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A Gift

Misty was a writer; and she wrote horror. She was an expert on the subject, even though Misty never wrote a ghost story, surprisingly. One day she decided to write one, but could not think of anything to write about. Misty decided to write about one of the ghosts that she personally had seen.

She was going to write about Suntree Apartments, but Misty needed a little background on the area. She went to the library to find out information on St. Johns in the 1800’s. The librarian gave her some papers and a couple of books. As Misty was going through the research, the librarian came back with an old book.

“I found this book buried under some of the other books, maybe it will help,” she said.

Misty thanked the woman and went back to her reading. When she was done with all the material, Misty looked at the old book next to her. She carefully picked it up and laid it in front of her. The cover read, ’The History of St. Johns Ancestors’. Misty turned the pages slowly, not wanting to rip the aged paper. She stopped and stared at a picture.

Her mouth gaped open; Misty was in shock. She quickly got up and copied the picture and the article with it. She grabbed her stuff and drove home quickly.

Brian, Misty’s husband, looked up from the television when she barged through the door. “What’s wrong with you?”

Misty ran up to him and put the papers she had copied in his face. “It’s him, it’s really him. I can’t believe it, it’s really him!”

“Who?” Her husband looked bewildered.

The excitement even brought her children into the room, seven-year-old Jessika and three-year-old Justin.

“What’s going on?” Jessika asked.

“The old guy on the porch, the guy I saw at Suntree,” Misty began excitedly.

“What about him?” Brian knew all about the curse.

“I was at the library getting some research on St. Johns. The librarian brought a real old book about the ancestors of St. Johns. I was looking through it when I saw this,” Misty said as she held out the paper. On it was an old man sitting on a chair. He was on the front porch of a two story white house. “This is the guy I saw at Suntree.”

Brian took the paper and studied it. “It does look like the description you gave us. Have you read the article on him?”

“No. I just saw him and came right home after I copied it. What does it say?”

“It says: Jasper Alcott was a prominent man who lived in the woodsy area to the south-west of town. He lived alone after his wife, Edith, passed away. A mystery surrounds this sixty-one year old man. He disappeared on July 5, 1855.”

“Blood found on his porch was the only clue to his demise. Who murdered him, no one knows. His killer and his body were never found. Rumor had it that he had a bag of gold coins. His killer may have been trying to get it from Jasper. The gold is only a legend; nobody has ever found the gold coins.”

“Wow, he disappeared.” Misty was fascinated.

Brian smiled, “That’s probably why he wanted your help. It sure seems he needs your help to find his body and that gold of his.”

“The gold is only a legend, there isn’t any. His body though, we could never find that now,” Misty said.

“We could, we do know that there is no building on the spot. His bones would’ve been dug up when they did the foundations.” Brian was interested.

“The whole area is large, how could we find buried bones. It would be like a needle in a haystack.” Misty was not as excited as Brian.

“Let’s get your mom to watch the kids and go to Suntree apartments,” Brian was up and started getting ready to leave.

Misty could not get excited. Her mother was more than happy to watch the kids. “Some help she is,” Misty thought to herself.

She sat in their Ford Explorer and headed towards the place where Misty dreaded the most. “How are we supposed to find a burial place from centuries ago? Odds are against us,” Misty said.

“We will,” Brian said.

Some people say that she has a gift, but Misty thought differently.

“I’m cursed,” she would say. Misty saw things that nobody else could see. She was able to predict fires and see ghosts. Misty repressed her gift-curse after she could not stop a tragedy from happening.

She had lived in an apartment complex, when she was twelve years old; six buildings surrounded a courtyard. Her bedroom window was a perfect place to see people in the courtyard and see the other buildings. Across the street was a little park where the children would play.

Misty spent a lot of time out there, keeping an eye on some of the little children. Misty was especially fond of Elizabeth, she was two years old and adorable. Her brother Andrew was four years old. Their parents always sent them outside alone. Therefore, Misty took it upon herself to watch out for them, especially her precious Elizabeth. Misty found out the hard way that she could not always protect her.

The night when Misty’s gift ended and her curse began was a normal night like any other. Misty lay on the couch and watched television. She was comfortable and enjoyed a movie. Suddenly Misty felt warm and she was getting warmer. Soon she was hot, the heat became unbearable. Sweat fell off her body; her clothes became wet. Misty sat up, flames jumped up all around her. She wanted to scream out, but Misty could not. She thought that she would burn to death.

Flames of red and orange danced all around her. All she could do was sit and watch, as the flames grew taller. Suddenly as quickly the heat started, it ended. Then the cold came. Misty wrapped her arms around herself; she shivered. There was darkness, where just a few seconds ago was an inferno. Everywhere she looked was a black void.

Misty could not see. As she began to panic even more, it was over. The blackness faded, she saw the light from the lamp.

Everything in the apartment was there untouched. The movie still played and Misty warmed up, back to her normal temperature. She laid back down, in shock. “What the hell was that?” Misty put the strange incident out of her mind and finished watching her movie. After the movie, she went to bed.

During the night, Misty heard something in her dreams. Horror ran through her body. She sat up in bed and screamed, “fire!” She jumped out of bed and ran to her window. Misty looked out, she saw someone running around the courtyard. He was screaming but Misty could not hear what he said. She looked to her left and began to shake. “Fire!” Misty repeated over and over becoming louder until she screamed it. Her mother came into the bedroom to calm Misty, even though she was visibly upset herself.

Misty continued to stare out the window, as she watched the firefighters put out the blaze. As the fire slowly disappeared, dread filled her up. Misty knew what apartment the flames were taking over. Guilt began to ease into her consciousness.

A firefighter came around checking out the other buildings. Misty asked the dreaded question, his answer stabbed her in the heart. The blade twisted deep into her soul, with each word.

He told her, “A four year old boy played with matches and started a fire. The four year old survived but we couldn’t save his two year old sister, she died in the fire.”

Misty screamed; her sweet Elizabeth was gone. Misty believed she could have prevented it. She saw and gone through everything Elizabeth went through.

That morning, depressed and angry with herself, Misty went for a walk in the courtyard. She looked up at the gutted out black apartment. Appearing before her eyes was a little girl looking out from the wreckage. Elizabeth stared down at her with sad eyes. Misty knew her spirit would never rest. It was all Misty’s fault. The ghost disappeared. Misty’s curse had begun. It was over; she had decided to block the curse from ever happening again. Misty had succeeded. Through the years, she never felt what she did that night. Misty never saw flames or felt the cold and darkness again.

The other part of the curse, Misty could not block. Most of the time she would ignore it; the ghosts scared Misty. She would sometimes tell them to leave her alone, and if other people were around Misty would get many strange looks. Some people believed her to be insane, because no one else could see them.

Once word spread around, people would want her to talk to their dead friends and relatives. She would tell them that the spirits came to her; she did not go searching for them.

The most haunted place in St. Johns was Suntree Apartments. Rumors about the place been told many times, strange things were always happening. The land that the complex sat on had many restless spirits.

One time Misty and some friends visited someone at the apartments. They were all sitting in the living room talking, when Misty saw something. She saw a white two-story house. There was a wide porch with four pillars in the front. On the porch, standing in front of the wooden steps was an old man. He was about six feet and muscular. His gray hair was short and his dark skin wrinkled. He looked to be about sixty years old.

He wore a white shirt, with the sleeves rolled up to the elbow. He had on worn out blue jeans and on his feet was a pair of weathered brown work boots. He spoke to her, “help me, please, help me.”

Misty tried her best to ignore him but he kept pleading with her. She gave up and said to him, “I can’t help you, leave me alone!” He faded away. Misty again saw the living room and everyone stared at her. Only one person at the apartment knew of Misty’s curse and that was her best friend, Kim.

Another incident at the apartment complex was a few years later. Kim moved into one of the apartments. Misty had a hard time staying there. If she did not see anything, she would always feel it. Misty would get sick to her stomach and have difficulty breathing. She would know something or someone was there. Misty did see a presence in her friend’s apartment. A young, handsome Indian stood in the shadows of the corner.

There were other places on and off through the years, that she saw ghosts. Misty would ignore them until they went away. She did not want anything to do with her sixth sense. It was a curse.

Too soon, Brian and Misty pulled into the apartment complex. There was eight, two story buildings scattered all over. There was one big building, which housed the older people. All sides of the parcel of land were streets and restaurants, except on one side that was a small woods and a creek.

“So what apartment were you in when you saw the old guy?” Brian asked Misty.

Misty looked around, all the buildings looked alike. “That was a long time ago, I don’t remember.”

“Well, we will just walk around the grounds and see what happens, or manifests itself.” Brian looked at Misty.

She knew what he meant; he wanted to walk around so the ghost will show itself to her again. Then she was to talk to it. Misty was not thrilled about seeing a ghost again.

She did not like them; they had scared her excessively much. Especially one spirit long ago of a little girl; Misty shook away the memory and ran to catch up to Brian.

“Feel anything, Mist?” Brian asked.

“Yes, I’m feeling stupid!” She answered.

He stopped, looked at her and said, “funny, aren’t we?”

Misty was just about to say something when she froze. A spine tingling chill went through her, her stomach started turning and breathing became difficult. “Oh, shit!”

Brian knew that faraway look; he ran back to the truck and got a shovel. He returned to Misty’s side and waited anxiously. Her eyes were off in the distance, seeing something that was only in the past.

He looked around and saw nothing out of the ordinary. One side of him was the apartments and on the other side was the woods and creek. Brian looked at Misty and waited.

Misty saw the two story white house with the porch. The old man, Jasper Alcott, was not standing by the steps; he was sitting on a chair. She felt someone beside her; Misty turned her head slowly and saw a man. He was in his thirty’s and had black hair. He wore a red and black checkered flannel shirt and dirty blue jean overalls.

He did not look Misty’s way as he walked up to the house.

Jasper stood up and walked to the steps. The other man walked toward him. Jasper stepped back as the other man walked up the stairs. Misty could not hear the voices, but could tell they were arguing.

Suddenly Misty saw the younger man pull out a Bowie knife and began to stab at Jasper. Misty wanted to scream, but she could not as blood flew all around her. The murderer stopped when Jasper fell down, dead on the porch. The younger man dragged Jasper off the porch and toward Misty. He walked past her and continued toward the creek, but what she saw was not a creek; it was a small river. The man let go of the body and it dropped. Misty could not see Jasper’s face, but knew she did not want to anyway. The other man disappeared.

Brian watched Misty, then to where she stared. Try as hard as he could, he did not see anything. After about ten minutes of waiting, Misty turned slowly as if she was watching someone or something. She then stopped when she faced the creek. That was all the movement Misty did, so he continued to wait.

Misty was startled when the man reappeared again, with a shovel. He began to dig a hole. He dug awhile and then he kicked the dead body into the shallow grave; than he began to fill the hole in. After the man finished, he disappeared.

Misty stared at the fresh grave, when Jasper sat up in it. Misty jumped. He rose up and stood on his own grave. Misty walked hesitantly toward the grave, toward Jasper.

Brian saw Misty jump and then began to walk; he followed. Misty stopped, pointed down and told him to dig. Brian obeyed and began to dig. He heard a voice behind him, Brian and Misty both jumped and turned; a real man stood there.

“What the hell are you two doing?” The man asked.

“Digging for buried treasure,” Brian said with a sheepish grin.

Misty spoke up, “Jasper Alcott was murdered and buried here.”

“Who?” The man asked.

Brian said to the man, “just humor her.”

“Alright, but you better fill that hole in when you’re done.”

“We will, thank-you,” Brian said and continued to dig.

He dug for a while, Misty and the other man watched. There was a thud, he had hit something and lifted it up. It was a bone. The other man quickly became interested and joined Brian in the hole; soon Brian was holding a skull in his hands.

“How did you know? When did this happen?” The man asked wide-eyed.

“In 1855,” Misty said.

The man climbed out of the hole and said, “I need to get the police, I think!” He ran toward an apartment.

Brian continued to dig for the whole skeleton as Misty watched. A shiver crept down her spine and she turned: Jasper was there, again. She did not think about how scared she was of ghosts; Misty decided to talk to him, “who did this to you?”

“Angus Sullivan.”

“Why?” Misty asked.

Jasper walked across the creek and stopped. He pointed down. “Dig.”

Misty grabbed the shovel from her husband, walked across the creek, and started to dig where he indicated. She hit something.

Misty reached her hand in the hole; Brian walked up and crouched next to her. She felt something soft; Misty grabbed it and pulled it out. It was a medium sized drawstring bag, made out of black velvet. Misty opened it and poured the contents in her hands.

A bunch of shiny gold coins filled her hand and there was more in the bag. Brian and Misty looked at each other, shock showed on both faces.

Misty looked up at Jasper; he smiled for the first time and said, “Thank-you.” Then he disappeared.

“Well, we now know the legend was true. Do you still think you have a curse?” Brian asked her.

Misty looked down at the coins in her hand, and then looked at Brian; she smiled and said, “no, I have a gift.”

“No, I do,” a voice said.

Brian and Misty saw a tall shadow from the setting sun in front of them. They froze and slowly turned their heads. Seeing the figure behind them, Brian jumped up to his feet and Misty fell down, she screamed.

Standing there with his hands on his hips stood Angus Sullivan; in the flesh, some flesh. His overalls littered with holes and bones and tendons peeked through, the flannel shirt had even more holes, the color faded. What was left of his black hair was slightly covering up his skull. His eyes dried up into the sockets, no nose and his lips were dried maggots that formed into a grotesque grin. The smell of rot hung about the air around him.

“I do believe those gold coins belong to me,” Angus said.

“No, there not,” Misty said as she jumped to her feet and backed away.

“I believe they are, missy,” he told her as he walked closer.

Misty looked to Brian, he was still standing in the same spot, he never moved.

Brian's eyes were wide and his mouth was open, Misty realized that he could see Angus too, but how. She turned back toward Angus; he stood right there. Face to face with his rotted corpse, Misty fought the urge to vomit from the decay that wafted off him. She backed up again, he moved forward.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Brian finally move and lift up the shovel. Brian came up from behind and swung. Angus turned suddenly and grabbed the shovel before it made an impact. Angus then swung the shovel at Brian and it connected, Brian went down.

“You bastard,” Misty said and went to push him; her hand went through his shirt and between his ribs. Angus laughed as Misty wrenched her hand free.

“Give me the coins, I may be dead but I can still hurt you,” Angus said as he put his hand behind his back and pulled out the Bowie knife, Jasper’s blood was dried onto the blade.

Misty took a few steps back but before he could go toward her the shovel came down on the hand that held the knife, it fell to the ground. Both Misty and Angus looked and saw Jasper standing with the shovel in his hands. He was not rotted, he was flesh and blood.

“I believe those gold coins belong to the missus,” Jasper said and threw the shovel down.

Misty turned to Angus and was startled to see that he too was made of flesh again.

She ran to Brian, who finally began to stir. Misty helped him to his feet and the two of them watched as Jasper took his revenge.

“I been waiting for this chance many years, Angus,” Jasper said and punched Angus square in the face.

Angus staggered back and before he could regain his balance, Jasper grabbed the knife from the ground, stabbed it into Angus chest and he fell to the ground. Angus tried to reach the bag of gold coins that Misty still held, but before he could, Angus turned to ash.

Jasper looked down and kicked the ashes; he smiled and began to walk toward Brian and Misty.

Brian began to back away but Misty grabbed his hand and said, “It’s Jasper, he’s the good guy.”

Jasper shook Brian’s hand and turned to Misty, “I believe you will be ok, now.”

“Thank-you, Jasper,” Misty said and reached up and kissed his cheek.

Jasper touched her cheek, smiled and disappeared.

“Let’s go home now,” Brian said. They got into their truck and left Suntree Apartments.

At home, Brian excitedly told the kids and Misty’s mom everything that happened. Misty was tired, so instead of listening she went into her bedroom to change. She looked into the mirror and smiled, “maybe I do have a gift after all.”

Misty’s reflection changed and looking back at her was the decayed face of Angus Sullivan and the image said to her, “no, it is a curse.” Misty screamed.
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