Posts Tagged ‘Ghost City’

“This was just too much to believe.” Jennifer thought to herself as she rode through what was nicknamed a ghost city, the taxi easily crossed downtown in the dark since there were hardly any other cars on the highway. “A Nu Gui? A ghost that was abused?” Every time Jennifer saw that girl she wore a red dress, like the ghost her teacher described, and she looked just like the girl in the photographs she found in the empty apartment.

The phone she found in that empty apartment was charging in her own room sincesince she’d left. Picking it up she turned it back on, the light on the screen glowed indicating the device had been resurrected from its former dead battery. She opened the photo album and saw more pictures of Linda with her former classmates, Jennfier’s current students. There was one photo with Deborah that had pink English words written over it. It warmed the teacher’s heart to see the words  ”Best Friends” written over the photo. 

Jennifer checked the text messages but of course they were all in Chinese. She had an app in her own phone that translated Chinese text. It was a rough translation, but she could read a series of exchanges, something about keepng a secret, and her asking for money. Then she saw two English words in the original text that made her skin crawl. The app translated the whole sentence, which she read.

“You are not Brad Pitt. You are bad man. I will tell. I will tell everyone.”

Jennifer dropped both phones and screamed as the Nu Gui stood before her. It remained still as Jennifer stepped back “What do you want.” 

The spectre now moved toward her. It floated, it didn’t walk, it didn’t run, it floated toward her with inhuman power, it’s ghostly white hand extended towards her in accusation, and from it’s black lips came a terrible hissing sound. 

Jennifer madly opened the door to her balcony and slammed it behind her. As the wraith approached she knew the glass would not stop her. Looking down from her second story apartment, she knew it wasn’t that far of a drop. If she landed just right on the park bench she would be fine. Once again she put her old gymnastic skills to use. Once she landed she dared not turn around, but ran as hard as she could to the gate. 

Only after she exited the complex did she stop and take a breath. Looking across the street, she could see the lights to Hollywood English were on. She wondered aloud who would be in there now on a Sunday evening, but in her gut she knew.

She slowly went up the steps and entered the private school. It seemed empty, all the classrooms were dark, but there was a glow of light coming from somewhere, it was near the teacher’s office. Then she heard the sound of laughter, it was a girl’s laugh, a laugh she heard before. The light on the administrator’s office was on. She crept toward the door and she could hear some conversation, her Chinese wasn’t good enough yet to really make out what they were saying. 

Her student Linda screamed as she saw her teacher peering through the door. Linda jumped up and buttoned her shirt as there sitting at the desk he sat, Mr. playboy himself who liked to call himself Brad Pitt. Jennifers boss looked in horror as his teacher had already snapped a few photos on her phone, and gave her a look of disgust before running out the door.

“Wait wait!” Jennifer heard behind her in English, let’s talk about this. Jennifer kept running. It mad sense to her now. Her former colleague probably figured out what the boss was doing and fired him. The locals probably didn’t care to listen to him on account of being a foreigner, and gay on top of that. He probably didn’t speak the language well enough either. She found herself running back to her room. She ‘d forgotten all about the supernatural encounter she’d just had and ran toward the gate of her property. Her boss yelled something behind her she couldn’t understand, but the gaurd at the gate desperately stood near the entrance to try to stop her, he didn’t have a chance.

Running into the building she ran up the stairwell with her boss closely behind. “You son of a bitch!”She turned around to shout at him, and when she turned around, her emotions turned from fear to awe. There on the stairwell, between herself and her boss, the Nu Gui stood with a look of vengeance.

It is too unbelievable to describe what she saw next, and too horrible for her to recount, but the surveilence footage showed her boss running up the steps, and apparently dieing of a heart a attack. For a brief moment there was a glitch in the footage, where his body appeared to float in the air. “You should invest in some good Samsung cameras!” The policemen told the landlord. A heart attack also didn’t explain the sheer look of terror on the man’s face, nor the tiny scratch marks he had on his neck. Jennifer didn’t care for explanations. She had enough excitement for one day. She made her statement the police that her boss chased her up the steps then collapsed. It was a good enough explanation, and finally Jennifer went home and went to sleep.

Soon Jennifer heard that familiar sound of a basketball bouncing on the court, a sound she hadn’t heard in a while. Passing through a thick fog, she could see her brother shooting hoops by himself on a basketball court.

“Hey sis” he said as he rebounded the ball.

“Oh my god.”

“How you doing? I’m real proud of you, you made it across the world!”

Jennifer then saw that familiar girl in her red dress standing on the side of the court. Jennifer didn’t feel frightened now. The girl gave a weak smile and a timid wave.

“Was talking to her.” Her brother said. “She says she’s sorry her English isn’t that good. She wants to thank you for what you did though.”

“Ok,” she waved to her. The spirit then turned around and slowly walked away, disappearing into a fog. 

“Anyway sis, I wanted to tell you I’m sorry. Tell mom I’m sorry too.”

“Sorry.” His sister was confused. 

“Man you know I was going down the wrong road. How many times did you try to warn me? Honestly I was lucky for a while, but one day my luck ran out.” 

She didn’t know what to say, but her brother continued. “I love ya sis.” 

“I love you too.” She hugged him tight and closed her eyes, wishing this moment would never end

And then she no longer felt his embrace. She opened her eyes to see him take a three point shot. The ball sailed through the misty air and sank perfectly through the hoops making that classic swishing sound through the metal chains. 

“Oh yeah all day!” He gloated as he ran toward the hoop to retrieve his ball. He looked back at his sister and smiled, his hand giving the peace sign as the fog rolled in around him, soon enveloping him from her sight. She woke up in her bed and smiled, now she was fine.

I’m gonna end Ghost City here. Thanks to everyone who supported this story. Hope you enjoyed it. Tune in next week for the Lights of Mirigan, followed by the Flying Fox.

Jennifer didn’t care for drunk sex, but it was the first she’d had in a while. Her and Alex awoke the next morning as the sun beamed through the windows. Jennifer put a robe on and made some tea.

“Thanks” Alex said, as he sat up and sipped his tea. Jenner sat down on the bed and brushed his hair with her hand. 

“So you’re studying Chinese” Alex noticed a Chinese book on her dresser.

“Yeah I have a lesson this afternoon actually.”

“Are you taking private lessons with Fay?”

“Yeah Kelly recomended her.”

After taking another drink Alex asked “Kelly huh. So how do you like Hollywood?”

“It’s good. The kids are nice.”

“Brad is a bit of a character isn’t he?”

“Yeah,” she laughed while mimicking his voice “I am Brad Pitt!” then they both giggled.

“Well it’s good that you like it. They had a bit of an uproar recently.”

“Yeah didn’t they get rid of a teacher for creeping on a girl or something?”

“Wait what?” Alex had never heard this.

“That’s what Brad told me. I think it was the guy I replaced. Wasn’t his name Sam?”

Alex put his cup down on the nightstand and said “Wait, Brad told you Sam was messing with one of the girls?”

“I think so..” Jennifer said quietly.

“That’s weird because Sam was gay.”

“Gay?”

“Yeah, he was partners with that Jerold guy who was rude to you last night. Sorry about that buy the way.”

“That’s so weird, why would Brad tell me that?”

“I don’t know maybe AHHH!” Alex yelled up as Jennifer shrieked and spilled her hot tea on him. They both jumped out of bed and Alex said “What’s going on?”

“Did you see that!” Jennifer asked frantically.

“See what?”

“There was a girl in a red dress. She was standing right there.” Jennifer said pointing to her bedroom door. She stormed out of the room and looked about the apartment. As Alex got wiped himself off and got dressed he could hear her saying “I think it’s my neighbor. She’s been creeping around her a lot and it’s pissing me off.” She found no one else in her apartment. Once she looked out on her empty balcony she went back into her bedroom where she found Alex had gotten dressed.

“I’m sorry.” Jennifer said, maybe I’m just too hung over.”

“Yeah that Baijiu will get you!” He laughed. Look I gotta go and prep for tomorrow. I’ll call you ok?”

“Sure.” Jennifer said as he walked out.

Once Alex left she angrily got dressed and stormed out the door. She was sick of this, and figured now she would probably get the reputation of being the crazy foreigner. When she saw the girl the first time, it was six door down. It looked like the same door the older couple was leaving the night she arrived. She pounded her fist on the door but there was no answer. She was sure no one else lived on this empty floor. She never saw any neighbors except those that lived in the floors above her. She thought she heard some Chinese being whispered, but there was no answer.

Back at her apartment, she went out onto the balcony. Each apartment had a small balcony with a two foot space between them. Being she was only on the second floor, it wasn’t too hazardous to leap from one balcony to the next. Still her old gymnastics lessons were useful as she leapt to the balcony of the empty apartment next to her. Without too much trouble she soon made her way to what she thought was the place the girl lived. She wondered if this was the way the girl got into her place, but she swore she always kept her balcony door locked. Her fingers touched the cold glass and she looked at the barren apartment inside. Sliding the door open, she stepped in. It was cold, her breath could be seen floating up to the ceiling. All the furniture was gone, and her footsteps made a ghostly echo through the kitchen. 

“Hello!” She called out to no answer. “I don’t appreciate you creeping around my apartment.” There was no answer. The apartment was layed out similar to hers. She went into the empty bedroom and looked around. No one was there. Then she jumped at the electric buzzing sound, it sounded like a telephone. It buzzed again, now she was able to trace the sound. It was coming from the closet. Was someone hiding there, calling for help. She didn’t care to think how she would explain herself, breaking into an empty apartment. She flung the closet door open and, just like the rest of the apartment, it was empty.

She did noticed a piece of paneling at the wall inside the closet appeared loose. She knelt down and managed to pull the piece away, exposing a small open space. She found a shoe box inside. Pulling it out, she took off the lid to find a set of photographs. She recognized some of them, they were her students. She gasped and dropped one of the pictures as she recognized both her students, and one other face, it was the face that had been haunting her since she’d arrived. Beneath the photos was an old cell phone, it was not operating though. Apparently the battery was dead. What was that noise she heard then? She didn’t know. 

Next she saw a smaller cardboard box covered in Chinese writing. She had learned some Chinese but not enough to read this. Once she looked inside the box and found the small rectangular plastic object, she presumed what the box had said. It was a home pregnancy test. 

“AHH!” Fay was always so dramatic when one of her students spoke Chinese incorrectly. Jennifer laughed and corrected herself. It was hard for most people to get the four tones correct in the Chinese language, but she was managing. She enjoyed the one on one class, and could understand why most foreigners in the area took lessons with her. After going through some language drills they broke into casual conversation about China and Chinese culture. It was then they touched on a familiar topic.

“So have people asked you if you’ve seen ghosts?” Fay asked.

“Yes,” she answered half amused. I’m from Los Angeles so I’m used to seeing people everywhere. It’s so weird to see a city like this that is so empty.

“I can’t imagine. I don’t think I would like Los Angeles. Too many people haha. But that is not the only reason they call it Ghost City. People say they’ve seen many strange things here.”

“So I’ve heard.”

Fay then pulled out a book of Chinese Folklore. “Are you familiar with Chinese Ghosts?” Jennifer was not. Fay opened the book to and pointed to several images of different ghost like figures. She explained what a few of them meant, but Jennifer wasn’t paying attention, as her eyes drifted to one image that was all too familiar. It was a young girl, her face was ghost like white, and she wore a long red dress. 

Fay noticed what her student’s gaze was on. “Ahh this is the Nu Gui.” She said, pointing to the red image. This is the ghost of someone who, how do you say, ah, killed themselves.”

“Suicide?”

“Yes yes suicide.” Fay said. “Often the person in life suffered some grave injustice, like being sexually abused.”

Jennifer felt a cold chill run through her whole body as she looked at the hauntingly familiar image. What was going on in this new place she had come to?

 

Hello everyone. As always I hope you have been keeping safe. Today is Canada day, so if any Canadians happen to be reading this on the day I post this then I want to wish you a happy Canada day. Later this week is the fourth of July so happy independence day to my fellow country men. 

 

I also want to thank wordpress reader morgantarot for being supportive of this series. I hope this newest chapter didn’t disappoint!

 

As always tune in every week for the latest additions to the blog verse. Next week is Jaguar, followed by Lights of Mirigan and the Flying Fox. There are five Wednesdays this month, so I’m going to be taking a week off. My mighty brain needs a rest after coming up with all these fantastic tales! In the meantime, please take care of yourselves and be safe. Until next time.

It was Saturday night and Jennifer was finally getting out. It had been a long week at her new school, though the adjustment didn’t seem too hard in retrospect. She reflected back as she looked out the taxi window to the empty streets. It was dark already, yet hardly any lights shined from the surrounding buildings as they were mostly empty. 

Kelly impressed her as she spoke Chinese, giving the driver directions to their destination. On a dimly lit but wide street they exited their taxi. Jennifer wondered where Kelly was taking her to as she was led towards a large ominous concrete building. Some of the windows on the first floor were smashed and covered with rotting plywood. “This is pretty typical.” Kelly said while she opened the door.. “Places look super shady on the outside but once you get in it’s really nice.”

Jennifer said nothing as some broken glass crunched below her feet. Inside, the only light in the coridoor was a dim red glow from the elevator light directly ahead. From what she could see the walls were a plain dirty white, occasionally tagged by graffiti. The ding of the elevator echoed though the hallway as the steel doors slid open. The girls stepped inside and Jennifer could see a blood stain on the grimy elevator floor. 

As the elevator ascended Jennifer could hear music blaring. “There’s a KTV here too. We’ll probably hit that later.” Kelly suggested.

“KTV?” 

“Oh sorry. Like Karekoke.” Kelly explained. 

“Oh, I see. Is that what they call it in Asia?”

“Well in China they call it KTV. When I was in Korea they called it Norea-bong.”

As soon as the doors opened  it was like stepping into another world. Spanish music was playing in the bar/restaurant. The walls were painted red and decorated with paintings both Chinese and Western. Inside were a small number of Chinese patrons, but the rest of the crowd seemed a mix of nationalities. Kelly walked her new friend to the bar and introduced her to the owner. “Hello,” the Chinese man said, “My English name is Ken. Welcome to Sky bar.” 

“Nice to meet you.” Jennifer smiled as she noticed an entrance to a balcony. 

“Yeah it’s too cold to go out there now,” Kelly explained, “but in the summer we have cookouts, Ken is a master on the grill!”

“Oh thank you!” Ken said excidedly. 

After they got some drinks Jennifer heard a familiar voice. “Oh, Jenny you made it!” She turned to see her co-worker Steve playing chess with a short man who, to her, looked Pakinstani. “Welcome welcome.” Steve said raising his Sprite. “This is my friend Sadik.” 

“Nice to meet you.” Sadik said, also raising his Sprite.

Across the restaurant Jennifer noticed a tall slender man among a crowd of foreigners.  Moving over to the group, Kelly introduced the man as Alex. “And where are you from?” Jennifer asked.

“I’m from planet Earth.” he said in earnest.

Kelly rolled her eyes as she’d heard this answer a million times, but Jennifer played along.

“Oh wow, and what is it like on planet Earth!”  

“It’s great!” Alex said matter of factly. “You should come see it sometime.”

“I’d like that.” 

Then they heard some cheering behind them. A few guys were watching something on a tablet. It looked like a garage, but there was a crowd of people gathered around in a circle. Through the tablet’s speakers they could hear cheering, as in the middle of the circle two women were fighting.

One man in glasses, whom Jennifer presumed was the owner of the tablet, said “I heard at this spot they have a South African bloke fighting.”

“Cool.” A man sitting next to him said. Then they noticed the two girls standing in front of them, one of them was a new face.

Kelly smirked as the two local casa novas rose to their feet.

“Forgive our manners girls,” the man with the glasses said.”welcome, have some pizza.”

The girls sat down in front of two large pizza pies. “My name’s Manie.” The man said as he gave Jennifer a plate with a slice on top. “Here you go Kelly.” The other man said as he handed her a plate. “And I’m Refi.”  his friend who was sitting next to him waved. 

Also at the table was a woman whose leather jacket matched the black of her hair. She smiled mischieviously as she’d seem this game played out many nights before. “Don’t mind these guys they’re harmless.” The woman said, before introducing herself as Nadia.

“Oh I’m sure they are.” Jennifer said as she looked back at the man from Earth. Then she looked back at the guys an observed, “I noticed your accents, I’m going to guess South African?”

“That’s right?” Manie smiled and nodded as Refi continued watching the fight on the tablet.

Another man approached. Like Nadia he had jet black hair, but it was long, went well past his shoulders. In fact his hair was nicer than that of any woman’s in the bar, something his friends often kiided him about. He took Jennifer’s hand and kissed it like an 18th century prince. He said in what she recognized as a Costa Rican accent. “And I am Fredrico, a pleasure to meet you.” The girls laughed and the boys hooted and hollered. Alex, finally with a bit of sarcasm in his voice, said “Wow Fredrico, you’re a real gentleman.”

Fredrico winked at him and said with a devilish smile, “Well my friend, the night is still young.”

The group ate and made small talk as another foreigner approached. “Oh so your Jennifer.” Kelly looked at her new friend with concern as Jennifer answered yes.

“Wow your hair is so pretty. Is that your natural color?”

Jennifer was at a rare loss for words. 

Undetered the man said “So you’re the new teacher at Hollwood English. What’s your degree in?”

“I just got my Bachelor’s in English education.” Jennifer immediately answered,

“Oh great. I have  Master’s in Education.” The man said dismissively.

“Good for you bud.” Alex said after finishing his beer. “Hey man can you get me another Harbin?” 

“Sure.” The man gave Jennifer a look of disdain as he walked away. 

“Pay Jerold no mind.” Refi said. “He just misses his buddy.”

“Doesn’t look like he misses him too much!” Fredrico laughed, observing Jerold talking to a Chinese man at the bar. Alex soon left to get his own drink.

The group talked a while longer, and later on Nadia asked  “So Manie, how do you like your new place?”

“Oh it’s great.” Manie said. I got lots more space and I got a nice balcony. Once I get settled in I’ll have everyone over.”

“A lot better than your last place right?” Refi said.

“Fuckin right.”

“What was wrong with your last place?” Jennifer asked.

The song playing over the speaker had ended, and for just a second it grew eerily quiet. Manie looked at her, not saying anything at first, but then he himself asked a question. “So, Jennifer,” he said, “have you seen any ghosts yet?”

She was startled at the question, and could only answer “What?”

“Well you know they call this a Ghost City right?” said Manie..

“Yeah.”

“It’s not just because the city is half empty.” Refi chimed in.

“What do you mean?”

Kelly nodded her head as she remembered the story Manie was about to tell. “One night,” Mani began. “I came home from Sky really drunk.”

“Imagine that!” Nadia slapped his arm cackling. Then the whole group followed in laughter and high fived their Russian friend.”

Manie had to cover his face he was laughing so much, but he soon resumed his story. “Anyway, one night, haha, one particular night I was really drunk. I stumbled into my place, the flat I used to have.”

“Manie struck out that night.” Rafi chimed in.

Pointing at Fredrico “You stole that Belarusian chic from me, I had her in the bag.” Manie protested while everyone laughed. 

Fredrico innocently shrugged his shoulders and said “Hey man, all is fair in love and war.”

Waving his had dismmisvely Manie continued “Anyway, anyway, I get to my place, my old place. I head straight to the toilet. I get there and I about pissed myself.”

“What happened?” Jennifer asked. 

“There was this big Chinese dude sitting in my bathtub! My school got me one of those old shitty apartments that still had the bathtubs instead of a shower, and this fat Chinese guy was sitting there like this.”  Manie dropped his arms flat to his sides and looked straight up in the air with an expressionless face. 

“You were probrably smoking some of that stuff Vlad got you.” Nadia said half joking. “I told you stay way from that character.”

“No, I wasn’t.” Manie answered. “Anyway, swear to god,” Manie looked back at Jennifer to continue his tale.” Swear to god, there was this big Chinese guy right there in my place!”

“Oh, what apartment is this again where you found a naked guy in your tub?” Jerold returned to the group. He was now wearing his coat, suggesting he would leave soon.

“Yeah I knew you would fucking like it.” Manie said shaking his hand. “Good night man.”

“Good night.” Jerold shook most everyone’s hand before leaving. “Nice to meet you.” He waved to Jennifer as he left with the man he’d drank at the bar with.

Looking back at his new friend Mani continued. “Anyway, anyway, this guy scared the shit out of me.” Motioning with his hands he explained “I literally fell down on the ground I was so shocked. I looked away for a moment, and when I looked back, poof he was gone.”

“That’s really weird.” Jennifer said. It certainly was a creepy story, but she kept her skepticism to herself. She reasoned that excess alcohol can make you hallucinate. She remembered her brother, he drank so much. The summer before he passed she remembered getting him home one night. It was awful. He was so drunk he thought he was seeing spaceships in the sky. He was babbling about, shouting something about Mira-go or something like that.

Jennifer had been lost in thought that she hadn’t notice Mani wasn’t finished telling his story.

“It was the chic from that music school.” Mani said, defiantly pointing at Fredrico. “I got you back that night you bastard!” Everyone laughed as he continued. “So anyway I get her as far as my door, and she starts freaking fuck out. She would not go in my place.”

“Maybe your reputation proceeds you!” Nadia kidded.

“Well luckily she lived in the same building.” Manie said. “So we went to her place.”

“That is some good luck my man!” Alex said.

“Anyway the point is, the next day she tells me. The last tenant before me, he killed himself in that apartment. It was a big Chinese guy, and he drowned himself in my fucking bathtub.”

For a moment it grew quiet again, as even those who had heard the story before still found it unsettling. Manie then looked at Jennifer with curiostiy. “So have you seen any ghosts?”

Hope everyone has enjoyed this newest chapter in what is now the third month of this project. Things have been slowly opening up more but we still have a long road ahead of us. Wherever you are and whatever you do, I hope you are keeping safe. I remember when I was a kid the Rodney King riots happening. Los Angeles was in flames, and it was a time to have dialogue about serious things like race relations and prejudice. Perhaps, in our youthful naiveness, some of us hoped that in 30 years we would have all this stuff figured out. Well, thirty years later, we are still dealing with police brutality, racism, bigotry, and basically all the same mess we’d been dealing with 30 years ago. I don’t have any answers, but I just want to wish you the reader well, and ask that we all take care of each other during what seems to be a difficult year for the whole world. 

Be sure to come back next week as Jaguar finally gets out in the field in Jaguar issue #3.

In two weeks, where are Fred’s strange abilities coming from and how do they connect to the strange lights of Melbourne. Find out in Lights of Mirgian issue #3.

The month of June will end with the Flying Fox #3. Diego fanangles a way to enter the secret world of underground fighting. Will he succeed, and if so at what price? Find out in the newest entries of the blog-verse. 

Jennifer smiled as she looked up from her journals as several elementary students came rushing into the office. “Candy, Candy!” they yelled.

“Oh look at these wonderful students.” said Steve, another foriegn teacher. Sitting at his desk, he put his hand up to his chin and mused. “They must want something. I wonder what it could be?”

“Candy candy!” They excitedly declared.  

“Candy! Oh my gosh, well let me see if I have any.” He opened up his bottom desk draw and the kids cheered as they saw a big bag of chocolates.

After the students ran out of the room with their prize Steve pointed to them pretending to be stern. “Now you behave in class now!”

Kelly entered the office carrying her books as the kids were leaving. Half laughing she said “You know the kids aren’t supposed to be in our office right?”

“It’s ok, it’s ok, because I am super-teacher!”  He said, proudly giving himself a thumbs up.

“Ha ha of course you are Sam.” Turning to Jennifer, Kelly asked “How has your first week going so far?”

“Pretty good.” Jennifer answered as she went through her students journals. “My ninth graders are pretty good. I’ve been going through their writing. It’s not too bad.”

“Yeah they are a good group. The Chinese teachers like them a lot too. Hey what are you doing after school the next few days?”

“Well I just have one more class then I want to finish cleaning this desk out. I’ll probably stay in tonight, I want to Skype with my family. Why?”

“That’s fine, well tomorrow night some of the foreigners that work at other schools are going out.” 

“That sounds great, I can do that.” 

“Would you like to come, Steve?” Kelly asked.

“Oh I would love to but my baby is sick so I have to stay home with my wife.”

“Oh I’m sorry to hear that.”

“That’s ok Kelly. Will you go to KTV?”   

“You know it.”

“Ah, I am so sorry I cannot go. Next time yes, because you know I am the best singer!”

“Just like you’re the best teacher!”

“You got it.”Sam said pointing back at Kelly while playfully winking at her.

 Later, back in the classroom, a question was asked. “Teacher, do you own a gun?” 

Jennifer was perturbed by this question. “No Leo, I don’t own a gun.”

“Why teacher? I thought Americans had gun.”

“No Leo, we don’t all own guns. I don’t like guns.”

“Why teacher, I like guns!” He formed his hand into a pistol. “I want gun!”

She had to bite her tongue in this moment.“Ok let’s move on with our lesson.” As she passed the student notebooks out Farrah came in, smiling from ear to ear.”

“Linda, you’re are late.”     

Gesturing playfully with her hand “I was in Brad’s office.” Jennifer then continued her lesson. Occasionally she had to correct Farrah for being on her phone or not paying attention, but for the most part the class went well. She did notice Deborah, who was missing the first day she taught them, was really quiet. After class Jennifer approached her desk, Deborah sat looking down at her phone. Jennifer noticed the picture on the phone’s screen. She didn’t recognize the girl at first, but it was Deborah, with a big smile on her face. Next to her was another young Chinese girl whom Jennifer did not recognize. 

“Are you ok Deborah.” The student gave no answer as she quicky put her phone away while giving the teacher a look, saddness mixed with a dash of anger. 

“Sorry teacher” Meera said as she gave Deborah a friendly pat on the shoulder. Meera said soemthing to her in Chinese and they both left the room.

Back in the teachers office Jennifer was now cleaning out her desk. The last teacher left a lot of papers and knick knacks behind. While throwing out some papers she noticed a small envelope with a note inside. Curiosity got the better of her and she decided to read it.

“I know you say we cannot be together, but we need to be together. You are my star. You are my star and we must be together. I dream of going to Hollywood with you. Let us go to America and we will both be star, We must my love, we must. Meet me at secret place and I tell you why we must be together.” 

It read like a students writing, and from the pensmenship she suspected it was a girls writing. The note gave Jennifer an uneasy feeling, and she decided to talk to her supervisor.

Brad looked very sad as he sat at the desk reading the note. “I am sorry you found this.”

“What is it?” Jennifer asked, sitting down in his office. 

“Well you see, Sam was a good teacher, the students miss him.” Brad explaind. “But he had a, ina-, how to say, he had a relationship with a student that, it wasn’t proper.”

Jennifer’s stomach turned as she immediately got the implication. “With one of my students?” She asked, her disgust simmering beneath the surface.

 “Well, she’s, she’s not hear anymore.” 

“Did she go to another school?”

He folded up the letter. Thank you for showing this to me. Please don’t speak of this, the students will be really upset.” Jennifer nodded as she pondered the situation. Brad then stood up and said”We should close the office now. Have a good evening.”

Walking back to her apartment, she didn’t see anyone as she looked down the hallway this time. Coming in, she was relieved that her landlord finally got her a working modem. Since she arrived she had to use the school’s computers to email her family, but those computers were old and slow and the internet service wasn’t the best. She turned her laptop on and finally saw the icon lit up, indicating that she was at last online.

“It’s so good to see you honey. Are you doing ok?” Her mom appeared on the small box on her screen.

“Yes I am how are you?”

“Oh we’re all fine here. Dad is working a lot. You’re Uncle Johnny was asking about you. He was worried you were getting brainwashed.”

“No mom it’s fine. They treat us ok here.”

“Are you learning Chinese?”

“I was referred to a tutor so I’ll be starting soon.”

“Sounds interest.” She could tell her mom’s eyes were scanning what she could see of the apartment. “Well your apartment is lovely, it looks brand new!”

“Well it’s a few years old, but actually I am the first person that lived here.”

“That’s amazing. The ladies at work can’t believe how there’s no people where you live. We thought you’d be stuffed like sardines.”

“How is your friend Linda doing?”

“She is great. Looks like her daughter is going to the  Valentine’s Day dance”

“Oh really? She has a boyfriend?” Jennifer remembered when Linda was just a little girl.

“Well I don’t know if it’s a boyfriend yet but she’s been talking about maybe going with some boy.”

“Aww that’s cute. I do miss them.”

“So you don’t miss us huh?” Her mom said sarcastically.

“Oh mom of course I do.”

“I know honey. Listen I know you did what you had to do. We don’t want you to feel guilty about leaving after Reggie passed. We all have to carry on in our own way. You just have a good time over there and be safe.”

“Thanks mom.” 

“Sure honey. We love you.” Then her head turned, as if she was trying to peer over Jennifer’s shoulder. “What is that?” she asked.

“What is what?” Jennifer turned around to see nothing unusual behind her.

“I don’t know I thought I saw something for a moment. Oh well, must be getting old!” She jested.

“Must be.” Then Jennifer’s doorbell rang. “Oh that’s probably my dinner. I’m getting something delivered. I’ll be right back.”

Jennifer went to the door and it was a delivery person from the Muslim restaurant down the street. Steve recommended it to her and she took an immediate liking to it. In fact this was the third meal from them she had since he’d been there. After she payed for her food she closed the door and heard her mom shouting through the computer. 

“Mom what’s wrong?” when she ran back to her laptop she saw the screen flicker for a moment.

“Who is in your room?” Her mom asked.

“What?” Jennifer asked as she sat down.

“Do you have a student there?”

“What are you talking about?” Jennifer asked as she looked around her empty apartment.

“There’s a girl in there!” Her mom insisted. “She looked right at me. Her face was so pale it scared the hell out of me!”

“Mom there’s no one in here.”

“I’m teling you there was a girl in your room. She had a red dress on and her face was as white as a ghost. She looked pretty young so I assumed it was a student. The image on my screen flickered out for a moment, and then her face was really big on my screen, like she was looking right at me, Then the screen flickered out again and she was gone.”

“I don’t know mom, the internet here isn’t the best,” Jennifer attempted to rationalize., “maybe something went haywire with the connection.

“Honey I’m just telling you what I saw. It scared the hell out of me.”

Unpacking her dinner Jennifer said “Ok well I have to eat, I’ll chat with you later ok.”

“Ok well have a good day.”

“I already had a good day.” Jennifer laughed. “It’s evening time here.”

“Oh that’s right!” Her mom clapped her hands together laughing. “Well good night. I feel so weird saying that now.” Then they hung up.

Immediately Jennifer sprang to her feet and looked around her small apartment. There weren’t many places to hide. She felt anxious but also embarrassed as she looked in her closets and out on the balcony. This brought back memories of when she thought as a child that there were monsters under her bed. Even at that age her little brother wasn’t scared of anything. He would eagerly look under her bed and in her closet with his toy sword, excitedly hoping to find some monster he could fight. Her anxiety dropped into grief as she remembered that even at that age he was so fearless. He would have been disappointed here as well, as her apartment was empty except for her. 

Hope everyone has been safe through these trying times. Hopefully better days are ahead! Thanks for supporting this story, and tune in next month for issue three of the blogvere’s most popular tale, Ghost City!

Next week, the return of Jaguar! What do Jaguar’s benefactors want, and will she accept their help?

In two weeks the Lights of Mirigan are back on. What are the mysterious lights over Melbourne, and what is their connection to the local extremist group?

Was that something about a Valentines dance I heard in this issue? Will Diego have a hot date, or will he be caught up in this newly discovered word of underground fighting? Find out in the next issue of Flying Fox, coming in three weeks. The blogverse is on a roll!

Greetings. This is a new experiment I am trying. Each Wednesday I will add a chapter to a short story, there will be four short stories over all. The stories that people like I will continue, stories that are not as successful will be replaced. Enjoy!

“Are you Russian?” he asked.

“No, why would you think I’m Russian.”  

Looking at her pretty blonde hair in the rear view mirror, the taxi driver smiled and said “You look Russian, haha. Where are you from?” 

“America.”

“Ahhh, America.” he said.

The sun was setting over the city, the yellow ball was dwarfed by the large concrete apartment buildings that went speeding past in a blur of gray and brown color. Conscious of the speed they were travelling Jennifer soon realized the highway was almost empty, which the taxi driver could tell surprised her.  “I know.” he said. “You were expecting a lot of people.”

She remembered how packed and stuffy the Beijing Airport was when she arrived there, and the thick smog that was visible through the windows. The Ordos Ejin Horo airport that she just arrived at appeared so modern and new, and surprisingly, was almost empty. “Yeah I thought China had a billion people?” She said as she looked out into the clear sky.

“Over a billion.” he answered. “Cities like Beijing, Shanghai, very big, too big, haha. But this is a new city. So, I have to ask you something. Do you believe in Ghosts?”

“What?”

“This is a Ghost City.”

“What do you mean?”

“We have a few of them in China. Government built some new cities, but not many people moved into them.” The sun was set now, and the city was a vast stretch of blackness peppered with a few extremely bright balls of light. They rode past large concrete apartment buildings with only a few scattered lights visible from the outside. “I see.” Jennifer said. “It looks like hardly anyone lives here.”

“There used to be even less people, haha. We have amusement parks, concert halls, many wonderful things in Ordos, but not enough people to enjoy them. I hope you can enjoy them while you stay here.”

“I hope so too.”  

The taxi pulled off of the highway, passing a shopping mall the driver explained. “My cousin has a toy store in that shopping mall. Five story mall, but hardly any customers. You should go there sometime.” 

“I will.” she humored him.

“So are there any ghosts in the ghost city?” She playfully asked.

“Why, you want to see ghosts?” 

“Haha well I don’t know.” She said as she looked at the near empty downtown area.

“My mother always said, how do I say, don’t ask for something unless, unless, uh, my father said dont ask for something unless you really want it?”

“He sounded like a smart man.” she observed.

Soon they pulled up to one of the dark apartment buildings. There was a moving truck that obscured the view of the address on the building. The driver rolled down the window, a blast of winter air hit as he asked the truck driver in Chinese if this was the correct building. After affirming that it was the driver said “Here we are. I will go to the office and get the landlord” The driver ran inside. Jennifer got out of the car and looked up at the building towering over her in the darkness. Only a few sparse lights shown from above. She didn’t hear any traffic, pedestrian or otherwise. What she did here, was the sound of a woman crying. By the truck she noticed a middle aged woman standing on the sidewalk. Her hands covered her face desperately trying to hold back tears. Jennifer wanted to say something, but she knew next to no Chinese. 

She felt a hand on her arm before she heard the voice. “Come on, it’s ok come on.””the driver said as he opened the trunk and took out her heavy luggage. As she grabbed a smaller bag herself she saw a young girl in a school uniform walk out of the apartment and console the woman, though he looked like she was upset as well. 

Approaching the entrance, the driver stopped and pointed to a building across the street. Jennifer could see the neon glow piercing the night sky. “See that over there?” he said. “That’s Hollywood English. That’s where you will go tomorrow.”

“Ok thank you.” She couldn’t help but laugh a bit at the gaudy nature of the sign, it looked like the old movie theaters where the actresses names were up in lights.

Moving inside, the driver helped carry her luggage to the elevator and to her new apartment. “We could have taken the stairs.” She observed as he pushed button #2.” 

“It’s ok. If no one uses this elevator,” he jested with an exageratted expression, “It might die! Haha.”

“Oh no I don’t want it to die!” She joked back as the bell rang to the second floor.

Back home she would have hated living in a place like this, because every room would have been packed with people blasting their music, watching TV too loud, yelling, arguing, fighting, doing meth and whatever else. Here it was eerily quiet, Coming off the elevator, the usually grave silent hallway was now filled with the echoes of footsteps and the rolling sound of the luggage wheels. It was dark except for the light from the drivers phone, which he used to find her apartment. “Well this is your place.” The driver said.

“Thank you very much.” She said in relief as she paid him his fare.

“Thank you.” He took the money and added “Nice to meet you.”

‘Nice to meet you too.” The hallway was again black as the driver put his phone in his pocket and walked away.

Opening her apartment door she hit the lights. Her first impression of the place was that it was small, but it looked brand new. For all she knew she may have been the first person living here. It didn’t sound like she had neighbors on either side, but as she brought her stuff in she heard a sound. Back in the hallway a light now glowed from the very end of the dead hallway. A man came out of one of the rooms carrying a box. She watched as he turned around, and before closing the door the he just stared into the room. For a moment she thought maybe he was talking to somebody, but it was again eerily silent. The man stood there in the gloomy hallway, bathed by the light coming from the open door. His posture was slumped, his head facing down solomley. The picture before her looked like an image from theater. The man then reached his arm back into the room, and presumably flipped a switch as the light now extinguished. 

She gasped as the silence was broken from the sound of the door shutting. Footsteps again flooded the hallway as she could see the black silloutte of the man approaching her with his box. He again came into the light  as he drew near her apartment. He appeared a similar age to the woman outside, and himself wore a forelourgn expression. No eye contact was made as he passed, and she felt no inclination to say anything. 

As he passed she looked back down the hallway, at the end of which was a large window. Through what little light shown through she could see another shape looking back. She could tell it was a girl as it appeared to be wearing a dress. It seemed she had a neighbor after all. She smirked to herself for a moment, as he observed the deep shadow like silloute wore a head of long straight hair. Her brother would have got a kick out of this, as it looked like something straight out of those Japanese ghost movies he liked. “Ni Hao.” she said. 

Then the footsteps stopped, she turned around to see the man stopped near the stairwell. He remained silent, but looked at her for a moment, his expression unchanged,  before descending down the steps. 

When she looked back the girl had vanished. Assuming she went back inside, Jennifer closed the door and soon went to bed.

Late into the afternoon the following day she met her Chinese boss. “Hello, welcome to Hollywood English! “He said in the school office. “This is an after school program. Students come here after school to get extra study. You can call me Brad. Like Brad Pitt!” he said, triumphantly raising his fist. 

“Uh sure.”

“So do you speak any Chinese?”

“No sorry?” she said sheepishly.

“It’s ok. If you want to learn some Chinese, I can reccomend a tutor. For now don’t worry,  our student’s English level is very good. Their a; how to say, weak point is writing. Can you help them with that?”

“Well that was my major, so I sure hope so.”

“Ah very good,” Brad said. “Come this way, I will show you to your teacher’s office.”

Jennifer never expected to have an office. Teacher’s didn’t have offices in America, but here she she would go to the different students classrooms instead of them coming to her. Entering the office she saw another head of blonde hair. “This is Kelly.” Brad introduced the two as they exchanged pleasntries before Brad led her to her desk. “This is your desk.” He explained. “We only have a few foreign teachers, and you will all share this office. We are a small school, but we hope to expand our operation this year.” 

“Sounds good.” She said, noticing a stack of books and other items.  “So this is my stuff.”

“Yes, this was Sam’s desk. Sam had to uh, had to leave our school, so this is yours now. You will teach grade nine.” Brad then proceeded to go over the curriculum materials, and before she knew it she was in front of a group of ninth graders.

“You will teach grade nine. They are very good students. You will like them very much.” He proceeded to show her the curriculum they would be using, the students books, other materials, and before she knew it she stood in front of a group of 14 year olds.  

“Oh you are so pretty!”

“Oh so beautiful!” Another girl said.

“You are very handsome!” A boy said.

“Teacher is a girl.” a student she would come to know a Meera scolded. “You say she is beautiful, not handsome.”

“It’s ok.” Jennifer laughed. “Well I am teacher Jennifer, it is nice to meet you. I am from America, and I will be your new English teacher.”

“Where are you from in America?” Another student excitedly asked.

“I’m from Los Angeles California.”

A student named Denny asked “Do you like the LA Lakers.”

“Yes I do actually! I went to their games many times.”

“Oh wow you must be rich!” Denny said in awe.

“Haha no I am not rich.”

“I like the Golden State Warriors.” Denny proudly proclaimed. “Do you like them?”

“I sure do!” Jenny gave a thumbs up, humoring him. Now let me take the roll. The students had English names which she read aloud. Susan

was the first name she called that wasn’t present.

“She die!” Jerry joked.

“She died, oh no!” Jenny playfully over reacted.” to which the students laughed. Later she came to Deborah.

“She die!” Jerry said, laughing again.

“Don’t say that!” Meera scolded. “Teacher, Deborah won’t be here today. Also Linda student won’t be hear anymore.” Jerry wore a devilish smile but didn’t say anything.

“How helpful, thank you Jenny. She finished taking toll when she noticed a hand was up.

“Yes?” She aksed.

“Do you have any brothers or sisters?” another student inquired.

Jenny grew quiet for a moment, but she figured this would come up eventually. “Um, well, I had a brother.

“Did he die!” Jerry asked with eager anticpiation.

“Yes he did actually.”

“Jerry!” Meera scolded.

“Oh, I’m sorry teacher.” Jerry said in genuine regret.

“It’s ok, Jerry. Let’s just move on. Who wants to learn English!”

Jennifer always heard how good Asian kids were. It appeared to be true, at least here anyway. Her first day on the job was fairly pleasant, but she was still tired. Kelly invited her out for some drinks but she declined. She just wanted to sleep.

She was used to being wary of dark places. Back in her apartment building she found herself hurrying up the stairwell to get to her place. The sound of her footsteps thundered through the stairwell. Rushing to her apartment door she found herself laughing at her predicament. Reaching for her key she looked down the hallway. The sun had long set as it was near midnight. Near the window at the end of the cooridor, through a sliver of moonlight she could again see the form of a girl peering back at her. 

“Hello.” Jennifer said, opening her door. “I guess we’re neighbors huh?”

The black form remained noiseless, it’s shadowy long hair flowed to the sides. Jennifer looked away and removed her key from the door. When she looked back, the shape was gone.

“How rude.” She thought to herself. It was then she felt a deathly chill behind her. She turned to see the visage of a young girl. It’s unearthly black eyes contrasted to the pale whiteness of its skin. The moved toward her and Jennifer let out a loud shriek that could be heard through the entire complex. 

She rushed inside and slammed the door behind her. Sitting down at the inside of the door, she took a moment to catch her breath. “This is ridiculous.” She thought to herself. “What did that kid think she was doing?” Her legs trembled as she forced herself to rise back up to her feet. Sweat formed at her brow as she slowly drew closer to the key hole. Placing her eye against the door, she at first could only see darkness outside. The blackness grew even deeper as it was surrounded by a circle of white, dead white flesh. It was the eye of the girl looking back at her, as if it could see Jennifer as clear as day. 

Jennifer screamed again as she jumped back and fell to the foor. She watched the door rattle and shake as she could hear the child attempting to turn the knob. 

“What do you want!” She pleaded.

The shaking stopped, and the last thing she heard was a pair of footsteps running back down the hallway.

Tune in next week for hard hidding action in Jaguar. A South African woman faces hard times in prison for crimes against her nation. But one day she gets help from a mysterious source. Who are they and what do they want?

In two weeks comes Azzaroth, a tale of Nazis and UFO’s from the land down under!

Landing three weeks from now is the Flying Fox. The grandson of a Fabled Mexican Wrestler, a Los Angeles teenager stumbles into the world of underground fighting.

Come back in 30 days for Ghost City part two! Who is the strange girl Jennifer has seen, and what is her connection to her new school and the other foreigners she meets?