Genre: I just wrote and hoped for the best.
Word Count: 1146.
Description: They always had numbers from zero to the uncountable, what is this stranger doing on the bench with a minus one above his head?
There were always numbers, the same place on every person. The number was never the same for two people. Some would count down the very seconds before your very eyes and some would be simple still numbers, no counting down, just how many days that person had left to live.
Because they all had two things in common. It told you how long the person had to live and it was always above their head, like individual ticking time bombs that all had their own way of counting down.
In your life you had seen people with seconds, years, decades left to live, it always scared you when someone was on the verge of death, but that normally happened when you were in hospitals. The numbers had always been positive, sometimes beyond what you had the ability to count or what you could transfer from days to years in your own head. You had grown accustomed to it, you saw it everywhere you went, the numbers were above the head of your closest friends, your parents and teachers, it was even on animals, it was normal for you.
And you soon learned that only you could see this, your parents thought you were out of your mind when you would tell them there were numbers getting smaller on the people you saw most often. In their eyes you were out of your mind, in your eyes, it was strange that they couldn’t see what you saw.
But one day it got worse, you began seeing the people that everyone else couldn’t see, the ones that used to have numbers above their head and were now aimlessly wandering the earth without the knowledge of the people around them. Because they were dead, you saw them at their best stage in life, they all returned to their better days, when their bodies and minds were at their best before their life was taken from them.
And whenever you saw them there was always a zero above their heads, faded and no longer needed, unlike the numbers you saw on living people, a strong black or a vibrant red when there wasn’t much time left.
It was when you were walking alone that you paid most attention to them, at times like now, when there were still a few people around but they were never looking at you. You stared at the way their numbers were dead, just like them and you watched as they tried to tell you things. You were following one of them now, it wasn’t your smartest idea, but when you saw a ghost gesturing for you walk with them, to tag along on the journey, you couldn’t turn them down, you never could.
You could tell good from evil spirits, it wasn’t hard like people believed, and they couldn’t deceive you so easily now that you had been seeing them for so long. This man, this old man you were following, he looked genuinely distressed, puzzled beyond his soul’s capability and in dire need of another person to hear him out. And that’s how you found yourself following him, to the naked eye you looked like you were new, taking a curious self-directed tour of the area as you watched your surroundings. In reality, your eyes casting to and frow were caused by this man who seemed he couldn’t gravitate in a straight line.
You were a student, you were studying for your future dream job at the moment, you didn’t really have time to waste on following spirits who wanted to take those few who could see them on a stroll. But then again this was no stroll, especially not when the old man was waving for you to hurry up. Why did he look so old? You had never seen someone so old, that particular curiosity made you pick up your pace to walk closely behind him so you could examine him more.
He came to a sudden stop and you would have walked straight through him if you hadn’t trained yourself to be prepared for their sudden stops. Spirits liked to randomly halt in where they were going just so they could float around in the air before zooming off again as if they were imagining they were some sort of car fueling up and taking off again. And that’s exactly what this man did, he looked around, peeking into the windows of study halls and lecture halls before looking at you and gravitating himself away again.
“For real? I don’t have time for this” You sighed, but you didn’t stop following him, you just held onto your bag tighter and jogged after him in an attempt to catch up with him. You walked in silence behind him, and just when you were about to tell him you had homework to be doing he stopped, turned his head to face you and pointed into the distance. Not too far away from where you stood, you saw him, a boy your age laying on one of the benches outside.
“What? Is something wrong with him?” You asked but the man only gestured for you to move closer, so you did as you were told to do. You slowly approached the male, his eyes were closed and his head was resting on his folded arm beneath it. You were just out of hearing range, or so you thought. And that was when you saw it, his number. It caused your heart to stop and your mouth was left hanging open in shock. You shook on the spot, you didn’t know what to do with yourself, but you knew you weren’t here to deal with this, at least you wouldn’t be much longer.
“Ah!!” You screamed, and that made the rest of your body move into action, you turned on your feet and practically ran with the spirit repeatedly appearing in front of you in an attempt to make you go back. The boy on the bench jolted into a sitting position to see you running away, his ears pricked as he heard you growling at something in a distressed rush of words
“No spirit dude I’m not going back, this isn’t my business and that’s not my problem or yours to deal with” You snapped, repeating yourself to him over and over again, until you were slamming the door to your campus dorm through his body and he disappeared in defeat as you threw yourself onto your bed.
You were left pulling the blankets over your body and you kicked your shoes off your feet. Your body continued to shake as you pulled the blanket over your head and clenched your eyes shut tightly.
Because that boy had a number above his head like no other.
He had a minus one. And it was just as bright and healthy as her best friends.
I remember being so nervous about this series when I first wrote this!