoughts and feelings about it would be much appreciated! Thank you!

Emma White

It's unusual for a tale of murder to begin on a warm summer's day, which is also not the case of this cautionary tale. The murder in question occurred six months prior in the dead of the night, and was the demise of a young university student called Emma White. She was silent, secluded, and few people knew her name until it appeared in the tabloids and accumulated fame. Emma was dead, there was no doubt about it, but unknown to most was that she was still in this world. Bitter and spiteful her ghost was consumed with revenge, or at least it appeared that way to Abel Green. Her hate and loathing unnerved him so, and there was no escape from her tortured soul.

The two of them, Green and White, sat side by side on a park bench watching as young families returned home in the fading sunlight.

Death was cold, merciless and cruel, and left Emma translucent and almost see through. She was clad in an ethereal white dress, which clung to her frame and remained still despite the gentle breeze. She was beautiful, or at least she was back in the day, when blood flowed through her veins and her chest moved up and down with each gentle breath. Her face was serene as she watched children play, and she gave no hint of the hate and loathing which lay within.

All were ignorant of her presence except Abel Green. A young college student with dark brown hair and in need of a bath and shave. He was quite handsome, but few would say so, because he carried a dark aura which unnerved everyone. Green sat beside her staring into space, trying to pretend she was someone who could be ignored. Despite their close proximity they didn't acknowledge each other, until the deader of the two broke the awkward silence between them.

"Do you see that family over there," she said with a grin. "In a few years time that could have been me. I could have been married with children and a pretty little home. But alas it can never be so, not with me being dead and all."

The words caused Abel to flinch, like he'd been stabbed in the heart. His hands began to shake, and his composure quickly fell apart.

"I said I was sorry, what more do you want from me?" Said Abel as he shot her a killer glance, but if looks could kill they were wasted on someone who was already dead.

"To see you suffer of course," she said gently like the wind. There was no malice in her tone, but her words were like a blade. "I was beautiful and young. My future full of potential. I could have been anything I wanted like a doctor, a lawyer, someone influential, but look at me now, my complexion is pale and my nerves are dead. I serve no greater purpose but as food for worms, and the one to blame is you Abel!"

Abel shuddered and tried to block out her existence, but it was difficult to do so through the memories of the crime he committed.

Abel wanted to know what it was like to kill someone. To feel a living breathing body wither and die by his own two hands. Would it be an exhilarating experience? Or nothing more than the slight annoyance of squashing an insect?

He was a long way from home with very few friends, and thoughts of murder became a convenient way to pass the time. Day by day his naive classmates giggled and cried with no idea that their gloomy classmate was planning their demise. He imagined throwing them out the window, or stabbing them in the windpipe, but despite his murderous thoughts the idea of blood still made him feel vile. Abel therefore decided that suffocation would be his tool of murder, and all that was left was to choose the right victim.

After much thought and hours spent pondering, Abel decided on one of his dormitory neighbours. A young girl by the name of Emma White. She was quiet, solitary and spent hours locked in her room. Studying for tests was what he assumed. It wouldn't be hard, said a dark voice in his mind, to quickly run in and strangle her in the dead of the night.

Most people are content with only thinking murderous thoughts, but Abel went one step further. One quiet night Abel made his nasty thoughts real, and crept on his toes across the dark dorm. He took a deep breath and pushed open the door, and entered the room like it was destiny's call. That was it, that was the night, the moment where Abel Green would discover the sensation of taking a human life.

With the stealth of a killer Abel crept into the room, lay eyes on his victim and twitched his fingers which already knew what to do.

Clothed in the white lacy dress which she now used to haunt him, the young Emma sat bent over her desk. With a pen in her hand and a notepad before her, the cute young girl sat furiously writing. Law, biology, math, and physics, read the books which lay stacked up beside her. Her grades must have been high, her future well set, her youth and beauty were also unmatched. There was so much potential which had been forcefully crushed by his own hands.

With speed and stealth he dragged her to the floor, stuffed a handkerchief into her mouth so she couldn't scream at all. With his large frame and manly strength he wrapped two gloved hands around her throat and squeezed until she could breathe no more. Emma struggled and clawed, but she was no match for Abel who's face she attempted to maul. In a matter of moments her body was still, and the girl known as Emma was in the next world.

I did it, he thought, I've committed a murder, but where's the satisfaction, I'm not feeling it at all? The preparation was fun, and so was the planning, but the deed lacked the excitement he'd been desperately craving. Maybe I was too fast, efficient, and still, maybe next time I should play some more?

With an unsatisfied need for murder Abel left the room, thinking only of how to strangle the girl who smiled at him during their philosophy tutorial.

He thought it would be natural to feel guilt, but it was hard to feel the loss of someone he hadn't known before. There was a small investigation, an article in the university newspaper, but other than that life continued on as normal except for the increased number of girls who now locked their dormitory doors.

There were a few pangs in his chest, a small desire to undo it, but the guilt didn't kick in until the ghost materialised before him. She was beautiful, conniving, cunning and sly, a smile on her face and the simple words of "I believe you remember me don't you?"

She would dance at all hours, ready and watching, and her cold dead eyes were witness to his every discretion. Critical, malicious, spiteful and cruel, she had made in her mission in death to make his life hell.

He tried to ignore her, he tried to move on, but whenever he talked to a girl he could hear her screaming 'I know what you are, you can't fool anyone!"

"Why won't you leave me alone," he hissed with as much anger as he could muster, but the girl shrugged it off like to her he was nothing.

"No one will ever trust you," her face contorted into a twisted grin. "They'll see past your innocent words and foolish facade, they can all clearly see the killer living within. You're nothing more than a wolf in sheep's clothes, a pitiful liar, a terrible monster who kills young girls for fun!"

Abel shuddered and hugged his body which felt frozen despite the warm day, he picked up his bag and quickly fled away. This was a fight he couldn't win, he was tired and weary, but the ghost didn't care, she wasn't the least bit sympathetic. Running away was all he could do, but it was impossible to escape, she was just far too cruel.

School was his safe haven, at least he thought so, until he turned to his left during criminal justice and found her sitting beside him. She sat at the empty desk, twirling her hair in her fingers, watching on with bemused amusement as the teacher lectured on about law, justice, and the punishment for murder.

"Imagine the things I could have done, and the person I would have become if you hadn't stolen my life away," she whispered.

He turned his head in shame and averted his gaze. There was no reason for him to apologise, he'd done so a thousand times or more, and yet the vengeful spirit still refused to leave. His words were meaningless and served no purpose but to attract unnecessary attention.

He hunched over, looked back to his notes, and tried his best to focus his attention on the professor's voice and block out her unnerving presence.

What point was there in admitting his guilt? The girl was already dead and confessing his sin would not undo her demise. Abel had decided that it was better to find a meaningful way to contribute to society instead of rotting away in jail. He had things to do, a college degree to finish, he was too young to go to prison.

"I should be sitting here you know," she said while running her fingers over the desk. "But instead I'm sitting six feet under in a cold dark place, where there's no air or chance of escape."

"Stop it!" Shouted Abel before the spirit could continue any further. If the ghost's torment was not enough, he now had the attention of his class, who were all staring curiously while muffling giggles.

"Mr Green, is there something you need to say?" Asked the stunned old professor with a piece of chalk in his hand.

Abel opened his mouth to voice his much needed confession. It was me, he desperately wanted to scream. I took the life of the young and innocent Emma White, but fear took it's hold, and the young student stood up from his desk and fled to the corridor. He leaned against the wall and fought for breath, which was becoming harder and harder as his heart relentlessly pounded in his chest. It had been six months already, and he was beginning to doubt, if he had the stamina to continue the lie any further. His life was too early to be over, but he couldn't suppress the way his heart was being slowly eaten away day by day.

"That's it, I've had it, this fear needs an end. You devious spirit you've had your way, I'm done, I'll fess up if you'll just please go away."

But Emma stood there with a malicious smile plastered on her face. "Do it I dare you!" She said with her usual spite. "But you won't do it you pathetic coward, because you don't have the backbone."

To prove he had courage Abel stuck to his word, and it was a dark gloomy day when he finally gave himself in. After a hasty confession, and the appropriate forms, Abel found himself sitting face to face with a stony faced police man. The officer looked him down, first sizing him up, and then the relentless questioning began. "Why did you do it? How was it done?" Asked the man while pointing to a six month old newspaper article.

Unknown to himself the tears began to poor down his face, and Abel told the tale of his murderous young self and the beautiful Emma White. "I'm a monster," he said the way Emma tormented. "A pathetic miserable coward who killed a young girl for fun."

"I get it," said the officer without sympathy. "Now quit the drama and look at this page, the girl you see here, the poor young thing, is she or is she not the one you strangled to death?"

With much hesitation and a wipe of his tears, Abel picked up the newspaper and brought it close to his face. The image which confronted him left him in shock and surprise. It was not a beauty, but a chubby girl in her late twenties who was covered in pimples. She wasn't bad looking, but clearly ugly compared to the ghost stalking him.

Abel struggled for words, he didn't know what to say. "I..I..I don't understand, this can't be real, are you sure this is the picture of the now deceased Emma White?"

"I don't have time for your games," said the officer as his face broke out into a scowl. "Did you, or did you not murder Miss Emma Jane White?"

Abel stared in confusion and began to doubt his crime, until in a moment of recollection he finally remembered it all. The night he murdered not a beauty, but a nerdy shut away, a secluded young woman who society had forgotten. Emma was someone easy to kill and wouldn't be missed, someone who's murder wasn't discovered until the smell gave it away.

"Who lives there?" Asked Abel to his neighbour as he pointed at her door. This was back in the days when murder was still only a thought.

"Emma White," said the other man with a shrug. "Or at least it was last time I checked, she never comes out so who really knows."

How easy it would be, said the dark voice in his mind, to quickly walk in and snuff out the life of one who was a waste to society.

And so one drunken night, after three glasses of wine, Abel finally mustered the courage to do what he only dreamed of. He banged on her door, but got no reply, so with a shove of his shoulder he let himself in. The girl in question was hunched over her computer, staring mindlessly at videos while she typed on the screen. Her giant earphones blocked out any noise, and she was oblivious as Abel stumbled over the garbage which littered her floor. With one quick motion he dragged her out of her chair and held a pillow over her face as she gasped for air. The empty chip packets crackled and rustled as young Emma fought off her attacker. She kicked and punched, and landed a blow at his jaw, but Abel was firm until she could breathe no more. Then as quickly as it started the deed was over and done, and Abel sat there staring at her face which had needed more sun.

Is this it? He thought, he'd expected so much more. There was no feeling of exhilaration or sense of achievement, just a sensation of emptiness and nothing exceeding it. The girl is dead, there's no doubt about it, but why do I feel like I'm the one who's died? Said the malicious and evil dark voice in his mind. It was then that he fled, what else could he do, but struggle with a new sense of emptiness and a guilty conscious too.

It was off to prison for Abel, there was no doubt about it. A quick trial, a useless lawyer, and his youth was suddenly over. They locked him away in a place full of tormented souls who screamed out at night. Maybe they were also incapable of living with their conscience and sins. In that regard they were all one and the same.

It was here that he was left to rot, in a dark prison cell, his only company being the ethereal and see through dead girl. He had done what she wanted, and yet she refused to relent. She was steadfast and stubborn, and had the conviction to follow through with her haunting until the end.

He looked up from his bed and glared at her in rage, as she draped herself lazily over his usually empty desk chair. Her features had softened to resemble the picture he'd been shown, but she still retained the beauty and grace which had been missing in the real life Miss White.

He looked at her critically and tried to make sense of the strange being who was plaguing his existence. She was no Emma White, that he knew for sure, and he was beginning to wonder is she was the manifestation of his guilty soul.

"Your no ghost, who are you?!" He asked loudly with conviction, like his sudden courage could force out the answers that he needed.

The ghost tilted her head to the side and gave a small smile, like she was all knowing, superior, and above the young Abel. "I suppose I am what you would call a conscience Mr Abel Green. Emma may be gone, but I won't be leaving."

By M.