This story is by Myah and was part of our 2017 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the Spring Writing Contest stories here.
William leaned against a tree, facing the school building. Music was blasting through his headphones and he couldn’t hear anything except his own thoughts and the pounding beats. Ever since the murder of his best friend Michael, William often wandered off on his own. He knew this behavior worried his family, but he didn’t care, not when their were much bigger things to deal with.
Michael had died over a month ago and William still could not forget it. He had been there that day, when it all happened. To make matters worse, William couldn’t tell anyone the truth from that day. The police were still clueless, and it would have to stay that way.
William got ready to go to class as he saw the other students filing back. William felt as though it took all of his energy just to go to school, everyday he battled with the instinct to run away and yet he couldn’t continue to skip any longer. However, it didn’t really matter, no one missed him because while Michael had been a charming and handsome guy, William was more the dark and brooding type. Although, those differences only made them grow closer as best friends. William was the only one still mourning, to him, Michael’s death felt just as present as it did the day it happened. He saw Michael in his dreams, in the shadows behind his mirror and in the faces of the people around him. He was haunted by the memory of that dreadful day, he was lost in grief thinking of their precious past together and of despair when picturing the rest of his life without him.
William reached for the door handle and then stopped. He withdrew his hand and ran it through his hair.
“What am I doing?” He sighed and turned away.
William put his headphones back on and stalked off away from school to instead hang out at the old park. He arrived quickly, found his spot in the tree house and drifted into an uneasy sleep.
William awoke with a start, his heart thumping painfully in his chest. He wondered why he bothered to sleep at all, it was never peaceful and he always had nightmares that never failed to bring the familiar feelings of guilt and horror. He looked down at his phone, it was merely habit to check his messages considering no one but his mother bothered to contact him anymore. Ever since the incident, William had distanced himself, he couldn’t find any connection to the carefree, smiling kid he used to be.
After a couple of minutes William finally got up and moving, “It was almost time,” he thought, stopping to lean against a light post.
“Hey, Michael,” William said, staring into the eyes of a ghost also known as his best friend.
It felt so real to William, seeing Michael’s ghost there every night. William couldn’t explain how Michael was there before him, he couldn’t say what was real or not, all he cared about was that it felt real. The two would talk as if nothing had happened, as if Michael’s time hadn’t stopped and as if William was okay.
“Hey, Willie. I’ve been thinking and I’ve figured the only way for me to pass on peacefully is to take revenge on those thugs ourselves, screw the cops.”
“Help me, we can take them out together, permanently, and my soul can find rest. The threat on your family would also be gone. I am immaterial, I can’t do anything in this form so help me. You owe me, remember?”
“Michael, please…I..I’m sorry.” William pleaded, looking down at his hands. He almost believed he could still feel the weight of the cold metal.
“Hey, think it over, I’ll be in touch tomorrow.” William watched as Michael disappeared before running off down the beaten path towards home.
“He couldn’t do this, how could Micheal ask him to kill? To kill again?”
William lay in bed after arriving home, he stared up at the ceiling and got lost in a tide of memories. That last image of Michael’s tear streaked, bloody face would forever haunt him.
William was locked in self-hate. He despised Michael, at first, for asking that of him but he couldn’t pretend that Michael wasn’t right. Besides, he couldn’t stay mad at someone he loved so much, especially if he did owe him. The truly unforgivable one was himself. Even though William knew those thugs had all the information on his family that they needed and he didn’t have the power or the means to do anything about it, he still felt that he did something unforgivable and deserved punishment. As if in agreement with Williams condemnation, Michael proceeded to haunt him, whispering in William’s ear, constantly reminding him of his sin and guilt. As the days went by, and the torture of his mind continued, the idea of getting revenge started to feel like his only option, especially if it meant Michael would finally leave him and find peace.
Over the next couple of weeks, things had gone from bad to worse and then to terrible. William had become obsessed, spurred on by Michael’s ghost, with revenge. It soon took over his life and everything, including his physical health, were put on the back burner. It wasn’t long before people began to notice that something was wrong. William would stare at things that weren’t there, would mutter words that didn’t make sense and would never stop shaking. William knew that he didn’t have much time left to fix things, he had only two options; either murder in the name of revenge or die trying. All in all, the time to act was upon him.
William stood in the alleyway, trying desperately to keep his sense as those awful memories swept over him. He didn’t want to be there but what better place was there to take revenge than at the scene of the crime? He had stolen one of his father’s guns, it had taken awhile to figure out the pass-code for the safe, but he was finally equipped for battle.
“Hey so we meet again, William.”
“Stop right there!” yelled William, pointing his gun.
“Oh wow, a gun, wasn’t expecting that.” Both thugs laughed and aimed their guns at William. “Listen, William you can’t win, you’re a fool to challenge us. The only reason we even came is because we’re bored and you’re, once again, going to entertain us.”
“And don’t worry, after we teach you a lesson, we’ll give you one more chance. We won’t hurt your family, this time.” said a thug as three other men stepped out from behind the trash piles.
Six hours later and William still could not move. He was beaten to a bloody pulp, at this pace, he was sure to die. The worst part was Michael’s ghost wouldn’t leave him alone and William kept picturing that dreadful scene over and over again in an endless loop. He almost couldn’t wait till his life force dribbled away to nothing, surely then he could escape this pain? Salty tears flowed down his face, over his wounds as he relived once again that most horrible day…
Michael was on the verge of death when William walked into the middle of some junk alley as a shortcut to school. Michael had gotten involved with a dangerous high-ranked gang to which he owed a large sum of money and it was Michael’s own life that was going to pay for that debt.
Upon seeing William, the thugs proceeded to bind him and search through his belongings. They threatened William, forcing him to make an unthinkable decision. The game was that Michael’s death was for certain but the catch was William would have to pull the trigger or else his whole family would be murdered. William, stupidly enough, hadn’t password protected his phone and such access gave the thugs all the information they needed to seriously threaten his family.
William, completely bound, looked over at Michael, pleading with his eyes. Michael wouldn’t look at him. They had been moved to a more secure and sound proof location in a dingy basement and Michael was chained to a poll in the middle of the room while William stood across from him, a loaded gun in his hand. There really was no choice in the matter, William knew that. His hands shook as he took aim.
“William, it’s okay, I understand. Truthfully I’m scared but if I’m gonna die either way, I’m glad it will be by your hand rather than some wretched thug. Thank you for being my friend and I’m sorry. I love you.
“I’m sorry. I love you.” Whispered William, tears rolling down his face.
William awoke to light streaming through curtains into a hospital room. Turned out his mother had placed a GPS tracker on his phone and when he hadn’t come home for hours, she went to look for him and found her poor son in a back alley, covered in blood. In the end William had no choice but to tell his family and the police the truth. He was scared, completely and utterly terrified. It was one of the hardest times of Williams life but eventually he acknowledged it’s necessity. He couldn’t continue alone anymore, he wasn’t strong enough to get out of this mess by himself, he would only make things worse by trying.
After William told the whole truth, the cops went on to explain what this would mean for him but they assured him that this was a case in court that would have favorable odds. It hadn’t been a good idea to keep it a secret but he could plead insanity in the courts, which of course would be accurate. As it was, the police were already aware of those two particular thugs and their specific methods. They assured him their family would be provided with top-notch protection.
When things finally settled down, William could not express how much relief and love he felt after finally being able to reveal his sins, to be given the chance to repent and ask forgiveness. No one blamed him and even though his mother only recently stopped crying, she assured him she loved him. William even had a goal to positively focus his mind towards and that was to capture those two thugs, alongside the police. Perhaps one day William could become a true and just police officer that no one would have any doubts about confiding in.
Subsequently, with help, Michael’s voice finally began to disappear. In reality, Michael’s ghost had just been the hallucinations of a guilty and traumatized mind. Since William couldn’t tell anyone the truth, he felt that he couldn’t properly pay for what he had done. Therefore, his guilt crazed mind created a warped form of destructive repentance, unique to himself. He feared that if his family hadn’t helped when they did, he might have truly lost his mind, or died. When he thought about it clearly, Michael would never have hurt him like that, no matter the circumstances. They had loved each other as the best of friends do, such a bond couldn’t be cast aside so easily.
In all honesty, William would never be the same again, but he would be okay because he had a family that loved him and a circle of support and friendship. He still thought of Michael every day and prayed for him and even though he still felt guilty he would always remember to let his precious feelings of thankfulness and acceptance overtake that. Everything would be alright as long as he held onto the people he loved, the people that without, he wouldn’t have been able to get out of that dark, condemning place.